Archives for February 2013

What To Do With Gift Bags In 5 Steps

BagsPretty BagsWhether you got your bag at the yearly convention or whether it was a freebie with purchase, they are cluttered through out the house. Some are filled with stuff, not only hanging in the closet but on top of the closet. The rest of them are empty. I actually thought they were efficiently helping me organize. The opposite is true.

As my year of organizing progresses I realized they were just hoarding junk. It was time.

Step one. Gather all of the bags and put on bed.

Step two. Ask yourself, when was the last time I used this bag and the stuff in this bag?

Step three. Go through and get rid of stuff in bags that hasn’t been used in years.

Step four. Get rid of actual bag. Recycle or trash.

Step five. You can now relax. You are officially more organized!

As I got rid of the bags from all of those conventions I was flooded with great memories.  When it comes to the actual bag…be honest, THEY ARE JUST BAGS!

Getting Rid Of Keys

Getting rid of keys is almost impossible if they are not marked. What makes it even worse is we usually make extra copies of keys, just in case.

One of the solutions…… LABEL LABEL LABEL but this comes with a warning.

There was a scene in Fresh Prince of Bel Air where Hilary was proud of herself because she made lots of copies of their house key and had them all over town. When her parents found out they were upset and to make them feel better she informed them that they didn’t have to worry because their address was clearly marked on every one of them.

Get a Key Box

The first piece of advice is keep all your keys in one place. The best way to do this is a keybox. My son’s wife did this with their keys, and they have not lost one key in three moves, to three different states.

Individualize Your Keys

The stores that make our keys have all sorts of colors and designs. Not all keys need to look the same. You can normally find keys that fit your style, whether they be pretty flowers or Harly Davidson.

Take the Time to Test

When my sister and I organized all of the keys, it took time to test them and label them and even then, we were worried to toss the others.

What is the worst that could happen if  you get rid a key that you really needed to keep?

Call a locksmith. That’s pretty much it.

Get out the keys that have been in the drawer or hanging on the wall and get started today.

Kids Toys From Fast Food Places

It is amazing the things we collect and keep. The marketing people at fast food places are hard at work to try and figure out how to get you into their restaurants and they use the little kids toys to do it. Like a good grandma, I take the kids to the places that have the play area and order the meals with toys. Before you know it, you too have a goal to collect the collection.

How can we avoid this trap?

The last thing we want to do is train our kids to be hoarders. This is a hard one because many of the fast food places with playgrounds, make those of us entertaining a 3 year old, much easier. Those marketing people know human nature. When one kid looks like he is having a blast with the toy on the commercial or on the poster, all of the other kids want it. They just do.

Perhaps it isn’t just the kids with their toys but us adults with our toys. This is a good time to remind readers that there is nothing sinful about stuff. Stuff can make life easier and more efficient. Thank God for the dishwasher and washing machine.

Sporting good stuff can help make life fun and teach life long lessons.

Supplies are needed to make beautiful art and I know first hand the stuff I need to create a beautiful garden.

 

gardenThe key is to use and enjoy

Don’t spin your wheels with stuff you no longer use. That goes for those fast food toys as well.

If the kids are playing with them or trading them, then let them enjoy for the season. Once the season is over and the toys are mostly destroyed with missing arms and legs then think about tossing them.

I like recycling as much as the next person but don’t be afraid to throw away the broken stuff.

Don’t be afraid to throw away.

 

 

Proof I Was In Paris And Other Souvenirs

If there is one thing that all sophisticated world travelers have in common, it’s their affinity for buying mugs that say where they’ve been. Nothing says “Been there, done that,” like a mug that literally says where you’ve been, and what you did.

Don’t Judge a Cupboard by It’s Mugs

We have all bought souvenirs for others. It’s the thought that counts and it’s thoughtful while on a trip to buy a shirt, tiny spoon, mug, bowl, ashtray, magnets or a hat for that special someone. When it comes to buying for yourself, you might want to ask yourself, how many is too many? That is the question I asked myself this week.

Closet Gift Shop

We have a lot of souvenirs in the house, tucked away in closets as well as a bunch that are stored in the garage in a back pack. Souvenir is French and means a remembrance or a memory. The Paris mug pictured here, along with other mementos and keepsakes, come with a psychological connection and whether good or bad, there are emotions attached to our things.

