Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another year gone.......

I cannot believe it's almost 2012! Feels like the new millennium just began, but that was 12 years ago.

Even my 14 year old said it feels like it should be 2002.

By 2012, weren't we supposed to be driving flying cars and living on the moon?

And yet, it looks the same outside today as it has for years. December in NJ is usually grey, and today is no exception. Kind of dragging everyone down.

But tomorrow is the start of a new year. I don't know about you, but I always feel like I get a new supply of patience, energy and hopefulness every January. (That's hopefulness, not hopelessness.) By December, I'm used up. Thank goodness the new year is upon us! Now I'm just waiting for that burst of New Year's energy. It hasn't arrived yet.

Are you one of those people who makes New Year Resolutions?

I'm not.

I figure why set yourself up to fail.

Instead I'm going to try and put in place a few new systems to help make my life run smoother. That's my goal for this new year. Make life run s-m-o-o-t-h-e-r. And I love systems.

I've got lots of systems in place already, but there's always room for improvement - right? I'm going to focus on finances and exercise. Small bites, a little bit at a time.

Forgive me for rambling, but that's how my mind is this last day of December.

Give yourself the gift of nothingness today. Go within and comfort yourself with cocoa, down time and relaxation. You deserve it - it's been a hard year.

See you in 2012! Yikes!

be organized.....evelyn

If you want to see some of my systems, take a look at my book.....http://www.organizingwithevelyn.com
Get a free sample here.......no obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen!  freesample@organizingwithevelyn.com

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don't Let Your Family Get Away With This!

Christmas traditions.

Always fun to plan & participate in. Putting up the tree, decorating for the holidays.

Hopefully your family members participate in this and your have some fun traditions built up around what really is a lot of work. We have a doughnut/champagne tradition. It makes the entire family really look forward to decorating.
If only this was all there was to put away.....


Then comes the time to take down the decorations. Suddenly everyone is "busy". And undecorating becomes your responsibility.

 Don't let your family get away with this.

Time to start a new tradition that accompanies TAKING DOWN the decorations.

No more.

circa 1968, made by me!

 There's nothing worse then doing the  undecorating all by yourself. Your holly is no longer jolly. The tree is just something you trip over. And there's lots of big boxes to carry up a whole bunch of stairs.

Last year in our house we started a new tradition. Hey, it worked for us!

Here's how:
  1. Write in PEN a date on the calendar to undecorate. Make sure everyone is free on that day. For the entire day. Having to rush or having one family member missing undermines the entire thing!
  2. Pick something you all like to eat that can be personalized. We all love pizza, so on that day everyone can get whatever toppings they want on the pizza. We  have 4 people, so 2 pies with 1/2 toppings each fills the bill. No sharing! Everyone gets exactly what they want. Sandwiches would work too, Chinese - whatever is your families thing. The point is that everyone gets exactly what they want 
  3. Get fun beverages also - this is not the day to limit people's choices. You want happy elves, not disgruntled ones.
  4. Put some upbeat music on - swing, 50's, anything that has a quick moving beat. Keeps the family going. Nothing like bopping to the beat, eating your favorite food, and putting ornaments away!
  5. Make/buy some spectacular dessert that you can't cut into until EVERY LAST SCRAP OF HOLIDAY CHEER IS PACKED AWAY!

That's it! Create a system that makes a dreary activity into a fun family activity. I'm all about the systems...........

And stay tuned - next week I'm shooting a series of eHow videos all about common organizing problems. With a videograper! I'll let you know as soon as they're posted.

Want a free sample of my book?......no obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen!

freesample@organizingwithevelyn.com

See you next year!

be organized.....evelyn

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Ah Ha Moment

My question is: how many times do I have to knock over something before I fix it? In my case, the answer is lots & lots.

Let me explain.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Simple Idea That Will Save Your Sanity

Yes, I'm claiming a lot with the title of this post.

And yes, I mean it.

Do this one idea regularly, and your life will be saner. You will be happier. And your house will be neater.

I'm talking about THE FAMILY CLEAN UP.

What is that you may ask?

It's a simple idea that removes YOU from being in charge of keeping your house neat.

It removes YOU from being the person who bugs everyone else about keeping the house neat.

Takes a bit of rewiring your family at first, but then it's a no brainer.

The simple steps:
Get more time to do this - in a neat house!


