Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I've Moved!

After much anticipation and work I am finally making the move to my new site. I am seriously so excited.

I hope you will all join me at!

There you will find all the same blog information available. Huge thanks to Shannon from Eight Crazy Designs for all of her hard work in bringing my vision into reality. She is a pleasure to work with and so skilled at her craft.

My official "ribbon cutting" won't be until next week but I wanted to make sure everyone found their way over before then. So stop by the new place! And let me know what you think. I can't wait to see you all on my new site!

Happy reading!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unsubscribe For Summer

The weather is getting warmer. I'm not sure about where you are but here we had an especially warm weekend. It almost felt like summer. And what happens in summer is that we migrate outside, away from the computer and toward the pool. So when you do take a few minutes to return to your email wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to go through 30 emails that you are just going to delete?

Take some time this week to unsubscribe from a few of those emails you find yourself deleting without opening.  Maybe it's a store that used to be your favorite. Or an organization you gave a donation to once, three years ago. Or a newsletter you aren't sure how you got subscribed on.  Before you hit DELETE next time you open your email, go through those emails and click the unsubscribe link at the bottom.  Clear your inbox just a little bit for summer.

Remember... if an email is from an unknown source (i.e. SPAM) please DO NOT click any links on those. Simply mark as spam and delete. But if you know where it's from the unsubscribe link should be legitimate.

Now get outside!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Should Be Reading... about crafts!

I love organizing. And I'm good at it. I love to *think* about crafting. And I love to *think* I could be good at it. But the truth is, I'm not. My mom tried to teach me to crochet as a girl but I just couldn't get it. I never had much interest in sewing and my machine sits gathering dust. But I am really good at recognizing other people's great crafts! So here are 8 blog posts to check out with other folk's awesome talents at crafting.

1. Emily @ Jones Design Company - Gathered Flower Tutorial. I actually might be able to do this.  A simple running stitch... not too bad. And so many cute uses!

2. Melissa @ 320 Sycamore - Thrifty Handles For Furniture. Tying a knot? I can do that!

3. Amy @ Wanna Make Something Of It? - DIY Muffin Tin Marbled Crayons. Reuse of something broken... hooray!

4. Michelle @ three men and a lady - "Wash You Hands". A great reminder for little ones and much cuter than what they have in the public restrooms!

5. Jen @ Simply Living - Painted Teapot. I have no use for a tea pot. But if I did you bet your bottom dollar I'd want it to be cute like this.

6. Kim @ It's a Crafty Life - Picture Frame Key Holder. Cute + Functional = Love.

7. Tiffany @ The DIY Club - Spring Kahuna's. Just for fun.

8. Beth @ Unskinny Boppy - Pottery Barn Inspired Ladder Lantern Hanger. Simply gorgeous. Beth is an awesome Alabama blogger who was fortunately spared any major home or personal damage in last week's horrific tornadoes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Summer In The Park!

The weather is finally starting to warm and give hints of summer (although the snow on the rooftops this morning in my neighborhood wouldn't make you think that) and it's time to start thinking picnics!

There are so many options for picnics...
* Dining on your own patio/deck/backyard
* Daytime lunch picnics at the park
* Evening concerts in the park
* Lazy afternoons at the beach or the lake

In my younger days living in Chicago I loved the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park. My friends and I would pack up bottles of wine, fruit, and sandwiches with our blankets and bug spray and enjoy awesome concerts under the stars. Girls' Night Out at Ravinia have been replaced by family friendly movies and concerts in our local park but the enjoyment of being outside has not changed.

The only thing that brings down the otherwise festive atmosphere is the hectic hour before we leave gathering all the necessary gear and food while corralling children into the car or wagons.

If you like to picnic and plan to do so this summer, take time this month to prepare for all those festivals and outings (like Independence Day Fireworks) coming soon.

First, pick your favorite container... maybe it's a organizational tote from Thirty-One or one of the classic Land's End totes.

