Even Santa Knows, Lists Can Be Naughty or Nice

The List.

I love lists.  Lists can be powerful productivity tools.  Or they can just be words on a page.  I want my lists to work for me.  So I turn my lists into Action Plans with a few simple steps.

Let’s turn that jumbled bunch of ideas into a list and then a useful, manageable Action Plan!

I worked with a client last week.  We were scheduled to work on a couple of projects, but when I arrived, she mentioned that what would really help her to feel organized was to plan for an upcoming brunch she was hosting for family.  She said she always got anxious about hosting big meals, and she really just wanted to enjoy her family this time!  Her goal was to be done and  leisurely sipping a cup of coffee 30 minute before the guests arrived.

Here is what we did:

Write it all down.   ALL OF IT.

Is your brain full?  Of thoughts and ideas and to-do’s, Oh My!

Every once in a while, I sit down and get all the thoughts and ideas and tasks out my head and down on paper.  I used to call this activity a Brain Dump, but that seemed inelegant, so my friend Jen came up with “Cranial Cleansing”.   This is a very useful activity!

Write it all down, don’t bother to edit.  Just get it all out.  And “write it all down” could also be “makes notes on your computer or smart phone or Ipad”.  I use either my Bullet Journal (by hand) or Evernote (technology) for such things!

With my client, we started with the notes she had already jotted down.  We added a lot more items, without editing, just adding them to the list!

The list included:

  • clean the house;
  • iron the napkins;
  • hang the wreath;
  • take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs;
  • organize the holiday storage closet;
  • make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe;
  • set the table;
  • wash the china and wine glasses;
  • decorate the Christmas tree;
  • make the grocery list;
  • go to the grocery;
  • pick up champagne and other beverages;
  • get the table linen cleaned and pressed;
  • take back returns;
  • put appetizer trays together;
  • print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem;
  • buy the paper to print up the photo and poem;
  • make or purchase desserts;
  • put together the salad;
  • clean the garage.

Make a Not Today or Not Now List.

A few items on my client’s list, like “Clean the Garage” and “Organize the Holiday Closet”, are good and worthwhile projects but were not necessary to the success of the Holiday Brunch.  So we put them on the “Not Right Now” list, and focused on the work in front of us!

Enlist Aid.  What can be delegated?

Fortunately, this client hires cleaning people a couple times a month, and they were scheduled for the next day.  Also, she and her husband would be home together on Saturday, and he had offered to take care of some of the errands.

Realistic Time Estimates.

This looks like a very long and overwhelming list, I know.  But when you start to break it down, most of these tasks are actually pretty short and to the point.  So we assigned time estimates to them all, so we could be more objective.

Assign a Day, sticking with your strengths.

As we worked on the list, my client mentioned she had a full day of work the next day, so we didn’t put too many tasks on that day (Friday).  Also, she likes to go to the grocery around 8 pm, as it tends to be empty that time of night.  So we worked with those details!

So, after the above steps were applied, our Action Plan looked something like this:

THURSDAY:

  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) hang the wreath
  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs
  • (Thursday, 20 minutes) make the grocery list
  • THURSDAY ERRANDS:
    • (Thursday, 10 minutes) drop off table cloth to be pressed
    • (Thursday, 30 minutes) buy the paper to print up the photo and poem

FRIDAY:

  • (Friday, Cleaning team) clean the house
  • (Friday or Saturday, 30 minutes) print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem
  • FRIDAY ERRAND
    • (Friday evening, 90 minutes with putting away) go to the grocery;

SATURDAY:

  • (Saturday, 45 minutes) make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe
  • (Saturday or Sunday, 20 minutes) put appetizer trays together
  • (Any day, picked Saturday, 10 minutes) iron napkins
  • SATURDAY ERRANDS (husband will run):
    • (Saturday, 10 minutes) pick up table cloth; cleaned and pressed
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) bakery to purchase desserts
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) pick up champagne and other beverages

SUNDAY:

  • (Sunday morning,  20 minutes) wash the china and wine glasses
  • (Sunday morning, 15 minutes) set the table
  • (Sunday morning, 20 minutes) put together the salad

Not Now List: 

  • take back returns;
  • clean the garage
  • organize the holiday storage closet;

We spent a little time and effort at the beginning, turning jumbled thoughts into a solid, easy to follow and completely manageable action plan!  What was really great was that once we completed this process, which was quick and easy and painless, we had time to tackle some of the items on her list!

