Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Friday, November 8, 2013

No longer posting here!

I have transferred my blog over to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized and will no longer be posting on both sites. Please visit me there to see my latest posts.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DIY Entry Organization

I was visiting a friend the other day and was impressed with her innovative entry. She turned a blank wall into a place where her family can hang their coats, hats, bags, etc. She framed pegboard, painted the frames dark blue, and added hooks at various levels to accommodate her children's varying heights.

She placed three identical pegboard organizers in the space, making it more decor rather than just utilitarian, as a large pegboard would have been. If I remember correctly, the pegboards were about two feet wide and 4-5 feet high. To finish it off, she added containers under the pegboards to hold shoes.

A great way to turn unused space into a very practical entry solution!

More on DIY entry organization:
DIY Storage - Entry or  Side Table
DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer
Entry Closet Door Organizer


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DIY Gift Wrap Organizer

In my ongoing search for clever organizing ideas, I found this ingenious way of keeping gift wrap under control: using wire closet shelving!

This is how The Family Handyman describes it:

"Propping up rolls of gift wrap in the corner of a hall closet often means wrinkled, torn or lost rolls. Here's a way to keep the rolls neatly organized and easy to reach.

Make a wrapping paper "corral" by screwing a small section of wire closet shelving vertically to the side of a closet wall. Just slide the rolls in!"

Don't you love it?

More on DIY storage:
DIY Cord  Storage:
DIY Closet Storage from Flea Market Finds
Turn Your  Clutter into Storage - DIY Ideas

Monday, October 7, 2013

Turn Bathroom Cutter into a Welcome Basket for Guests

It's amazing how quickly we can accumulate little samples and other small items in our bathrooms! When we moved in April, I saw just how many such items I had and would probably never use.

Why not get them out of my bathroom and provide a little spa basket for our guests? What a nice way to welcome visiting friends!

Not having guests at the moment? Stash the basket under the sink or in the guest room to declutter your guest bath counter for everyday use.

More on decluttering the bathroom:
Organizing Products I Use - Under-the-Sink Drawers
Safe, Space-Saving Storage for Hair Appliances
Decluttering in 5: 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do in 5 Minutes or Less


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Organizing Products I Use - Organizing Sandal and Flip Flop Storage

As I went through the summer and end-of-summer sales, I began accumulating enough sandals and flip flops to create a mess in my closet! I've posted a solution using dry cleaner hangers, but I didn't want to sacrifice that much closet space. What to do?

I chose an over-the-door shoe organizer. I could get a pair of shoes in each of the twenty-four pockets. I haven't filled all the slots by a long shot, so I have plenty of room to grow without creating a mess in my closet! Not that I necessarily want to fill up all twenty-four pockets with summer shoes! 

Such a simple and inexpensive solution to shoe clutter!

More on Organizing Products I Use:
Organizing Products I Use - Shoe Organizers (but not for shoes)
Organizing Products I Use - Repurposed Furniture
Organizing Products I Use - Two-Shelf Dish Organizers


Monday, September 30, 2013

Destressing Christmas Already? ... Yep!

If you really want to destress your holidays, start now! Twelve Tips to Destressing Christmas has a plethora of ideas to help make your celebrations meaningful and joy-filled.

Things like being intentional about your celebrations, creating memories, planning meals, smart and green gift-giving, decluttering, and much more!

Give yourself the gift of a destressed Christmas!

More on Christmas:
Labeling Storage with Digital Pictures
The Very Best Apps and Websites for Holiday Gift List Organization
Recycling My Christmas Tins into Pantry Storage

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another App to Keep College Students Organized


Here's another app I found to help keep college students organized: Timetable. Enjoy the following review by Linda Gorman of the Daily Orange:

"You’ve probably said it before, but this time you’ll mean it: This is the year you’re going to get organized. No more scribbling assignments on your hand or digging for syllabi crumpled at the bottom of your backpack.

Organization is tough. But if wall calendars and color-coded subject folders aren’t your thing, don’t throw your hands up yet. If you have a smartphone, you have a whole host of tools at your disposal to make the scary business of getting organized a little more manageable. One of the best tools available is the top-rated, recently updated Android application, Timetable.

Timetable, available for free from Google Play, offers students a simple way to keep track of courses and assignments.

From a centralized dashboard, users start out by entering their courses, called “lessons,” into the app, including details such as location, time, teacher and subject. From there, students can add tasks or exams for each lesson with due dates and details about the assignment or test. Lessons are displayed as colored modules on a daily or weekly calendar.

The calendar is useful, but the real utility of the app comes into play when changing the default settings to allow notifications and auto-muting.

Timetable automatically silences your phone during scheduled lesson times. Never again will you slink down in your chair and pretend you have no clue whose One Direction ringtone interrupted your short-tempered professor mid-lecture.

For those who want more information right on their home screens, Timetable offers push notifications about upcoming deadlines, as well as widgets with details about the day’s lessons or tasks.

