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April 30, 2010

Who's up for Finish It Friday?

I am—that's for sure. Last weekend I was really sluggish...had a bit of a cold and not an ounce of motivation to do much of anything. But today, I feel all full of energy again. Hooray!


So my goal this weekend is to finish my Week in the Life Project—which means I better get busy. :) I haven't ordered my photos yet, but earlier this week I did an initial edit of photos. I selected some favorites for each day—and, uh, I had a lot of favorites. Too many really. My original plan was to have eight photos per day...which is by no means enough. So, I'm going to up it to sixteen. Right now I'm working on the journaling and memorabilia piece of the puzzle...while hoping a photo printing coupon from Walgreen's magically appears in my email in-box. So that's my Finish it Friday plan—finish up Week in the Life. Should be fun! 


What's on your to-finish list this weekend? I'd love to hear! It seems like it's been forever since we've done this. (By the way, if you've never done Finish It Friday before, you can learn all about it here. And then, join in the fun! It's simple, fun, and really quite motivating. So give it a try.) Have a great weekend!

April 29, 2010

You.Organized by Peter Walsh

You may recall that last year I reviewed Peter Walsh's line of paper organizing products—the [IN]PLACE® SYSTEM system from Office Max. Well...good news, Peter is at it again! Right now Peter is launching his newest collection called You.Organized. Peter designed this all-in-one office collection to meet the needs of working moms and anyone who works at home. (You know—people just like you and me.) Yesterday morning I had the chance to chat with Peter about his latest collection and what inspired him to create it—which was great fun.

Home Office - YouOrganized


You.Organized looks pretty fabulous, don't you think? I love how this system addresses so many of the issues we face when working from home—like how to fit a workspace into your home so it is both functional and attractive. So often when I start working with new clients their home offices aren't working for them because the office is just too far away from the action—down the hall in a spare bedroom or on a second floor. It works so much better to create a hub or command center right in the heart of it all, like in the kitchen. And if that command center looks great, too, well, what's not to love?


Vertical Organizers in Kitchen- You.Organized by Peter Walsh 3



You can learn more about You.Organized on the Office Max website.


I'd love to hear from you—what are your biggest challenges in terms of working at home and staying organized? Which pieces from this new collection caught your eye? I can't wait to hear!

April 26, 2010

a week in the life: days 3 through 7

So it's the first day after Week in the Life, and I'm feeling a bit empty handed today—no camera in my hands. I kind of miss it.


Once again, I'm so glad that I am doing this project. Something amazing happens when you look at your life through the lens of a camera as a bit of an outside observer. I found myself very focused on noticing the little things that make our lives so rich and full. I was focused on appreciating the people in my life, and appreciating the simple routines that make our life work. It's a hard thing to really capture in words...perhaps as this week goes on and I pull together the finished project I'll be more able to make sense of it all in words. But what I found is that this project isn't simply a case of documenting what happens. The documentation process changed things for me...in a really good way. I am more appreciative of the simple things that make my life what it is right now. I'm more appreciative of my family, the town I live in, our routines, my dog, our friends, and even the food we eat, than I was a week ago today. And that is very cool. As Wayne Dyer says "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." I very much found that to be the case last week. Anyway...I seem to have really enjoyed the documenting process and so I didn't spend much time blogging about it or sharing photos. So here's a quick recap of days 3 through 7---some of the highlights in photos.


Day 3: a new approach to driving photos. (Hand over camera to daughter in the back seat.) I love this photo because wow, aren't those pretty trees? I drive by them every single day and really don't notice them the way I do in this photo. Love that new perspective.


Day3-driving


Day 4: my morning routine. Waiting for Maggie to do her ten minute sniff of the front yard (and other morning business.) I love these moments of peace and quiet...just me, Maggie, a cup of coffee, and the occasional neighbor driving by (who I hope isn't noticing me in my morning wear.)

Day4-morning routine-1

 

Day 4:  The brick road by my kid's school. I love that there's a brick road by my kid's school. I love that this project caused me to notice it and appreciate it.

