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November 29, 2009

Get Organized with Cyber Monday Savings

In celebration of Cyber Monday, simplify 101 is offering terrific savings on our instant download e-products and online workshops like How to Achieve Your Goals and Create a Life You Love and the January session of Organizing 101!

Or, if you’re in the mood to organize your scrapbook space, pick up your copy of The Happy Scrapper e-book for just $7.00! Also on sale is the instant download version of Get Organized for the Holidays—now just $14.95!

So, sit back, relax, and save, save, save! (But hurry because these special offers won’t last long!) View all sale items here.

Happy organizing…and happy saving!

November 27, 2009

(Re) Finish It Friday

Happy Friday to you! I hope you had a relaxing day yesterday...and that you're ready to get some things done this weekend. :) My Finish It Friday list this week is again short yet long all at the same time. (Short list with lots to do!)

1) Re-finish my daughter's new loft bed...which also includes eight drawers, a ladder, a bookcase, and a desk. I started sanding this baby today, and I have to admit, I'm kind of freaking out about the scope of this project. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Yikes...I'll keep you posted. Her birthday is two weeks from you may see this on next week's list, too.

2) Start and finish decorating the house for Christmas.

3) Drive Mom to either Chicago or Indianapolis. My sister will meet me there and take Mom the rest of the way home to Michigan.

What's on your list this weekend? I'd love to hear...and if you didn't yet post what you did last weekend, please feel free to share that in the comments too. I'd love to hear!

Have a great weekend!

November 26, 2009


(A partial list. In no particular order.)

Today I am thankful for:

  • My family. What a joy it is to go on this ride with these amazing people.
  • Quiet moments.
  • Yoga and my yoga instructor.
  • Hot coffee. (Especially hot coffee made by Jay.)
  • Thanksgiving traditions like coffee cake, eggs and the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I can’t wait.
  • Home movies.
  • Staying up late and sleeping in.
  • Naps.
  • Craig’s List and the loft bed we got for Kailea yesterday.
  • Rental pick-up trucks. (Especially when Jay drives them.)
  • Turkey and all the fixins. (Especially turkey made by Jay.)
  • Safe travels to and from Michigan.
  • A wonderful visit at home with my Dad and his wife, and being able to leave town at the last minute for this visit.
  • Having my Mom here for Thanksgiving.
  • Jay.
  • simplify 101 and our amazing clients and workshop participants. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • Stretching out of my comfort zone.
  • Laughter.
  • Memory keeping.
  • The power of a smile.
  • My Mom’s stuffing recipe.
  • Hugs and snuggles from my kiddos.
  • Our dog Maggie.
  • Knitting.
  • You. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for participating in things like Finish It Friday. I am truly thankful for your readership, support and comments.

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I would love to hear what you’re thankful for today in the comments. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day, relaxing day.

November 20, 2009

Finish It Friday!

Who is playing along this week? For me, it's another simple Finish It Friday.

  • Finish packing. (check!)
  • Drive, drive, drive, drive, drive.
  • Have coffee with Marcia.
  • Drive a bit more.
  • Enjoy a relaxing weekend in Michigan. :)

Hope you have a great weekend, too! I would love to hear what you're finishing this weekend. I'll be checking in to see who's in this week once I arrive at my destination. ;) Have a great day!

November 18, 2009

Spring Cleaning for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, you may have an itch to do a bit of “spring cleaning” in anticipation of visits from family, friends and possibly even over night guests. So, I thought it would be fun to tap into the newsletter archives and rerun an article from April 2007 for some spring cleaning ideas.

The article suggests that you create a list of potential cleaning projects. I think this is particularly relevant during this time of year when your schedule is probably overflowing with extra to-dos. So if you’re itching to spring clean your home, start with a list and then prioritize it based on what’s on your holiday calendar. If you have guests coming to stay over night, you may want to give higher priority to getting the guest room and guest bathroom in order. On the other hand, if you’ll be hosting a dinner party, spring cleaning your living room, kitchen or dining room may be a higher priority for you. The bottom line is this:  consider your schedule and what is realistic to do. Then, then start with a cleaning project that gives you the biggest bang for the buck.

I hope you enjoy this blast from the past. If you'd like more cleaning ideas, check out this spring cleaning tip on my website, and this prior blog post. (Be sure to check out all the fabulous cleaning tips in the comments.)

