Saturday, December 27, 2008

Messy Dressing Room

Here's a question for you? After you're finished trying on clothes in a dressing room, do you hang up the clothes and return them to the attendant or do you leave everything in a jumble on the floor?

I'm always amazed at the messes I see when I go to try on clothes in department stores. What gives? Let's do our part to be organized shoppers and take care of the things we try on. I truly believe this helps to keep costs down.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holiday Wishes

I'm going to be taking a brief hiatus from blogging for the Christmas break and will be back right after the holiday with more organizing ideas and preparing for January's Get Organized Month.

Enjoy these pictures of my holiday decorations and some friendly movie props saying "Merry Christmas" to you!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Plain White Bags Instead of Designer Store Bags

Here's an interesting article I saw today on the Daily Beast website on how the super rich are opting for plain white shopping bags to hold their purchases from such stores as Tiffany and Hermes so people won't see where they're shopping.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reducing toy clutter

Toy Chest Pictures, Images and Photos
Now is the time to go through the kids toys and get rid of the things they no longer play with, are broken or have pieces missing. When my daughter was younger, I always did this task when she was away at school so I could easily go through the jumble of toys without gettting sidetracked. When your kids are older, they can become a part of the decision making process. Let them know that there are other kids who aren't as fortunate as they are and let them decide what toys can go. Remind them that they will be getting new toys for the holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

End of Year Donations

As if you didn't already have enough to do the last few weeks of the year, take a little time out to gather together those items you have designated as donations and get them to the Goodwill/Salvation Army/Rescue Mission/etc. before the end of the year to get your tax deduction for 2008.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gift Giving

I just loved this daily quote from Real Simple Magazine:

A gift-giving virtue is the highest virtue.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

I think this quote says it all - it's a pleasure to give gifts any time of the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

50% Off Select Elfa Products at The Container Store - Limited Time!

I just heard that The Container Store is offering select Elfa brand shelving products at up to 50% off due to overstocking. Click here to see what great products you can buy on SALE!

Saving Money by Not Buying Groceries - How'd I Do?

Well, I think I did great. I put a big dent in the freezer by using up a lot of frozen leftovers and meats as well as using up canned goods in the pantry.

I just may try this again next month and every month after that. A great way to put an extra bit of cash in your pocket.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Get Creative With Your Action Files

Action files are those files which you refer to on a daily basis. They include files for "bills to pay", "calls to make", "letters to write", and "pending". My action files are kept in a rectangular stand-up file that sits on top of my desk with my pastel colored Pendaflex files inside (labeled, of course).

I came across this creative way of displaying your action files and wanted to share it with you. If you have the wall space in your working area, you might want to try this fabulous idea from Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

Start with four to six basic wooden clipboards. Cover each clipboard with a different decorative paper or wallpaper sample using decoupage glue. Smooth out any bubbles or uneven surfaces and cover the top with more decoupage glue.

Label each of the metal clips with your action file heading, hang them on the wall as you would picture frames, and you're good to go. I love this idea!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Flea Market Results - Not So Great

Well, the flea market is over and I have to say I was very disappointed in the end result. I spent well over a day cleaning, pricing and packing my items to sell and arrived at the flea market at 5:30 in the morning raring to go.

After setting up my booth, I settled down to wait for what I hoped would be a hoard of shoppers out to get some good deals rather than shop the stores this holiday season. I was sadly disappointed.

After 7 hours, I had made only $80 profit ($120 counting my $40 reservation fee). Not such a great use of my time, unfortunately.

So, in the future, I will be sticking to ebay even though I'm not so happy with their fees.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jane Austen Had the Right Idea

Another great quote from Real Simple Magazine that really applies to how I feel:
There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

— Jane Austen

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Flea Market Selling - Is it Still Profitable?

flea market. HEY HEY. Pictures, Images and Photos

About 10 years ago, I sold some collectibles at a local flea market. Business was slow and everywhere around me I heard the word "ebay" floating around. So, I decided to forego the flea market junket and sell only on ebay. I did pretty well for quite awhile but have recently noticed that ebays fees have risen so high that they're taking a good 8% of my sales in fees. Not so fun when you spend hours photographing, describing, listing, packing, driving to the post office, filling out customs forms, and also paying Paypal fees because you no longer want to wait for personal checks to clear the bank.... and on and on.