Timetable’s user interface is clean, intuitive and highly customizable. Users have a choice of color themes for widgets and for the app itself. Students can specify the days of the week that Timetable will use, as well as the information about each lesson and task, such as subject, teacher, location and more.

If you have multiple Android devices, it’s possible to take your schedule with you wherever you go. Timetable syncs your account to the Cloud to keep data consistent and current on whatever tablet, phone or notebook you’re using.

Getting organized and staying organized is important, and it will give you a leg up on your classmates. Entering classes, assignments and exams into Timetable is a great way to get the semester off to a good start."

More on organizing for college:
3 Apps Every College Students Needs to Get Organized
Organizing Your Dorm Room
Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Containing Your Cords with Binder Clips!

Sorry I haven't blogged for a few days. I went on a ladies retreat with our church over the weekend and helped organize it. So I'm a little behind! 

It was a lovely time at a lovely location, called Wilderness Edge. And we were in the wilderness! Perfect weather in the 70's - especially timely since we have snow in the forecast this week! Let's get on to our blog post, shall we?

I discovered an inexpensive way to get those cords under control: binder clips! A couple of binder clips lift those cords off the floor, removing that horrible eyesore!

Just attach each binder clip to your desk, using a screw threaded through a washer. Isn't that ingenious?

More on DIY organizing:
DIY Cord Storage
Organizing Your Bracelets – Go Vertical!
Organize Toys Using a Wire Garden Planter


Monday, September 16, 2013

Organizing with Velcro

Here's another great organizing idea I found when searching the internet. Kuzak's Closet suggested using adhesive Velcro dots to keep organizing baskets from moving around your drawers. Great, simple, irritation-busting idea!

Monday, September 9, 2013

September - National Preparedness Month - What Are Your Potential Emergencies?

As a result of moving to Montana, my husband and I have a different set of emergencies to anticipate than when living in Ohio or Maryland. As a result, we had a conversation recently on how to prepare for such eventualities.

First, we identified those emergencies we might face.We thought we might encounter no electricity, no water, extreme temperatures, high wind,  and heavy snow. No longer do we need to prepare for tornadoes, though, as we did in the other two locations.

Next, we identified the ramifications of those emergencies.It could mean no heat, no connection with the outside world, lack of water, no indoor cooking facilities, being stuck in snow, being cold.

Third, we identified action items to prepare for these possible emergencies.- We plan to get a kerosene heater to provide heat should our electricity go out.- We decided to get a battery with which to charge our phones and computers. We already have car chargers for them.
- We will begin to fill empty containers with water and a little bleach so we would at least have water to flush the toilets.
- We'll stock up on nonperishable items should we not be able to cook at all - tuna, canned veggies and fruit; and a manual can opener.
- We'll make sure to have a full back-up gas canister for the grill should we need to use it as our main source of cooking.
- I bought a pair of heavy-duty snow boots. My husband already has a couple of pairs.
- By the end of September, we should winterize our car - have blankets, hand and feet warmers, water, etc. in each car should we get stuck somewhere.
- Our snow shovel is accessible.
- We have coats, gloves, etc. that are appropriate for snow removal.

What emergencies might you face in your area and how will you prepare for them?

More on preparedness:
Prepare for the Unexpected - Winterizing Tips
Getting Your House in Order - A Great Wintertime Project
Organizing for Safety During the Holiday Season - A Simple  Tip

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets - Fake Pull-Out Drawers

I've been searching around the internet for great organizing ideas, and found this one: fake pull-out drawers. Using plastic containers as you would drawers allows you to pull out the container and find what you need easily. Good-bye standing on your head to find those things in the back.  Nothing gets lost or forgotten. Brilliant idea!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Turn Old Furniture into an Island or Kitchen Table


Better Homes and Gardens ideas for repurposing old furniture: "Improve the functionality of your kitchen -- without spending a lot -- by transforming an old furniture piece into a work space.

Any table or chest can be enlisted as an island stand-in, provided it can be adjusted to the right height.

This narrow table, painted white and outfitted with a beveled-glass topper, now serves as a delightful dining area in this tiny kitchen."

More repurposed furniture:
DIY Storage - Turn Old Benches into a Shelving Unit
DIY Storage - Entry or Side Table
DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer

Monday, September 2, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Planning Dinner


Happy Labor Day! Hope your day is enjoyable! For some this is the last hurrah before school starts. For others, school has already been in session for a while.

Whenever school starts for you, reality sets in at the time! Summer is nice - schedules are more flexible, days are longer, vacations break up routines. But if you're a parent of school-aged kids, it's kind of nice to restore some of those routines again when school starts.

One of the biggest items to consider is dinnertime. Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families several times a week are less likely to get involved in drugs and crime. It's a nice way to catch up with the family and can be the central focus of the day.

But. .. it takes planning, doesn't it? In order to save precious time, I recommend planning menus for the week and shopping just once a week. Each extra trip to the grocery store is a real time-drainer! Meals don't need to be elaborate, just tasty and balanced, to keep everyone functioning at peak energy.