  1. gather your family together twice a week. We use a bell, the same bell we ring for dinner time.
  2. first come gets first choice of jobs. In our house the choices are - quick vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting & decluttering. You'll have to show them how to do the jobs at first, but then it runs smoothly.
  3. each family member goes off and does their job.
  4. since you're all working together, no one feels they got the short end of the stick. And everything gets done quickly.
  5. results? In just 15 minutes or less, your house is now neat, tidy and clean. (At least on the surface. I do a deeper vacuuming & bathroom cleaning once a week.)
  6. you no longer have to vacuum under kids feet while they are playing video games. That alone makes the entire thing worthwhile!

The long term results of this idea are as follows:

  • no one is late because first there gets first choice of jobs.
  • your kids learn all types of home care jobs - enough to keep them going once they leave the nest.
  • you are not a one woman cleaning team anymore.
  • your house is guest ready at all times.

Try it out! Your family may surprise you.....one of my sons always picks cleaning the bathrooms!

Yes, it's a bit radical to expect your family to help keep the house neat, but trust me, it works!

It's simply another system, one that works for you and not against you.

What do you have to lose?

Check out my website for more ideas.....http://www.allEvelyn.com

be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 Steps To Homemade Joy

'Tis the season for running around like a crazy person, cramming too much into every day, and still not feeling the joy of the holidays.

Am I wrong?

No more. Time to stop and smell the Christmas tree. I'm not going to tell you how to streamline your day, I'm going to tell you how to get more joy out of it - with a simple system that puts the fun back into the holidays for your entire family.

And that system is..........An Advent chain.  


Doesn't matter if you're religious or not, doesn't matter what holiday you celebrate, doesn't even matter what you call it. It's simply a system to ensure that you do fun holiday type things strictly for the enjoyment of it. Remember that word? FUN?

Here's how it works.
  1. Pick a start date. We celebrate Christmas, so Dec 1 is our start date. 
  2. Cut strips out of construction paper, whatever colors are appropriate for the holiday. Our strips are 1 1/2" wide x 12" long, red & green.
  3. Divide the strips between family members
  4. Each person writes one enjoyable activity per strip. It can be anything as long as it's easily doable and not expensive. Keep them secret! For example, our strips might include - watch a favorite holiday show, go see a light display in our PJ's, give a group hug. (That was this mornings from one of my sons!). 
  5. If any chain entries need special equipment, like marshmallows for cocoa, start a list so you can get the supplies and have them ready. If you're afraid people might eat the supplies, put a sticky note on them, or keep them in a hidden spot.
  6. Mix up the strips of paper.
  7. Assemble them into a paper chain. Use tape or staples.
  8. Hang it over your breakfast table.
  9. Every morning take turns having a family member breaking the next link off the chain and reading it aloud. There's your fun activity for the day! We post the strips on the fridge so everyone knows whats coming, and if we can't get to it that day, we won't forget. Don't stress out over it - if you get too backlogged, forget about some of them The point here is to get some enjoyment into the holiday, not give you more to do.
  10. This is the perfect place to list all those holiday things you want to do but never seem to get to. And it makes a fun start to the morning.
We've been doing this for years - when we started, the kids were too young to do their own strips, so my husband & I did all of them Now, we all contribute, so it's a surprise for everyone.

I can't tell you how much joy this simple tradition brings to the holidays. And it removes the guilt of YOU having to be in charge of all the fun for the family. And, it removes all those activities from your head where they've been rolling around. Get them out of your brain, into a system that takes care of them, and on to the enjoyment instead!

One more way to remove all the "shoulds" from your brain - my friend Csilla   who ids a health coach just launched a free series of video tips on how to stay healthy and keep your eating in check over the holidays. One a day - short, easy to implement and free! Check them out here. 

 be organized.....evelyn

Want an unusual gift for the holidays for someone you know really well? How about my book - 30 Days To AN Organized Home - see the details here - http://www.organizingwithevelyn.com 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leaves 'n Leaves 'n More!

So - autumn is upon us and here in the northeast, that means leaves. Lot & lots of leaves.

A daunting task to say the least.

So here are my

IDEAS TO MAKE LEAF RAKING BEARABLE
3 bags in 15 minutes....not too shabby!
  • set a timer for 15 minutes. Work for that 15 minutes, then if you have it in you, set it for another 15 minutes. Works two ways - 15 minutes seems short, and it's amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Easy Peasy Pie Crust - and Healthier too!

Here in the USA, Thanksgiving Day is next week. And it seems sooner then ever before. What with Halloween being postponed until Nov. 4th courtesy of a surprise northeaster storm, no one is ready.