I will be trying my hand at flea market selling again this Sunday. Let's hope people will be shopping for holiday gifts this weekend - buying gently used items - sort of like "recycling" as it were.

I'll keep you posted....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Week for Saving Money

Today is Wednesday - day 3 of my "use up food that's in the house" week. Last month, I blogged about an article in Woman's Day magazine suggesting ways to save money by foregoing grocery shopping for one week (except for milk and produce) and, instead, using up what's in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry.

I've been successful in this endeavor so far by being creative with leftovers from Thanksgiving, and dishes I've frozen over the last few months. I've still got 4 days to go but I'm confident I can do this! And the best part, is I've saved over $100 this week which will definitely go towards a happy holiday for my family.

I'll post in another few days on how we're doing.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Couch Doctor - You Learn Something New Every Day

I saw this article in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday and found out something I've never known before. There is actually someone out there who will cut your sofa in half, or in more pieces than that, if it can't fit into your home or apartment. His name is Sal Giangrande, otherwise known as "The Couch Doctor". He works in New York and helps people who can't fit their sofas down the long narrow hallways and into their New York apartments.

Now, if we could only find someone like that here in Los Angeles. Anyone out there know of someone?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Shelf Life of Spices

Spices Pictures, Images and Photos

I tend to use spices more during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. Sage for the Thanksgiving turkey, cloves and ginger for the pumpkin pie, not to mention spices for all those Christmas goodies we love to bake and the nutmeg for the eggnog.

The holidays are also the time I try and replace my spices with fresh ones. The shelf life of most common spices is 6 months to a year, at best.

According to Southern Living's Storage & Organizing Magazine, the 10 most common spices are:
bay leaves
cayenne pepper
chili powder
crushed rosemary
garlic powder
ground cinnamon
italian seasoning

I have to add oregano, parsley, ginger and curry to this list for me.

Store spices in a cool, dark, dry place, away from the stove and heat. Keep spices contained in their original jars with the lids screwed on tightly.

I try not to buy the larger sizes of spices unless I know I will use them frequently. Spices like allspice, cloves, sage, rosemary, cumin and cardomom come in convenient small containers which makes it easier to toss them when they get old. Watch for coupons in your Sunday paper to save on spices as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes - Send a Card Through the American Red Cross

Here's an opportunity to do something special for our troops this year. Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are teaming up and collecting holiday cards for distribution to service members, veterans and their families in the US and around the world. The goal is to collect one million holiday cards to send. The deadline to send your cards to the distribution site is December 10, 2008.

Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I just wanted to wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. The official start of the holiday season. I want to give thanks for all the blessings I have in my life - family and friends like you.

Take care today and eat as much as you want!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cut Out One Shopping Trip and Save $$

I saw this tip in the November 11th issue of Woman's Day Magazine recently and wanted to share it with you.

Cut out one shopping trip in the next few weeks to save money for holiday gifts. Try and use up all the frozen, canned and packed foods in your house and only purchase milk and fresh produce during the week. You can use the savings for holiday gifts for your family and friends without hurting your budget.

I think this is such a great idea, I'm going to try it the first week in December. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Postal Employee Hides Junk Mail - Buries it in His Yard

I found this article in the Los Angeles Times today about a postal carrier in North Carolina who, rather than deliver pounds of junk mail each week to his customers, chose to hide it and bury it in his own backyard.

Now, obviously this is illegal and he is serving probation for doing it. But you have to ask yourself, doesn't he have the right idea? Wouldn't it be better for all if we never got that annoying stack of flyers, circulars, and unused coupons every week along with the important mail?

I think so. How about you?

Gift Card Log Book - Franklin Covey's New Great Idea

Do you receive gift cards for your birthday, holidays or just because? Here's a great way to store them and keep track of their balances at the same time.

