Tuesday, April 21, 2015

4/21: Donation Station Instructions by 365 (Week 4)

Week 4: Create a Donation Station               

Garage sale? Yes or No.
Will you “sell” anything? Yes or No.
Where will you store items to be donated or given away?

As we purge and organize, there are multiple piles you will make EVERY time. So, having a plan with where those piles will go will be immensely helpful for getting the job done and not feeling like you are living IN a garage sale. Speaking of garage sales, are you going to have one.  This time, I am NOT having a garage sale. I don’t have enough stuff and what I do have is not “garage sale stuff.”
SO, yes or no, and where will you store your “treasures” until you are done?
donation staging area
What about clothes? Do you like to resell your clothes?
I usually donate mine, but I have a good stash right now that I think will sell. I have put them right in my trunk to swing by the resale shop. BUT I have some off season clothes as well. Those I have in the front hall closet.

If you are going to “store” your off season clothes to sell – PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR.

Trust me. I have done this more than once, holding on to off season clothes year after year because every time I “find” the pile, it’s not the right time again! In the notes section of your calendar, mark down what closet you put those clothes in! I just listened to this podcast about Goodwill. Makes me feel better that I have donated TONS of items there. The Goodwill in our area does an amazing job of supporting teens and adults with special needs!

Having a place to put donatable items right away lets me finish organizing my space and commit to getting rid of “stuff.”  If you are going to take a tax deduction… check out this webpage from Goodwill and take pictures!

Friday, April 17, 2015

4/17/15: Organizing your Weekly Lunches Instructions by 365 (Week 3)

For the past several days I've been close to death (just being dramatic). I've had this horrible cough and cold and the cough has taken its toll on me. I almost asked my DH to take me to the ER to get some meds on Saturday but the albuterol inhaler seems to help calm my cough and open my airways a little.  The Codeine last night kept me asleep too. However, it kept me on the verge of sleeping all day long.

Still groggy and feeling like BLEEP, I went to work.  Then I realized I hadn't posted the topic for last week - so here it goes.

Organizing your Weekly Lunches

The subject and the subtitles are pretty good. However, the person doing the blog is telling us where has a 7th and 9th grader and they aren't too much into the little kids things. HOWEVER, looking at the photos, why on earth would she be buying Applesauce Squeeze Packs, teething crackers and character thermos'.  Seems odd - or those aren't really her pictures.

Step 1:    Decide what constitutes a good lunch for your family.
Ha! For me, it's a few pieces of salami, some fruit snacks and a Capri Sun. However, my kids have to pack their own lunches. Brayden does the pre-made "Uncrustables" sandwiches while the girls will make their own... salami, turkey, ham, heat left-overs.

Step 2:    Buy a good lunch box.
I spent a bundle at 31 bags and got some lunch bags for each kids. Where they are right now? God only knows.

Step 3:    Buy disposable containers and silverware.
We bought disposable containers. That lasted a few weeks. It was the Rubbermaid and the sizes are all just odd. The organization of the container pull-out draw would be perfection if I were the only one to use it. However, my rug rats have completely torn it up and just toss things back when they are emptying the dish washer.

Step 4:    Pack lunches at night.
We do NOT pack lunches at night. The kids have a routine when they wake up and I'm so not changing it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

4/9/15: Calendar Coding - My Version

So I finished putting my calendar together. I love to write so I think I'll keep my calendar at work. However, we are using this "Family Calendar" on our i-devices and so we are all up to date since we are sharing calendars.

I personally like to look at my schedule in a monthly view. It just is easier for me to find things. I do like the one below (weekly view) to help me see the times that I need to do things and see if there is anything that is conflicting that I may need help with.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

4/7/15: Planners & Calendars Instructions by 365 (Week 2)

Week 2: Planners and Calendars


Last week, we organized our kitchen paper, made a master to-do list and sorted the mail.
While you were sorting, I told you to make a BIG pile of anything that you needed to schedule or put on a calendar. This week is all about that pile.

There are 3 tools that help me know where to be and what I need to have with me when I go. I want you to really think about your schedule and your life. Take what is working and tweak it. If you are an electronic gal, don’t make a paper binder and vice versa.

Grab a cup of coffee and get ready to “THINK” about your calendar, items you need to access and how you plan your days.


How do you get the most productivity out of your calendar? Use a planner! Planners provide structure, goal planning and accountability. | Organize 365
Step 1: Find a Calendar…ONE Calendar
Find that ONE calendar that works for you and put ALL the school dates, flyers, doctor appointments, birthdays and holidays on that calendar TODAY.

