Saturday, December 20, 2008

Simplify the Season. Celebrate the Savior.

Most importantly, we all know the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating Christ’s birth, so I would like to end “Simplify the Season” by quoting Scripture from Luke 2:8-20.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,

18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Thank you for joining me on your journey to Simplify the Season. I look forward to hearing from you about what worked and what didn’t on your Christmas trek to a less complicated/less demanding holiday. May you find time to “ponder things in your heart” this season as Mary did on that very first Christmas.


I look forward to seeing you in the new year.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Interesting Sanity Savers

I paid no attention to the dates on the tidbits (as the dates have all pretty much passed!).  I did find the content interesting enough to share with you.  Thank Oprah for me next time you see her.

Have a Happy Weekend!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Squeezing in a Simplified New Year.

Christmas is almost upon us, friends!  This certainly has been an exciting season, thus far.  We are starting lots of new traditions with our son.  Every year he gets new Christmas pjs and we make a photo ornament.  We go places and see shows that only happen at this time of year – living Nativity, ice skating shows, elf village at Winter Wonderland, Nights of Lights.  We also continue some of our favorite childhood traditions – like riding around on Christmas Eve to see great Christmas light displays.

To all of you who shared your Christmas memories and traditions in the last blog posting, Thank YOU!  Making cookies, talk of Santa, church services, singing carols, and sipping cocoa are all idealistic for this time of year; very Norman Rockwell!  For one of you, sharing your traditions has won you a special Christmas gift!  Kaber, you are lucky #4 to comment, so you are this month’s winner!  Send your mailing address to and your gift card will be in the mail!  I know how much you love your Panera Cafe breaks, so your next beverage will be on me!  Congratulations, Kim!

We do still have one more week after this one to talk about Christmas.  Next week’s Simplify the Season post will be THE ONE MOST IMPORTANT post about Simplify the Season, so stay tuned.  For this week we are going to take a little detour to New Year’s.  I will keep each item as short as possible.  I have many things to cover and we will be revisiting some things at a later date.  If there is something you want me to cover in more depth in the future, PLEASE leave a comment to that effect. 

New Year’s Eve

  • drink lots of water
  • eat snacks at home
    • 1- to avoid over eating
    • 2- to have something in your stomach
  • drive safely

New Years Day

  • hosting a brunch?
    • pick a theme
    • keep it simple
    • serve good luck foods/go international

Resolutions –

  • Build on last year’s strengths
  • Make resolutions Attainable
  • Make your Goal specific
  • Give yourself Short Deadlines

Coming Up

Dec 21 – The very BEST part of “Simplify the Season” is revealed.

Dec 28 - The Aftermath of Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday is “Simplify the Season” Contest Day

This is a time of year when many of us give and give and give of ourselves even more than usual.  There are school functions, church functions, social functions, family obligations and they all happen in this short time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day!  This is a busy season!!!  All the more reason to join the Simplify the Season Band-wagon, right?  This is quite possibly my favorite part of Simplifying the Season! (Yes, even more than shopping!)  Before we go any further I want to remind all of us that it is important to take time for ourselves… especially in this busy season.

For the longest time I thought I didn't have the time to do things just for me. I thought that it was selfish to make time just for me.  I am a fairly low maintenance gal.  The extra five minutes daily in the shower, visiting a local gift/antique shop ALONE, the weekly self-manicure, the monthly massage appointment, taking a few evening minutes to read a book or watch (even part) of a movie - all make me better.  I'm a better servant, a better spouse, a better mom, a better friend, a whole better me when I do these things. 

Don't forget about you this Christmas Season.  Make a plan. Put it on your calendar. Don’t neglect time for you.  And because I love to hear from each and every one of you… let me know about your favorite thing for you!  I had one busy mom tell me that she will hide in the bathroom with a book or magazine for 15 minutes just to keep herself sane!  No matter how big or how small, remember to take care of yourself.


While you have your planner out sliding in some time for yourself, hedge your bets.  Schedule a day this week to pay bills, balance your checkbook, do the filing, catch up on phone calls – all the little mundane tasks that you usually do all month long.  Even with a Simplified Season, things can and will sneak up on you. 


