Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What To Do When Your Child Goes Off To College

As I write this, I sit surrounded by cubbies. Big cubbies. Cubbies taking up so much floor space that there is barely any room to walk around.

No, I'm not moving.

My oldest is off to his second year of college today.

I realized this morning that I was in his place 33 years ago.

I find that hard to fathom. How could it be that long ago when it seems like just a few years ago?

This staggering fact made me realize that any wise words of wisdom I may impart to him would be hopelessly out of date. It would be like someone giving me college tips from 1947. Can't quite see any relevance there. Were there even phones in college dorms back then?

So, I'm just going to keep my mouth shut.

But here are my tips for when your child goes off to school.
  • do not offer your advice about anything.
  • your job today is a Sherpa.
  • make sure they have a good breakfast before they go. At least you know they won't starve for today.
  • give them a big hug before you leave your house, there may not be time later.
  • keep your opinions about their roommates to yourself, you're not living with them.
  • take assurance in the fact that you taught them well, now it's their time to fly.
  • do not cry until after you leave.
Have to go Sherpa.

 be organized.....evelyn

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to Organize Happiness

Happiness. The elusive quest. Just when you think you're getting close, something knocks you right back to despair land again.

But no, it doesn't have to be that way. What you (and I ) need is a buffer. Something to rely on when the going gets tough. And I don't mean shopping.

Here instead are my top 6 ways to organize happiness:
Smiley Face Cake
  1. schedule some time for yourself doing something you love best. Reading, bubblebathing (is that a word?) exercising (I hear for some people this is something they actually enjoy doing!)
  2. set up some schedules in your life to free yourself from everyday jobs. Like the ones suggested in  my previous blogs or in my book.
  3. surround yourself with upbeat people. The naysayers have no place in your life, other then to bring you down.
  4. imagine a happy outcome to your troubles. Actually put yourself in the picture and envision the happy results. Ever seen The Secret?
  5. don't watch the news everyday. Informed is good, constantly hearing about all the bad things in the world, not so good. My 12 year old son couldn't sleep after watching the precoverage of Hurricane Irene. He finally realized that the reporters job was to keep you glued to the set by scaring you. 
  6. Do you subscribe to The Happy News? Only happiness, all the time.
So - give it a try! What do you have to lose?

be happy & be organized.....evelyn

ps - that cute picture of a smiley face? It's really a cake from Family Fun magazine. Click here for the recipe!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Your Disorganization Destroying Your Morning? 7 Ways To Stop It Now!

Today's topic: Getting out the door in the morning without stress & on time. Now that back to school time is upon us, this seems like the impossible dream.

But it's not.  You need a schedule. Here it is:

key/mail cubbie, keys are behind the photo

  1. plan out what you are going to wear the night before. Hang it on the outside of your closet door so it's ready and waiting for you in the morning.
  2. limit your breakfast choices to a few quick and easy things. Oatmeal, cereal, breakfast bars come to mind. This is not the time for eggs, pancakes or anything that takes more then one minute to make. Save those culinary adventures for the weekends.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How To Organize Kids Clothes, Front Doors & More

And I added a video on my website - Click here to see it, & let me know what you think of my video debut!

be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How To Organize A Slo-Mo Day

Well, it 's the last two weeks of summer vacation here in NJ, and my family is celebrating it by s-l-o-w-i-n-g down, savoring the last days of summer.

We tend to do unusual activities, ideas that require more imagination then cash. The goal is fun and time spent together. But no stress. No running around. No waiting in lines. Living a slow motion life.

This is how memories are made.

Here's a short list of ideas to get you started.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How To Win In Life

I saw an interesting movie last night called The Joneses. It's about a marketing company "planting" a well-to-do family in a neighborhood to impress others with their toys and influence sales. It's fiction. Or is it? It better be.

He who dies with the most toys does not win.

He who lives life to the fullest with time to do things he wants to do wins.

It comes down to clutter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Best Organizing Tips for Your Front Door

Organizing doesn't have to be hard. Attacking it just a little bit at a time is the best way to approach it. And, the dividends you will receive by having a neat and organized home (and life) will far outweigh the time you spent on these organizing tips. Ready - lets get started!

Today's topic - Best Organizing tips for outside your front door.

This is a sad, sad sight.
No matter what season it is, I'm sure the area by your front door is looking a bit tired. So here's what has to be done at my house, and probably yours too. Time to Organize!

  1. give your front stoop, porch, steps, whatever a really good sweep. Get rid of all the debris.
  2. get a new door mat if needed. This is the best defense against tracking dirt into your home, so make sure it's earning it's keep. In the list of priorities for a door mat, grabbing dirt from your shoes is first, looking great is second.
  3. take a close look at the door surround. Is it chipped in places? Does it need some touch up? If so, break out the touch up paint.
  4. how about the door hardware? I just noticed that my storm door handle is missing almost all of it's black paint. Doesn't that send a warm and welcoming hello to everyone..... 
  5. what's hanging on your front door? Make it something cheerful. Be sure to change it with the seasons (that's only 4 times a year, not too much to ask). And make sure it is flat. There's nothing worse then being assaulted by a cumbersome wreath or flower arrangement when trying to pass the front door. Flat rules.
  6. clean any glass on the door or storm door. Best method - use a squeegee. It gets all the dirt and grime off in one sweep so you don't have to keep going over the same area. Here are the full directions
  7. How's the mailbox look? Take care of any needed maintenance. Same goes for the door bell or door knocker. And if your doorbell isn't working, get it fixed immediately! Bad karma.....
  8. If you have room, put something decorative by the front door. Maybe a pot of flowers if it ever gets warm enough, maybe a box or bucket guests can put their wet umbrellas in. Just make sure you don't take up so much room that it's difficult to get in the door. Simplicity is the key word here. And always. 
That's it! You front door area should look more welcoming now. Free of clutter, usable and welcoming. What more could you ask for?

Well, if you are asking for more organizing tips, find more in my Book, 30 Days to an Organized Home, by clicking on the title. Also available on Kindle.

 be organized!.....evelyn

Why Bother Organizing?

Why spend time organizing??
Will it bring you money? Will it bring you fame?
I doubt it.
What it can do is give you the gift of time. Something, unlike money, that can never be replaced.

Organizing is simply a tool. A tool that stretches time.
Granted, it does takes time at first to set up systems to organize your life, but after the systems are in place the time saving kicks in. And it's easy.

Setting up ways to deal with daily pile ups makes your life smoother. And it has long term gains, unlike organizing that just makes things look better.

So, no matter if the last days of summer are upon you, or your kids are already back to school, pick one of these systems and set it up today. Use the time you save to do something fun!

Just click on a topic for step by step directions. And give yourself the gift of time.
 And then, click here for a geat blog from Oscar Del Ben about 30 Habits That Will Change Your Life - excellent ideas that are easy to do.

 be organized.....evelyn

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Radical Way to Organize Kids Back To School Clothes

It's back to school time at our house, and that means getting the kids clothes ready, willing & able.

I have 3 boys, no girls, and I'll be the first to admit that back to school clothes organizing is easier with boys. However, the steps below will work with girls also, you're just going to have to give them loads more time to get it done. you might need a bigger glass of wine. (see #4 below)

I'm following the success of the Radical School Lunch post with:

shirt on the bed

  1. take all their clothes out of the closet.
  2. lay them on the biggest bed you have, shirts in one pile, pants in another, you get the picture. Any item of clothing that is too small, ripped, stained or YOU just can't stand, get rid of it.
  3. have any hand me downs from an older child? If so, pull the box out and add the clothes to the correct piles.
  4. get yourself a cup of coffee, tea or wine, you're gonna need it!
  5. call your child in.
  6. have them (not you) sort through the first pile, dividing it into two piles - I will wear this, I will never wear this. Even young children have opinions about their clothes. Let them express their individuality.
  7. repeat  with the other piles of clothes.
  8. if you're not sure if something fits that they want to keep, have them try it on.
  9. look at the piles they agreed to wear. Do you need to add anything new? Are there enough shirts? Are there too many pants? Kids don't need that many clothes. I'm going to be radical here and suggest 12 tops and 8 bottoms. Throw in a set of dress clothes and/or concert clothes. 1 sweatshirt. 1 coat. Anything over that, get rid of. You will probably need to pare down.  Ask your child which is their least favorite. Repeat until you get to the magic number of 12/8. You and your kids (unless you have all boys) will think they need more than that. Trust me, having less choices will make getting dressed in the morning sooooo much easier! If you're leery, take the excess clothes and pack them away for a month. See if you even miss them.
  10. tell your child to leave the room.
  11. the items they agreed to wear, put back into their closet. That means you're only putting 10 shirts and 8 bottoms back in. A sweatshirt, maybe a sweater. Whoa! didn't their closet just get much more spacious?
  12. the items they said they will never wear - GET RID OF! Donate them to someone/somewhere that will use it. It doesn't matter if it's your favorite. It doesn't matter if it's a present from Grandma. If they won't wear it, get rid of it. Honor their choices.
Are you mom enough to do it? I know, it sounds radical, but it's a system that will work.
Want more how to's like this? Just click here and join my list!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Have You Seen All Of These? They'll Make Your Life Easier - I Promise!

The weekly round-ups here, the weekly round-ups here. (You have to sing that in your head to the tune of the Howdy Doody song, otherwise it just sounds repetitive, and no, I'm not old enough to remember the show, just the jingle!)

Busy week with me - speaking engagement, consulting jobs, the article about my book ON THE FRONT PAGE OF OUR LOCAL PAPER, The Madison Eagle!

But enough about me - in case you missed anything this week, here's the list.
The most popular post has been the school lunch idea - either you love it or you think I'm crazy. Either way, you should read it.

And did I mention the article about my book ON THE FRONT PAGE OF OUR LOCAL PAPER! Seems it's not on-line as of yet, but when it is I'll let you know. But, it looks like I'm going to be blogging for the above mentioned paper also. (Shh, I think that' s a secret. Don't tell.)

And if you haven't yet read my book, "30 Days To An Organized Home", I'm guessing either your house is neat as a pin, or you just haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Here's the link to get it:
Go there now to get it as a hard copy book, an eBook, a download for every reader imaginable......great beach reading!

be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mark Bittman - My New Best Friend

Mark Bittman. Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of him. Now he's my new best friend. Why?

'cause he wrote a cookbook that makes me look like a great chef. In under 20 minutes.

Backtrack a bit. I was wandering around the bookstore one rainy day a few weeks ago with a gift card. You know the feeling, you want it all, but you're not sure which part of all you want.

I found myself in the cookbook section. Kind of a surprise because I've been purging cookbooks since I realized the Internet finds recipes faster.

But this book, Kitchen Express" called out to me. The tag line is "404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 minutes or Less".

Brilliant. Upon looking inside I found not so much recipes, but gatherings of ingredients and instructions on how to assemble them to make a simple, yet impressive dinner. Don't believe me? Take a look here:

This is a recipe for zucchini & dill soup. In 4 lines. I had zucchini. I had dill. Would I ever have thought to combine them in a soup? Never. It was delicious.

Go find this book. Either at Amazon, or see if your library has it.

It earns it's space on your bookshelf.

 be organized.....evelyn

P.S. - My interview about my book should be out in The Madison Eagle today! Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Radical Way To Organize School Lunches

Let me start out by saying that this method isn't for everyone.

And remember, kids taste buds are not like adults. They eat things we would never find palatable. (Sour gummy worms anyone?)

So, read over this lunch organizing method, wince a bit, and then try it out on your kids. You have nothing to lose and lots and lots of time to gain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fruit Flies are NOT Your Friends!

Short, sweet and to the point today.

'Tis the season for fruit flies in your kitchen. Fun for them, not fun for you.

Mission: get rid of them. Without spreading poison around your kitchen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

3 Kitchen Gadgets You Can't Live Without!

Proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.....

I've been cooking for too many years to mention, and I've seen my share of bad kitchen gadgets. You know the ones - things that take up more space then they're worth - things like the Salad Shooter (remember that one?) Garage sale fodder.

That's not what I"m talking about here today. Nope.

I present 3 kitchen tools, (they're too valuable to be called gadgets!) that I can't live without. One I (ahem) dreamed up, and the other two I just discovered this year. How can it be possible that I existed all this time without them? That's what I meant about the old dog.

No more talk - here they are....
menu board
 small offset spatula
cheese knife
  1. menu board - simply a white tile from the home improvement store. Every day write on it what you are planning for dinner with a washable marker. Saves the family from asking you over & over again "What's for dinner?",  saves you time when putting the meal together. You won't forget that you meant to slice up an apple to alongside, you won't forget to use up that lone cucumber hiding tin the fridge. Think it up once, write it down, don't think about it the rest of the day. 
  2. cheese knife - I recently bought this at The Kitchen Connection in Ocean Beach NJ. This is one of those items that I never knew how much I 'd use it until I got it. And I was thinking it was just for cheese....... It is great for that, but also excellent for tomatoes, (especially the little ones) rolls, chocolate, almost everything - the combo of a serrated edge, the holes in the blade and the small size make it my new go to knife. Get one, get one now.
  3. small off set spatula - I'm not sure if that really is what it's called - but whatever it is, it's great. The use list goes on & on - spreading peanut butter, jelly, pizza sauce, etc., but my favorite new use is removing melon from the rind. Sharp enough to go thru the soft melon, not sharp enough to cut you. Once you cut the melon into crescents, just use this spatula to separate the fruit from the rind. Flip eggs, flip pancakes. Brilliant.
Add these tools to your kitchen and see if I'm not right. You'll thank me.

On a completely different note, tonight I'm doing a presentation on organizing based on my book, 30 Days To An Organized Home. I'm calling it "Just Enough Organizing - Organizing for the Rest of Us" at a BIG Meeting tonight in Basking Ridge. Wish me luck! (Click on the highlighted words for more info......)
 be organized.....evelyn

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer & School & Closets - Oh My!

Another week has flown by! I've been working on getting my book out to the masses - so far the local paper came to interview me, a radio show talked about the book and a local bookstore picked up my book! Hooray! If you want to see what in the world I'm talking about - click here. In the next coming week (s) I'm planning on putting up a video on the sight - so stay tuned!

Meanwhile - it's time for the weekly roundup....

In case you missed anything this week - here's your second chance:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Organizing Your Closet - Take 2

A bit rushed for time today, as the local newspaper is coming to interview me about my book!

Wouldn't do to have an unorganized house when the title of my book is 30 Days To An Organized Home. Luckily, any clutter that is sitting out has a home, so it won't take long to get everything in shape.

And I have a BIG ( a woman's entrepreneur group, click here for info) meeting this morning. And I want to stop by the local bookstore to ask them to stock my book, so, time is short.

But as not to short you, my valued reader, I present my most popular blog - How To Organize Your Closet.

Taa Daa - here it is:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Sure Fire Way To Organize Necklaces & Bracelets - Never Search Again!

Do you find yourself wearing the same necklace over & over again, even though you have other choices? Sometimes it's because you have a favorite piece, othertimes, not so much, it's just because you just can't find the necklace you want!

I had that problem. I could picture in my mind exactly the necklace I wanted, then I would spend inordinate amounts of time looking for it, only to come up empty. Or I'd find the necklace I want, and it would be a tangled mess.

Makes you feel really useless.

No more.

Here's a no fail, easy to implement way to organize your necklaces & bracelets.

Hang'em where you can see'em.

And there's no better place then the inside of a closet door. Here's how:

Monday, August 8, 2011

10 Healthy Tips For Back To School Success!

Even though it's a bizillion degrees outside, school is only a few weeks away. Hard to believe.

