Archives for March 2013

The More You Give Away The Less You Will Spend

This statement appeared in a blog I recently posted and several of you were confused and a few of you disagreed. So I will try making my case with the following story.

A few years ago I made a trip to the Burbank Airport to pick up my mom. Traffic can be hard to gage so I left in plenty of time and as luck would have it, I sailed through with no traffic. Close by the airport is a BIG store with everything a house could want, along with a little food court. With an hour to spare I headed over there to get a coke and walk through the store.

I don’t know what they teach in marketing school, but it works. As I walked through that store, I wanted to buy. The bargains were unbelievable and if I didn’t buy I would never have that opportunity again. Why, you ask?

Because the sign said so.

Tblue duvethat is when I spotted a blue duvet with a touch of yellow for $19.99. What a bargain! After all, changing a bedspread is kind of exciting plus it was new, clean and affordable. It was fun buying and I couldn’t wait to get home to put the duvet cover on the bedspread to enjoy the new look.

I picked up my mom at the airport, dropped her off at her home, went straight back to my house and remade the bed with my new purchase. It wasn’t until I remade the bed that I realised the new duvet didn’t match the bed skirt so I made a quick trip to BBB to buy a bed skirt that would match. Ouch, this was costing a little more than I wanted it to but at least the first item was on sale.

The duvet cover was washed several times throughout the year and it was such a hassle to put on that I decided one day to stick it up with the rest of the sheets and use the original bedspread. I had every intention of using it again, just not that week. The week turned into months and the months turned into a year.  Since then, that $19.99 duvet cover and new bed skirt have been stored.

Every time I go to change sheets and see that duvet cover I get mad at myself for buying it in the first place.

I really started to seriously declutter last April and the more I give away, the more I realize that I don’t need more. Therefore, I buy less.

My Three Big Mistakes.

1. Passing Free Time With Shopping. If you have free time don’t spend it shopping. Save money!

2. Impulse Buying. Impulse buying is never smart.

3. Allowing Myself To Be Tricked By Clever Marketing. Am I really that gullible? Really?

Getting rid of what you don’t use makes you more aware of what you don’t need to buy. You don’t need a duvet to be happy. Lesson learned.





What To Do With Trophies

trophiesI have kept my son’s trophies and ribbons for many years and it is time to take them out and make a decision.

Fortunately or unfortunately there weren’t that many.

Just for the record, I know there were more than 4 but I’m not sure where they ended up.

Let’s ask the same three questions.

1. Do I use them?

2. Do I need them?

3. Do I enjoy them?

Number 3 is the most likely when it comes to trophies and ribbons. If you have them on display and you enjoy them, then keep.

If they are stored in a box in the garage then think about donating.

Most of these trophies that are awarded for kids sports have a label attached by sticky glue that is easy to peel off.

If you donate I recommend peeling off your kids name.

Take a picture then Recycle and Donate.


What To Do With Unusual Party Gifts

Unusual gift/hatUnusual and clever party gifts are fun! The laughs they get, along with the photo ops are memorable. They are hard to get rid of because we think we might be able to re-gift it back at the next party or even use it or wear it.

This hat was given to us while we lived in South Africa. The weather there is great but there are times when it got really hot. The sun would hit the little solar panel on top of the hat and then the fan would start to go and cool you down.

This fan hat actually worked!

My husband wore it a few times and it was often a conversation piece. After  the summer was over it went up in the closet with the rest of the hats. He hasn’t worn it in years.

Someone out there will get this and hopefully enjoy more than we have. It served it’s purpose for a season but was now taking up space. Think about clever gifts or gag gifts you have received over the years. Where are you storing them?

Going to a birthday party, 30th, 40th or more, where many of the gifts are prune juice and denture cream, can be a blast. Lots of laughing and joking. Many of those gifts you can actually use but so many end up under the sink or in the closet.

One idea is to re-gift it back when it’s their birthday.

In an effort to get organized you can ask yourself the same questions as before.

When was the last time I used this gift?

When was the last time I enjoyed this gift?

Can I give away to someone else who will enjoy or appreciate?

Your choices.


Give away.

Throw away.

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!


The Famous Bible Verse On Cleanliness And Doing Taxes

What does the Bible say about cleaning and organizing? There is that famous bible verse…

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Oh wait, that actually isn’t a bible verse.

