Showing posts with label Organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Organization. Show all posts

Monday, October 21, 2013

holiday planning {with cards by minted}

You're probably thinking, "Is this the second post about Christmas she's written before Thanksgiving?" Yes! I am discovering that to simplify our lives, I often need to plan ahead. If I'm organized, I'm able to say with confidence whether Vivi can take that skating class or I can volunteer to hand out holiday gifts for our town again. Otherwise, I'm flying blind and trying to guess whether we have time and space to take on more. I owe my better preparations to Simplicity Parenting--for philosophy-- and Minimalist Parenting--for strategy. Have you read them yet? I'm betting they will change the way you approach the holidays this year.

After a few years of ho hum holiday cards, I'm looking forward to getting some crafty cards from Minted this year. Have you heard of them? I first found their website via my friend Nole's stellar website devoted to stationery, calligraphy, and design. Minted is a crowdsourced marketplace that connects consumers and designers for everything paper, from cards to wall art. Personally, I'm psyched that they have both ornament and foil-press options for holiday cards.

minted
So adorable! If I got these, I think I'd save one and put it out again every year, don't you?

Right now, you can get 10% off holiday cards at Minted using the promotion code FALLHOL10 (thru Oct. 29th)! If you get some, let me know in the comments which ones you got. 

Minted and West Elm are also hosting a chance to win $500 each in their products at this Deck the Halls/Deck the Walls Sweepstakes. I hope you win! If you do, send me this picture of a cardinal, pretty please.

Yes, Minted is giving me free stuff from their store for posting about them. But I truly love them and think you will too!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

spring cleaning and preparing, part two

We love that tulips are so popular in New England spring.

Welcome to the May 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Emergency Preparedness
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their plans to keep their families safe. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
***

Last spring I wrote a post about how we created and maintain a bin of emergency supplies. Today I'll cover the another important part of emergency planning, creating a family communication plan. Ready.gov has a family communications website with some ideas, and I've broken those tips down for you.

Creating an emergency communication plan:
  1. Identify an out-of-state contact. In the recent Boston bombing, we had intermittent cell phone service within the city, so if we had been at the Marathon, we wouldn't have been able to reach each other. However, if you designate a person out-of-town that everyone will call, you can get updates through that intermediary. Be sure to tell that person of your communication plan.

  2. Teach your child a contact number, either your cell phone or the designated contact person's. Children ages five and up are able to memorize 10-digit phone numbers. There are some great ideas out there for how to go about helping them memorize it.

  3. Make sure your child knows how to use the phone in your home. In our house, we only have cell phones, and mine automatically locks, so I had to train Genevieve how to unlock it herself and call 911, then I had to do it again this week when I got a new iPhone.

  4. Distribute your plan to your local emergency contact, a neighbor you trust, and your child's school, along with a letter to your child in case of an emergency. 
If you've made a bin of supplies and created a communications plan, consider learning additional ways to keep your home and family safe and finding escape routes. You can also make your stockpile larger in a frugal way by preserving your own food. We are trying not to eat canned food as much as possible due to concerns over BPA, so I've been storing lots of fruit jams and pickled veggies that can be canned using a boiling water bath. Get started with my round-up of canning resources.

***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon May 14 with all the carnival links.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

mise en place: simple productivity ideas

Welcome to the August 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Productivity
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we balance simplicity and productivity, i.e. remain productive while also maintaining a slower pace of life. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.
***

Image Credit: Ranger Mike Designs


I can't remember when I first heard of the term "mise en place;" maybe it was Julia Child, or perhaps it was Top Chef. What I can recall is that my brain automatically flagged it as a great concept not just for cooking but for many parts of my life. French for "putting in place," it's the gathering of ingredients prior to starting to cook. Preparing ingredients and equipment ahead of time is a brilliant time-saver in the kitchen. Plus it makes you feel like a celebrity chef and culinary genius, even if what you happen to be making is a simple as pesto. So could it be a metaphor for life? Could life itself be a dish that is best created when elements are designed, pondered, and crafted ahead?