Create an arsenal of quick, easy favorites - enough choices so you and your family don't get bored. If you need some help, check out our Hassle Free Dinners and Three Steps to Planning Dinner.

More on quick dinners:
Dinner in 15 - Citrus Salmon
Dinner in 10 – Lime Dill Chicken
Dinner in 10 – Chicken with Cranberry/Mandarin Sauce


Friday, August 30, 2013

It's a Great Time to Rethink Life!

When I had kids at home, I would rethink life when school started, in January and at the beginning of summer. Each of these times marked when schedules changed. In light of these schedule changes, I'd think through my schedule and our family's schedule. All of us were active, and if I didn't intentionally rethink life, things would start falling through the cracks and we'd miss important events or need to be in several places at once!

I'd think through my passions, priorities, gifts and how these lined up with my schedule. I wanted to make sure that I was investing my limited time in those things that were most important to me. And it gave me an opportunity to remove those things that no longer mattered as much. A great time to evaluate!

As an empty nester, my schedule is not nearly as complicated as when we had kids at home, but I still want to be very intentional about how I spend my time. At every age, it's important to align your life with your passions, priorities, gifts and the legacy you want to leave future generations!

If you're inspired to rethink life, I'd love to help! A simple step-by-step plan is included in all my time management books. Here's where they are:

Three Steps to Time Management books (printed and downloadable)
Three Steps to Time Management books (on Kindle)
Rethinking Your Life in 3 Weeks

Or, if you'd like some coaching to walk you through the process, drop me an email at Bev@1-2-3GetOrganized.com and we can set up a telephone or Skype call.

Live life intentionally!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keeping Sheets and Pillowcases Together


"Never lose a pillowcase again! Here's how: If the clean set isn't going directly onto a bed, fold and stash it in one of the pillowcases to keep everything together". (Redbook)

I've shared this idea before, but the picture is so much nicer on Redbook's post! I've been storing my sheets like this for a few years now. I used to tie ribbons around sets of sheets a la Martha Stewart, but I love this idea so much more! You never have to wonder if the sheets match, especially if you have a bunch of white sheets, for example!

More on closets:
Ruthless Closet Purging - Getting Organized for a Move ... Or Not
Three Steps to Organizing Your Closet (ebook)
Three  Steps to Organizing Your Closet (Kindle)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dinner in 15 - Herbed Tilapia

Herbed tilapia has become one of my favorite dishes since growing my own herbs. One night I just picked a handful of various herbs - cilantro, parsley, chives, and basil. I cut them up with scissors, sprinkled some olive oil in a nonstick pan and threw in the herbs for a minute or so on medium high heat.

Placed the tilapia filets on top of the herbs and cooked until I could see white around the edges. Turned them over for another few minutes. Seasoned to taste. If you're not a big fish fan (I'm not) tilapia is ideal - it doesn't taste real fishy. If you don't have fresh herbs, used dried ones to your taste.

In the meantime, steam some frozen peas, slice some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and cut up some watermelon. A quick, fresh meal!

More quick dinner ideas:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three  Steps to Planning Dinner
Dinner in 15 - Citrus Salmon

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Cord Storage

Cables and cords out of control? "Coil spare chargers, cables, and extension cords inside cardboard toilet-paper rolls — and store them upright in a box to prevent tangle meltdowns." Thanks, Redbook.

More DIY storage ideas:
Trunk Storage - Prevent Runaway Groceries
Organizing Your Bracelets - Go Vertical!
Organize Toys Using a Wire Garden Planter


Friday, August 23, 2013

Hoarders Dos and Don'ts Guide

If you're a hoarder or have a hoarding friend or family member, you might be interested in the Hoarders Dos and Don'ts Guide put out by Address Our Mess, hoarding experts. 

Hoarding is a complicated issue and must be handled carefully and thoughtfully. This guide will give you some valuable insights on how to most effectively address hoarding.

More on hoarding:
Hoarding - There Are no Easy Answers
Are You Turning into a Hoarder? Find Out.
Dehorder Game - Clean Up a Hoarder Home


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework without Battles

I repeat this blog post every year because homework can be such a battlefield!

Having trouble getting your child to do homework? Or does homework seem to stretch out over an unusually long time? When my children were in school I came up with a solution that gave my girls control and motivation, as well as some training in time management.

While they were having their after-school snack, each girl would list out all her homework assignments on a 3 x 5 card with the estimated time needed to complete each subject. Then, depending on how much time we had that day for homework, she would plan out her homework time, interspersing homework time with play time - a video game, a game with me, a TV show, shooting hoops, playing outside, etc. I recommend 30 minutes studying and 15 minutes to play with longer study times for older kids, shorter for younger.

I found that my kids were motivated to complete their homework in the time they estimated so they could get to playing. Plus homework time didn't turn into an endless expanse of time with no end in sight.

If one of the girls would underestimate the time it took to complete an assignment, her play time was still honored. Just having a change of scenery refreshes the brain.

