Monday, June 27, 2011

Organizing a Summer a Fun Way!

Eileen.....this one's for YOU!

Ah....summertime, and the living is easy! At least it should be. If you haven't already planned fun ideas for your family/kids/in-laws/parents/pets this summer - here's an idea..

Plan a once a week library/ice cream outing!

This combines two of my families loves ice cream & reading.

Here's how it works:

  • pick out a library in your area you have never visited
  • find an ice cream shop nearby
  • go to the library, take out some new books
  • go to the ice cream place for lunch - (not after lunch, for lunch!)
  • throw in a playground visit for good measure
  • return home with a happy tummy and settle down to read for a few hours
  • repeat next week with a different library and/or ice cream shop
  • result: fun cheap family time together and reading time for all!

How much does my family love ice cream? Usually once a summer we have ice cream day where we have ice cream for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Waffles & ice cream for breakfast, big sundae for lunch, small cone after dinner. But don't try this cold turkey - work up to it! And balance it out with a really l-o-n-g bike ride.....
If you don't know of any different ice cream places in your area, (unimaginable in my house, even my kids know all the ice cream places in a 25 mile radius) here's a list I just stumbled upon by USA Today of the top ice cream parlors in each state.

 ice cream shops!

Now go have fun, and try not to get the same flavor each time!

Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my eBook,
 30 Days to an Organized Home.

be organized.....evelyn

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Time Saving Tips For Busy Moms

The title of this entry is somewhat of an oxymoron. I didn't create it, Starbucks did - (see below.)

First of all, what mom isn't busy? Have you ever heard of a bored mom? And only ten tips? There are literally thousands of time saving tips out there, but luckily the title isn't the 10 BEST Tips - just narrowing them down would be a time waster!

Anyway - here goes - 10 Tips Off The Top of My Head.....(I like that title better!) and in no particular order.....

  1. Write down the night's dinner offering on a white board or tile in your kitchen. Saves your entire family asking over & over again "What's for dinner", and you rarely get arguments since it's posted in black & white. I don't know why - but for some reason when it's written down, people don't question it.
  2. Put up hooks for backpacks & coats and LABEL THEM with the correct child's photo. Even non- readers can realize which is their hook and hand their stuff up. Smaller kids? Put the hooks down low.
  3. Keep a running list in your kitchen of things (not food) you need to get at the store. Then go only  when you have a good sized list. Running to the store multiple times in a week is nothing but a time waster. and you have better things to do.
  4. Keep pens & paper next to every computer in the house. Frees up your mind from remembering dates from emails, phone numbers & such. Your family will use them too, just make sure there is a trash can located nearby or there will be a paper trail.......
  5. Keep your cold cereals in cubbies with labels on them. Keep serving spoons in the cubbies. Keep the cubbies where the kids can reach them. Voila - instant breakfast!
  6. Keep wipes & clean diapers in a box or cubbie outside so if you are playing outdoors with the kids and a change is needed, you're ready. When the kids outgrow diapers, keep tissues, sunblock, visors - whatever is needed. I use an old mailbox from my uncles house that I remember seeing when I was little. Memories and storage combined!
  7. Hold a family clean up a few times a week. One person vacuums, one person cleans the bathrooms, one dusts, one declutters. You get the idea. Set a timer for 10 minutes and go to town. It does knock you down from your position as chief cleaner-upper, but that's not a bad thing!
  8. Keep a storage box for shoes by every entrance & exit to your home. Less for you to pick up, less places for the kids to look when there are 2 minutes until the school bus comes and they can't find their shoes.
  9. Have one calendar where everyone's comings and goings are marked. Writing it all in one place means that there is only one place to look when scheduling something new. No chance of double booking!
  10. Print up shopping lists for the stores you frequent and list items in the same order the store is laid out in. Less impulse buys, less double backing for something you forgot, less chance you didn't mark it on the shopping list to begin with. And make sure you put chocolate on that list - you deserve a reward for going to the store in the first place!
That's it! Ten simple ideas to make your life easier, less stressful, more enjoyable, more perfect. Try one, try them all, do whatever works for you. After all, you have nothing to lose and nothing but time to gain! 

