Home Life

...now browsing by category


How Do I Manage My Medications?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Why Do I Need to Manage Medications?

When you take more than a couple medications, errors can easily happen. This can range from missing a dose to overdose. Managing your medication effectively can help reduce potentially fatal errors. Use one pharmacy to dispense all medications so can monitor unsafe interactions.

How Do I Manage My Medications?

The key to successfully managing your medications is through organization. These organization tips will help ensure your medications are taken safely andon time.

1. Choose a pharmacy and stick with that one.

When you use one pharmacy to dispense all medications, the computer system can easily monitor unsafe interactions. Doctors are fallible just like anyone else. Why not have a check and balance system in place?

2. Use a Daily Pill Organizer

Better yet use two. Have one in use and one you can “build” before the other runs out.

pill organizer can be very helpful if you take many types of medications each day. It has seven or more compartments that hold each day’s worth of medication.

To ensure medication is taken on a timely basis, keep a dosage schedule (see #4) nearby that also includes a physical description of each pill, such as “blue capsule” or “large white pill.”




3. Keep a List of All Your Current Medications

Make a list of all medications you take, with the name, dosage, frequency, side effects, and whether the medication has been stopped. Also include any allergies you have to medications.

Make several copies and give them to doctors at appointments and to your pharmacist. Keep a copy stored on your computer so you can add to it if prescribed new medications, and print out more copies as needed.

I’ve created a Medication List that you can download here.


4. Create a Dosing Schedule Chart

Dosing Schedule Chart is simply a chart of the medications you take on a weekly basis with boxes you can physically mark off each day. You will see at a glance what you have missed.

This can also be done on your computer with a spreadsheet or word processing program. List all medications, what they look like, the times they need to be taken, and a space by each dose, so you can check off when each is taken.

If all your meds fit neatly into a pill organizer, you can delete this step. Some meds (like eye drops) are harder to keep track of and require a reminder!

For those meds that are given “as needed,” you may also want to include why it is taken. This can be annotated as “for nausea” or for whatever reason the medication is needed. If you have medications that require refrigeration, also note it.


5. Check Prescription Labels Often

When looking at a prescription label, check the expiration date and refill information. Properly discard old medication. When running low on a medication that has a refill, call your pharmacist before you run out. This way you will not miss any doses.

If you think you may need a refill on a medication that has none left, call your doctor’s office as soon as possible to allow time for the doctor to call the pharmacist.


6. Use a Pill Reminder Gadget (optional)

There are several electronic pill reminders on the market of varying prices. You can input the name of the medication, how often you need to take it, and if you need to take it with food.

An alarm will sound, much like an alarm clock or cell phone ringer, alerting you to what medication needs to be taken and how much. There are now electronic pill reminders that “talk,” relaying information verbally.

Does this list make you want to hide your head in the sand? I understand. Here is your Quick Start Guide:

  • Adhere to the ONE pharmacy rule, please!
  • Then, get a friend or family member to hold you accountable to at least complete your list of medications (# 3).
  • Once you have that done, look for a pill reminder that has AM/PM dividers and each day’s meds are removable for travel.

You will be well on your way to managing your medications responsibly!

Organizing Around Function

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

The HGTV designers are always saying a room should have one main functionto appeal to a home buyer.

My second bedroom is a good example of a room that has an identity crisis. That room has simultaneously been a guest room/my office/storage area (pronounced: dumping ground). I knew where everything was, but it wasn’t pretty and truthfully didn’t work on any level.

So, a designer friend of mine came to help me decide how to give that room a well-defined purpose. At her suggestion, we will move Jeff’s man-cave office furniture out of our bedroom and into the spare. That room will now only OFFICE, with desk, computer, bookcase, and file drawers.

All office supplies and techie stuff will be in there. We will hide the cords. I can even hang some of Jeff’s professional awards and memorabilia. It will be a manly space.

That will clear the way for me to decorate our bedroom with pretty bed linens. I will also have room for a reading nook complete with bookshelves, a reading chair, light and side table.