By giving each girl some control over how she managed her time, she was motivated to do her homework and felt a sense of accomplishment from organizing her homework. Homework was broken up into bite-sized pieces and interspersed with fun. Homework battles were greatly reduced!

A suggestion: study your child. One of my daughters, an introvert, was depleted both physically and socially when she came home from school because she had used up all her words. She needed food and time to regroup before she was ready to talk about her day. My other daughter, also an introvert, wouldn't use up her words at school and was a chatterbox because she felt more comfortable using her words at home.

A child with ADHD may need to get rid of a bunch of energy before sitting down to homework. Each child is different, and as we study our children, we'll have more insight into creating an atmosphere for their success.

More on homework:
Getting Organized for School - Start the Night Before
Getting Organized for School (and Life!!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Getting Organized for School - Discover Your Child's Learning Styles


Monday, August 19, 2013

Study: Clutter Inspires Creativity, Other Interesting Findings

I discovered the following study that claims that clutter inspires creativity. As a personality type facilitator, I've observed that creative types are often more oblivious to clutter than structured types. So does clutter inspire creativity or just not bother creative types? That's my question. Here are the study findings - see what you think:

"A tidy desk might resemble a tidy mind, as the saying goes, but working amongst clutter helps you think more creatively, according to a new study.

Messy desk lovers now have science as an excuse for their office jumble as the research shows they can dream up more imaginative ideas.

The University of Minnesota researchers believe disorder inspires the mind to break free of convention.

But the neat freaks have also been given a boost, with the same study saying tidiness promotes healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality.

'Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity,' psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs said in the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

'We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.'

In one experiment, office workers were asked to fill out some questionnaires.

Some completed the task in a clean and orderly office, while others did so in an unkempt one with papers strewn about and cluttered office supplies.

Afterward, the participants were presented with the opportunity to donate to a charity, and they were allowed to take a snack of chocolate or an apple on their way out.

Those in the tidy office were more likely to donate, and chose the apple over the chocolate.

But in another experiment, the messy desk brigade came out of top.

Participants were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls.

Overall, participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts.

But their ideas were rated as more interesting and more creative when evaluated by impartial judges.

'Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of: creativity,' said Professor Vohs.

'Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.'

Whether the environment was tidy or unkempt made a 'whopping difference in' behaviour, the study found."


More on clutter tolerance:
Simple Questions to Get in Touch with Your Clutter Comfort Level
Is There a Difference Between Being Cluttered vs. Being Disorganized?
Three Steps to Decluttering


Friday, August 16, 2013

DIY Portable Storage

"Add casters to a simple wood box for easy-to-move storage for almost any purpose. Place the box beneath an entryway console and you have an accessible, but tucked-away, place for shoes." Another clever idea from Better Homes and Gardens.

Some other ideas: use it as a movable toy bin or a gardening supply container.

More DIY Storage:
DIY Storage - Turn Old Benches into a Shelving Unit

DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer
Turn Your Clutter into Storage - DIY Ideas

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Start the Night Before

Wouldn’t you love to have a peaceful, stress-free morning tomorrow? Starting the night before can help eliminate the rush and push, getting your day off to a pleasant and calm start. This is a blog post I wrote when we had five teenage foster daughters trying to get to school on time each morning!

Getting Your Child Organized

Knowing how much sleep your child needs is essential to his/her well-being and success at school. Trying to function well in a sleep-deprived stupor is impossible.

I feel strongly that a huge role of mine as a mom and foster mom is to create an atmosphere where my child can succeed. In order to insure that my children get enough sleep, I work backwards:

- I figure out when my child needs to be in bed with the lights out in order to get the sleep she requires. We have five foster daughters in our house this week. One starts school today, two tomorrow and two on Thursday. We are reining in bedtime so everyone can get enough sleep.

- We determine how much time is needed for nightly routines – shower/bath, brushing teeth, room decluttering, prayers, reading, etc. – and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime. With five girls and one bathroom between them, we are starting at 7 to get them all in their rooms by 9!

- Next, we figure out how much time is needed for morning routines - shower/bath, brushing teeth, breakfast, etc. Each child sets the alarm to allow enough time for her morning routine to be accomplished without rush. We have one child who is younger than the rest, and has trouble judging time. When she first came, we wrote out a timed schedule of what she needs to do in the morning and how much time it should take.

- We encourage each child to choose her clothes for tomorrow and lay them out.

- Before choosing her clothes, she should have packed her backpack – homework assignments, permission slips, gym clothes, etc., checking her backpack checklist.

- Before packing her backpack, she can pack her lunch and put it in the fridge. If she doesn't want to make a sandwich the night before because it will get soggy, at least she can pack everything else and know which kind of sandwich she will make in the morning. (I must confess, I made my girls’ lunches throughout high school. For some reason it stressed them out, and I didn't mind doing it.)

Getting Yourself Organized

If I am running behind in the morning, it makes life stressful for everyone! So I try to create the same type of routine for myself. If I am sleep deprived, I get crabby and little things that shouldn't bother me trigger inappropriate responses.

