Monday, October 09 2017
With the holidays just around the corner, it's time to start organizing those recipes. Over the years, I have used various methods for organizing the various types of recipes I have gathered.
I sometimes tear recipes out of a magazine or print out recipes I find on line. I also have an array of recipe books.
First, I have a cabinet that is specificially used to organize my recipe books. Years ago, I had one custom made by the Amish because I had the need to store a lot of recipe books close to the kitchen for easy retrieval. I placed it against a small wall that divides my kitchen from my living room in my dining room area. (I am not suggesting that everyone needs to do this, but I have never regretted my decision to do so.)
Within my recipe cabinet, I have various forms of recipe organization besides the books.
I use an index card box for my "go to" recipes which I typed onto index cards and which I use on a regular basis and have been family favorites for years, including during the holidays. I divide them up with alphabetical index dividers A-Z. (They could also be divided up by category, i.e., desserts, casseroles, vegetables, pasta, etc.)
I use an accordion expandable file for the recipes I have gathered from magazines and online which I need to test out before they become part of my permanent collection. (These are divided up by category as described above.)
Another suggestion I have is to put your full size (8-1/2" x 11") recipes that you have into a 3-ring binder, divided up by category, using sheet protectors to store them. I like this suggestion because you can pull out the sheet from the binder when you want to use it and it will be protected from splatters and spills.
Of course, you can always use your phone or computer to store recipes digitally, but I strongly suggest that you weed through it from time to time to get rid of the recipes you have tried and failed or decided you are no longer interested in them. Otherwise, you are creating digital clutter.
Depending on how much you cook or bake can depend on what type of system would work best for you.
For me, there is not one solution but several that work best.
What solutions can you think of in order to organize your own collection of recipes? Share you ideas here and let's learn from each other so you can have a more organized holiday cooking experience.
In the meantime, if you are simply overwhelmed with your clutter and would like to discuss your particular situation with a professional organizer, don't hesitate to contact me.
As always, I am here to help.
Wednesday, December 31 2014
Happy New Year! Are you ready for 2015?
This is a great time of year to not only eliminate clutter and get organized, but incorporate a little Feng Shui into your life and your home. I dabble in Feng Shui from time to time and use the basic principals when working with my clients in their homes.
This list was created by Kathryn Weber, Feng Shui Entrepreneur & Nationally Syndicated Columnist.
Notice that de-cluttering is at the top of the list!
OUT WITH THE OLD
Grab a laundry basket. Next, set a timer and take it with you from room to room. Set it for five minutes. Now, start throwing out old papers, magazines, empty bottles of shampoo from the bathroom, old clothes you know you’ll never wear again! Do it.
Got CDs you never listen to? Throw those out or donate them to charity. Have some old coffee mugs that don’t match or odd drinking glasses still hanging around in your cabinets? Pitch ‘em.
When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t forget to look under the bed, too! And toss that lipstick you haven’t worn in two years! Remember to clean out the pantry, too, and toss that half-empty box of Rice Krispies that’s gone stale.
2. Sweep or vacuum
Get the old energy out by making the floors clean.
3. Do the laundry
Don’t have dirty clothes hanging around. You can throw in a load or two while you declutter. Be sure to fold and put the clean clothes away.
4. Clean the bathroom
Make it sparkle. You don’t want a nasty mess to greet the next year of your life!
5. Empty all trashcans
Don’t want last years’ trash hanging around, do you? Toss, toss, toss.
6. Clean out the refrigerator
Got a half-empty jar of apple butter? Get rid of it. You don’t want to go into the New Year with old food or a moldy science project lurking in the fridge.
7. Clear out visual clutter
Too much stuff everywhere? Clear off the counters in the bathrooms and kitchen. Clear off your desk and dust it. Pitch the sticky notes and papers and things taped everywhere! You can do it. Don’t forget the refrigerator! Make it a blank slate.
Make as much space as possible. You cannot bring in new things if there is no room for it and we want a fantastic year, right? Then make your space “open” for the abundance of the New Year!
8. Yard work
Make sure the yard is picked up and the front door step is swept and clear.
9. Change the sheets and towels
Put clean sheets on all the beds on New Year’s Eve and clean towels in the bathroom and kitchen. New sheets are even better.
10. Clean the car
This is what gets you around during the year. Drive through a car wash, take out the trash and do a quick cleaning.
All done? Wow, doesn’t that feel good! Now you’re ready for the next step.
IN WITH THE NEW!
1. Fill your pantry and kitchen
Stock the refrigerator with food and make sure the pantry is also stocked. It is bad feng shui to have an empty refrigerator and pantry. If you have canisters in the pantry or on the countertops, be sure to fill these.
2. Got citrus?
Oranges are excellent symbols for the New Year and the Chinese often celebrate the New Year by rolling oranges (symbols of gold) into the house. Place a big bowl of 8, 9, or 10 (the numbers of prosperity!) oranges in the living room or central location in the house next to dishes of nuts or candies to symbolize an abundant, fruitful home.
3. Buy a new plant
Put a beautiful new plant in the East (health & family relationships) sector of your house or office to symbolize a healthy beginning. You can also display some beautiful flowers here to symbolize your good health in the coming year.
4. Welcome good news
Place a golden bell in the NW corner of your home, office, or bedroom to bring good tidings from helpful people. Like old school bells? If so, place one of these in the NW corner of your yard for good news from helpful people.
5. Hang up new calendars
What better way to greet the New Year than by throwing out the old one? Take down all of last years’ calendars.
6. Fill your wallet
You don’t want to go into the New Year with an empty wallet. Put some money in your wallet — or better yet — go and buy a new wallet (red is the best!) or purse and start your financial off with new energy!