* * * * * * * *

Bring on the Sparkle!
by Aby Garvey

Cleaning-supplies-bucket Although I’m a firm believer that organizing and cleaning are two different things, I’m also a believer that cleaning helps any organizing project sparkle. In fact, one of the steps in the simplify 101 organizing process is to clean the space being organized. If you’re like me, though, cleaning isn’t the fun stuff. Bring me a binder or a bin and you’ve got yourself a deal. A broom and a dust pan? Now that’s another story.

If you find yourself with a whole lotta’ dust and whole *little* enthusiasm for cleaning (like an organizer you know) read on!  We’ll get you motivated to clean, clean, clean in no time! Here’s how.

Focus on the results. Like with any good organizing project, if you’re having trouble getting started, focus on the end result. Think about how good it will feel when you’ve got that cleaning project under your belt. Really dwell on that sense of accomplishment. It works! And here’s how I know.

This past weekend, Jay and I embarked on a cleaning project we had put off for a really, really (really) long time: windows. We washed the windows inside and out, removed and cleaned the screens, and scrubbed the grime off the window sills. Fun? Not so much. Rewarding? Beyond words. I can’t even tell you how good it feels to see those windows sparkle!

It was this feeling of accomplishment (and yes, when you’re doing something you don’t love to do, getting it done is a huge accomplishment!) that got me started and kept me going through the hours and hours of scrubbing and wiping and cleaning. So, if you’re having trouble mustering up the motivation to do some deep cleaning, just think about how great it’s going to feel when you can check it off your list!

Decide where to start. Take a quick tour of your home and make a list of possible spring cleaning projects. Here are some ideas …

- Wash windows
- Wash screens
- Wash window-sills
- Clean light fixtures
- Wipe down cabinet fronts (and tops)
- Clean range top or burners on your stove
- Sweep or vacuum behind the refrigerator or washer and dryer
- Remove lint from dryer hose
- Sweep the basement or garage
- Shampoo carpets
- Check your smoke detector batteries

To create your list, simply walk around your home looking high and low for opportunities to create more sparkle. Then, pick one project that will have a big impact on your place and more importantly, your sense of well being.

Gather your supplies. Gather the tools and supplies you’ll need to tackle your cleaning project and corral them into a caddy or bucket. This will make it easy to move from room to room, if your project requires it. 

Stay focused on the task at hand. As with any other project, staying focused on your spring cleaning project will help you get it checked off your list faster. And while this isn’t always easy to do … you’ll be glad you did. This weekend at our home there was laundry to be done and when I pulled out the power washer, I had a burning desire to spray off my car (a cleaning task I actually think is fun!) But, it was important to stay focused on windows, and see the task through to completion which meant every screen back on every window and cleaning supplies put away. For your cleaning tasks, define what done is … and then, focus, focus, focus until you’ve reached done!

Enjoy the results. When you’re finished, sit back and relish the results of your labor. It feels good to create positive change in your environment. Doesn’t it? Drink it in. And enjoy the results.

With many projects, getting started can be the hardest part! But … by focusing on the end results and then really drinking in your success, you will fuel your enthusiasm to take on the next spring cleaning project on your list … next weekend! 

* * * * * * * *

One of the big tricks with the holiday season is balancing all of your regular to-dos, with the extra projects that the holidays bring with them—more cleaning, more shopping, more cooking and baking, seasonal decorating, and on and on it goes. This year I did some house spiffying projects in October, because I know it’s a challenge to simply keep my head above water during November and December without any extra cleaning projects. So, during these months, I stick to my regular one night a week cleaning routine, and in January, the house will get its turn once again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you in the midst of some pre-holiday spring cleaning? What’s on your priority list? How do you balance these extra projects with your weekly cleaning? Do you clean once a week like I do, or do you do a little bit of cleaning each day? Thanks for sharing!

November 17, 2009

Simple Birthday Party Ideas

As I mentioned in Friday’s blog post, we celebrated Collin’s birthday this past weekend. Because both of my kid’s birthdays are right around the holidays, there are two primary goals with the kid’s parties:  make it special, but keep it simple. Here are some of the ideas I used to do both.