Extending the notion of pre-assembling to the rest of my world took no less than a paradigm shift, the basic assumption moving from "I don't have time to plan anything ahead; I must wait until I have some time and decide what to do then" to "I don't need to do an entire project at once. I can start it and come back later." Giving myself permission to stop mid-project and switch to another task has been the kick in the pants my organized self wanted.

When I talk of preparing ahead, I'm not necessarily referring to the organizing of stuff. I probably brag too much, in fact, about my knack for organization. It's more like a thoughtfulness for the tasks ahead and a orchestration of the tasks into an efficient and productive order. I've never been great at time management, but I've been pondering some changes I could make ever since Barb's guest post on work flow a while back.

Modern technology aids me in my task of planning ahead. For example, I use Todoist to begin my day-mapping; it lets me easily add items to lists, color-code them, and switch tasks to other projects. I put the washing machine on automatic time-delay to run in the early morning hours. That way, I take the fresh laundry out of the wash when I wake in the morning rather than letting it sit there for hours and risk molding. Similarly, I set the dishwasher ahead to run after we have showered in the evening so it doesn't use up our hot water.

I set out the non-refrigerated breakfast items ahead in the evening, like bowls/spoons and cereal or oatmeal, and then get up a few minutes before the kids and pull the laundry out of the wash, start breakfast, and get the mid-morning snacks set up. While my kids have nap time and "room time" (when Vivi plays quietly for an hour), I get their afternoon activities set up; if we're going to the local beach, I prepare the bags and set up a crock-pot meal, and if we're staying home, I get paint or other art projects ready.

I apply mise en place for my meal components as well, and I plan out what I'll be preparing on any given day, from cooking meatballs to incubating yogurt to chopping carrot sticks or grating squash to freeze for future recipes. In the evening, when I'm not doing yoga or knitting while I watch TV, I use my down-time to apply mise en place to the blog, organizing and planning topics on certain dates.

My last change sounds like an easy one, but for some reason it wasn't for me: I always always wash dishes as I use them. This is a rule my dad has been following for as long as I can remember, but I just couldn't make myself do it until I forced myself to consider it a RULE. I now absolutely do not leave the kitchen until they are done. For moments that the kids need my attention while I'm cleaning, I keep special toys in a cupboard that they don't see often; you'd be surprised how long they will play with a few plastic army men and matchbox cars if you keep them hidden most of the time. Speaking of dishes, when I'm waiting on the faucet water to get hot, I fill up my watering can. It saves both water and time later when I'm ready to water my herbs.

Most of all, remember: if it's not fun, it's not sustainable. Make yourself view these preparations as a positive part of your day; do whatever it takes to make your brain see it this way. Reward yourself for a productive job well done! Play happy music and postpone the chocolate and "Facebooking" until you've completed your prep work.

Do you have secrets to making your day more productive? I'd love to hear them.


All the links on the list below will be live and updated by 3pm E.T. today! 

***
Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts: SimParCarButton150x150
Thanks to all the fabulous writers and readers for being a part of our simplicity parenting community! Stop by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM to see how to join us for a future carnival.

Editor's note: This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Your Green Resource.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

on {lack of} productivity

So, about that Simplicity Parenting carnival....

Emily and I made a collectively timely decision for both our families to move our productivity theme to next month. Yup, we see the irony in postponing the productivity carnival too. Ha! Oh well, that's summer life, no? As a true Shakespeare fan, I will not admit impediments, but suffice it to say, being productive enough to write about productivity is setting the bar a bit high this month. You can see the new carnival schedule here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Martha and me

Welcome to the May 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Organizing
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we organize our lives. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.
***

Mountains of laundry. Check.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

weekend work: make-ahead menu + the pantry plan


Oh lawdy bee, I need Nate to come home STAT. I've been holding up my end of the bargain for so long (must be all that tiger blood), and I am nearing the end of my proverbial rope. I have such sweet friends though, y'all. They seem to understand how hard it is to single-parent two kids for two months even better than I do--and yet--they don't give me the pity eyes. You know the look moms give, with the chinless, puckered mouth thing. Dislike! I have gotten this look a ton in the past month. My two Beantown besties do not do this, which is why we can be friends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

spring cleaning and preparing

Happy first day of spring! I adore spring. Doesn't everyone? Did you see the Marimekko Google doodle today? I've mentioned once or a thousand times that a favorite spring tradition is bargain hunting. A less-loved though no less necessary activity is spring cleaning. Have you begun your cleaning yet? I am enjoying Simple Mom's {Project Simplify 2012} series because it gives me certain areas to focus on each week, providing interest to an otherwise boring operation. I must say that I do LOVE the purging part of spring cleaning. Simple Mom's area of focus in the last week of the challenge is "choose your own adventure." For me, this adventure is emergency preparedness.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm all analytical and stuff

