Meal Planning to Simplify the Busy Back to School Season

When you plan your meals it will help to simplify the hectic back to school season. You’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store and waste less money on food that didn’t make it into a meal. I often freeze trimmed chicken breasts and steak tips with teriyaki sauce in freezer bags. Take them out of the freezer and thaw overnight. If you forget to take them out, defrost quickly in a pot of room tempurature water. Grill and serve with rice, veggies or salad and dinner’s done.  Think about some of your family’s (easy) favorite meals and have those pantry items on hand to complete the meal. My kids like the Al Frescos Chicken & Apple sausages, so I usually have those in the fridge.  They freeze well too.

When you make your master grocery list, think about what meals you will cook each day of the week ahead.  If you intentially cook extras you can plan to have leftovers on a busy evening.  When I meal plan, I think about whether I am “on” for carpool duty or have an event in the evening. When planning meals for those evenings I often make a double batch the night before and plan for leftovers.  When you create your meal plan and grocery list, go through your pantry to see what items you need for each meal so you use what you have and don’t waste money (and space in your pantry!) on unnecessary items.  Check out our previous post about streamlining your master grocery list here.  Combined with a weekly meal plan you’ll be efficient at the grocery store as well as in the kitchen! {free meal planning printable here}

Back to School Tip: Take Stock Before You Shop

‘Tis the season…for back to school shopping – or at least that’s what most stores and marketers will tell you. And while it’s true that kids of all ages do usually need a few things to start the school year off, it’s all too easy to fall victim to the back to school campaigns in every store, website and your inbox. While one overzealous back to school shopping trip may seem harmless, it all adds up – in wasted money, cluttered spaces and added stress taking care of the excess stuff you don’t need. Here’s how to stop the back to school madness in 3 easy steps: [Read more…]

Prioritize Your To-Do’s with Today’s Top 3

Let’s face it – most of us feel overwhelmed by too many to-do’s on a daily basis. But while there is always a lot to do in the lives most of us live, I often remind myself that it doesn’t have to all get done today. Many of us do benefit from a running to-do list – a place to capture to-do’s on “paper” and get them out of our head – but looking at that list every morning as what needs to get done can easily be overwhelming. [Read more…]

10 Things to Get Out of Your Closet Today

When you’re starting an organizing project, it can be helpful to give yourself a jump-start with a quick purge of easy and obvious items you can let go of. It’s like peeling back the first layer so you can more clearly see where you’re headed next. Starting with a quick purge also helps you build momentum that will keep you going. If tackling your closet is on your project list, here are 10 ideas of things you can let go of today to jump-start your progress! [Read more…]

Is it Okay to Declutter Someone Else’s Stuff?

The short answer here is “no.” When you are in the process of decluttering, it can be tempting to clear everything in your path, including your household members’ excess. However, this strategy is never a good idea, unless they have specifically asked you to help them and you are both clear on what’s going and staying. In fact, purging someone else’s stuff without their knowledge can result in anger, frustration and increased resistance to your decluttering efforts. [Read more…]

The 411 When You’re Planning a Closet Renovation

architectural-design-architecture-blueprint-239886Whether you’re working with an architect or directly with your general contractor, communicating what you want and need in a new master closet as early as possibly in the process helps ensure you end up with the space of your dreams. Before you finalize your reno plans, it’s important to start working with a closet expert to make sure you get a custom closet system that will make the best use of your space and meet all your storage needs.  We’ve worked with several clients whose hindsight was 20/20 and they wished they had made different choices.  We’ve laid out some of the nitty gritty details to think about when designing and building the space. [Read more…]

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

backyard-chain-grass-274679Whether it’s a weekend or a week or more, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things when you get home from a summer vacation. But the sooner you do, the better you’ll feel, freeing you up to enjoy your summertime at home too. Here are 3 tips to get you back on track: [Read more…]

Get it Done in 15 Minutes a Day

alarm-clock-classic-clock-1179476Whether you are trying to accomplish a goal or tackle a nagging project, making small consistent amounts of progress can get you there faster than you think, and might be the difference between getting it done and not doing it at all. Many times, we wait and wait and wait until conditions are perfect – we’ve done everything else around the house, we have a chunk of uninterrupted time, and we have the energy to dive into our project or work toward our goal. And of course, those perfect conditions never happen, so we never make any progress. [Read more…]

Summer Project List

blur-close-up-collage-196655School’s out and summer’s here! For many of us, summer signals a new slightly more relaxed schedule –  time off from school or work, weekend or week-long trips and fewer regular commitments. Despite the lack of structure, summer can still be a great time to get some of your organizing projects done. Start your summer off right by creating your summer project list. This should be a list of a few – no more than 5 – projects that you want to complete by the end of the season. It can be whatever you want, but I recommend choosing projects that give you some enjoyment to capture that spirit of summer fun!
[Read more…]

Managing Kids’ Art and Schoolwork

IMG-4793There are few certainties in life, but here’s one I’ve found to hold true: If you’ve got kids, you’ve got art and schoolwork…and lots of it! In my 12 years of parenting, I’ve seen lots of strategies, tried a few – and here’s what I’ve settled on…for the moment.

  1. Start the school year with a temporary storage box or bin. You’ll need one for each child (labeled so you don’t get confused) and they’ll need to be in an easy-to-access location. No worries if you didn’t have that in place this year. You can deal with this year’s memories and start the box method for this coming year.
  2. As art and schoolwork comes in the door, deal with it immediately…or at least weekly. Hang up a few gems, plop the best in your temporary storage box, and recycle the rest. Remember that less is more, but don’t put too much time/effort into this either. The point is to make it easy in the moment so everything ends up in one place. You will whittle it down later. If you want, write the month/year on the back of the keepers – but don’t let that slow you down from getting things into the box.
  3. Mid-way through the year – holiday break is a good time – weed through what you’ve saved so far. You’ll find that as time passes and more accumulates, it’s easier to curate your collection. This will also make sure you have enough room in the box for the rest of the year.
  4. At the end of the year, take everything out of the box and review the whole pile. Again, it’s easier to pick out the gems after some time has passed and you can see that whole collection – pick one snowflake, one family “portrait”, one writing sample, etc.
  5. Decide how you’re going to more permanently store the year’s memories and make it happen over the summer. There are lots of options, but some simple ideas are a file box with 1 hanging file folder per year or a binder using dividers for each year. There are high tech options too, like photo books or scanning services. Just don’t make it so complicated that it never gets done.

[Read more…]