Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Prep Tips

It’s that time of year again! People talk forever about the holidays bringing big bundles of stress along with it, but they don’t have to. I have a few tips for easing the stress and getting things done ahead of time.

  1. Buy wine in bulk – You know you will be visiting numerous parties and dinners this season, and it isn’t nice to show up empty handed. Just picking up a bottle ahead of time however is a good recipe for a very late arrival, and is sure to add the panic. Go to Trader Joe’s or a similar discount wine store and pick up a whole case to dole out to each host or hostess. Just make sure you don’t dip into them as much as you do the Halloween Candy!
  2. Buy pre-made cookie dough - If you are making lots of kinds of cookies, try instead to focus on one or two recipes that are your favorites or that you know that you are best at. For the others, like say your basic chocolate chip feel free to buy a big tub and bake those up. There are also some really nice charities selling cookie dough to raise money.
  3. Get wrapping paper and bags at the dollar store - You will probably be wrapping presents at some point this season. Try to stock up on gift bags and wrapping paper at the dollar store so you’re not running around 20 minutes before your party buying bags. (And paying $4.00 a pop for each.) The dollar stores around me have really cute ones now.
  4. Schedule Hair and Manicure Appointments - This is their busy season too. You are not Lindsay Lohan and you will not be able to bump someone for her spot.
  5. Buy a bunch of the same little presents - I like the little tins of hot cocoa from Trader Joes, or if you find cute little candles or little picture frames get a bunch of them. You can even wrap them and hand them out at work. (This relieves the stress of trying to pick out 15 $10.00 gifts for each of your coworkers.)
  6. Get your car checked out now – Ok so we were supposed to winterize our cars already and I didn’t. Now is a good time to do it since you probably will be driving more than usual and it’s better to have your car all checked out than to get stuck on the road. If you can try to find a mechanic by the mall (Sears is usually a good place especially for tire issues) this way you can do your holiday shopping while you wait.
  7. Cards – Your sister doesn’t need you to write out your year long saga in her Christmas card. So write up something short and silly and send out the family ones. At least if you run out of time, the important people got something happy from you in the mail.
  8. Christmas Emails – Do not send a card through one of those services. With increasing numbers of spam emails, they probably won’t get through your recipients spam filters anyway, but this could be a great alternative for those friends you haven’t seen in a while and don’t actually know their real addresses.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Braclet/Watch Organizer

Today’s is just a quick entry on organizing jewelry. These tea caddies make excellent bracelet and watch organizers. I purchased this in London and it was full of different kinds of tea bags. Once I used them all, this box got a different life.

Earring Organizer Craft Project

Today’s blog is about home organization. Ever have a problem organizing your earrings? Prior to making this little homemade organizer, I was constantly loosing at least one member of a pair. Or I damaged intricate and expensive accessories.

This organizer can be made very cheaply. Simply visit your local craft or fabric store. I went to Jo Ann Fabrics for this one. Get the plastic grid that is used for needle point and cross stitch. (It costs less than $.50) Then you can grab a ribbon. (I purchased a bag of scraps for about $1.00)

Cut the grid in half to be more manageable. Then take the piece of ribbon and tie it to the top of the grid in a little loop.

Then you can thread the earrings through the little holes in the grid. Hoops fit easily on the bottom. I only put my dangly big earrings on this one, and put the studs in a box, but the organizer can hold many studs too.

I hope this helps you keep your favorite fun jewelry together and safe. Remember, you can’t wear it if you can’t find it.


Martha Stewart has a really cute version of this on her craft website, with a frame and everything. However, this seems like a lot of work, and I’m not sure about it. I think a great east idea would be to take an empty picture frame and put the grid in, but then you wouldn’t be able to put the hoops on the bottom.


Space Saving Tip

I live in a small apartment with a very small bathroom. With space at a minimum, I have to be creative about storage. One great idea I’ve had is to store my towels, in a large box I purchased to go under the front hall table. Towels are great for this because they can be rolled and won’t wrinkle in this condition. With an attractive box, you can allow the items to be in full view.

Here’s a picture. I purchased this box at Home Goods for less than $30.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I would like to introduce you all to StumbleUpon. This Mozilla or Internet Explorer add-on has introduced me to more cool and useful websites in the last three weeks than I have found in the last three years.

The application is simple, download the application, put in your interests and then start clicking. You’ll be so impressed you’ll bookmark just about everything that pops up. I have so many bookmarks that I need to figure out the best way to organize them. The system also keeps track of what you like and don’t like so that you can For each stumble you can decided whether or not you like that page and the application learns better your interests.

