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December 30, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things — 2009

I always love the year-in-review segments news programs do this time of year. So I thought I’d do my own year in review blog post listing a few of my favorite things from 2009. Ready? Let’s go!

Throw-out-fifty-things Favorite Book:  "Throw Out Fifty Things "by Gail Blanke.
I loved, loved this book. And it would be a great one to read now if you have "declutter" on your list of New Year's  Resolutions. You can read my review of "Throw Out Fifty Things" here.



Favorite Book – Non-Organizing Related:  "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell.
It is a very rare occasion that I read a book that isn’t in the organizing, time management or self improvement category. But I am so glad I ventured outside my norm and read this one. I was drawn to this book because it’s about a blogger (and I have a blog) and it’s about cooking (and I love to cook – though not at the level of either Julie or Julia.) I seriously found this book to be laugh-out-loud funny…a nice little escape from my real world and my typical “practical reading for knowledge” type of books.  

Favorite Movie:  The Blind Side.
Oh, how I loved this movie. But I must also mention (in fairness to all the other movies out there) that this movie didn’t have much competition in terms of making it's way to the top of my list. It is quite possibly the only movie I saw in a theater in 2009. But still…it was a really great movie.

Favorite Company – Non-Organizing Related:  Life is Good.
Jay turned our family into Life Is Good fanatics, and the more I learn about this company the more inspired I am. Here’s a great article about the companys' founders from Body + Soul magazine. I thought it was a really inspiring read when I got the magazine, so I was happy to see that they had it online, too. I hope you enjoy it.

Bucket of cards Favorite New Bucket. The green, oval bucket
Every favorite things list must have a bucket on it. Right? Of course it does! So here's favorite new bucket of 2009 is the green bucket I picked up from Target over the holidays. Hands down it’s the winner. (And yes, I wish I had gotten more.)

So how about you? What are some of your favorite things from 2009—books, movies, magazines, buckets or anything else for that matter? I’d love to hear.

December 29, 2009

looking back + looking forward

The week between Christmas and New Year is one of my favorite weeks of the whole year. Back in the days when I worked in the corporate world, I always opted to work this week. (Mind you, much of this time was before kids.) I loved that the office was quiet as most everyone else I worked with had kids and family in town…so they chose to be home, giving me a quiet office mostly to myself. Interruptions were fewer. The pace was relaxed. And I got a whole lot of stuff done.

I would clean out my files—clearing out old projects that I no longer needed and making space for the new projects in the upcoming year. I’d set up my new Franklin Covey planner, and transfer dates, birthdays, and addresses. I’d reorganize my office and finish up tasks on lingering projects. In essence, I would tie up all the loose ends from the past year, clear out a bit of clutter, and get ready to hit the ground running in the New Year.

I still love this week. It’s a time to reflect back on the past year—to celebrate the high moments and learn from the lows. It’s a chance to check in on progress against last year’s goals and begin the process of setting new goals for the upcoming year. I also still like to clear out any lingering physical clutter that’s left over from the holidays, and make one final trip to Goodwill for the year. The pace isn’t quite as relaxed, and the atmosphere isn’t nearly as quiet as it was back in the corporate days, but this week’s activities still have the same outcome—staring the New Year refocused, reenergized, and ready to go!

Goals-board-320 Today I also put the finishing touches on my Goals online workshop. And I’m getting really excited! This is one of those workshops that I love teaching, because I use it as an opportunity to go through the goal setting process again myself and create even more focus on my goals for the year. For me, it’s such a fun way to start the new year…and in this case the new decade!

Whether you routinely set goals and love the process, or goals are a new and possibly uncomfortable concept for you, if you want to make change in your home and life this year, this workshop is for you. The Goals workshop will give you the foundation, ideas and inspiration you need to dream about a life you love, and take steps to make it happen! I only run this workshop once a year and this year’s session begins next Tuesday, so I hope you’ll join me for this once-a-year opportunity!

December 25, 2009

It’s Time to Clear Out the Holiday Clutter

‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a thing was away, not a toy, box, or blouse.
The stockings were thrown on the floor 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 five 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?”

You’re asking yourself “Where will all this stuff go?”
It feels overwhelming, this I well know.
You’ll get it put away, just remember to breathe,
And with this handy download, you’ll get it all done with ease.

Hope you're enjoying your day! 

December 21, 2009

Its Monday…how did you do?