I took a gander at the list of my blog posts to see which ones get more hits. Here are three things I've learned about my blog readers:

1) No one cares about the farm bill,

2) everyone hates Brussels sprouts, and

3) I need to post more baby stories.

I need to produce more babies to accomplish number three. I'm off to tell Nate my new angle on why we should have another child. My dedication to you, dear readers, is fierce.


Another part of my life that I am prone to (over) analyze is the amount of stuff we own. I do this activity on a regular basis in which I wander around the house, shaking my head at the build-up. The toys, the tschotchkes, the random keys, the remaining lined three-hole-punched paper from grammar school. Where does it come from, this load of absolute crap? As someone who loves to purge, I find it maddening that I still seem to own SO MUCH STUFF.

A tip I learned from my dad about the children's toys is to adopt a three-month toy rotation. This concept is likely self-explanatory, but I will briefly enlighten you on the process. I take a box, gather up a bunch of stuff they don't play with on a daily basis, and cart it down to the basement, where it sits until Vivi asks for it or until she's bored with the toys upstairs. Not rocket science, right?

There is an additional wrinkle to this shell game. If the kids never ask about it in three months, and it's a toy we hate, it goes into the Goodwill box. Sayonara, cat piano. It's been real.

Oh, also, don't let your kids see you boxing up the stuff, or you'll inevitably have a drama on your hands, starring your poor little orphan child who really waaaannnnnts that particular toy even though they haven't played with it in a month.

I had just completed two boxes worth of toy rotation when the mailman came with a special delivery of Nate's childhood stuff, courtesy of his parents' purging. I'm 100% in favor of everyone cutting down on the accumulation of things, so I support their mission. But GAWD it is a bunch o' boxes.

There are some wonderful treasures in the bunch! Do you love old wooden toys as much as I do?


I was thrilled to discover that Nate's Uncle Frank had hand-crafted a giant train set for him, and Vivi was as joyful to receive it as I was to open it. Just in time for the holidays. Train sets create a festive mood, don't they? Check out the perfect little details.



Thanks Uncle Frank!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

world's most genius organizer and spouse mind-reader

The above post title is the new moniker I have given myself after I triumphed over the minor catastrophe of the day. It started with me coming across Charlotte's birth certificate while organizing, at which point I thought I should put it in our sacred file folder of justice. We don't really call it that, but I thought I should give it an important name to impart the significance this folder holds in our lives. It contains both our and Vivi's birth certificates, our marriage license, and the titles to our cars. So you can imagine my dismay when I casually flicked open the file drawer only to discover the file was....dun dun dun!...missing. Of course I immediately thought to call my husband, who is generally speaking the causer of all lost things in our lives. No offense to him, but seriously, I have never met someone so likely to lose items and so unable to locate items right in front of his face. In other words, if they were the proverbial snakes, he would have been bitten, many times. Before you decide I'm jumping to conclusions in blaming him for the missing folder, allow me to let you in on a little piece of our recent history in which Nate drove up to Boston carrying the folder in the car. In a moment brimming with irony, I opted to remove the folder from the file drawer and give it to Nate for safe keeping, lest the careless movers lose the box it was packed in. And that is how I came to be staring today at a file drawer full of magazine clippings, old resumes, and vet records for our cat, and no file of justice.

After a quick unsuccessful phone call during which I asked him where the file was, cursed when I received the "Um, I don't know" answer (forgone conclusion), and then proceeded to hear "leave me alone" when I called him back to double check a few minutes later, I reassessed my situation. Having given him every chance to remember where he put it and scoured every place I could have put it [note: there are only 3 such places; in case you missed it previously, I am a self-proclaimed organization guru], I had only one slightly terrifying and very challenging option left:

Jump into the mind of my husband and think of where he would have put the folder.  

