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December 25, 2007

'Twas the Night After Christmas...

'Twas the Night After Christmas
by Aby Garvey

‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a thing was away, not even my new blouse.
The stockings were thrown by the chimney without care,
And knickknacks and gadgets were strewn everywhere.

The gift wrap was scattered. The boxes were strewn.
I gasped as I looked all around the trashed room.
What was I thinking, when I bought all this stuff?
Why didn’t I realize ten gifts were enough?

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of organization danced in my head.
“But where should I start?” I wondered inside,
“How can I begin, when I’d rather go hide?”

And then in my in-box an email did appear,
From a lady named Aby (who has no reindeer;)
“Go slowly. Go easy. You’ll get there”, I think.
“You can do this—use the tips right here in ink.”

You’re asking yourself “Where will all this stuff go?”
It feels overwhelming, this I do know.
You’ll get it put away, just remember to breathe,
And if you start on it now, you’ll be done New Year’s Eve!

;)

Hope you had a wonderful holiday!!

December 19, 2007

good news!

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

Just been busy...with birthday #2. Which means, banner #2,

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and scavenger hunt #2. (Plus, cakes #3 and #4, and treats for class #2.)

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And then came building kits for the Brownie scrapbook project. Super fun. (Super time consuming.) I'll share more details on this in January...it's coming together very cute thanks to all your fabulous suggestions!

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And then came the annual Brownie secret sister deoupage box.

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Added to that is Christmas shopping, getting and decorating the tree, a two day snow storm (super fun!), a bit of baking, an ice storm / day off of school, making a scrapbook as a Christmas gift, getting ready for my Mom's visit, menu planning / shopping for our annual progessive dinner, plus, there's that thing called simplify 101 to keep me busy, too. So on and on the list goes. But it's a super fun list. I realize I like being busy...especially when I like the stuff I'm busy with. I hope you're feeling the same way and are enjoying the holiday prep.

So in a nutshell, (for those of you who are into nutshells) I'm alive, I'm well, and I'm having a great time...just have little time left for blogging. But alas, January is on it's way.

So enough about me, here's something for you. I have a receipe I've been wanting to share for a while. (I promised it a while back to Stacy T., who was sweet enough to check in on me yesterday.) It's my Mom's pumpkin bread which I love to make around the holidays. I usually look at baking as one of those things to do on a weekend. I turn it into an "event" so to speak, which can make it fun, but it can also make me put it off until I have a whole day, which rarely ever comes. Why is that? Do you have things like that, too, that just seem bigger than they really are? (Or is it just me?)

Anyway, I made this on a week night, a few weeks ago. And in doing so, I realized two things:

1) Baking isn't a big deal. I should do it more often.

2) I'm no food photographer. Thus, you'll have to use your imagination on how this bread looks. But take my word for it, it's yummy. And isn't pumpkin a super-food?

OK...enough rambling. Here's the recipe. Enjoy! Oh, and feel free to share a holiday recipe or two of your own. I love trying new recipes...as do others who read this blog. So (in all your spare time, ha ha) post a recipe or a link to your blog with a favorite festive treat. Thanks!

PUMPKIN BREAD

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1-3/4 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts

Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Combine flour, soda, salt and spices. In a sparate bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Add 2 eggs. Mix until fluffy.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix.
Add 1/2 of the pumpkin. Mix.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix.
Add 1/2 of the pumpkin. Mix.
Add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix.
Add chocolate chips and half of the nuts. Pour in loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 65 to 75 minues, or until knife inserted into bread comes is dry.

Enjoy!

December 07, 2007

are mini-binders on your holiday wish list?

If so, now's a great time to buy. We just added a new category to the simplify 101 store called bundle + save. For a limited time, you can save on the ever-popular and ever-stylish mini binders. And the best part? You get to create your own bundle.

Here are some ideas.

People tracker bundle. Bundle together a set of mini smart date A-to-Z tabs, people tracker pages and a mini binder. Keep track of your peeps, and save, save, save!

