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April 10, 2012

Freebie Friday Winners - Organize Your Kitchen + eMeals Giveaway

Congratulations to our Freebie Friday winners! Lisa won the spot in our Organize Your Kitchen Video Workshop with her comment, "I just started staying home and so I was thinking about signing up for eMeals to save some money. After checking out the site, I would definitely go for the Family Friendly Regular plan :)"


Camille won the 3-month subscription to eMeals with her comment, "Awesome giveaway Aby! I would select the Special Family Menus in either Gluten-free or the Natural & Organic. Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, I have learned that I really need to cut out processed foods!"


Both winners were selected using and will be contacted by email. Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to eMeals for taking part in this giveaway!


Happy Organizing!

Jens signature black 

P.S. It's not too late to sign up for either of the terrific workshops that are opening this week! It's About Time begins today, and Organize Your Kitchen starts Thursday, April 12, 2012. Whether you need help managing your time and/or restoring order in your kitchen, now is a great time!


April 09, 2012


Last week, my family and I snuck away for a few days of vacation in Michigan. I always call this “going home” since I grew up in Michigan and this is where most of my immediate family lives. It’s funny though, when we go “home” to visit, we don’t actually go back to the house I grew up in. My Mom sold that house many, many years ago. Yet somehow, for me, Michigan still feels like home.


It turns out that for me home isn’t a house. It isn’t four walls. And it isn’t stuff—pictures, or furniture, or knickknacks. It isn’t a place or even a state—as I sometimes think it is with Michigan.  


For me, home is people. Home is being with the people I love. My family.


I am struck by this as I come back to the place that I now call home—the house my family and I live in. I spend a lot of time creating this home—organizing and cleaning and decorating and making it a place we want to be. I think it’s important for me to remember, from time to time, that I don’t need things to create a true home. Home isn't a place that is perfectly clean or perfectly organized or perfectly decorated. Home is simply the three people I share my house and life with.


I love going away for a few days and giving myself time to slow down, time to think and time to gain a fresh perspective. My takeaway this time:  spend more time with the people that make my house my home.

Ahh…it’s good to be home…though in some ways…I guess I never really left.


What is home for you? I'd love to hear.


April 06, 2012

Freebie Friday: Organize Your Kitchen + eMeals

Around here we've got a thing for time saving strategies. I just love it when I get to stop doing something that eats up way too much of my time. Take meal planning. No, really. I mean, take meal planning...completely off my to-do list, please!  


Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually dislike meal planning. But the whole process of perusing the store circulars for the best deals, deciding what I can make with the products on sale, locating those recipes and then creating a shopping list? We’re talking at least an hour of my time each week (probably more), and you know what? I’d much rather take my girls to the park. Or tackle an organizing project. Or even do some spring cleaning, for goodness sake!

EMealsA few years ago, I went to a conference for moms where I learned about a really slick service called eMeals. This company actually does that whole thing for you!  (Talk about a huge time saver!) eMeals has a team of meal planners, writers and editors to create new dinner menus every week that are designed around grocery store sales, seasonal specials and diet preferences. For as little as $5 a month, you can download a weekly recipe plan with a matching aisle-by-aisle grocery list.


The easy-to-follow recipes usually contain fewer than seven ingredients and prep times of less than 30 minutes, which adds up to even more time saved. Plus, eMeals helps you stay within a predictable grocery budget. The eMeals program has over 30 meal plan options to choose from, so you can find the one best suited to your family size, dietary needs, and even store preference!  

Kitchen_250banner_20111012I don’t even know how they manage to be so organized, but I’m just glad that they are. At simplify 101 we are a bit partial to staying organized, especially in the kitchen. ;-) So we thought it would be fun to team up with eMeals for a super Freebie Friday.


Two lucky winners will be chosen at random. One winner will get a free spot in simplify 101’s Organize Your Kitchen Video Workshop Workshop which begins next Thursday, April 12, 2012! The other winner gets a free 3-month subscription to eMeals!


Here’s how to enter this giveaway (up to four chances to win):

  1. Go to eMeals and tell me which meal plan you want to try.
  2. Follow their blog for recipes and more tips on simplifying your life. Come back and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  3. Follow them on Pinterest, Facebook and/or Twitter, then leave a comment letting me know you did.
  4. Download our free organizing mini guide (one of the best ways to keep paper clutter off the kitchen counters), then leave a message letting me know you did (or already have it).

The giveaway ends on Monday, April 9, 2012, and the winners will be notified by email.


Good luck!

