Thursday, December 23, 2010

Carry it with You, Stylishly (Reisenthel Carrybag)

I am in love. My parents got me this carrybag from Reisenthel as a birthday gift. Okay, I picked it out and emailed them the link. But still, they bought and wrapped it!

By now, I hope you have caught on to the trend of using your cloth or sustainable grocery bags when you shop. Target gives you five cents off for every bag you take in, my grocery store takes off three. Legislation in California has been aimed at banning plastic bags. And did you know that in Europe, they charge you if you need a bag? Learn more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Right Up My Alley

Just paged through my January issue of Good Housekeeping, and it's no surprise that the first issue of the New Year addresses organizing. Two fabulous articles:

The pictures in this article are great, which features the homes of actual magazine staff! Make sure you check out the pantry!!!

It's tempting to consider buying this lady's book, based on the quick tips contained in the article.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Key idea: Make holiday shopping simpler by tracking your purchases in one place.

I love buying presents. I love watching people open their gift. I don't like stressing about gift buying.

Lots of people set a holiday budget, either based on amount per family member or a grand total. I don't have a firm budget. However, for the past four years, I've been tracking my holiday purchases in a basic spreadsheet. Each year my total spending is about the same.

Here is a sample of what the sheet looks like:

Who Item Store  Amount 
Mom Sewing Book Amazon  $    20.00
Suzie Spa Socks Ulta  $     6.00
Jim Gift Card Best Buy  $    25.00

Why I like this system:
  • I can sort by name and see who I purchased gifts for last year. That way I don't forget someone.
  • I can see how much I spent in previous years.
  • It's easy to input ideas for next years' gifts. (Or remind yourself of what you bought ahead and stashed away.)
  • Rather than having a huge stack of receipts, I enter gift info as I make purchases. I still save the receipts for the less decisive family members.
  • The spreadsheet is a quick reference to what I have. I don't need to visit the hiding spot or sort through wrapped gifts and try to remember what's in them. (I tend to wrap immediately in order to prevent peeking.)
  • I can sort by store and see where I've been most successful with finding gifts. That saves me time in future years.
  • A quick scan shows me who still needs something or what else I wanted to buy.
I hope this helps you as you gift buy in the future. This tip comes with a caveat: I am the annoying one who emails family on October 1 asking what everyone wants. This allows me to spend another month politely hounding them for their list. My Mom and I usually go out on Black Friday to finish up our lists. So, when my shopping is done by early December, I can kick back, decorate, bake,  put on the music and think about the real Reason for the season.

Here's hoping that your holiday isn't too stressful. Of course, if you have any tips for gift buying, please share them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy and Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

I am tired of spending hours wrapping up Christmas gifts.

Every year, I pick out the nicest wrap (with the grids so that I cut straight) and then painstaking fold and apply tape. All that and still the wrap is torn and crumpled up into a trash bag on Christmas morning. In less than a half hour.

No more!

The answer to my frustration came when someone turned me on to the idea of reusable gift bags. Yep, those bags at left contain presents for my son and sister-in-law.

I am hopeless when it comes to all things involving needle and thread, so I asked my crafty grandmother to make drawstring bags for me as last year's Christmas gift. I bought some cute fabric and ribbon, and gave it to her to assemble. You can find these on Etsy and there are many tutorials like this one available.

Wrapping gifts this year was a cinch (pun intended) and I am thrilled about the eco-friendliness of the whole idea. However, I'm curious to see what my extended family thinks. I'm also a little nervous about giving them to people outside the family. So, I came up with a little saying that could be pinned to the bags, in case people don't get the idea that I want my bags back:
"This wrap was meant for many friends. Kindly return or use again."

Oh, and for the record, it's December 2 and my shopping is DONE! The next post will give you a peek at the gift tracking spreadsheet I use each year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prioritizing for 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Eve (and Happy Birthday to me)! Sure enough, we are in full-tilt holiday season and will be going, going, going until sometime in mid-January.

But for today I am reflecting on Thanksgiving and all the people and things that are dear to me. I am also wondering what it means to enter my fourth decade of life. (Wow, did I really say it that way? It makes me sound even older!)

All this thinking reminded me of dear old Dad and his frequent refrain that, "To Fail to Plan is to Plan to Fail." Dad's ideas aren't as corny as they once seemed. Raising my son has made me think a lot about what things I want to do intentionally with him. I have also thought about how, if left to ramble through each day, we might just eat, sleep, play, and then wonder where the time went.