7. Invite a toad to your house
Place an old, broken clay pot upside down next to a water spout so a toad can make its home here. Toads are believed to invite money into the household; they’re especially nice by the door. You can also place figurines of toads by the door.
8. Feed the birds
Birds are excellent feng shui and believed to bring good news. Fill your feeders or put out a feeder for the New Year.
9. Have fun and celebrate
Fun is good feng shui. A happy vibrant home or space is a good space, so plan a party of some kind of happy gathering. Remember, a home or office with good feng shui is easy to spot it’s the one where everyone goes and doesn’t want to leave! Make your space that kind of place!
OR, as I say "Make your place A Better Space!
So, what do you think? I am not sure about inviting a toad into my house. I think I will go ceramic, thank you, but a little Feng Shui never hurt anyone! Go through this list and do the best that you can. Do one thing at a time to help stay focused and soon, you too will have A Better Space.
Wishing you a very Happy (and organized) New Year!
Saturday, December 20 2014
It's the most wonderful time of the year, or so it is said.
Granted, we get together with family and friends, donate our time or make monetary contributions to help others and think about all that we have and take time to appreciate those around us.
However, I have to wonder whether it is "the most wonderful time of the year".
I personally think it is the most stressful time of the year.
Right around Thanksgiving, a frenzy begins. We begin to plan holiday meals, go to or have parties, make lists of people to buy gifts for and then go shopping for them, decorate our homes, send out holiday cards, cook large meals, bake cookies, cakes and bread, invite friends and family into our homes. It can be downright exhausting!
Some of us plan ahead. We create a plan and meet our deadlines well in advance. Others, well....not so much. Many of us wait until the last minute and then run around like chickens without heads, trying to get everything done in time.
We are only days away from Christmas and so many of us are just getting started. We are out at the malls and stores trying to figure out what to get everyone and dealing with crowded parking lots and long lines and perhaps picked over merchandise. I always wonder why people put themselves through all of this. Talk about stress!
Can you truly enjoy the holidays when you are exhausted and frazzled? It doesn't sound like fun, does it?
Although it certainly is a magical time of year for kids and adults alike, there is something to be said about the commercialized portion of the holidays. We feel obligated at times to purchase gifts for people that simply just add to their clutter.
Think about how many times you might have received a gift from someone that you bring home, put away and never look at again. You feel you can't get rid of it because someone gave it to you.
For me, personally, it is more about spending time with those I love and slowing down to appreciate them. Granted, I like gifts as much as the next person, but if you ask me what I really want this holiday season, it's the opportunity to hang out with friends and family and tell them how much I appreciate them being in my life. It's about giving joy to others. That, to me, is what the holidays are for.
So, perhaps next time around, we can all make it a point to plan in advance, purchase less and have more time to spend with those we love. Less clutter, less stress and more joy will make this the most happiest time of the year.
I wish all of you a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! See you again in 2015.
Monday, October 20 2014
Now that we are well into Fall with Halloween just around the corner, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chanukah will quickly follow. Before you know it, we will be participating in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping.
I would like you to keep something very important in mind.
I recently spoke to a Moms Club at their monthly meeting and my topic was about organizing the kids. One of the points that I made, which is so relevant at this time of year, is that when it comes to gift giving, you need to remember the concept of "presents vs. presence".
Did you know that the United States has about 3 percent of the world's children, yet U.S. families annually purchase more than 40 percent of the total toys consumed globally. This tends to happen because there are so many working parents. They now have less time to spend with their kids so they tend to shower them with toys to compenstion for that perceived "loss of quality time". Other relatives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles can also contribute to this statistic.
There is a difference between "presents" and "presence".
Presents are great, but in excess, can cause clutter.
Don't spoil your child by providing too many presents. There are other alternatives. Have you considered asking grandparents or other family member to purchase movie tickets, tickets for live events or a favorite restaurant instead of a toy? Try to come up with creative solutions that do not involve a lot of toys, clothing or other items that are in excess of what is reasonable.
Relatives and friends tend to want to give "things" to your children to show them how much they love them. However, they need to understand that, although it is appreciated, their time is more precious than possessions. Too many possessions tend to lead to clutter.
I once worked with a hoarder who used to purchase toys and clothes for her grandchildren and ship them out three times a week. Can you imagine what that house looked like with all of those "presents" arriving at their door? I was able to get her to understand that her time with the grandkids meant so much more to them that the gifts they were receiving. She ended up taking a trip to visit them and spent about 10 days of quality time with them instead. Now that, in my opinion, is a "gift".
Before the holiday season gets under way, why not take some time to contact those relatives and friends and express this concept in a tactful way so as not to upset the gift giver. Having alternative ideas in mind ahead of time will guide them in the right direction and help you reduce the clutter of too many possessions in your home. Consider doing the same for those you love. Give your time instead.
Remember when gift giving this year - "presents" vs. "presence". Why not choose "presence".
If you are overwhelmed with the toys, clothes and other items that have accumulated in your home, don't hesitate to contact me. I will help you bring balance back into your home so you can enjoy time spent with your family instead of stressing over the clutter.
In the meantime, have a great day!
Wednesday, November 20 2013
Now that Halloween has come and gone, we are gearing up for the official holiday season which begins next Thursday with Thanksgiving (and Chanukah). After Thanksgiving, we only have twenty-seven (yes, 27) days until Christmas.
Are you ready for the holidays?
This time of year I get so many inquiries about how to transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas in an organized way.
Recently, I was asked how to combine Fall clean up with holiday prep.
The answer is all of these questions is to create a plan. As with any other type of organizing project, you need to start at the beginning and systematically work through the process.