How can you apply these steps to a current project?  Give it a try!

(P.S., I texted the client this afternoon to see how the brunch went, I’ll let you know her response next week!)

To:

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Creating a Landing and Launch Pad Where There Isn’t One

Many of our homes were built around the idea of “everyone uses the front door”.  Larger entrance, coat closet, etc.  However, many of us do not come and go from that front door.   Last week, a friend asked if I could help with her new homes’ back door / drop zone / launch pad.  In her words,

  • there is no place for coats and bags;
  • the space is small and hard to manage;
  • adding in winter accessories like glove and hats makes the problem worse;
  • taking coats to the bedrooms makes no sense;
  • everything gets dumped at the door, and is now spreading into the kitchen; and finally,
  • “I’m gonna lose my crackers!”

Picture this:

  • The back door is where all five family members exit and enter.  
  • For scale, when the back door is open, it spans the entire width of the space.
  • The back door leads directly into the dining area in the kitchen.
  • The back door landing is a step down from the kitchen, and is the landing for the stairs going down into the nicely finished basement.

The family is quite organized, and they have done a lot to maximize the space they have while settling into this new (new to them) home.  There is a small set of hooks next to the door for keys, umbrellas and the dog leash.  There is a counter a few feet from the door where family members can drop their bags as they come home.   But they lack coat / accessory / bag storage.

We all may have an organizing challenge like this….

Often-used space that occasionally drives us crazy!

Spaces that every family member uses!

Spaces that can make or break our daily routines and flow!

Spending a little time and energy organizing these spaces saves us hours of headache (and yelling) in the future!

Here’s How:

State your purpose for the space. For my client, the purpose of the back door space may be “An attractive space that helps with timely and stress-free arrivals and departures”.   Once you state your purpose, Pare Down what is in the space to only the items that feed your purpose. My friend’s back door / landing pad space should be

  • geared towards a quick and easy transition, typically exit;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • as clutter-free as possible.
  • If you look at something, and you feel yourself frowning as you wonder “Who’s is this? Why is it here?  What were they thinking?”, those are all good indicators that something doesn’t belong in the space you are working on!

Once you know the Purpose of the Space, Look up and down and all around for storage solutions!

Keep it Safe!

Since this space is a heavily traveled walk way – in and out of the house and also up and down the stairs  – safety is very important.  Storage solutions will need to keep the walk way and stairs clear.  I will recommend coat hooks as solutions, but only on one side of the stairwell, to keep it as clear as possible.

Shelves, shelves and more shelves.

  • Any empty walls can be considered storage space.  To keep the walk way clear, I may recommend shelves high on the walls for baskets of accessories or off-season items.
  • Shelves, too, near the ceiling could hold decorative baskets with extra accessories, if needed.
  • Add shallow shelves above the command center in the kitchen, and add baskets for extra sunglasses, charging cords, and maybe one for each family member.

That Door Has Potential!   Consider the door itself in the organizing solution.  

  • Invest in an over-the -door coat rack; and / or
  • invest in an over-the-door shoe rack, for shoes but also for accessories; and/ or
  • if the door is metal, purchase heavy duty magnetic hooks for coats, like these…

Install some – okay, maybe a lot of – hooks:

  • Everyone gets a couple of hooks for their own bags and coats.
  • Consider key hooks, especially if any one shares a car.
  • Command Hooks are a personal favorite, too, for this type of challenge.
  • Double deck your hooks:  Consider installing two lines of hooks – the upper set (at eye level)  for accessories and keys, and the lower set, installed 6-8 inches below the upper set, for coats, umbrellas or longer hanging items.
  • Since my kids were little (and would take off with my car keys!), my handbag has been hung on a high, heavy-duty hook near the back door, with my keys securely clipped to it.

Expect and embrace maintenance.

  • I really wish I could say that once we organize a space, it will stay organized forever.  However… that is not typically the case.
  • Once a week, clear everything and put it away.   The shoes and coats will slowly migrate back to the landing / launch, but at least once in a while, the space is clear.
  • Keep an empty storage bench at the bottom of the stairs, for that day when you have a house full of people and you just want the space cleared!
To:

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Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Call / text 708.790.1940
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Sharing the Idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”

I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group in Merillville, IN last night about downsizing.