It's good to have a plan. To-do lists are helpful (and can even be fun!) but a plan allows for more direction and includes long-range goals. If I don't prioritize and make plans for vacations, trips to the zoo, art classes and dates to the bakery, life will go on and we'll miss making special memories. And I certainly don't want to wind up in a nursing home filled with regrets and "shoulda, coulda, woulda's."

As you navigate the holiday season and 2011, may I encourage you to be more intentional about defining your priorities and putting them on your calendar first? For me, in addition to the zoo type stuff, that will include planning a few free days that I can enjoy being with the people I love. You know, things like spending the day in my pajamas, baking, playing music and dancing around with my son, and taking time to be thankful for it all.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Motherhood and an Organized Home

Yesterday, my darling son decided he wanted to wake up at 2:30am.

He went back to sleep at 5:00 but by then, I had far too many projects in my mind that needed doing. Many were work projects. I also had to make soup for dinner with friends, but since I needed ingredients from the store, that had to wait until later in the day. (So much for my buying ahead/meal planning every week). Once I had all the ingredients and he was down for a nap, I raced to make the soup. I desperately hoped to squeeze in a nap for me after the soup was done. Sure enough, my boy only napped a little over an hour.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Room by Room: Pantry

The pantry is a natural extension of keeping your kitchen organized. It holds non-perishable canned or packaged goods that you want to keep on hand for common recipes.

Not everyone has the luxury of a pantry closet or extra cabinet space. You might have to create a space: shelves in the basement or on the stairway to the basement, a rack in a somewhat climate controlled garage, or even in part of a hutch or other piece of furniture in your dining room. We converted part of a hallway coat closet by adding shelving, and then hung a coat rack in our foyer for coats.

Here's a snapshot of what my pantry looked like after a quick organizing and before I went to the store to replenish stuff that was low or used up. (In other words, it looks better here than on the average day.)

The top shelf holds a real mishmash of items. Some are too big for other shelves, but there is no real rhyme or reason. The next shelf down has baking supplies. Then we move down to kid food and soups. Then pasta and tomatoes, then sauces, beans and other miscellaneous staples. The bottom shelf has PB&J supplies and at this point in time was a temporary storage place for another container. (One of the things I realized when I organized the pantry was that I had five jars of jam! Another good reason to keep things grouped by type.)

There is no magical way to organize your pantry, except for two basic principles: (1) keep similar items together so that they are easier to find, and (2) practice first in, first out rotation. In other words, use up the oldest stuff in the pantry before you open the newer packages. Refer to the "best by" or "use by" dates on most items if you aren't sure what's oldest.

A few other ideas to make sure that you have a well-stocked but not oversupplied pantry:
  1. If you aren't sure how often you will need to replenish an item (baking soda, for instance) write the date on the bottom of the box in Sharpie marker when you open it. If you find you use only one box a year or less, don't bother purchasing another box until the current one is empty. On the other hand, if you find you are going through something often, stock up when there is a sale.
  2. Refer to the cool grocery checklist that I pictured in a previous post. Going through this list jogged my memory about some things (beans, broth) I would need for fall/winter cooking.
  3. Don't be afraid to buy a large quantity of something if it's offered at a good price. I had a coupon for my favorite cereal in addition to it being on sale. So I bought five boxes. When I need to, I use the floor of the pantry or rearrange other shelves so the purchases fit.
  4. If you have more items than you will realistically use before they pass their date, set them aside for upcoming holiday food drives. I always put out a really interesting combination of things, though I am sure to include some of the suggested items on the list!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Great Recipe Roundup

Key idea: It might take a few steps to move you into using your ideal system.
Key idea: Sometimes it helps to have someone with you, helping you tackle the problem.

Congratulations again to Erin for being brave enough to enter my organization services giveaway! We got together recently to take a look at her recipe collection, which included:
  • A binder with neatly typed out pages (and the Word documents to produce them)
  • Cut out, handwritten and photocopied recipes that were loose in a pile
  • Recipes saved in random Word and PDF documents (some with mysterious titles)
  • A set of recipes and meal planning ideas in another computer program
  • A large number of bookmarked web pages with recipes and tutorials
Erin is a fabulous cook and takes pride in making tasty but uncomplicated dishes for her family and friends. In a short period of time, I quickly learned two things: (1) while there are a lot of great recipes to be found out on the web, it would be impossible to try every recipe that looks good, and (2) it might be possible to have too many enchilada (or pumpkin) recipes!