Sigh, stretch, crack knuckles.

Here goes nothing...

Nate's mind: Ok, I'm a serial procastinator and typically ignore what my wife says, but I think she might have told me to keep track of a few things on my drive up to Boston. Yep, here they are: wedding album, file folder of justice, fire box with our passports and wedding negatives, and laptop. I know she told me to put them somewhere safe when I got to Boston, but I'm exhausted from the drive, so I'll do it later.

This brings us, dear readers, to the climax of my story. In that brief moment inside my husband's head, I suddenly realized where the folder must be. I immediately ran over to the closet where I keep the box our wedding album is stored in, threw open the lid, and there it was smiling up at me: THE FILE FOLDER OF JUSTICE.

...victory dance...

But what's the moral of this story? Should I make sure I am in charge of all important documents in the future? Maybe. Should I nag him more and become "that wife"? Perhaps not. The crisis was averted, and I enjoy bragging about my superhero ability to find lost objects. Win win.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the art of decluttering

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." 
-William Morris

In keeping with the decluttering spirit, I'm going to keep this post short and simple. I think the above rule is the best you can follow when considering what you keep versus donate/sell/trash. I love love love this post from another blog that gives a list of 15 decluttering tips. If 15 is too many or the post is too long for you, allow me to sum up my favorite rules:

1. Remember the rule stated in the quote above. If you don't love it or need it, get RID OF IT.

2. Don't bring it into the house in the first place. If you must, follow this rule: 1 in, 2 out.

3. Clothing rule: If you haven't worn it in 6 months, donate it.

4. If you don't want to get rid of something because you were planning to sell it online or at a garage sale, give yourself a realistic deadline (i.e. 30 days, not 30 years) by which you must complete the task.

5. Hoarding is selfish. Your value is not in your stuff. In fact, your value goes up when you share stuff.

6. Gift everything. Give books away immediately after read, and donate old items when you buy new items.

Friday, May 20, 2011

organizing loves: kids edition

I showed some of my favorite organization accoutrements earlier in the week, and I thought it only fair to those readers without children that I separate my kid-related paraphernalia from the rest. But no one comes with more crap, figuratively and literally speaking, than those tiny little monsters. So for the parent readers out there, here are my best-loved kid-themed tools:

At 3 years old, Vivi is old enough to pull these bins out to play with the toys by herself, and better yet, put them away when she's done!

We're lucky our closet came with an organizer. It's a must purchase for any non-outfitted closets.

Are you picking up on a theme yet? I love bins!

More bins!

Diaper caddy from Munchkin. Who needs a changing table? We use the top of a dresser.

Use up all that space.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the organizing loves of my life

My house still needs a lot of work, but the trees sprouting some leaves have inspired me to do a bit of spring cleaning and organizing. Oh how I love to clean and organize. Some days I fantasize about somebody coming to take my kids for an entire day so I can put on my music and work gloves and get down to business. Alas, no neighbor in shining armor has come to sweep my kids away yet, so I have to take the hour or two as I can get them. Boy am I mourning the daily nap thing. I get about 1-2 naps a week now with Vivi. Sigh. Guess they have to grow up some time, and it's wrong to give them cough syrup just to get them to sleep...or so I'm told (kidding!).

Anyway, since I've touted myself as an organization guru, I thought I should share a few of my current favorites:

What started as a bookcase has become a great place to store my food stuffs "stockpile."

Expensive kitchen organizer from the Container Store. 
When we bought this we had zero $, but it has stood the test of time and been a great investment. Wish my kitchen in this house was big enough for it.

I love my rolling laundry sorter! 
I put Nate's clean work shirts on the bar and can move it out of the way. Perfect.

These two big black metal shelves from Target have been worth their weight in gold, but luckily they were very affordable. Wait for a sale. You won't be disappointed.

Hand-me-down Ikea bookcase. This is actually on the smallish side as storage goes, but it keeps me from accumulating too many books. I read it and then set it free unless I'm sure I'll reference it again. It's very liberating.