There are dozens of stories, if not more about the trip we took to Paris. We have photographs and several of us share those same stories. So why hold onto the mug that is hardly used? For one thing, it can’t go in the microwave because of the metallic gold. We used if for awhile as a pen holder but then how many mugs full of pens do you need around the house?

souvenirsIt was time for the mug and other souvenirs to go and time for someone else to own them. Things from all over the world, taking up space and not being enjoyed by anyone for many years.  We kept a few but the rest went into the goodwill bag.

Next time you are on a trip, think twice before buying.

Save your money! When you declutter and get rid of what you don’t use or enjoy, your thinking will begin the change.

When your thinking changes, your buying habits will also change.

 

Wrapping with Roaches

Most people I know have a drawer, a closet or a tub under the bed with enough gift bags, pretty tissue and wrapping paper to wrap for their extended family for this year and next, no matter what the occasion.

We are fast approaching Valentines day so this would be the perfect opportunity to weed out what you will use or not use this holiday or for any of the holidays throughout the year. As I go through all of the paper I painfully acknowledge that most of this stuff I have had for years. Many many years. This is when I begin to wonder if I am seeing dust, little pieces of dirt or even worse, possible roach eggs on the old paper. Some where along the way I too have heard of those stories about roach eggs on old envelops and in corners of paper bags.

The website below not only had scientific research behind it but cleared up some myths. Some sites confirm that roaches are attracted to dirtier homes while other sites make you feel better by saying that your space might be clean but if you are in an apartment building that has them then you are just out of luck and will have to fight them off one by one.

http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/kunkel/cockroach_faq.html#Q1

Q20: Anthony writes:
… a story (is) reputed to have aired on CNN about a woman, who while licking an envelope, got a paper cut from the flap on her tongue and was exposed to a cockroach egg which incubated inside her tongue. The woman later had the alive roach removed by a doctor. Is this possible?

A: Anthony,
This item is utter trash. The cockroach egg is huge. Most eggs are 2 mm long and are closely packed side by side and 2 by 2 like franks in a dozen package. They do not survive outside of the oothecae or egg case, which contains 12-40 of the eggs, and I can not imagine them being associated with the lickable surface of an envelope in any way such that they were transferred into a paper cut tongue. You just have to sit back and laugh at the gullible nature of the CNN producer/director who did not have enough biology in his education to know when he/she was out of her depth and needed to consult with someone who knew better. The producer/director of that program should be fired for promoting misinformation. I almost doubt that it ever aired.
Thanks for playing the skeptic!

Glad to read that story wasn’t true!

My conclusion is it was just dust and dirt on my wrapping paper and gift bags. This is what happens when you don’t use things for years.

The better gift bags ended up in my Goodwill Bag and some of the crummier ones with shriveled up tissue paper went into the trash. If you are gift buying most stores give a bag or box so you don’t need to save the old stuff.

There are those of you out there that can’t resist saving those empty boxes and ribbons after the family has opened all of those gifts. Don’t be tempted. You don’t need them. They take up space.

Step One. Take out all of the wrapping paper, empty gift boxes and ribbons and put on table.

Step Two. Ask yourself, what hasn’t been used in 2 years. If that roll of Christmas paper is still in the plastic after 2 years then you probably won’t use next year.

Step Three. Take what hasn’t been used in 2 years and put in trash or Goodwill bag.

Step Four. There should be very little left in your pile. Take the rest and organize it back in its place.

Step Five. Buy gift cards!

 

How To Get Rid Of Spiders

We found a spider today in the shower and after doing research we thought it might have been a Brown Recluse. That then motivated everyone in the house to look up ways to get rid of spiders. What caught my attention on the link below was the paragraph on organizing.

http://www.pestexterminator.com/spiders-states/

Keep rooms clutter-free and well-organized to avoid spiders who love making a home in small hiding spots.

Coincidentally I had just watched a Horders episode on TV that showed lots of cobwebs. Even in my own home and outside in the garden those cobwebs weave fast and large ones can appear over night.

If you find that you have camel spiders. well I think you may have bigger problems then clutter!

Don’t give spiders a chance to find a cozy home in your clutter.


Decluttering Your Email And Spam Warning

This morning, after getting my cup of coffee, I sat down at the computer to check email. It is possible that most of the world’s population with a computer does exactly the same thing. There was an email from my sister with only a link. It looked suspicious and since I knew I would talk to her later in the day I decided to delete her email.

It’s happened to many friends and family. Since I get up early (really early),  I see it first and can email at least the family to alert them and suggest they delete as well.

Decluttering our homes and our lives includes our emails.  Most of us have more than one email and they are all full of junk and jokes that could easily be deleted.

Checking your email for RECENT SIGN IN ACTIVITY can be done in most email systems.