The Gift Card Log from Franklin Covey is priced at an affordable $12.95 and comes in a beautiful shade of green. You can store your gift cards, along with a paper insert for keeping track of your gift card's balance, all together in one beautiful little log book.

I am going to order one ASAP.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour - 20% Savings Extended at the Container Store

The Container Store is extending it's 20% off coupon promotion in connection with Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour. Click here to get the new coupon which expires on November 30, 2008.

A Quote for Today

Here's the latest quote from Real Simple Magazine that I wanted to share with you:

To undertake is to achieve.
Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Favorite Office Tool - The Elfa Mesh File Cart

Here is one of my favorite things that I use every day in my office. It's the Elfa white mesh rolling file cart from The Container Store. I asked for this for Christmas a few years back and my dear husband gladly complied.

What I love most about this file cart are the two drawers below the files where I can store all my smaller office supplies - stapler, calculator, ruler, paper clips, etc. I bought one of the Elfa plastic drawer sorters that fits right into the top drawer and holds all my stuff.

Here's a hint for you - the letter size and legal size file carts are the same price. I asked for the legal size because the drawers are larger and will hold more. I just use the large legal size pendaflex folders and put my smaller letter file folders inside. Works for me!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oprah, Peter Walsh and The Container Store Want to Help You Get Organized

Oprah Winfrey, "Clean Sweep" organizer Peter Walsh and The Container Store are teaming up to get you organized. Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour is traveling the country to knock on doors and organize random clutter filled homes. Peter Walsh will head the organizing team.

As the well-known organizer from the "Clean Sweep" series on TLC, Peter Walsh is also the author of two wonderful organizing books "It's All Too Much" and "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?"
It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?

I met Peter Walsh last May at the Book Expo America. He told me that he thought he knew me from somewhere although we'd never met before. I told him it's because he's been faithfully reading my blog (if only....).

The Container Store is involved in this project by providing their wonderful organizing products including Elfa shelving and closet systems. They are offering everyone a 20% off coupon good for one week (till November 19, 2008). Click here to get to the web page where you can download the coupon.

What will you buy with your 20% off coupon?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Amazon's Kindle - A New Way to Organize Your Books

Amazon Kindle w320 Pictures, Images and Photos

If you know me, you know I love to read. When I travel, I usually read 5-7 books a week. So, when I travel, that means packing 5-7 books in my suitcase - making it heavier than I want. And now, with airlines charging for baggage by number of bags and by weight, this has become an issue for me.

Amazon has created an electronic book called the Kindle. With the Kindle, you can download over 190,000 books, magazines, and newspapers directly onto your Kindle, thereby making carrying books a thing of the past.

I haven't purchased a Kindle yet - I understand they are coming out with a upgraded version in the next few months. If you have a Kindle, I would love to hear what you think of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Quote from Winston Churchill

Here's another quote I received in my daily emails from Real Simple Magazine that I wanted to share with my readers:

Out of complex intensities, complex simplicities emerge

Winston Churchill

Monday, November 10, 2008

Organizing Your Paint Chips

Here's a little tip that has worked well for me when I'm trying to keep track of what colors the walls inside my house are painted. I keep a paint chip sample for each room I've painted with the color and name of the paint on one side and the room where this paint was used on the other.

Then I keep all the samples together on a small metal binder ring that I keep with my paint and painting supplies.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No Email Fridays - Would This Work for You and Your Office?

email Pictures, Images and Photos

Check out this recent article from ABC World News about companies that are instituting a "No-Email Friday" policy. What do you think? Could you survive without reading your email for one day? Would your business survive?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let's Clean Out That Garage

Now that summer has ended and the weather is cooling off, it's time to tackle that messy garage. Make sure to pick a weekend when the weather will be favorable with no rain in the forecast.

First, go through and remove anything you know you will be giving away and get it out of the area right away.

Then, start early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Eat a good breakfast and bring water outside with you to keep you hydrated during the day.

