Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Preparing for Unwrapping

  Okay, I know, many of us haven't even wrapped our gifts yet and I'm already writing about unwrapping.  I was going to save this post until closer to Christmas, but all around me people are having early celebrations as friends and family get ready to head off on holiday vacations, pack up to move, or prepare for a military deployment. 
  If you're hosting the holiday, you'll be the one that misses out on the joy of unwrapping it you're constantly having to jump up and get things. 
   Make the Unwrapping event a little easier by preparing a tray of "tools" that can slide under the couch.  You can do this at any time - as long as you don't have small children around. If you do have small children, create the tray, but stash it somewhere else until after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve.  During the Unwrap, you can pull the tray out and have easy access to anything you need.
My little tool tray includes:
  1. A pair of scissors for cutting through ribbon.
  2. A pen and note pad - for keeping track of who gave what to whom
  3. A garbage bag or 2 - keeping the wrapping under control helps to insure that things don't get lost and/or thrown away by mistake.
  4. A box cutter - for getting through those "clam shell" type packages.
  5. A pair of wire cutters - So many things are packaged using zip ties or twist ties, this make getting toys out of their packaging quick and easy.
  6. One reuseable shopping bag for each family member.  This provides and easy place for everyone to corral their small items together.  It also makes it much easier for everyone to haul their stuff into their rooms at the end of the day.
  How do you handle the "madness" that can often accompany unwrapping? 
Thanks so much for stopping by today!


Tiny Task, Big Results - Haul Away Day

Earlier in this series of posts I suggested that you place a few empty boxes around your home.  These boxes were for donations to the local Goodwill Store, or Toy Rescue Mission. 
Today is the day to pack up those boxes and haul them off to their designated home.

 It's just that simple.  Grab the boxes, grab your family and head out the door.  After the drop has been made treat yourself to a coffee or hot chocolate at your favorite coffe spot. Make this an annual holiday tradition and you'll help control clutter in your home all year long.
 Thanks for stopping by today!


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 15

 2 EASY steps to keeping your home looking great.

  Whether you have guests that come for a week or that come for a couple of hours, more people translates to more mess.  Set aside a few minutes each day to power through a whole house pick up and then "Put on a Windex shine. 
  Step 1: Get a large basket or tote with a handle(s), start at your front door and weave a path through every room in your home.  In each room toss whatever doesn't belong there into the basket.  As you move through the house take things out of the basket and put them back where they belong.  You'll be amazed at how quickly you can tidy up when you have a "path" that you follow.  I love the big tote from Thiry-One.  The handles are big enough to throw over your shoulder; it holds lots of "stuff"; and it squishes down totally flat for easy storage.  If you're unfamiliar with Thrity-One ask a girlfriend, everyone knows someone that sells Thirty-One.  This tote is GREAT in the back of your car too, it's the perfect place to put all those slippery plastic grocery bags.

  Step 2: Grab a bottle of Windex Multi-Surface and a roll of paper towels.  A quick spray and wipe of kitchen and bathroom counters, faucets and sinks, glass top tables, and any other hard surface will give your home a fast face lift.  You can even use it for a quick wipe down of light switches, doors, and windows.  You'll be amazed at how much better everything looks "smudge free."  This was a trick my mom taught me when I moved into my first apartment.  That was nearly 3 decades ago and I haven't stopped using it.

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit with me today.


Tiny Tasks, Big Results, Holiday Organization Tip, Day 14

Get the Wrap Station Ready!
  You’ve started your shopping.  Presumably you’ve got your list going so you know exactly what you purchased and who you’ll be giving it to.  If you’re like me, wrapping gifts starts out being a joyful idea that rapidly declines into a major holiday chore.  Get a jump on wrapping this season by setting up a “wrapping station” somewhere in your home.  Mine is in my bedroom.  It’s a very simple station that consists of an “under the bed” tote. There are two keys to a successful wrapping station.
1. It has to be easy to take out, easy to put away.  This is really important if you want to be able to wrap a gift or two when you’ve got a spare few minutes.  EASY is really important.  If you have to drag everything out and put everything away you’re less likely to maximize that time.
2. The supplies in the tote have to be easy to access.   
The under the bed tote and a couple of smaller shoe boxes unlock both of these keys. 
The tote has wheels on one end.  I can easily pull it out when I’m ready to wrap.  The lid splits in half, so I can just fold back half or remove the whole thing.  Truthfully during the heavy wrapping season I usually put the tote back under my bed half open. 
   Use one of the shoe boxes to corral ribbon, bows, scissors, pens, and tape.  Try to teach yourself to drop the scissors, tape and pen back into the box as you’re wrapping.  That way you won’t be digging under wrapping scraps looking for them.  Use the second shoe box for “tag control.” 

