Do You Know Where Your Spare Toothpaste Is? Tips for Editing What You Don’t Need From Your Bathroom

Bathroom Organizing

Bathrooms and linen closets where towels are stored seem to be a collection point for items you don’t actually need. The same goes for kitchen counters, incidentally, but let’s stay focused. Linen closets are subject to the “I’m in a hurry, so it’s OK to just shove the towels or sheets in there”. They don’t have to be neat. We’re going to use them “soon enough” syndrome. Bathroom medicine cabinets are frequently used to hoard all those extra bottles of aspirin, vitamins, and over the counter medicines like allergy pills and antacids that we all buy when they’re on sale. Bathroom vanities get the same “Shove in the cleansers and anything else that doesn’t fit in the medicine cabinet or linen closet we need for the bathroom” treatment. As a result, there is simply too much in our bathrooms, so here are some useful tips to edit, thereby removing everything that you don’t need from your bathroom.

Gather: Before you begin, locate a few containers, even bags, to help you sort your bathroom contents. Bring paper, tape, and marker to make a label for each bag to help you remember the categories. Label each container as you sort into categories.

Remove: Take the contents out of your bathroom drawers, medicine cabinet, and closet, looking carefully at expiration dates. Is the item you have still relevant to you and your family’s current circumstances? Is a given item even used in the bathroom? It might have gotten shoved in a drawer during a mad clean up session.

Divide: Is the item still good to use and will it be used? if so, use the containers you brought in for this project and start separating by categories. Some categories could be hair, teeth, skin care, makeup, over the counter medicine, or nails. As you sort, you may find other categories to create.

Containerize: With your items sorted, you have a visual of the amount each category contains. Now choose either a specific shelf or actual container on/in which to place them.

Label: All containers need to be clearly labeled so that you and others are able to readily find what is needed and, most importantly, to return the item after use to its original home/container.

Now that you have conquered the bathroom, why not try that afore-mentioned over-stuffed linen closet?

Photo: Pixaby

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Purge! Old Linens from Your Closet

Let’s face it, the linen closet is usually a place we hide old towels and sheets. I can use these towels to wash my car. These sheets are perfect for camping. Most of the time, while these are well-intentioned destinations for these older linens, they never leave the shelf, thus taking up space.

Since the beginning of the year I have helped a number of clients get ready to move, and the one closet that is always overflowing is their linen closet. Once we start examining bed linens and towels, they are so embarrassed about the condition of some of the items they have been storing.

Let’s face it; we (unless we just moved or cleaned out our linen closet) have a few linens and towels that really need to go. It always helps my clients know that any old, stained, ripped sheets and towels can be donated to animal shelters. I have a friend who volunteers weekly at a local animal shelter and she is so happy when I give her my client’s old linens. The shelters are always in need of those items to help make a comfy bed for the cats and dogs that live there.

The other issue I see is that people do tend to have an abundance of sheets for their beds. In reality, you only need two sets of sheets for each bed. That number can be expanded to two sets for summer and two sets for winter if you like to sleep in heavier sheets in the colder months.

Set aside some time to really examine your linen closet and see if there aren’t a few items that need to pass along. If you are short on quantity of an item, jot it down and put it on your holiday gift list!

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Five Home Organizers in Disguise

Five Home Organizers in Disguise

Nobody says you must buy expensive containers to get organized… unless, of course, you want to. Take a look around the house: What is already there that could be multipurposed to help contain your items? Let’s explore five such vessels that could substitute for home organizers in disguise.

Mason Jars – There are different size mason jars. Their genius lies in the fact that they are clear so that you can see precisely what is inside and in what quantity. The jars are particularly great for storing items used in crafting, to name one use, and are easily placed in pantries, and garages. As to the latter, I have even seen folks drill holes in mason jar tops so that after screwing them on, they can be placed on nails on the underside of shelfs for even easier accessibility.