Here are some ideas:
1. Create a holiday notebook. You can use a paper version (such as a binder), an app on your Smart Phone, a bulletin board or any other method that works best for you. Do the "brain dump" and jot down all of your thoughts about the things you need to do to get the job done. This will take the "remembering" out of "remembering" and immediately reduce your stress by providing you with a sense of control and a plan.
2. Divide and conquer. Take your list and create various categories with deadlines. What type of things do you need to accomplish? When do you need to get them accomplished by? Here are some suggestions:
Cleaning the Home, Decorating the Home (inside and out), Sending Out Holiday Cards, Gift Giving Ideas, Gifts Purchased, Supplies For Wrapping Presents, Preparing A Menu, Guest Lists for Holiday Parties, Budget/Expenses, etc.
3. Create a holiday calendar. Devote a calendar to holiday activities and tasks. Indicate the deadlines you have established for getting things done. Assign a different color to each member of the family so that nothing is missed. This can include chores for the kids to accomplish and invitations for parties. Don't forget to include gift giving to teachers, the mailman and other service providers in your life. What good is purchasing a gift for them if you forget to give it to them?
4. Choose a select few. You cannot accomplish everything at one time. Do yourself a favor and prioritize what needs to be done sooner as opposed to later. Select a few items at a time and focus just on them before moving onto something else. Obviously, it makes sense to clean the home before you decorate it, so don't worry about decorating until the home is clean. Each day that you do this, you will be able to check things off your "To Do" list and move forward.
5. Work with a deadline in mind. Even though you want to start at the beginning of a project, it is best to be aware of your deadline so you can plan backwards. What I mean by that is, for example, if you are having a holiday party at your home on December 21st, you want to make sure that your To Do list for that project is completed by that date. Determining how long something will take will enable you to provide sufficient time to get it done and, therefore, everything will be done on time.
6. Ask for assistance. Are you getting bogged down with the details and don't know where to begin? As a professional organizer, I can help you to create some time management tools you can use to supplement these suggestions so that you can enjoy the holidays with less stress. (Feel free to contact me.)
In the coming weeks, I will be providing more tips on how to get and stay organized through the holiday season.
In the meantime, I am sending you best wishes for a happy and ORGANIZED Thanksgiving holiday.
Monday, October 14 2013
The holidays will be here before you know it and you will be shopping in the malls and in the local stores. Now is a great time to organize your wallet so that using it will be easier.
You probably use your wallet on a regular basis. (I know I do!) When was the last time you cleaned it out? Are you able to find what you need when you need it? How long does it take you to find that credit card you want to use or a store reward/loyalty card? Is your wallet bursting at the seams with receipts and information? Do you need to hold it together with a rubber band? (Yes, I've seen this!)
Here are five simple steps to organize your wallet:
1. Purge your receipts. I recommend that you do this daily to keep it all under control. Log the debit expenses into your checking account ledger and put your credit card receipts in an envelope until the bill arrives. Hold cash receipts for no more than 30 days following a purchase in case you need to return something.
2. Use digital coupons. If you carry store loyalty cards or paper coupons in your wallet, they could be taking up too much space in your wallet. Try using digital coupons or a smart phone app instead. Try Passbook for iPhone. They attach your phone and loyalty number so you don't need those cards anymore. (This might free up your keychain as well!)
3. Determine your "Must Haves". Everyone has difference needs and routines. There is not one way to organize your wallet. Whatever works best for you is the right way. However, that does not mean it should be stuffed or stretched beyond its limit. Take a few moments to figure out what you really need to have in your wallet on a regular basis. Consider how many credit cards you need to carry with you at all times. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet! For me, I keep it simple: debit card, major credit card, wholesale store membership card, drivers license, health insurance card, AAA membership card, some business cards, and a small amount of cash. The rest of my credit cards are kept in a separate wallet that I use when I am going shopping at a particular store. (I plan ahead for any excursions to the store.)
4. Decide whether your current wallet fits your needs. There are many types of wallets to choose from. Find one that comfortably fits what you need. Sometimes a wallet can be too big for your needs and you can downsize. Sometimes you need a longer one to fit your contents. (Remember to make a copy of your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in case your wallet gets stolen.)
5. Have a spot for emergency money. Keep a small sum of money in case of emergency in your wallet. Sometimes you find that a store only takes cash (my local produce store is a good example) or you find that your credit card is not working. Fold up some cash and keep it separate for use in an emergency only.
What do you have in your wallet that can be removed?
If you find that you are overwhelmed with your clutter and need help getting and staying organized, contact me. I am here to help!
In the meantime, Happy Organizing!
Friday, November 16 2012
Next week is Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season.
Do you want your younger children to understand more about uncluttering and organizing?
I have gathered some suggestions for gifts you can give them that they might enjoy with an underlying theme on uncluttering and organizing:
- Room Enough for Daisy by Debbie Waldman. Little Daisy has so many toys, she wishes for a larger bedroom to accommodate them all. Eventually, her mom convinces her to donate some items to a rummage sale. Cindy Revell’s illustrations are really cute.
- Too Many Toys by David Shannon. David’s books are fantastic, starting with the hilariously relatable “No, David!” Too Many Toys has a similar theme to Room Enough for Daisy, in that David is required to thin his massive collection of toys. It’s a fun story that kids think is funny and adults find useful.
- Mr. Messy, part of the Mr./Mrs. series by Roger Hargreaves, is an untidy fellow until he meets Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy.
- More by I. C. Springman is about a hoarding magpie whose friends teach him the value of “enough.” Again, the illustrations are great and the minimal text is great for new readers.
Do you have any suggestions that you would like to share that go with this theme of child organization tools? Please share by commenting.
