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The Home and Office Organizing Blog
Friday, January 25, 2008
Cheapy Hairstyle

Do you spend a lot of money on your hairstyle? Here is way to keep that style without breaking the bank. Get your haircut from a salon with experienced stylist. You will spend a little more to start. To keep that style visit an inexpensive salon and pay half the cost. It will be easier for them to follow your last style. For the next month, head back to the more experienced salon. I hope this helps you save a few bucks!


Gift Card Mania

One of the most common items I find when organizing is unused gift cards. Its really important to keep these cards in a safe place where you can find them when you need them. You Also want to make sure you use them before the expiration date.
So grab those cards, make a list of each card, domination and expiration date. Next, figure out the best time to use them. For instance do you have a special occasion coming up? Use that $50 spa gift. How about a birthday party? Use the bookstore gift certificate to purchase a that new bestseller. So get creative with those cards but most importantly use them! The person who gave you the gift certificate had good intentions and they want you to enjoy their gift!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Keep Track Of Your Subscriptions

Have you ever ordered a magazine subscription? It's fun to get that fresh copy of all the latest and the greatest your favorite mag offers each month. But what happens after your sign up? You sign up in January for a one year subscription, six months later you start receiving renewal invoices with a 20% discount for 2 years! What do you do? Do you keep the invoice? Throw it away? But what a deal...or not? Wait didn't you just pay for the subscription? Is it already expired? Who knows? What about that other mystery invoice from another magazine you may or may not have received in the past? Did you just get another invoice from them as well? Sometimes it can be hard to figure out which magazine you paid for, which subscriptions are running out and which ones you even want to renew and when?

Organizing tip - Renew all subscriptions for magazines, memberships and clubs at the same time each year. Record this information in your calender and the date it will run out. Set a reminder 2 months before the expiration date so you have time to renew. To make it even easier on yourself list your account number and phone number to call.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Keep your closet from getting overstuffed.

Let go of any clothes that have stains, rips or are beyond repair.

Let go of clothes that don't reflect your current lifestyle. If you used to work in a corporate office and now work from home, think about getting rid of the suits.

If you can't remember the last time you wore an item...time to let it go.

And finally get rid of the clothes that don't fit, or don't look good on you. You really need to love they way your clothes make you look and feel

Storage Tip: Keep the sentimental clothes like your collage sweater outside your immediate closet space.

Tip: You should never feel bad about getting rid of clothes because you are really helping out people by donating to your favorite charity you may also get a tax deduction.

You should plan on going through your closets every season.

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Friday, January 18, 2008
Expiration dates

Many of the products and foods we bring into our homes carry an expiration date of some manner. Some are suggestions like "freshest by", "best if used by" or "best before". These terms are generally guidelines for getting the most out of the product. A box of crackers might have a "best if used by" date that would indicate the crackers might not be as crisp if eaten after the date, however they would still be edible. However an "expiration date" is a completely different kind of date that tells us not to use the product after such a date. Expiration dates are typically reserved for perishables that may not be safe for consumption after the date.

In general most people know about expiration dates for perishable items such as raw meats and dairy products. But many other items found in the grocery store also carry expiration dates and have some kind of shelf life that we should be aware of. For instance batteries can lose their effectiveness after sitting too long or if not stored properly. The same goes for sunblock and many medications.

For this reason it is important to routinely go through cabinets, cupboards, drawers and pantries to check expiration dates. It won't do you any good to discover your cough medicine expired 6 months ago at 11pm when you are desperately trying to get some sleep. It is better to throw away expired items before you need them and give yourself plenty of time to go to the store and replenish your supplies.

Some general tips concerning expiration dates:
  • When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Medications can lose effectiveness after the expiration date. To help manage the medicine cabinet, write expiration dates on the bottle cap. Writing the date will make it more noticeable when glancing through the cabinet.
  • Although the ramifications are not as severe, the same applies to herbs. After time they become stale or lose potency. Stale herbs can turn a great recipe into a mediocre one, so try the same technique and write the expiration dates on the containers. Then before going to the store, a quick glance should uncover any items that need to be replaced.
  • Your grocery store manager understands the importance of making sure that the oldest items sell before the newest items. That is why they rotate stock and are constantly bringing items from the back of the shelf to the front. You should do the same. When putting away canned goods bring the items from the back forward and place the newest items towards the back. This will help prevent the back of your cupboards from being a storage locker for 5 year old soup cans.
  • Be careful of "sell by" dates. The grocery store often stores foods at lower temperatures than our home refrigerators. So items may last a little longer in the store than at home. For instance most butchers and grocers store meat at 30 degrees, while the majority of home refrigerators are 40 degrees, making the shelf life of meat significantly less at home than at the grocery store. Meat should only be stored for 2 days in a home refrigerator.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
What is Organization?

First, organizing is NOT about being perfect or neat. Nobody ever says I just love Jane or Joe – he or she is soooo organized. But they do love that they can depend on Jane. They like that Joe does what he says he is going to do. They like that Jane arrives on time and doesn’t leave you standing on the corner waiting – in the rain. They love that they remember birthdays or your pet’s name. They love the result of being organized.
So organizing is not a goal it's a tactic - a tool to help you achieve your goals.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Getting Organized 2008 - Step #3

Today's post is the final step in making organization a part of your daily routine
#3 Create an inspiration guidebook

Most people simply write a list of resolutions and some simply verbalize it. But getting organized is about developing new habits and making it a part of your daily routine. Create a visual picture of where you want to be by creating a collage with pictures and inspiring words. Incorporate your organization plan into it and then hang it somewhere you can see it everyday top inspire you – kitchen, office, near the medicine chest. The activity of creating your inspiration guidebook will reinforce your plan in additions to helping you maintain your daily routine.