The paragraph below is from

Being clean is a  sign of spiritual purity or goodness, as in Don’t forget to wash your  ears–cleanliness is next to godliness.  This phrase was first recorded in a  sermon by John Wesley in 1778, but the idea is ancient,  found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts.  It is still invoked, often as  an admonition to wash or clean up.

We do know the bible says a lot about laziness. I’m trying to decide if I am just lazy when it comes to gathering tax stuff or just not emotionally prepared to do so. It’s one of those things I avoid until it absolutely has to be done. The good news is, I am not alone.

Organizing paper is so critical, not only to businesses but for your home business as well. You might say, I don’t have a business in my home, and you would be wrong.

Even for the most simplest of households, you do what businesses do. You hopefully make money and you pay bills. It may not be as complicated as a business but the same concept applies.

Remember the days when we thought using computers would do away with paper? Little did we know. I know more than a few that wished they had invested in paper companies. The need for paper has increased not decreased.

And here we are, full circle back to organizing and decluttering. If you declutter your computer or your work area, the tax preparation will be less painful.  The organizing books collectively tell you that if you declutter what you don’t need that almost any organizing technique will work. Whether it is separating categories on a computer, using color folders, binders with tabs or simply a pile with sticky notes.


It’s that time!

Clean up your work area this week. You’ll need to get started on taxes.










What To Do With Pretty Boxes

Or maybe not so pretty. I saved this box for years. Not sure why. It held coins for awhile, but for the most part, it was empty. Every year at work we get candy, cookies, cheese and crackers from vendors, thanking us for the business and every year they come in the prettiest packages. Whether it is a weaved basket or a pretty box, it is so tempting to keep around after the goods are gone. I’m thinking this is where this box originally came from but I actually don’t remember for sure.


Keeping boxes are a trap.

They usually hold things we don’t use. Marketing people continue to come up with ways to hoard stuff. At least if the boxes are the clear plastic ones then you can see what’s in there. But if you have boxes you can’t see through and are not labeled then it makes it hard to know what you are storing.

Boxes are the organized hoarders best device. Don’t fall for it.

Take today and look around your house at all of the boxes. Ask yourself two questions.

1. Do I know what is in the box?

2. When was the last time I used the contents of the box?


If you haven’t used in years then think about donating.

If you want to make an effort to get organized please don’t go out and buy a bunch of boxes. You are setting yourself up for failure. Yes, there are things we keep in boxes that are used through out the year. Like holiday decorations and stuff from your jewelry box.

In determining whether or not you should keep stuff in the pretty boxes, use the same system as before.


1. Do I use it?

2. Do I need it?

3. Do I enjoy it?

If you empty and/or declutter the contents of the box using the system then consider getting rid of the box itself.

Pretty or not you don’t need that many boxes.



Who Is That In The Picture?

Pictures can be wonderful and they can be depressing. (weight and hair)Your home has hundreds of them. If they are in order they tell the most amazing stories that are worth passing down to each generation. If they are not in order, now is the time to tackle them.

My brother David loves taking pictures. I only remember him being in trouble 2 times growing up. The first time was when we made a trip to Baskin Robins and he ordered vanilla ice cream. My mom didn’t think it was worth spending 35 cents on vanilla when he could get that at Thrifty Drug Store across the street for 5 cents. I don’t remember how it ended but I know David wasn’t happy.

The second time he got in trouble was when my mom gave him a camera and a roll of film to take to camp. We were excited to get it developed and when we picked them up he had taken 36 pictures of grass and other scenery. We were expecting to see people,not just scenery. Again my mom and I thought…what a waste of a roll of film.

Fast forward 40 years and he is still taking pictures of scenery and it is truly amazing photography. The two differences now are they are digital and there are thousands of them.

Most people I know use digital cameras  but that doesn’t automatically mean you have them in order. In fact, now that we all use digital we take more pictures than we used to. There are so many ways to organize these but like everything else, it gets put on the back burner for another time.


Starting with old slides from our parents and grandparents. There are places including Costco that will transfer onto Cd’s and/or print them.

Older pictures that are fragile

Old pictures can also be scanned and with a little photo shopping you can transfer onto CD’s to preserve them.

Newer pictures

About 20 years ago I went to my first creative memory party and I was hooked. I have several albums with stickers, stamps and colorful paper that tell stories. We love looking through those albums but unfortunately this last decade is unaccounted for. That is because we all switched to digital.