Stumble upon does have a few other features, such as adding your friends to see what they like, however I have not yet found this feature particularly useful.

Tx: www.genbeta.com

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hearty House Plants

These plants you couldn’t kill if you tried. Well that’s an exaggeration, you will have to occasionally water them, but they all an easy way to add some foliage to your indoor environment. We all know how important this greenery is to help purify the air around you.


This plant is vine-like and full of leaves. It likes any type of light, even fake light. You should water very couple of weeks at least, but you can’t really over water it. If you cut off a branch and stick it in a little water, the branch will root in about a week.

Spider Plant

This plant is spiky and occasionally blooms on long arm like branches. Minimal light and water are all that are needed. The branches sprout little baby plants that if you cut off and put in a little water, the baby will root.

Lucky Bamboo

Throw it in a glass of water. Seriously that’s it.

Jade Plant

This plant is a succulent and can handle a forgetfully induced drought. It likes a decent amount of sunlight, but won’t die in the shade. Break off a little branch and put it in a glass of water and this little guy will root.

Thanks for the pics! (in order)
Clickr_Clickr on Flickr

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unique Magazine Recycling Ideas

Clutter comes in many forms, but the most intrusive is certainly the old magazine piles. My mother has Better Homes and Gardens from a decade ago. I've always thought that simply throwing magazines in the recycling bin seemed like a waste. There are so many people who would enjoy even old magazine articles. So here are a few ideas for a way for people to reuse your old magazines.

1. Take it to the gym. My gym has a giant magazine rack where people leave their old magazines and then borrow them while they are working out. It's great because i don't have to drag one along every time and i get to see new stuff. If you gym doesn't have one, ask one of the managers if you can set up a neat little bin.

2. Coffee Break. Bring a couple to the break room at work and leave them in a neat little bin in the corner. Make a sign offering them for free. You'd be surprised how people will add to it and start sharing.

3. Use them for art projects. I love to cut out my favorite pictures and paste them on different projects, from those plain wooden magazine bins from Ikea, to a bland picture frame, they can really spice up your environment. I will have soon some more craft ideas for your extra pictures.

(Another way to get some cool cutouts is to go through old catalogs.)

Whatever you do, don't keep the magazines around, saving them for the day where you will pull the pictures out. If you don't have time, get rid of that clutter and haul those magazines away!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Office Candy Dish

Today’s blog is a different idea for networking in your office. If you feel like you are left out of the office chats and hallway meetings, then making your cubicle or office more welcoming is a great idea. One way to do this is to bring in a candy dish and setting it on the corner of your desk.

I would recommend a clear jar so that people can see what goods you got without having to look inside. Also, to make sure your coworkers feel welcome to take some. At first you might want to consider a little sign inviting them to come over. A good example:

Please Help Yourself!

Probably inappropriate would be a sign saying:

Eat me!

This is a good way to get people to include you in their impromptu office discussions.

I would recommend individually wrapped candy to avoid sticky situations and to cut down on germs. Just get what you hand out at Halloween.

If you find you going through a lot of candy, just leave the jar empty for a few days saying something like you haven’t had time to go to the store. If your coworkers are nice some one will bring in a bag.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Organizing Accessories

Organizing the many accessories a girl’s got can be a difficult task. Those wily organizing experts tell us, “Make sure everything has its place.” But what if you have 80 somethings? Below are a few tips for organizing each of those little trouble items that seem to be everywhere. With this hopefully you can create the right spot for each of them.

Sun Glasses:

Problem: Some people put them in their cases, but I’ve always found that cumbersome. You

have to remember to put them back in, if you can find it, or they get scratched up. Or it becomes a hassle so you don’t put them back.

Solution: A key holder. I got this one at the World Market. I nailed it up behind my bedroom door, but on the inside of your closet door is also a great place.


Problem: They get tangled together ruining decent jewelry, and do not have a decent place
to rest.

Solution: The trusty key holder:

Next Time: An easy craft project for organizing earrings…

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brown Baggin It

Brown Bag it

Taking your lunch with you to work can save you delicious amounts of money. If you spend only $8.00 a day for lunch, which isn’t difficult to do, you will spend almost $2000 a year. That’s $160 a month. If you’re like me, and live on a limited budget, this money can make a huge difference.

But it can be really difficult to facilitate a Brown Bag habit. Time and resources are at a minimum.