Which brings me to the need to blog about this amazing pie crust recipe I've been using for years. It will streamline your Thanksgiving and make you a convert!

just waiting to become a pie.....
It's quick to throw together.

It uses staples you have on hand.

You don't need to soften anything.

You don't need a mixer.

It's from a free recipe handout booklet published in 1980.

Ready to rock your pie making world? Here it is.....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Anyone know what this is?

Been out doing one of my favorite hobbies - browsing garage sales! I bought this - no idea what it is. The edges are sharp, it opens & closes - and it seems to be for cutting something. The only thing I can think of is to remove the middle of a cupcake before filling!





Any ideas?

be organized....evelyn

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How a Few Minutes Can Make a Memory.....

I'm always astounded how spending just a few minutes can add up to a wonderful experience for all. My example:

Today was my husband's 50th birthday. And we wanted to do something memorable. Here's how it played out.

Few minutes #1. Last February we went to Crystal Cabin Fever - a really cool ice carving exhibit/slide/museum in PA.  Get it? Cool - ha, ha! Anyway, while we were there we picked up an interesting brochure at the exit.

Few minutes #2 - When we got home, I filed the brochure in my file called Day Trips. This is just a file folder of interesting articles, brochures etc. that I've come across in life.

Few minutes #3. I needed something interesting and unique to do for above mentioned birthday. I went to my day trip folder and pulled out the brochure that we picked up last February. It was for The Museum at Bethel Hills.  Where Woodstock took place. Memorable - yes, interesting - yes. Unique - yes. Even though my husband was only 7 when Woodstock took place, his brothers are 10 years older then him, so he's a honorary hippie.

Few minutes #4. Son #1 was coming home from college to celebrate the birthday. I realized that on our way home from Bethel we would pass right by his college and we could drop him off. Saving a round trip of almost 2 hours. However, this meant he would not be present for birthday cake & blowing out of the candles, since that would be done once we returned home. Unacceptable. So, I needed to make "cake to go". I revamped original b'day cake idea (checkerboard cake) and make a sheet cake instead. In a pan with a locking top. I packed the cake, plates, forks, candles, lighter and water for cake "on the road".

Few minutes #5. After we viewed the museum, we had lunch backwards and had the b'day cake first - on a perfectly placed picnic table on a perfect fall day with a perfect blue sky ON THE FIELD WHERE WOODSTOCK TOOK PLACE! I couldn't ask for a more unique or memorable place to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Picture this with 400,000 more people!

And all because of a few minutes spent here and there.

Moral of the story - a bit of planning can make a wonderful memory.

Follow me on Facebook for more ideas, tips & info..... http://www.facebook.com/30daystoanorganizedhome

And did you know I wrote a book?  Get a free sample here.......no obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send, and voila - free tips for your kitchen.

freesample@organizingwithevelyn.com

 be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Clips & hooks & nails & screws.....

It's the little things that drive you crazy after the big things wear you down.

This week here in NJ we've had a crazy snowstorm - trees down everywhere, school closed, power & heat out for days and Halloween postponed.

It's enough to drive any sane person crazy.

Then, just when you think it's over - the smallest thing becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Radical Life Organizing

Organizing has become the new chic cause of late. Everywhere you look, there are cute little boxes meant for papers, lovely fabric covered files to store magazines, high tech looking wire baskets for mittens.

Isn't this missing the true reason to organize?  

Isn't all of this causing more clutter in your home?

When did organizing simply for the sake of organizing become in?

Monday, October 24, 2011

10 Best Organizing Tips for Toys

The toys. The playroom. The bane of our existence. On one hand you want it to be neat & orderly, on the other hand you want the kids to be free to "express" themselves in there. What to do?


Don't worry - with just a bit of planning both can happen. 

So - without fanfare - here's my list of the
10 BEST ORGANIZING TIPS FOR TOYS
 taa daa ( well, maybe a little bit of fanfare!)