I prefer a Google Calendar (or iCal). It is easy to add recurring events, color code events and share your calendar with other family members or teammates.
Google calendar
Step 2: Color Code your Calendar
I highly suggest color coding your calendar. Each of my kids has a color, each of my businesses has a color and my hubby and I have colors.

Here’s another post about how I decided to color code my life. Each day and week, I look at my calendar from my computer and can easily see by color if that week is heavy with work or family related activities.

I do much better knowing that I don’t have work time and so focusing on my family – than thinking there is work time there, but I never get to it.

Some of my weeks I don’t get any work done at all, and other weeks Greg feels like Mr. Mom.

Part of having a home based, flexible business is managing that flexibility . :) It is actually HARDER to manage a flexible job than one with set hours.
I'm taking Wednesdays off! | Organize 365
Step 3: Plan for the Unexpected
I have already shared how I am preemptively scheduling errands and “interruptions” into my weekly calendar by blocking them all onto Wednesdays.

If you are always running late, don’t seem to have enough time in the day or are stressed out about who needs to be where when, I suggest putting ALL of your driving hours on your calendar for 6 weeks.  Physically seeing that time as busy will help you to stop “trying to squeeze one more thing” on your calendar.

In week 38 of the 40 weeks 1 WHOLE House challenge, I talked about organizing schedules and to-do lists. You can look at what my Sunday planning time looks like here.

For good measure, add your Sunday Basket time to your weekly calendar. I finally realized it takes me ALL DAY Sunday to get ready for the week. I go through my Sunday Basket, pay bills, change the sheets, do 6 loads of laundry, clean the house, take care of the weekly medicine dispensers, plan carpool changes and make sure all the kids’ homework is done.

On Saturday, we plan the weekly menu. I need to add cooking for the week on Sunday. More coming on that topic soon. 

When I was trying to add events on Sundays, I always ended up without getting the household ready for the week and my week was stressed. So I work Monday – Saturday, date night Saturday night, Sunday morning church and household duties from noon-8 pm on Sundays.

You may have just read that and said YUCK! I would HATE that schedule. Great! What works for you? I would love to do more household tasks during the week, but I just don’t want to allocate the time then. I am super productive from 7 am- 2 pm. In the car from 2 pm – 4:30 ish and “done” after that. Seriously. I have NO brain power or energy left from 5-10 pm.
planner listStep 4: Plan Your Day
My calendar, Sunday Basket and binder WORK because I have a PLAN to make them work. I think we spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect calendar or make the perfect binder and then wonder why they don’t “work” for us.

It is the routine ACT of planning that makes each of these items WORK.

The planner is the goal-focused attention and follow through FROM the calendar and Sunday Basket.

Calendars and Sunday Baskets hold INFORMATION. Planners hold ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY.

So how do you “plan” your life?

Ready to be SHOCKED? I have gone to only planning ONE DAY AT A TIME.

My Google Calendar is my best intention on planning. And then I sit down Sunday night and LOOK at my week. Can I add another job? Do I have time for a household project? How much will I be in the car?

Then, every night I look at tomorrow and write out a simple daily plan.

I put all of my calendar appointments by time on the list.

Then I look at my to-do list and see what I can squeeze in between appointments.

At least ONE day each week, I have a 4-8 hour chunk of time to work on blog posts.

On those days I make a SUPER BIG to-do list and prioritize which tasks have to happen first. I even give time deadlines and see how many I can get done in one day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

4/3/15: Sunday Basket Instructions by 365 (Week 1)

Week 1: Creating a Sunday Basket 

Reminders and To-Do Lists


You can make a binder, a bag or a basket. It doesn’t matter. You just need a place for paper to land until you can “deal” with it. ONE place for all the mixed up paper.

Essentially, the Sunday Basket is EVERY piece of paper in your kitchen that you haven’t processed yet. It’s a BIG holding pile in a pretty basket. 

Right now your laundry basket IS your Sunday basket. Now, we are going to pull out items and create systems for each kind of paper. But until you can get to creating the system – your papers are SAFE in these baskets. You can hunt and peck and find what you need.

Let’s talk about what’s in there. Paper is hard, but once you conquer your paper, you will feel SO much more in control of your life!

