April, 2011

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Product Review: Pack-It Cubes, Great Travel Aid

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Click for larger image

Now is the time of year we are making our summer travel plans. Whether you are going for a short or long stay, it helps to have the tools you need to keep packed items neat throughout.

These Pack-It Cubes make it easy to see at a glance where everything is in your luggage. You won’t have to paw through the stack and then repack everything before you can check out of the hotel.

Eagle Creek Pack-Its range in size from tube cubes for socks through Pack-It folders that keep outerwear wrinkle free.

I have these on my birthday wish list. Watch the video to “See How It Works“.

Product page: Eagle Creek® Blue Pack-It® Cubes

Advantages to Downsizing BEFORE You Have to Move

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Simplicity is the answer to chaos.

Whether you intend to downsize your residence or to streamline your current space, there are benefits in starting now. These are four great advantages to downsizing possessions BEFORE you have to move:

1. By letting go, you actually save money!

When you accumulate for years without weeding out less-used possessions, it becomes very difficult to keep track of where you have stashed things. Often that means buying a 2nd item when you know you have one somewhere.
Eventually you will max out on available storage. Then what? You may decide to rent a storage shed. That can mean hundreds of dollars per year spent on storing “stuff’” you never use.

2. You enjoy increased health and safety

When a house is filled to overflowing, floor space slowly disappears. Furniture, piles of papers, magazines, boxes and bags can slowly narrow walkways and stairs. Emergency workers are adamant that clear walkways and stairs are a must for safety.
The other hazard of a cluttered home is that effective cleaning is impossible. Your home becomes a prime breeding ground for mold and mildew as the dust and dirt collects. You will breathe easier – literally! – once the excess is gone and regular cleaning is restored.

3. You control the process

When you are able to downsize your possessions over time, valuables won’t be overlooked and discarded by helpers. You will be the one choosing what to keep, give, sell, and donate. If you have a charity you feel strongly about, you will know your donations are helping that cause.

True story: A friend who is a busy business owner gave in to her children’s desire to de-clutter her home. The children rented a dumpster and she watched them enthusiastically pitch many of her recently deceased mother’s possessions. Fine jewelry considered “only Grandma’s baubles” were some of the “junk” that was not worth keeping in their eyes.

When no deadline is looming, there is no time crunch. You can attack each room one at a time and at your own pace. Also, you are able to choose who will value precious objects and gift accordingly.

Two practical suggestions about gifting to relatives or friends:

  • Ask first if they would truly like to have that object.
  • Give treasures away NOW so you can experience the joy it gives both to you and to the receiver!

4. You give relief to your family

Sorting through 20+ years of accumulated belongings is a daunting process. That is why we put it off! Yes, downsizing possessions before it is absolutely necessary takes a supreme act of the will. Removing that burden from loved ones to face later is truly a gift of selflessness!

True Story: I was surprised when at age 72 my mom had already signed for an apartment in an extended care facility. She sold the family home and contacted her five children asking them to come take things that were meaningful to them. Whatever else she would not use in her one bedroom apartment was donated to charity.
I became convinced over time that the move added years and quality to my mother’s life. However, I did not know what a gift my mother had given us (her children) until her death. My sister and I were able to empty her 1 bedroom apartment in less than 6 hours. We were spared much physical and emotional pain as a result.

Downsizing now can also be a practical way to pass along a living family heritage. You know the stories behind the objects that make their history come alive. Writing down the stories is an even better way to ensure they survive intact.

Do you feel light and free of spirit or weighed down by too much “stuff”? What would you do with the time and money you can save by letting go of possessions you neither use nor love?

Leave me a note on my blog in the comment section below to let me know where you stand in the simplifying process. I love hearing from you.

Trish’s Advice for WAHM (Work at Home Moms)

Friday, April 15th, 2011

This article is written by Trisha Philbrook, a graduate of AssistU, and my Virtual Assistant. Trish has a heart for moms who want to raise their children themselves AND bring in a little extra money with an at-home job. This is her open letter to like-minded moms with a little advice on how to get started as a WAHM.