    Grid Wire Modular Shelving and Storage Cubes
  1. Install an entire wall of cubbies. Shelves will work, but cubbies work better. Easy & cheap wire cubbies, the kind you can get at Costco or any big box store. They come in flat square grids, you bang them together with a rubber mallet. And you can do it yourself without any help. Buy as many as you think you will need, then buy more. The goal is to get an entire wall covered, floor to ceiling. The beauty of these is that they are easy to move around - and collect NO DUST! 
  2. Big toys - put one in each cubbie. If you want to really go all out, take a photo of the toy, punch holes in the photo & use paperclips to hang the picture on the cubbie. This way your kids and any guests know where everything goes.
  3. As the kids get older, swap out the photos with names of the toys. Helps foster reading skills.
  4. Small toys - put like with like. A plastic bin of blocks, a plastic bin of people. Put one bin per cubbie, and be sure the bin fills up the entire cubbie. Ikea makes some good sized  ones.
  5. Get a large wood box for big, awkward things, like Nerf guns. Then put wheels on the bottom of the box so it can be easily rolled out of the way. Ikea again for this one. 
  6. See the wheels on the bottom?
  7. If you have a closet, install laundry baskets in there like this for large sets like trains, race cars, etc. (Can you tell I have all boys?)  
  8. There are 4 baskets in the closet.
  9. If you have too many toys and not enough cubbies - rotate the toys. Pack up whatever doesn't fit, put into deep storage, and 6 months from now bring them out. It will be like Christmas all over again for your kids. Put the previously stored toys out, pack the old ones up into deep storage. There's no reason that all the toys need to be out at the same time.
  10. Get a drop leaf table for when you need table space for puzzles, etc. Fold it up when you need it, fold it down when you don't.
  11. Get a tall laundry basket, box, something that you can put stick type toys into - hobby horses, extra long Nerf guns, swords etc. into. Put this in a corner so it's easily accessible, but out of the way.
  12. Decorate with your kids art work. Paint funky frames directly on the walls at all different angles, and tape your kids art work inside. Looks great, easy to swap in new pieces, cheap, easy to paint over once the playroom morphs into something else.  click here for more info
  13. The red jagged line & black dashes are painted on the wall. The green & red & white strips are the artwork. It says Tommy in some funky way.
Make it easy for the kids to use, and easy to put things away and you all win!


And if you want to see some of my book now - get a free sample here.......no obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I promise. freesample@organizingwithevelyn.com

 be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Single Best Way To Recharge Your Batteries Before the Holidays Hit!

It is an absolutely GORGEOUS day outside today. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and the leaves are spiraling down from the trees.


The view out my front door!

School has been is session for awhile now, time to get back on track with having your needs fulfilled. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Need A Nest

The weather is turning brisker, the days are getting shorter - time to nest.

No - not the type of nesting you feel compelled to do right before you have a baby. In my world, those days are long gone. This is nesting for you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why When Your Child Says No, It's A Good Thing

This isn't covered in parenting books. Moms don't talk about it at play dates.

You need to teach your child to say no.

No, they don't want to sign up for yet another after school activity.
No they don't want to go to a friend's house after school.
No they don't want to drink/do drugs/hang out at the playground at night.

It all starts when they are young.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The One Sure Fire Way To Drive Yourself Crazy!

I have had it. I'm done with doing everything at the same time and expected to do all of it well. I am not Wonder Woman. I am not Super Girl. I am mortal. And mortals were designed to do one thing at a time.

And that's why I refuse to multi task anymore. And so should you.

Doing too much all at the same time is turning my brain to mush.  And robbing me of the joy of completion. And making me feel like I'm getting nothing done. And making me tired. And you?

I'm pretty sure I do accomplish something, but since I'm always doing other things AT THE SAME TIME I feel like I'm always behind. And that gets old fast. How about you?

When was the last time you felt the gratification of a job well done?

When was the last time you felt in control?

Time to take back your life.

For now on, if I'm making dinner, I'm only making dinner.

If I'm helping with homework, I'm only helping with homework.

If I'm reading, I'm only reading.

Studies show that multi-tasking is bad for your memory too. (Click here to read the article.)

So - make your life simple. Do only one thing at a time. The world will not spin off its axis. Your family will not move out. Life will continue.

Try it just for one day. See how you feel. You can thank me later.....

 be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To Break The Mom Rules....

It was that kind of morning in my house. no one wanted to rise & shine, but life said we had to. I was up a bit late reading, so when my alarm went off, I snuggled down deeper into the covers.

http://www.hersheys.com/pure-recipes/184/HERSHEY'S
And it was a brisk morning.

And the heat's not on yet.

And it was still dark outside.

Hence, it was hard to get up.

And I've yet to figure out why when I'm the one who works from home (http://www.artadventuresartstudio.com,) I'm the first one up.

And if I'm not up, I'm pretty sure no one would be up.

Is it like that in your house? Why is the mom

Monday, October 3, 2011

The 4 Reasons You Should Leave Your Cell Phone at Home

Remember a time when cell phones didn't exist?

It was a quieter time, a gentler time.