Planner bundle. With the new year on the horizon, it’s time for a fun and stylish planning system. Bundle your favorite color mini binder with mini month-at-a-glance tabs, weekly planner sheets and filler paper. (For more info on this using this system, read this old post about my planner. I use different components...but that's why this promo is so fun—you can build your own bundle and pick what will work best for you.)

Idea or sketch book bundle. Combine a mini binder with mini binder tabs, mini paper pockets and mini grid paper. You’ll be set to capture sketches and ideas anytime inspiration strikes!

And if that weren't enough, check out these super-cutie mini rubber bands. They're the special holiday edition bands...so supplies are limited...so you better snap to it. (Ha ha...get it? Rubber bands...*snap* to it...I should start getting to bed earlier, shouldn't I?)

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By the way, we're running really, really low on the mini paper pockets, so if you want those in your bundle, well, it's just one more reason to snap to it. ;)

OK...I'm off to the land of birthday celebration number two. Destination:  Build-a-Bear Workshop followed by a one-friend sleep over. We've simplified the birthday gig since the last go-around.

Have a wonderful weekend. ;)

December 05, 2007

fitting high tech gadgets into your inspired workspace (plus a fun little project!)

If you caught up on my blog over at online organizing, you may have noticed that I got a new printer, the Epson RX595.  I love this printer. So I had to share even more about it, just in case you’re in the market for a printer. (A great thing to add to your Christmas wish list and it's on sale at this very moment.) As I said in the earlier post, having a high quality photo printer, has really helped me overcome one of my biggest scrapbooking obstacles: easy access to printed photos. It’s seriously amazing how much of an obstacle that has been for me. Here’s a great example, I've wanted to create this little project since last year.

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It’s a wallet sized photo album of favorite photos from the past year. I’ll tuck this little gem into my purse, and then, when I’m out and about and see people I haven’t seen in a while (who ask to see photos of my kids) I’ll have a sampling of great photos at the ready. Or when I travel, I'll have little smiling faces along with me for the trip. This project would also make a great stocking stuffer for Grandmas and Grandpas. And with the new printer, it was a snap. I just selected 18 prints, put in two 8 ½" by 11" sheets of photo paper, selected wallet sized photos, and viola! two sheets of wallet sized photos printed in just minutes.

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Then, I pulled out my handy-dandy laminator, trimmed the photos, ran them through the lamintor, punched holes on the side using a regular hole punch, and secured the stack with a binder ring. Add a bit of ribbon (Orfray and Stemma) and a tag from Making Memories, and she’s all done. Super simple and better yet—done—courtesy of the new printer.

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The best part is that I made this project in about thirty minutes, instead of putting it off for another year! Yes, huge obstacles to scrapbooking happiness have been removed by this fabulous printer.

While technology can really help on the "organized" front, it can be tough on the “inspiration” front. It's not always easy to fit high tech gadgets into your scrapbook space, and still have it look inspiring. Wouldn’t you agree? That’s another reason I love this printer. Not only is it compact—it fits right onto the little table that sits behind my computer desk—but it’s also a multi-tasking dynamo. It prints high quality photos, has a built-in scanner and it can even print photo CD’s. Love that. It’s really everything I need in one compact little box. So instead of a big printer and a scanner, its one little electronic gizmo that blends right in with the little black table that was already in my space. Ah…inspiring and organized and on sale. Oh happy day.

December 02, 2007

random sharing (and a gift wrap organizing idea)

messy desk {Does this make you feel better or worse? I truly do make a mess when I work. I love messes. I love to make them...and I love to tidy (a.k.a. organize) them when I'm done. I'm not sure which of these two facts is scarier...}

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wrapping gifts
Yippee! I love wrapping gifts. This years strategy: a limited supply of gift wrap, which I stow in a five gallon paint bucket and pull out of the closet for wrap sessions. Perhaps not terribly elegant (especially with that random piece of red fuzz down there at the bottom) but it's cheap, portable, puts vertical space to great use, and it's time tested. I've had this bucket for years...and it really does work well for me.

