December 6th, 2013
* Stock your freezer and pantry during the month so you will have fewer trips to the grocery store and fewer meals to prepare. This might be a good time to cash in those pizza coupons!
* Wrapping gifts or stuffing cards into envelopes is a good multi-tasking chore to do while you’re on the phone or watching tv.
* Plan your parties and holiday meals well in advance. I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many lists. If it’s not on the list, it probably won’t happen!
* Gather the troops, and decorate the house and trim the tree using all the help you can get. Have a “tree trimming” party. Invite friends or family members over, put on the Christmas music to set the mood, serve refreshments or order in. It’s much less of a chore when everyone pitches in to help. After the holidays, you can do the same thing. No one really likes to “undecorate”, but if you make a party of it, to celebrate the New Year perhaps, time goes much quicker.
* Lower your expectations: Don’t feel you have to be ready for House and Garden Magazine to photograph your holiday dinner. Potlucks and no frill meals are nice and everyone enjoys trying new recipes.
* Let people help you. During the holidays, those you love surround you and they are there to help when you need it. If you need help with meals, ask them to make their specialty.
Slow down and enjoy the holidays with your close friends and family!
November 21st, 2013
It can be a pain to organize your photos. You probably have several digital cameras and smartphones in your household – plus even the kids’ have devices that take photos. On top of it, you have multiple desktop computers, laptops, and tablets with collections of photos you’ve accumulated over the years. Then people text you photos, share photos on Facebook and Instagram. The photos are everywhere! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and just let the photos pile up. But if you want to preserve your digital memories and easily reference them years from now, Here are 6 tips for how to organize photos.
Centralize: Keep all your photos in one spot. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to find old vacation photos, and they could be in one of several places. Maybe they’re on your laptop, maybe they’re on the external drive in the den, or maybe they’re on the old computer in the garage that crashed. Have all your photos on a desktop computer with a large hard drive. Many newer computers come with very large hard drives capable of storing a decade of family photos. If you have access to technical support, install a second large hard drive – with 2 or 3 terabytes of storage – in your desktop computer. A second drive won’t be running your operating system (eg: Windows), so it will spin less and likely have a longer life. Tip: Make a habit of downloading all your photos to your central location.
Cloud Caution: Isn’t the cloud supposed to be the one of the latest and greatest trends in computing? Yes! But storing your life’s photos in the cloud (on someone else’s servers) as the one and only location can be problematic for a few reasons. Some photo services will size down your photos when you upload them, so you lose the original photos’ quality and metadata (the timestamp, camera model, and even location). So don’t delete those originals! For instance, you may have a 10MB photo from your camera, and when you upload it to your photo service’s site, it might be 1MB and half the resolution. There are some great sites like Snapfish and Flickr that offer many options for uploading and sharing photos, but use these as secondary locations for the photos you want to share, not your primary, one-and-only location. Photo website’s may have changing storage policies, limits, and price increases that can creep up with little notice, and while they have extensive backup systems, they’re not exempt from systems failure and data loss. Tip: Own your own storage for all your photos and use cloud services for sharing and secondary storage.
Create Folders: The key to organizing collections of photos on your hard drive is a well thought out folder, or directory, structure. The surest way to organize photos is by maintaining a set of folders on your computer, just like you may do with emails or documents you save. Creating folders of photos on your hard drive will future proof your collection and can be moved from computer to computer for decades to come, since folders and files can easily be migrated to newer and different systems. Create sets of folders for all the photos you download from your devices. Use a Year/Month/Day naming format, so you can easily find photos by date – without that you’ll end up with just a giant set of arbitrarily named folders. Tip: It’s worth the effort to organize your photos with a logical hierarchy of folders in order to stay organized long term.
Stay on Top of It: Immediately get into the habit of downloading photos regularly. Of course it’s easy to let your camera’s memory card fill up before thinking about downloading to your computer. But if you stay up on it, you’re not only saving yourself from a larger chunk of work later on, you’re protecting yourself from data loss. It’s risky to carry your camera around with hundreds of precious photos because it’s vulnerable to being lost, stolen, or damaged. Pop that memory card into your computer as soon as you can to cut and paste those photos into the right folder on your hard drive. Even if you don’t have time to put all the photos into the right folders now, it’s at least better to put them in a generic folder that you can sort through later. Tip: Download frequently to make it easy on yourself and take away the worry of losing photos.