A time when you could be unreachable.

friend or foe?
It's time to return to that time. For your own sanity. At least a little bit.

Now I'm not suggesting that cell phones don't have their place. They are a very useful organizing tool. But that's all they are. A tool. They are not your new best friend. So people,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

10 Best Organizing Tips for Playrooms

The playroom. The bane of our existence. On one hand you want it to be neat & orderly, on the other hand you want the kids to be free to "express" themselves in there. What to do?


Don't worry - with just a bit of planning both can happen. 

So - without fanfare - here's my list of the
10 BEST ORGANIZING TIPS FOR PLAYROOMS
 taa daa ( well, maybe a little bit of fanfare!)

    Grid Wire Modular Shelving and Storage Cubes
  1. Install an entire wall of cubbies. Shelves will work, but cubbies work better. Easy & cheap wire cubbies, the kind you can get at Costco or any big box store. They come in flat square grids, you bang them together with a rubber mallet. And you can do it yourself without any help. Buy as many as you think you will need, then buy more. The goal is to get an entire wall covered, floor to ceiling. The beauty of these is that they are easy to move around - and collect NO DUST! 
  2. Big toys - put one in each cubbie. If you want to really go all out, take a photo of the toy, punch holes in the photo & use paperclips to hang the picture on the cubbie. This way your kids and any guests know where everything goes.
  3. As the kids get older, swap out the photos with names of the toys. Helps foster reading skills.
  4. Small toys - put like with like. A plastic bin of blocks, a plastic bin of people. Put one bin per cubbie, and be sure the bin fills up the entire cubbie. Ikea makes some good sized  ones.
  5. Get a large wood box for big, awkward things, like Nerf guns. Then put wheels on the bottom of the box so it can be easily rolled out of the way. Ikea again for this one. 
  6. See the wheels on the bottom?
  7. If you have a closet, install laundry baskets in there like this for large sets like trains, race cars, etc. (Can you tell I have all boys?)  
  8. There are 4 baskets in the closet.
  9. If you have too many toys and not enough cubbies - rotate the toys. Pack up whatever doesn't fit, put into deep storage, and 6 months from now bring them out. It will be like Christmas all over again for your kids. Put the previously stored toys out, pack the old ones up into deep storage. There's no reason that all the toys need to be out at the same time.
  10. Get a drop leaf table for when you need table space for puzzles, etc. Fold it up when you need it, fold it down when you don't.
  11. Get a tall laundry basket, box, something that you can put stick type toys into - hobby horses, extra long Nerf guns, swords etc. into. Put this in a corner so it's easily accessible, but out of the way.
  12. Decorate with your kids art work. Paint funky frames directly on the walls at all different angles, and tape your kids art work inside. Looks great, easy to swap in new pieces, cheap, easy to paint over once the playroom morphs into something else.   
  13. The red jagged line & black dashes are painted on the wall. The green & red & white strips are the artwork. It says Tommy in some funky way.
Make it easy for the kids to use, and easy to put things away and you all win!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”  http://www.socialmoms.net/forum/topics/hot-wheels-wall-tracks


 be organized.....evelyn

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easy Cereal Tip For Better Mornings


Something simple to make your life easier.

notice the labels!
the all important spoon

This is smart cereal storage. And it's vital cereal storage if you co-habitate with anyone, whether they be big or small people.

This saves you storage space, and most importantly - time.

All your family members can now serve themselves cereal. Without spilling. Or leaving an empty box on the shelf. You now what I'm talking about.

Plastic cubbies that fit your shelves are part of the answer. The remaining parts are labels and serving spoons stored inside the cubby.

Try it - you'll be glad you did.

And if you want to see some of my book now - get a free sample here.......no obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - more free tips for your kitchen. 
freesample@organizingwithevelyn.com



be organized.....evelyn

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Fall - Let the Kettle Corn POP!

It's a foggy day here at my house, the humidity is about 100%, mosquitoes are everywhere, but the calendar says autumn.  So, autumn it is. And I recently discovered something autumnal.

As a result, I have another thing to add to the "things I didn't know I could make at home and it tastes BETTER then the one I buy" list.

Really.

The back story: A few weeks ago my kids had a hankering for some kettle corn.
Options: I could drive to the farmer's market and buy a bag for $7,
I could drive to Trader Joe's and buy one for $2, I could be my usual lazy self and make some at home.

I figured "how hard could it be to make?" I had all the materials on hand.

and "how hard could it be to find a recipe?"