Digital pictures

Shutterfly and other companies make it possible to do bound books online by uploading the digital pictures and this also gives the opportunity to write down stories as well as identifying people in the pictures. I am currently going through photographs that belonged to my grandmother. Most of them don’t have any details written on the back side to say, who, what, when and where. That’s a problem.

Printing Digital

Most computers and printers can print right from the camera or you can take out the little card and insert into computer. If you can’t figure that out then take down to FedEx Kinkos and use the machines to print. You can ask for help, just go when it’s not crowded.

Who in the world is that?

Think how sad it will be if in 10, 20 or 30 years from now your great great grandchildren have to throw away photographs because there are so many and none of them are marked or in order.

Do your family a favor and organize all of those boxes of photographs that could potentially tell the most amazing stories!


What To Do With The Clutter On Top Of The Refrigerator

The only reason the top of my refrigerator looks like this, is because I have a 3 year old that visits me a lot. The house is already baby proofed, but he still manages to find things he shouldn’t have. When I see him going for one of those, I quickly grab it and stick up high, where he can’t reach.

This morning before going to work it caught my eye. Everything up there does have a place, even if it is the Goodwill bag. So for today, this was going to be my project.

Timing myself is something I occasionally do, and it took less than 10 minutes. No doubt, in another month it will be cluttered with new stuff and I will again be decluttering that area. My rule for me is when I declutter an area I donate and/or at least toss something in the trash.

I spotted something in that mess that I haven’t used, ever, it was a set of glass coasters for the living room. The attraction for 3 year old was that fact that they were glass and shiny. Someone out there would really like to have these so they went into the goodwill bag.

I’m often asked by women… Where should I start? My answer is usually… Start with what bugs you the most. This morning for me it was the top of our refrigerator.

Done, Success, and it didn’t even take a full 10 minutes!

What To Do With Throw Pillows

Decoration or just an irritating tiny pillow?

I have 4 white ones that I hesitate to use because they will quickly get dirty. They are kept up high in a closet and occasionally come out if company is coming over. The problem is, when the company comes over they are put on the ground beside the couch because they take up an entire seat on the couch.

Why am I keeping those pillows? Because they were expensive.

We are now creating a pile for a garage sale. This will most likely be the one and only garage sale that I will host. Other family members are in charge but getting a dollar for those pillows plus not having to see them on top of the closet is enough incentive for me.

Pillows in general, eventually need to go. Dirt, bacteria and scary looking bugs under the microscope would convince you of that.

Is it time to get rid of the throw pillows around your house?

Do you use them?

Do you need them?

Do you enjoy them?




How To Declutter A Garden

gardenGardening is at the top of my hobby list. Being outside before the sun comes up, with a cup of coffee, dressed in my crummies, getting ready to dig is the perfect morning for me. My first memory of gardening happened around age 8. I asked for carrot seeds and planted them in a little strip of dirt in the back yard. I watered and watched as they grew.  Then one day went out there to find that the Gardner thought they were weeds, and sprayed weed killer!

Farming is in my blood. My Basque grandmother from Gamiz, Spain and the rest of family were farmers. Yes, I’ve spent more than one summer turning hay, milking cows, picking apples and red pimientos and chasing field mice away at the Basque Casario.

adam in gardenA few years ago one of my sons came to visit and informed me that my garden was beginning to look like those yards with too many pink flamingos. In other words, it was looking cluttered and ugly. He was right. I go through phases. Those of you with hobbies out there get that.

 I would soon be known as the crazy tulip lady

One of my phases was a tulip phase. It was a lot of work planting hundreds of tulips in September and it was shocking when they came up in February.

My Geranium Farm

Then there was the Geranium Phase. This is when I was trying to save money and asked friends and family for little snippets of geraniums. It wasn’t long before people thought I owned a geranium farm.

When the junk mail would arrive the first thing I did was look for gardening doodads. It just got out of hand and those decorations eventually began to look old and weathered.

The thing with gardens is they are in a constant state of change. Weeds and more weeds and then there are the seasons. When it comes to the garden you can ask yourself the same 3 questions as before.

 Do I use it?

Do I need it?

Do I enjoy it?

I enjoy my garden. It is my playground with the kids in the family. There is nothing like the smell of dirt first thing on a Saturday morning.

Take time this week to enjoy your garden. Spring is coming!