Take EVERYTHING out of the garage and sort it into categories:

Gardening/yard: lawn mower, rakes, shovels, potting soil, flower pots, weed-wacker, hedge trimmer

Tools: tool boxes, electrical tools, cutting saws/tables

Recreation/sports: skis, skates, bicycles, helmets, bats/balls

Auto supplies: motor oil bottles, jacks, car covers,

Holiday/other decorations: Christmas tree, Halloween decorations, ornaments, flags

Bulk items (groceries/durable goods): paper products, cans of food

After you have finished sorting, go through each category with an eye toward honesty: What do the kids still play with? What do you really use? Are you still skiing? Snowboarding? Roller skating? Biking?

Once you've pared the contents of your garage down to those items you can't live without, you can begin the organizing process.

Create zones in your garage for each category you've organized your belongings into. Each of the items in the above categories should be stored with the other items in that same category; i.e. lawn and garden items should be kept together, holiday decorations should be stored in containers - labeled and sorted by holiday. Keeping the same holiday decorations together will save you an enormous amount of time when decorating for the holidays.

Once you've established the zones for your belongings, now is the time to purchase containers for those belongings.

Clear plastic containers work well because they stack nicely and you can see what is inside. Rubbermaid and Sterilite make excellent containers and they are readily available at Target and Walmart nationwide. Label each box with its contents and stack together with the labels facing outward.

As I've said before, cardboard storage boxes don't do well in garages due to possible insect or rodent infestation or if the garage gets wet.

Who knows, after you're done cleaning and re-organizing your garage, you just might be able to park your cars inside again.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What Are You Doing Tomorrow?

Last July, while walking back to my hotel from the San Diego Comic-Con, I passed the San Diego Hall of Administration building. What appears on the front of the building caught my eye and made me want to post it today - the day before the Presidential Election:
Good Government Demands the Intelligent Interest of Every Citizen

Remember this tomorrow, when you go the polls.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

halloween Pictures, Images and Photos

Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween. Don't eat too much candy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Home Staging - Make Your Home Appealing to Buyers

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging your Home to Sell (Complete Idiot's Guide to)

It's a buyers market right now and if you're getting ready to sell your home, staging your home is something you should consider - giving your home the edge over all the others.

I'm recommending the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell" by Julie Dana and Marcia Layton Turner because it gives a complete overview of home staging from start to finish.

The book defines home staging as a new service designed to help prepare your home to sell while maximizing its appeal to potential buyers. When you "stage" a home, you are making changes that will improve the opportunity to sell the property.

Home staging presents your home in its best light because buyers are known to choose a home based on how much space and amenities the property has.

The first part of home staging is determining how much you want to spend to stage your home. Most home stagers recommend spending 1-3% of the asking price for the home. If your home is listed at $500,000, you would spend between $5,000 to $15,000 for home staging. This price would include carpet and floor cleaning, rug replacement (if necessary), electrical or plumbing improvements, painting, new lighting and some light landscaping. The percentage you spend would depend on the age and overall condition of your home.

If you're balking at spending money to stage your home, consider this statistic - the sooner you sell your home, the more likely you will receive close to or above your asking price. The longer the house sits on the market, the lower the selling price will ultimately be - you've lost the "buzz" factor.

After you've determined what, if any, improvements you need to make to stage your home in an effective manner, you must tackle the clutter. This means removing all personal effects - framed photographs, knick-knacks, posters, artificial plants, trophies - anything that fills your flat surfaces and makes your home look cluttered. Clear all paper off your desk and other surfaces as well.

Take down old curtains - let the natural light fill your home. Remove old area rugs and extra furniture. Buy a nice set of towels which you will only display when the home is shown. Don't wash them - keep them nice and fluffy and new.

This is a good time to get rid of those extra items you don't want to move to your new home. Put it away, give it away, store it or sell it. Consider renting a temporary storage unit for the time your home is for sale. Store those items you want to bring to the new home but need to clear out for home staging purposes. Consignment shops will take furniture in good condition to re-sell for a small fee.

Remember, light and spacious are the keywords. And the more you do to stage your home for sale, the less you'll have to do once it sells.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Collectibles - How to Donate When They're No Longer Valuable

beanie babies Pictures, Images and Photos

You caught on to the Beanie Baby craze in the late 90's. You've been collecting Star Wars figures for years now and have run out of space and interest.