Day2-brickroad


Day 5: Shopping at Jakes on Main - a Life Is Good retailer in St. Charles, Mo. For some reason, this mug caught my eye. ;)

Day5-simplify


Day 5: Happy to see this in today's mail. A new favorite magazine.

Day5-fresh-home


Day 6:  The world from Maggie's eyes.

Day6-maggies world


Day 6:  My techie boy at my friend Elise's lovely home.

Day6-my techie boy


Day 6: Playing a retro French card game Saturday night.

Day6-cards

 

Day 7: Jay's birthday. Love that he set a reminder in his Blackberry. And really glad he doesn't actually need the reminder.  

Day7-happy b-day J

 

Day 7: Happy birthday Jay!

Day7-jay

My family definitely warmed up to this project as the week went on. Last night on the way home from Jay's birthday celebration at his parent's house, Kailea said "I know what I want for Christmas...a camera." It seems she'd like to do her own Week in the Life project. How fun is that—planting the seeds of a future scrapbooker.

 

It came out that my families biggest objection to being photographed was the possibility of appearing on the blog. Good to remember for next time. And I will also be sure to hand over the camera even more next time...perhaps by then Kailea will have a camera of her own and she can help me capture photos from her perspective.

 

So the capturing phase is over; now it's time to create the finished project. This week during the evenings I'll be selecting and editing photos to print. Then, next weekend I hope to pull it all together. I will post photos of some finished pages using the Project Life pages and journaling cards—most likely next week. (I have to sink my teeth into some work projects this week.) So...stay tuned. :)

 

If you participated in Week in the Life how did it go for you? What's your plan for finishing up your project? What were your big takeaways? I'd love to hear!

April 22, 2010

Earth Friendly Tips from Arm & Hammer

Happy Earth Day my friends! I didn't have much planned for an Earth Day blog post, but lucky for me the folks at ARM & HAMMER® came to my rescue and sent me some really fun tips. When I think of ARM & HAMMER®, I usually think of chocolate chip cookies—since that is my most common use for Baking Soda. But ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda is also a natural, safe, and effective solution for countless household needs. And here's a really cool fact:  ARM & HAMMER® has a long history of environmental awareness, and the makers of ARM & HAMMER® were the first and sole corporate sponsor of Earth Day in 1970. (The very first Earth Day.) So essentially, ARM & HAMMER® was green before being green was cool.


ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda isn't just for chocolate chip cookies. Check out these great ideas:


Arm and Hammer 1 lb box 2010 Deodorizing Fridges and Freezers
To keep your fridge and freezer fresh, and foods tasting like they should, replace your ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda once a month. Baking Soda absorbs the odors that can make other foods (even ice cubes) have an unpleasant taste.


Hand Washing Dishes and Pots and Pans
Add two heaping tablespoons ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda (along with your regular dish detergent) to the dish water to help lift grease and foods left on dishes, pots and pans. Let cooked-on foods soak in the ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda and detergent water for 15 minutes, then use dry ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda on a clean damp sponge or cloth as a scratchless scouring powder.


Clean Stainless Steel Sink without Scratching
Sprinkle ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda onto a clean damp sponge or cloth and wipe the sink clean, then rinse thoroughly. 


Deodorizing Cars
Leave car odors in the dust! Odors settle into car upholstery and carpet, so each time you step in and sit down, they are released into the air all over again. Eliminate these odors by sprinkling ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda directly on fabric car seats and carpets. Wait 15 minutes (or longer for strong odors) and vacuum up the odors with the ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda. 


Cleaning Baby Pool Toys
Don’t toy around with harsh cleaners. Clean and deodorize baby toys safely and effectively using four tablespoons of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. Wash toys with a clean damp sponge or cloth, rinse and dry.


Bugs Be Gone
Baking Soda temporarily protects and helps relieve minor skin irritation and itching due to insect bites. Dissolve one to two cupfuls in a tub of warm water. Soak for 10 to 30 minutes as needed or as directed by a doctor. Pat dry (do not rub) to keep a thin layer on the skin. Or, add enough water to the baking soda to form a paste, apply to the affected area of skin as needed. Children under two – consult a physician prior to use.