The Social Life of Photos: A large part of your life in photos may actually be snapped by some other friend or family member. Those photos can be all over the place: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Emails, and Text Messages to name a few. Some of those photos can be great memories for years to come, but when they live in those locations, they scroll up and away from memory. Save any photo that you really like that comes your way. Facebook on your computer’s browser has a “Download” option for every image you open up. Smartphones allow you to save most photos to your camera roll, which then will make it to your hard drive when you download. Tip: If you’re a fanatic about a having a photo box of memories then grabbing pics from those who share them is a great way to build a story of your life.
Protect Yourself: Last, but most important, backup your photos. Without a backup, your hard drive of lifetime photos is at risk of being lost. Computers fail, get stolen, damaged, and just don’t last. Tip: With a good backup strategy, you have peace of mind that your digital memories are with you forever.
November 14th, 2013
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving shopping. You can save time and money by shopping your pantry first.
The key to “shopping” your pantry is to figure out what ingredients you already have. First, make a list of everything you’ll need. Then, cross off anything that’s already in your pantry. Now you have a list of the items you still need to take to the grocery store. Don’t forget to purge while you’re shopping your pantry. Take this opportunity to rid of anything old and expired. Be sure to check your spice rack as well.
Oil Rubbed Bronze Deluxe Spice and Can Rack and Deluxe Wine Racks
The key to any organizational task is to plan well. Take time this week to plan your shopping and you’ll avoid the extra stress and aggravation on Thanksgiving Day!
October 24th, 2013
Your home office should support your work needs and your decorating preferences. So, consider how you want to use the space and then choose your furnishings. Opt for larger desks with file drawers or cabinets or extra-long worktables. Use your open wall space for shelves or bookcases that can hold organizers and baskets for your papers or supplies that you need on hand. Put oversize baskets and bins under or near desks for filing or storage. Hang bulletin boards to highlight your daily to do lists or current projects. Put these strategies into play and you’ll soon discover that stylish, well organized spaces allow you to feel in control and even enjoy your work day!
photo credit media cache
October 17th, 2013
Not just for electronics or clothing, an armoire provides much needed storage in a kitchen lacking pantry space. In addition to storing food, paper goods and cookware, armoires offer the benefit of a freestanding furniture piece, which can be moved as needed around the kitchen or to an adjoining room. Whether it is an antique piece or newer store-bought cabinet, using the back of the doors as an organizational center combined with clever storage systems inside, turns any armoire into a kitchen pantry powerhouse.
(photo credit) diycozyhome.com
1) Prep the armoire to work as pantry storage. Since you will store food and cooking tools here, clean the surfaces with soap and water or your favorite cleaning solution. Add any decorative touches as desired such as new hardware, bold paint color or wallpaper on the inside.
2) Install shelves as needed. Wire shelves from a home improvement store are easy to install and customizable to fit your furniture piece. Have them cut to fit your armoire for additional storage space, and then place them inside.
3) Create zones for food and kitchen essentials. Your go-to snack items and dinner staples need easy access, so put them on a center shelf. Likewise, group baking supplies, canned goods and spices together. Bulky items that are not used as much — such as extra cereal and paper towels — go on the top. If the armoire has a bottom drawer, store linens or seldom-used serving pieces in it.
4) Use attractive storage. Glass jars work well for flours and sugars, plus they complement the charm of an armoire. Sidelines baskets do the same and help to corral smaller items like drink mixes and individually wrapped snacks. They are also easy to pull out and allow you to see what is inside.
5) Cover the inside of the cabinet doors. Paint one side with chalkboard paint where you can write out grocery lists and menu plans. On the other door, hang cork squares with double-sided tape, and use push pins to keep notes, recipes and coupons at eye level.
October 8th, 2013
Problem: Kid room chaos
Tame a messy room with a multipurpose spot for sleeping, lounging, and studying.
1. Disply toys and artwork on several wall shelves.
2. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint: write helpful reminders.
3. Keep together important papers in a clipboard attached to a cabinet or wall.
4. Fill a toolbox with art supplies.
5. Round up small stuff in clear office storage boxes: note contents on reusable labels.
6. Opt for a daybed with integrated storage features.
7. Gain an additional layer of storage with underbed drawers.
8. Subdivide drawers with plastic drawer organizers.
9. Label the interiors of drawers with adhesive letters.
10. Hang coats, backpacks, and handled bins from wall hooks.
September 17th, 2013
Special organizing touches help you pull together the perfect look for any occasion.