In trying to make sense of things, I tossed out a lot of ideas for Erin to consider, but not all of them fit her style. It is important for her to be able to identify what recipes she's already made versus the ones she wants to try. She also wants to avoid printing everything out. A few of the ideas that we brainstormed:
  • Creating a page for each recipe, then organizing each category of recipe by binder, such as Appetizers, Desserts or Vegetables. This way new recipes are easily be inserted without having to type and reprint.
  • Going to an all-electronic recipe system. This isn't ideal because of the limited counterspace in her kitchen. The laptop just intrudes on cooking space.
  • Organizing recipes by cuisine: Mexican, Italian, etc.
  • Only inserting recipes into the binder after they've been tested, and having a separate folder for ones to try. However, since Erin reads cookbooks for fun, this would have been almost as sizable as the tried and true recipe binder!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Room by Room: Kitchen Makeover

My friend Rachel is one of the two lucky winners of the organization giveaway that I did in August. She and I had a blast reorganizing her kitchen one Saturday morning while the daddies took our boys to the park.

  • An older kitchen with limited counter space. 
  • A cabinet needed to be emptied and eliminated so that she could install a permanent dishwasher. Her hubby then built a tall narrow cabinet aside the dishwasher to store items like cookie sheets.
  • Finding a good place for small appliances like the breadmaker and mixer that she uses regularly.

  • A new microwave cart that also holds pots and pans, linens, and spices. This is placed where a portable dishwasher used to be.
  • Removing everything from drawers and cabinets and evaluating them. When putting them away, we consolidated them and regrouped the items by use. More frequently used items are closer to the sink/stove areas.
  • Donating unused hand-me-down dishes and promotional drinkware to the thrift store.
  • Moving a few boxes of infrequently used items to the basement, and dating the box. If she doesn't need anything from those boxes in a year, she can safely say they aren't needed.
All in all, we felt it was a very successful morning's work. After having to relearn where everything is, Rachel says she is now really pleased with a chance to get an "outsider's perspective" on the space and loves that we found ways to free up counter space.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Room by Room: Kitchen (Grocery Shopping)

Key idea: Food shop (strategically!) once a week to save time and money.

I'm sure it's no surprise to you that grocery store owners and food distributors would like to help you part with your money. Here are a few notes and tips on how to get some bang for your buck next time you go food shopping.

Did you know that stores make money when:
  1. Necessities like milk and bread are placed at the far back corner of the store so that you have to walk past displays and quite a bit of other merchandise first?
  2. House brands are labeled in less attractive colors and are usually not at eye-level like name brand products? (You have to crouch down to get the insanely cheap three-pound package of frozen mixed vegetables at my store, whereas the $2.99 steam bags are in easy reach).
  3. They run promotions like 5/$10? Why don't they just say the item is on sale for $2? You'd be amazed how often I catch myself thinking I have to buy five. 
  4. Smaller quantity packages are sold at the same price as the larger packages that used to be available? Remember when your ice cream came in a half gallon carton? Mysteriously, it now holds 1.5 quarts.
Suggestions on how to combat these plans:
  1. Eat before you go and refuse free samples. Just a smell or taste of a sample gets you in the mood for a meal and will tempt you to buy more. Plus, those Oreos won't look as good if you are satisfied.
  2. Build your list throughout the week as you notice things that need replenishing. Also review the sale circular, inventory your pantry and plan your menu. Then, if needed, recopy your list in the order you travel through the store. This will keep you on track and greatly reduce impulse purchases. See the nifty checklist at left.
  3. Limit the amount of time you have at the store so that you don't find yourself browsing. Get in and get out.
  4. Did you note that I mentioned you should plan your menu? This takes discipline but I can usually plan a week's worth of menus in 20 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. Pulling the recipes and identifying needed ingredients will save you frustration later in the week and eliminates last minute trips (a.k.a. additional opportunity for impulse purchases).
  5. Ignore the items placed on endcaps, strategically positioned in the aisles and in the checkout lane. They aren't hiding the bargains there.
  6. Know the store(s) you shop at and what their regular and sale prices are for the items you use. Some products will be on sale at a better price if you can wait another week or two. For instance, our favorite chips can be advertised for 2 for $6, 2 for $4 or buy one get one free (the best deal).
  7. Take some time to calculate the unit cost of items, even if it means using the calculator on your phone. The 24-pack isn't always a better deal than the 12-pack. Also be sure to compare the volume or weight of competing brands. For instance, two cereal boxes that are the same height may not be as wide or thick, so one may hold less.
  8. Stock up on pantry items if you have room. Stores often have good deals around the holidays on flour, cream cheese, crackers, etc. for holiday entertaining. There are also a lot of coupons issued in November and December. A warning from my mom: the price of butter is always higher in time for holiday cookie baking, so buy yours in October and keep it tucked in the back of the fridge for a few weeks.
  9. Leave the kids at home if you can. They will only find more to add to the cart.
  10. Take your reusable shopping bags in with you. Most stores give you a few cents off for each bag you use.
Readers, do you have any other tips to share?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Room by Room: Kitchen (Gadgets)

