December, 2010 browsing by month


ThuRsday Recycle and Reuse: Greeting Cards

Thursday, December 30th, 2010
ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

Do you have crafts items in your house made with old holiday greeting cards? I treasure the placemats Emily made for me in 1992 from Christmas cards under plastic. The “I love you, Mommy” in 2nd grade handwriting melts my heart every time.

So what will you do with your stash of greeting cards from Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Years? A couple of ideas:

1.  Greeting cards can, of course, be recycled in any paper recycling program.

2.  Simply cut off the back half, then reuse the front as a postcard greeting.

3. Cut around motifs and punch a hole in a corner to use as a gift tag.

4. Save your favorite greeting card art. Print your personal interior sentiment on new 110# cardstock using a notecard template .  Paste the greeting card art on the front. Mail the renovated card in envelopes made to fit ¼ sheet of computer paper.

5. Send all occasion greeting cards to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. (Copyright cards from Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cannot be recycled.) Using a USPS Flat Rate Box is an inexpensive way to mail large quantities of cards.

Happy New Year!

Mail donations to:  St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

You can always find a grade school teacher to pass the cards on to. Then students can make a masterpiece like mine.

7 Simple Christmas Gifts Under $16

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Five days until Christmas and counting.  Here are a few of my favorite practical gifts with small footprints, but big value – under $16 each.

ID Guard

1.       ID Guard Stamp at Container Store for $10. Keep handy where you open mail to eliminate personal info on cc offers, junk mail. Stamps up to 1,000 times and can order refills.

2.       Clear drawer organizers at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Perfect for containing slippery lingerie, socks, boxers. This 5 piece set of 3 small and 2 medium are priced right at $9.99. I gave this set to my daughter at her bridal shower. Somehow the organizers ended up in her husband’s drawers.

Car Jar

Car Jar

3.     Yankee Candle Car Jar set. Give the smell of the beach, in 3 hanging fragrances for $6.00. If you can’t get to a Yankee Candle store or Hallmark, order online. Great gift for that driving teenager.

4.       Post-It Pockets will hold the info that must be close at hand. For Mom on the side of the refrigerator, or a working woman to post on the wall next to her desk:.  3-pack at Staples – $12.99

Sticky pad

5.       Handstands Jelly Sticky Pad holds sunglasses and cell phone secure on the dash of your car. Amazon – $4.99.

6.       Michael Graves 6 shelf closet organizer is perfect for sweaters or purses. Hang the unit from your existing closet bar for extra clothing/accessory storage. Drawer inserts can be purchased separately.

Pepper spray

7.    Sabre Jogger Pepper Spray with hand strap, partnered with a cell phone will complete safety precautions for a loved one.

Giving is the fun part. Have a wonderful holiday!

Closet Organizing Inspiration

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I received this email from a reader and asked her if I could share her story.  Lori attended a presentation earlier this year and started receiving my Simple Changes newsletter.

Hey Martha,

Just a little note to say thanks for your inspiration this past year.  I’ve been able to focus on small and large projects one at a time.  When I get overwhelmed I just take a break and then re-prioritize if I have to.

Martha Stewart Closet System

The most recent project was putting in a closet system into our master closet.  My husband and I installed 2 martha stewart towers (one for him, one for me) with drawers and shelves the weekend after thanksgiving.

This has made a huge difference in our closet, bedroom and bathroom.  Now I can bring in my scarves and purses and keep them organized (& handy) in my closet instead of having them in other areas of the house.  Plus we have extra space to grow: his drawers aren’t all filled and there’s room on the shelves.

We ended up purging some unused items, so will be handing them to goodwill soon.   I find myself going into the closet and smiling and I tell my husband that everyday.

He deserves something special this holiday.  Maybe the telescope he wanted or a garage organization system.

Happy Holidays

Lori B.

Book Review: Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Doesn’t that title alone make you want to read this book? If not, the cover art and lay-flat binding will up your pucker power. I am glad to say that book’s contents do not disappoint. This book will be an encouraging gift for a friend (or yourself!) this year.

Tsh Oxenreider (not misspelled) has given us powerful arguments to simplify life by letting go of “stuff”, using time wisely, and being a good steward of our finances.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living is divided into two parts. The first section explores what simple living is and is not. Unlike many simplicity gurus, Tsh does not promote her preferences as absolutes, but recognizes that family makeup and background make each unit unique. As a result, she challenges us to develop a family purpose statement. Life choices, Tsh asserts, will easily flow from your defined purpose.