We covered a lot in our 60 minutes together: clearing clutter, determining the value of our stuff, how long to keep certain types of papers.  One idea that I shared with the group was the idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”.  A couple of people made a point to tell me that they really liked the idea, so I thought I would share.

I wish I could say that this genius idea was my own, but I can’t!  The idea comes from The Minimalists, in their essay, Getting Rid of Just-In-Case Items: 20 Minutes, 20 Dollars.   The premise is that if you are debating whether to keep or get rid of an item, remind yourself that almost anything can be replaced within $20 minutes or for $20 dollars.  And because we can easily replace most things, we don’t have to keep a million items for JUST IN CASE!

For Example:

20 Minutes:  
At last night’s presentation, I referenced the set of siblings that I’ve organized, each with a full set of chafing dishes.  Awesome but big, awkward, and only occasionally useful chafing dishes.  Apparently, these siblings had a very nice Great Aunt Somebody who always bought newlyweds a set of chafing dishes.  Here’s the thing – surely these siblings could SHARE a set, and just move the set around from family event to family event, instead of each of them having to keep their full set.  As they were all trying to de-clutter, it seemed that a quick phone call to each other and a 20 minute errand to pick up the shared set was more reasonable than keeping all the sets.

20 Minutes:
Last summer a friend hosted a big group of teens at her home for a weekend.  Instead of buying 20 air mattresses, she asked Facebook friends if she could borrow air mattresses.  In 20 minutes, she had dozens of offers for what she needed.

20 Dollars:
You know that box of cords?  Yes, THAT box.  The one that drives you crazy?  Most of us have at least one.  The black spaghetti mess of unmatched, unlabeled and unclaimed charging cords from ancient phones or digital cameras gone by?  Look around.  If what you use regularly already has a cord attached, you could probably purge all of those unclaimed cords and spend $20 someday on a replacement in the very remote chance you actually needed one of those random cords.  Clear up a whole lot of space, and bank on the fact you don’t need what is in that THAT box!

20 Minutes and 20 Dollars:
Sombreros (or similar items, you get the idea!).  Sombreros are big.  Awkward to store.  Not a commonly used items, let’s face it.  If you EVER had a need for a sombrero – party, costume, school presentation – you could either spend the $20 to buy one at a party store or on-line, or better yet, ask 10 friends if anyone has a sombrero, and I bet someone does!

This week, look around your house and at your clutter.  Ask yourself if you are keeping things for JUST IN CASE that could easily be replaced for $20 and / or within 20 minutes!  If so, let it go!

It’s May! Is Your Head Spinning, Too?

Hooooo boy, it’s May!

May seems like the busiest month of the year for us. Until a few years ago, I thought this was only my opinion, until a wise mom whose children are a little older than mine made the same observation to me.

May brings school picnics and field trips, weddings, graduations, concerts and end-of-the-school-year award events.  The school year is wrapping up, but we still have finals!  And as some activities wind down, others are gaining speed!
We have family members gearing up for house sales and moving.  We’re looking at camps and activities, and making summer travel plans with a college reunion, work conference, house guests, and weekends away.

And all this on top of – Oh Right! – the activities of daily living.

So, if you feel like your head is spinning this month, too – and it’s only the first week! – take a few moments today or tomorrow to make some plans, take care of business and set yourself up to have a great and busy May!

Here are a few ways to succeed:

  • Maintain your healthy habits.  When we are the busiest and want to skip our daily exercise,good night’s sleep or healthy eating is just when we need most to keep up!
  • Grab your calendar, pull up a seat and make a plan. Make sure all your events and responsibilities are listed.  Look ahead and take care of scheduling snags now instead of waiting until later!  (For example, 3 cars for 4 drivers and the teenager has job training this Thursday.  Time to get creative, now instead of Thursday!)
  • Pare Down. Review your To-Do list, and move everything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done right now to a different day, week or month .  Make notes for next month, when the schedule loosens up.
  • Review your upcoming events or responsibilities, and note the details and the other follow-up steps!  Jot down place and time of course, but the other steps, too!  For example, we received an invitation to a graduation party out of town and we will be unable to attend.  You and I know our job is not done when we RSVP – there is a card and gift to purchase and mail.  Add those shopping items and errands-to-run to the Master To-Do List so we don’t forget!
  • Run through the wardrobe options with EVERYONE!  Graduation? First Communion?  End of Year Concert?  Make sure NOW that the dress shoes still fit, the suit jacket isn’t stained, the favorite tie is back from the cleaner, etc.
  • Hooray, You Did It!” x 10!  Remember Christmas?  And how you have a few extra hostess gifts stashed, or generic greeting cards and gift cards?  Same idea, stock up on some gender neutral “Hooray, You Did It!” cards, gift cards, and bottles of wine for Just In Case.
  • Be Grateful, too.    In addition to the congratulations cards, grab a handful of Thank You Notes for teachers, car-pool buddies, coaches, etc.
  • Reach Out and Touch Someone.  Go ahead and make your appointments:  hair cuts, carpet cleaning, cholesterol screening, camp physical, summer dentist appointments – the list is endless.  Make the calls this week (before everyone else does), and note the events on your calendar.
  • Enjoy! The whole point of this super busy month is to celebrate all of life’s events!  Celebrate!