Thanks to the Internet, the answer is really easy........and really cheap.

Here it is in all it's glory - (and I'm sorry, I don't remember where I got the recipe from!)

Homemade Kettle Corn

ingredients:
  • 1/4 c. of oil - whatever you have on hand
  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • salt
  • large pot WITH LID!
steps:
  1. heat oil and 3 kernels of popcorn in large pot over med-high heat with lid on.
  2. when you hear the 3 kernels pop, add the popcorn and the sugar. Give it a stir, then cover. It looks like it's not going to make much - but trust me.
  3. once you hear the popcorn start popping, give the pot a quick shake every few seconds until the popping slows down - just a few minutes. You will think only a few popped, but when you open it up, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  4. remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Right away. Otherwise it will burn.
  5. sprinkle with salt - serve right away, or keep it for later (like that's gonna happen!)

Be sure to remember the lid, or your kitchen will look like a scene from a cartoon with popcorn kernels flying everywhere!

Now sample it. Yummy right?

After you finish off that batch, make some with your kids after school. Yes, it's that good that you'll want to eat the whole batch. And it's that easy to make a new batch. So, be the best mom on the block today! Bet no one else is making home made kettle corn!

And why is this on an organizing blog you may ask? Because it makes my life easier to make lots of  yummy things than run to the store. I'm replacing a dull errand with a fun activity. Which takes less time then going to the store! and if you want to see more - I also have recipes for The Best Muffins Ever & The Easiest Cake Ever!

be organized.....evelyn

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dreading Dinnertime Tonight? Here's the Secret to Organizing It!

So, raise your hand if you have no idea what you're having for dinner tonight.

I'm imagining I see a lot of hands.

Do you know how much time you're wasting by not knowing?

And I don't mean time that could be spent driving from point A to point B, or running an errand for someone else in the family.

I mean time that could be spent on YOU!

Here's the secret - planning out your meals takes all of 15 minutes, and saves you at least 2 hours a week. 2 hours you could use for something for you.

And you family never needs to know.

Here's how....
It's not pretty, but it works!

  1. once a week sit down with 3 blank pieces of paper. Small is fine - like 1/4 of a regular sheet. I use scrap paper.
  2. on small paper #1, write down vertically the following - beef, chicken, fish, veggie, fish, veggie, clean out fridge. If those 7 headings don't work for you - pick some that do.
  3. browse your fridge/cabinets and see what food you have on hand.
  4. using your mind, your recipe book, articles you've clipped, family favorites, whatever - fill in the blanks for each heading with a meal idea. Include side dishes.
  5. make sure you work off what food you have already.
  6. anything you need to buy, jot down on small paper #2. This is your shopping list. Or, if you have a computer generated/smart phone type of list, use that.
  7. on small sheet #3, list the days of the week.
  8. fill in menu ideas for each day. Consult your family calendar to make sure you work around sports practices, etc.
  9. recycle small sheet #1. Post small sheet #3 inside on of your kitchen cabinet doors.
  10. voila - you now know what you are having for dinner each day for a week. Advantages? one trip to the store, you can thaw out anything needed ahead of time, no impulse buys at the store since you are working off a list, no time spent deciding what to have.
And it's as simple as that!

But if you need a nudge - have you heard about the 6 O'Clock Scramble? It's a menu planning service that makes sure all your meals are healthy, balanced and great tasting. Less then $7.00 a month - and started by a stay at home mom! Click here to find out more about it.

Want some more ideas like this? Check out my book! http://www.organizingwithevelyn.com

Now go use some of that newly found free time on yourself!

 be organized.....evelyn

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today’s topic: How To Say No!

School is back in session.
Phone calls are coming in asking you to do things. I got one the other day. And now this morning I have to "have a meeting" to talk about what I agreed to do. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to help out. It's just that when every free moment you have is allotted for, it's hard to squeeze one more thing in.  But squeeze I will.

It all goes back to the saying, "when you want something done, give it to a busy person."

But I also realized I myself need to reread an old post from my other blog http://www.comeongethappyblog.com.  Here it is -

How to Say No!

The single best way to simplify your life and bring happiness into it is to learn one little word. And that word is NO.