“Hello O4L friends!
I call you my friends because I’m the behind-the-scene administrative gal for Martha and although I’ve never met most of you, I still feel like you are my friends. Martha approached me about writing an article. This is a topic I know a lot about and could talk about all day.

To tell you a little about myself, I am a wife and mother to three precious girls. Their ages are five, two, and one. My husband and I decided after we had our first daughter that I would stay home. So, for the first 4 years of our first daughter’s life, I did not work. Actually, I never really thought about whether I would work from home, but realized after our third child that I needed that “me” time and working sounded like a great idea. When I set out to find a job, I knew that if this was going to be part of my “me” time, then it better be something I enjoy.

Below, I have put together four simple points that I feel would be a great start if you are considering the world of stay-at-home/working mom.

  • Consider how many hours you can work from home.
    This may be time while the kids are napping, in the evening when your husband gets home, during the weekends, or even getting a sitter for a couple days during the week. Whatever you decide you need to know how many hours a week/month that you have available to work. Remember you need to be flexible in case of sick/cranky kids (I didn’t consider this when I first started.)
  • Make a list of jobs you would love to do even if you don’t think there is a possibility that you could do it from home.
    You would be surprised at what jobs you can do from home these days. I enjoy doing administrative computer work. This may sound boring to many of you, but to me that was my ultimate dream and something I really, really enjoy doing. Start making your list of what you enjoy doing.
  • Update that resume!
    It may take you a while to remember some of the important dates so, get it done now so you can email it immediately if necessary. I have a great story about how I became a Virtual Assistant …email me and I’ll share with you how that happened.
  • Network.
    Networking is so, so important. When I began looking for a job to do from home, I told everyone I knew that I was looking for a job to do from home and let me know of any jobs they hear of. By doing this, I still receive job opportunities that I can now pass on to my other friends that are looking for jobs. I could write a whole separate article on networking. The best networking resources for me has been Facebook and my local Moms Club.

I hope this helps you or someone you know to get a start on a new direction. Please feel free to email me if I can be of further help. I would love to talk with you.”

You can reach Trish at [email protected]

ThuRsday Recycle and Reuse: Fabric, Sewing Supplies

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

I like the bumper sticker that reads, “She who dies with the most fabric wins!”  I want to do more quilting in my golden years. Quilters, embroidery artists, and fabric crafters know you have to have a good “stash” for your palette.

But, what do you do when you have moved on to another passion (organizing, grandchildren, coaching, etc.) and want to let someone else benefit from your bounty? To whom can you donate such a wonderful collection of fabric and sewing notions?

These are three worthy organizations that will use donations of fabric to make quilts for injured, hurting or needy folks:

Columbus Area Linus Project

This organization’s mission is “to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers’.”

The Peanuts cartoon creator Charles Schulz approved the use of his lovable character in the cause of providing security blankets for needy children. Each blanket is marked with a Linus tag before it is given to a child.

Donations welcomed include:  washable cotton fabric, flannel or polar fleece, batting, yarn, thread, stamps, cash and gift certificates to fabric and craft stores.

Contact: Amy                         Chapter Website
(614) 327-1041                  [email protected]

Columbus Metropolitan Quilters

CMP members donate their time in the program “Kids Quilts”, by making and distributing baby quilts for the Columbus Board of Health. The CBH provides these “blankets of love” to a visiting nurse program and to the Ohio Health Community Outreach, a mobile unit that goes to schools to provide obstetric care for teenage mothers.

The quilts also make their way to infants who are considered at risk due to HIV infection, a mother’s alcohol or drug abuse while pregnant, or abandonment.

For more information about Kid Quilts or to donate your time or fabric, please contact Rita Herzberger, 614-213-3893.

Quintessential Quilters Guild

QQ has an ongoing relationship with “Choices“, a local women’s domestic abuse shelter. Since 1995, over 130 quilts have been made and given to individuals who seek this shelter’s assistance.

QQ also participates in the Quilt of Valor (QOV) program.  “The mission of the QOV Foundation is to cover ALL war wounded and injured service members and veterans from the War on Terror whether physical and/or psychological wounds with Wartime Quilts called Quilts of Valor.”