What do you do with these collectibles when they're no longer worth more than you paid for them?

Collecting collectible toys/action figures can seem like a good idea at the time - low starting prices which may increase in value over time. You figure if you keep them intact, still in their original packaging, they'll double, maybe triple in value. Unfortunately, most of the time that isn't the case and worse yet, you weren't the only one who thought that way.

My recommendation comes from personal experience in this area. Other than one wingless yellow duck that I sold for big bucks back in 1998, the Beanie babies I collected for my daughter became a big burden for storage and display space. What I decided to do was donate them to a senior citizen center who had a fundraiser for a local children's orphanage. I tallied the value of each Beanie Baby based on current Ebay values at the time, and took that as my tax write-off.

Lot 17 Stormtrooper, Ben Kenobi, TIE Fighter Pictures, Images and Photos

My husband did the same thing with his large collection of carded Star Wars figures a few years later. We created an Excel spreadsheet of each item and its value. We gave these spreadsheets to our accountant at the end of the year and took the tax write-off. The toys were donated to the local Salvation Army who works directly with children's charities in the area.

So don't despair - there is a place for every collectible - whether you sell it on Ebay and make a profit or donate it to a good cause and just take the tax write-off.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Organizing on the Go

Music Pictures, Images and Photos

Here's a link to a fabulous organizational blog post by Michelle Payne of - a website for those who teach music. This website helps teachers set lesson plans and fees, deal with billings, scheduling recitals - basically anything that a music teacher would need to know to run their own business.

This particular blog deals with helping to organize music teachers who travel from student to student and basically work out of their cars. Check it out - you'll find some great information that's sure to help you even if you're not a music teacher.

Here is the link:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A "Real Simple" Quote for Your Day

Every so often, I post a quote I receive in my daily emails from Real Simple Magazine. Here is another one I thought you'd like to see:

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.

— Anthony J. D'Angelo

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poll of where clutter collects

A few weeks back I posted a blog asking readers to tell me where clutter collects in their homes. These are the most frequent responses I received:
Bulletin board
Night stand/dresser
Top of refrigerator
Under the bed
Office desk
Dining room table

I will be touching on each of these areas in future blogs to discuss ways to organize and cut out the clutter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style - the 10 Essential Pieces for Your Wardrobe

Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style

Lately I've been evaluating my own clothing style and have decided to pare down to a basic color pallet and style to keep from over burdening my closet with clothing I don't like or don't wear very often.

I love to watch Tim Gunn both on "Project Runway" and on his own show "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style".

He recommends purchasing 10 essential items for your wardrobe that you will have and wear forever. They are as follows:
Basic black dress pants
Classic white shirt
Basic black dress
Trench coat
Everyday dress
Alternative to a sweat suit
Neutral skirt and jacket
Basic black boots, pumps and ballet flats
Any occasion top

Having these 10 essential items in your closet allows you to dress up any outfit and always have the basics when you're getting dressed in the morning. Add a simple belt or classic jewelry but don't get bogged down in trendy clothing that won't last and will be outdated by the end of the season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Having an Organized Book Fair

This week we had our semi-annual book fair which was a huge success. We have a great group of dedicated parents who help make this book fair a wonderful event and fundraiser for the school.

But a book fair is nothing, if it's not organized. Organizing a book fair is easy if you remember to group your books by category - similar to how a library is laid out. Have all fiction books together - picture books displayed on tables and chapter books displayed together by author and reading level.

Non-fiction books should be displayed by themes and categories - e.g. ancient cultures, the West, art and painting, dance, music, etc.

Make sure you have non-fiction books that appeal to young children too - how-to-draw books and books on space, transportation and animals.

In other words, know your audience. Gear your books towards the children and families you know will shop at your book fair and who will buy the books they love the most.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Container Store - Great Affordable Source for Shipping Boxes

I've been doing a lot of Ebay selling lately and am always on the lookout for great deals on shipping products. I've found that The Container Store has great prices on shipping boxes - plain white cardboard boxes in many shapes and sizes. The prices run from 89 cents to around $4.99. They also have good prices on packing peanuts as well.