Excuse #1: Your coworkers are going out, and you don’t want to be left out.

Answer A: Get a buddy to do it with you. If you only really hang out with a couple people at lunch, convince them to do it with you. Go to a park or eat quickly and go for a walk together.

Answer B: Offer to set up brown bag lunches where everyone brings their lunch and listens to a short information session on a new piece of software or a new concept. It’s a great idea for professional development for the presenters, the attendees and makes you look great for suggesting it.

Answer C: Take one day, maybe Friday as a reward for being so good all week, and make sure everyone gets together to go out. I agree with the new book, “Never Eat Alone” you should always be trying to create new relationships to develop your career as well as personal life.

Excuse #2: You don’t have time to pack a lunch in the morning.

Answer A: If you cook at night, when putting the food away, put a little bit in a single serving container and set it right in the front so you don’t forget it.

Answer B: Precook some foods like pasta or rice. Or pre-chop some green pepper and celery and toss them together in an impromptu pasta salad or in a quick stir fry.

Answer C: Buy a bunch of poptop soup cans and put them in your desk. Make sure you keep a sturdy bowl or container. If you have room in a freezer grab a couple of lite frozen dinners and toss them in there.

Another amazing advantage to brown bag buffets, your can easily control your caloric intake. If you’re watching your weight this can be a great help.

Here's a great page of ideas for your brown bag adventures.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sports Shirts

When navigating the office jungle, I've recently found a annoying rock in my trail. It seems the men in the office seem to talk more about sports than about work. I want in on that impromptu networking! Of course I don't know that much about sports in general so it is difficult for me to make these connections. (And it's not like I'm going to learn golf in a day.) So here are a few tips to help get you in on the conversation. And with any hope you can steer it back to the project your working on before you get in too deep.

1. Watch Sports Center. Lets face it, no one has time to watch the 8 different games on TV in one night. Your coworkers haven't. They go to ESPN's Sports Center see the exciting parts of the game and hear the commentary.

2. Get a team t-shirt... and Wear it. Get web surfing and buy a T-Shirt of any team you like. Or choose it on the color scheme. I don't wear purple and I look terrible in yellow. Sorry Lakers. Well I didn't like them anyway. I like to pair a tee under a corduroy blazer or a cute unbuttoned sweater. (This is also a good way to remind your boss about your expensive name-brand-advanced degree.)

3. Whose your Tiger? Pick a player in a team and learn everything you can about him. If someone starts talking about a player too much and asks you about it. You can point out how great your player is and how "He's THE next great hope/player." or it's ok to just really like his attitude.

(Mine's Pudge Rodriguez. He's not Pudge anymore.)

4. Don't pretend. Don't be afraid to say. "No, I didn't see that play." or "I hadn't heard that." People will see though too much BS. And besides, I've found people like to talk about this stuff.

Thanks Tigers homepage for the pic.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Easiest BBQ bring along ever

In the spirit of Labor Day I will tell you the easiest recipe for pasta salad that is a great, cheap, dish to bring to a BBQ or potluck.

  • One box of spiral pasta (macaroni or ziti will do also)
  • One bottle of full fat Italian Dressing (Personally I like Kraft - don't skimp on the calories, it'll be worth it, and besides it's still way lighter than a heavy mayo dressing salad)
  • One Green Pepper Chopped
  • About 8 Large Celery Stalks Chopped
  • One can Chopped Tomatoes (Feel free to mix and match any of these veggies)
  • Half a container of Parmesan Cheese

Cook the pasta, drain in cook water. Chop the veggies, mix with the cool pasta.

Wait until you are about to leave and then mix in the bottle of dressing and the cheese. If you do it too early, the pasta will absorb the moisture and the salad will be too dry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Exercise at Work

I hope everyone’s having a great summer! This is the time of the year for bikinis, shorts and little summer dresses. Getting that summer ready body can be pretty difficult for busy people. I have compiled a few quick tips for finding time to fit exercise in your schedule.

We spend an increasing amount of at work. If you have a few minutes you may want to try a few easy exercises that you can do at your desk, in your cubicle and office.

  1. Arm Circles – stick your arms straight out at the shoulder. Rotate clockwise slowly for 20-40 circles. (I stop at 30, because my arms really start to feel it about then) You can also simply hold your arms like this for 3 minutes at a time. Do three reps of this.
  2. Arm Dips – Here’s another arm exercise. Scoot off your seat and grab the front edge of the seat. You should look like you’re sitting on the air with your knees bent in front of you.