I have done this and it works great! Inevitably every summer I get a mystery bug bite that swells up larger than the size of a quarter. It works wonders for me.

 

Sneaker Peeker
Are you running into smelly odors every time you wear your sneakers?  Keep odors from spreading by shaking a little ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda into sneakers when not in use.  Shake out before wearing.  For some added fun, make a Sneaker Peeker, an odor fighting creature of your own.  Just fill a sock with one cup of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda and secure with a rubber band.  Cut extra material off of the sock and decorate to make your Sneaker Peeker an animal, monster or even a flower!  Stick them in your sneakers overnight for fresh shoes in the morning.

I will definitely be giving this one a try!

 

Clean Plastic Storage Containers
As you unpack your children’s lunchboxes for a new school year, be sure to scrub them with ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda sprinkled on a clean damp sponge. For even tougher odors, just soak items in a solution of four tablespoons ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda solution in 1 quart warm water.



Aren't these great? If you'd like even more ideas for using ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda around the house, download this tips sheet. Thank you, ARM & HAMMER® for sharing these with us!


How do you use Baking Soda? Do you use it for cleaning and for other household purposes—or do you think chocolate chip cookies like me? I'd love to hear!

April 21, 2010

A Week in the Life: Days 1 and 2

I had forgotten how much fun this project really is. I'm finding it so worth the effort — even though my family isn't yet completely on board. In part, I think they simply enjoy giving me a hard time.


I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from the first two days of this project:

Favorite photo:

Car mirror


 
I shot this while sitting in the car waiting to pick up Collin from school. I love the school in the background and his expression, which tells you exactly how he feels about this project. (It's his classic "What the heck?" expression. No words needed.)

Favorite participant in this process:

Maggie


Why is she my favorite? She is the most cooperative living subject—well aside from the flowers, trees and plants. But the plant-life isn't as cute or enthusiastic as Maggie.


Favorite Journaling Question:  What was your favorite thing about today?

At bed time at the end of day 1, I asked my kids their favorite thing about today. It wasn't on my original list of journaling notes to capture...but this is where "going with the flow" enters into this project for me. I love this question because the answers tell me what my family members really value right now. Collin is into basketball. I of course know this now...but it may not always be this way and I just might forget how important it is to him. Kailea loves to spend time with her Dad...which is just so awesome. I know we won't always be the thing that makes her world turn, so it's nice to pay attention to this now. That's why I love this project.


Swish

Swish. Nice shot, Collin. :)


Other things I've learned so far:  my camera's battery life is not what it used to be. Argh! And it's harder than it looks to take a picture of yourself while driving—even if you put the camera on the dashboard and use your timer. Luckily the camera did not land in my cup of water in the cup holder...but just inches from it on the passenger seat. Whew. No more of that for me.


I'm really looking forward to pulling this project together next week. For now though, the documenting continues.

April 19, 2010

this week…

Happy Monday morning to you! I hope you had a terrific weekend. It was a great spring weekend here—I went on my first bike ride of the year, planted flowers, and did a bit of organzing. Good stuff! Hope yours was just as enjoyable. So, on this fine Monday morning I wanted to share two quick things about the week ahead.


First, I wanted to let you in on a limited time offer. If you’re frustrated by piles of paper clutter in your home, then you’ll want to take action on this. We are currently offering an early bird special on my popular online workshop “Organize Your Paper Clutter.” Whether you’re starting from scratch on your paper organizing systems, or you have a fairly good system that just needs a few tweaks, this workshop will help you create effective and beautiful systems that work for you. The workshop is designed to give you the tools and information you need to figure out how to organize and store your paper in ways that will work for you, your home, and how you naturally do things. So this isn’t a one size fits all workshop, but instead you learn how to create systems designed with you in mind which means you will love them and use them (and eliminate your paper clutter!) Sound good? You can learn more about this workshop here. (But hurry because the early bird savings end April 23, 2010.)