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my eBook, 30 Days to an Organized Home.

 be organized.....evelyn

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Jump Start Your Summer Organization Plans

Summer is here, the time stretches in front of me, and I'm sensing that I'm going to get even LESS done then when school is in and I'm busy.

Why is that?

For some reason the lack of schedule makes me think I have all the time in the world to get things done, and as a result I'm less organized and get nothing done.

No more of that.                                      
Time to shake things up.

I need a change. It's not enough that my schedule has changed, I need a physical change to go along with it. So I'm going to rearrange my furniture. Yes, I said rearrange my furniture.For some reason that makes everything seem fresh and new.

Elsie King Mooreland said it best in American Home in 1934, "Changing the furniture around is to a woman what taking a vacation is to a man.....Nothing seems to refresh me quite so much, to give me a new lease of life, as seeing my piano in another corner, the sideboard under the window, my bed facing another wall."

I agree. Even though I don't have a piano or sideboard.

Seeing your day to day living area in a new way is enough to energize you to do new and different things. So, I'm going to reuse the space that is my art studio during the school year, and make it family relaxing space for the summer.  (I teach art to 2-6 year olds,

Some after pictures since I don't  have any before pictures....... (maybe once I organize all my photos I'll find some.)

relaxation awaits!

and after I relax, I'll get motivated!

Makes me feel more motivated to do more - at least read more............

What will you change around this summer? Let me know in the comment section!

be organized.....evelyn

Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my eBook, 30 Days to an Organized Home.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer's Here- Can I Take A Nap First?

So - summer is here, as indicated by today being the last day of school, and I'm exhausted. I woke up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. Is that even possible? It's dreary and wet here today and all I can think of is that I want to go lie down.

This is not a good way to start the summer.

This is not a feeling that is showcased in the lifestyle magazines - according to them I'm supposed to be happily casting my own chalk and making a terrarium with my kids. And that's just on the first day of summer.

Where's the magazine that shows how to get everyone, including you & the pets, to take a nap at the same time? That's the magazine I want.

Anyway, I do realize that this is all my own fault. Summer has not even really begun and we've had a couple of people over already. Hanging out on the deck, enjoying the summer evenings. Very nice. Very summery. And while there has been various drinks around, that has not been my problem. My problem has been nibbling constantly, so much that I go to sleep feeling like I just ate Thanksgiving dinner. As a result I don't sleep well, and I wake up exhausted. I have a food hangover. And I want to go back to sleep.

Since I don't want to spend my warm summer days waiting for the warm summer nights so I can go back to sleep,  I need to organize a system. A system where I can have friends over and not eat everything in sight. A system where I get enough sleep to enjoy the daylight hours. A system where everything that everyone doesn't bug me because I'm s-o-o-o tired.

Here's some ideas I'm going to try:

  • keep a set sleep schedule - studies show that if you get your body used to a certain rhythm you feel better.
  • do some yoga stretches in the am to get my body up and moving
  • when people are coming over, keep the food on a different table
  • make food I don't particularly like
  • make food based on produce, not carbs.
  • throw the cat off the bed so he doesn't wake me up during the night
  • wake up at a set time each morning
  • and until I catch up, set a nap time for everyone each day! (my kids are 11, 13 & 18, so I'm not sure this will work!)
I'll let you know how all of this pans out next week. Right now I'm going to throw the kids on the bus and go take a nap.

And if you need to read something with a bit more energy, check out my guest blog on The Organizing With Sandy blog - click here to read it.

be organized...........evelyn

Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my eBook, 30 Days to an Organized Home.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Backyard Beckons - How to Organize It So You Use It!

Me - looking forward to summer!

Just yesterday I was talking blackboards with another blogger, Sandy of Organizing With Sandy, (click here to see her terrific blog that I'm guest posting on next week!), and she suggested that I post a picture of my backyard blackboard. Got me thinking about all of the various ideas/tips (need a better word for that) that I've incorporated into my backyard that I don't even realize are there anymore! That's the funny thing about organizing a space, once you've done it and set up shortcuts (maybe that's the word), they work so well that you don't even notice them anymore. And that's the sign of a great shortcut! Unlike the problem.