Jens signature black

**Comments are now closed! Thanks so much for entering. :)**

April 03, 2012

Time Management Tips for Mom: How to feel better about a day full of thankless tasks

I’ve been meaning to blog about this topic for quite a while now. It’s something I think many mom’s can relate to:  how do you make yourself feel good about a day full of thankless tasks? Have you been there, too? This is how a participant in last summer’s It’s About Time online workshop described it. 


Other than tranquility because the house is picked up, I have no reward for completing tasks. I don't get thank yous, I don't get praise. How in the world do I make myself feel good about a day full of thankless tasks?


...I go go go until I drop and then I resent everyone and everything around me. I feel like I am doing all the support work (house cleaning/errands/school support/etc) and everyone else is enjoying the fruits of my labors. It is almost as if I want to stop so someone will notice the nice things they are missing.


Of course, when I stop laundry piles up, dishes are everywhere, the visual clutter drives me nuts and I feel depressed. Eventually I pull myself up by the bootstraps, get everything back in order and the cycle starts again.


Laundry basket-72-copyright-simplify101I would bet most of us mom’s have felt this way at one point or another—feeling as if we’re doing so much for our family without thanks or recognition. Plus, so much of what moms do in a day get’s undone almost before our eyes. The kitchen stays clean only until the next meal. At best, laundry stays caught up for a few hours— as soon as someone goes to bed and changes into their pj’s, the hamper is back on its way to full! It can be so frustrating. 


So what’s a mom to do? Here are some ideas:

Ask for help.
If you find yourself taking on most of the household responsibilities yourself, ask for help. Even young kids can help with simple tasks, and little kids get great pleasure out of being a helper. Tap into your child’s interests and natural desire to help. For example, when my son was little he loved garbage trucks. So getting him to empty the trash cans was a piece of cake! Make helping out part of the family culture and everyone wins. Your kids will learn basic home keeping skills which will serve them in adulthood, and you’ll get some much needed assistance. Your family members may even begin to appreciate everything you do for them. 


Remind them. From time to time, I will remind my kids about what I (and my husband) do for them. For example, if my kids complain about having to put away their clean clothes, I ask them if they would also like to sort, pre-treat, wash, dry, fold AND put away the laundry, or simply put away their clothes like they have to do now. After having this short conversation, their reluctance to put away their clothes passes quickly, and their complaints turn to thanks each time I drop off a batch of freshly folded laundry. 


Remember the big picture. When I start to get frustrated by what feels like a never ending household to-do list, I remind myself that I chose this. I chose to be a mom, and honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way. When the laundry starts to pile up I remember that I won't always have to do laundry for four people. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be doing laundry for three and then it will be for just two of us. Keeping the perspective that this is a choice (and one I would make again in heartbeat) really helps, as does the recognition that my current to do list is temporary. My to-do list will continue to shrink as my kids get older and take on even more responsibilities, until ultimately they (gasp) move away. 


Orange-clock-250Carve out time for you.
Take intentional, rejuvenating breaks from your to do list. What activities relax you or make you feel like your needs are being met? When you start to feel resentful of your to-do list, make it a point to take some time for yourself. Think back to a time when you felt better about your to-do list... what things did you do for yourself then? For me, exercising is huge rejuvenator, whether it’s yoga, running or boot camp. Exercise is good for the body and it’s great for the mind—it’s a little slice of quiet time where I can even complete a full thought. What activities rejuvenate you?


Give yourself permission to have fun, even when there’s work to be done. Here's the thing:  there will always be work to be done! So waiting until ALL the work is done to give yourself a break simply won’t work. Stake a claim to some fun time just for you. Decide how much time feels right and will fit into your schedule, and then figure out when it will happen. Could you get up earlier on weekdays to do something fun before the kids get up? Could you go to a dance or exercise class on the weekends? When you do take time out for fun, it’s a win-win. You’ll resent your to-do list less, and you’ll be more energized to get things done.


Are you a mom? I’d love to hear from all you! Do you ever feel burdened by your to-do list and if so, what do you do? Thanks for sharing!


P.S. The winner of From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds is Mickey who said:  ok - sorry, I don't do twitter, so, I didn't follow Amy there, I did like on facebook and I tried to subscribe,but not sure if it worked.C: laugh, cry sometimes and write about it!! I got married to a man that had two kids and within our first two years of marriage added two more! It was all way more than I ever dreamed...being a mom/step-mom is hard, challenging and the most awesome thing all at the same time.


Congrats Mickey! Email me at aby at simplify 101 dot com with your full name and mailing address and Amy will get your book sent out to you right away! Thanks. :)


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