- I need to know how much sleep I need and determine when I need to be in bed with the lights out in order to get it.

- Working backwards again, I calculate how much time I need for my nightly routine and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime.

- During my routine, I think through what my morning routine will be and how much time it will take, including fixing breakfast and making sure everyone else gets out the door on time. I set my alarm to allow for that to happen without panic. Ten minutes can change panic to calm, so I try not to cut my morning routine too short.

- Before I start my evening routine or during my routine, I think through what I'm going to wear tomorrow and make sure it's clean, ironed, etc.

- Before that, I think through my schedule for tomorrow and pack my briefcase and/or purse and/or gym bag (backpack or diaper bag for some of you) with what I need for the day tomorrow. I'm much less likely to forget something if I can think it through calmly.

- If I'm going to need a lunch, I'll prepare it before I pack my bag and stick it in the fridge. If I take leftovers from dinner, I try to package them while putting the food away after dinner.

- While I'm packing my lunch or while preparing dinner, I look to see what I have planned for breakfast. When I plan my meals for the week, I also plan breakfasts so I can get what I need when I do my weekly grocery shopping.

- After dinner is a good time to set the table for breakfast. If you have two tables - one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, you can set both whenever you empty the dishwasher - one for breakfast and one for dinner.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why time slips away without even realizing it. But by being intentional about your evening schedule, you’re creating an atmosphere of success for both your child and yourself which will hopefully result in a peaceful and productive day tomorrow!

What do you do to get your day off to a good start?

More on Organizing for School:
Getting Organized for School (and Life!) - Getting Enough Sleep  

Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub  
Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Twelve Tips for Planning a Low-Stress Wedding


A wedding is a breeding ground for stress, one reason being that there are so many details to manage. There's not much you can do about Aunt Martha and Cousin Joe not wanting to speak to each other, but you can organize and manage details so there are as few surprises as possible.

There will always be those things that pop up at the last minute, but if you have done a good job of organizing, they are usually either out of your control or are minor. The following tips will help ease your mind as your plan your wedding:

1. Start early. As soon as you know you’re getting married, start planning. My daughter and I had almost a year to plan her wedding and we used it all! Her wedding was very large and we did much of it ourselves. If you don’t think you need that much time, it never hurts to be ahead of schedule, even if your wedding is intimate and simple.

Even if you’re not engaged yet, there are several things you can start looking at: wedding dresses, bridal party attire, invitations, etc. Don’t scare off your boyfriend, though, by jumping the gun!

2. Keep the communication lines open and healthy with your fiancé and your family during the wedding-planning process. Your relationships are more important than your ceremony. Your ceremony will take place on one day ... your relationships will continue for the rest of your life. Work on finding win-win solutions to problems and be open to their ideas.

You will spend the rest of your life finding solutions to problems. To help you perfect this skill, avail yourself of pre-marriage counseling. I highly recommend the Myers-Briggs personality type inventory. And make good choices, the most important one in my opinion: don't be selfish. It's impossible for a marriage to flourish if one or both partners are self-absorbed.

3. Determine your budget and the size of your wedding. Your budget will likely determine the size of your wedding. If your parents are paying for your wedding, get a clear picture of what they are willing to spend. You can decide to stick within that budget or contribute some yourself. Or you may be footing the entire bill yourself.

Whatever the case, I suggest living within your budget. Insisting on a lavish affair is not worth the stress that debt puts on your relationship with your parents and/or your fiancé and later on your marriage.

Do your homework as you estimate the cost of the various components of your wedding. Costs add up quickly, and being realistic about them avoids last minute sticker-shock and its ensuing stress. Overestimate your costs so that if things turns out to be higher than you anticipated, you have a little padding.

4. Get a wedding organization book and live by it! This wonderful tool provides checklists, timelines, and deadlines. It also supplies you with etiquette rules and other such valuable information. Remember, though, that just because something is suggested in your wedding organization book, if it’s not you, don’t do it! This is your wedding, and it should reflect you! If you can afford a wedding planner, she will do much of this for you.

5. Secure a venue for your wedding and reception. Some locations are booked a year or more in advance, so don’t procrastinate on this one if your location is a popular one! To avoid this hassle, some couples are deciding to marry on less typical days: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, for example. By thinking outside the box, you may discover creative solutions to this search.

6. Decide on a wedding dress and wedding party attire. This may take a while, so give yourself enough time to find what you want. The internet makes this overwhelming task much easier! Look online to find styles you like and narrow down your search this way.

Give yourself enough time for altering, re-ordering correct sizes, etc. If you are having dresses made, allow adequate time for measuring, sewing, try-ons, and alterations. We had the bridesmaids’ dresses made by a friend. To cut costs, we used a 50% off coupon at Jo-Ann’s when we purchased the material.

7. Plan your wedding ceremony with your fiancé. Don’t just include everything you’ve seen in others’ wedding – make it meaningful to you. We actually attended a wedding ceremony that seemed like it included everything ever done in a wedding ceremony – it was eternal!!