Anyway, back to the backyard. I thought I'd go an a picture tour of my backyard and show you photos of all my shortcuts. Feel free to use whatever works for you and leave behind the rest!

See - they're stretchy!
First up - getting to the backyard. We have glass sliders with screens. Lots of screens. Lots of big screens. And kids (adults too, if I have to be honest) have a tendency to not notice the screens and walk right into them. Tried putting markers on the screens, didn't work. My screens were always bulging and for some reason they always had holes. But no more - not since I replaced them with flexible screens. No holes, and you can walk into them - they just spring back. Here's the link for where I got them. Not too hard to install either. I've had them up for a year and they look as good as when I first put them in.

the bin below is used for storage
My bar -be - que. Looks shiny right? But it's at least 8 years old. I finally learned NOT to cover it in the winter - the cover just seems to hold moisture in and makes it rust. I leave it open to the elements, and come spring time I clean it with baking soda and water. Removes every bit of grime and shines it right up.
blends well, and really useful!
My mailbox - not for mail, but for storage. When my kids were little, I stored diapers and wipes in it so I wouldn't have to go inside at diaper changing time. Now I store hats and such in there so they are nearby when playing a game or lying in the hammock. I think I'll throw a box of tissues in there too!

blends well also! 
Volleyball/badminton net. My husband designed this so it's easy to remove when we don't want it up. The plastic pipes just slide into brackets. Since my backyard doubles as a play area for preschoolers during the year when my art studio is up and running, ( the backyard needs to be able to morph into preschool friendliness, yet still be functional for my family. The net is a new addition. We are planning on getting an actual net, but right now the yellow strapping is working fine and it's high enough so no one gets caught in it when walking under it. And it doesn't get tangled. My husband also put a ratcheting device on the end so my kids can tighten it when it gets loose. So far, so good with that one.

fence in place on the deck
how it attaches to the deck post

My fence. Yes, it's in the middle of the deck. That's because during the school year I have it up to direct   my art students into the studio without wandering off to play. They're preschoolers remember? They get distracted easily. But come the weekend and summer we don't need it, so my husband designed this one. Works perfectly! We've had others over the years, but this one is by far the best. It's simply a piece of plastic fencing with brackets on the ends. When we don't need it you lift it up and move it away, when you do need it, slide it back into the brackets. Takes about 30 seconds, tops!

And one last shortcut because this post is getting w-a-y too long - the blackboard. Can't see it in the photo? That's because it's no longer there - my kids have outgrown it, but picture this if you can. What you see in the photo is a sandbox my husband built against our fence. We backed it up with a piece of plywood cut into the decorative wave shape. The wave shape was painted with blackboard paint, the chalk was kept in a Tupperware style cubbie, stored in the mailbox! After a few years of my kids not using it, I simply repainted it with blues and greens so that it looked decorative. But I'm sure you get the picture. An outside blackboard gives the kids a place to draw, with no clean up from you.

That's it for now. I'm sure there's more shortcuts in my yard - I just haven't rediscovered them yet! When I do, I'll post them.

What ideas do you have in your yard?

be organized.......evelyn

Crave more organizing tips? Just click here to get a free sample of my eBook, 30 Days to an Organized Home. be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Organizing the End of School at Home.......

The end of the school fast approaches. Are you going to start your summer off neat and organized, ready for next fall, or are you going to be running around come September? Take my advice - spend a few minutes this summer organizing for next September. Summer is when you are not rushed.

More importantly, summer is when there are deals on school supplies.

Here's a picture of our "school drawer" during the school year. It holds such important items as papers my kids might need, math tests that they may have to study from, papers they just can't live without in January that become recycling fodder in June. Works terrific during the year, and if you don't have such a drawer, I suggest you make one. But for the summer? Not so good.

My goal as soon as school is over is to grab my kids and sort through this mess.

Stay tuned for how that works out........and hopefully an amazing after picture!

be organized..............evelyn

Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my eBook,
  30 Days to an Organized Home.