Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cookie containment

I love to bake. I'd bake a batch of cookies every day, but then my husband would die of sugar overload, not mention our apartment would be even hotter than it already is on those hot summer days from firing up the oven. In order to not let my baking go to waste, and also keep the house cool on days when I'd like to eat a cookie without baking, I've come to embrace a tip I learned from my mother-in-law. She bakes a batch of cookies, lets them cool, and then seals up them up in Ziploc bags, six at a time, and pops them in the freezer. They keep for a couple weeks like that, and when you are hankering for some oatmeal-chocolate-chip goodness, all you have to do is take out one of the bags, wait about 30 minutes, and you have perfectly fresh and tasty cookies, and not too many of them at one time! It's better than keeping a huge batch around for days until you have to throw some away because they are stale or you can't bear to look at them anymore, and you can also exercise some portion control.

My favorite oatmeal raisin cookie from the Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book by Judy Rosenberg

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nominations open for the Organizing Awards!

Nominations are now open for the 2012 Organizing Awards, which are being held October 20 in Los Angeles. You can nominate your favorite products and businesses in 24 categories, six of which are new for this year. To nominate, visit the NAPO-LA website. Among the new categories are Best Organizing Mobile App and Best Paperless/Electronic Organizer, which I think are pretty exciting additions. Nominations close July 27.

Last year's awards volunteers - see me on the upper right?
Last year I participated in the planning of the awards as the PR/Marketing Committee head, as well as in other areas. It was an extremely fun night, and a great networking opportunity. My participation in this year's planning is more limited, but I will be following the nominating and voting process and plan to attend the awards in October.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is it time for a new toothbrush?

Dentists (and toothbrush manufacturers) recommend a new toothbrush every three months. My problem was remembering when three months is up. Since I always have at least one extra toothbrush on hand, my solution is to write on the next brush's box the date I opened the previous one on. So on the spare brush I write June 14, and the next time I'm wondering when my three months is up, I can just check the box and see that I don't need to switch until September 14.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Four reasons to watch streaming video

"...there's no need to go out and replace our modest DVD collection with Blu-ray versions. It's all going streaming anyway, and from a clutter-control point of view, I couldn't be happier." --Lelah on this blog, January 26, 2011
As more and more titles become available on video streaming services like Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, more and more people are buying subscriptions to these services instead of investing that money in physical DVDs or even digital downloads from online stores like iTunes. Here are four reasons making that choice will make you organized:

  1. The content is available anywhere you have a strong internet connection. You can simply log in to your Netflix, Hulu or Amazon account to watch on a computer or device (like a PS3 hooked up to your TV or your smartphone--sometimes you have to authorize the device through their website first) and then you are free from having to carry a physical DVD or the digital file with you if you want to watch while mobile.
  2. The fewer DVDs in your life, the fewer shelves you have to devote to storing them, organizing them, and dusting them.
  3. It is easy to search these services for the show or movie you want to watch, which might save you time if your DVD collection is strewn throughout your house.
  4. When you get in the habit of streaming video, you realize how much more convenient it is than going out and renting a DVD or even physically putting a DVD on to play when you can simply tap at your remote or keyboard and having something playing in seconds. Therefore, you are less likely to purchase DVDs, especially on a whim, which saves you time and clutter.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Women and time

In the April edition of Real Simple magazine was a long feature called "Women & Time" in which they detailed the results of a survey they performed to figure out how today's women spend their time. Here are some of the more interesting findings:

  • 52% of women have less than 90 minutes of free time a day
  • 29% have less than 45 minutes a day
  • Cleaning is the chore that women would most like to eliminate from their to-do lists, followed by laundry.
  • The top 3 jobs women don't want to hand of to their spouse are decorating, managing household finances and organizing. 
    • I'd like to think that's because organizing is so fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Practicing extreme self care

**This post was originally published in my monthly e-newsletter, Lelah's News. Don't subscribe? Sign up here!

A while ago I read an article about dealing with emergency situations in which the author advised that to better cope, one should practice "extreme self care." In other words, make sure you get plenty of food, water, rest and whatever else your body needs to keep functioning at its highest level. Though that is probably most difficult to do when in an emergency situation, it makes sense. I was inspired by the phrase “extreme self care” and wondered why not practice that every day? How better can we honor ourselves and keep ourselves most productive and happy than by getting the rest we need, the nutrition that fuels our bodies, the exercise that makes us feel good and anything else that a body in particular might need (some time to yourself, a daily does of chocolate). Self care keeps us healthy and sane.

As the mother of a six-week-old, I know that taking care of yourself isn't always easy and it isn't always the first priority. Getting one's teeth brushed can seem like quite an achievement some days. But when you take care of yourself you can take care of others so much better. Therefore, I advocate extreme self care as a lifestyle choice that can make any day more manageable. To practice this, sometimes you simply have to give yourself permission to put yourself first. Once you do that, finding the time in your packed schedule to take a walk just to see some green trees or to refill your water bottle and make a healthy snack is no longer indulgent but necessary, vital, non-optional.

Try it and see how it positively impacts everything else in your life.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Streamlining laundry

I used to do laundry once a week. Then I had a child. Now every other day is the norm. Fortunately, laundry is one of my more favorite chores, since it doesn't actually involve that much hands-on time, and you can always catch up on TV while you do the folding.

These are my tips for a streamlined laundry experience:
  • Have all your supplies ready. I like to stock up on detergent when it is on sale (I like All Free Clear), and I keep it in a cupboard above my washer and dryer. That's actually the only thing I use to wash clothes, but if you are into more products, be sure to keep plenty on hand and in an accessible place.
  • Separate when you put clothes in bins. Investing in a whites bin and a colors bin for each room in the house that will gather laundry will save you a lot of time on the back end when you want to make sure your whites aren't going to be spoiled by a new pair of jeans.
  • Have set laundry days. Now you can plan ahead and not be stuck needing to wash an important work blouse at the last minute.
  • "Duotask." Lorie Marrero of The Clutter Diet reminds us to take advantage of time-saving inventions like washing machines to get other chores and tasks done.
  • Wash full loads. Not only does this save water, but it saves on time, since you end up doing the repetitive tasks of loading and unloading fewer times.
Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by mrwynd

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


**This post was originally published in my monthly e-newsletter, Lelah's News. Don't subscribe? Sign up here!

Batching is a retail term that means you perform all instances of an action before moving onto the next action. So instead of scanning a shirt, then removing the hanger, the anti-theft thingy, folding it, putting in the bag and starting over with the next piece of clothing, you scan all the items at once, then take them all off their hangers, then remove all the anti-theft devices one after another, etc. This idea can be applied in lots of ways, from chores (dust all the rooms before you vacuum all the floors instead of doing everything one room at a time) to workflow (respond to all your emails, then return all your calls, instead of switching back and forth). It saves time, it helps you to know what you are doing in a given moment, and it reduces the chance you’ll miss one of the steps along the way.

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Andrew Morrell Photography