No, I can’t bake 6 dozen cupcakes by this afternoon.
No I can’t drive carpool every day, both ways because you have a standing hair appointment.
No, I can’t host every holiday, every year.
Simple in thought. Really, really hard in execution.
Why?  Because as women, we have been brainwashed to be everything to everyone. Everyone but ourselves. Time to take back our time and spend it where we really want to. Like reading a book. One that’s not for book club. One that’s not on your to do list.
But you need to take back your time for another reason too. For your kids. What skill set are you teaching them by saying  yes to everything under the sun? Parents today are not teaching children how to say no. This is not a good thing. With the speed of life today, by the time our kids are adults they will have  more demands on their time then even we do now. And if no one taught them how to say no, what kind of grown up life will they have? A very, very, very busy one. But will it be happy?
As parents, it’s our job to teach our children how to say no by example. So start now.
Some simple questions to ask yourself before you commit to one more thing:
  • does the thought of doing it depress you?
  • is there someone else who can do this?
  • will this take time away from my family?
  • will it disrupt dinner together?
Basic questions, but ones that reveal  a lot.
  • If you don’t want to do it, you won’t do a good job. Let someone else shine instead.
  • If there is someone else who can do it better, let them. Give others a chance.
  • If it takes time away from your family, who is really benefiting here?
  • And, if it disrupts dinner, JUST SAY NO!  Studies show that dinner at home, all together at least once a week is what keeps your kids on track.  I think this is ridiculous. Every night of the week is best, but shoot for at least half. Come on people, when did scheduling activities during dinner hour become the norm? It’s just wrong on so many levels. Here’s the info: reasons for dinner together
A challenge – the next time someone asks you to do something, run it through the 4 questions above. If the answer to any of the questions is yes, JUST SAY NO.
Then relax and enjoy your new-found time. What do you have to lose?
I have to go do my meeting...... and then squeeze in a trip out to put up flyers.....and then teach 4 art classes......
be organized.....evelyn

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Anyone Can Bake This Muffin!

You have got to try this muffin. Anyone can make it - and I mean anyone.

This is seriously the easiest, best tasting, healthiest muffin I've ever baked.

And I bake a lot.

Today we're off to The Whoopie Pie Festival in PA, and I wanted to get something healthy into the kids before we left.

Cereal - B-O-R-I-N-G!

Magic muffins to the rescue. Today I made them with 1/2 applesauce. I didn't have any applesauce, so I threw an apple, the milk, the 1/2 cup of oil (really, only a 1/2 cup of oil for a double batch!) and the milk into my VitaMix, & pulverized the lot. Then just added the dry ingredients, and added my new favorite thing, ICE CREAM CHIPS!  from Nuts On Line. And try the lemon chips too!

Seriously - did you know these existed? They're the chips that you would find in chocolate chip ice cream. And Nuts On Line ships same day - order them today, and if you live anywhere near NJ, you'll have them tomorrow! Can baking get any better then this?

So - to recap - in 10 minutes I just made a double batch of wholewheat (TJ's white whole wheat flour), low fat, low sugar absolutely yummy easiest muffins ever!

I don't think it gets better then this...........

Oh - you don't have the recipe memorized from my previous post?
No problem - here it is.......BEST MUFFIN EVER!!!!!!

be organized.....evelyn

PS - missed any posts this week? Here's the recap.......

Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Organize Your Clutter

Raise your hand if you think the title of this post is a ridiculous statement.

All hands should be raised.

You can't organize clutter - I think if you look up clutter in the dictionary it would say - "stuff sitting all over your house getting in your way".

But here's an interesting fact - interesting to me anyway. If you live with clutter all the time, you become immune to it. You don't see it. You "declutter", and all you really do is rearrange your old clutter.

A quick test to check your clutter level. 

If someone came into your house and left a stack of business cards on a table, would 
you see them immediately? Would the stack look out of place because everything else is neat? 
If the answer is no, you need to declutter.

This is clutter.

Time to take action.


Action Steps To Declutter Your Living Room

  • get a big box/bin/cubby.
  • go around your living room - anything that is sitting on top of a table/cabinet/flat surface and is not decorative/useful in that place goes into the box/bin/cubby. Clear off everything. (cable box - useful in that place, pile of papers from school, not useful in that place.)
  • look into the box.
  • you are looking at clutter. 
  • Get rid of it/recycle it/give it a home somewhere inside something so you can't see it.
  • take a look at your room. Does it looks better? It might not to you, yet - but then again, your use to seeing the clutter everywhere. But trust me, it will look better to everyone else who comes into your home. And in a week, I guarantee you'll love it.

Enjoy your decluttered room - decluttered in the true sense of the word.

Want some ideas for your kitchen? Click here, read about my book, and get the free sample.

be organized.....evelyn

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Organize Accomplishment

I was reading a passage from one of my favorite inspirational books today, and it was talking about how women don't give themselves enough credit for their achievements.

