Friday, August 29, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #3

If you've completed the first 10 challenges you are over 1/3 of the way through the month!  Congrats.  It takes 30 days to make a habit!

11) Listen to something you enjoy as you de-clutter.  Perhaps your favorite rock and roll tune or classical music gets you motivated.  Maybe it is a book on tape or your favorite pod cast...

While you are at it, clean out the apps on your phone that you no longer use.  Technology needs de-cluttering occasionally too!

12)  Tackle the coat closet next.
Donate or consign those items that are too small or are never warn,
Repair items that need a button secured.
Launder or dry clean other items.
Place baskets or bins in the closet to house scarves, hats and mittens or gloves.  Find the missing mates or toss.

13)  I love to cook and I regularly tear recipes out of magazines and the newspaper.  I find the change of seasons an ideal time to purge my files and pull out recipes I want to try for the coming season.  Toss recipes you KNOW you'll never make and file the rest in an accordion file by type (chicken, pasta, breakfast).  Purge any cookbooks that just didn't live up to their color photos on the front cover.

14)  This is also the perfect time to purge the spice rack of that cardamom (or any other spice) you bought 3 Christmas's ago and the pantry of expired canned goods .  I make a "bucket list" of 3-5 recipes I want to make and put the special ingredients on my shopping list.    

The pantry purge gives me ideas on how to use up what I have.  This Frugality girl hates to wast good food!

15)  And now to purge the baking dishes and cookie sheets.  I may never really get rid of that pumpkin shaped cake pan but I do remember that I have it and make a plan to use it for the next Halloween neighborhood potluck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Travel Tip$

Airports are notorious for the high prices they charge for everything.  Try a few of these tips to save a few pennies

1)  Bring your own reading material--especially magazines which can be left behind for the next traveler, thereby, lightening your load as you run for your connection.  A puzzle book can keep travelrs of all ages occupied.

2)  Bring your own individually packaged snacks like peanuts travel well, as do pretzel and cheese in those little cellophane boxes.  Cookies and crackers have the tendency to crumble so I stick with items that weather the trip.

3)  You can't carry a water beyond the check point bu you can make that bottled water a bit more tasty by adding a dry drink powder.  My family likes Wyler's pink lemonade.

4)  Can't go without your Starbucks?  How about a VIA package.  Ask the flight attendant for some hot water and VIOLA--instant breakfast that is quick, filling and tasty!

5)  Speaking of hot water...take along instant oatmeal packages for a filling snack.  Don't forget the spoon.

6)  Make sure your bag has a few health care essentials packed to avoid excessive charges at the shops.  Pain relief meds, lens cleaners, tissues and hand sanitizing wipes are essentials in my bag.

7)  Don't forget your charger to keep travelers of all ages connected.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #2

If you've completed the clutter busting ideas for days 1-5 and are ready for a more organized life here are the next 5 days challenges.

6)  You'll find that during the purge process you'll find you may need to purchase replacement items.  Keep a running list.  It's been my experience that I occasionally find an item that i was sure was lost or used up.  Just be sure to cross of those items when you find them in an area you've just cleaned out!

7)  A place for everything and Everything in it's place
I find that I have the tendency to come into the kitchen and leave the details of my day on the counter (Briefcase, purse, lunch box, library books, mail).  This school year I resolve to put away my STUFF rather than laying it on the first flat surface I encounter.  I find that visual cleanliness makes me more relaxed.  Ok... this is not a picture of my kitchen but you get the idea...

Identify a place to stash backpacks, papers that need your attention, lunchboxes and wet umbrellas.

I have a set of hooks in my laundry room which is right inside the garage door
where we hang backpacks. You can use U-shaped curtain rod hooks mounted on the wall to store winter coats and scarves.
I use a discarded dish drainer to store wet shoes.  Use the plastic base and store it in the laundry tub when not in use.

Even the youngest member of your family can be taught to empty their backpack and lunchbox and replace the ice pack in the freezer, discard the garbage and replace uneaten snacks back in the pantry before placing the lunchbox back in its rightful storage place.

8)  I have multiple utensil drawers in the kitchen.  Years ago when I first began the annual purge-I found I had 10 TEN wooden spoons.  I was appalled to find that I had so many of the same item...Use this opportunity to clean out a kitchen drawer.  Donate items that are past their usefulness or you can't remember WHAT the darn thing does (did you really need that lemon zester).  The extra space will make cooking a more pleasant experience.

9)  Now move to cleaning out the silverware drawer.  Remove the storage container if you use one, wash and replace.  Throw away the old chopsticks that have migrated to the back of the drawer.  If you find that you're down to 3 teaspoons, put new silverware on your shopping list so you can keep an eye out for a good bargains.

10)  Linen Closet
I have 3 linen closets.  One in the powder room where I store linens for that half bath and all my "overflow linens.  Its less than 12 inches wide so there is NOT a lot of extra storage space.  I store any rags here for car washing or those towels that will accompany the kids to camp (and not be returned!)

The guest and Master bath Linen closets both require different types of attention.  The guest bath closet stores towels but also lines for both children's beds.  This area quickly gets out of control when the bed linens are not folded properly.  Check out this to see how to fold a fitted sheet. They key is tucking the corners into each other.

The Master bath stores beach towels and extra bottles of shampoo, etc. in addition to Master linens and towels.  If your cabinet has a shelf with toiletries-treat that shelf like a drawer and you can stick to the 15 minute tidy rule.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #1

I'm inclined to agree with my dear Daughter, Alayna, who says a new school year is almost better than the New Year we celebrate on January 1 for starting new habits and shedding old...SO it is to that sentiment that this post is dedicated.
Here is my list of suggestions to de-clutter your life in 31 days or less.  If you employ one of these each day for a month, you'll have a less cluttered life and all of the benefits that go with that!