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Monday, January 14, 2008
Getting Organized 2008 - Step #2

Yesterday I posted step 1 of getting organized. Here is the 2nd step to help make organization a part of your daily routine.

#2 Make a plan.
Let’s say you’d like to have more balance in your life and spend more time with your children. So start brainstorming ideas on how you can achieve that. Look for ways to trim wasted time or do things more efficiently. Start with Larger concepts, such as stop wasting time looking for misplaced items, then drill down with specific steps to help achieve that goal. For example, you could determine a specific place to put away your keys as soon as you walk in the door and resolve to do it each and every day. Keep going until you have a plan.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008
Getting Organized 2008 - Step #1

Want to get organized in 2008? Here's how to make it stick.
Every year, getting organized makes the top ten list of New Year's resolutions. If so many of us want to get organized, why is it so hard to achieve? Here's the 1st step to help make organization a part of your daily routine.

#1 Get Perspective
Many people find it hard to stay organized because they don't have the right perspective. Getting organized shouldn't be a goal unto itself. Organization is a tool to achieve life's bigger goals. For example, someone might say they want to get organized but what they're really looking for is more balance in their life. By being organized, they wouldn't waste so much time looking for misplaced items, such as keys and glasses. They wouldn't get stressed by running late so often. The goal is much more than simply having a neat house. It's about quality of life. So before you start trying to get organized, ask yourself, what are the big picture goals you want to achieve? Do you want more balance in your work and personal life, to be more productive at work, or even get out of debt? Those are worthy goals. Your plan for getting organized should be centered on achieving a bigger goal.

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Monday, January 07, 2008
Wrapping Up The Leftovers From Christmas

I just got a call from my sister who had not used her oven since the holidays. She did a quick check before turning it on and was surprised to find something....a leftover from Christmas!
I was in charge of bringing the bread and desserts. Desserts were a huge hit. The bread…not so much. I mixed the bread at home and brought it to my sisters house to continue rising then bake. The bread did not rise long enough so it didn't bake correctly. So we kept putting it back in the oven to bake 10-15 minutes and another 10-15 minutes and another until we gave up. Everyone had already finished eating dinner and here we were still trying to bake 2 loaves of bread. Needless to say the bread did not turn out and never got thrown away.
So, I've added the bread fiasco to my holiday party notes and hopefully it will turn out better next year.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008
Holiday Party Notes Part II

I recently posted about keeping notes for a holiday party. I wanted to add that you should also keep notes on any food you send out such as cookies, cakes or even side dishes for parties with family and friends. Did everyone eat what you prepared? Was their too much food and your food was never touched? Was it the right food for the party? Some parties are great for finger foods where you don’t need to sit down and use a knife and fork. So if you’ve prepared a dish and there are no places for guests to sit and eat, it’s going to be difficult. Or if your dish needs special attention like staying hot in a crock pot or keeping cold its just not going to work out if your host is not prepared. So, take a few mental notes at the party and write down those notes as soon as you remember. Don't get stuck next year spending too much time and energy on food that gets wasted.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008
Taming The Card Collection

I think its wonderful to send and receive a real card through the mail on your birthday or even the holidays. It's really easy to send an ecard to your techy friends and family but it's nice to see those colorful envelopes in the mail box with a handwritten address rather than the typical junk mail or bills. Their are cards for every occasion. We buy these cards with good intentions on sending but sometimes we forget to send the card! So now you have all these extra cards laying around that say "Happy 21st Birthday" or "Fifty and Fabulous". Now what are your going to do? Store them in your valuable space? Throw them away? You may have just wasted some valuable time traveling, shopping and spending money and the recipient may not ever see those good wishes.
My advice for dealing with the birthday cards is to have a personalize birthday card that you can send to everyone. This would say Happy Birthday on the front and whatever you want to say inside and list who it is from. This way everyone is getting the same card this year and you don't have to run out every time someone has a birthday. If you want to do this each year make a list of everyone you would like to send a card to and just order a small amount.

Bonus Tips
Make a folder for each month of birthdays and on a rainy day address all the cards, place a stamp on the envelope, add the send date on your birthday calender or use the birthday alarm as a reminder. Now you are sent for the entire year!

Good Luck!

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Friday, January 04, 2008
Stocking Up For Your Holiday Dinner Party

Did you host a holiday party this year? Then you already know the getting your home ready for guests, preparing food and trying to time it all just right so you can enjoy the evening with your guests can be hard work. This year we hosted dinner for eight and my goal was to have everything ready before my guests arrived. Everything went well except for a few things I would have had done differently. I’m making my list for next years party.
Here are a few tips:

1. Keep your shopping receipts from the grocery store and indicate which items you purchased for the dinner or party.
2. Make notes on quantities used in recipes, appetizer treys etc. My shopping receipt shows the size so it’s easy for me to note “used 4 oz” from the 16oz package of mushrooms. Now I have the notes for next year and I will buy a smaller amount. I hate wasting food and with leftovers and during the holidays your refrigerator gets packed.
3. Make notes if you didn’t purchase enough of one item so you don’t have to run out to the store in the middle of your food preparations.
4. Indicate items that were a big hit so you are sure to purchase again next year.
5. Indicate items that nobody ate, drank or you overbought. This year I bought egg nog and forgot to put out so it sat in the fridge. One guest likes a particular cola so I made sure I had this on hand. This year he chose a different drink so I had an extra 2 liter. Next year I will buy 1 can of cola. We had too many crackers and they didn’t fit on the cheese trey. They were never opened so they too will not make the list next year.
6. I store my lists, and receipts in an envelope and pack with my holiday decorations. If you have the time scan and copy to your computer.

I hope these tips help you in your next holiday party.

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