If you need assistance in getting the toys and clothing organized for the holidays, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, December 23 2011
It's hard to believe that Christmas is in two days. Are you stressed out trying to get everything done? I want to help you to keep your stress at bay these next few days so you can enjoy the holiday. Try these three strategies:
- Keep perspective. If the present doesn’t arrive until after the holidays, the ornaments aren’t hung on the tree, or the gravy never makes it on the table — you will be okay. In fact, you’ll probably have a funny story to tell for years to come about the year you didn’t serve ham because it was frozen solid and Uncle Joe broke his knife trying to cut it! (That never happened to me personally but I can tell you that one of my presents this year will not arrive on time so I simply put a picture of it in a box with an explanation. I know I will be forgiven. No problem!)
- Adopt a mantra. I am a fan of mantras. I think they help us stay the course, thereby reducing our stress. One of my favorite that I keep finding myself saying more and more is "It's good enough". Using this mantra takes a lot of stress off of my Type A personality and tendency to want to be "perfect". Knowing that I did my best, although perhaps not perfect, is "good enough" for me. Whatever positive saying works for you, use it and use it often.
- Let it go. In keeping with the above, you are not a superhero. Perfection is unattainable, so stop trying to be "perfect". Buy a smoked turkey if you’re nervous about cooking the bird. Throw all your clutter into a closet (did I really say that!?!?!?) and deal with it after the holidays when you’re more level-headed. Purchase a gift card instead of hunting for the exact gift you think you might discover at the last minute.
Do yourself a favor and be a happy holiday celebrant. It is much more enjoyable for everyone around you when you are enjoying the festivities along with everyone else rather being irritable and stressed out. Takes all the fun out of it for you too, doesn't it?
Wishing each and every one of you a happy holiday. Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year! May you have a stress-free and joyful holiday season. See you again in 2012!!!!
Saturday, December 17 2011
A lot of my clients and organizing community are busy moms who work from home. I know that you need all the help you can get. It's a juggling act. I was interested in what Ali Brown has to say about holiday tips for work-at-home moms. I thought I would share:
With the kids around more than usual over the holidays, you might be missing quiet time to get solid work done at home. Most moms I know get too busy to properly plan ahead. But, if you get a little creative, you can set your kids up for a fun, memorable vacation and not miss a beat at work.
Hire holiday help
Remember, K-12 kids aren’t the only ones home for the holidays. Most college students have 3 weeks off and are probably going crazy under their parents’ roofs themselves. (Don’t we all remember those days?) Ask your friends and neighbors if their older children are looking for some extra cash around the holidays to play nanny, so you can still play boss.
Volunteer your kids
During the holidays, soup kitchens and animal shelters are always looking for an extra hand. Appoint an adult chaperone (or two) to take the kids out for a day of kid-friendly volunteer work (For kid-friendly volunteer opportunities, click here.) Not only will it get your kids off the couch, but it also might get them into the spirit of giving in a life-changing way.
Indulge their hobbies
Whether it’s tennis, ballet, reading, or art, sign your kids up for mini-workshops that they can attend during the weekdays. If you can’t find a class in the community, then have a bunch of moms pitch in to hire a private teacher and host group classes in your own home (this method works best if you have a basement you can work in ;)). And don’t forget there are a ton of talented high school and college-level athletes and artists who would be thrilled to teach a group of kids!
Keep a routine
If there’s no way around it and it’s just you and the kids, be sure to set some boundaries so their day doesn’t invade yours. Instead of letting the kids run wild all day long, try to set a schedule for them so they get a mix of exercise, education and rest time. Plan holiday movie time or holiday project fun time, to give you 1.5-hour blocks of time to knock a few things off your to-do list.
Streamline your to-do list
Be honest, if the kids are home, you’re not going to get as much done as you usually would. There’s no reason to beat yourself up and feel like you’ve fallen behind. Instead, write down the top 3 work items that you MUST get done each day and make sure you accomplish them. That way you can shut down your computer feeling right about your day, and focus on all the wonderful time you get to share with your kids!
Don’t forget to indulge your own inner child and join your kids in a few fun holiday projects. That’s the beauty of being a “mom”preneur — you get to decorate gingerbread cookies with your kids in the morning, then work while they giggle to Frosty the Snowman in the background. Could you have a better workday than that?
© 2011 Ali International, LLC
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com“
Hope you find these tips helpful. Which one did you like the best? I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Monday, December 12 2011
We are now in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. With Chanukah starting on December 20th, Christmas on December 25th, Kwanzaa on December 26th and New Years Eve on December 31st, there is a lot to plan for.
I have a few suggestions as to how you can save some precious time during the holidays.
1. Give yourself a break! You don't have to prepare all of the food yourself. You can prepare those special recipes you enjoy making but have others contribute. Have your guests bring a dessert or an appetizer. Order a nice tray from your local grocery store or speciality shop to reduce the amount of time you spend preparing for your dinners or parties.
2. Avoid the traffic jams on your stove. Use an electric skillet, slow cooker or food warmer. You can use them to heat premade foods and set them up somewhere else besides the area around your stove. Why not use another portion of your counter top, a table or a server?
3. Create a centerpiece for the table by using what you already have. Use a long runner that reflects the holidays. Use fabric or even wrapping paper and let the food you prepare serve as the decorative part of your table. Use a nice basket of seasonal fruit to create a focal point on your table. Put it on a larger plate and surround it with Christmas ornaments for an even more festive table. Again, if you don't want to take the time, have your local grocery store or specialty shop create the fruit basket for you.