Idea #1: Make a banner. It was really fun to pull out Collin’s birthday banner when I got out the fall decorations this year. There’s something special about having a decoration that is just for him, something we put up only on his birthday. And since it is used year after year, it fits the simple criteria. You can find step-by-step instructions via this blog post.


Idea #2:  Tie balloons to a bucket filled with sand. Collin specifically asked for balloons, and I wasn’t about to disappoint. When I went to pick up the balloons I was reminded of a bib he had as a baby. On this bib was Winnie the Pooh holding a bunch of balloons and it said something along the lines of no one can be un-cheered when they have a balloon. That Pooh bear was on to something. To keep it simple, I used a little white bucket I already had and filled it with sand. The balloons were tied to the handle.


Idea #3: Use reusable items. Instead of getting a paper or plastic table cloth, I went to Target and picked up a white, hotel style table cloth. Now, I know, white table cloths with 10 and 11 year old boys may not appear to be my brightest move, but that’s what bleach and spot remover are for. We had one spill, and it came right out. So now…I have a table cloth for the next birthday party on the list, as well as through out the holidays. (By the way, the table cloth is from Target and is on sale this week…) Instead of purchasing disposable cups, I got some clear and blue reusable cups. Collin is really into going green, so these decisions honored his commitment to the environment, but it will also make future parties that much simpler by having everything already on hand.

Idea #4: Use a bucket to corral table items. We served the kids pizza for dinner, so I put all the necessary table items in one of my beloved blue buckets. Salt, paper, paper napkins (which I had on hand from a prior event), parmesan cheese and dried red peppers were corralled inside. This made for a simple but colorful table decoration, and kept all of these items looking tidy.


Idea #5: Keep party favors simple. You may recall my thoughts about party favors from this blog post. So…the goal this year was something that said thank you for coming to my party, but didn’t end up in the trash can fifteen minutes after the kids arrived back home. These are ten and eleven year old boys…so the days of die cast cars or boxes of crayons are behind us. The solution was a Dollar Spot popcorn bucket, a package of microwave popcorn and a customized Hershey bar.


To customize the Hershey bar I created a festive wrapper using Microsoft Publisher. The wrapper was printed, cut to size with my paper trimmer, and taped to the original Hershey bar wrapper. Simple, special and quite useful.


On that note, I’ll say this post is a wrap. (Ha ha.) But before you go, I have one more party on the horizon, so I would love to hear your ideas for keeping kid’s birthday parties simple and special. Thanks for sharing.

November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Check-In

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a terrific weekend. Mine was very nice. Collin had a terrific birthday—and three wonderful celebrations. (Thank you everyone who sent him happy birthday wishes.)  Aside from the birthday festivities, I got a few things finished up, too. Hooray! Here’s my list:


  • Finished the last-minute details and preparations for the birthday celebrations.
  • (Almost) finished laundry. I think laundry is a thankless job, so I mention it here a lot. It always feels good to get it done, and almost done feels pretty good, too.
  • Finished planning the week. The plan includes a trip to Michigan on Friday. (Yay!) I’m really looking forward to that one.
  • Returned Kailea’s too-big snow boots. That one has been lingering on the list for quite some time. Now I just need to order some that will fit!
  • Planned Thanksgiving dinner.

    So…that is the noteworthy stuff on the finished list. Okay, the noteworthy part is probably debatable…but none-the-less, there it is. So how about you; what did you finish this weekend? Hope you had a great one!

  • November 13, 2009

    Lucky Friday the 13th

    For me, Friday November 13th is one of the luckiest days of my life. It is on this day, eleven years ago today, that I became a Mom for the very first time. I remember going into labor, (after having spent the prior five days on bed rest in the hospital,) and saying “But its Friday the 13th. Isn’t there some way we can put this off until tomorrow?” I should have known at that moment that my life was forever changed—I was no longer in the driver’s seat.


    So today, the first Friday, November 13th since the original one eleven years ago, I stand here knowing that indeed Friday the 13th is a very lucky day for me. I am so thankful for every minute of the past eleven years and look forward to all the years ahead with this bright, beautiful boy of mine. Happy Birthday, Collin. I’m so happy you’re mine.


    I’m really excited for this weekend because my boy loves his birthday. Now, I know what you’re thinking—all kids love their birthday. True. But this one really, really loves his birthday. If you’re familiar with the book The Five Love Languages of Children, you know what I mean. Collin’s love language is gifts, which means birthdays are really special to him. It’s the time of year when the gifts (and the love) overflow. So it’s going to be a fun, fun weekend.