Grocery bag organizer! I've always wanted one and now I have it. I'm much more careful now about bringing my reusable bags to the store if I know my organizer is full. No more yanking zillions of bags out of the bottom of a closet.

Plastic bins are the answer to life's "what do I do with all this tiny crap?" dilemma.

If you are not a person who's into cleaning, this next paragraph is best skipped (Note: I wasn't paid for this endorsement, I just love my mop!!). Though I don't have a picture of it, I also have a great new mop-like instrument for cleaning my kitchen tile and wood floor. If you are as into the whole reduce-reuse-recycle concept and as cheap as me, you'll appreciate this new gadget. Libman came out with a Swiffer-ish mop, BUT it has a reusable pad instead of the disposable kind and a refillable bottle for the cleaning product. I've never been a mop girl because I can't stand the thought of rubbing that old nasty sponge all over the floor just to spread that bacteria around. But I also can't stand the thought of throwing the pad away. With this one, you throw the pad in the wash EVERY TIME YOU USE IT! AWESOME!

We also have a Eureka steam mop for the once-a-week sanitizing, but I just couldn't get into the idea of plugging that thing in every day. This way, I can mop to my heart's content and then lean it against the wall when I'm done. No fuss. And it sure beats getting down on my hands and knees with a spray bottle and a rag, which was my previous modus operandi.

Update (5-14-12): We gave up our steam mop a few weeks ago to our church's rummage sale. I still use the Libman mop and still love it just as much, but when I'm feeling a deep-cleaning frenzy, I get back down on my hands and knees and scrub. There's just no better way to sanitize.

Friday, March 25, 2011

opting out of junk mail

Getting away from junk mail has been a life-long quest for me that has been on the back burner up until now. It has always seemed like an impossible battle to fight the steady stream of paper nonsense flowing to our mail box on a daily basis. Remember how I mentioned my low tension level in my last post? Well, here's another thing raising it. I suppose you could sum up the cause of my anxiety in one word: junk. I don't have it, and I don't want it. When you are as into recycling and not wasting paper as I am, the very idea that someone is going to send you vast quantities of paper you don't want is some kind of cruel joke.

With this move to Boston, I decided to start with a clean slate and fight junk mail as it happens. I WILL CLAIM VICTORY! I owe my first glimmer of hope to some friends who recently moved across the country. Because they didn't know their new permanent address when they needed to begin having mail sent, they opted for a temporary PO Box. Eureka! Behold step one in Justine's plan of attack: when you move, forward mail to a PO Box instead of your house to foil the current junk mail senders. This decision requires you to update addresses manually for mail you regularly need (like your insurance and bills), but trust me when I say it's completely worth it to help stop your unwanted mail from following you.

Step two also came to me somewhat accidentally. A non-profit organization I had discovered years ago recently sent me an email requesting me to update my information. When I first heard about Catalog Choice, they did little except stop some catalogs from coming in the mail...which was useful to me when I desperately needed to kill the Victoria's Secret onslaught. I had completely forgotten about CC, but I decided on a whim to log in to my account and see if they had updated their services. Boy have they ever! For a small donation of $20/year, they will assist you to opt out of unwanted mail. This fee has been worth its weight in gold.

The third step is one that everyone should know about, but somehow I missed the memo. The Federal Trade Commission runs a phone number (888-5-OPT-OUT) that allows you to stop the credit bureaus and other companies from sharing your information for promotional purposes. The free call will take you about 3 minutes and will stop mail for five years. Oh so worth it!

Unfortunately one of the most annoying types of junk mail we receive has become requests for philanthropic donations. Save the wildlife, save the people with lupus, save the children. Phew! It's exhausting, and if we gave every time we got a request, we would have gone broke a long time ago. We've gotten more address labels than we could ever use, and I spent far too much time digging through envelopes to remove nickles stuck to the paper. And so my final step is really more of a side-step: if you want to donate to organizations like these, rather than donating via check, I recommend donating online if you can somehow avoid providing your address.
 
I am happy to report that because of these four easy steps, we no longer receive ANY junk mail! Our PO Box is another story, so I look forward to canceling it. Goodbye junk.

Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...