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August 28, 2009

Friday Updates!

Update #1.The winner of the Brother Labeler is Christi Williams, who said:

I am soooo happy I found your blog. I am a Mom of 9, 6 still living at home. I love getting new ideas. This would be great to use in my crazy, busy house. "A place for everything and every thing in it's place!" Words from my Mom, but so true!

Thank you

August 24, 2009

Getting Organized for Back to School—Who Says it can’t be Fun?

One of my underlying beliefs about organizing is that the more we love an organizing solution, the more likely we are to use it (and the happier we’ll be in the process.) The same holds true for our kids and back-to-school supplies. Fun school supplies make opening up the backpack each and every day a notch more fun. Wouldn't you agree?

If so you can imagine my glee when a box chock-full of super fun back-to-school products arrived on my doorstep courtesy of Office Max. Check these out:


(Photo courtesy of Office Max.)

Aren’t those so cute? The true test was my daughter’s reaction. She was soooo excited when I showed her the supplies…I had to hide them and put them into safe keeping until I finished up this post! The Schoolio Von Hoolio line includes all sorts of fun back-to-school essentials like notebooks, a pencil box, a pencil set complete with pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener, three-ring binders, a 7 pocket expanding file, composition books, a decorative clipboard, and a drawstring backsack. I especially love the clipboards and the composition books…but then again, you know I have a thing for clipboards and composition books. But these are of the super cute variety. ;)

If you haven’t done your back to school shopping yet, give the Schoolio Von Hoolio collection a look. Office Max has great back-to-school savings going on right now. If you've already done your back-to-school shopping, consider stashing a few of these items away for a mid-school-year supply perk-up.

Updated Info: The Schoolio-Von-Hoolio line is available at OfficeMax stores nationwide. You can find a nearby store at This line isn't offered online due to the various in-store shopping deals OfficeMax offers during back-to-school season, which you can view at The deals change weekly with some products offered for the cost of one penny. (I've experienced this firsthand...I got crayons for a penny a few weeks ago!)

To kick off the back to school season, Office Max also hosted a web cast with Peter Walsh and a panel that included an award-wining teacher, a mom and two students. The web cast showed real world back-to-school challenges from the perspective of teacher, mom and student—and showed organizing solutions. You can watch the blog cast online for even more back-to-school organizing ideas. Hope you enjoy!

Last but not least, before I wrap up the back-to-school-organizing-ideas-extravaganza, I’d like to point you to the article Back To School Planning on the website. This article features a few of my favorite back to school organizing ideas, along with ideas of other professional organizer Moms.

Alright…I’d say back-to-school is a wrap! (Well…for this school year anyway.) 

August 23, 2009

Finish It Friday Check-In!

Did you have a finish-full weekend? I can't wait to hear. Here's what got checked off my to-do list:

  • Dropped off some donations at Goodwill.
  • Dropped off some magazine (!) and book donations at the library.
  • Touched up the paint on my staircase and surrounding baseboards, and touched up the paint around our front door and entry. This was a completely rewarding project...I can't wait to (start and) finish some more painting projects soon. :)
  • Bought a new lampshade to replace a broken one.
  • Put new labels in my refrigerator and pantry.

It's time for bed. Hope you had a great weekend!  

August 21, 2009

Freebie Friday!

That’s right—Freebie Friday for the second week in a row. Woohoo! Before I spill the beans on this week’s freebie, remember there’s still time to register for my free online organizing workshop. This workshop helps you turbo-charge your decluttering efforts or overcome getting organized inertia if you’re feeling stuck and don't know where to begin. “Help! I don’t know where to begin” starts next Tuesday. Sign up today because registration closes this Sunday! (More info about the workshop and how to sign up can be found here.) 

Alright…now onto this week’s giveaway! You know how much I love labeling…right? I mean, I even went so far as to put labels in my refrigerator. That’s someone who loves a label. So you can imagine my joy when Brother offered a new Simply Stylish PT-1290 as a Freebie Friday giveaway. (Thank you, Brother!) 