1. Login

2. Account info

3. Retype in password

4. Go to security

5 View your recent sign in activity

6. Look at the location and IP address

7 Go to whatismyipaddress.com

8 Go to IP lookup

9. Type in the IP addresses and see who is accessing your email.

10. Please change your password

This subject will be covered at length when we do our Year Of The Office starting later in the year.

TOYS

 They’re back! And I’m loving it!

Back in the mid eighties, I was the mom who befriended all of the staff at Toys R Us. Especially the guys in the back. Why? Because I was on the look out for the Green Power Ranger. It paid off and I got the first one in that first shipment. Just as expected, my 5 year old thought I was the best mom in the world.

I stayed the best mom in the world until the Dark Wing Duck with the Purple Cape was available, but no where to be found. So the hunt began again.

We kept a lot of those toys. This is one time that I am happy I didn’t declutter. One of the questions to ask yourself is what is the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of it?

Even if I had given those toys away, it would have been okay.

Full circle and here we are again with the toys. It is only a season and it’s great to have little ones around again. In our local goodwill store, there are lots of toys and the price is very cheap. Garage sales all over have toys and don’t forget to check out the local newspaper or online. If price isn’t an issue and you want new toys, then you know where to go.

There will never be a shortage of toys so don’t panic when you give yours away.

The decision like always is yours, or maybe not. I kept those toys because my oldest son wanted to keep them and for years they were out of sight, on top of the garage in black plastic bags. I had and still have enough of my own stuff to weed through. So before I take the splinter out of his eye I will be working on the log in my eye.

 

This is that son playing with those batman toys with his nephew.

Nuts Gone Bad

Cleaning out a pantry doesn’t happen often around our houses. Many of us are forced to clean out the refrigerator because you can see and smell the rotten food. Most pantries are filled with foods that are made to last and things like cereals and granola bars do last longer than the milk that goes with it.

My Special Holiday Recipe… Coke and Condiments

This last Easter we had a smaller group than usual. We do the typical family holidays together and everyone brings something to lighten the load. We all have our specialties and mine is quickly offering to bring beverages and condiments (olives, pickles etc).

Occasionally I get stuck with something big like potato casserole but not this year. This year I did a simple salad and said I would help with putting together some of the other dishes since my sister-in-law was going to be out of town.

People started to arrive and we had plenty of food.  My brother had one more dish he wanted to add to our spread. It was his gourmet green bean recipe with toasted almonds. Things were going well until he did a taste test. Yuck! Something went terribly wrong and no one wanted to get food poisoning, especially on Easter.

We figured out that the nuts had gone bad. When I asked how long they had been in the pantry his answer was.. I don’t have a clue.

The dish was ruined. Not to worry because there were plenty of other dishes and there are always leftovers.

So the question is, How long does food last in your pantry?

The answer is, Not as long as you would like it to.

Most items bought from a grocery store have an expiration date. If you have homemade canned jars without a date it is hard to say. There is always the smell test and if you can’t tell then there is the taste test.

Buying in bulk is tempting but think this through and ask yourself if it is even possible to use that much mayonnaise or go through that bag of rice in 5 years? If you own a restaurant then it would make more sense that you would shop in bulk. If you have a large family or a party, it makes good sense. If you’re cooking for 1, 2 or even 3 or 4 people it may not be necessary to buy in bulk.

Today would be a good day to look in your pantry. Start by throwing out expired items. Try and use up what you have. Plan your meals. Go to the pantry and see what you can come up with without going to the store.

How does Paella sound for tonight?

What To Do With Old Videos

The electronic industry is a hard one to keep up with. I can remember the 8 track tapes back in the day not ever thinking there would be anything more after that. Then we all got cassette players followed by the big videos then the CD’s and DVD’s. That is as far as I have come, although I know my kids have something new that they plug in the car radio system that plays everything including movies.

Wow, if our grandparents could see us now and how much we’ve progressed!

In my year of getting organized it was time to go through all of the old videos. It was easier getting rid of the videos bought in the store because most, if not all, were now on DVD. The more difficult decisions were what to do with videos of the family. I have kept a little TV with a built in video player plus a separate unit that plays DVD’s and videos. So technically we could still watch them.

The problem was many of the old videos were dirty and not showing a clear picture. The answer was to take those and have them transferred onto a DVD. That is the plan but even after doing that I think I will keep the old videos, just in case.

I could not allow myself to actually throw dozens of old videos in the trash so I took them to the goodwill. You never know when someone might be looking for the old Flash Gordon video.