This how to sort mail post will walk you step by step through how to tackle the mail backlog. Going forward, put all your mail that needs your attention and can wait until Sunday into theSunday basket right away.
Weekly Paper Organization and PlanningSetting up your home office
  • mailing supplies
  • homework / office supplies
  • greeting cards
  • a filing system for papers
  • addresses
  • a place to put kids’ school work
  • a place to store memorabilia and photos
  • coupons
  • a project area
  • storage for binders of information

Kids’ school papers

The kitchen is ground zero, home base.

Consider having the following accessible:

I have ONE binder for each child’s artwork and papers that come home from school. Then, at the end of the year pull out things you want to save - report cards, artwork, awards, etc..

Have an office in the corner of the bedroom? That is too far away. You MUST have a home office in your kitchen.  Just the mental deep breath of accepting the kitchen as the hub of your home for food AND planning will be a relief.

Embrace it and make it work for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

4/2/15: Creating the Sunday Basket

Summer break means Spring Cleaning. However, cleaning my house with the kids home is like shoveling snow in a blizzard. Once a room is clean and you tackle the next room, the first room gets dirty all over again.

Our biggest problem: L A U N D R Y!!!  I want to hire a housekeeper to come in and go through all the laundry in the house, wash it, dry it, fold it and most importantly PUT IT AWAY!!!  Let me save that post for another time though.

Today I had two things on the agenda. 1) Cleaning the floors.  2) Sunday Basket(s)

Lexie and I got on our hands and knees and scrubs the kitchen floors, baseboards, under the stove & frig, under the table & chairs and part of the living room. Adding a little helper made it go fast and it was fun to do it together.

I started the 40 Weeks Whole House Challenge on Monday.  My first thing to do was take every piece of paper in my kitchen and shove it in a basket. However, the kitchen isn't where I keep my papers. It's my bedroom. So I started there - however, I didn't use one basket, I used 3 baskets.

  • Basket 1 - Girl Scout crap
  • Basket 2 - Family photos and awards
  • Basket 3 - Everything else

The goal of the Sunday Basket is to take every paper you collect and just dump it into the basket each week. On Sunday, I go through the basket and sort through the things that are important and the things that can wait.  I altered that a little more and I went out to the store and purchased a file folder where I can put information in their files as I go (or sort it all out on Sunday).
I went out and purchased a Open Top File Storage container. I already have the Hanging File Folders.
These will be where I store my actual files. Then I am planning to make the following Oval Metal Pail with Handles into the "Sunday Basket" since it has a nice clean look.

I also went out and purchased these Oval Carry Totes for storing the cleaning supplies - for those Work for Hire chores:

Time to get my butt up and off this computer so I can get this Activity Center done and post a photo of it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

4/1/15: Sunset State Beach for Spring Break

So Wednesday was a blast.  I had to go out to Sunset State Beach and get out their camping facilities for our big trip in April with the Girl Scouts.  It was such great weather on top of that. We have 6 sites that are next to each other. Technically, 4 are in a row and 2 are on the other side of the 1 lane road. It's pretty cool!  

There are 4 sites on the left and 2 on the right.
There is a restroom within a hop, skip, and jump and there is an amphitheater that has a large screen for showing movies if we are interested!  :-)  

Bathroom is on the right hand side - campsite is on the left of the photo
The amphitheater also has 2 fire pits that we can use for our banana boats.

Fire pits are on the sides of the screen.
Now.... on to the fun stuff - THE BEACH!  This was the view from the top of the road. The trek down wasn't bad at all.
Panoramic view from the top of the road
The trail - Looking up from the bottom, not too bad of a trek up or down.
On the beach - to right
On the beach - to the right
Another awesome part of the beach is the fact that the water goes so far out and there isn't a strong under-toe at all. The kids loved the water, the soft sand and shell searching.  

What an awesome way to spend Spring Break. (Bella sat in the car where it was warm and read her book....)
Then we had to leave. You know I was dying to go home and clean the house and keep up with my cleaning and organization. However, I just felt I had to introduce the kids to the Old Spaghetti Factory!  Mizithra is the best!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3/31/15: In the Beginning

I just totally started giggling when I saw that the last time I even peeked at this blog was back in 2014. Where does my determination go? Do I really find that I'm so busy I can't keep up on task like blogging? Well, here's my effort to try and knock that out of the ball park and turn over the page and start fresh. My husband will be truly amazed if I actually keep this up. 