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Add to the limited supply of gift wrap, a holiday CD, some plain white tags, plain white tissue paper, letter stickers, chipboard and rub-ons from American Crafts, some green curling ribbon, and buckets (felt and metal from Target) a voila! the gift wrapping has begun. 

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Do you have any fun ideas for gift wrap this year? I'd love to hear (and see!) what you're doing...

the tree. It felt more like Easter today than Christmas...so the tree will have to wait for another week. It has to be cold...the colder the better when we get our tree. We're keeping our fingers crossed for cold weather next weekend.

But...all in all, it is feeling more and more like Christmas around here. Love that.

I hope you had a great weekend, too. So much more to share...but it will have to wait. My pillow is calling.

Good night ;)

organized travels

I received an email today asking for a link to my travel checklist. Since this is a big travel time of year, I thought I'd rerun an article from my newsletter on organized travels. The article includes a link to the checklist I use whenever I travel. If you'll be flying, be sure to the TSA website for updated info on allowed and prohibited items. (The checklist doesn't reflect this updated info—such as size limits for liquids, etc.)  Happy travels!

Oh, and if you have any travel tips...please share them! I'd love to hear from you (as would others who will actually be hitting the road this holiday season.) Thanks :)

Organized Travels
By Aby Garvey

Ah vacation...time to relax, get away from it all and really enjoy the good stuff in life. You leave your worries behind, and with any luck at all...not your toothbrush! But how to remember it all and how to pack it so you can find it when you need it? Simple: when you go on vacation take along some of the same organizing principles you use to stay organized at home. Then, just sit back, relax and enjoy...

Here's how:

Use a checklist. Checklists are fantastic memory joggers, and are especially helpful for staying organized when doing something you do infrequently. The less often you travel, the more important it is to have a reliable and thorough travel checklist. Start by downloading my travel checklist and modify it to suit your travel needs. Then, add to the checklist after each trip to customize it even further.

Designate a place for everything. We've all heard the saying "a place for everything, and everything in its place." This simple principle makes it simple to stay organized on the road. For example, on my trip to Seattle I took along an infrequently used backpack. I designated homes for critical items: camera in the main compartment, wallet in the inside center zipper pocket, sunglasses in the outside right hand pocket, and cell phone in the outside left hand pocket. I called these items my "critical four" and after each stop I checked to make sure they were put back away...which leads me to the next on-the-road-organizing strategy.

Put your things away when you're finished using them. I know...its vacation, but believe me, if you carve out a spot for things and then put them away as soon as you're finished using them...you'll add to the overall peace of mind of the vacation. Knowing exactly where to find your camera, wallet, cell phone, sunglasses and any other item that would be inconvenient or expensive to lose, makes for a more relaxing vacation.

Get in the zone. When organizing a room, activity zones make it easier to do the various activities that take place in the space. Think of your suitcase as a small room. Create zones in your bags by keeping similar items grouped together. You could have your morning and night time prep zone and corral items like your toothbrush, toothpaste, face cleaner, moisturizer, etc. into a single cosmetic bag or zipper bag. You could create an outings zone by loading all your outdoor gear like bug spray, hand wipes, sun screen, etc. into a single take along bag. By grouping things together how you use them, it will be easier to do the things you want to do while you're away from home.

Leave room for expansion. When you organize a room, it's always nice to leave a little breathing room--extra space to accommodate a growing collection or new purchases. Travel is no different. If you anticipate buying souvenirs while away, be sure to leave extra space in your suitcase or carry-on, or take along an extra bag to load up with your travel treasures.

Less is more. Whenever I reorganize and purge clothes from my closet, I'm always amazed at how it feels like I have more...when in fact I have less. Take this principal with you on the road. The fewer things you bring along, the less time you'll spend keeping track of your things or digging through your bags to find what you're looking for.

On your next vacation, take along these basic organizing principals...and you'll create a calm, relaxing (and organized!) getaway.

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