4. Keep a few gifts on hand for unexpected guests. We are bound to either forget about someone or someone shows up with an unexpected guest. Be prepared by keeping a few extra gift items on hand. Wrap them ahead of time and indicate on a post-it note what it is and you will not be caught off guard.
5. As I've written about in previous posts for Thanksgiving, do the same for the upcoming holiday parties and dinners. Give your fridge a thorough clean-out. Get rid of what you don't need, clean the shelves and make room for those leftovers!
6. Make a list of the items you will need to prepare your special recipes. Avoid having to run to the store last minute to purchase that extra stick of butter or some condensed milk. Go through all of your recipes carefully and make sure you have everything you need when you go to prepare that special appetizer, side dish or dessert.
These suggestions will help you to save some time during the holidays. Let me know which one you like the best.
Most importantly, enjoy!
Tuesday, December 06 2011
We can all acknowledge that this time of year can be very stressful. It seems like a whirlwind from Thanksgiving right thru to the end of the year.
I have business goals I want to reach by the end of the year, I prepare for my Thanksgiving feast several days in advance and then head right into decorating, sending out cards and shopping for the holidays. Before you know it, it's New Years Day.
Especially during this time of year, it is very important that we attempt to reduce our stress levels as we have so much to deal with in such a short period of time.
Stress can lead to clutter in our head. When we are stressed out, we tend to not think clearly and then can not visualize the path we need to take in order to get things done.
The best way to help clear the clutter in your head is to write things down. Make a list of all the things you need to get done either on paper or on your Smart Phone or other device that you use to keep track. Then, map out when you will do them and schedule it on your paper calendar or electronic device.
I make a habit of mapping out my "To Do's" on my big wall calendar (even up to a year in advance) and then create a daily "to do" list of things I need to accomplish - putting the most important things at the top of the list.
It is amazing how much you can accomplish when you do this. It tends to keep you more focused on the task at hand. You tend not to get so distracted by other things and, before you know, you can check it off your list.
Do yourself a favor this holiday season and reduce your stress by eliminating the clutter in head. Write it down.
Try this and let me know how you make out. I would love to get your feedback and hear about your experiences.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Friday, May 27 2011
I am about to go away and take a "well deserved" mini vacation this Memorial Day weekend. I have been working almost every day this month and decided to take advantage of the three day weekend and head to the Pocono Mountains of PA.
Even though it is only a "mini vacation", I began several weeks ago compiling a list of things I needed to purchase, things I needed to pack and things I needed to do around the house to prepare.
I cannot imagine getting ready for a trip, large or small, without the use of a list. I have always done this and assumed that everyone else does so too. Not the case.
I am surprised to learn that many people, especially men, do not pack for a trip with a list in hand of what to take. I can only imagine how many times they get to their destination and say to themselves "Oh, I forgot to pack the...."!
When I go away, I like to make sure I have everything I need when I need it. I try my best not to overpack and end up removing about a 1/3 of the items on my list (especially clothing) when it comes to getting it into a suitcase.
By creating a list, you can take some time to think about the items that you need, even down to a pair of scissors and be ready to go when the day arrives.
Do yourself a favor. The next time you take that trip, whether it be a day trip with the family or an extended vacation, make a list and check it twice and you can rest assured that you have what it is you need, when you need it.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Wednesday, May 04 2011
Okay, Easter is behind us, but perhaps those plastic Easter eggs are still hanging around. I have found some great ways to re-use those eggs for organization and want to share them with you!
Besides, just putting them away til next year, there are other ideas for their use.
1. Having a party with balloons. Keep them from floating away by filling the egg with small rocks and close the end of the ribbon from the balloon in the egg. Instant balloon weight!
2. Keep your jewelry free from tangles while traveling by coiling your necklace in the egg and snapping it shut. You can use this idea in your drawer to organize your jewelry as well. Why not keep all of your earring backs in one place in an egg?
3. Use the eggs as packing material. When shipping a box, toss a bunch of lightweight, colorful eggs inside.
4. Tote a healthy snack with you. Use a clean egg to stash a handful of your favorite snack, nuts or trail mix.
5. Carry your MP3 ear buds in an egg to keep them from knotting up.
6. (This is my favorite). Why not store your pantyhose or knee highs in the eggs and use an egg carton to keep them in place in your drawer? I remember when my pantyhose used to come in an egg. Do you?
What ideas do you have for making use of your plastic Easter eggs? I would love to hear them and share them with others. Reusing the eggs is a way to be "green".
In the meantime, if you have any issues with clutter, let me hear from you. I would love to help.
Have a great week and a wonderful Mother's Day!
Sunday, October 24 2010
We all know the holidays are right around the corner and it is a time when we tend to focus on helping those in need (or at least I hope so!).
One of the ways in which we can reach out to families with life-threatening illnesses during this holiday season is to order a PIE IN THE SKY thru the Manna organization.
Manna provides Thanksgiving dinners (for 4) to those with life-threatening illnesses. Their website can be found at https://www.manapies.org
Their mission is focused on people with acute nutritional risk due to life-threatening illnesses. Manna prepares and delivers delicious nourishing meals and counsel, empowering individuals to battle illness and improve their quality of life.
So, share the holiday spirit and provide Thanksgiving dinner for a family of four. For a donation of only $25 you can order a delicious pie and help a family in need at the same time!
Simply order your Pie In The Sky pie by noon on Friday, November 19, 2010 and pick it up before Thanksgiving. They have locations where you can pick up your pie throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Let's make this a Happy Thanksgiving not only for us but for others as well.
You can place your order by calling 1-866-SKY-PIES (1-866-754-7437)
All other questions, call 215-49-MANNA (215-496-2662)
These pies are not only delicious, but tax deductible!
For those of you who prefer cake, purchase a Classic Cake instead and still help those in need.
