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July 31, 2009

What will you finish this weekend?

Who is up for another round of Finish It Friday? I know I am! I’ll be away next Friday…so I have to do some serious finishing up this weekend to prepare for being away and to make up for being away! So…here are a few of the things I plan to finish this weekend:

Grocery shopping. Okay, this one shouldn’t even be worth mentioning…but I’m afraid if I don’t mention it, I will continue to talk myself out of going to the store. It’s amazing what you can find to eat when you really don’t want to go grocery shopping. I’m okay with this new approach; my family—not so much. So…grocery shopping is on the finish-it list. (My shopping list is made…so it’s just a matter of going.)

Update the family calendar. My calendar is one of those blank ones that you fill in yourself. So the goal this weekend is to get the entire school year filled in and record school holidays, etc.  

Sign Kailea up for soccer. The form and check are filled out…so this just needs to be finished up.

I’m sure the list will grow…lots to do this weekend. My brother-in-law is coming to town this weekend so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for doing (and finishing!) stuff. So the list above is what I’m going on record with!

How about you? What nagging to-do will you check off your to-do list this weekend? Let me know and then, be sure to check in on Monday and share your victory (or victories!). I was so excited to see what everyone accomplished last weekend—congrats to all of you who participated! Let’s get some more things checked off this weekend. Are you in?

July 30, 2009

What’s Your Style?

As you know, I firmly believe that the more you love how a space looks, the more motivated you’ll be to keep it organized. This is definitely the case for me, anyway. I’m a visual person and someone who is very affected by my surroundings. Too much visual clutter is distracting to me, making it hard to focus and get things done. But, a space that is completely sparse and sterile is just as uncomfortable. For me, an organized space filled with a well-edited collection of things I love is the perfect balance.

Do you have a feel for your style? It’s a fun thing to explore and figure out. I recently found out about an interactive tool on the Home Goods website that is designed to help you figure out your decorating style. Knowing your decorating style can help you create a space that is comfortable and homey to you, giving you that extra boost of motivation to keep it organized!

To use this online tool you simply answer a short series of questions, and view photos of rooms and select your favorite. Then, at the end they sum up your style. For me, this tool was amazingly accurate. My style is “Earthy Casual” which is described, in part, as follows:

You’re interested in creating a welcoming home where people feel comfortable and happiness flourishes. (Yep, that sounds like me.)

You value order. You feel happiest if your home is well organized. (Okay…that’s a gimme, but honestly, there wasn’t a question that said “What do you do for a living?” The tool just figured this out all on its own.)

Try to avoid letting things into your home that you don’t really love. (Heaven knows I’m all about that, along with the notion of letting go of things I don’t really love.)

Once your style is identified, the site also gives you specific ideas for putting your style to work in your home.

So if you’re up for five minutes of fun which leads to some great insight on your decorating style, go here and use the StyleScope tool. If you do give it a try, come back here and let me know your style. Are you an Earthy Casual like me, or a Bohemian Classic or a Dramatic Eclectic? Does your style describe you as accurately as Earthy Casual describes me? I can’t wait to hear!

July 27, 2009

Happy Monday + Finish It Friday Update


Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a fun-filled weekend—one that included a bit of finishing up at least one big (or little) nagging to-do, plus some time for fun, too!  Want to know what I finished this weekend? Here’s the biggest thing…

Drawer-knobIt isn’t big at all, is it? At least not size-wise—it’s just a simple little knob installed on a cabinet in my daughter’s room. This cabinet has been knobless for a…uh…really long time. But no more! The knob was purchased and installed by yours truly (which was actually harder than I had anticipated!) Now there’s a big check mark next to “knob for Kailea’s cabinet” on my to-do list! Hooray.

Now here’s the funny thing about this accomplishment. Even though it really is small, for me it trumps my other accomplishments and projects this weekend. Getting this knob installed was a bigger accomplishment than walking out of Anthropologie with only the above-shown knob. (And if you’ve ever been there…you know what an accomplishment that is!) Installing the knob was also a bigger accomplishment than completely reorganizing and rearranging Kailea’s bedroom. Why is that? The knob had been lingering on my psyche for far too long. Having this knob situation resolved just plain feels good.

So…how about you? What completely rewarding Finish it Friday project did you do this weekend?

As you can see…all things count—big or small or anything in between. So if you didn’t play along this past week, please join us this week. You’ll find it’s quite satisfying to finish that nagging little to-do! 

In the meantime…here is one of the highlights of my weekend. A huge owl landed on the playhouse roof in our neighbor’s yard. I snapped this photo through the window. I’m so happy I did…because when I went outside to get a better shot, he flew away. He was very big and very cool.