Thanks so much to all of you who joined me in Finish It Friday this week. It was so motivating to me—and I needed all the extra motivation I could get because I got a cold on Friday. It came out of nowhere and knocked me off my feet Saturday and Sunday…and today I’m still moving quite a bit slower than usual. But, despite my cold, I still made good progress on my to-do list. Here’s the recap:

  • Finish shopping. I did a bit of shopping Friday afternoon before the cold hit, and then Jay picked up two more gifts for me on Saturday. I still have one or two things to pick up, but I’m feeling confident I can do this tomorrow. (I will be better…I will be better…I will be better…)
  • Finish wrapping. Check. Aside from the two little things left to be bought, the wrapping is done. Yay!
  • Make grocery list. Done. We decided to go with pot stickers and buffalo wing dip, neither of which will be made on the grill. But, we’re going to grill steaks and asparagus on Christmas night. Thanks for all the recipe ideas! I will definitely try some of those another time…when there isn’t a cold zapping my motivation and desire to try new things.
  • Clean house. Done on Saturday. Everyone pitched into help. (Thank goodness.)
  • Laundry. Also done. Used lots of hand sanitizer so as to not spread my germs with my loved ones, but there are clean clothes for all.

And that’s pretty much it. Other than that, I sat on the couch with a box of tissues, a blanket and HGTV on the T.V.

How did you do with your list? Can’t wait to hear…I hope you had a great weekend!

December 18, 2009

Finish It Friday

This week's Finish It Friday is a big one. It's the last Friday, and the last weekend, before Christmas! I don't know about you, but I still have quite a few things to wrap-up—literally and figuratively. I'd like to have the big-hitter holiday to-dos done by Sunday. So here is my list: 

  • Finish shopping. I have a few lingering gifts to buy, and I want to take the kids shopping for Jay this weekend.
  • Finish wrapping. My goal is to have all gifts wrapped and ready by the end of the weekend.
  • Make grocery list. I need to figure out what to bring for Christmas Eve. We're going to do an all appetizers get together with Jay's family, and Jay would like to cook something on the grill. Any ideas? If you have any recipes for a grilled appetizer, I would really love to hear it.
  • Clean house.
  • Laundry.

I think it's all do-able, and actually this is a fun to-do list (except possibly for cleaning and laundry.) But, the best part is, if I get this done this weekend, then next week is smooth sailing. The kids are off school for the holiday break starting today, so I'm hoping to make some cookies, play some games, and just leisurely enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. So...I best get busy finishing some things up!

Before I go, remember that painted, empty picture frame from Halloween? Here's the holiday version.


I made the bunting using Benita's instructions on this blog post. It was such a quick and fun project. I had never sewn on paper before, and boy, it was quite a rewarding thing to do. I will definitely be making more of these for other holidays and events. So if you're looking for a quick little holiday decorating project for your Finish It Friday list, well, now you've got one. :)

Who is joining me this week? Just post your to-do list in the comments, and post again with what you finished on Monday. Easy-peasy and fun. :) And remember, if you have any appetizers to make on the grill...I'd love the recipe. Thanks! Have a great weekend.

December 17, 2009

Managing Holiday To-Dos

Wow, can you believe that Christmas is just over a week away? How are you doing with all of your holiday to-dos?

This year, unlike many years, I decided to send cards. Somehow I convinced myself that despite the added things on my plate this year—like the big bed painting project, three days spent in the car driving to and from Michigan, and a busier than usual evening activities schedule—that this would be a good year to send cards again. Hmmm…

Bucket of cards It isn’t that I don’t want to share the joy of the season with friends, family, clients and business colleagues via holiday cards. Instead, my choice not to send cards in the past was based on two factors. First, I recognized that this task doesn’t very comfortably fit in the months of November and December with all of the other holiday to-dos on my plate. Quite simply, there has been other, more important and more urgent to-dos to squeeze into my schedule. Second, I really don’t enjoy the process of sending cards. Yes, I love the end result, but it’s all the other steps along the way that I simply don’t enjoy. Especially because it seems as if something always comes up to complicate the card sending process.

One of the reasons I decided to send cards this year was that I had already entered the addresses into an Avery label template in Word. Collin did this for me last year. So I thought that I had simplified things enough to take on this task this year. After all, the worst part of the process for me—addressing the cards—was already done. What I didn’t anticipate was an incomplete list and the need to continually add names and addresses after the labels were printed. Nor did I anticipate that the labels wouldn’t stick to the envelopes. Nope—didn’t see that one coming. Seriously, would you expect your labels to peel off your envelopes right after you stuck them on? Me neither.

The solution was a piece of Scotch tape across the top of each label. And while functionally this works, it wasn’t exactly the look I was going for. But I shoved my inner perfectionist aside, grabbed my little girl and a tape dispenser, and we went for it.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Well, I don’t think it’s to stop sending cards again for another two or three years, but rather to begin the process even earlier next year. I’ll update the address list throughout the year by adding new friends, colleagues, and clients to my address list as they come along. I’ll also be investing in some new, stickier labels and clear ones at that. (I also had to tell my perfectionist side to hush when I noticed the labels were white and the envelopes were off white. Argh.) I also plan to begin this whole process in September or earlier next year, so that I can even do a photo card. Now, I know that when September rolls around I’ll think that I’m going overboard starting so early…but I’ll have this here blog post to remind me that the card sending process is simply too much for my schedule and sanity in November and December. 