Practice Good Elf-I-Mean-Self Management This Week

More.

More, more, more, more, more, more.

This time of year, there is just More.

More events to attend, more pretty things to see, more fun to be had, more snacks and yummy things to eat, more service projects,  more items on the to-do lists, more stress and struggles.   More fun, sure, but also so many more expectations  for our time and energy and efforts.

But – wait!  We were already busy, even before there was More!  And now we are living our regular lives while trying to be great little Elves, bringing Christmas to our friends and family!  Aghhhh!!!!

Chances are, with this busy Christmas Season,  you are feeling a little maxed out, a little overwhelmed.  Chances are,  you are wearing your Elf-I-Mean-Self out.

If we are going to manage all those other things this week, first we need to manage our Elf-I-Mean-Self better.  This week, in the midst of all the MORE that you have… might I gently suggest that you spend a little time taking care of you?    (and I will try, too, I promise!)

Try these:

  • Grab a cup of hot cocoa, and take a few minutes to plan your day.
  • Collect all the stuff you need to take with you today into a tote, add a snack or two and a bottle of water, and go put it in the car right now while you are thinking about it.
  • Take a few more minutes, and look ahead at your week, and start smoothing out the bumps now!
  • Now, act!  I have to say, nothing saps my energy quicker than the mental nagging of those tasks that need to be completed.  Once you’ve made your plan for the day and week, implement it!
  • Embrace More short cuts.  Get More take-out? You bet.  Gift Cards and Gift Bags?  Yes, please. Send your Christmas Cards out the week after Christmas?  Go ahead.
  • Sing More Christmas carols.
  • Cut your Elf-I-Mean-Self some slack.
  • Take More deep breaths.
  • Drink More water.
  • Eat more actual food, and at regular intervals.
  • Take your vitamins.
  • Get More rest.
  • Accept More help.

And now, take care of your inner-Elf, wrap up this blog and go do something for You!

Mystery Meats and Burnt-Out Light Bulbs (National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!)

November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, though any day is a good day to tackle this project!

With this satisfying project, an hour or so and some elbow grease will reap big rewards! Saturday afternoon found me cleaning out my refrigerator and freezer.  The light bulb needed replacing, and I was working on our weekly meal plan and grocery list.  Plus, I was clearing out to prepare for a new season, healthier eating and the holidays.

So, Lets’s Do This!  Here’s How:

  • Take out the trash, and re-line the can.  Then place it next to the fridge.
  • Put on some music, of course, and grab a cold beverage from the fridge (you’re standing right there, after all!).
  • Clean off the closest counter for work space.
  • Run a sink full of hot and soapy water.  Then get to it!
  • Start with the vegetable bins.
    • Empty them out onto that clear counter, and review the contents;
    • Soak the bins in soapy water as you review;
    • Purge what is past its’ prime;
    • Plan your menus for the next week based on food you have on hand;
    • Add items to be replaced to your grocery list; and
    • Put your produce back, stocking like a store – oldest inventory on top or to the front, to be used first.
  • Hit the door compartments next.
    • Use the same plan of attack (empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff) but this time, review expiration dates and duplicates, too.
    • Make sure you rinse and and recycle the jars and containers you are purging.
    • Put it all back, grouping similar items together within compartments, like salad dressings together, and sandwich toppings together.