{image source: Land's End}

Next, gather all that you need to have a great picnic.  Here are my suggestions for staples:

  1. Blanket(s).  Some places my have picnic tables but even so, a blanket can come in handy when it gets a bit chilly. My favorite blankets are washable and thick (to keep out the moisture from damp grass).
  2. Plastic Sheet or Tarp.  If you live in an area known for lots of summer rain (not you, Coloradoans!) you'll probably want something to go under your blankets.
  3. {image source: Crate & Barrel}
  4. Citronella Candle. Bugs can ruin an outing quickly. Keep them at bay. This adorable candle-in-can from Crate & Barrel is a great way to go. They are inexpensive enough you can buy a few and keep them on hand. Don't forget the matches!
  5. Bug Spray. An extra layer of protection.
  6. Sun Screen.
  7. Umbrella. You may just need to make a mad dash to the car in the rain. Make it a little less crazy with an umbrella.
  8. Trash Bags. All those food wrappers need to go somewhere!  Instead of making 10 trips to the trash can, fill your bag and then dump it all at once.
  9. Sweater or Sweatshirt. Even in summer, it can get quite cool once the sun goes down. If you came in shorts and a tank top you might need a little something to help you make it through to the end of the show.
  10. Collapsible Chairs. Some type of camping chair works great. I've found the older I get, the less I like sitting on hard ground for several hours.
  11. Flashlight. If you do evening picnics (like for concerts) this can help as you pick up all your gear at the end of the night and make your way back to the car.
  12. Cork Screw. If you are a wine drinker, this essential will be sorely missed.
  13. Paper/Plastic Goods.  Be extra prepared by having the napkins, forks, knifes, spoons, and plates already packed in your bag. Don't forget a few cups or glasses for wine or other drinks.
  14. Sharp Knife. The plastic knives will work fine for eating but you may want to share your apple or cut open a package of treats. Don't bring your $200 Wusthof knife. Grab an inexpensive one at the store just for keeping in your picnic kit. Bonus points if you put it in a little plastic box to keep little hands from getting cut while reaching into your tote.
  15. Wet Wipes. Baby wipes are great for this. Kids tend to find the messiest item in any picnic area (and adults could probably use a wipe too.)
  16. Hand Sanitizer. Your kid just gave a big hug to the Border Collie the next picnic blanket over and they are about to eat their sandwich...
  17. Ziploc Bags. I always find empty bags to come in handy. They are great for holding left over food and the miscellaneous "treasures" that kids seem to acquire.
  18. Something Fun. A frisbee, deck of cards or other small item can help pass the time as you wait during intermissions.
  19. Kids Essentials. If you have kids, especially babies or toddlers, you'll probably need a few spare diapers and a change of pants & underpants.  You probably don't need a complete diaper bag but the essentials are good for your picnic bag.

Having your gear bag packed, all you'll need to get ready for a picnic is the food and the friends and family.

And remember... when you get home you need to restock the bag with anything you used up.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Work You're Proud To Share

Across the nation, today is Take Your Child To Work Day. What a great opportunity for children to see where mom or dad spend the better portion of their waking hours! Whether you work at an office (or other place of business) or work at home, I think parents and children should participate. My children are still too young but I am looking forward to when they get a bit older and can attend.

But when your little one shows up at your desk, what are they going to find? Will they see how routines and organization help mom or dad be an effective and highly contributing employee or will they see a mess that could rival the pile under their own bed?

As parents we give our children a lot of instruction. And we want them to learn the skills that are going to help them succeed in life. But as many times as we tell them what to do, showing them is going to be "heard" a thousand times louder. When watching you, is your child learning the skills of routine and consistency?

If you are blushing, don't panic. There's plenty of time to turn things around before he or she comes back next year. My favorite tool for staying organized at work is the 3-ring binder.

What does mine look like:

* Weekly Calendar - my binder has a clear cover pocket. Each week I print my Outlook calendar and put a copy there on the cover.  This is helpful when I'm in a meeting and want to see if we can extend the time 30 minutes or if I need to head off to something else.

* Weekly Routine Checklist - simple lists of things to be done at the start and end of each day and week to keep things running smoothly. This includes reminders like, updating time card, checking voicemail, preparing weekly activity reports, emptying recycle bins. Just like you have routines at home (like taking out the trash each Tuesday and emptying the dishwasher every night before bed) having routines at work gives you structure to build an productive day upon.

* To-Do List - first page inside of the binder. I can update as things come up. This only works when work is separate from home. My binder stays at work and the tasks on this list are exclusive to things to be done at my workplace during the work day. If you have a more integrated work-life to-do list you will probably like a more mobile option.

* Contacts - phone numbers of the top 5-10 contacts in my binder. I don't use a mobile phone for work. And while I can easily look them up when sitting at my desk, I occasionally need a number to call someone for consultation while in the middle of a meeting. This saves the trouble of going out of the meeting to look up the number.

* Planning Calendars - a tabbed section with printed copies of blank calendars for the next 6 months. This is helpful in meetings when planning projects out into the future.

* Tabbed Sections - each current project gets its own tab. While we try to be as paperless as possible, there are some things that do come as print outs. It's also where I take notes specific to a project while in meetings and during phone conversations.