Wil-itso bin-c

Second, this week I will be doing Ali Edwards' Week in the Life project. If you’re not familiar with this project, you can learn more about it here. And you can read my guest blog post about getting organized for this project on Ali’s blog. I plan to share photos throughout the week…as I know from last time this public sharing helped me stay motivated and continue documenting all the little life details all week long. And since I probably won’t just be sharing organizing photos, I thought you might wonder what’s up if I didn’t tell you ahead of time. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may recall I did this once before—about a year and a half ago. I’m really excited to be doing it again.


Are you doing a Week in the Life? Is this your first time doing it or are you a regular? How do you keep yourself organized for this project? I’d love to know. Thanks for sharing!

April 16, 2010

Make Spring Cleaning More Fun (and Smell Better, too!)

The weather has been so lovely where I live. All I really want to do is be outside—every spare moment that I have. And yet, my spring cleaning to-do list keeps call out my name. Can you hear it? Aby...come inside...come inside and clean.


One side of me wants to listen to me to-do list's calls and head back inside for some spring cleaning. It'd be really nice to make things inside sparkle before summer arrives.


So what’s a girl to do? Well, I could wait until it rains and spend a rainy day spring cleaning. Or, I could look for ways to make spring cleaning more fun…so I can lure myself back inside. (Just for a little while, anyway.)


OliveOilKitchenSet[1]Enter the Caldrea Essential Collection. The folks at Caldrea asked me if I’d like to try some samples of this new line—and I said Sure—I’d love to. The line looked lovely, and like all Caldrea products, this collection is kind to the earth and delightful to the senses. Yet it’s still highly effective in helping you clean and care for your home. So maybe this could be the thing to help me stay inside and have some fun spring cleaning. So far, it’s looking (and smelling) promising.


Here’s what I’ve tried:


The Kitchen Set in Olive Oil.This set contains Dish Soap, a Countertop Cleaner and Hand Soap. And it smells sooooo good. Last night I used the countertop cleaner to wipe off my desk, and this morning a very light aroma welcomed me when I walked into my office. What a great way to start the day.  But the good smells continue via the…


Water Lily Votive Candle Set.These little votives come in a small tin container, and they're so cute. I have one burning in my office right now, and I love the aroma. It’s very subtle and fresh…perfect for feeling as if you’re outside when you’re really inside working. I love that it’s in a little tin, too, because it’d be great to take along for hotel trips to add a bit of ambiance and freshness to the room.

WaterLilyVotiveSet[1]



I also can’t wait to try some of the other candles from their home collection, like this one…

PomegranateSignatureCandle[1]


Such a pretty jar…I think it would make a great Mother’s Day gift for my Mom. Don't you think?


I'm also looking forward to trying the all-purpose cleaner in one of the other scents—like Herbs of Provence or Citron Ginger. Those sound yummy, don’t they?

CitronGinger_Caldrea[1]


This line was scheduled to launch at Target nationwide the first week of April. And, truly, it smells so good. So, if I can’t be outside enjoying the fresh spring air, at least I can be inside getting things done, and enjoying these delightful smelling products.


Have you seen this product line or tried it yet? If so, what do you think? What are your ideas for making it more fun to get your spring cleaning done? I’d love to hear!

April 15, 2010

Weekly Organizing Quick Tip: Simple Ways to Welcome Spring

It's weekly quick tip day! Here's a snippet from this week's quick tip. I'd love to hear your ideas for welcoming spring into your home.


Simplify101-springchair Spring is in the air, and I for one couldn’t be happier! Here are some fun, quick and clutter-free things to do to welcome spring into your home. Even choosing one or two of these projects will make a difference—so don’t feel like you have to do them all. Remember, every step forward counts!


  • Store out-of-season clothing. Now is a great time to wash or dry clean seasonal items like hats, scarves, and heavy coats. Do a sanity check before storing, and donate anything that is worn, torn, or no longer fits.
  • Freshen up your home with seasonal colors. Consider getting some low-cost throw pillows or a new area rug for an inexpensive pick-me-up inside your home. (Just remember to donate the old pillows or rug, to keep clutter at bay!)
  • Plant flowers, vegetables or herbs in colorful pots on your patio, deck, or kitchen window sill.
  • Check expiration dates on sunscreen. If necessary, stock up on fresh supplies of sunscreen, lip balm, and bug spray.