I'm going to dedicate the next number of posts to ideas for each room of the house. We'll start with one of my favorite places...the kitchen.

Utensil Drawer Before
I mentioned last time that I was going to sort through my kitchen utensils and gadgets. It feels so good to have this finished! I have a whole drawer dedicated to my gadgets as well as part of a silverware drawer and a utensil crock on the counter. Honestly, I had a problem pulling the drawer all the way out to empty it. There was too much stuff jammed at the back. I finally got it out and carried the drawer to the dishwasher so that I could run everything through a fast wash (see below). As I loaded, I counted. Though I thought I'd have more, there were around 75 gadgets, spoons, and serving pieces. And yes, I'm a Pampered Chef-a-holic!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Green and Clean Products

Have you ever heard of essential oils? These are often used in aromatherapy because they capture the essence (scent) of different plants. Some oils like thyme, lemongrass and cinnamon have recently received buzz for their antibacterial qualities.

A few months back, I was treated to a sample of a non-alcohol antibacterial hand wipe, and the active ingredient was thyme oil. It was nice, but I didn't think I needed to buy something special since I usually just wash my hands unless there isn't water readily available (camping, etc.).

Still, I was excited to learn that there was a plant-based and natural way to disinfect starting to hit shelves. I've never felt like I had a good system for cleaning my kitchen sink. After putting things down the garbage disposal (including raw meat trimmings) and hand washings, it just never seems very clean. Since I know that everything I use to clean sinks and bathrooms with with ends up going down the drain and into the water supply, I was hesitant to try bleach or other commercial sprays.

Imagine my delight when I was shopping at Target today and found a thyme oil based antibacterial cleaner from Method! I even had a coupon! So far, I am sold on it. I even used it on some of my son's toys. A few things to note:
  1. There is a distinct herbal smell to the product, but after a few minutes I was used to it. It even made me hungry!
  2. Carefully read the directions so that you let the area/object air dry after spraying; there is no need to wipe. If you spray and wipe immediately, it will not have time to kill the germs.
  3. Cold season is coming soon, so this will be a blessing. It kills 99.9% of common household germs including flu, rhinovirus, e. coli and staph on hard, non-porous surfaces. And the smell might even open up a stuffy nose!

Friday, September 10, 2010

One Organized Celebrity

Check out this article from the October issue of Good Housekeeping. It's an interview with and sneak peek into the home of Jamie Lee Curtis about her organizational systems. Not everything she does would work for me, but I love the principle behind what she does--making sure that she has time to do important things (volunteer at her son's school, read, develop relationships) rather than being bogged down with errands.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In Easy Reach

Key idea: Keep things as close as possible to the place where they are used.

Several years ago, our family had the 'opportunity' to clean out a farmhouse owned by then-deceased relatives. The home had been lived in by generations of the same family for at least 100 continuous years. Imagine the things that we found!

Many of the items that we found were amusing, not the least of which was an attractive serving platter buried in a drawer of undergarments. Yes, china in a drawer of underwear. Why those elder relatives determined a second-floor bedroom was the right place for dinnerware is beyond me, but I am willing to bet that you probably have something similar happening in your home. Some less extreme examples:
  • My husband and I have an office in a spare bedroom, and we each have our own desk. Yet on any given day you'll find both our laptops on the dining room table.
  • I know a lot of people who keep spare toilet paper in a hall linen closet. Not exactly convenient if you run out.
  • A relative (who shall remain nameless) stores dish cloths and towels on the far side of the dining room.
Am I being picky? Possibly, but hear me out.