As you go about your holiday preparations, remember this Christmas card story and take note of how things are going with your own schedule and to do list. What things can you do differently, earlier or not at all next year to make the season a notch simpler and a whole lot sweeter? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you have any card sending stories to share (ones that involve a bump or two in the card-sending road) I would absolutely love to hear them!

December 14, 2009

Monday Check In

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a great weekend! My sincere thanks to everyone who joined me for Finish It Friday this past week! How did things go with your to-do list? So…I’m happy to report that we finished Kailea’s bed! (Hooray!!!)


Friday afternoon felt like we were on one of those reality design shows…racing against the clock before the “big reveal.” Jay and I pulled old furniture out of Kailea’s room, set up the bed, washed the sheets and made the bed, moved and re-hung two shelves, and organized items into eight drawers and three bookshelves—all before Kailea arrived home on the school bus. It was really fun and exciting.

This was a crazy project to take on this time of year…but it was so worth it. We all love it—especially the birthday girl. And I’m super excited about the extra storage space she has for all her treasures, and the extra floor space she has to dance and play. Hooray—check that one off the list!’s back to focusing on Christmas to-dos!

So how about you? How did you do with your “to finish” list?

December 11, 2009

Finish It Friday!

I have a feeling I’ll be finishing up lots of stuff this weekend, but there’s just one point of focus at the get-go:

  • Finish Kailea’s bed!
This involves carrying the bed into her room, setting it up, and then, organizing the new desk drawers, dresser drawers, and bookshelves. This, my friends, is the icing on what was a very tough-to-swallow cake—all that painting this time of year really got old. But, I think it will be so worth it! She is one excited little birthday girl!


What’s on your to-finish list this weekend? Any holiday to-dos that you’re itching to check off? I’d love to hear. If you’ve been sitting on the Finish It Friday sidelines, feel free to join in this week! It’s really motivating to know that we’re not going it alone—especially this time of year! (You can learn more about Finish It Friday here.) I can't wait to hear your plans. :)

December 08, 2009

Organizing Holiday Gift Wrap + Scrapbook Supplies

Last year I shared a photo of my gift wrapping station, which is in the closet off my office / scrapbook room. This year, I was inspired to do something different. First, the inspiration photo.

Scrap center cabinet

Debbie, a participant in my online workshop Get Organized for the Holidays, uploaded this photo in the workshop gallery. Isn’t it the best? Gift wrapping and scrapbooking goodies are so fun to look at...and this display of items is so festive and creative. Notice the little white buckets? I saw this and thought, Hmmm…what can I do to make my space a bit more festive?

Gift-wrap-organizer-a So here’s what I did. First, I decided to move the gift wrap out of the closet. Not that it’s a far trip, but I lugged that bucket in and out several times last year, and thought this year I would give it a permanent home in my scrapbook space for the course of wrapping season. I changed out the bulletin board to display holiday cards from years past.  

Next, I changed out the lazy Susan that sits on my project table, filling it with gift tags, black markers, tape, scissors, and other items I’ll be using for gift wrapping and a simple little holiday scrapbook project.

Lazy susan

Two-tiered-basket I also pulled a two-tiered basket out of storage. (I use this in my kitchen during summer / fresh veggie season.) The two tiered basket is filled with ribbon, tape, and other gift wrapping goodies.

Next, I rearranged my ladder shelf…moving some scrapbook supplies I won’t be using in the near term into my storage closet, and placing holiday looking items on the eye level shelves…like red, green and black ribbon jars and a book of holiday cards from a past season...


...a small tray of holiday colored embellishments, and a vintage, green lunch box. (The lunch box is a recent antique mall find from my Michigan trip / visit with Dad. Nice memory to have throughout the holidays.)


Here's what I can see from my desk..

View from my desk

 Another view of the lazy Susan...

Lazy susan - view 2

It's amazing how these simple little changes have really gotten me in the holiday mood. I can't wait to wrap! Thanks for the inspiration, Debbie.

December 07, 2009

bucket sighting

Please read using your most serious reporter's voice.

This just in. Oval holiday buckets were spotted today at a Target Dollar Spot. According to Danielle, a fellow bucket enthusiast "My Target brought the buckets back! I now have all three colors, red, blue and green. Woo Hoo!" This report has not been verified at other Target stores, so please shop at your own risk. (And, uh, save me at least one green one.)


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