Happy Monday!

July 24, 2009

Create a Family Message Center


This post has moved to our new blog. Go to Create a Family Message Center.


Are you joining me…

for finish it Friday this Week?

I’m happy to say that last week’s project of listing the bike trailer on Craig’s list was a huge success. It sold in 24 hours! Woohoo! I haven’t decided what to finish this weekend…but I know this for sure—finishing something will feel oh-so good!

Let me know if you’re in, and what you plan to finish this weekend.

July 21, 2009

Weekly Organizing Quick Tip: Slow Down…

In my neck of the woods, summer is more than halfway over. I can hardly believe it myself…but school will be starting in just four short weeks! It’s time to slow down and savor the rest of the summer.

It’s time to slow down and enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden and meals cooked on the grill.

It’s time to slow down and enjoy trips to the pool with my kiddos.

It’s time to slow down, put my feet up, and relax in my hammock with a glass of iced tea and a good book.

It’s time to catch some fireflies, make some s’mores, and simply enjoy the best that summer has to offer. 


What’s on your summer to-do list? Does it include slowing down and taking a few minutes to drink it all in? If not, slow down for a minute today and make a short list of simple summer pleasures. Then…slow down…and simply enjoy!


p.s. I'd love to hear your list of simple summer pleasures! Please share your summer-time favorites in the comments. Thanks. :)

July 20, 2009

Make a Quick & Simple Travel Planner

I have gotten a lot of emails about the travel planner article that I wrote for the July I thought I'd post the article on the blog. That way if you happen to accidentally delete your newsletter before your next vacation, you'll know where to find the article. :) Or if you signed up for the newsletter after this article was sent out, you'll know where to find the article. Or if you're new to the site /'ll get a chance to read the article. Hope you enjoy!  :)


Make a Quick & Simple Travel Planner
By Aby Garvey

Travel-planner If you love to travel, I’d be willing to bet you also love to take photos and collect travel memorabilia, too. Is that you? But actually tackling the job of figuring out what to do with all these treasures once you get back home can make you feel like you need another vacation just to recover! This simple travel planner project will not only help you stay organized while you’re away, but you’ll also have an easy-to-put-together travel keepsake when you get back home. Sound like a plan? All you need is a few supplies, a travel destination, and these simple instructions.

Step 1: Collect your supplies. To create a travel planner you’ll need a few basic supplies.

  • One 7" x 9" mini binder
  • Several sheets of 8-1/2” x 11” acid-free paper (one or two sheets for each day you’ll be away). 
  • Sheet protectors sized to fit your binder. 
  • Photo-safe adhesive. 
  • Fine point black marker. 
  • Travel-themed scrapbook embellishments such as patterned paper, rub-ons, stickers, chipboard letters, ribbon, and tags. 
  • Personal paper trimmer. 
  • Computer and word processing software. 
  • Camera.

Step 2: Plan your trip. As you set up your trip, record your travel details on this preformatted Word document, allocating one sheet per day. On the left side, type the day of the trip, the date, and your destination for that day. Under “Plans” list your itinerary, including flight information, hotel confirmation numbers, phone numbers, addresses, driving directions, sightseeing destinations, and shops or restaurants you plan to visit. Leave space below the “Our Memories” heading; you’ll use this as a journal while you’re traveling. (The right half of the page should be blank. This will be used for photos and / or additional journaling.)

When your plans are set, print your itinerary/memory pages on acid-free paper and use a paper trimmer to cut the sheets in half. (The “left” pages will have your daily itinerary and memories section, and the “right” pages will be blank.) Before printing, make sure your printer is set up to print in landscape orientation.

Step 3: Embellish your pages and binder. There are a number of ways to dress up your binder. Decorate the cover using chipboard letters and craft adhesive to spell out the name of your destination. Use strips of cardstock (approximately 3/8” wide) to embellish your pages (travel themed rub-ons or stickers can add a nice touch as well). Don’t over-decorate the individual pages—you’ll want to have plenty of room for photos and travel mementos.

Step 4: Set up your binder. Slide each itinerary and corresponding memory page into sheet protectors and insert them facing one another into your binder. Include extra blank pages and empty sheet protectors for days when you have a lot to record, and as a place to stash memorabilia you collect along the way. Add a map of your overall travel destination and / or specific locales. (You may need to do some cutting to fit these inside your sheet protectors.)