Here are some details about this brand new labeler. The Brother P-Touch PT-1290 labeler is the more advanced handheld labeler in the new Simply Stylish product series. The PT-1290 has a sleek look and includes 15 “Deco Mode” patterns that can print up to two lines for more efficient labeling.

 More details about this nifty new labeler…

  • Sleek white color.
  • Handheld design with Typewriter style keyboard. This is so important…fast, simple labeling! 
  • Uses laminated “TZ” series tapes up to 1/2" wide for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Operates on 6 “AAA” batteries (not included) which means this labeler is portable. In other words, you can take it right to your refrigerator to do some labeling, and then head straight to your home office to label some file folders. No electrical outlet or computer is required.  
  • 15 Deco Mode Patterns for extra-stylish labels.
  • Prints 1 or 2 lines. 
  • Professional, pre-set layouts accommodate up to two rows of text which means you can get detailed with your label descriptions! 
  • Auto tape detection feature automatically adjusts text size based on label width.
  • Built-in memory saves up to 9 of you favorite labels.

So, I know what you’re thinking “How can I get one of these fine labeling machines?”  Well…here’s how you can enter to win.

  1. Retweet the following message on Twitter: "@abygarvey Tell me why you need the Brother P-Touch 1290 and you can WIN one on the blog!" (If you're not on Twitter, read yesterday's post about setting up an account.) AND...
  2. In the comments of this post explain why you need a P-Touch 1290 in your life. (I can’t wait to hear!)  

Comments will be closed at 9 PM Central on Thursday August 27th. Winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced Friday August 28th! Good luck!!

August 20, 2009

Finish It Friday

It's almost Friday—yippee! The first week of school is (almost) officially under our belts. The kids have done great. I (for some reason) am exhausted. So...I'm posting this week's Finish It Friday now so I can wake up invigorated to finish something this weekend! What will it be? We'll just have to wait and see.

How about you? What will you finish this weekend? I can't wait to hear because I know it will inspire me even more to finish up one of those pesky little (or maybe big...) to-do's on my list!

Also, check back tomorrow for a fun Freebie Friday. Entering will require a re-tweet via Twitter—just to mix things up a bit and up the Freebie Friday fun-factor. If you don't have a Twitter account, you can set one up for free here. (It's really easy and Twitter is really fun.) Oh, and while you're there, you can follow me, and I'll follow you back. Sound fun? I'm abygarvey on Twitter (and in the real world, just in the real world I put a space between the Aby and the Garvey.) 

(Clearly, it's time for bed.)

Good night. See you back here on Friday. :)

August 19, 2009


If you’re anything like me, your college years were filled with two primary areas of focus:  studying and having fun. (And if I’m being completely honest, for me those two priorities were flipped. But I digress…)

The real point of this post is to tell you about Carolyn Rubenstein and her new book. See, for Carolyn, the standard college repertoire of studying and having fun weren’t all she accomplished during college. She did much, much more. For example, she continued her work at Carolyn’s Compassionate Children, a charitable organization she founded at age fourteen to help children with cancer and other serious illnesses. And she wrote a book—a book that would come to be PERSEVERANCE, a book that just yesterday was released to the public.

Perserverance As Carolyn says, “I wrote PERSEVERANCE while I was in college, and it became my way of communicating to 20 important people in my life. In short, it was a raw, emotional, and deeply personal experience. PERSEVERANCE is a collection of candid stories from 20 young people who have faced cancer head-on and emerged with a new outlook on life. Contained within the pages of PERSEVERANCE are life lessons that all of us can take away, with the message that “now is everything.” This book is a labor of love, and I hope the life lessons I learned from these brave survivors will inspire you, as well.”

These stories do just that—they inspire you in ways you couldn’t imagine.