Fishing Tackle Box – There are so many possible items to store in this box. Have you thought about keeping your makeup or art supplies such as beads, colored pencils, paints, or chalk In one? In the kitchen, you could free up or at least clean up your junk drawer by putting all its small contents into the tackle box for greater accessibility, thus decluttering your kitchen. Drawers are often in short supply, so why not possibly free one up by utilizing a tackle box?

Fabric Bins – These are great for your bedroom closets for sorting socks, underwear, workout tops, and leggings. What’s more, consider utilizing one or more in the front entry way for storing gloves, hats, scarves, and seasonal items such as suntan lotion, glasses, and dog leases and poop bags.

Shoe Boxes – Talk about a free storage container! The nice thing about using a shoe box is that you are able to customize it to match wherever you place it. Use wrapping paper to disguise the boxes. They are great for small toys or under the sink items.

Kitchen Drawer Containers – These containers are not only used to corral your cooking utensils in the drawers of your kitchen but are also great to use in your office drawers. In fact, keep your pens and pencils separate from other office supplies such as paperclips, small sticky notes, and binder clips. I have used these in bathrooms to keep combs, toothbrushes, hair clips, dental floss, and makeup from becoming a jumbled mess in my own drawers.

What else do you personally use in your home that may not officially qualify as your typical organizer?

Photo: Pixabay

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How to Plan a Winter Getaway While Staying Safe During COVID-19

How to Plan a Winter Getaway While Staying Safe During COVID-19

Are you craving time away but afraid to go anywhere now during the pandemic? How do you plan a winter getaway while staying safe during COVID-19? Let’s explore ways to do so by planning ahead so as to keep you and the people you interact with safe as you travel.

Housing – Options vary, and so will your consideration beforehand. For instance, will you be renting a home? Staying with friends or relatives? Booking time at a hotel? If it is the latter, you may want to choose an out of the way hotel with a nationally recognized name. You should also check hotel policies on cleanliness on their website before booking dates. If you are staying with people you know, how are they keeping safe? Do your beliefs line up? With renting a home, what are their protocols for sanitizing before you arrive?

Mode of Transportation – If you drive, you have more control over what you may bring with you from your home. Flying will limit items that may make you feel safer unless you are able to purchase them upon arrival. Considering renting a car? Then investigate the company and determine how they are dealing with COVID and keeping their fleet of vehicles safe.

Items of Comfort – If driving, think about being able to bring ingredients to make light meals and using your own mugs for coffee and utensils for dining. Bring cleaning supplies to do a thorough cleaning as you desire before unpacking and living in whatever accomodations you have chosen.

Health – What are the travel requirements if crossing state lines? Do you need proof of a negative COVID test, or are you willing to quarantine upon arrival? When you go back to your home, do you need a COVID test in order to return to work or school or to reenter your state? Booking those tests ahead of time is sometimes necessary as there may not be an appointment on the day you want.

Cancellation Policy – What is the cancellation policy at your destination? If there is an outbreak at your destination or if you or a family member get sick, will you get your money back, or are you out of luck?

Activities –If you are planning on going to sites, are they even allowing visitors? You would hate to go away only to find out that you would basically be limited to your housing of choice and the great outdoors in order to stay safe. For some, that would work as they are merely looking to get away from the same four walls and to change up their days. For others, it would be a colossal disappointment.

Planning ahead will help ease the anxiety and allow you to enjoy your time away, knowing you have done all you can in advance to ensure your safety as well as that of your travel companions.

Photo: Pixabay

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How to Organize your Kitchen for Holiday Cooking

How to Organize your Kitchen for Holiday Cooking

There is a dire cliche about how a ton of cooking – and subsequently, a ton of dishes – must be generated to cook a holiday meal. Not so. Following simple practices, you can cook up a feast for many by learning to organize your kitchen for holiday cooking.

Plan ahead – How many people will you be feeding? What can others bring? Even having someone bring wine, dessert, or a salad will free you from extra shopping and cooking. What will you be serving? What can be prepared in advance and frozen? All these questions will help you to be more organized the day you serve the meal and perhaps even to be able to spend more time enjoying your guests.