Then in Part 2, we roll up our sleeves together and spend 10 days de-cluttering our home. Each chapter gives specifics for cleaning and organizing different rooms. The appendix includes homemade cleaning recipes, home management worksheets, and a Pros and Cons discussion of common “green” questions.

Tsh is the creator of the popular blog and a world traveler with her husband and three young children.

Organizing Your Holiday Celebrations for Less Stress

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Christmas, Hanukah and other “holy” days can be wonderful times of celebrating with family and friends. At the same time, stress and depression can creep in due to unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial stress, over commitment, and procrastination.

Most of us have felt sad, stressed, or depressed at one time around the holidays. It happens when our grand expectations meet up with the reality of family squabbles, disappointing gifts, and large credit card bills.

There is a way to celebrate the holidays with purpose and confidence. You can be proactive and cope with holiday stressors by 1) keeping expectations manageable, 2) setting realistic goals, and 3) organizing your time/ pacing yourself.

Keep Expectations Manageable: It is helpful to examine your thinking surrounding the holiday your family will celebrate. Ask yourself – “What do I ‘expect’ or ‘wish for’ during this holiday?” Write it down. Is it…

  • A family gathering complete with harmonious relationships?
  • Feelings of peace and well-being?
  • Cards and letters from old friends?
  • Receiving the gifts you hinted at or just plain asked for?
  • Being able to cook and bake the traditional foods you remember?
  • Sharing time with friends and neighbors?

Now next to each of your ‘wish for’ statements, write how likely that is to happen, choosing from these three possibilities:

  • Likely
  • Maybe?
  • Not!

What if none of those things happen? Can you be content? I like this paragraph from Mental Health America:

Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed I its own  way. Don’t set yourself up [for disappointment] in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”

Sometimes it is helpful to lower your expectations in order to be pleasantly surprised when something you hope for comes true.

Set Realistic Goals: Do you know what your priorities are? If you can’t answer in 2 seconds or less, give yourself 2 minutes with paper and pencil to quickly answer the question – “What is truly important to me?” Now number your top three with #1 being your first priority, then #2 and so on.

How well do your holiday activities fit in with your beliefs and priorities? Next to your top three priorities, write your Holiday Intention – what activity do you CHOOSE to do that will further your goal in that area?

For example: If you listed FAMILY as being a top priority, your goal may be to raise children who know they are loved unconditionally. Your holiday activity might be to write each child a “love note” describing their strengths and the positive character traits you have seen in their life.

Part of this process is looking at your holiday traditions to see if they pass the “So what?” test. Does that tradition support one of your top 3 priorities? What is the worst thing that could happen if you did not attempt it this year?

Do you feel like I do? I look at my busyness and think I am missing out on opportunities to listen to the people I love. Perhaps it is time to scale back on non-essentials like decorating to impress and baking enough to last for 3 months.

Choose 2-3 activities to include in your holiday celebrations that best represent your beliefs and priorities. Remember that time with people will always trump money, status, and stuff!

Organize Your Time and Pace Yourself: Your next step is to break down each project/activity into smaller tasks.

In our example, the first task is to choose stationery or a note card. Second, write “love note”. Third, find a fun and unexpected way to deliver it.

List each task that must be completed. Be sure to identify the SNA’s, see my blog post, and prepare to do those tasks first. Now schedule those tasks on your calendar.

Good work! You have solidified your Holiday Intention and each supporting task is on your calendar. I hope you can see how doable your holiday plans are now that you have prioritized, cut non-essentials, and have spread the remaining tasks over the next 4 weeks.

One more thing: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! If you put off getting started, you are really making a conscious decision to submarine your efforts. Why? Only a mental health professional can answer that one.

This is What “Downsized” Christmas Decorating Looks Like

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

I took this photo on Weds morning, 1 Dec with fluffy flakes coming down.

What perfect timing to have snow to usher in the last month of 2010! Just had to turn on my Christmas tree lights and tune in to 93.3 FM for some easy listening holiday music.

Yes, my tree is 4” tall. I have a wreath on my hall door, an entry vignette, and several other holiday touches. Decorating took me a little over an hour. This is what “downsized” Christmas decorating looks like.

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