Let's make our world A BETTER SPACE this holiday season and support a great cause.
Thank you for helping out!
AND, if I can help you this holiday season by getting organized, contact me. I am glad to help!
Have a great week!
Tuesday, June 08 2010
About two weeks ago, my very dearest friend announced that she was going to plan a surprise 21st birthday party for her daughter. How exciting! But what an undertaking in such a short amount of time.
You might think that because she is my best friend she would have a similar personality and the likelihood is there that she is organized. Not in the least bit!
She called me in a panic the past week because she had taken the first step of inviting people - 73 that is! She basically told everyone she knows and probably some she doesn't know too well to "come on over" this coming Saturday. So, before she knew it, she has 73 people showing up. Yikes! Where will she put them all!
Now she is only days away from the party and there is no plan as to what she is serving or how she is serving 73 people.
Of course, I volunteered to help her out and create an action plan to get everything organized so that the party could run smoothly.
The first mistake that was made was that she did not make a set guest list and really see how many people she was inviting. She just randomly asked everyone without taking into the consideration the ramifications of her actions.
The next issue is determining what the menu should be and how much food to provide. (My friend is notorious for purchasing way too much food because she cannot judge how much everyone is going to eat.) The end result of not planning is that you can end up with so many leftovers, you end up giving it all away because you just don't have room to store it afterwards.
The next issue is how the food will be prepared and served. Will it be brought in by a caterer or will it need to be prepared at home? If made at home, when will it be prepared? Can it be prepared in advance so everything does not have to be done on the day of the party? How will it be stored? Is there enough room to store the food until its time to heat it up or serve it? Do you need to create a schedule for placing items in the oven so they all are done at the same time?
The next issue is whether you have enough supplies - plates, cups, plasticware, napkins, bowls, serving trays, sternos, crock pots, aluminum foil, plastic containers for storage, etc. When planning the food, you need to determine how it will be served to make sure you are not left stuck in the end with nothing to serve your food on.
The next issue is decorations. Since this is a surprise party for her daughter that lives at home, no decorating can be done until that morning when she leaves the house to go to work. It does not mean, however, that you don't plan what to decorate with and where to place it when the time comes.
Lastly, where will you put everyone - in the living room, dining room, kitchen, basement, outdoors? With a large crowd such as this, the hope is that the weather will cooperate so many will be out in the backyard. But, if the weather does not cooperate, what is the backup plan? Will you put up a tent in the backyard? Do you have enough seating? Will you be doing a buffet style service and where will it be set up?
No matter what the special event might be - birthday party, anniversary party, christening, bar mitzvah, wedding, it all takes planning.
Be sure to leave yourself enough time in advance to figure out all the various aspects of planning the special event so that it goes off smoothly. Reduce stress by planning ahead and then you can have a great time along with your guests.
If you are planning a wedding, why not check out my "U Can Do It Wedding Preparation Checklist" at my ABS Store right on this website. It provides you with a comprehensive list of what to do starting a year before the wedding.
Now, that's how you plan a special event!
Wednesday, December 23 2009
I am so excited about my upcoming coaching program for busy moms. This past year I have been focusing my business on helping busy moms and women entrepreneurs learn how to get and stay organized.
Not ony have I been busy writing newsletters, blogs and articles on the subject of getting organized, I have produced a line of products called U Can Do It which were specially created to help busy moms.
Now, I am pleased to announce that I have put together an exciting, new coaching program called "Living A More Organized Life".
With this quarterly group coaching program which meets by phone, busy moms will learn how to follow a proven step-by-step method to tackle and accomplish any project, be prepared for every special event, plan vacations and family time, make back to school a breeze and learn how to relax and enjoy the holiday season by having step-by-step ways to do gift-giving, decorating, large family dinners/parties and having overnight guests feel right at home.
This program begins on January 12, 2010 and then continues in April, July and October.
I am highly suggesting that busy moms not miss out on this opportunity to learn how to live a more organized life. If you or someone you know is a busy mom, don't pass this up. I only have 40 slots available and it will be filling up quickly.
For more information about this program, visit my special information page at www.4abetterspace.com/coaching.
In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 18 2009
‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through our house,
There was clutter and chaos…but, thankfully, no mouse!
The mantle was bare, the wreath still in my car,
Not a cookie was baked, not even a bar.
I’d addressed not a card, not a gift had been wrapped,
The jet lag had got me, I just wanted to nap!
One tree was half decorated, the other not bought,
The stockings still packed and the Village was naught.
Ornaments and tissue paper were strewn all about,
I was tempted to say, ‘We’ll just do without!’
But our children and grandchildren will be here next week,
And I know it’s a peaceful, joyful holiday they seek.
So rally I must, this is really a test,
Can I do it? Can I make this Christmas one of the best?
I’ll put on some music, brew some tea, make a list,
I’ll do what I can, the rest won’t be missed.
That we have our health and our loved ones are near,
Is all that we need for our holiday cheer!
SO, LET'S GET ORGANIZED NEXT YEAR!!!!
For now, five strategies for surviving the next seven days:
Lower expectations. There’s not time to do everything but there’s time to do the important things. Even Martha Stewart would have to make choices with this limited amount of time. The trees will be decorated but the lights and the beads do not have to be perfect; perhaps there will not be so many ornaments as in years past. I’ll bake some cookies, but just enough for us to enjoy.
Plan menus to do double duty. The ham and the turkey will do their work for main meals and then appear again as sandwiches, Turkey Curry, and a couple of luscious soups that’ll grow like Topsy when I add some noodles or beans with vegetables. I’ll also make one trip to the store just to stock up on paper goods, dish soap and laundry soap. This is not the time to run out of those staples.
