Holidays browsing by category


Ecards Galore

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Of course, if you suddenly remember, “Oh no, the birthday is today,” you can always send an e-card. Instant gratification is the byword these days… and it’s free! Usually.


These are a few of my favorites: Oh my goodness, these crack me up! Consider the receiver ’cause some are a little over the top. Here is a birthday example I just made in 10 minutes. The site talks you through cutting and pasting the faces into premade skits. If you type “free” into the search window, you will be sure not to be charged. A $12 per year membership via Paypal gives you access to all. I love their Hoops and Yoyo cards. This was the St. Patrick’s Day offering. Be sure you click on a clover or two. Again, search for “free” for your no-pay options. This is the site to send cards with a Christian message. This is a woman-to-woman card of encouragement. This gal is quite an artist and chooses the most serene music to listen to as you watch an animated drawing. Preview an Easter card. Children will be enthralled, and at the end of the animation can choose to work a puzzle of the picture. This site has a required membership of $12 per year or $18 for 2 years.

This could be addictive, you realize. Have fun with it!

Holiday Storage Hints

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Store glass ornaments safely with one of these custom drawer inserts:





Diamond Drawer Organizer, $9.99 online from


Honeycomb Storage system by Real Simple available from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Watch video.

With the proper containers, you unzip and put the wreath and tree in place.


Treekeeper storage bag - $119.00


Wreath storage bag - $19.99 – $29.99




Using the right storage saves wear and tear on your décor and on YOU!

It’s Beginning to Look Like a Huge Mess

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

It’s December. Did you use the weekend after Thanksgiving to take down Fall and Thanksgiving decorations ? Are you contemplating what Christmas/Hanukkah decorating to do, or are you done already?


Whatever your answer, this is the perfect time to organize both fall/Thanksgiving décor and winter holiday trappings.


I like to ask the 3 E’s when approaching a task:

  1. Is it efficient? – Am I using a method that takes the least amount of time, effort and resources?
  2. Is it effective? – Is the job done right the first time?
  3. Is it easy? -Am I making it harder than it needs to be? Is there any way I can simplify with pleasing results?

Let’s keep these goals in mind while purging and organizing fall and winter décor.


1.  Efficiency (Check off as you complete.)

  • NOW, when you are taking down fall décor to store and BEFORE you put up Christmas decorations is the best time to look at what you actually use. Take time NOW to toss anything that is broken or tattered. Donate or sell the items that no longer fit your style or that you simply haven’t used in the past 2 seasons.
  • As you pack the box with autumn goodies, make a list of “must haves” for next year and look for those items while on sale. Leave the box open for 1 week, then put your remaining list on top before sealing and storing. You will know what to purchase next year.

2.  Effectiveness

  • Group together the winter decorations for each room, area, or tree.
  • Be sure you have all the tools and hanging hardware before you get started. Also, plug in all light strings to see if they work BEFORE hanging.
  • As you work on decorating one area at a time, make a list of anything you are missing and make one trip out to get those items.

3.  Ease of completion


  • Take your blood pressure reading. Are you stressed and uptight because decorating is so hard/takes too much time/no one will help? If so, that is a good indication that you are making it too hard.
  • Ask this question, “Who am I really trying to please or impress?” and one more, “What could I eliminate to make this process simpler?” Your peace of mind and relationships with family and friends are most important.

You can use the 3 E’s to examine other holiday activities you do each year like baking, writing Christmas letters, or buying gifts. Let’s make holidays a fun and relaxing time again. Plan simple treats for body and soul!

Your Holiday “Cut the Clutter” Gift List

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

by Christy Lingo

‘Tis the season to give. And receive. And then try to find places to put the gifts you’ve received, some of which you asked for and some you have not.  Here are 10 gift ideas that fit every budget to give or to add to your list that won’t take up space in any home.

1.  Meal Basket-Rather than another knick knack, why not treat your Secret Santa to a basket filled with $10-$15 of ingredients for a delicious meal?  Save on wrapping paper by giving your meal tucked in one of the inexpensive reusable bags popping up at grocery stores.

2.  Netflix or GameFly Membership-These memberships give you the ability to watch (and re-watch) thousands of titles or conquer the newest video game for less than the price of a BluRay or video game.  Memberships start at $7.99 per month for Netflix and $15.99 for Gamefly. Both sites offer free trial periods to try out their services.