This really hit home. And not just for women. For everyone in the crazy age of "enough is never enough".

How many times have you completed one thing on your check off list and instead of taking a moment or two to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, you just jumped on to the next item? Doesn't matter if the item was big, like publishing a book, or small, like getting the kids out the door. I bet neither one made you feel good, made you feel like you did anything.

Time to reverse that. Time to take time and pat yourself on the back. If you don't take time to enjoy your accomplishments, no one else will either.

I, for one, have always kept my eyes on what's next, never actually enjoying what I've done so far.

I'm going to try and change that. Here are my ideas for me & for you:
  • pause for a second and say "I just did that!". Mentally pat myself on the back.
  • focus on what I have gotten done, not what I haven't.
  • don't be afraid to talk about your victories to friends! It's not bragging if you mention one thing, one time.
  • if you've been written up anywhere, frame the articles and made a "wall of pride". Do this for other members of your family too!
  • have anything you've been saving for that big celebration? Pick one of your past achievements and celebrate it today. 

I myself have a bottle of bubbly hiding in the fridge for years, just waiting until I sold more books, made more money, landed on the moon. Enough of that -  time to take it out.

Right now think of one thing you've accomplished recently. Now, stop for a moment and give yourself credit. Now go tell someone else about it.

be organized.....evelyn

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Never Be Late For Anything Again!

Tick, tick, tick, tick. That's the sound of the clock ticking off the minutes that you are late.

Or is it?

All shapes & sizes!
In my house, the ticks aren't the tick of a clock, it's the silent tick of a timer. Why?

Because timers make the world go 'round.

What's that? Not familiar with this concept?

You should be.

Timers are one of, if not the best, time saving device ever invented.

Imagine, no more checking the clock every few seconds.

No more screaming at your kids that it's TIME TO GO RIGHT NOW!

No more craziness.

How? This is how.....

Simple Ways To Use A Timer To Bring You Health, Wealth and A Sane, Organized Existence:

  • First, get a bunch of timers. At least 4. And not the wind up timers that your mom had in the kitchen. I'm talking about an electronic timer. I've seem them in the dollar store and I've seen them in Williams Sonoma. Your choice. They all keep time. Just get ones that track minutes and hours. If your mobile phone has this function, use that. Just get a few extra ones to leave around the house.
  • Familiar yourself with how they work.
  • Now the world is your oyster.......
  • Taking the kids to the playground? Bring along a timer. Why? Cause when you have to go in  5 minutes, tell the kids you need to go in five minutes. Set the timer, when it beeps, hold it up so the kids can hear it, tell them the 5 minutes are up. They may balk at first, but do it a few times and, strangely enough, when you say time to go, they will come. It's the giving them the 5 minute warning, combined with the fact it's not you saying the 5 minutes are up, it's the timer. that makes it work. And work beautifully. You just have to stay consistent. Give the warning. Set the timer. When it beeps, tell them it's time to leave. Then leave.
  • Leaving for school? Set the timer to ring 5 minutes before you need to leave. When it rings, tell the kids to put their shoes on, get their backpacks. Voila, you are leaving on time.
  • Need to remember to do something later in the day? Set the timer. Doesn't matter if it's hours from now. Set the timer. Then you don't have to think about it again. For example, let's say I need to leave the house at 2:30 for a meeting. It's 7:30 am now. I set the timer to beep at 2:15 to give me enough time to gather whatever I need. When it beeps, I pack up whatever I was doing, gather & go. No way I can be late. Especially if I factor in a 5 minute buffer zone. Always, always plan to arrive wherever you have to be 5 minutes early. Adds years to your life by reducing stress.
  • Have 15 minutes to yourself to read a book? Set the timer. That way you don't have to keep checking the clock and you can get the full 15 minutes, which is probably the only time you have for yourself all day.
  • Bidding on something on eBay? Set the timer to beep 5 minutes before the auction ends so you are there if you need to up your bid. My kids do this all the time.

After you get the hang of the timer gig, I'm sure you'll find a zillion more ways you can use it to simplify your life and keep you on schedule. That's why you need a few. Your kids will figure out it works for them also, and jump on the bandwagon. Pretty soon the whole family will join in, (maybe!)

It's a beautiful thing when you realize you are teaching them life skills that they will actually use. And that make your life easier.

Now go set the timer for how long you should be on the computer. When it beeps, get off and go do something in the real world.

be organized.....evelyn