Step 5: Create and collect memories. Tuck your binder and a journaling pen into your carry-on and keep it with you during your outings—for referring to directions and other essential information, or storing brochures, postcards, business cards, menus, ticket stubs, coasters, and other interesting bits of paper you encounter along the way. Simply slide your treasures into the extra sheet protector designated for that day of the trip. Also, remember to take lots of photos each day you’re away!

Step 6: Record your reflections. Each day, chronicle your memories under the header called “Our Memories.” What did you do? What was most enjoyable? Did anything funny, extraordinary, or wonderful happen that you don’t want to forget? Capture these thoughts while they’re fresh in your mind and as an added way to focus on the fun you’re having on your trip.

Step 7: Turn your planner into a treasured keepsake. When you return home, turn your planner into a mini vacation scrapbook. Print out one 3” x 5” and one or two wallet-sized photos for each day of your trip. Attach these to the blank page for each day using photo-safe adhesive, and embellish your page with the memorabilia you collected on your trip. In no time at all, your handy travel planner will become a cherished lasting memento of your vacation – for years to come!


The finished project! The left page includes travel plans printed on the computer using the preformatted Word documents. Daily reflections were hand-written below. The right page includes photos. Each page includes simple embellishments—narrow like strips of paper and travel-themed rub-ons.

Bon voyage!


P.S. You’ll find that doing this little bit of preparation makes your trip and its chronicling so much easier, and really, so much fun! For a dose of this same kind of common-sense and easy-to-accomplish organizing know-how for any other paper clutter that ails you, you can sign up for Organize Your Paper Clutter. Class is in-session but there's still plenty of time to join us. You’ll be so glad you did. :)

July 19, 2009

Finish It Friday Check-in

I did my Finish It Friday projects. Did you? The bike trailer is now listed on Craig's List—hooray! And I donated a box of books to the library. And I have to say, I was really happy that I had posted on my blog to say I would do these things. There were a bunch of times over the weekend that I wanted to talk myself out of doing these projects. Listing the bike trailer was a pretty involved project—get bike trailer out of storage (thanks, Jay!), set it up (thanks, Jay!), pump air in the tires, vacuum off the dust, clean the inside and outside, take photos, re-size the photos (thanks, Jay!), write a product description, and upload the photos and description onto Craig's List. None if it was hard, but indeed it was time consuming. Thank goodness for accountability—knowing that I had said I was going to do this project provided the extra bit of motivation to achieve the almighty check mark of completion on my to-do list. Hooray!

After my Friday post I had this question from tchrtiff:  Any suggestions on selling on Craig's List? I have some stuff I'd like to try and sell but I really don't know how to go about it--how to list, what to say, how to price, where to meet people who want to buy, etc. Any tips you have would be appreciated. Thanks. Have a good weekend.


This was my first time using Craig's List. We have given away some things via Craig's List before, some bigger items that we didn't want to just take out to the curb. I have used eBay before, and found this process to be much simpler (and it's free!) Usually, however, I donate items we are letting go of, just due to the time involved in selling. But, I did find the Craig's List process to be really straight forward. Here's what I did.

I just went to and found my city. Then, I simply filled in the product name, price, your email address (which can be kept private so it isn't posted directly on the site), product description, and photos. As far as setting the price goes, Jay had done a bit of research ahead of time to see what this type of item normally sells for, and then we set a price that seemed fair to both buyer and seller. (Mind you, the item hasn't sold yet, so we'll see how good we are at pricing used bike trailers!) But what I would recommend is to browse around on Craig's List and get a feel for what items comparable to what you're selling go for, and then set your price.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on selling on Craig's List. If you're experienced with selling items on Craig's List (or buying them), what are your tips? What makes for a great listing that's sure to sell? Or what do you look for when buying on Craig's List? (And I'm also looking forward to hearing what you finished this weekend, too!) Thanks!

July 17, 2009

Hello Friday (afternoon)

It’s Friday…which always makes me happy. A weekend fresh with possibilities is just around the corner. Hooray! I have a few things I want to finish up this weekend. I need to donate some books to the library, and “list bike carrier on Craig’s List” has been on my to-do list for far too long. This weekend will be the perfect time to do it…the weather here today is gorgeous. (Though chilly enough to cut a picnic short—it's a perfect day for a bike ride.)

So those are my two Finish It Friday commitments. How about you? What do you plan to finish this weekend? (If you haven’t played along with Finish it Friday yet…you can find out all about it in this blog post.) Hope you join the fun!

July 14, 2009

Organize Your Paper Clutter Starts Today!