Shopping in advance – Now that you have decided what you will be serving, pull out the recipes, and make a list of what you need in order to make the dish. What items do you need for your menu? With lists in hand, you can order online using a service like Instacart to eliminate spending your precious time in the grocery store. Schedule a time for pick up, and you will avoid crowds and, these days, social distancing yourself even more.

Start with a clean kitchen – Make sure before you even start cooking that the dishwasher has been run and is empty. There should be no dirty dishes in your sink. If so, wash them before you even begin. This includes drying and putting the items away. The open surface space gained provides a fresh start.

Prep in advance – Just as restaurants use sous chefs, have your ingredients prepped in advance so that your prep time for each special recipe/dish is greatly reduced. Have a bowl handy to dispose of food scraps and garbage as you cook. Reuse the knives and other utensils after washing them. Keep a towel handy to wipe your hand as you move along.

Wash pots and pans as you go – Making a meal for many people using lots of pots and pans doesn’t have to be complicated. As you are done using a pot/pan, decide if you will need that size for another item on your menu. If not, wash it when you are done or, do a quick wash and use it again for another item. If you try to clean up as you go along, either by having a sink or container full of soapy water, you will make the final clean up a snap.

Cover or spray for faster cleanup – If you use parchment paper or tin foil on your cooking sheets, it will speed up your cleaning time. Instead of scrubbing the sheet, you can simply remove your food and throw away the paper/foil. Spraying something like Pam on the paper/foil before placing your food on it will make any sticking after cooking a non-issue.

Ask for help – Whether it be in advance or after the main meal, don’t be a hero thinking you are capable of doing it all yourself. Ask others, specifically, for help. Assign washing, drying, clearing the table duties to your family or guests. Most people really do want to help and giving them a specific task, helps both of you quickly move on to the final clean up so that everyone can more quickly get back to the merriment.

Our holiday tables may be less crowded this year due to COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be cooking for the holidays. Continuing to make the big meal has the added benefit of leftover meals to freeze! That is quite a tasty and time-saving reward after all.

 

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

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5 Ways to Create an Organized Home Without Going Overboard

5 Ways to Create an Organized Home Without Going Overboard

Everyone loves an immaculate, perfectly organized home. Very few people, though, have the time to actually create one. Here are five ways to create an organized home without going overboard that will fit into any schedule…

Create a common space to collect items – Do you have someone in your home who just throws their clothes on the floor? Have you tried establishing a home for the dirty clothes? Think function when selecting a laundry bin. If the person needs ease of use, don’t get them a bin that has a lid on it. They won’t put their dirty clothes in it. Rather, they need to be able to merely toss dirty items in. Look carefully at where clutter occurs and consider a better space or container to alleviate it.

Set routines for tasks – Creating a routine kind of becomes a no brainer in times when one is so busy. For example, get in the habit of washing your dishes after each meal. If that is too much to handle, at least do it after the last meal of the day. The bonus is a clean kitchen when you wake up and begin your day!

One in, one out – When you bring something into to a room, such as a glass of water or wine, make sure when you leave that room that you take that item out of the room, putting it where it belongs. This will help eliminate any excess clutter.

Return when done – If you get in the habit of returning any item you have taken out from its designated home, this too, will eliminate the need to clean up excess clutter. For example, when you are packaging up any returns or gifts to send in the mail, you may be using tape and scissors. When that task is completed, return them to their assigned home.

Take time each day – I am not talking about hours and hours spent organizing each day. Rather, what I mean is each day spend 5-10 minutes in a different area of your house. Start on the first floor of you home and work your way up or out. Begin in the entryway. Hanging infrequently used coats, corralling gloves and scarves into their designated home, or tidying up the in and out area will help make you and the area more organized.

Again, not everyone has the time to be constantly organizing every single minute of every day. If you set routines and spend time working on them with your housemates, you will get to the level of an organized home that will make you happy and feel less stressed.

