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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!

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.


7 Mistakes that Lead to Paper Piles, Part 1

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

7 Mistakes That Lead to Paper Clutter

  • If the entire surface of your desk, kitchen counter, or dining room table is covered…
    you just might be a paper piler!
  • If you have magazines you haven’t read from a year ago…
    you just might be a paper piler.
  • If your filing system consists of “more recent” and “older stuff”…
    you just might be a Paper Piler!
  • If you put the event tickets in plain sight see so you won’t lose them, but now you can’t find them because they are totally covered…
    you just might be a paper piler.

Piles of paper are the symptom, not the underlying cause of this frequent clutter problem.

We can try to blame the information explosion or the 49,060 pieces of mail we will receive in our lifetime.  To find a lasting cure, however, we must look closer to home.

What is your personal relationship with paper?

This is Part I of 7 Mistakes That Lead to Paper Clutter. See which one(s) best describes the way you relate to paper. Use the tips below to find a solution that works for you.

  1. The Visualizer is afraid that out of sight will mean out of mind.
    Bills to pay, party invites are left where you can see them and not forget to take action. Soon the “important” is covered by “everyday” and gets lost.
    Remedy:Visual/tactile people need to find a filing solution that is in plain sight, yet keeps paper contained. Two options are:

  2. The Librarian feels compelled to store valuable information.
    This person prints online research as well as emails to answer later, and has a hard time parting with newspaper articles and magazines.
    Remedy:Save only the information that is imperative to your job or that you think will be hard to replace. Think about scanning hard copies, bookmarking email sites on your browser, or noting the article URL on a resource list.Sally McGhee, author of Take Back Your Life, says we only use 15% of what we file. We never retrieve the other 85% – a waste of filing time and of valuable space.
  3. The Generous Shopper gives to charities and orders gifts from catalogs. Her name has been sold repeatedly so she now receives dozens of gift requests and catalogs.
    Remedy:One of the best ways to reduce paper in your home is to reduce the amount coming in. At home, the #1 paper dropper is the mailman. Always open your mail the day you receive it. Return unsolicited charitable requests to sender. Shred unwanted credit offers.Use these sites to opt out of catalogs and credit offers:

Four more common errors are yet to come in Part 2. Did you see yourself yet? Don’t worry, you will…

“Ask the Expert” Event Tomorrow: Register Now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (ET) in Columbus, OH

Click here to register.

Stop the paper piles from multiplying with a proven self-purging paper management system, the FREEDOM FILER. Professional Organizer, Martha Clouse, has successfully implemented this system with dozens of clients. YOU bring your banker box full of paper piles to train and begin your personal FF system.

Learn ways to reduce incoming paper and practice your paper tossing technique!!

Materials FEE: $52 paid at time of class – this purchases your Freedom Filer which has a retail value of $99.

Class is also scheduled to be held on 9/29 from 9:30am – 11am. Tickets purchased above will be honored at all event times.


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

Managing and Organizing Medications

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We all know for any trip to the DR we will need a list of all medications we take regularly. Usually this is not a big deal … until suddenly it becomes a big deal.

Recently my dear mother-in-law has been struggling to get her medications stabilized after a hospital stay. As a diabetic who also is on Coumadin to thin her blood, trying to balance the interactions is tricky and her medications can change weekly.

The situation can be confusing not only to the patient, but to children and other caregivers who try to keep up with it all.

Both patient and family have to work together to keep medications straight.

The three key pieces necessary to organize and manage medications are:

  1. A written record of medications including the dosage, schedule, what each treats, and the refill schedule.
  2. A reliable method to know when you have taken each dose.
  3. A specified storage place or container to keep the daily prescription drugs that is out of the reach of children.

Why is it so important to have that written record?

Again, each physician is going to ask you for the list, so you may as well go in prepared.

The written record keeps all parties informed as to what the regimen is. You never know when a primary caregiver will become incapacitated. Someone else will be able to step in without a hitch if the medication list is always up to date.

By including refill due dates, it is easier to see at a glance when to contact the pharmacy. That way you are sure keep crucial medicines on hand.
A computerized copy of the medicine chart will make it simple to update when medication or dosage changes. Then you can print out the new chart – 2 copies, one for you, one for your physician.

By a reliable method to keep track of pills taken, do you mean a pill reminder box?

Yes, a weekly pill reminder box is one of the easiest tools to see what you have taken when.
Ideally you will purchase two pill boxes so you can be preparing the next week’s medications before you (or your family member) are done with this week’s. Rather than the standard ugly plastic, get rainbow reminders or discreet traveling kits.

Your third recommendation is to store all daily prescription drugs in one place or container. That seems like a no brainer.

Yes, it does. You would be surprised how easily one prescription bottle can go on vacation if there is not a designated container.

I like using a portable container myself – maybe even one with a handle. It will be easier to carry with you to the place where you can sit comfortably to fill the pill reminders.

Once you get into a system of recording, preparing, and assuring medication is taken on time (whether that is for you or for a loved one) it will become a habit. The less brain power and effort needed, the more likely that action will be performed consistently.

With the right system in place, even laziness (mine, especially) will not interfere with maximum health and safety!

Special offer –  a free downloadable Medication Chart

Image credit: CC-BY lauren nelson

Space Saving Organizing Products

Monday, March 7th, 2011

When space becomes a premium, it helps to be able to maximize every square inch. These are four organizing products I am using in our 2 BR condo right now to carve storage from available air.

Cabinet shelf - fits more everyday dishes in one side of my kitchen cabinet.

Drawer doubler divided organizer - Keeps makeup in place and easy to find.

Cabinet shelf – fits more everyday dishes in one side of my kitchen cabinet. Drawer doubler divided organizer – Keeps makeup in place and easy to find.

These are two product s I use in my pantry to corral foodstuffs:

3 Tiered Cabinet Organizer – I force my cans to stand in rows on bleachers.

Rectangular POP Cannisters – all baking dry goods and nuts are stored in these.

3 Tiered Cabinet Organizer – I force my cans to stand in rows on bleachers. Rectangular POP Cannisters – all baking dry goods and nuts are stored in these.

Every little bit of space helps.

Do you have a favorite organizing product that helps you fit more in a small space? Send me your comment here.

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.