Make your ceremony reflective of you! Sit down with the minister or person who is going to perform your wedding, and express your desires. Any wedding ceremony can be adapted to fit your values and wishes.

Our daughter and son-in-law have a very strong faith. Her engagement ring was a triangle. She and her fiance were represented by the bottom two corners, and God was represented by the top corner. They wanted their relationship to become closer as they became closer to God. The triangle shape reoccurred throughout the wedding and reception.

Our daughter didn’t want a wedding cake – she wanted cheesecake instead. We found already-sliced Cheesecake Factory cheesecake at Sam’s. They chose to eliminate the cake-cutting, obviously.

A friend of ours was into the two-step, so he and his groomsmen wore cowboy boots and it was a two-step reception. Another friend got married in his Chucks, his signature footwear! Don't be afraid to be different!

8. Keep a binder or file or box containing wedding paraphernalia – contracts with those providing services, sketches, ideas, final products, etc., so you can locate colors, samples, etc. at a moment’s notice.

9. Determine what help you need – both paid and volunteer. If you have friends who are willing to help with various aspects of your wedding, accept that help if you like their work. A friend might be able to design your invitation and/or program. Or help you address wedding invitations. Ask friends for recommendation for wedding cake bakers, caterers, etc. If people offer to help, consider saying yes!

10. Hire a wedding coordinator at least for your wedding day. Then you, your mom, your family, and your wedding party can enjoy the day and revel in your celebration. She can take care of those little details and make sure that everyone is where they need to be.

11. Prepare an emergency kit for those last minute snafus: safety pins, masking tape, cellophane tape, a stapler, bobby pins, hair spray, needle and thread, extra pantyhose, extra make-up, scissors, etc. Ask a friend to be on stand-by to run errands if necessary.

12. Relax and enjoy your day! Determine not to be stressed even if everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Someone may faint or goof up, but the important thing is that you're getting married!! Don't let small things spoil your celebration. And ... live happily ever after!

More on relieving stress:
6 Ways to Reduce Stress by Getting Organized
Foods that Relieve Stress
Twelve Tips to Destressing Christmas


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DIY Storage - Turn Old Benches into a Storage Unit

"Create a scene-stealing shelving system by stacking a series of antique benches and anchoring them to the wall. The weathered finish of these benches testifies to their colorful past lives and adds a rustic, eclectic character to the space while providing a place to corral books and display accessories." (From Better Homes and Gardens.)

More DIY storage: 

DIY Storage - Managing Paper with a Dish Drainer
DIY - Turn A Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer 

DIY Storage - Entry or Side Table

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Clutter Affects Your Health

Had a lovely weekend doing some babysitting for our granddaughter and helping our daughter rethink her office. Got some new herb plants at our local farmer's market - so excited! I love having my own herbs!

Changing the subject drastically, we're going to look at how clutter affects your health. Robin Westen, medical director for ThirdAge has written the following article on that topic:

"There’s a good chance if you’re living with a lot of clutter, you realize somewhere in your psyche that it’s disrupting your life. It might be tough to find essential items, or the mess might be taking up valuable living space. But did you know your excessive clutter could also be hurting your health? Here are some problems you could be letting yourself in for:

Loneliness Countless studies show close friendships and socialization keep us healthy and youthful. If your home is so disorganized you’re ashamed to invite people over, you could end up living in unhealthy isolation.

Exhaustion Do you feel like you just don’t have the energy to clear out the clutter? Well, the reason you’re constantly feeling fatigued could be the result of the stagnant energy that accumulates around the objects causing you to feel lethargic. Just looking at it can bring on an overwhelming sense of weariness.

Depression When your available space is filled, it’s impossible to find the psychic room to bring anything new and exciting into your life. You may feel stuck with the same old problems that have brought you down for a long time. Clearing your clutter gives you a good starting point to deal with your problems and move forward.
Negative Reactions The truth is, people treat you the way you treat yourself. So if you value yourself and look after yourself, people will treat you well. If you allow the junk to mount up around you, you may attract people who mistreat you in some way because subconsciously you will feel that’s what you deserve.

Weight Gain Studies show people who have lots of clutter in their homes have a greater likelihood of being overweight. Psychologists suspect this is because body fat and clutter are forms of self-protection. By building layers of fat or clutter around yourself, subconsciously you may believe you’re protecting yourself from life’s disappointments or tragedies.

Distraction When you live surrounded by stuff, how can you have clarity about what you’re doing in life? There’s a good chance once you clear it, making life decisions will become easier and more focused.

Stress The stress experienced from excessive clutter can seriously impact health by helping to cause reduced immunity, sleeplessness, heart disease, gum disease, memory loss, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cancer, and more.


Poor Nutrition If you’re stocking your pantry with canned and processed goods, or expired products, it impacts your health. In addition, if your kitchen is disorganized and cluttered, you’ll be less motivated to cook and more likely to stop for fast food or eat out. In fact, there might be little or no space left on your counter for cutting fresh fruits and vegetables."

