Who wants my….stuff??

If you’ve cleaned out some clutter, and don’t know what to do with it, here are some great places that take donations!

Of course there’s always your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity. The important thing is that there are people who DO want and NEED your stuff, and it doesn’t have to end up in the dump! It will not only help you clear out your clutter, it will make you feel good!

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Happy Friday!

So today’s blog does NOT contain any actual helpful organizing information!  It’s just me, celebrating the warm weather here in Graham, and happy that it’s Friday and most everyone I know is (hopefully) off work by now. What a beautiful day it’s been.  I have reorganized my business notebook, gotten myself listed in the local paper for next week, and gotten some new before/after pictures ready to show off!  This week, my webmaster has finished my new website – and it’s wonderful – check it out (www.putsimplyorganizing.com) and I’ve sent out 50% Gift Certificates for my business to just about everyone I know.  Hopefully spring fever will hit people and they’ll be ready to tackle the clutter and confusion. Call me if you are!

Now where did I put that??

Now that Spring is just around the corner…and here in the Piedmont, it seems to BE here already…it’s time to start planning your garden. Not that I’m claiming to be a gardener, by ANY means. I like to pick out the pretty flowers – point to where I want them in the ground – and sit on the porch and look at them! However, I do realize the value in doing some planning and preparation.

Did you plant bulbs in the fall? Do you remember where you planted them? Are you afraid that you are going to dig them up to plant something in the spring before they bloom?

  • Take a picture. Once they are blooming this year, take a picture of your lovely flowers.
  • Draw a map. It can be crude, no worries. Just indicate where they are in relation to other things.

Now it’s Spring and you want to plant new stuff – some annuals, some perennials. Next year, you might want to remember where the perennials were so you can look for them again. Take a picture, draw a map.

No need to keep asking every year – “now where did I put that?”

Binders are our friends!

Well everyone has at least 1 or 2 old 3-ring binders lying around. Some of us actually collect (i.e. hoard) them because we just love paperwork and pens and pencils and notebooks and…. if you’re one of those people, you know who you are!

But binders (or 3-ring notebooks) are our friends, and have so many incredible uses! I recommend that every family have at least 1 binder for “Home Organization”, that stays out in a prominent place where it can be easily located. This is especially important if you have children, because it can be a lifesaver for the babysitter and save you tons of time on family trips.

Make several sections for your binder. You can use dividers w/tabs, but I prefer using sheet protectors, because you can put important documents in them without having to punch holes. Several key sections should be labeled: Emergency Contacts, Medical Information, Important Document Locations, Important Dates. You can add or change these as applies to you and your family. 

This is NOT the place to keep official documents, such as wills, insurance policies or tax returns! But you should have a list that describes where those documents can be found (i.e. in the safe, the filing cabinet, etc.)  in the event that someone else needs to come into your home when you can’t, and find these things.   Under Emergency Contacts, list relatives or neighbors who can help in a crisis, your doctor’s numbers, the number to your alarm company, etc. You get the picture!

You can make the binder as decorative as you wish, but the main thing is to keep it UPDATED and HANDY!

Planning Meals – make it and forget it!

Whether or not you LIKE cooking (and I’m NOT a huge fan), it can take up a lot of valuable time for a busy person. I like to help clients manage their time better, and this is an area that most people don’t even think about.  With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can have a week’s worth of meals without having to struggle during the week. Time to Make it and Forget it!

Take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and sit down with your favorite recipes. Including family members in the planning is optional, but if they like to feel like they’ve got a voice in what’s being served, go ahead and let them contribute ideas.  Begin by listing all of the days that you will be eating at home. Sometimes, you know ahead of time that you will be eating out – a family outing, a special occasion, etc. – so be sure to include that in your plan.  Let’s assume you will be eating at home Sunday – Friday, with dinner out on Saturday for the whole family. You know that you will need 6 nights of meals.

You also need to look honestly at the issue of leftovers – do you save leftovers, only to have them forgotten and growing mold in the fridge? Or maybe your family just doesn’t like leftovers? If so, then you will need to plan for 6 different meals. If you DO utilize leftovers, you can either have them another night during the week, or use them for lunches that you can reheat at the office.  Make sure you plan accordingly.

Now select 6 of your favorite recipes.  Let’s say you have 3 chicken dishes and 3 beef dishes. Try to pick dishes that use the meat prepared the same way, i.e. ground beef or grilled chicken.  Begin by listing the total quantities of what you need. For example:

–          Baked chicken and potatoes

–          Tacos

–          Stir fried chicken and rice

–          Spaghetti

–          Grilled chicken fajitas

–          Meatloaf

For a family of 3, you might need a total of 9 chicken breasts and 2-1/2 lbs. of ground beef.  List the other ingredients you might need, such as vegetables (onions, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) and side dishes (rice, potatoes, shells). Go ahead and prep all the veggies, then put them in plastic zipper bags.  Now it’s time to prepare the meat. If you have an outdoor grill and the weather is nice, cook the chicken breasts outside. All of them. Now. Then cook all of the ground beef (use common seasonings you might need, such as salt, pepper or garlic.) Once all the meat is prepared, keep out only what you need for that night’s recipe, and refrigerate the rest.  You’ll find that this step takes less than ½ hour, and you already have the major ingredients for 6 meals. Rather than spending this ½ hour every night during the week, you’ve done it all at once.

Your meals are basically done except for the sides! The more you try this planning ahead practice, the easier it will get. Enjoy the extra time you have to spend with your family!

Beautify your bathroom

One of the most overlooked rooms in the house is often one of the most used! Especially the Master Bath – because it’s not seen by guests, homeowners tend to neglect it.  Clutter in the bathroom not only takes up valuable space, but makes the room a less-than-serene environment for what should be a relaxing location.  It’s not hard to make this room a spa retreat with some simple and inexpensive fixes.

Begin by taking everything out of the bathroom and giving it the royal cleaning treatment. Start at the top – the ceiling, corners, light fixtures, top of door – and work your way around and down the room. People don’t often think of dusting a bathroom, but don’t overlook this important step! Clean the shower, counter, mirror and toilet. Finish with the floors, and then you’re ready to continue.

If you have limited cabinets or drawers, chances are most of your stuff ends up on the counter. Whatever CAN be placed underneath should be. If you need to keep things out on the counter, purchase a couple of attractive wicker baskets to house those items. Roll up a couple of clean white towels and place them in a basket, and add a simple candle to complete the spa like setting.

For all the other items that go under the counter, you can get more baskets, or an inexpensive slide-out shelf unit. These can be found at bath and kitchen stores. Before you put items back under the counter, throw out anything that’s old, not used, or almost empty. The remaining items should be stored in the containers where they are out of sight, but easily accessible.

Maintain your nice clean bathroom with a 5-minute daily cleaning – wipe down all surfaces, shine the mirror, and make sure all your ‘stuff’ is where it belongs!

When Life hands you lemons

Use them to clean and decorate your kitchen! And if you have leftovers, lemonade is good, too.  I love lemons – love the color, the smell, the taste, and have found several uses for them.  It’s a great way to help minimize the garlic or onions you cut up – just rub a cut lemon over your hands, and wash.  You can also use lemons to cut grease from countertops by using it along with your regular cleaners.  Lemons also make beautiful decorations. I have a large glass cylinder that I fill up with lemons and display in my kitchen. Looks and smells wonderful!  They also look great mixed with limes. Be creative!