Yesterday I spent the entire morning on Pinterest trying to figure out all the ideas of putting chore charts, allowance systems, organizing ideas and cleaning tips together so I can attack what I consider a tornado of a house. Now that I have all these fabulous ideas, it's time to put them together. I did purchase the items to make the Family Center. I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up some aluminum sheets, magnets, wood chips and a large cork board. Here's my idea of what I want to do:

Here's what the magnets and wood chips are for - mine will hopefully be a little more fancy:

Here were just a few of the ideas that I want to put on those disks:

- clean room, make bed
- get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair
- practice instrument
- read 20 minutes
- feed dog/cat
- Doggie Duty
- Kitty Clean-up
- homework
- empty garbage
- help with laundry
- take dirty clothes downstairs
- vacuum front room
- pick up trash in yard
- sweep kitchen
- set table for dinner
- help clear table after dinner
- do dishes/load dishwasher
- empty dishwasher
- vacuum couch
- wipe down bathroom
- clean out van
- wash cupboards
- wipe down microwave
- take out/bring in garbage can
- sport practice
- load dishes

For the top of the cork board, I thought it would be fun to add something that would allow the kids instant (monetary) gratitude. They won't be able to do these additional chores until all their daily chores are done. Here's the idea:

Here are the Work for Hire ideas that I came up with:
- Clean Refrigerator
- Kitchen Appliances
- Clean Kitchen Area
- Downstairs Bathroom
- Upstairs Bathroom
- Basket of Laundry
- Vacuum Hallway & Stairs
- Clean Downstairs Windows & Glass
- Clean Upstairs Windows & Glass
- Dust Entire House
- Wipe Down Kitchen Cabinets
- Deep Sweeping
- Sweep & Mop
- Yardwork

Last but not least, I ran over to the dollar store and picked up some baskets for the Work for Hire jobs. This way the kids will just grab a basket, follow the instructions on the front of the basket and go to it:

After the laundry, dishes, tidying up and general cleaning, hopefully I'll be able to post the photos of the completed Family Center tomorrow.
 ~ Debbie
You can't reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday's junk.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HELP US BRING BEAMER HOME (31 Days Project on hold)

On Friday night, 1/21/12, we had a pretty big wind and rain storm. Sometime during the night, the dog fence in the backyard blew over. This dog fence prevented our dogs from getting to the backyard gate where the PG&E people go to see the meter. During this storm the main backyard gate blew open. The only way that is could do this is if it wasn't locked. Since we ALWAYS lock this gate we did some investigation only to find that there is a new PG&E Smart Meter in the backyard. Putting two and two together, the PG&E people didn't lock our gate.

Beamer went out sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning.  All of our energy has been focused on finding our dog. We spent about 5 hours in the rain and crappy weather searching for Beamer on Saturday. We also contacted all the vet clinics and the Alameda and Contra Costa County shelters. Sunday we did the same thing and made flyers and put out the bulletin on Craiglist, the paper and anyplace else that people recommended. Monday was mostly rainy and so we hit the vets in the morning, checked in with the shelters and about 3:30, we went on another 1-1/2 search for Beamer.

There's no sign of him yet but we haven't given up. Cede is pretty miserable without him. She loves being a house dog but she is now beginning to howl in her sleep. She's moping around the house and you can just tell that she's blue. :-(
Click on photo to enlarge for reading easier!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 13: 01/19/2012 - The Daily Grind

It might not seem like the cleaning that the average person is doing around the house but for me it's part of the 31 Days to an Organized Home

In my iCal program I added a new calendar to the schedule - this one is all about the upcoming surgery.  Since I'm having a hysterectomy and some other fun reconstruction in "that" area, I realized that I have to have something in place in order to survive the first two weeks.

The surgery is on the 31st of Jan and I will be in the hospital for 1-2 days. I have my mom coming and staying with us so she can help take care of the kids, the house, her favorite daughter and of course, her favorite son-in-law.  (Personally, I think she's just coming to hang out with him - she loves him more anyway!)  ;-) 

According to the doctors and the other people who have given their input on Hyster-Sister.com, I will need two weeks of peace and quiet and lying down as much as possible. What the heck? I'm having a hard time even thinking I have to stay still. Ick!  Anyway, I will need as much help as possible the 2nd week of February so I've called the National Guard and got them all taking my girls to school, pick up Lauren at noon and the other two after school, then take my son to school 3 days a week and pick him up, then watch him on the two days that he's not off school.  Heck, the entire week is so packed with Mommy work that I have to put it all in a calendar of organization otherwise I'll go bonkers!

I spent my morning calling around, scheduling appointments, activities, pick-ups and drop-offs so that I could come up with a schedule to post on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror in our room, my  parent's computer, the front door and if I have to, I might as well give it to all the teachers at school so they know what to expect when the SuperMom is out of commission.

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