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

 

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How to Organize Your Holiday Gifts (and Shopping)

How to Organize Your Holiday Gifts (and Shopping)

Typically, holiday gift exchanges occur in person. This year, the risk of contracting COVID-19 coupled with social gathering restrictions, and the need to stop the spread of the virus itself are making that difficult. How do you make holiday gift-giving meaningful and ensure your gifts arrive at their destinations in time? With these handy tips…

  • Make a list, check it twice. Make a list of everyone you have to buy for, and a few ideas of what you want to get each person.
  • Shop Early, And Online, For Everything. Next to each idea on your list, list a few stores that you know will have it. Then check Amazon. You can find virtually anything on Amazon, meaning you can do most of your shopping in one place, in one delivery. This time of year, it is worth it to enroll in Amazon Prime for their 2-day shipping. If you are running late with your shopping, order online, and choose curbside delivery to ensure you don’t have to wait in lines in the store. If what you are purchasing is something you must see before you buy it, confirm the store you plan to buy it from has the item in stock in their store before you venture out.
  • Wrap It Up. Just because you’re shipping your carefully chosen presents doesn’t mean that they can’t be festive. They should be. Use the same wrapping paper, bows, Christmas stockings, etc. you would ordinarily package your gifts in. Place everything in a large cardboard box. For a fun touch, mark that box, “Do not open until December 25” to create some additional excitement.
  • Embellish Gift Card Envelopes Fancy. It’s perfectly okay to send gift cards. If you want to get fancy, wrap the gift card in an oversized piece of wrapping paper, or put it in a box. You can even print gift cards at home, put them in plain envelopes, and decorate the envelopes.
  • Make Your Shipping Box Memorable. To avoid delivery delays and to make it easy to find your box if it accidentally gets lost, write your full contact information, including your phone number, on your shipping box on both the shipping label AND on the box itself. If possible, write down the tracking number given to you by the shipping service on the box as well. Use labels, stickers, and black magic markers to cover any old shipping labels or bar codes you cannot remove from the box. This is important because, at this busiest time of year, the delivery personnel could accidentally scan the wrong bar code, sending your package somewhere else.
  • Ship Early. This year many more people than usual will be shipping holiday gifts. To make sure yours get there on time, plan to ship your gifts early. Make a note of when your local post office opens and arrive at opening time to avoid long lines. Alternately, you can use the post office’s “Schedule a Pickup” service to have packages picked up right at your door. You can also use FedEx or UPS to ship your packages.
  • Unwrap Together…Virtually. Choose a single day and time for the entire family to get together online via video chat to open gifts together. You can even use the phone. Sit under your respective Christmas trees with your box of holiday gifts and take turns opening each package. Thank each other for every gift, no matter how big or how small.

Photo: Adobe Stock

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WFH Ergonomic Products We Love

WFH Ergonomic Products We Love

These days, everyone is working from home. Working at your kitchen table or in your bedroom can place even more stress on your back, neck, legs, and arms. Here are some WFH (Working From Home) ergonomic products we love and tested that provide real relief from and aim to prevent pain. 

NOTE: Some of these items are pricey, but you really do get what you pay for.

Monitor Risers. Your monitor should be at eye level, so you can sit up straight. The bonus is that you can store some office items under the riser! 

Laptop Stands – If you are using a laptop and have been experiencing any neck or shoulder issues, you may want to investigate these. I, personally, use the Roost Laptop Stand. I love that it is lightweight and comes with a carrying pouch.

A Vertical Mouse. This one takes some getting used to, and is a bit pricey for a mouse, but once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

The Purple Royal Seat Cushion: Everything they say about Purple products is true. This one transfers easily to the car, too.

A great footrest. This one is highly recommended by the New York Times. Being tall I don’t personally need a footrest; however, I have a client who swears by this product. It was a game-changer for her as she is only 5’2”.

An Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse Set: This set can only be used with Windows-based PC. We Mac folks won’t be able to use this product.

A mesh chair with lumbar, neck support, and arms: This chair also has flip-up arms to allow one to move closer to a desk or table if needed.

A lot of people thought that working from home was not going to be long term. With the pandemic numbers rising again, one may be at home longer than originally planned. Having the best ergonomic items in your home office will save you lots of aches and pains.