1)  Stash the Trash

When papers come home from school or in the mail employ the TOUCH ONCE and be done policy.
Note from the teacher?  Read and Sign it and place it back in Juniors backpack.
Reminder notice for the PTA meeting next week?  Put it on your family calendar and in your phones calendar and throw the paper away.
If you get these reminders electronically you can employ the same habit.

Art work from your preschool students?  Place in a "pizza box" labeled with the name of the child and the year.  These stack nicely and you can find them years later when Junior goes off to college.   Use these to create greeting cards or wrapping paper for grandparents or far-flung relatives.

My boxes, pictured at right are actually 12x12 scrapbook paper boxes.

2)  Clean out the Junk Drawer:
Get rid of those pens that no longer work or markers that have dried up.
Can't identify the key and it won't fit any doors you have?  Toss or (as I do) use in a Steam Punk art project. If you aren't crafty you could still donate to your high school art teacher (trust me on this...she will be glad to get your cast offs).
Address book?  Enter the information into your phone.
Sequester your rubber bands in a box or Ziploc bag.  Place paperclips in a magnetic holder, put stamps and address labels in a plastic envelope to keep them usable.
Some dollar store divided boxes help keep the clutter at bay.

 3)  New School year always means exposure to more germs, colds and viruses.  Take this opportunity to clean out your medicine chest or drawer and dispose of any outdated or expired  medicines.  At a minimum,make sure you have a thermometer, band aids, hydro cortisone cream, benadryl, pain relief and perhaps a cold/flu medicine on hand for those middle of the night emergencies.  

4)  If back to school means shopping for new clothes to your family then use this time to purge the closet and drawers.  If the kids didn't wear the garment  in the last 12 months or it no longer fits , it goes into my consignment box or donate (if it is worn, stained or out of style).  Many charities are able to use bulk garments even if they are not suitable for wear-so I never throw these items in the trash.  Stained and mismatched socks-GONE!  Worn shoes are donated to Edge ministries to help fund clean water in those areas in need.  If it is missing a button and I KNOW I don't have the replacement or won't fix it then it is recycled.  The only exception to my recycling of clothing rule is that old undies are tossed in the garbage!

Clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses, coats, etc. are taken to a local consignment store that pays for my STASH in CASH.  The items they reject are then consigned to a sale hosted by my church.  Anything that doesn't sell does NOT come home but is donated.

The closet purge is completed when old bent or broken hangers are pitched in the trash

5)  Bathroom Drawers are cleaned out of broken hair-ties, half used lip-gloss and the dried up nail polish.  If I am feeling really motivated, I may reline these drawers with new shelf paper.  Half empty bottles are consolidated or discarded.  Hairbrushes are washed and cleaned of that hairball and readied for use.

We make a list of any new makeup that might be required and add to our back to school shopping list.

Pick a start date
Set a timer for 15 minutes and tackle one of these clutter busters
When the time rings, you're done fro the day.
Check back for 5 more tips in my next post.

Happy Purging!

Building a Wardrobe for the Job you Want

How to build a wardrobe for the job you want.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. If you’re out of work and looking for a job or hoping to move up a level, you may worry that you can’t afford to dress for the job you want.
When budget is a concern or you simply don’t know where to begin, use these tips for building a wardrobe you can be proud of:
  • Stick with the classics. If you’re shopping on a budget, go for classic styles and colors that will last. Avoid trendy items for now, or save your “fashion statements” for inexpensive items you can easily replace, like colored socks or pocket squares for men, costume jewelry and scarves for women.
  • Learn to care for your clothes meticulously. Read the labels and follow them to the letter. Does it mean you will spend a little more time doing laundry? Probably. But your clothes will last much longer. Try to avoid buying lots of pieces that are “dry clean only” because dry cleaning can quickly become expensive.
  • Buy the highest quality you can afford. Price really does determine quality in many cases (up to a point). Bypass any budgetary issues by shopping for gently used items or last season’s styles. Look for a high quality consignment store in your area, which will usually have nicer pieces than thrift stores, and shop outlet malls and discount stores. Familiarize yourself with high quality brands you’d like to buy, then look for them on your discount shopping expeditions.
  • Buy fewer, but better items. You may find you need to purchase fewer clothes to ensure better quality. Look for separates you can easily mix and match instead of dresses or matched suits. Stick with classic pieces in muted colors and patterns so that if you wear a shirt more than once a week with a different jacket or pants, people aren’t likely to notice.
  • Pay attention to fit. Many times the difference between a suit (or any piece of clothing) that looks expensive and one that looks cheap is all in the fit. Find a good tailor who can help adjust all of your clothes — even inexpensive ones. That extra few dollars can make a world of difference. Likewise, get to know your local shoe repair shop that can help keep shoes, belts, and purses looking new.
  • Look for durable fabrics including wool, cotton, silk, and linen, and avoid man-made fabrics like polyester and rayon, which will deteriorate and show wear faster.
  • Choose multi-season pieces. When considering a new piece, think about how you can wear it in different seasons. Aim to have most of your closet be wearable on all but the deepest winter and hottest summer days rather than splurging on items that are only useful for a short time each year.
Even if you’re working at an entry level position and hope to be a senior VP someday, it is possible to dress with your desired position in mind with a little planning and creativity. Do you have any career wardrobe dos and don’ts to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments.