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.....
Get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen!

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? obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen!

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.

I wear contacts. All the time, except for the few minutes when I take them out at night get into bed. Then I wear glasses. Without my glasses, I can't see, so it's important to have them handy at night. I leave them on my nightstand next to my bed. And almost every morning when I get up, I knock them to the floor. Then I have to find them strictly by feel because I'm blind without them and it's usually dark. Not a good start to the day. Which leads back to my question of how many times do your have to knock something over before I fix it.
glasses & mattress pad control

I'm proud to announce I have now fixed it.

No I didn't get Lasik surgery.

This is what worked for me. I looked at the problem and devised a system, using what I had on hand.
I attached a plastic drinking glass to the side of my nightstand with Command Adhesive sticky things. Now every night the glasses slip right in, and in the morning I can find them without groping around on the top of the nightstand. It's impossible to knock them over. And I have more room on my nightstand!

I liked this idea so much that I mounted another plastic glass to the inside of the bathroom cabinet door for my husband's razor. It was getting in the way of getting other things out of the cabinet, so to the door it went.

razor in the cup
And it works beautifully.

This led me to think what else could I mount vertically instead of placing horizontally.

Next to my bed, I mounted the control for myheated mattress pad. (If you don't have one of these, get one now. You'll thank me later!) No more scrambling around on the floor looking for it.

I also mounted the control for the lights.

Now I have a mini command center within arms reach of my bed. Lights, heat, and vision all within my grasp.

Life is good.

be organized.....evelyn

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 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?

Want more ideas about systems to help run your home?
Check out my book Get a free sample!

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 - 

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

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! 
  • use leaf bags. Stop moving the same pile of leaves over and over. Bag'em once, transport to the curb via brute strength, wagon, or kids. And if you happen to live in Madison, NJ, Mr. Burnet would be very happy if you use leaf bags. Extremely happy. (You can get them free at the public works garage.)
  • store your leaf bags in a handy place. I put mine in the bar-b-que. Right where I need them. Hey - it was a dry storage place just sitting there! And if I happen to want to turn it on, I'd open it first and see them. Works for me.
  • and take a minute to do this cool art project with your kids. Find the most colorful leaves you can, make a color copy on photo paper, cut the copied leaves out, cut them in half, then make them into butterflies! Last longer and the colors stay brilliant! 
photo copy of leaf - not the real thing!
3 different leaves + paint
That's it for now. Got to go do another 15 minutes of leaves!

Did you know I wrote a book? Get a free bit here:

be organized.....evelyn

Monday, November 14, 2011

Easy, Peasy Pie Crust

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.....

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.

Like not being able to find a cup hook when you need it.

When a cup hook would be the key to your happiness.

You know what I mean.

So - I now present ......

How To Organize All Those Little Things That You Can Never Find When You Need Them

Do it now and save your sanity for when the really big things happen.

Love the zip locs!

  1. gather all your small parts - hooks, adhesive things, cords, whatever.
  2. bag the individual items into small zip lock bags
  3. sort like with like
  4. clip together the like items with a binder clip. Clip the zip top.
  5. put a label on the flat part of the binder clip
  6. toss all the clipped bundles into a bin
  7. voila - when you need something, pull out the clip with the correct label
Get the idea?
I have 3 bundles - hooks, stickies & misc. This seems to cover all of my needs. The stickie category covers all the adhesive things - foam tape, command adhesive, magnetic tape. (My husband is very handy, so we have the hardware store worth of nails, screws and such in the basement. I don't need to store any in a small cubbie.)

I cannot tell you how much time this saves me. I used to just have everything tossed into a bin, and whenever I needed something, I'd have to sort through the lot. And most of the time that was just too much to ask, so I never got what I needed. And it drove me crazy!

This way it's easy to find what you need - it's been sub sorted into a smaller category, and it's easily accessible.

And then you can get what you need and get on with your life.

Like getting Halloween candy ready for trick or treaters on Nov. 4th.

See some of my book now - get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. 

 be organized.....evelyn

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?

When did organizing become a hobby?

I'm the first to admit it - I'm an organized person. But not because I like organizing. Not because I've ever bought a cute fabric covered box. (I haven't).

Organizing should be a tool - a means to an end - a stop on the road to freedom.

Freedom from looking for the same thing over and over. Freedom from picking up my kids stuff. Freedom from the endless cycle of housework.

Freedom to do what I want to when I want to.

Isn't that the goal in life? Aren't we all trying to just have more time to do what we want to do?

Time to take a nap. Time to read a book. Time to write a book. Time to save the world.

Having your home or office organized can give you that gift of time.

And that's why I organize. My cabinets might have cubbies in them, but not for a photo shoot. Simply to make my life easier.

I'm basically very lazy at heart. The systems I've developed help me exploit that laziness. They give me time to be lazy.

Want some systems? Need some systems? Here are some systems worth the time you spend setting them up.




time saving tips:

Need more systems to free up your time? Lots more ideas in my book  - get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. 

be organized.....evelyn

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
 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 obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I promise.

 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. 

I was just planning another "Girl's Day Out In The Country", so this earlier post of mine needs a rerunning.......