Photo: Pixaby

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How to Plan the Perfectly Socially Distanced Thanksgiving Holiday

How to Plan the Perfectly Socially Distanced Thanksgiving Holiday

Unfortunately, the number of cases of COVID-19 is rising. In light of these startling statistics, we are all wondering how to plan the perfectly socially distanced Thanksgiving holiday this year. Here are a few tips for spending time with friends and family while still partaking in Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings without contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

Have a small dinner with just the people who live in your home. You may choose to continue your traditional family favorites or stir things up and NOT serve turkey and all the fixings. For all the cooks, it may be a nice change to simplify the menu, and therefore, spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the members of your household.

Alternatively, you could always consider having a virtual dinner with family and friends. Agree ahead of time on a mutual time to sit down to eat. Each household will need to have some version of a computer/tablet/smartphone in order to see everyone. You may choose to share only the beginning or end of the meal online with each other or to just keep the cameras rolling for the entire meal so as to feel like you are all really together. In a sense, you truly will be…

Why not utilize your outdoor space to host dinner for local family and friends? Try to contain the folks you invite to members of your current bubble. Don’t let your guard down. Wear masks unless you are eating. Try to limit alcohol or choose not to serve any as you may not be a sharp as you normally would be.

Use social media such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom to communicate with family. If you live in different time zones or can’t coordinate a mutual dining time, set up a meeting to be able to spend some time together and catch up.

For some families, Thanksgiving is the time of year to select their secret Santa partners for gift exchanges. Go ahead and do so! Try to continue as many traditions as you are able with the realization that this is a year like none before. All in all, enjoy your day and give thanks for all the blessings you do have in your life.

Photo: Pixaby

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What to Grab in an Emergency?

What to Grab in an Emergency?

Over the past few months, the United States has had wildfires, hurricanes, and tropical storms. Last month was dubbed Disaster Preparedness month. While gathered with a few friends via Zoom, we got talking and wondered what would we gather in an emergency if we only had 30 minutes to evacuate? Here are a few of the items we thought we would grab in an emergency.

Electronics – Let’s face it, technology is all around us whether we like it or not. Therefore, it is a no brainer for our group to grab our smartphones, computers, and all the necessary cables associated with each device. If you have battery backup chargers, make sure those are charged and ready to use. One of my family members pulls out and starts charging all of hers the minute she hears of inclement weather, no matter the season.

Everyday items – This too was an easy category. Clothes, toiletries, shoes, and medication for at least three days need to be gathered. Just pack one suitcase per household member as there is only so much room in a car. Every person needs to decide what they need on a daily basis. If you have children, make sure to bring their favorite toys, blankets, and whatever they use to comfort themselves. If you have pets, make sure you have enough food and water for them for a minimum of three days plus leashes, water/food bowls, and their favorite toys/blankets/beds.

Emergency kit – Grabbing a first aid kit and items such as flashlights, batteries, one blanket/person, gloves, hats, warm coats, rain gear, and water (3 gallons per person for 3 days) are the basic items. Taking non-perishable food in case you get stranded is also important.

Papers – This is one reason you should have important papers stored electronically for easy access. You are going to need contact info for your insurance broker, mortgage company, financial institutions, and information relating to your home. It is obvious that you need to grab birth certificates and other legal documents. If you have the originals stored off-site, that is very good as they too should be safe. These important papers should be kept in a plastic, waterproof bag/case. You may need to prove who you are, so have your driver’s license, passport, social security card, proof of insurance, the deed to your home, and medical records with you.

If you feel you would not be ready in 30 minutes, perhaps now is the time to take inventory of what you may want to be gathered together, so grabbing necessary items is easily accomplished. Think about having your near and dear photos scanned in. This will alleviate the need to grab photo albums and take up precious space in your car. The same goes for creating an emergency contact list of everyone you and your family deal with. Having peace of mind is a great incentive. Why not plan to start working on this during the long winter months? You will glad you did should the unthinkable ever materialize. After all, who could have anticipated what we’ve all been enduring in 2020?

Photo: Pixabay

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