More on how clutter affects your life:
Costs of a Disorganized Office, Solution for Productivity
Health Risks of Clutter

University of California TV Series Looks at Cluter Epidemic in Middle-Class American Homes

Friday, August 2, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Helping Your ADHD Child Stay Organized

I've done a lot of study on ADHD and have a soft spot in my heart for those living with it. The following article offers excellent ideas for helping your ADHD child get organized for school.

"Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic disorder that begins in childhood and often persists into adulthood. Inattention can create difficulty with organization, which can pose problems in school during childhood and the teenage years.

Problems with organization stem from problems with executive functioning in the brain (i.e., the level of detail and the time it takes to complete the task). Learning organizational skills can help a child or teen overcome this obstacle. It can also be helpful with the other symptoms of attention deficit disorder, such as time management.

The NYU Child Study Center notes that some children have difficulty with organization, though the deficits are more severe in children with ADHD. But learning organizational strategies early can prevent the symptoms from interfering with productivity. Parents can play an essential role by teaching the child different techniques and monitoring progress.

For example, the parents and child can make a schedule for homework with due dates, and leave space for checking off the assignment when it is done. A homework schedule helps with other symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, as it keeps the child on a specific routine.

Parents can use the schedule to make sure the child submits his assignments on time, and see if there are areas in which he is struggling. When making the schedule, part of it should be kept open to review assignments, as careless mistakes are also a symptom of inattention.

Besides creating a method to keep track of assignments, the child or teen also needs an area to work where the number of distractions are limited.

For example, the child should have a consistent place to do homework with all clutter removed. The study area should also be quiet. The child can also create a storage area to hold important papers for school, such as a binder labeled for each class. Parents should also encourage the child to pack his bag at night to prevent school work from being lost or left at home. Experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also say that the child should also clean his desk at the end of the day to help maintain organization; this also encourages the establishment of a daily routine.

Since inattention can make it difficult for the child to do complex tasks, caregivers can help break tasks into steps and write out each step. This exercise also helps the child learn planning and follow-through. Leave room on the list to check off when a step is completed. When taking notes, the child should leave the page margins open to add more information when reviewing the material.

Parents should also consider the use of a reward system, which reinforces the child’s new organizational skills. Here are some ideas for ADHD behavioral interventions for the home that work and have been proven effective.

Parents should remember that a child’s or teen’s behavior takes time to change — it’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, which are usually temporary in nature. Help be a cheerleader and positive support for your teen or child. You may find the results encouraging and beneficial, not just for your home life, but for your child’s mental health as well."

More on organization and ADHD:
Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized
ADHD Organization - Decision-Making
ADHD Organization - Time and Energy


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Organizing Office To Dos for the Visual Person

Most time management experts say that you should clear your desk every night.

However, if you are a visual person, out of sight is usually out of mind, isn't it? So clearing your desk at the end of the day may be a disaster UNLESS you make a list of your top priorities for the next day.

Another option is to clear your desk of everything other than your top priorities for the next day. Arrange those top priorities in order of importance on your desk so you're ready to go the next morning. You won't even need to think! It's all ready for you.

What a nice way to start the day!

More on organizing for the visual person: 

Organizing for the Visual Person - Calendars
Office Organizing for the Visual Person – Magazine File Boxes
Three Steps to Organizing Your Office

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Discover Your Child's Learning Style


I try to repeat this blog post every year because I think it's so important! It's critical that we are students of our children so we can create an atmosphere where they can succeed!

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is understanding her learning style. Discovering my daughters' learning styles greatly increased my ability to help my children learn - knowing whether they were auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. It kept me from forcing my learning style on them, and helped me suggest ways to study and learn.
Cynthia Tobias has written several books on learning styles and learning in general. I'll recommend two that I found very enlightening: The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed: Making the Most of Your Child's Learning Style. She gives numerous ideas for implementing each type of learning style.

As you talk these concepts over with your child, knowing his learning style gives your child confidence, the ability to adapt his learning accordingly, and freedom from comparison. You may find it helpful to discuss this information with your child's teacher, especially if he is a kinesthetic learner and must be moving in order to learn.

You still have time before school starts to read one or both of these books. What a great tool to stash in your parenting tool belt!

More on getting organized for school:
Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub
5 Tips for Organized Back-to-School Shopping
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room


Monday, July 29, 2013

Space Savers for Small Spaces

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday - thanks for all the birthday wishes!

I uncovered some great space saving ideas for those with small spaces, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. But you don't need to have small spaces to enjoy these clever suggestions!

"Secret Stash: Place furniture in the corners of rooms at an angle and use the space behind to stash baskets of extra linens, toys, crafts supplies, or whatever else you need to store.

Save Space: When space is at a premium, invest in a large, one-stop-shop bookcase that will serve multiple storage needs. Place it in a central location in your apartment unit and store books and dishes on the upper shelves; place bins, baskets, or drawers on the lower shelves to house linens, flatware, office supplies, and any extra things that don't have a place to live.