3.  E-book Reader–Never wonder what to read next with a limitless collection of downloadable books.  Amazon even offers many of the classics to “check out for free.”  Readers run around $80-$200 and each book costs $5-$15 to download.

4.  Make DVDs of Pictures or Videos–Make sure your memories do not deteriorate by creating a digital copy.  Services like Yes Video (available at Walmart, Walgreens, Meijer, CVS and others) transfer VHS, slides, photo prints and even 16mm film.  Estimates vary based on service.

5.  Gift Certificates–With budget cuts for eating out, movie tickets and salon services, gift cards can go a long way to brightening someone’s day or giving them a much deserved night out.

6.  Memberships & Season Passes–Do you have an aspiring artist or veterinarian in the family?  What about giving a membership to an art museum or local zoo?  Check out the Association of Children’s Museums for a list of museums in your area that offer reciprocal privileges around the country. Looking for more family time?  Try a season pass to an amusement park.

7.  Event Tickets–Make a memory that lasts a lifetime by surprising a loved one with a ticket to a concert with their favorite band, a play they’ve wanted to see or sporting event involving their favorite team.

8.  Services–Hire a cleaning service, babysitter or landscaper to help out a friend or loved on.  Or volunteer yourself.

9.  Classes-Want to learn to speak Spanish?  Know someone who has always wanted to learn to make the five basic French sauces?  Why not give the gift of learning?   Try recreation centers or community colleges for a list of classes.

10. Family Photo–Whether you hire a professional or just ask a friend with a good camera, the act of coordinating schedules to gather the clan together will be appreciated once everyone can proudly display the smiling faces in their home.

These “Cut the Clutter” gifts are consumable and a great way to show your appreciation or say “Happy Holidays” without adding disorder to households who may not have room for any more scented candles or picture frames. Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy clutter-free holiday season!


Christy Lingo is a Professional Organizer serving Columbus, Ohio. Upon leaving home, she spent 14 years honing her organizing skills by moving more than 15 times and living in an average of 700 sq. foot, most times with minimal closet space and limited storage. In 2009 she began Simple Solutions Design to share her organizing skills by working with clients to develop maintainable systems of organization and to reclaim space in their homes. Her organizing philosophy is simple:  let’s find a home for it and make sure it finds its way home. When not organizing, she’s an organic gardening, bread baking, world traveling, exercise enthusiast with a passion for Shakespeare and power tools. She also blogs about family-specific organizing as The Organized Mama.


NOTE FROM MARTHA: Christy is one of the few organizers I would hire to organize ME! As a matter of fact, I did hire her to give me advice on paint colors and decorating in my condo. Christy has also worked alongside me in several labor-intensive organizing sessions.


Christmas presents for Grandma – start now!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Wow! Can you believe it is already November? This is a good time to decide on what to get for extended family members.

Grandmas are really rather easy to buy for. Anything that will remind us daily of our wonderful grandchildren is always welcome! These are two gifts that easily fit that category.

Click image for larger view

Lil Davinci® 85 x11 Art Gallery
Grandma will be ready to frame anything the kids draw on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.
Includes 4 – 8.5 x 11 Kid’s Art Frames, wall mounting hardware, table stand, and template. Available in black, cherry, or white finish.

Click image for larger view

“My Grandchildren” Calendar
Make a 2012 Calendar from for Grandma from this year’s photos.
Do it yourself using or ask a Heritage Makers consultant to do it for you!

Organizing 911: Clear the Clutter!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

The best part about summer is spending more time feeling the sun on your face, feeling thankful for a gentle breeze, leaving your shoes off, and laughing with friends. You are outside as much as possible. Household chores take a backseat to fun. That’s the way it should be!

Then around Labor Day, reality hits. The vacation is over. The kids are back in school. You have to think about wearing long pants and shoes again. Taking a look around your living space, you want to call in a hazmat team – how did things get so out of control?!

Since we don’t have the luxury of a “super committee”, most of us will be attacking the clutter on our own. So today, I want to give you a plan of attack that you can put into practice immediately – even before Labor Day – so you can feel victorious, vainglorious, smugly accomplished!