Why do we wait until we are ready to move to make our spaces both pleasing to the eye AND functional? This is your advice from an organizer who has done just that:

  1. Decide on one main function for each room.
  2. If you have room (or must of necessity), include only one relatedpurpose. Ex: family recreation room with media center, living room with writing desk.
  3. Gather all the supplies relevant to the room’s function.
  4. Decide how you can store everything closest to the action. See my blog for storage ideas.
  5. Be sure you have both ambient and task lighting in place.
  6. Throw in some pops of color with fabric, accessories, and wall hangings.

You will have a space you that works and is pleasing to your eye. AND you will be able to enjoy it now!

A Place for Every Little Thing

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

When you think “organized” what comes to mind? Do you think of a Martha-Stewart-beautiful room from a magazine? Do you think of the perfect closet organizing system? I wouldn’t mind having either of these dream spaces in my home, but don’t want to set the bar so high I can’t achieve the goal.

Instead, I would rather go with this definition as my aim: “Being organized means being able to find what you need when you need it.” Take the 5 Minute Quiz to find out just how organized you are.

The Problem? As one client put it, “I can’t find anything because every cupboard and drawer is just a mish-mosh, with no rhyme or reason to what is where.”

The Solution The key to finding what you need is having a designated storage place for distinct categories of “stuff”. For example, always keep a first aid container in only one closet/cupboard. Then when you need a band-aid there is only one place to look!


Choose a specific category of “stuff” to sort, purge and contain each month. Remember to store each category in only one place as much as possible and close to where used. These are hints to get you started:

  • January - Have children? Donate old toys to make room for new. No children? Purge old linens and purchase new if needed while sales abound.
  • February - Pull together tax papers. Toss last year’s receipts once year-end statements arrive.
  • March - Clean out plastic ware in kitchen cupboards. Keep 10-12 tubs and lids. Donate rest to Goodwill for recycle.
  • April - Go through warm weather clothes. Toss, donate, repair. Purchase new to fill holes in wardrobe while best sales going on.
  • May - Air suitcases. Assemble trial containers of favorite toiletries for travel. Toss toiletries not used in last 12 months.
  • June - Evaluate beach gear. Downsize or bump up as needed. Pack a “pool” bag with towels, sunscreen, and goggles; keep ready to grab and go.
  • July - Gather all first aid supplies into one container. Dispose of old prescription according to FDA Guidelines. Make a list of anything else you need and complete your kit.
  • August - Get school supply lists early. Scavenge what is in your house before making list to buy. Check out sales flyers, then purchase all at once where “competitor prices honored”.
  • September - Purge kitchen of odd mugs, glasses, chipped plates, etc.
  • October - Look at cold weather clothing – coats, hats, gloves, scarves – toss ratty ones, buy needed items.
  • November - Cull pantry items and pull out serving dishes to get ready for holiday meals.
  • December – Purge and contain Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year décor.

Once you have chosen storage containers and designated places, always put the “stuff” back where it goes. Little by little, you will be able to find anything in 30 seconds or less!

Pile Smarter

Friday, February 15th, 2013

There is a reason many of us prefer piles over hidden storage. Personal characteristics for pilers include:

  • Visual orientation
  • Creative bent
  • Out of sight means out of mind

Even the office product manufacturers have recognized that many of their consumers want to have important papers front and center. These are a few products that are geared specifically to folks who want to see at a glance what they must keep on top of.


Pendaflex PileSmart® line

The idea behind these products is to allow piling, but keep papers contained by project/subject in an easy-to-view format.




Peter Walsh’s [In]Place™ System

This system offers flexibility and see-through containment.


Clear Document Wallet       

So, go ahead, pile to your heart’s content. Just be sure to contain like items so you can find what you need when you need it! Pile smarter so you don’t make life harder.

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!

Resources for Preserving History

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Thanks to the internet, you can research your family history from your armchair with a computer nowadays. These are sources and charts I have found to be helpful.