It’s hard to believe but in just five short weeks I’ll be seeing this again…



The school bus itself is innocent enough; as are the kids who take it back and forth to school each day. The really scary part is the return to backpacks crammed full of permission slips, assignments, artwork, newsletters, and a variety of other forms of paper…which without systems in place can lead to paper clutter!!

But not to worry…because, Organize Your Paper Clutter starts today, which means, you can have systems in place to organize all that kid paperwork before it ever starts making it’s way back into your home again! (Hooray!)

If kid paperwork isn’t your source of paper clutter, I’ve got you covered, too. This workshop addresses all types of paper, and most important, it teaches you a thought process for sorting any paper backlog in your midst, and to stay on top of your paper going forward. You’ll learn how to set up fun paper organizing systems like this:


And this:

File tabs-2


And decide which paper storage and organizing solution will work best for you and your unique situation.

But the best part of all is that you will get to do all of this paper organizing in the company of friends. I’ll be there every step of the way to answer any questions that you have, and you’ll get the support and inspiration from your fellow classmates via the online community.

And remember, each paid participant in this session of Organize Your Paper clutter is eligible to win one of three 15-Piece Organization Kits from the [IN]PLACE System by Peter Walsh courtesy of OfficeMax.

Since sending out my newsletter last week, I’ve gotten quite a few questions about this workshop and about our online workshops in general. So below is a quick Q and A and then, here’s a link to our new workshop FAQs page for more answers about our online workshops.

Q:  I’m going to be on vacation for the first week of class. Can I still take it?

A:  Unlike missing a course in college (where you have to borrow the notes of a fellow classmate and hope you can read their handwriting) when you return from your vacation you’ll have access to the exact same materials as your classmates. Plus, you can ask questions about any lesson at any time. 

Whether you’re going to be gone for one week of class, or three, or more, you can still take this session of the workshop. The lessons are made available on Tuesdays (one per week for six weeks) but each lesson remains available online until the workshop closes. Also, you can discuss any lesson in the forum at any time throughout the course. Essentially, you can take the course at your own pace. There are six lessons in total, but the workshop will remain open for seven weeks…giving you time to catch up and take action on the material at your own pace.

Q: How do participants receive 1:1 time with you?
Workshop participants can ask questions directly to me in the online forum. More direct and ongoing one-on-one time is available through my coaching program, which you can learn about here: 

Q:  Does getting organized require putting in time weekly or daily in keeping things organized? That's the problem. Incoming paper volume is too high to keep up with...

I think it's great that you recognize this as one of the problems. One of the first lessons involves slowing down the in-flow of paper. Figuring out which paper you have control over and can keep out of your home altogether, and which paper needs to come into your home and be dealt with. I do recommend that you spend daily time on your paper, at least at first. If you want things to be different organizationally in terms of paper (or anything else) it does require an investment of time…but you get that time back when the systems are set up.

Q:  I am curious as to the online venue at which your course is held. Is this Facebook, or what is it?

A: We have a private section of our website where the courses are held. Content is made available there via online lesson (web pages that only workshop participants have access to) and audio / written downloads that you can print out and access later. There is also a forum and photo gallery…so it is like Facebook in a way, but all is done on our site.


Q:  What is the weekly time input required.

A:  To simply read the lessons would require less than an hour on average. However, how much time is needed to take action on the concepts really depends on how much backlog you have and how much paper comes into your home on a regular basis. Since you can print out the lessons and keep them for later, you have the flexibility of working at your own pace. My recommendation is to set aside at least fifteen minutes a day to make progress on organizing your paper. When you do this, you not only chip away at organizing your paper, you also create a new habit that will help you keep your paper organized going forward.

Q:  Do participants need to meet at a certain time or is it more or less self study.

A:  Lessons are made available once a week. Once they are available, you can read them and take action on the concepts at your own pace. It isn't exactly self-study because of the forum interaction with other students, as well as forum access to me the instructor. But you can certainly read the lesson materials and participate in the forum at your own pace and on your own time schedule.

Q:  What is your alumni rate all about? Why would people take a workshop for a second time?

A:  Our alumni rate allows students to repeat a workshop for 50% off the enrollment price, but why would students repeat a workshop? There are a number of reasons, but most of all it boils down to the fact that each time a student takes a workshop they get something new out it. Repeating a workshop allows students to work on new projects, cement the ideas they learned in the last session and to enjoy the inspiration, motivation and ideas generated in the workshop forums. As one workshop participant said “you'll also find that once you start - you want to keep going !!!” In a nutshell, it is because the workshops work that students want to take them again!  

See you in Organize Your Paper Clutter!

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