Email Quintessential Quilters with questions about how to help.

Donating your extra fabric and/or sewing supplies to any of these Central Ohio groups is a great use of the resources you no longer need or use.

7 Big Mistakes that Keep Us Stuck in Chaos

Monday, April 4th, 2011
  1. Begin with a gigantic organizing project.
    “Yeah! The bigger chunk I bite off, the sooner I will be done!”
    This is a perfect way to ensure failure and disillusionment. Instead, start small to ensure immediate success. Choose one area – a drawer, counter top – that you see daily.
  2. Dive in without any thought of HOW to proceed.
    “I’m going to organize this space if it takes me all day!”
    With no plan, at the end of the day you will have simply rearranged a mess and made a bigger one. Use an organizing strategy that will walk you through the process one step at a time. You can use the steps on my blog post Clearing the Clutter or find an organizing book you like for a guide.
  3. Jump around from one area to another.
    “It’s too boring to stand still in one place for too long.”
    This is what gets us into a mess in the first place – lots of unfinished projects and the latest organizing products waiting to be used. Determine that you will finish organizing one area completely according to your plan. Actually finishing what you start is a great boost to confidence and momentum!
  4. Put off distribution of giveaways.
    “At least the stuff is in a box or bag. It can sit there for a while.”
    Your goal is to have an orderly, usable space. Once you have identified things to let go, get them out of there within 2 weeks at the latest.
  5. Pile, stack, stuff items into their assigned home.
    “If it fits, it’s all good.”
    Container, container, container. When you have a place to put belongings/supplies that is customized to hold certain items, you will be much more likely to keep up your newly organized system. Find containers that are appropriate, label if necessary, so you automatically know what goes where.
  6. Organize large spaces back to back.
    “I’m on a roll, gotta keep going.”
    Psychologists say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. When you make changes in your environment, it may take you a while to get used to your new configuration. Choosing a room or area every other month will give you a fighting chance at maintaining your new organization.
  7. Go it alone.
    “I want to be totally independent and rely solely upon my own efforts.”
    Accountability helps. First, announce to a friend or family member that you plan to organize (choose an area) this month. Ask that person to quiz you by a certain date to see if you have started. It’s amazing how much more motivated you are if someone knows your intention.

Better yet, organize with a friend. Help with his/her project and then work together on yours. Both tasks will go twice as fast and be much more fun together.

If your job seems too overwhelming, contact a professional organizer who knows where to start and can keep you on task.
Lastly, don’t forget to build rewards into your organizing efforts. Celebrate each victory with an activity or purchase that holds special meaning for you. You did a great job!
Remember though, if you bring one new thing into your renovated space, let another go.

Radio Show New Resource for the Sandwich Generation

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Are you raising children while trying to navigate health issues for your aging parents? Perhaps you have a boomerang adult child (He’s back!) only to learn your parent can no longer safely stay in his/her home. These extra pressures can take a toll on relationships both in your core family and with siblings.

Here in Columbus, Westminster-Thurber Community, part of the Ohio Presbyterian retirement Services (OPRS), provides community education opportunities to seniors and their families. Through monthly Coffee Time speakers, support groups, and informative workshops, WTC actively seeks to provide timely answers to senior issues.

Recently, OPRS began a state-wide service to older adults and their families through a weekly radio program on WRFD 880AM radio. The program, Journey Through Aging with Joel, airs on Saturdays at 8 am and features leading experts, who provide practical advice on senior-related topics. Joel Wrobbel, Marketing Director at WTC is a caring, “get to the heart of the matter” host.

Martha is currently being featured on the program in a series organizing spots each Saturday at 8:50 am. You can visit the website at www.journeythroughaging.com to hear shows you missed, ask a question, and find links to senior related services.

You can also listen to Martha’s 3/26/11 segment right here:

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WTC has ongoing programs about issues affecting seniors. To see an example, browse the winter Skylines newsletter outlining programs through March. Martha’s article Conquering Paper Piling was featured in this issue. If you are interested in receiving info about upcoming WTC programs, contact Valerie at 614-228-8888.