I'm sure that in your ideal world there is "a place for everything and everything in its place." But I want to know: have you identified the best place? In other words, I'm asking to step back and be thoughtful about where things are located in your home or office.

A couple questions to get you thinking:
  • How do you use your kitchen? Do you have the utensils you need in proximity to the stove and table, but also handy when unloading the dishwasher? Or are they just at the same place you put them when you first moved in?
  • Do you find yourself going up and down steps, or crossing from room to room when cleaning or completing routine tasks? If so, maybe you need to reorganize for efficiency.
  • Would it make sense to have multiple sets of cleaning supplies, so that you don't have to cart the Windex from room to room?
  • Are you frequently pushing things out of the way when you are trying to get to items in the pantry, closet or cabinet?
I hope this offers you some food for thought. I think I'm going to find time to reorganize my kitchen utensils soon, so I'll post some photos!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Going Paperless

Remember the promises that computers would create a paperless society? We certainly aren't there yet! Nonetheless, today I want to challenge you about going as paperless as possible. We all have different comfort levels, but even a few steps in the right direction can make a difference.

At our house, we are now receiving all our bills online. It was a pain to set up at first--DH had set up some accounts with utility companies before, but so rarely logged in we had to reset passwords, etc. It was worth the effort though; I can now pay bills without touching paper!

Another blessing in disguise came when our printer died a few weeks back. We replaced it with a printer-fax-scanner combo, so we've planned to start scanning semi-important documents and shredding the originals. Why not consider doing that with most of the stuff in your file drawer? And remember, you may not need to save everything that you think you do. See this previous post on saving documents.

Here is what I really want to talk about today: Every time I see this commercial I get agitated and vow that I will never, ever buy their paper towels. Let me first say that I don't believe there is an ethical dilemma in having paper towels, paper plates and toilet paper in your home, but I am afraid we've become mindless in our use of them. Environmental concerns aside, the price of such products is astonishing. A nice hand towel might cost you $10 and mine are still going strong after five years. As of this writing, 360 of the Kleenex towels are $21.14 on Amazon. If you have a family of four that washes their hands a mere four times a day, that supply is gone in less than a month--22.5 days!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And the winner is...

Congratulations to both Erin and Rachel! Since you ladies were courageous enough to enter the contest, you both win. I'll be contacting you privately to arrange for your three hours. Thank you!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Calendar and To-Do List That Works (Part 2)

So now that we've considered a calendar option that hopefully works for all members of your group (family, work team, etc.), let's talk about efficiency with to-do lists.

Generally, you can classify your to-do items in one of the following categories:
  • A task or appointment that must be completed at a set time.
  • A project or task that must be completed by a set time.
  • Rolling responsibilities or chores that need to be done regularly, but with no deadlines.
  • Things you'd like to do, but will only do if you have time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Free Organization Services Giveaway

I will be giving away three hours of free organizing services during the month of August. If you are in Berks, Bucks or Montgomery County, PA, please leave a comment about why you need organizing help at your home or office! The best story will win. Contest ends Friday, August 20 at midnight EDT. (Please note, comments are set to be moderated, so they won't post immediately.)

A Calendar and To-Do List That Works (Part 1)

Key idea: Handle a piece of paper only once. At most, twice. 
Key idea: Find a system that works, then trust the system.

My brother-in-law saw my recent post about mail and questioned me (in a loving way) about my suggestion to handle paper just once. He started telling me about a manila file folder system his former boss encouraged him to implement (like the one described here). Important papers were filed based on the date that they needed to be addressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love nothing better than a fresh stack of files or papers (oh, the lovely school supplies in stores right now), but there are some limitations to a hard copy system. You can perform tasks if you have the paper to remind you, but we all know that things can get lost. Hard copies are also only accessible from one location. So I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I recommend going electronic with your calendar and to-do list if you haven't already.