Faux Built-In: Some vintage apartment buildings come with gorgeous built-ins, ideal for storing modern necessities. If your apartment is lacking, fake the look by flanking a doorway with identical bookcases that reach almost to the ceiling and install moldings around the tops of the shelves. As a style bonus, paint the bookcase before installation, or line the backs with pretty paper.

Apartment Assets: Turn awkward apartment features in your favor. Tap odd corners or narrow closets for storage or a cozy seating area for one. In this living room, two narrow nooks provide storage for office and crafts supplies, and curtains can be drawn to conceal the spaces."

More on space saving ideas:
DIY Under-the-Bed Storage
Entry Closet Door Organizer
Organize Toys Using a Wire Garden Planter

Friday, July 26, 2013

Organizing Your Dorm Room


If you or someone you know is heading off to a college dorm this fall, space is probably on your mind.

Lately I’ve been hearing about spacious and luxurious dorm rooms - how nice if you're lucky enough to have one! But this is the exception rather than the rule. Dorm rooms are notoriously small and cramped. So it is essential that you use your space extremely well in order to function at your peak in college.

If you have the chance after you have gotten your room assignment, measure your room, noting where built-ins, plugs, sinks, windows, doors (and which way they open) and other non-movable items are located. There's usually not much room for additional items, but your measurements allow you to purchase additional storage, for example, with accuracy.

One of the keys in organizing a dorm room is using the vertical space. Many schools have a loft option for the beds, which allows you to utilize the space below the bed efficiently. Adding additional storage options in this area or purchasing tall storage units will maximize your vertical space. Adhesive hooks also add storage for hats, keys, and other such items without using premium storage real estate.

Utilize hanging storage units in your closet, on the back of the door, etc. Don't forget those spaces at the bottom of your closet and under your bed (if you don't choose the loft option) for extra storage containers, drawers or cubbies. All these cute storage options multiply your storage capacity while using normally non-usable space.

Be realistic about the space you have! Only bring to school that which can fit in your dorm room. A sure-fire way to guarantee a mess is not having a home for everything. If you will be traveling back home before winter sets in, only bring summer and fall clothing with a few transitional items. Swap out seasonal items each time you go home.

There's nothing that gets out of hand quicker than paper! Have a place for files and paperwork, whether it's in a desk file drawer, hanging files in a crate, or a rolling file unit. This eliminates lost papers and wasted time looking for them. Don't forget to use your wall space for bulletin boards and message boards - another great way to coral paper, important messages and reminders.

Make use of small containers with lids for school supplies, food, and toiletries. Crates turned on their sides make great stackable shelves. Rolling drawer units are space-conscious, as well.

Designate a few minutes each day or each week to declutter, and your room will be a cozy haven! Declutter while you're on the phone, watching a movie, or talking with your roommate, and you'll be doubling your time.

Speaking of doubling your time, to get the most out of college check out Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student.

More on college:
Three Steps to to Time Management for the College Student
A Unique Way of Storing Folded Clothes
Organizing the College Application Process

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored - Treasure Hunt Dinner

I started doing treasure hunt dinners when my girls were in grade school, the first being a birthday party. For the last course, the girls discovered a limousine waiting to take them to get ice cream! (We had a friend who had just started a limousine service and offered a free ride for our girls!) That was a huge hit and I had a reputation for throwing great parties after that! Most of my treasure hunt dinners were not that exotic, but fun nevertheless.

We also had them with our foster daughters, who were skeptical at first but got into it and even invited their friends for a treasure hunt dinner. I've included the details below and clues for three different treasure hunts we've had.

1. Have four courses and hide them in or out of the house, depending on the weather. I use coolers if needed.

2. 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.

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

4. 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 Floor 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 floor 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

Memories are made during times like these!

More on organizing summer fun:
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored: Water Spoons
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored - Outdoor or Indoor Decathlon
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored - 10 Free (Or Nearly Free) Activities for Kids

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub

With school starting in less than a month for some, it's time to start thinking of how to create an atmosphere of success for your student and your family as a whole. If things are organized and running smoothly, your child will be more likely to do well. If chaos reigns, it will be very difficult for your child to focus and excel.

One idea is to create a family hub - a central location for several important things:

- You need a location where you keep papers to be signed for school, library books, invitations, and other important information. The point is to have one location into which you deposit vital information so you know where to look when you need it. It can be a drawer, a decorative box, a shelf - whatever works for you. And it needs to be in a central location. When my kids were home, I used a basket in my kitchen.

- If you want to include backpacks, briefcases, and keys in your hub, you could put up pegs or hooks near the door you normally enter. Or use a coat rack or a coat closet to store these vital necessities.

- You may also want to create a section in your hub for each person in your family to house their important stuff.

- And a family calendar would be a vital part of this hub, too.

I searched around the internet and found several different ideas for creating a family hub or parts thereof. Let these be a springboard for creating your own family hub!

Aren't these clever ideas? What does your hub look like? We'd love to see pics!