* Blank Paper - keep a small section of blank pages at the back to be moved to the specific section as needed for notes.

I was a Franklin-Covey planner type of worker a decade ago. But I found that format didn't work as well for me as a simple binder. I can add and remove all kinds of notes and correspondence. And I don't have to rewrite the to-do list each day, it just rolls along with me.

I know that most of us work "paperless" in our emails and through shared databases with our colleagues. But tell me, if you are paperless at work, then why is there a huge stack of papers on the corner of your desk? The reality is that paper is part of our work day. The key is finding a way to manage the paper so that it helps you accomplish your work rather than detracting from your productivity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Most Important Moving Box

Spring is here and For Sale signs are popping up as frequently as tulips. A quick search of local MLS listings reveals 10 homes for sale just in my little neighborhood. Many people look to make a move before the end of summer and start of the school year. If you are among them, you may be feeling some concern over the process of moving. There is so much to do, and I'm not going to tackle all of those topics today. But I am going to cover just one... the most important box you'll move.

Whether moving across the street, across town or across the country, there is one box that everyone needs to pack. This is what I like to call the OPEN ME FIRST box. I've had one with every move I've made, from apartments in the city to grad school housing to cross-country relocations and home purchases.

This box should be carried with you in your vehicle - not travel with the movers. Here's my list for the OPEN ME FIRST box:

Food & Kitchen Essentials
When the movers leave the last of the boxes you're going to be hungry. You'll probably also be feeling too grungy to go out to eat so bring something with you.
* Paper Plates
* Plastic Silverware
* Water Bottles
* Non-perishable snacks
* Phone number to a local pizza/chinese/sandwich delivery place - look it up in advance and program into your phone!
* Roll of paper towels - these will be multi-purpose, you might want two!
* Dish soap - a small bottle will do
* Kitchen towel
* Bottle of bubbly & some plastic cups - everyone needs to celebrate! (champagne has the advantage over wine here as it doesn't require a corkscrew to open... one less thing to bring with you)

Bathroom Essentials
* Hand soap
* Toilet paper - at least one roll for each bathroom
* Hand towel (optional, paper towels could substitute)

Cleaning Basics
Yes, your new digs should be clean but chances are you're going to want to wipe down one or two things before you use them the first time.
* Paper Towels (the 2nd roll mentioned above!)
* Glass & surface cleaner (an all-in-one works well)

Shower Essentials
At the end of that grubby day, a nice hot shower will feel great. Be prepared!
* Shower curtain liner - you don't need to hang all your lovely decorative shower curtains, but a $3 plastic liner will serve you well those first few days.
* Shampoo, conditioner, soap
* Bath towels (probably one for every family member)
* Toothpaste & toothbrush (floss is optional. Always recommended but if you get a pass on flossing any day in your life, I firmly believe it should be moving day)
* Blow dryer
* Hair brush

Bedtime Essentials
* Sheets for each bed you'll use
* Pillows for each family member
* Blanket for bed
* Alarm Clock (or mobile phone with an alarm feature)
* Kleenex (optional - moving makes me sneeze, but you could use TP instead)

Rise & Shine Essentials
That first morning will be exciting and daunting as you look at the boxes.
* Light breakfast - a bag of bagels & jar of peanut butter work well for us.
* Overnight bag for each family member (change of clothes and any necessary toiletries, makeup, medications, eye glasses, etc.)

Miscellaneous Essentials
* Cell phone chargers
* Cash for tipping the movers
* Scissors! - Seriously so many uses.

Okay, so that might be two boxes. Or a box and an overnight bag for each family member. But you get the idea. Pack some things you'll really need that first night so you don't have to rummage through all your boxes.

The key is that if you finish up the move late in the evening, you'll be able to grab a bite to eat, wash of the dust, fall into bed and hit the ground running the next morning.

If you are local to Colorado and looking for a great real estate agent to help you make your next big move, check out one of these fantastic realtors:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Changes Are Coming!

This blog home has been very good to me for the last 2 years but the time has come to move on.  Very soon I'll be relocating this blog to my brand new website! I am so so excited to share it with all of you.  Keep checking back for details on the big move!  The new site has a new look and feel and I think you'll find it very easy to navigate and find what you need.

As part of the move, I'll be kicking things off with a week of giveaways for my loyal readers!  I'm keeping it quiet on what the items will be but I think you'll like them!

Finally, if you have a product or service you think could help my readers in their quest to get organized and would like to be a giveaway sponsor, let me know! I'd love to extend the week and offer some visibility to your business. Contact me to participate!!
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