What’s not in this picture? The other end of the tote.  Obviously the wrapping paper rolls fill the whole side, but hidden from view in the end next to the “tag” box is a neatly stacked pile of gift bags and tissue paper.  Everything has it's own place.  There are plenty of choices, but not too many.  Easy to access and Easy to put away.  One added bonus. If you want to take the "wrapping station" somewhere else in your house to wrap gifts, it's easy to move around.
  Do you have a good tip or trick for organizing your wrapping supplies? If so, I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by today!


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 13, Christmas Card Organization

Organizing Christmas Cards from years past – and this year too.
What to do with Christmas Cards at the end of the season, hmmm....it's always an emotional decision.  We hate to throw them away, but what can be done with them?
Here's a fast, 
simple idea:
Tie them in bundles with beautiful ribbons and pack them away with your other holiday decorations.  Each year set the bundles around your home, on coffee tables, end tables, mantle pieces etc.  They'll make beautiful decorations and mementos all in one.
  Add a tag to the bundle that has the year on one side. On the other side of the tag write a note inviting friends and family to untie the bundle and read the cards.  Who knows, Christmas Card reading might just turn into an annual tradition.
  Do you have a great idea for Christmas Cards? I'd love to hear about it. 
 Thanks for stopping in to chat!


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 12, Holiday Decoration Swap

Do the Decoration Swap
   Empty your Christmas storage totes onto the kitchen or dining room table.  Using the now empty totes, go through the areas of your home you plan to decorate - clear coffee tables, mantles and shelves of your everyday decorative items. Put these everyday items into the Christmas totes.

Since these totes already have a home in the garage, attic or a closet, you’ll be able to store them easily.  Your holiday decorations will present themselves even more beautifully when the everyday items are gone.
After the holidays, just reverse the process.  This will make it easy to dust, and tidy up before you replace the everyday stuff.  My guess is that you probably have more Christmas stuff than you have "everyday" stuff.  This will leave you with a couple of extra empty totes. You can use these empty “decoration” totes to store/hide Christmas gifts, just don’t forget you put them in there.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today!  I hope your holiday season is going well.  If you have comments or ideas about holiday organization, I hope you'll take a moment to share them with me.


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 11, How did Thanksgiving go?

Start a holiday – "How it went" diary
    This is as simple as it sounds.  You can do it on your computer or you can use an actual journal. 
We've already jumped two major holiday hurdles, possibly 3; Thanksgiving, Creating a Gift Shopping List, and that joyful yet exhausting event - Black Friday Shopping.
  After each event take 5-10 minutes to make some notes about how things went.  What worked out well, what didn’t go so well and what you would do differently. 
  When you pack up your holiday decorations pack up the journal with all of your holiday stuff.  Next year you can re-read your notes, make changes and add new notes.  If you use a 3 ring notebook you could include a tab for the journal, a tab for recipes and a tab for the shopping lists you’ve created this year. Again, pack the notebook away with your Halloween or Fall Decorations so you'll have it on hand when things start to get crazy next year.
  If you're doing your journal digitally, you can scan the recipes, attach the shopping lists via a hyperlink, and create a simple Word Document for notes.  If you use OneNote - this would be a WONDERFUL Notebook that is easy to access each year.
  Thanks so much for stopping by today!  I hope your Tiny Tasks are generating big results for this holiday season and those in the future.


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 10, Dish by Design

Before the Big Meal(s)
Your holiday meals are planned.
You've got the menu, the shopping list has been made and the shopping done.
Cooking day is tomorrow, but...Do you know where your dishes are?
Do you have enough serving dishes and serving utensils? 
  Time to do a quick check! Pull out your serving dishes, utensils, Menu and some sticky notes.  Label each serving dish using a sticky note.  You’ll be sure you have enough serving dishes and your kitchen helpers will know where to put each of the dishes as they come out of the oven or off of the stove. 
  Want to make clean up a snap?  Stop by the dollar store and buy clear plastic serving dishes.  After the meal you can toss them out or fill them with left overs and send them home with your guests.
Thanks so much for stopping by to read my blog today.  Please let me know how your holiday is going.  Do you have tips you can share with my readers? We'd love to hear them!


Tiny Task, Big Results - Who loves that Tradition anyway?

Who loves that tradition anyway?
  Sometimes we do things every year simply because we’ve done them every year.  Today’s Tiny Task -  take some time to talk to your family, both immediate and extended to find out which traditions are really important.  It might help to make a list of traditions before you start the conversation. (Facebook or Email can make this conversation easy to have.  No, you don’t have to call everyone individually.) 

   You may find that there are not as many really "important" traditions as you think.  You may also be surprised to learn that it’s the little stuff – for my kids I thought the annual Gingerbread House making party was really important.  It was fun, but expensive in both time and materials. After talking with them about traditions, I found out the one thing they liked the most, was getting a Grande White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks and driving around our local neighborhoods looking at lights. 
 Wow, what we call the cocoa drive was more important to them, and cost me a whole lot less in time, money, and planning.  Who knew?  Consider the Gingerbread House party a thing of the past.
 If you do find that one member of your family is crazy about a tradition that others aren’t attached to, let that person take charge of the event. 

Thanks so much for stopping by to read my organization tip for today. How is your holiday season going?  Do you have a great tip you'd like to share?  Are you struggling with a particular task? I'd love to hear from your!  Please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks Again,


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Organize your Purse, Organize your Receipts.

  YIKES - how do you take control of all of the receipts that end up in your purse, wallet, pockets, etc.   It's simple to keep your receipts organized if you just do a little planning in advance.  Your Tiny Task for today is to find a tray, box, or some type of container that you can literally DUMP your handbag into at the end of each day - if you don't carry a handbag, it's a place to empty your pockets.
  Why dump you ask? Because we collect things in our handbags that don't actually belong there. Yet once they make it in, it could take weeks or even months to get them out.  By dumping your handbag each night you're forced to "re-load" each morning. 
  This "re-load" will lighten your load and help you stay organized.
  What does all of this have to do with receipts?  I use the dump tray all year round, but during the holiday season, I leave an envelope in the tray, along with a pen and some sticky notes.  Each night I dump my bag, sort the recipts by store and put them into the envelope.  I use the sticky notes to indicate the stores, and occassionally to tag a receipt that is unclear.
  This is a simple task, an EASY task, But it will go a long way toward keeping your handbag and your holiday receipts manageable.  There's a little added bonus here too ladies, if you're like me, and you love buying handbags, but you get in a rut carrying that same black bag all winter, this simple little task will make it easy to use a different bag each day.

Budgeting Tip - If you're trying to stay on a budget this year, buy yourself a Visa Type Gift Card for the amount of your budget.  Only use it for Christmas Expenses.  You'll be able to check you spending online, and stay within your budget. 

  Thanks so much for stopping by today!  I'd love to hear how you're managing your holiday receipts and maybe your handbag too!


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 7, Wrap-n-Roll

Be ready to Wrap-n-Roll this season.
It never fails, there's always a last minute party, event, or some other situation where you find yourself buying a gift "on the way." 
  The biggest problem with this - you can often end up buying wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, - and maybe even scissors, at the same time.
    Save yourself some time, money and stress by packing a Wrap-n-Roll tote and putting it in the trunk of your car.
Fill one side with ribbons, bows, tags, pens, scissors, etc.
Fill the other side with paper, tissue, cards, gift bags, and gift card holders.
I used the Tote-tally Organized 13x13 Tote.  I filled one side with Wrapping Paper, Gift Bags, Cards and Tags.  I filled the other side with Ribbons, Bows, Pens, Scissors, Tape etc.  Everything needed to create a beautiful gift at a moments notice.
Want to hear my whole "Wrap-n-Roll" Tote story.  Watch the Video.

Thanks so much for stopping by to read today's tip.  Feel free to add a comment and let me know how your holiday season is shaping up!


Tiny Tasks - Big Results, Day 6 A list you can check twice!

   Lists, lists, lists and more lists.  That's what the holidays come down to, how to manage the long lists of things you need to do.  Today I want to talk about your Gift List.  With holiday sales starting earlier and earlier each year, keeping track of purchased gifts can be overwhelming.  Here's a simple solution for taking control of that Gift Shopping List (GSL).

  Start with a small notebook. Once that will easily fit in your handbag or pocket.  I love the Moleskine (3.5"x 5") notebooks that can be purchased at bookstores like Barnes and Noble or at office supply stores like Office Depot.  The thing I love about them is their "thin-ness".  Because they don't have a spiral binding or a book type binding they are pretty flat and easy to carry.  They also have perforated pages, so when the season is over you can pull out the pages easily.  The one I'm using this year is the same one I used last year.

Step 2 - Create "sticky note" tabs for each major category of shopping.
   These might be individual people or groups of people.  For example, each of my children have their own tab, as I buy the most for them.  Then I have a tab for; FAMILY, one for FRIENDS, one labeled HOSTESS - Little things that are appropriate for taking to a holiday party, one for SERVICE - these are people like Teachers, Postman, UPS Driver, etc.  My last section is tagged with a "?".  This is where I keep a list of things that I've purchased that have yet to be assigned to a recipient.   This doesn't mean I'm out buying "willy-nilly" items, it means that I found something that would be perfect for more than one person.  As I get closer to Christmas, I'll assign the gifts and/or return some of them if I've found something better.  This little section is GREAT if you've forgotten someone or need a gift sooner than you had anticipated. 

Step 3 - Controlling your list information
  Some gift lists are easy to manage.  Hostess, Service, etc - these generally include one name, one gift, and no need to "hide" the gift in the process.  Create a "code" list on the inside of your notebook. I use a pretty simple series of letters to identify where I am in the process with each gift:
P = Purchased
W = Wrapped
D = Delivered
S = Shipped
  If you spread your gifts around the house for storage, you may want to include a note as to the location of the gift.
   With kids, I use one side of the page for "Gifts" and one side of the page for "Stockings". 

Step 4 - Storing your purchased gifts
  If you can keep all of the gifts you don't have to "hide" in one place it will make things much easier. I use labeled boxes in the garage that follow my "tabs" FAMILY, FRIENDS, HOSTESS, SERVICE, etc.  If you have room in a spare bedroom or closet that's even easier.
 With gifts I have to hide, I use two large boxes in the garage.  One is labeled "Baby Clothes" the other is labeled "Travel Stuff".  I actually use these boxes all year for things I don't want my kids to find, birthday gifts, Easter treats, etc.  Max is my youngest, so all of his things go in the Baby Clothes box, London - obviously gets the things in the Travel Box.  This system has worked well for years.  If something is too large for the boxes - like a bicycle or skis, I usually leave those at my office until Christmas Eve.

List Tips -

Try to leave a line or 2 between each entry in your gift list - this will provide extra space if needed.

Write in pencil.  I try to keep a mechanical pencil clipped to my list.  That's another benefit to using the thin Moleskine notebook.

If keeping track of your spending/budget is important to you, add a column to each page and/or a section to the back of your notebook for an easy reference. I assign a budget to my kids pages for both Gifts and Stockings.

I hope your holiday season is getting off to a smooth start.  I'd love to hear how you're applying these organizing ideas and others to your life.  Please feel free to share a comment and to share this post with your friends and family.
Thanks so much for stopping by today!


Tiny Tasks - Big Results - Thanksgiving Shopping List Video

Thanksgiving Shopping List simplified.
After yesterday's post it was suggested that I do a video explainging how to use the shopping list.  Please click on the image below to watch the video now.  To download the shopping list - click here.

Thanks so much for stopping by to read/watch my blog today.  Join me tomorrow when we talk about a great way to "Wrap and Roll."


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 4 Thanksgiving Shopping List

Day 4 Thanksgiving Meal Planning
  As I walked past the wall of canned Pumpkin at the grocery yesterday, I thought to myself, YIKES I better get my Pumpkin now, remembering back a couple of years ago when there was a shortage of Pumpkin and I had to buy a frozen pie. But then my organization brain kicked in and said “STOP, don’t buy anything until you know what’s in the pantry.”  With just 8 days until Thanksgiving today is the day to pull out the recipes, create the shopping list and start planning. 
  Last year I came up with a really great way to make a holiday shopping list, using Excel. Here’s a link to my list, you can save it and then modify it to match your shopping list.  I would suggest downloading it now and opening it so you can view it while you read through the instructions – especially if you are a visual learner.
  The items in red are main categories or “aisles” at the grocery store.  Here’s how it works.
  1. Gather all of your recipes together.
  2. Put the name of each dish in the top row (row 1) – you can just type over my entries with your own.
  3. Start with your first recipe. Put EVERY ingredient on the recipe under the correct “Aisle” heading in the Shopping List  Column (column A).  Even things like Salt and Pepper. Then in the column for that recipe write how much of that item you need to complete the recipe. 
  4.   Do the same thing with all of your recipes – adding items to the list column by category and then the amount needed under specific recipe column.  Some things will be used in multiple recipes, like Chicken Broth in my example list.  Only put Chicken Broth in the Shopping List one time – see example.
  5. Once you’ve finished all the recipes, add the rows across and fill in the total in Column D – Total for Recipes.  Some things will be by the ounce, some by the pound, some by the each, that’s okay.   I left a few items on my list so you could see how I did it.  You’ll want to clear out all of my numbers before you start your list.
  6.  Next step, print out your list and go into your kitchen.  Use the column labeled PANTRY CHECK to verify that you have or don’t have the quantity needed to complete all of your recipes. A simple check mark can indicate that you have what you need. If you don’t have enough, fill in the amount you’ve got in the Pantry Check Column, subtract what you’ve got from the Total for Recipes (column D) and write the answer in the Purchase column (B).  The Purchase Column is what you need.
When you are going through your dry goods, if you can clear a space on your pantry shelf and put all of the items together, you’ll realize 2 benefits.  The first, when you’re ready to begin your holiday cooking, you’ll be able to get everything you need in one place.  Secondly, if you pull something out of that area in the pantry, you’ll know you need to replace it before you start your holiday cooking.  You can do the same thing with a designated area in your refrigerator and/or freezer.
Once you set up your shopping list, save a copy of it.  Chances are you’ll be able to use the list with a few modifications when you’re ready to plan your next holiday meal.  Just clear out the numbers and start again.

Download my list - click here for the link.

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit my blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know how your holiday planning is coming along.


Tiny Tasks - Big Results - Day 3 Start Scheduling

Back it Up Day
  It’s time to start putting your calendar to work for you.  Today is the day to start mapping out major events and shopping adventures and then backing up those major events with the minor steps necessary to accomplish everything.  Thanksgiving is only 9 days away so let’s get busy.  If you’re a really visual person colored pencils can be helpful at this stage.  Before you actually start writing things on your calendar, make a few lists (everyone’s list and priorities will be different, these are just examples):
  Create these lists on a document on your computer.  This will help you add things in as you go along through the season.  Be sure to include a date at the top of the list and change it each time you modify the list. 
Major Events (things that you will definitely do/attend/etc.) – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, Travel Plans, kids release dates from school.
Minor Events (things you will most likely do/attend/etc.) – Children’s Christmas program at school/church, Hanukkah meals with friends, Parties, ….
Major To-Dos
Decorate the House
Buy the Tree
Decorate the Tree
Santa Pictures
Bake cookies
Write Christmas Cards
Send Christmas Cards
Minor To-Dos
Get the carpets cleaned
Once your lists are complete you can start adding items to your calendar.  This is where the colored pencils come in handy.  Use a different colored pencil to indicate each of the Major Events on your calendar.  Major events are things that will have lots of other moving parts, so using color coding will help keep things organized.  I use the space at the bottom of my calendar to make notes about the things I will need to follow up on for each major event. 

   This is just the first phase of organizing your time.  Don’t stress out on the details. Just get the Events and To-Dos on the calendar.  Once you’ve got your lists written print them out and check them off as you add them to the calendar.  When the calendar is up to date go back to your computer list and add a symbol or check mark to each item on the list so you know it’s been scheduled.  I use a Clock symbol. If you're unable to schedule something, you’ll know because the symbol will be missing. You can also add the date if you want and other relevant information.  Once that is done, change the date at the top of the list, and reprint it. Keep it with your calendar. As you think of things that need to be added to your list you can jot the information down.
 Major To-Dos
ÂDecorate the House – Saturday, November 24
 Buy the Tree – Sunday, November 25
 Decorate the Tree – Sunday, November 25
Santa Pictures
Bake cookies
 Write Christmas Cards
 Send Christmas Cards

  Once you’ve finished today’s task, you’ll have a good overall view of your holiday schedule.  As you begin the details of planning you can add things in around your major/minor events.

  One last reminder.  Don't stress out over this today.  Just get the major stuff down so you have a foundation to work from.  Then, spend a few minutes each evening reviewing your lists, adding details and discussing changes/additions with your family.  You'll all be on the same page, and they'll have a good understanding of what it takes to have a succesful holiday season.  Dinner discussions with the calendar will also help to prompt forgetful teenagers (and husbands) into remembering potentially important things that are coming up for them over the holidays as well. Things like School Parties, Dances, Ski Days with friends, or holiday events at your husband's office need to be on your calendar too.
  Thanks for joining me today! Here's to a stress-less holiday season.


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - Day 2, Make room for the new.

Out with the old – making space for the new!
 We all have intentions of cleaning out our closets, the game closet, or the kids rooms before the holidays.  This is an item that for many of us sounds like a great idea, but somehow we never quite find the time to get it all done. 
  Making room for the new things that will arrive in your home over the holiday season can be really easy if you start early and keep it simple.  Set up a “donate” box in your closet, in the kid’s closets/rooms, in the family room, in the garage, and in the laundry room. It will be easy to place items in these boxes as you come across things you no longer need/want.  Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself, just set yourself up for success by having the boxes available.  As you go through your daily life you’ll find plenty to fill the boxes without actually adding a chore, “clean out the closet,” to your list.
  If you have children, let them know they will need space for their new toys/gifts too.  Find a local charity that cleans up and refurbishes toys and games for needy families.  It’s so easy for children to be generous when they understand that there are other kids who won’t get things if they don’t donate/share the things they no longer need.  In Tacoma, which is where I live, we have a wonderful organization called The Toy Rescue Mission, they serve children for both Christmas and Birthdays.  They also serve the Senior community.  Here’s a link to their website, hopefully there is a similar program in your area. http://www.toyrescuemission.org/whoweare.html  
  I know lots of you that read my blog are crafters, when I was a kid, there was one gift I looked forward to getting every year - an Art Box.  It was a simple brown cardboard box filled with paper and stickers, glues and ribbons, a hole punch, crayons, markers, scissors, etc.  The box wasn't fancy, just brown cardboard, none of the supplies "went together" but it was usually the gift I loved the most.  If you need to purge from your craft supplies during this holiday season, you could make some young child VERY happy by donating a box of supplies to a local charity.
  Set a goal to FILL each of the boxes you've placed around your house by the 8th of December.  On the 9th of December load up your donations and your family, deliver everything to the charity you’ve chosen and celebrate with a round of hot chocolate at your favorite local coffee shop.  On the way home pick up a couple more boxes, put one in the garage, and one in the coat closet.
 Make these boxes part of your normal “household” and it will be EASY to keep things that you no longer need moving out the door on a regular basis.  I call this the "Stream-Clean."  It's not really cleaning, it's more like streamlining but it results in cleaning.

What you'll need to complete this task:
  • 1 box for each of the rooms you want to clean out.
  • A few minutes to research a donation location in your area.
  • Mark your calendar with the date you'll take everything out of the house.
  • A couple more boxes for the "Stream-Clean" project.

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear about your progress.  Please feel free to leave a comment.


Tiny Tasks, Big Results - 30 Days of stress-less organizing tips for the holidays

   So much of holiday stress comes from the feeling like you’re constantly overwhelmed and behind the “eight ball” or should I say "cheese ball." 
  Starting today I’ll post one EASY thing you can do to help ease the holiday overwhelm a little at a time. I've focused on tasks that can be accomplished in a matter of just a few minutes.  Simple steps that will get you to mid-December feeling like you’ve got it all under control.  When Christmas Eve rolls around you’ll be as excited as the kids are, knowing that you can enjoy the festivities with far less stress. 
  I’ll post the tips here on my blog, so if you bookmark it, you’ll be able to get right back to where I left off. I'll be Tweeting them out as well, so if you prefer a link in your Twitter Feed, Click Here to follow me on Twitter.
Let's get started:
Day 1 - An easy to use, no frills, quick reference calendar - no reading glasses necessary!
  Print a November and a December calendar off the internet (if you’ve got colored paper available, use that) or if possible photo copy the November and December pages off your home calendar – again on colored paper if available. Colored paper really helps these pages to standout and be easily reconized.  
  This will become your holiday scheduling bible.  Do this EVEN if you use the calendar in your phone.  It’s a quick reference other members of your family can view or that you can bring out at dinner time to discuss with everyone. 
  Each night just before heading off to bed, you’ll update the commitments on your portable paper calendar to your wall calendar, your phone, or the small checkbook sized calendar you carry in your purse or briefcase. 
  The full sized sheets allow you to include more information in the “date square” and also provide extra space in the margins or on the back if you need to scribble down extra notes.  Paper calendars also allow you to take notes at a parent’s meeting or church event, etc., without the others around you thinking you’re “texting” and not paying attention. 
  Additionally, you can pull these sheets out when you’re on the phone and do a quick check of you schedule while still having a conversation.
  BONUS - if you're over 40 and need reading glasses to check the calendar on your phone, you probably won't need them to check this larger calendar. :-)
    To find a printable calendar, just Google Search: “Printable November 2012 Calendar” you’ll get lots of options.  I like this one because it has lines in the squares.  You can choose to print it in portrait view and leave space underneath for more notes or, you can print it in landscape and fill the whole page with the calendar.  http://getfreecalendars.com/calendars/2012/november-2012-calendar-printable/editable-november-2012-calendar.jpg

  Thanks so much for stopping by to visit!  Please let me know how this works out for you.


Organized Ornaments - A wonderful holiday tradition

  Each year I purchase an ornament for each of my boys.  Sometimes they relate to a hobby or sport they are participating in - A glass football for Max, a pair of running shoes for London. Sometimes they are a reminder of a specific event throughout the year - London's first flying lesson, Max's broken arm. Sometimes they are just silly ornaments that I think the boys will like.
  Each year as we are unpacking the ornaments and placing them on the tree I think to myself, I need to document these ornaments so I'll remember who they belong to when it comes time to box them up and pass them along. 
 Last year, I even grabbed my camera and photographed all of them.  Like all fabulous intentions during the holiday season, this project ended up on the back burner, and the pictures filed away in that great digital storage device in the sky - "the cloud."
  This year though, I've found the perfect tool to make this task an EASY to do activity. You know what I always say, if it's EASY you'll do it.  Well, I have EVERY confidence that this year I'll get it done! 
  I'm going to use the "OFlip" mini-album.  This cool little album, which is available on our website, is a simple post bound 4x6 album with a clear cover.  Why is it so easy?  Because the 4x6 photographs are the PAGES of the album.
The simple idea behind this easy to use album is that you use the self-adhesive tabs, stick the picture to the tab, and put the tab on the post.  Then if you're feeling really creative you can use some stickers or other embellishments directly on the photo.  You can add a journaling sticker to the back of the photo if you want, or you can just write on the back of the photo.  SIMPLE!
I can create 3 albums, one for me, one for London and one for Max in just a few minutes!! I love it.

This is what the tab looks like when it's stuck on the back of the picture. 
Finally, I'm going to tie a ribbon from post to post which will allow me to, you guessed it, hang my album on the tree like an Ornament!!! Hooray! Now I'm off to find the ornament photos I took last year and have them printed.  I'll put up a photo of my finished project when I get it done.
Here's an example of an easy to create page for my album. 
Let me know what you think about creating an album/ornament for all of your family ornaments.
Thanks for stopping by,


YIKES! I've become a Collector

Bags, Bags everywhere, which one will I use?
  Probably the same one I have right now because I can't find the one I need. :-(
A confession:  – “I don’t always practice what I preach.”
For those of you who have taken my classes, participated in webinars or just follow along with posts on FB/Twitter you know EASY is a key word in most of my presentations.  When you make things easy to get to you’ll use them, if it’s difficult those things will just become “stored” items. I had a little epiphany about this in my own home just last week. 

Another confession, I have a problem with handbags.  I LOVE THEM!  Its the first department I go to in any department store. They are the thing I most often search for on the internet. They are the piece of any woman’s outfit that I notice first.  It’s so bad that my boys actually have a plan to run visual interference of handbags any time we’re shopping together. Max wraps his arm around mine and guides me away from the accessories department while London walks sideways waving his arms to obstruct my view.   I'm sure it's quite a site to the observing shopper.
In my old house I had a few glass front cabinets where I kept all of these fabulous treasures. They were visible and accessible. I used them! In my new house, all I have are shelves high up in the closet.  This means that all of my lovely ladies have to be stored in their dust bags, out of reach.

Last week my darling girlfriend Heidi Hurst, who just happens to be the best real estate agent in the South Puget Sound (no, I’m not biased), came over to help me with some wardrobe issues.  (She was supposed to convince me to return a number of new purchases – but being the good friend she is, she was able to help me justify keeping everything.)

Okay, I digress.  With one of the outfits, I said, “Oh, I have the perfect bag to go with that, let me show you.”  I went into the closet, scanned the shelves of dust bags, looked around for the step stool, decided it was out in the garage, you get the idea.   I emerged from the closet and said “I don’t know which bag it’s in, but it’ll be really cute.”

After Heidi left I started thinking about those bags, and about the fact that I had carried the same black bag all winter last winter and the same pink bag all summer this summer, and that the reason I hadn’t changed bags was because it was too much work to find the bag I needed.  Something had to be done! I had become a collector, not a user.

When I got up this morning I decided to make a change.  I wanted to use those wonderful bags, but how could I make them visible and accessible while still keeping them clean and protected from dust.  Voila!! It came to me.
  1. I would photograph each of the bags.
  2. Print the photos and pin them to the dust bags.   
  3. Arrange the bags in some sort of “rainbow” on my shelf.  
  4. Purchase one of those small collapsible step stools so I could keep it handy.
BONUS: I can upload the “handbag” album to my phone so when I’m shopping I can pull up the pictures of the bags and match them to scarves, shoes, belts, or any other accessory without having to guess at the color. YEAH!!!
As I’m writing this post, an email has just popped up with a subject line: Get Carried Away with Handbags from MICHAEL Michael Kors.  Do you see, I am literally haunted by handbags!
Here’s the result:
Step One - Take Photos.
Step one - take photos.
Quick snap shots of each of the bags.

Step Two / Three - Print Photos, Attach to dust bags, Arrange in color groups.

Step Three - Purchase a step stool to keep in the closet.
SUCCESS!!! I'm on my way to a 50th Birthday Party tonight.  I know which bag I want to use.
Finding it on the shelf took just a few seconds, and my new step stool made it quick and EASY to reach. 
One other helpful hint.  If you're going to change your bag on a regular basis. Encourage yourself to do it by designating a place to "dump" the contents of your bag.  I used a tray at the end of my bed. Another bonus to the "dump" tray, you're almost forced to clean out your bag on a regular basis.
(This is my dump tray, do I really need 3 hair clips and 4 pair of glasses?)
If you have questions about organizing something in your home, office, car..life, I hope you'll take a moment to post a comment.
Thanks so much for stopping by,
"Tiffanize" your handbags!


If you're well organized you'll be able to craft on the fly.
Keeping things organized makes it easy to create items on the fly!  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to craft because “it just takes too long to find your stuff.”  Get Organized and you’ll be able to create quickly and easily.  Join us for the FallGet Organized Challenge – Click here to sign up.
  I found this great idea for an old frame that was reused as a bathroom vanity tray.  I immediately thought – “Hey, I could fill that frame with just about anything and use it as a serving tray.”  That sent my mind racing.

  With the holiday season right around the corner there will be so many little “details” we need to take care of that our opportunity to create gets stifled by time constraints.  With your supplies organized and accessible, you’ll be able to take advantage of many more of these opportunities.
  One common occurrence during the holiday season is joining friends, family, coworkers, etc .,  at potluck style events. 
  Be ready to “wow” the others at the event with a tray that appears to be custom made.  Just find an old frame - or start with a new one – choose something that suits your style and personality; ornate and girly to sleek and hip, any type of frame will work.
  If it’s not the right color don’t worry about it.  One of the wonderful things I learned from my mother; who always had a beautiful home even though we had very little money, was that a can of spray paint can transform just about anything.  Spray the frame whatever color you need it to be.  The next time you need it, don’t be afraid to hit it with yet another color.  You can change the frame every time you use it.  My mother transformed a pair of 1960s chrome bubble lamps into everything from high tech hip to beachy  and beige using spray paint and a few other supplies she had in her craft closet.  I can remember at least 4 different transformations, each of them cooler than the last.  While I don’t have any examples of her actual lamps, this is exactly what she started with:

Tips for creating your “tray”.
 Secure the glass in the frame with silicone adhesive, so no water will be able to seep under the glass and destroy the layout you’ve created.
  Use hot glue to adhere small wooden feet to the back part of the frame.  Add a piece of felt to the bottom of each of the feet, this will keep the back of the frame from scraping the surface on which it is sitting as well as make it easier to lift.  You can also add cabinetry handles to frame if you choose.
  Create your layout – anything from “Happy Birthday” to “Thanks for inviting me”.  Each time you attend an event you’ll be able to change the layout in the frame so it’s specific to the occasion, but you’ll only have time to create if you’re supplies are organized and accessible.  So Get Organized, and Get Crafting!  Join us for the Fall Get Organized Challenge –click here to sign up today!
Thanks for stopping by,


Practicing what I preach - How to plan, pack and scrap on vacation.

  This was really a wonderful learning experience.  In general, I thought I was really well prepared for being able to scrap while I was on vacation. 
  Other than the few things I forgot (mentioned in post 5) I had a good assortment of products.  The inks/chalks/pens, etc., that I brought offered plenty of choices.  I would have packed a bit more background paper.
  Returning everything to its proper place in my studio was really quite easy.  I actually left the products I had chosen, and the pictures I had printed, together in the Project Planner Pages so when I have time to finish up they're still together.  In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I may just pull that Spinder off my ScrapRack, toss it into a TravelPack,  and take it with me down to Bend this weekend.  Maybe I'll be able to finish up when I'm there.
  Here are a few pictures from the trip.  We really had a wonderful time.  There were so many fun things to do and the scenery was BEAUTIFUL!
Yep, that's me repelling down the cliff side.

London on the Slickrock Trail

Max leading the way. It was early, but already quite warm.

There I am again, always at the end of the line.
The boys tell me my main purpose is "food and first aid."

All three of my boys sound asleep on the flight to Moab.

At the Colorado National Monument

Park, out climbing around.

London and Max  on the river.

  If I was going to do it over again, the only thing I would change is my expectation of what I thought I could get done. 
  Thanks so much for following along!!


Practicing what I preach - Post 6

Well, I can't say that I was as successful as I would have liked to have been, but I can say I did get 8 pages complete (titles will be cut and added at home, journaling will be printed and attached to the back of the layouts at home too.)  I was also able to do the basic design for another 4 pages.  It should be pretty easy to finish those up when we get back.
What I can say is that I just re-packed all of my supplies and it was REALLY easy to put everything away. 
What I would recommend if you're planning on scrapping during vacation:
1. Rent a house or condo instead of staying in a hotel.  There are so many benefits; having a washer and dryer (I love going home with just clean clothes in my suitcase), a full kitchen is a huge plus, especially with teenage boys, they usually cost less than the same number of nights in a hotel, but from a Scrapper's perspective it's GREAT to have lots of extra space to Scrap.

2. Make sure you have plenty of color choices with paper.  I don't think I took enough.

3. Don't get frustrated if you can't get everything done.  Just being able to think about layouts as events are happening will make it easier to scrap them when you get home. I was able to the basic design work for the additional 4 pages, that means I'll be able to finish them up pretty quickly at home.

4. Check into a one hour photo printer before you leave.  If you're in a small town like Moab, you may not have access to printed photos.  It would be a bummer to pack all of your supplies and then not be able to Scrap while you're there.

5. Take some empty SuperSized Singles for storing your completed pages.  I had to put the completed pages in the back pocket of the Project Planner pages.  It worked find, but it would have been more fun to put them into the SuperSingles so I could lay them out and see all of them at once.

6.  Don't try to do too much.  If  you're like me, you can get so caught up in what you plan to get done, that you miss out on the "relaxing" part of being on vacation.

Thanks for following along.  I'll post more on Monday when I have a chance to actually "unpack" everything in the studio.


Practicing What I Preach - Post 5

  Okay, I did forget a couple of things, my corner rounder and STICKY NOTES!!! How I forgot those is beyond me - sticky notes are almost as important in my life as coffee.
  I've created a couple of pages.  I need the Sticky Notes so I can write down the titles I have in my head and attach them to the layouts. I'll cut them with my Pazzles machine when I get home.
 These pages are pretty simple, but mostly done.  I'll do the jounaling blocks at home when I have access to a computer printer.
 I think the ladies at the pharmacy with the photo printer think I'm crazy. I've been in there everyday using (or trying to use) their Kodak machine.
It's a little more difficult than I thought it would be to scrap while I'm on vacation.  Mostly because I'm EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. 
The good news is it's nice and warm here in Moab!!
Thanks for checking in on my progress!