    So…I bet you can guess what’s on my list of things to finish this weekend…birthday stuff. Most of it is done, but tomorrow is his party. So I have to finish making the cookie cake and fun stuff like that. So that’s my really short finish it Friday list for me this week:  make cookie cake. (And maybe we’ll finish eating it, too.)


    I’d love to hear what’s on your Finish it Friday list. Remember to include something fun on your list this week, too. Have a great weekend!

    November 12, 2009

    Three Quick Tips to Clear the Way for Clutter-Free Holidays!

    Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is just two weeks from today! This means a few things:

    1) My son's birthday is tomorrow.

    2) The "busy season" for the Garveys is officially in full swing!

    3) Blog writing time is hard to come by right now!

    So, today I'm going back to the archives. It's hard to believe, but as of this month I have five years worth of newsletter archives! The tips below are from October 2005. Hope you enjoy. :)

    The holidays are a clutter-full time of year! More items and activities come into our homes and lives during this season than any other season of the year. To make sure the clutter doesn’t inundate you this year, take simple actions now. You’ll be sure to enjoy a clutter-free holiday season!

    1. De-clutter your kitchen. Before the season breezes in, lighten up your kitchen. No need for a major overhaul (you can do that in January.) For now, just open your cupboards and pantry doors, looking inside for unused, unwanted and unneeded items. Get rid of plastic cups (you know, the ones that multiply in your cabinets while you’re sleeping?), appliances that haven’t seen the light of day in years, and food that’s outstayed it’s welcome in your cabinets. (A quick check of the expiration date will take the guess work out of this one.) By creating a little breathing room in your kitchen now, you’ll find holiday baking and cooking that much more enjoyable.

    2. De-clutter your kids’ bedrooms or play room. Before the holiday’s hit, purge, purge and purge some more. You’ll know you’ve purged enough when you see open space, empty shelves or unused storage bins where once you saw toys, toys and more toys. This space will soon be filled by Santa and all his loot. And won’t it be so much less stressful to already have space carved out before new goodies even land under the tree? Plus, if you donate your lightly used toys to a favorite charity, you’ll help brighten Christmas for less fortunate children. Remember to summarize your donations and get receipts for your taxes!

    3. De-clutter your calendar. If there’s one thing there’s not enough of during the holidays it’s time. Take action now to purge non-mission critical activities or at least defer them until after the holidays. Make room for shopping, baking, holiday cards, parties, and all your other favorite holiday activities.

    With a little proactive de-cluttering, you’ll enjoy a clutter free holiday season. Plus you may even find space for some “you time” this year. You’re starting to feel merry already, aren’t you?

    I'd love to hear your ideas! What decluttering do you do this time of year in preparation for the holidays?

    November 09, 2009

    Monday Morning Check-In

    How did you do with your Finish It Friday list? Here's my check-in. Next weekend my list will definitely include something fun. I saw that on Emily's list and thought "Yes, don't forget to have fun!" Thanks, Emily for the reminder. :)

    1. (Started) and finished (within reason) holiday planning.

    2. Finished planning Collin’s birthday celebration(s).

    3. Finished putting away Halloween decorations.

    4. Washed car – inside and out. Vacuumed the car and then went through the car wash. Saved about 45 minutes of time this way, and didn’t get wet. A really good $6 investment.

    5. Laundry.

    6. Cleaned the bathroom really, really well.

    7. Helped Collin finish Veterans day float project.

    8. Almost finished knitting a scarf. I think I just need to add some fringe...which I've never done before. :)

    9. Ordered a Christmas gift.

    10. Almost finished getting the kids ready for snow—new coats, snow pants, hat, scarf, gloves. Still need boots for one child. Now, let’s hope it snows here this year!

    11. Returned library books.

    12. Finished menu plan and grocery list for the week.

    13. Emptied and cleaned the herb and flower pots.

    14. Potted a few herbs for a window sill garden.

    15. Played four-square. (This definitely counts as fun.)

    16. Put the finishing touches on the Goals workshop. If you've been looking at that one, it is now open for enrollment. Hooray! 

    How about you? How did you do on your list? I hope you had a productive and *fun* weekend. :)

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