Do things in chunks of time. Instead of racing from one project to the next, I’ll spend one afternoon decorating the dining room, one decorating the living room. I’ll spend one evening baking cookies, another addressing envelopes and yet another doing the layout for the Christmas letter. In those chunks of time, the biggest projects…those that I deem most important…will be done.
Buy some time. There’s just not time to clean the entire house so I’ll hire someone to do the main areas and leave the rest. Clean beds and clean bathrooms top my list. The rest is just fine.
Take care of myself. The best gift I can give my family is to be relaxed and just enjoy this holiday with them. My mood will set the tone for the entire celebration. I’ll get some rest, a bit of exercise, and give myself permission not to be perfect.
No matter how much or how little I do, December 25th will be here next week. I can choose to be stressed or I can relax and enjoy the season. I choose the latter.
It’s truly the best time of the year. May you all have a blessed holiday with your family and friends!
Contact me if you want to make your holiday season a bit easier next year! I can help.
Monday, November 23 2009
In my last blog, I talked about how to organize the fridge in preparation for Thanksgiving. So, now that the fridge and freezer are organized, another issue arises AFTER the Thanksgiving feast - what to do with the leftovers.
Sometimes we just keep eating them until they are gone or take them and prepare something else from them -such as turkey soup, etc.
However, sometimes, we want to freeze the leftovers (in our recently organized freezer!) but are not sure what the guidelines are for how long they will last.
When storing your leftovers, select a shallow, air tight meal-sized container that you can clearly label. You want to put the date and the contents on the label for future reference.
Here are the guidelines for how long you can save your leftovers in the freezer:
Turkey meat (removed from the bone).............4 to 6 months
Stuffing.....................................................2 to 3 months
Soups........................................................2 to 3 months
Cranberry Sauce..........................................2 to 3 months
Vegetables.................................................1 year (if blanched)
Cakes, cupcakes and pies..............................2 to 3 months
I hope all of you enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends but don't eat too much!
Remember, you can freeze the leftovers!
If you need more assistance with getting your home organized, don't hesitate to contact A Better Space. I will be more than happy to help.
Sunday, November 15 2009
I don't know about you, but I can't believe it's already the middle of November! Wasn't it just Halloween! Well, in order to keep pace with the upcoming holidays, there are some things you can do to make it go smoother.
In order to prepare for the large amount of food you might be preparing for Thanksgiving (including the storage of that pre-cooked turkey), I suggest that this is a good time to organize the inside of your refrigerator to accommodate the room you will need to store all that food.
Here are some quick tips for A Better Space in your fridge:
1. TOSS - Go through your refrigerator and freezer, shelf by shelf, and toss out anything that has spoiled, has an expired date on it, anything you are unable to identify or that you know you no longer want.
2. CLEAN - Clear out one shelf at a time either by moving items to another shelf or temporarily removing them from the fridge or freezer. You can lay them out on a towel on your counter or floor. Wipe each shelf out with warm water and baking soda. Scrape off any bits of food and wipe up any spills. Don't forget the refrigerator door and drawers. Then wipe down the items before they are returned to the fridge or freezer to remove whatever might be on the outside of them or stuck to the bottom.
3. CATEGORIZE - Designate different shelves for different categories. By grouping things together, they will be easier to locate. Some suggestions are to keep milk, juice and other drinks together. Keep all left-overs together and towards the front so they are easily seen and used before they go bad. Keep all breads together. Keep all condiments together either on the door on in a low container on a shelf for easy access to the ones in the back. Vegetables and fruits should be kept in their designated drawers with the correct setting to assure longer life.
4. DON'T FORGET THE EXTERIOR - Clear the front of the fridge of all loose papers and toss anything that is outdated. Coupons should be kept in a coupon organizer and recipes you intend to prepare should be placed in a recipe file. Remove excess magnets to keep the front of the fridge free of clutter.
By using these simple suggestions, you will create more space inside and outside your refrigerator and freezer for the holidays and be able to find what you need more easily.
Don't let all that fridge clutter "gobble" up your space!
If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, simply contact A BETTER SPACE. I will be more than happy to help.
Enjoy your week!
Wednesday, December 10 2008
We are all getting ready for the upcoming holidays, whether it's Christmas, Chanuakah or Qwanza and don't forget New Years! More than likely you will be having company over, whether it friends or family or both. Perhaps, you will want to prepare a fabulous holiday party or have guests stay with you during this festive season. Here's some Quick Tips to start the holidays off organized and eight simple things you can do to help plan that gathering without a headache:
1. MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE: Making a simple list can help you unclutter your mind so that you can concentrate on the task at hand. Make a detailed list of everything you need to get done. If you will be delegating tasks to family members (as you should), mark down who's doing what. Likewise, if you absolutely must tackle one task before a certain date, write down that date, too. Make sure you list any supplies you might need to accomplish each task. If you are in charge of a meal, you can even list your recipes right on your list for the next time you go to the grocery store.
2. COOK EARLY: Make your side dishes and desserts the day before your big meal. Most side dishes and virtually all desserts will keep just fine overnight in the fridge or freezer. This way, on the day of your party, you can concentrate on your main dish and simply warm up the side dishes before dinner. If you'll be spending the day baking, take the time between cookie batches to wrap last minute gifts! If you're all caught up on your wrapping (good for you!), take that time to put your feet up for a much deserved rest.
3. GIVE SIMPLY: Avoid long lines and crowds at the malls and department stores by giving gift certificates. (A great gift idea is a gift certificate from A BETTER SPACE!) They don't clutter and they don't cost much to ship to friends and family out of town. Plus, everyone gets exactly what they want.