What do you like to do to welcome spring? I'd love to hear your ideas!


Happy spring!

Signature 

P.S. If you’d like to welcome spring with a healthy dose of organizing and decluttering, join me for the online workshop Organizing 101. The spring session begins May 6th, so learn more today! Or take advantage of our early bird special for the June session of Organize Your Paper Clutter. Sign up by April 23rd and save!

April 08, 2010

Exercise Your Organizing Muscles

Last fall I decided it was time to try something new. I needed a change of pace and a little bit of “me time” each week. I had wanted to give yoga a try for quite some time because I had heard many great things about the benefits of yoga…relaxation, flexibility, strength and so on. So, back in September, I decided it was time to give yoga a try. You might say I was hooked from day one.


Hooked? Yes. Graceful? Not so much.


Fast forward eight months to last Monday night—the first class in my latest session of yoga. On Monday night, I felt great and I was really aware of how far I have come in my yoga practice. It was the first time I have ever done the tree pose (which involves standing on one foot) without having to put my foot down midstream to catch my balance. Now, for any of you who know me personally, you may recognize what a personal victory this is. I may be known for many things—but gracefulness and balance just don’t happen to be two of them. I remembered back to my first few sessions of yoga…where I literally had to hold back the laughter as I wondered why my tree was the only one in the room that seemed to be caught in a wind storm. Back in those days I would sway back and forth in my own little windy universe, dropping my feet to the floor about every ten seconds to regain my balance (and prevent an embarrassing fall.)


But my improved balance wasn’t the only thing I noticed about how my yoga practice has progressed over the past few months. There’s even more. I know the names of the poses now, which allows me to move from pose to pose without having to watch the instructor. Now I can simply listen to her verbal queues and know what to do. My yoga instructor suggests that we close our eyes throughout the practice (if that works for us.) And now it does work for me—I close my eyes through most of the class and it doesn’t even feel weird, and I still know what to do. I am also stronger now and able to hold my poses for longer. When we do the equivalent of push-ups, I can now more slowly lower myself down to the mat…almost gracefully.


Now, don’t get me wrong, the point of all of this not to toot my yoga horn. But instead, it is to share that when you exercise your muscles you get stronger. When you put yourself in the position of doing something new, at first it is going to feel awkward, and you’re going to feel wobbly. But over time, as you continue to practice and exercise your muscles, you get stronger, more graceful and it all starts to become so natural that you can literally do it with your eyes closed.


If organizing is something new for you, or something you haven’t done for a while, keep this story in mind. At first organizing may feel awkward. But over time, as you continue exercising your organizing muscles, you will get stronger and organizing will become more natural for you. Eventually, you might even call yourself graceful. :)


So how do you keep your organizing muscles strong?

April 06, 2010

Create an Errands Center Mini Zone

Today's post is a sample of my weekly organizing quick tip. If you don't currently subscribe, you can sign up here. Enjoy. :)


A simple yet effective approach to controlling clutter is to establish “mini zones”—compact areas in your home that house everything you need to complete routine tasks or activities. Mini zones are covered in detail in my online workshop Quick + Simple Clutter Control (which starts this Thursday, April 8th).


Errand-mini-zone


In the meantime, to whet your mini zone appetite, here’s a simple and fun idea that will make your weekly errand shopping a notch more efficient. Put together an errands mini zone, stocked with everything you need to plan and execute errands and shopping trips. Creating your errands mini zone is as simple as corralling the following items into a basket or bin.

  • A pre-printed grocery list / menu planning sheet
  • Paper or note pads for other shopping lists
  • Pens or pencils
  • A recipe binder loaded with your favorite recipes and meal ideas
  • A clipboard to use while shopping
  • Store circulars
  • Small accordion file for coupons, gift cards and frequent buyer cards

Errand-mini-zone-close-up_a

Now all that’s left to do is shop!


Happy shopping,

Signature

P.S. If you’d like more ideas for creating clutter-busting mini zones plus a host of other terrific clutter control solutions, join me in Quick + Simple Clutter Control. Class begins Thursday—so learn more today! 

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