At work, I use and adore Outlook. Say what you will about Microsoft, but I love having e-mail, my calendar, a task list and business contacts all in one place. Plus, isn't it cool to be able to assign tasks to your coworkers?  However, for personal priorities, Gmail and Google Calendar have become our go-to programs. A lot of the systems hubby and I now use were devised because we had issues like paying bills twice or booking conflicting appointments. Plus it's great being are able to access our calendar, tasks and messages from any computer or phone.

Here's a snippet of what our calendar looks like. My appointments are in purple and hubby's are teal, but you can adjust those settings however you like. We can see each others' calendars because we both use Gmail and set our accounts to share calendars. This is especially great for families, but works in small offices, too.

Another nice feature with the calendar is that you can set a pop-up reminder or request an email for upcoming appointments (or both), so you don't forget what's happening next.

For more information on Google calendar, see here. My next post will address an efficient way to categorize your to-do items. It will be full of good stuff you won't want to miss.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How Long and Where to Keep Important Documents

Special thanks to my very organized coworker for suggesting this topic.

File drawers overflowing with papers? Here is an easy-reference list of what important documents to keep and how long to keep them. (Note: this article is several years old, so the 2013 reference is no longer valid.)

Documents that you should always save:
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Death records
  • Social security cards
Also, keep the most current copies of these safely filed:
  • Wills
  • Deeds and Vehicle titles
  • Passports
  • Divorce and custody paperwork
  • Photocopies of front and back of insurance and credit cards in the event of theft
Wills and other items that might be needed in the event of an untimely death should be stored in a fireproof safe, rather than a safe deposit box. See here for an explanation.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mail, Bills and Paperwork

Key idea: Handle a piece of paper only once. At most, twice.

Mail is one of the most aggravating things to keep up with, because it comes nearly every day. And 90% of it is stuff that we don't need or want. Who wants bills, right?

Here's a typical scenario at our house: My darling husband checks the mailbox when he gets home from work, before he even gets in the house. He drops his briefcase and keys in the foyer and plops the mail on the kitchen counter. After saying his hellos, he pulls out what he wants to look at and sets it back on the pile. Then, if it's a day that I've been at work, we launch into making dinner. The mail gets in the way.

Every house seems to have a clutter catch-all. For some people, it's right inside the front door. At my house and  my parents' house, it's the kitchen counter. A wise woman advised me before we were married, "Figure out what one part of your house always has to be clean [for your peace of mind] and make sure your husband understands that." Turns out, my place is that kitchen counter.

Mail bursting into flames (gas stove) and Christmas cards splattered with tomato sauce are unsafe and inappropriate, so how can you deal with the inevitable flow of paper into your house?
  • First, I open and look through everything in one batch, and pull out what needs attention or is actually fun to read. Hubby and I look at any letters or cards right away, and magazines are placed in the living room for future reading. If something needs to be filed, that goes with the bills. Since we pay our bills online, the outer envelope, return envelope and any stuffing gets put on a pile for recycling. The bills that need payment get set aside to be entered into the computer. This reminds me that I should set up my accounts to receive bills electronically... Look for a future post on why paying bills and managing money online can save you time and money, if you aren't already doing it.
  • Second, recycle as much of the junk paper as possible. I have become a big fan of the Abitibi Paper Retrievers in the area since they provide money for local schools. I usually drop off a paper bag full once a week. To learn more, visit
  • Third, if you have time, try and get off the mailing lists of charities, catalogs or other companies that send you junk mail. That way, they won't sell your name to someone else who will send you junk mail. And of course, make sure you pull out the bills and pay them, so you don't end up getting more mail in the form of late notices.

We've been swamped with credit card offers recently. While I love to recycle, I shred anything that could be simple for an identity thief to work from before I recycle the shredded paper. If you want to be removed from the list for pre-approved credit card offers, you can follow an automated system by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting This will notify the big three credit bureaus that you don't want such mailings for five years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Organizing 101

I've been dreaming for several years about starting my own organizing services business. And now, the time seems right to start sharing some of my ideas and how I can help others.

You see, ever since I was a little girl, organizing has been part of my everyday life. My mom laughs as she recalls three-year-old me lining up shoes underneath the bed, or straightening books on the shelf and ordering them by height. Not only do I love to have an organized home, but I love devising systems that improve the way things get done.

I look forward to helping you find ways to save time, money and energy at home, at work, or with whatever you are doing. Check back often for more hints, and please, let me know what you think. I'd love to help you find a solution to your organizing challenges.