Also hard to believe that it's time to get our acts back together. Our kids deserve a healthy start to their new school year, and who else can give it to them but us, their parents.

So - with that in mind - presenting

10 Healthy Tips for Back To School Success!

5 Simple Stress Free Activities For a Summer Afternoon

August is upon us. It's time to do those summer activities you dreamed about in March. Those simple, carefree, inexpensive fun things that speak summer. Don't let September roll around without doing at least one summer activity that makes your heart sing!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Round 'em Up & Move 'em Out - The Weekly Wrap Up.

Time for the weekly recap- just in case your week got away from you and you missed anything. Yeah, like that never happens. Sometimes I'm amazed I even get time to post!

Anyway - here's he list of what I spoke, ranted, advised, took up space about this week:

Check out any you may have missed My favorite is the first one about my book. Go look, go read about, go buy.

Second fav is the muffin recipe. I made it three times this week alone!
Happy Friday!

be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Book is Born!

Taa daa!  

It's the real thing!
Announcing my book - available for the first time in an actual, hold in your hand, take anywhere hard copy! 

Many, many people told me that they are not eBook readers. After many long hours formatting (thanks Joe!) I'm proud to announce we did it-

30 Days To An Organized Home is now available in a print version!

Click here for a description and an easy buy button.

It's also available on Amazon, along with the Kindle version. Just search under my name, Evelyn Cucchiara, and up it pops! Cool, huh?

It's summer. Life is slower. Take some time out to get organized. It'll pay off in September - I promise!

be organized.....evelyn

If you're on the fence and would like to see some of my book before you buy - get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I promise.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Bend Time

Bending time.

Making it work to your schedule, not it's own.

Getting more into the day, but more of what you actually enjoy, not just getting more done on your to do list.

Having time to "dial down life's urgencies and dial up its pleasures and richness. (That quote is from Michael J. Fox's new book "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Future" - great short read!)

Sounds like bliss - doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Organizing Your Life: Presenting the SUPER MUFFIN!

Today you're going to organize your life by NOT running out to the bakery to get something delicious to eat. You're going to bake in less time then it takes the coffee to brew. Have faith. You can do this!

Taa daa! The holy grail of muffins!
Let me start out by admitting I bake. A lot. I've made lots & lots of muffins. Some recipes ask w-a-y too much of you in terms of time, materials & effort. And the return is negligible. I mean your kids won't eat them.

This is not one of those muffins.

This is the holy grail of muffins.

Why? Here's why:
  • mixes up in less then 5 minutes
  • uses ingredients you probably already have
  • healthy - whole wheat flour, low fat, low sugar
  • the kids will eat them!

Not only are these muffins great for your family - they're great for gifts. Next time you're invited to a party, leave the wine at home. They already have wine. Bake them these muffins, pop them into a basket, and present them with a card saying they're for breakfast the next day. The party hosts will love you.......

'nuff said.

Here's the recipe


3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil or applesauce
1 egg
2 cups white whole wheat flour - Trader Joe's or King Arthur
2/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
cinnamon sugar mixture in a shaker bottle or bowl

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Mix milk, oil/applesauce & egg in a bowl. Add flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Stir until flour is just moistened. Do not over stir.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake 15 - 20 minutes until brown.

That's it. In a few minutes your home will smell wonderful!

And the recipe is infinitely changeable - add a handful of berries, some chocolate chips - whatever sounds good to you!

C'mon on - give it a try. See how much more organized you can be by not running out to the store.

 be organized.....evelyn

Monday, August 1, 2011

The 7 Best Summer Tips - Easy On You & Your Wallet!

August 1st is upon us.
How's your summer going?

Mine's going along fine -the kids have decided they wanted quiet days, so our summer is passing very peacefully.. Lots of time for doing what you want -  no running around.  

If  your summer needs a bit of help in the peaceful department, I've stumbled upon a terrific list of ways to keep your summer running smoothly, but at the same time give you time for fun!