I’m having a hard time articulating the essence of this book in a way that does it justice. I’m (beyond) inspired that a young person, someone who has never personally experienced cancer herself, has dedicated her life to helping young people with cancer, and now she is sharing their stories and life lessons with the rest of us. When I get this inspired, I get weepy (in a good way) but I have a hard time putting my thoughts together in a manner that is coherent and blog-worthy. I’ve been trying for two days now, so instead of continuing with the struggle, let me just share a quote from the book. This is an excerpt from Caroline Bridges, one of the young people whose story of perseverance is shared in the book.

“Having cancer causes a major shift in priorities. Your priority becomes yourself and your health. It isn’t that you become self-centered. It’s more that you become more attuned to what you need or want. Your health depends on your ability to listen to what your body and instincts are telling you.


For me, and probably for many people, I think I used to have an attitude similar to, “Okay, this current life isn’t pleasant, but I can deal with it. Something will eventually change.” I never honestly tried to figure out how to make my life better. I think I just figured it would automatically become so.”


And then later she says “It sounds silly, but most of us can’t or won’t admit to ourselves what we really want, and even fewer go out and try for it.”


If you’re looking for an inspiring read that will give you a new perspective on life, PERSEVERANCE won’t disappoint. There are so many nuggets of sage advice from young people who have a point of view few of us will ever have in our lives. (At least, so we hope.) As Caroline Bridges shares in the book “You don’t need a terminal illness to hit you over the head before you say, oh, wait, maybe that’s not how my life should be….think of it like I got sick so you don’t have to.”

Go here to order your copy of PERSEVERANCE. You will come away inspired and help others in the process—all of Carolyn’s proceeds from the book will go directly to Carolyn’s Compassionate Children and the Chordoma Foundation. Both are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

August 17, 2009


Its official:  we’re ready to go back to school!

Yippee-hooray—it feels really good to have that project finished! Beginning school in August still feels foreign to me. As a kid I always went back after Labor Day. So it just feels way too early to be going back to school now…but beginning the back-to-school prep in July really helped (especially in light of our last minute vacation to Michigan.) But all in all…ahhh….we’re ready. Yay.

So, that’s what I finished this weekend. How about you? What did you finish? I can’t wait to hear! Please share your victories in the comments section so I can personally woohoo you!

Also…for those of you who were interested in the lunch mail notes from Compendium, they contacted me so I could share their Friends & Family sale with you. Get this…with the discount code FRIENDS30, you can get 30% off everything you order. And if you order $50, you can get free shipping. The special is going on through the month of August. I think I may just do some (dare I say it?) early Christmas shopping in light of this good news and stock up on a few more lunch mail notes, too! Thank you, Compendium!

Have a happy Monday!

August 14, 2009

It’s Friday Again!

Which means one of two things—Finish it Friday or Freebie Friday! Well...guess what? Today is the last Friday of summer vacation around here, which means today is an extra-special kind of Friday. So today we’ll do both—Finish It Friday and Freebie Friday. Woohoo!

Let’s start with Finish It Friday. Here's my big plan for the weekend:  finish getting ready for back to school! Tuesday is the big day after all, so final prep for school will be my primary focus for the weekend.

How about you? What will you finish this weekend? Please share with me in the comments...and then keep your eyes open for a fun Freebie Friday later today!

August 12, 2009

Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to School

Depending on the child, the first day of school is one that is eagerly anticipated, or one that’s intensely dreaded. In my household, I have one of each type of child. My girl loves going back to school. She adores school and all that it entails—reading, writing, friends, and even the homework. My boy, on the other hand, would be perfectly content if summer lasted the entire year, or at least until the December holiday break, after which summer could start up again right where it left off.


5 ways to ease into school year - simplify101

Regardless of where your child is on this spectrum, it’s important to make the transition as pleasurable as possible, while being sensitive each child’s unique feelings about going back to school. After all, the transition back to school can be quite dramatic—going from virtually no structure and routine, to complete structure where every minute of the day is scheduled and planned. In light of this, here are some of my favorite ideas for easing kids back into the structure and routine of school.