  1. Pick a room to attack first. Gather 4 needed boxes and bins*. Set a timer for 1 hour. Don’t leave the room for any reason until #7.
  2. Put a black trash bag* in your largest trash can. Place in the center of the room and toss in anything you will not use again.
  3. Now set a laundry hamper* next to the trash can. Look around to see if there is anything that does not belong in this room. Stick those things in the hamper ready to be distributed to their proper homes.
  4. Get a copy paper box or plastic bin* (16 qt). Gather all papers and place in the box. DO NOT stop to read anything! For further instructions on paper, read this blog post on speed sorting or purchase my ebook 7 Tools to Conquer Paper Piles Forever.
  5. Make a pile of any magazines more than 2 months old. Black out your name & address and take to a shelter or hospital waiting room. (JamesCare in Dublin is grateful for any magazines.)
  6. Look around at what is left out of place. Pick up one item at a time and ask these 5 Questions to Clear Clutter:
    • Have I used this item in the past year?
    • Will I need it on a definite date in the future?
    • Would it be difficult to get another if I needed it again someday?
    • Do I need to keep it for legal or tax purposes?
    • Do I love it or find it beautiful?

    If the answer to all 5 questions is “No”, let it go! (give, toss, recycle, donate)

  7. Make a list of the items you will donate, put the donation box* in your car, ready to go.
  8. Carry out all boxes and bins. Distribute as necessary.
  9. Find homes in this room for the stuff that is left. I’m hoping you have cut this by at least 50%!
  10. Dust and run the sweeper. DONE!

Wow! Do you feel accomplished or what? Shoot me an email to brag on your progress.

If you are having a hard time pushing yourself to do this on your own, why not join my Clutter Management Program for the month of September? See details in What’s Happening. You choose the room; I provide motivation, support and accountability.

After you do one room, give yourself 2 weeks to practice keeping that room picked up. Then, repeat the process in another room. In 3 months tops, you should have your house or apartment under control! Whew, time to dream of summer again…

Rantings about Motherhood

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Do I have to point out that mothering is hard work? I don’t think so.

These are only a few of the many hats we wear as moms:

  • Staff nurse
  • Chauffeur ♦ Laundry service ♦ Reminder service
  • Teacher
  • Tutor
  • Coach
  • Playmate
  • Counselor
  • Chef
  • Dietician
  • Psychologist
  • CEO
  • Interior designer
  • Groundskeeper
  • Bookkeeper

“Based on a survey of more than 28,000 mothers, determined that the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $117,867 for a stay-at-home mom. Working moms ‘at-home’ salary is $71,868 in 2010; this is in addition to the salary they earn in the workplace.”

At you can find out how much you personally are worth as a mom. Fill in variables such as how many pre-schoolers or school-aged children you have, what zip you live in, what jobs you fill at home and write yourself a check.

A mother averages 90-100 hours on the job per week and 6.5 hours of sleep per night. No wonder mothers feel exhausted much of the time. You get up and hit the ground running just to stay in one place on the merry-go-round.

I cannot say the job is thankless. There are some great perks like:

  • snuggling on the couch
  • hearing, “I love you, Mommy!”
  • watching a toddler’s delight as they experience nature
  • feeling pride at new accomplishments – like sticking out tongue for the first time.

What I can say is that thanks come less often in proportion to age until your child moves out of the family home.

A tribute to the love parents feel for their children is the fact that we don’t kill them during the teenage years. I speak softly and am not quick to anger; yet, even I found myself breaking a (flimsy!) yardstick over my son’s head when he would not stop back-talking.

An article I read while at the DR’s office sustained me through those years. To summarize: be glad when your children oppose you verbally and physically because they are perfecting their ability to stand up for themselves when they leave home. My children are experts at standing up for themselves.

One of the best rewards for parents, specifically moms, is to see maturity blossom in their adult children. These adults are not clones of either parent, but their own person. I was amazed to see the child I considered shy becoming a strong woman and leader. The clown became an intelligent, compassionate man. Maybe the yardstick worked?

Once children move out of the house, suddenly Mom and Dad become much wiser. Finally, you get to hear those young people you have sacrificed for say – “Now I understand why you did that.” Or “Thank you for giving me the freedom to make my own decisions/mistakes.” That makes it worth it all!

That’s why I welcome this yearly opportunity to nudge our children into giving us props. When my children ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, I say “Just send me a mushy card and write on it why you are glad I am your mom.”

Yes, we made and (continue to make) mistakes. Our actions have love at the center.

So to all moms AND to the schoolteachers, choir directors, aunts, uncles, and youth leaders who became partners in raising godly, responsible adults, I say…
You are awesome! You may never know the full impact of the difference you have made in that young person’s life. May God bless you, because we can never repay you for what you have done.

P.S. Thank you, Mom.