4. TRY A POTLUCK: If you're organizing a large family gathering, ask everyone to bring their favorite dish. This way, everyone can show off their culinary expertise and you'll be saved from slaving away in the kitchen all day. (I suggest getting a general idea about what everyone is bringing to avoid duplicates.)
5. CREATE A WRAPPING STATION: Save time and energy by designating a corner of your home for gift wrapping. If you have a nice, comfortable space to work and wrap gifts, you're more likely to get it done before the last minute. Put up a card table in the corner of a spare bedroom or in a space in your basement to keep your gift wrap, bags, tissue paper, tape, scissors, bows, etc. All of it can be right where you can easily get to them. You won't have to pull your supplies from various places in your home every time you need to wrap a gift. Also, if you wrap gifts as you buy them, you'll save time too. When the season is over, carefully store any leftover paper and bags in clearly marked containers for next year.
6. SEND AN E-CARD: So, you've already mailed out your cards for this year and the holiday is only a couple of days away. You get a card in the mail from someone you forgot to send a card to. It might be too late to mail them your holiday wishes in return, but email is instant. E-cards have come a long way. Most of the popular greeting card companies offer e-cards on their web site and can be personalized with text and photos.
7. PICK UP EXTRAS: When you are out and about and find a great sale, buy a couple extras. Have something on hand just in case someone drops by with a gift for you. You don't want to be in a situation where you don't have anything to give them. Holiday treats, candles, restaurant gift cards and ornaments all make great, simple holiday gifts for anyone. These gifts are also something you can use personally if you don't end up giving them to someone this year. Wrap them up and mark a code on the bottom so you know what's inside.
8. PREPARE FOR OVERNIGHT GUESTS: It only takes a few simple gestures to make your guests feel welcome and at home. Leave a basket of travel sized toiletries in a basket in the bathroom. Place a few books or magazines on the night stand. Provide space for your guests to store their clothing while they are staying with you. Provide space in some drawers and some hangers in the closet. (See my previous blog from April 30, 2008 for more tips on creating a five-star guest room.)
With some simple planning, you have avoid the stress of preparing that holiday meal, gift giving and providing arrangements for guests to stay overnight.
Enjoy the holidays. In the meantime, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, please feel free to contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I'll be glad to help.
Wednesday, March 19 2008
Can you believe almost one-quarter of the year has already passed? Are you still having trouble organizing those special events that occur every year, making sure you have made note of the date and what to purchase, whether it’s a card or a gift?
Here are some Quick Tips for A Better Space which will make organizing those special events a breeze:
First, write all the birthdays, anniversaries and other recurring celebrations on your calendar.
Then, transfer the information, using a 3x5 inch recipe box with 12 dividers inside marked January through December.
On 3 x 5 cards, write the name, address and phone numbers of the person. In the upper right corner, write the date of their special day and highlight it for quick visibility.
You can use white cards for wedding anniversaries, pink cards for female birthdays, blue cards for male birthdays and yellow or green cards for other special days. Put the cards in chronological order in the box by month.
I use this system for both personal information and professional contact information. Some people will get a phone call, others you will send a card to, while others you will buy a gift for.
About 10 days prior to the start of a new month, pull out all the cards for the next month. Review them. Once you have decided what your intentions are for that month’s group of people, plan a trip to purchase any cards and/or gifts you need for that month. As an added perk, write what you give the person that year on back of the card.
Now, you won’t forget that special day!
You can even do a separate box just for Christmas time. Using the same system, just put a card in the box for everyone you want to send cards to and those you want to purchase gifts for. Use a divider to separate the two categories, if you’d like. Be sure to keep contact information up to date so that when it comes time to mail out those cards and gifts, the information is correct. Again, write what you give the person that year on the back of the card. This will avoid duplicates and make you look creative and organized.
For more information and assistance on this topic or any organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you reach your goals for organization and make your place A Better Space.
Have a great week!
Tuesday, January 15 2008
This past week I got the last of my holiday linens washed and put away for the season. I thought that it would be a good time to share with you another Quick Tip for A Better Space:
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
Some of you might still need to put away those holiday decorations. Your holiday decorations can quickly overrun your household if there is no rhyme or reason to their organization. An easy and visual sorting system will allow you access to your holiday decorations quickly and easily. This system not only applies to Christmas, but also to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, etc.
I suggest either using clear plastic bins or color- related bins, such as orange bins with black lids for Halloween or red bins with green lids for Christmas. There are also pastel colored bins for Easter. You will find these on sale during the particular season, so stock up then. The color coordinated bins are a quick visual reference.
No matter what type of bin you use, I suggest placing a large label on the side of the bin that will be facing front. Not only title the bin by holiday, but list the basic contents it contains. By storing your decorations properly with labels, you can organize all of your decorations for the various holidays year round. Items will easily fit back in the same containers again when you are finished with them, as well. Personally, my family has about 10 to 15 bins of Christmas decorations which we store in our loft, but each bin is clearly labeled so we know immediately what they contain.
When it comes to Christmas lights and garland, it can be a frustrating mess if they are not stored properly. To avoid this chaos, invest in storage bins that are specially designed for these decorations. There are fantastic bins with spools you can snap on the inside that will allow you to wind your tree lights and beaded garland around. They not only save you the frustration of uncoiling, but also prevent knots from forming which lengthens the life of your decorations.
Now a days, there are many types of containers you can purchase either in your local store or on line to store your holiday linens, fragile decorations, tree ornaments, wreaths, artificial tree, outside lighting, wrapping paper and ribbon. And don’t forget the bubble wrap!
For more information and assistance on this topic or any organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you reach your goals for organization and make your place A Better Space.