Do a summer recap. Sit down with your kids for a few minutes and talk about the fun times you and your family enjoyed this summer. This will help you end the summer on a high note—remembering the good times, and help you plan for next year. Which activities, camps, or outings did everyone enjoy? Which ones would it be okay to pass up next summer? Are there any activities you missed this summer—things you planned to do but never got around to?


In my household, there’s a bit of disappointment that we didn’t make *enough* trips to the pool this summer. Honestly, it was a bit too chilly this year to spend a bunch of time hanging out in an unheated pool! However, knowing that one child didn’t get her fill of summer pooling means we can plan a pool outing before summer ends, or even once school is in session. The end of summer, after all, doesn’t have to mean then end of fun—a great message to share with the kiddos.


Talk about the upcoming school year. While you’re chatting with your kids, ask them what they’re excited about in terms of the upcoming school year. For kids like my son, this can take a bit of probing and a bit more digging to help them unearth the fun that really does take place at school. Even if it’s lunch time, recess, or just being in the oldest class in the school this year, finding the high points can help ease the transition back. While you’re at it, find out if your child is nervous about the upcoming school year, and then help them work through those nerves. This is particularly important if your child is attending a new school. Talk about how the lunch line works, or take a quick tour of the school so your child knows how to find his or her classroom, the bathroom, and the bus line. 


Gradually adjust your schedules. A week or so before school starts, start shifting bedtimes and wake-up times by few minutes each day. My kids’ summer bedtimes are off by about an hour compared to our school year schedule. So the week before school starts, we’ll start shifting back bedtime by ten minutes or so each night. (And the week before that we’ll start talking about this upcoming shift, so no one is surprised when bedtimes start getting earlier and earlier.) This gradual shift in bedtimes will make waking up on the first day of school much more bearable (for all of us)!


Create an end-of-the-summer tradition. Say farewell to summer with a simple treat for the entire family to enjoy. It could be as simple as a trip to the ice cream shop, or fixing your kids’ favorite meal for dinner. Or you could plan a picnic in the park, a BBQ with friends, or a trip to the beach or the pool.


Have something to look forward to. One of the best things about starting school in August is that we have a three-day weekend just around the corner. Having something like that to look forward to makes the transition easier. If a three-day weekend isn’t on the horizon when your kids go back to school, schedule your own event , such as a neighborhood get-together, a sleepover with friends, or even a stay-at-home movie night with popcorn and lemonade. Put your something-to-look-forward-to on the family calendar to keep it top of mind for your whole family.


Decide to have a great year! It’s important to tap into your own feelings about the school year. Are you on the excited anticipation end of the spectrum, or do you dread sending your kiddos back to school? If you’re apprehensive about the upcoming school year in any way, sort that through and look for ways to frame it positively for yourself and your child. Remember, your kids reflect what you’re thinking and feeling. If you’re excited about the upcoming school year, chances are they will be, too!


I’d love to hear your ideas for making the transition back to school easier and more fun for both your kids and you. Please share your ideas in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you.

August 11, 2009

Declutter Your Office Supplies

If you’re like me, you have an innate love of office supplies and paper products. It seems a love of organizing and a love of the products designed to help create order go hand-in-hand. But as with anything accumulated in excess, too many office supplies can leave you feeling weighed down, or even overwhelmed.

Now is a great time to lighten your load a bit by going through your extra office supplies or craft products, and participate in a local school supply drive. In my town, during the weeks right before school starts, school supply collection locations are set up around town at local banks and businesses, making it super simple to make a donation. It’s a great opportunity to do a bit of decluttering (those extra items you’d take a few lifetimes to use up completely!) and help a needy child in the process.

Check with your local school district or chamber of commerce to see if there are school supply drives in your area, and if so, find out the types of items they’re looking for. Then, go through your stash and pull out your extra pens, pencils, notebooks, loose-leaf notebook paper, glue, glue sticks, Post-It notes, pocket folders, colored pencils, rulers, and highlighters, box ’em up and drop them off! Your home office or craft area will have a bit more breathing room and you’ll feel great knowing your supplies are going to a terrific cause!

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