If you do get some flack for doing these exercises at your desk, simply tell the annoying commenter that you’re trying to prevent carpal tunnel by doing something different with your arms. This should shut them up. Most of the time these exercises are so unnoticeable you should be fine.

  1. Another exercise is butt clenches. Simply clench your cheeks and then release. Do this for as long or as many times as you feel like you can.
  2. You can also get better abs at work, squeeze and release. Really focus on individual muscles. It really works!

Studies show that people who move around more burn more calories. So go ahead and fidget in your seat. Tap the air with your feet. Wiggle a little. Just try not to tap the side of your cubicle. You don’t want to burn calories while being chased by a mob of annoyed co workers carrying staplers and flaming keyboards.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Organizing for a Diet

This entry is all about organizing for a diet. I recently started the South Beach Diet, Phase One, so this entry will be mostly about the South Beach Diet, but a number of tips can be used for preparing for diets in general.

First, I believe that the preparation/organization phase of the diet is a key psychological step in preparing for weight loss. This process allows you to purge the negative influences in your life and allows you to set the foundation for new healthy habits.

1. Research: I chose the South Beach Diet after a few days of researching online about the diet and then going to the book store and looking at the book. (No, I didn’t end up purchasing it.) After being pretty honest with myself, I chose the diet that I thought would be right for me. I then looked up some recipes online and created a shopping list. I didn’t go so far as to create a meal plan, I wanted some flexibility to be able to eat what I’m craving from time to time. In this stage also a great idea is to talk to a medical professional about any health risks associated with dieting. Here too you can research gyms and exercise programs.

2. Purge: No I am not advocating bulimia. I am talking about preparing your home for a diet. That means getting rid of the temptations. This also doesn’t mean shoveling in 8 ice cream bars because you have to get rid of them before you start your diet. Dump out your juice and regular sodas, toss the snack food.

For me, I needed to get rid to the massive quantities of complex carbohydrates in my refrigerator and pantry. I kept anything that is complex to prepare. I can certainly use it at a later date, and these delayed gratification products are safe with me. The longer it takes to cook, the more time my self control has to kick in.

If you really guilty about wasting food like I do, here are a few options to avoid waste.

- Donate your can jars and boxes to a local food pantry
- Take the already opened baked goods on a walk to the park. Break up the bread, crunch up those chips, and feed them to ducks in the pond, squirrels or just scatter them on the side of the path, believe me the animals will find them no matter where you put them. Now you getting some exercise and feeding some hungry wildlife.

3. Restock: Now go shopping. Buy nothing that does not jive with the diet you have chosen, but be generous. (Eat before you go. Studies have shown people how shop on a full stomach make better purchasing decisions at the grocery store.) Take your big list, and make sure you have given yourself plenty of variety. Refill that empty refrigerator with the good stuff. Also, take the time right away to prepare some food so you have something to eat immediately.

Some easy ideas:
- Cut up celery sticks to dip in humus
- Hard boils eggs for a quick high protein breakfast
- Bean dip - layer vegetarian refried beans, salsa, low fat shredded cheese
- String cheese
- Turkey Jerky – I love the Trader Joe’s Terriaki Turkey Jerky
- Buy or cook I head of time some grilled chicken to throw on salads or dip in mustard
- Lite Egg Salad, lite Miracle Whip, mustard, egg white, green pepper

4. Arm Yourself: Take the cash out of your wallet. (If you can't, leave in only a large bill.) When I don’t have cash, I am less likely to stop by Starbucks and get an 800 calorie coffee drink, or pick up a candy bar from the gas station. Having disposable cash around is a huge temptation. Bring to work only what you are allowed to eat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

iGoogle vrs. MyYahoo

Today’s Blog is about Managing your home page. Increasingly, large the big Internet search engines are allowing users to create specially tailored home pages. I will review the most popular two (MyYahoo and iGoogle) and show you how to maximize your usability.

The winner between the two interfaces, is hands down iGoogle. (Big surprise there Google has been a usability giant for years.)

1. The look of the pages:
iGoogle: iGoogle has fewer themes, but the ones they are simple, easy to read, and time dynamic to your location on Earth. I personally prefer the Tea House theme. It’s really cute and I feel like the little fox is sharing my daily activities with me.

MyYahoo: MyYahoo has more choices in the themes selections, however most of the schemes are totally unreadable and probably dangerous to the Epileptic.