 

  • On to the shelves!
    • Address the shelves with the same process:  empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff.
    • Before you put the shelf contents back, consider adjusting the height of your shelves to make your fridge work better.  We have a tall top shelf, for milk jugs, juice bottles, water pitchers and left overs.  The other shelves are adjusted to be shorter, but so are their contents (egg cartons, 12 packs of soda, short bins of small items like yogurts and pudding cups) so this arrangement works well.
    • Group similar items on the shelves, as well.  For example, create a “left-over shelf” for already prepared and cooked meals, and make your grocery dollars stretch further!
    • Also, consider clear acrylic containers to store small single serve items, so they don’t get lost rolling around the shelves.

 

  • Next, review your freezer contents.  I let go of anything that I couldn’t readily identify, hence the article title of “Mystery Meats”.  If I can’t identify a food, it is not something we should eat!  On the plus side, we have also been writing contents and dates on the freezer packaging (foil, freezer bags, etc.), so to not run into this challenge again!
  • Finally, take a moment to clean the outside, too!  Take all the magnets, photos and papers off, and wipe down the surfaces.  If the fridge front or side is home to outdated soccer schedules or take out menus, purge those, too!

Now, stand back and open the fridge door.  Bask in the glow of a clean space, and maybe even grab a snack.  Pat yourself on the back, then move on to something else!

P.S. If you have an old refrigerator to get rid of, here are two resources:
https://www.comed.com/WaysToSave/ForYourHome/Pages/Recycling.aspx
http://www.1800gotjunk.com/us_en/what-we-take/refrigerator_removal

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

What If… Your Halloween Decor is Scary, But Not In a Good Way?

In preparation of posting this blog, I just zip-tied a scarecrow to my front stair railing.  And threw away 3 tattered Fall colored dried flower… things.005

This may sound odd, but this week is a GREAT TIME to get rid of your Halloween Decorations. And Easter, and Independence Day and Arbor Day (though I don’t believe we decorate much for Arbor Day), etc.

Look around your home this week.  Are you decorated for Halloween?  Or for Fall, in general?

Yes?  Great.

Are there still Halloween  / Autumn themed items in the bins/ boxes/corner of the basement or garage where you store such things?

Yes?

Why?  Why are you keeping decorations you don’t use? If your house is decorated satisfactorily, and there are leftover decorations that did not get used this year, please take the time to think about just WHY you are still keeping these leftovers. Let me be the voice of reason here, and suggest that if these decorations didn’t make the cut this year, they are even less likely to be the Decorations of Choice in years to come.

True?  Yes, you know it is.

The same logic can be applied to other holidays, too!  Don’t tackle Christmas decor this week, though, the other holidays are enough for now, and Christmas Decor tends to be a much bigger project!  It’s easy to be objective about your Easter and Spring decor in October, trust me. This week, look at your items – REALLY look at them – and decide now if you want them to stay or go. Bag them up, donate them, sell them on FB, etc., just make the clutter leave your home.

003We, and our seasonal decor, have evolved over time.  These days, seasonal decor runs toward cut flowers in a favorite vase, door wreaths, table runners, linens and scented candles.  The last two Christmas grab-bag exchanges have kept me well supplied with festive dish towels, see photo (thank you, family! These make me laugh!). All are: easy to transition; easy to store; appealing to the senses (smell, sight, touch); and personal, collected with care over time.

Check out your seasonal decorations this week, and toss all the left-over and unloved seasonal decor.  Clearing the clutter now will make putting away your Halloween and Autumn decor so much easier, and will ease the transition into the next season.

Winter Is Coming, As Are Allergies, Colds and the Flu. Sorry.

Get your Medicine Cabinet ready for a chilly winter!soup

I wish I didn’t have to say it, but here’s the deal – Winter is coming. We have yet to find a way around it, though many have tried.  Every Fall at the first hint of cold weather, my husband and a friend swear they are moving to the Equator.  But short of such hemispheric and drastic solutions, winter is inevitable.  Some parts of the country get off easy, I know, but here in Chicago?  Not so much.

teaThe natural progression of “cold weather is coming” is that with cold weather occasionally comes colds, flu and other bugs to make us feel crummy.  And NOW – while it’s not cold out and you’re feeling quite fine! – is the best time to prepare for cold and flu season.

A texted conversation with my friend in Myrtle Beach last week (she’s fine after the hurricane) mentioned that Hurricane Prep and Waiting is like a giant blizzard but no snow and great weather.  All the schools, offices and businesses are closed, so once you have battened down the hatches, you sit around and relax until the rain and wind begin.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way to handle cold and flu season, too?  Plan ahead, batten down the hatches, and then relax a bit for whatever life sends you.

Here’s how!