Every time you glean new information about your family (through interviews, census reports, etc.) you will want to record it in an organized, searchable format. The two charts most used for family historians are the Pedigree Chart and the Family Group Sheet. These are free templates if you are a paper person.


Interactive Ancestor pedigree chart - for computer use, type in details to save or print.


Free Pedigree chart - print and fill in blanks with pencil! You will erase, believe me.


Family Group Sheet - use to record the families of your ancestors, so you know siblings’ names.


Computer programs for genealogy are plentiful and faster to search and update. These are widely used:


Family Tree Maker - a software program by Ancestry.com so swaps info with that website freely.


MyHeritage.com - free download of genealogy builder, of course has a premier paid version.


http://www.ancestry.com/ - This research and interactive site has copies of most major census records, state and federal. I joined recently for $22.95 per month thinking to cancel once I found what I was looking for. Warning: this site can be every bit as addictive as Angry Birds. I have yet to cancel.


When you want to save “soft” artifacts such as paper or fabric, you will want to allow breathing to combat wetness and avoid acidic containers.


These are two sources of archival boxes:


The Container Store - archival boxes for letters , photos, ornaments, garments.


Family Archives - you name it, they have a box for it!


Gaylord - supplies boxes for library collections


Have fun cataloging your family treasures and stories!


How to Preserve Your Family’s Heritage and Pass It On

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

When Jeff’s mom, Dolly Clouse, died in August, I became the oldest female in our core families. Now I feel the weight of preserving our family history and passing it on.

The stories I want to save are about ancestors who lost mothers, survived floods, crossed the ocean, worked the farm, walked 2 miles to school (with no shoes? Ha!). History is fascinating, and becomes more personal when your great grandfather/grandmother took part.

So, where do we start?

1.  Listen - The most important thing you can do to preserve your heritage is to listen. Ask your father, mother, and grands about their early lives and what they remember about their parents, aunts and uncles. If you have children, plan some questions they can ask grandparents and record the answers.

My Grandma Louise was born in 1904, the year of the St. Louis World Fair and birth of the hot dog. Her father, Edward survived the Johnstown flood. Her mother, Elmira, died of complications from gall bladder surgery performed in their home. I’m glad I asked before Louise died.


2.  Write It Down - Commit the stories to paper, your brain can’t hold them all! Use a family tree pedigree chart to get the main branches of your ancestors in writing, so folks who come after you will know who the story is about. (See resources below.)


Interactive Ancestor pedigree chart - for computer use, type in details to save or print.

Free Pedigree chart - print and fill in blanks with pencil! You will erase, believe me.

Family Group Sheet - use to record the families of your ancestors, so you know siblings’ names.


3.  Identify Family Photos - There is nothing sadder than finding a framed photo of a child at an organizing client’s house and to hear them say, “I have no idea who that is.” Have a session with parents who may still know who those people in such strange clothes are and write the names/dates on the backs of the photos.




This is one of the few photos we have of Jeff’s grandma Ida Sperl with her dad Alois. After her mom died, Ida was separated from her only sister Frieda while dad earned his living as a musician.


4.  Preserve Historical Treasures - What is that really old thing hiding in the back of your closet? If you don’t know, find out. If you do know, write it down. Use an archival box to preserve without acid damage, especially paper and fabric.


Meet Mary. A dear client of mine rescued her mother’s childhood doll, circa 1918, that was in pieces. Mary’s jointed limbs had to be restrung and her hair replaced. We recently found a doll clothes maker and purchased her new outfit, including shoes and a pearl necklace. Mary is seated on a rocker made by great Uncle John. These details must be recorded, or they will disappear.



I hope you are feeling encouraged to do what you can to preserve the piece of history that is entrusted to you at this moment. Don’t “should” all over yourself, but write the one action you want to take before the end of the year – a phone call, a visit, beginning your pedigree chart, something small. Then do it.

You will be glad you did. The younger generation will benefit, and hopefully thank you.