2. Extras:
iGoogle: Wow! iGoogle has a huge number of extra resources to add to your webpage. My personal favorite is the color coded, prioritized, To-Do List. Also is a cool calorie counter and a Fitness calorie counter from Bally. Now you can manage your diet while checking your email.

MyYahoo: Has fewer extras, but some very helpful ones like the resumes you have up on HotJobs, best jobs in the area, or TV listings.

3. Calendars:
iGoogle: The Google calendar allows you to create events and the days are highlighted. Cool, now if only the calendar would email to remind me when I forget something. A good policy would be though to make sure to check the calendar when you see a BOLDED day.

MyYahoo: I like the calendar better because there is a small space under the calendar for the day’s events.

My recommendation is to use the iGoogle page. The design is better, the extras on the whole more useful and fun, and the location specific pages is a really neat touch.

My tip, use these pages to tailor your homepage experience. Take some time and go over the extras and choose what you’ll use often. Remember if you add too much, you’ll decrease the usefulness of having everything right there. Just be careful not to be changing your webpage every five minutes, this process can turn into a time suck very quickly.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cooking Tip #1

Today I have a really neat cooking tip. This idea is particularly great for people who are cooking for one or two people. One of my most annoying problems is opening a big jar of spaghetti sauce and then forcing myself to eat it every meal for the next week, or letting it fester in the back of the fridge.

One way to preserve it is to freeze it. Even then, thawing half a jar to make one serving is inefficient and excessive. A solution to this problem is to freeze the sauce in ice cube trays. Once the sauce is frozen, simply pop out the cubes and put them in a baggy or a container. Then you can thaw out the cubes one serving at a time.

This idea is great for all sorts of liquids, including pesto, coconut milk among others.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Modern Girl's Guide

Just found a really fun link to a cute new organizational resource. The Style Network has a show: THe Modern Girl's Guide to Life. Based I'm assuming on the popular book series. I have not yet seen the show, but I will keep an eye out for it. The Website has some fun tips on it however: http://www.stylenetwork.com/ssms-site/style.do?actionId=1&showId=6129&navId=8bf9540d18564523a3e1bffa034d2&showFeatureId=7b8aec6d18564521978b9434c1d951&pageIdx=0.

Another cool show on the Style Network is Clean House. It helps pack rats and the hopelessly messy clean up truly atrocious clutter problems. The show is kind of slow in the middle when the hosts help the home owners sell their extra junk in a garage sale. (Which is an EXCELLENT idea for cleaning house and getting a little extra cash.) Seeing the end solutions to their unique problems is pretty helpful. The link is not at all helpful however, no real tips or solutions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Starting Over

Hello again! I would like to welcome myself back to this blog. In the spirit of starting fresh and starting over, I cannot wait to get started on this blog again. I’ve been very busy, but also I’ve reverted into my original disorganized state. I lost track of the important things. So I decided the other day to start again. At first I thought it was too late to get back into my blog. I was about to give up on it, but I realized how easy it is to start over, especially with organization. Very few people are organized from birth, color coding Legos in their cribs. Most people are disorganized mixed up, running through life looking for something to make sense of things. Personally, I am built of the latter sort. I used to spend hours out of the week looking for my wallet, keys, cell phone…etc etc. You could barely walk through my mess of a bedroom. I ran out of gas on the road…twice. My relationships suffered. I forgot loved one’s birthdays. I lost touch with distant friend’s who had moved away.
Then one day something changed. I don’t remember what changed it, but I’m pretty sure it was a number of things. I showed up on time to the bar, and realized my friend’s had told me they would be there half an hour earlier than they would be. I found out my boyfriend wouldn’t move in with me because I’m too messy. I was evaluated poorly at work because of my disorganization. So I started over. I read some books. I practiced in my apartment. And the weirdest thing, I started to like it. It was fun and nice to have it all together. Living became easier. I had more time. So I continued. I got a master’s degree in Information Science specializing in Archives and Records Management. This is a drastic step, but I truly enjoy it.
So I recommend to everyone that you can start over. Use any excuse you can, but you can become organized. You can change your life. My best friend just broke up with her boyfriend. She is having a tough time, but she’s dealing with it pretty well. She is using it as a reason to start over. She went out and got her haircut. She cleaned her apartment from top to bottom. She moved her furniture around to a different set up. I believe the best way to start over is to change the things you can see. Use whatever you have to, to begin again. Whether it's a relationship gone bad; a new job; a new apartment or just a new haircut. Anyone can start over.