Gather up everything!
Take a basket and go to all the usual places in your home where you stash medications and supplies.  Medicine cabinet, of course, but also: linen closets; kitchen cabinets; the other bathrooms; bedroom dressers and night stands, etc.  Once you’ve gathered everything up…

 

Sort it all Out!
Sort your medications into categories.  Cold and Flu, Digestive Health, Vitamins, Aches and Pains, First Aid, Prescriptions, etc.    After you’ve sorted it all…

 

Purge the Old or Icky Stuff.
Check your expiration dates, and handle some quality control.   Remember, medicine and medications exist to make us feel better.  Using old or outdated medicines invites the potential for ineffectiveness or even unexpected side effects.

Saturday, October 28, 2017 (Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 when orginally published!!)  is National Take Back Day, so if you have outdated medications to purge, check this link to the DEA website, and find an prescription medication Take Back event in your area.

 

Put Your Medicine and Supplies Away in a way that makes sense.
Consider who will use certain items, where you will use them, and what needs to be kept out of reach of children.  Also, prolonged heat and moisture can damage medicines, so DO NOT store medications long term in the bathroom or on the kitchen window sill.

We use a plastic basket in the hall linen closet to store most of our medicines for the Cold and Flu Season.  The basket is easy to access when someone is feeling poorly, and gets tucked back away when we’re done.  The basket keeps things together, and makes any spills easy to clean up, too, so we don’t have a large shelf with dozens of small bottles toppling every which way (which I see in houses often!).

In some homes, the medications are kept in a kitchen cabinet.  This works just fine, too, however still invest in a basket or two, to keep things together and save shelf space.

 

Finally, Stock Up:
Add missing items to your grocery list now, so when you really need cough medicine in the middle of the night, you don’t have to run out to the pharmacy.  Here is a comprehensive list of suggested medications and items from Real Simple (“Medicine Cabinet Essentials Checklist”), plus a few items I added:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin)
  • Thermometer

For Congestion, Colds, and Coughs

  • Cough medicine
  • Decongestant (such as Sudafed or Dristan)
  • Throat lozenges For Allergies and Itching
  • Antihistamine (such as Benadryl)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (for persistent itching)
  • Calamine lotion
  • Eyedrops

For Digestive Issues

  • Antacids (in tablet or liquid form)
  • Antidiarrheal treatment
  • Laxatives

For Cuts and Burns

  • Gauze, bandages, and medical tape
  • Antiseptic for wound cleaning (such as hydrogen peroxide)
  • Antibiotic ointment for preventing infections from wounds
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sunscreen
  • Antifungal creams (athlete’s foot relief)

Antibacterial Wipes
Tissues, boxes and personal pocket packs
Lip balm

So clean out and stock up this week, while you’re feeling great and the weather is fine! You will thank yourself later!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Project #7: Menu Planning. I Blame the Gumbo Recipe.

 I like recipes. There is something enticing about those shiny pictures in a magazine, or the appetizing headlines in my daily All Recipes email that arrives just as I start to ponder “what’s for dinner” (Coincidence? I think not!).002

Obviously, Recipes and Meal Planning go hand in hand.

We always rely on Meal Planning, but especially at these busy transitional times of year. With the boys back to school, and my own attempts to eat better and healthier, last week I went looking for a crock pot gumbo recipe we have used before, and… I couldn’t find it.  Since I don’t often lose or misplace things, when I can’t find something, I get really irked! I decided then and there to get my burgeoning recipe collection back in order!

So, if you’re looking to get a handle on your Menu Planning and / or your Recipes, like me, here are a a few strategies that may help!

Tip #1:  Assemble Your Own Cookbook.
Over the years, I’ve made my own “cookbook”, collecting our favorites and new recipes to try into a 2″ binder.  This system works great, and the binder has become my go-to for menu planning.  The original binder was falling apart after much use, so over the weekend I purged a bunch of old / unloved / unlikely recipes and condensed the rest into a new and shiny 1 ” binder.  I slide recipes into page protectors (so I can wipe them clean if I splatter) and add them to the binder.  The binder has 4 simple categories, Baking / Beverages, Appetizers, Meals and Sides / Salads.  I don’t worry about alphabetizing since recipes can come and go.  Our favorites end up in the front of the category, which works just fine.

Tip #2:  Make Better Decisions.