Today I'm talking about how to spend time with YOUR friends. You do have some right? When was the last time you saw them?

"Energy is the essence of life. Every day
you decide how you're going to use it by 
knowing what you want and what it 
takes to reach that goal, and by 
maintaining focus." - Oprah 

While I'm sure Oprah wasn't intending this quote to be about seizing time for yourself, it certainly applies. 

If you don't refill your gas tank, how can you expect to function?

Quality time in = quality time out.

Organize a day out with your friends. With email, Facebook and Twitter it's easy to contact everyone, without making numerous phone calls.
Your steps:
  1. Pick a day that is completely free for you. If all your kids are in school or camp, pick a weekday, so it feels more decadent. If not, pick a Saturday or Sunday when your hubby can take over child rearing.
  2. Plan some simple, inexpensive fun activities that you never get to do and that you would never do with kids in tow.
  3. Invite all your friends via email, Facebook or whatever works for you.
  4. Pray for sunshine.
  5. Enjoy your day!
Here's a sample of what I call "A Day In The Country" that I plan once a season with my friends.
  • Meet at 8:45 at my house, right after drop off at school Form carpools if you have a crowd..
  • Go to chic french bakery (Coco Luxe is our favorite!) about 1/2 hour away, but plan a road trip that takes you past huge mansions and wonderful scenery. The point is not to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. The point is to slow down and relax. Meander.
  • Have coffee/tea and a pastry. Calories don't count today.
  • Drive to a high end consignment shop that is over the river and through the woods. No highways allowed.  Califon Consignments gets our vote!
  • Have lunch a a cute bistro. Gourmet Expressions is absolutely the best for great food and no stress atmosphere. Located in a 100+ year old general store.......does it get better than that?
  • A quick stop by a home decor/gift shop on the way home (LamingtonGeneral Store) for some much needed browsing, and more relaxing.
  • Home before the kids need to be picked up from school.
And there's only one rule - No talking about your kids. I want to hear about what you've done, not what your kids have done. Today is reserved for you as a person, not you as a mom.

guarentee you will face the next day with a renewed sense of energy and a feeling of well being.....


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

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.

I'm talking about setting up a happy place for you, a safe place, a nest.

I'm talking about outfitting your bed as the sanctuary it needs to be.

I'm talking soothing colors, everything at your fingertips.

Here's a list of what makes my life better - at least more comfy....
  • emptiness. No clutter. No dirty dishes. Just the basics. 
  • a clock with a push light - I wear contacts and can't see a clock across the room, nor do I want a glowing clock right next to me. This works perfectly. I push the button on top when I need the light, perfectly dark when I don't.
  • reading lamp
  • down quilt
  • squishy pillows
  • heated mattress pad. This is one of my all time favorite things. I got it at JC Penny. Instead of an electric blanket, this heats up under you. And it's dual control, so only my side needs to be on. I turn it on before I get into bed, and then it's warm and comfy for me when I get in. And the control is mounted on the side of my night table, you can just see it in the picture. This way when I want to adjust it, I can just reach out my hand. No fumbling in the dark. I attached it with Command Adhesive strips.
  • remote control for the lights. I have one remote that does all the lights in the bedroom. Invaluable for when you are reading in bed and want to turn the lights off. No getting up! I'm going to mount that on the wall also. Right now it sits on the table, but I'm always knocking it down - so to the Command Adhesive I go!
  • a cat - this is optional.
This past weekend I did something I never do - I woke up, made the bed, and then decided that I didn't want to get up. So instead, I postponed the day and spent time just lounging in bed. I wasn't sick, it just felt right.

I suggest you do the same if you possibly can. Makes a world of difference in your outlook on life. One day not being responsible for things evens out the playing field somehow.

be organized.....evelyn

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.
You have to give them the power to make their own decisions, and then trust that they are right. You are not living in their body. They are. When they say no, respect the fact that it means no.

No, they don't want to put on a coat just because you're cold.
No, they don't want to share their favorite toy.
Bo, they don't want broccoli for lunch.

You can't expect them to have the NO skill when they are teens if you've never given them the space to practice it before they ARE teens.

Yes, you are setting yourself up for some battles. But choose your battles wisely. Override their no only when it really matters. Use it to teach them they don't always get their way - a good thing to know. But they can't always NOT get their way. Save your overriding no for the really important things.

No, you can't run out into the street.
No, you can't stay up until midnight on a school night.
No, you can't go hang with the kids at the playground. At midnight on a school night. In the street.

Saving your no for when it matters gives it more importance. Letting them say no when they want to gives them self esteem, decision making skills, and they ability to listen to their own intuition.

What type of child do you want to raise - one that thinks their say in the matter counts for nothing, or one that knows their own mind, and knows how to make their own decisions. There is no magic switch that flips this skill on when they turn 14.

It's up to you to give them space to try out their NO skills now, in a safe environment, instead of out in the real world. Doesn't matter if they are 3 or 13, respect their no.

And that NO skill will come in handy once they are adults and volunteering for every committee.......... How To Say No

Want more ideas to simplify your life?  Get a free sample of my book obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I

 be organized.....evelyn

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