Rainbow Connection ~ Spray paint wood hangers to give your closet a style upgrade and introduce a color coded wardrobe management system. Assign colors to different types of garments, seasons, or users.
Drop – Ins ~ Some articles of clothing – socks, workout clothes, pajamas – are difficult to keep folded and stacked. Avoid toppling piles by setting items in labeled Sidelines baskets.
Tag ~ Tie gift tags to wire shelves to designate storage zones. Affix an envelope of blank tags and extra ties to the back of the door so you can update labels quickly.
Eye of the Beholder ~ Use digital or instant photos as visual reminders of what’s inside boxes and bins. While you’re snapping away, take pictures of favorite combinations of clothing, shoes, and accessories. That way, you can assemble an outfit in a flash
September 9th, 2013
Manage mail, reading materials, and school notices with containers dedicated to organizing your papers.
CREATE “IN” AND “OUT” BOXES in the location where you typically dump mail. For example, unused paint cans from a hardware store – painted and labeled with scrapbooking letters – can keep mail organized until you have time to sort it. However, weed out junk mail immediately, tossing it straight into the recycling bin – you’ll be amazed at the time, space, and energy saved by this simple task.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER paper piles by creating individual cubbies for each family member. Teach children to put all important papers into the cubbies when they come home from school, then make a habit to go through all the cubbies before you go to bed. Place any papers that need to go back to school into a folder that children can grab on the way out the door.
Dedicate a basket or shelf to items that don’t belong in your house – such as store returns, letters to mail, etc. Get into the habit of checking the area when you leave the house.
These simple tasks are sure to get you organized in no time!
August 16th, 2013
It can be easier to part with serviceable items that you no longer need or want if you know someone else can put them to good use. Check out these ways to donate, recycle, or sell your unwanted belongings.
Project Smile collects stuffed animals for emergency responders to give to frightened children in the aftermath of fires, accidents, or natural disasters. www.projectsmile.org
Soles4Souls provides shoes to people in need worldwide. Enter your zip code to find a collection site near you. www.soles4souls.com
Local daycare centers and group homes for troubled youth often appreciate gently used toys, books, magazines, games, and even older model computers.
Dispose My Meds lets you search by zip code for local pharmacies with take-back programs to help keep potentially harmful pharmaceutical waste and personal care chemicals out of the enviroment. www.disposemymeds.com
Recycle My Cell Phone accepts old cell phones by mail and recycles or refurbishes them to prevent toxic metals from getting into landfills. www.recyclemycellphone.org
Earth911.com helps you locate recycling centers near your home for batteries, electronics, and more. www.earth911.com
Replacements, Ltd buys china, crystal, and silver – from soup bowls to nut dishes in more than 360,000 tableware patterns. www.replacements.com
Media Exchange 123 buys CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and video games. Simply enter the UPC number of the item you’d like to sell to find out how much they will pay. www.mx123.com
Gazelle buys a wide array of electronic equipment such as Blu-ray players, camcorders, laptops, and e-readers. www.gazelle.com
August 5th, 2013
Organizing for Back – To – School
Even though many kids don’t go back to school until the first of September, many of us have kids going back to school in August.
Yes it’s definitely that time of the year again when the lazy days of summer can quickly turn into an overwhelmed chaotic nightmare if we aren’t prepared for back to school. And by prepared I mean organized.
Incorporating some simple organized solutions into your day can take you from stressed out to calm and controlled when it comes to getting the kids out the door and off to school each day.
Establish Evening and Morning Routines:
Nothing will set up your day better than when everyone knows exactly what is expected of them. Take some time before school starts to figure out what types of steps and regular routines are required to make sure everyone gets out the door on time with everything they need.
In preparation of the big day, go through all of your children’s clothes and create an inventory of what they have and what they’ll need. The night before school, put the clothes out that they will wear in the morning including socks and shoes.
The biggest contributing factor for staying on top of the school craziness is having a designated backpack station by the front door.
The kids know exactly where their backpacks need to go when they get home from school and the central location allows you the opportunity to check the backpacks each day to ensure notes are received and homework is done. Mornings are also a snap because backpacks can quickly be grabbed on the way out the door.
As for all the school papers, and boy there’s a lot of them! Set up a Command Central to keep important papers and calendars all in one place that everyone can check on a daily basis.
Before you know it the first day of school will be here and we’ll be back in the swing of things trying to keep up with it all. By implementing a few simple strategies as listed above you’ll be able to navigate through the school year like a pro.