Create criteria for choosing / purging recipes.  I often think with my eyes and stomach when I pull a recipe out of a magazine, so I have to review them again before I actually choose to keep them. You should ask your own questions, of course, but maybe mine will help get you started. Try these (or make up your own):011
  • Can I pronounce and readily identify all the ingredients? (if not, it can probably go.)
  • Do I actually own or regularly buy the ingredients?  (this, too, may indicate this is not the recipe for me.)
  • Do I have similar recipes already?  If so, what makes this one better?  (If it’s not better, toss it!)
  • Will anyone in my family EVER eat this with me?  (Rarely will I prepare a dish for only me, so a recipe had better appeal to others in my house!)
  • Does this recipe fit into my prescribed diet (if you’re supposed to eat  / avoid certain things)?
  • I just applied these criteria to a handful of recipes I had collected over the summer. I tossed most (see picture!) in the recycling bin, as victims of the “I have similar recipes to this” and “No one else will ever eat this” rules.

 

Tip #3: I stopped buying cookbooks (except for the one my friend wrote, of course!!).
I love cookbooks.  They’re so beautiful and full of promise.  BUT I usually go to favorites or magazines or the internet for recipe ideas.  So I don’t buy cookbooks anymore.  And I have even purged some over the years, when I realized I never opened certain ones.

Tip #4: If you regularly find new recipes, regularly try new recipes.
If you tend to collect new recipes, like I do, make time to try new recipes. Pull one out every week or so, and give it a whirl.  If you and the family like it, it stays.  If not… recycling bin!

Tip #5: Use the technology available.
I will not even begin to list all the cool websites and apps available for recipe and meal ideas.  I you’re reading this article, you can certainly google types of recipes or ingredients yourself.  Once you find blogs or websites with recipes you like, find the app, bookmark the website, or subscribe to the blogs to keep the good ideas coming.

 

Get a handle on your Recipes and Meal Planning this week, and your tummy and family will thank you!

 

P.S. I found the gumbo recipe and it’s on the menu for Saturday!

 

 

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When The Party Is Over… (A Plan For Your Party Clean-Up)

I was surprised to find that, in 6 years of blogging, I have not written a Post Party Clean-Up article.  So on the tail of a weekend full of parties, let me share my favorite tips for Post Party Clean-Up with you!

I know it’s tempting to leave your clean-up tasks until later or tomorrow, but an hour on clean-up today makes tomorrow so much brighter!  Consider, too, if your event is not at your home, you may need to clean up before you can leave, so it’s best to learn how to clean up-quickly and efficiently.

In addition to your other party prep steps (more on party prep here), make sure

  • the dishwasher is empty, and
  • you have take-home containers on hand to send leftovers home with your guests.

At the end of your event, here is your plan:

1.  Revel for a moment in the end-of-party glow, appreciating the awesome friends and family members that graced your home and / or event.

2.  Drink a very large glass of water, to stay hydrated and fend off any potential early hangover headache (just saying).

3.  If you haven’t eaten, put together a little plate now and grab a bite.  Maybe it’s just me, but I often forget to eat at our events, as I’m busy chatting and taking care of things.

4.  Take 2 minutes to change into something more suitable for an hour of cleaning, if you’re really dressed up.  Just DO NOT GET TOO COMFY!!

Now, roll up your sleeves and get to work!  Food and Floors are the biggest clean-up tasks.

5.  Empty the trash and recycling bins, and start fresh.

6.  Move all food and beverages to the kitchen!  Trash goes in the bin, recycling gets rinsed and goes to the bin, too.  We’ll get to food storage in a minute.

7.  Once the food and beverages are in the kitchen, restore order to the rest of your home:

  • Blow out all candles;
  • wipe down surfaces, clean the wine off the lamp shade (still just me?);
  • put the furniture away (folding chairs and tables), or back where it belongs; and
  • vacuum and run a quick mop if needed.
  • With a team approach, I usually handle the Restoring Order step, while my husband starts the kitchen tasks.
8.  Kitchen Clean-Up, tasks including: 
  • pack up left overs;
  • clean serving dishes;
  • load the dishwasher;
  • wipe down the counters; and
  • make sure everything is turned off before turning in.

9.  Day-After tasks may include:  

  • Empty the coolers;
  • put away the large serving items; and
  • take it easy and eat party left-overs (one of my favorite perks of hosting parties!).

With the next season of parties – First Communion, Mother’s Day, Graduations, etc. – upon us, keep these tips in mind the next time you host an event!