As for the matter of our little contest… share with me your favorite family tradition.  It can be a tradition you remember from childhood or one that you have started with your own family.  Share all week long, if you like.  The contest will close at midnight EST Saturday December 13, 2008.  A random drawing will be performed and the winner will be announced in Sunday’s weekly blog.  Start sharing!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life really is Beautiful!

When I checked the mail yesterday, I got a surprise.  The Winter Issue of Life: Beautiful Magazine!  The best part for me?  I'm mentioned in it!!!!!!  There's an article on pantry organization and writer, Kathy Eastman, interviewed two organizers  (me, FL and Kim Bauma, GA).  I love the photography in this publication.  I want to frame almost every page!  If they sell this magazine in your area, let me know what you think! 

I just wanted to share my joy.  God is good!  Life is full of unexpected joys... large and small.  Thanks for sharing the joy with me.


Make sure you come back tomorrow for contest day!  I just couldn’t wait one more day to share this excitement with you!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Playing Simple Santa

One question I’ve gotten lately is…. “Now what do we do with all of these wrapped gifts?”

By this point in time, many of you have decorated and put up your tree and the gifts will live there.  For some homes the gifts are not seen until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Thus the question of What to do with the wrapped gifts arises.

After gifts are wrapped you will need a place to stash them. Those needing hand delivery (like teacher gifts) can go into a box/bin in the car – if you have chocolates in there and it is going to be some time before they are delivered, you may need to find a cool dry storage place out of the way in the air conditioning – linen closet or laundry room… or maybe just in the corner BEHIND the tree. Just keep those “gifts on the go” separate from all of the other under the tree gifts… just don’t forget where you have hidden any of them. If you are likely to forget where you stashed them, make a note in your agenda/planner/PDA.  Popular hiding spots – closets, behind furniture, attic, a friend’s home, under beds.  What’s your favorite gift hiding spot?

Keep in mind that if you have little peepers peeking around OR if you just want to keep at-home gifts separate from to-go gifts, you can always use a different wrap to differentiate - by person or by location of gift opening.  If you use candy cane wrap for Sally’s gifts and Santa wrap for Joey’s gifts but do not put tags on them, you will know who they are for, but Sally and Joey will not know at which ones to peak!  If you use gold wrap only on all of the gifts to go, you will know which ones to grab for traveling.


Out with the old.  In with the New.

Take time now, this week, before the kids are home for Christmas Break, to weed through the toy bins.  Look for books and toys you KNOW they’ve outgrown.  For older children, talk with them about giving to others and the joy that it brings to share things that they no longer use.  And if that doesn’t do the trick, you can always tell them that Santa won’t give to little children with tons of toys already; he only gives to the children who have space for new things.

I especially love the “One in-One out” rule of organizing for this time of year.  If you have overzealous friends and family gifting your children at this time of year, this may not be completely practical, but stay with me.  There is a simple YEAR ROUND rule or organizing that states, for every beautiful and useful item you bring into your home, one item needs to depart in order to make room for the new.  If you buy a new pair of shoes, then an old pair needs to go out.  If you could not resist a new handbag, book, toy, electronic devise – then an old item should depart in order to make room for the new.  Simple rule.  No excess.

For those of us with generous friends and family members, there is the option of toy rotation.  Leave some of the toys out for your children to play with now and box the others up for a few months.  When the children start wanting new toys to play with… Voila!  You bring out the toys that you put away from Christmas and box up some of the toys that they have been enjoying.  Keep the same number of toys in rotation so that you are not overwhelmed with a great mass of toys. 

If the toys you are taking out of rotation are things that your kiddos are truly no longer interested in, it is ok to go ahead and donate those things.  They have the fond memories of playing with the toy and it can move on to be loved by another child.  If you are attached to the toy, take a picture of your child playing with it for one last time and let it go.

Since our last mid-week contest was so much fun, we’re doing another one!!!  Tune in Friday, Dec 12 for the details.


Technorati Tags:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like a Simplified Christmas!

If you're just joining us on this journey to Simplify your Season, WELCOME.  Feel free to jump in and plan along with us.  Need some help catching up or feeling overwhelmed?  Just send an e-mail my way and I'll coach you right along.  If you've been with us since we started, how are you doing so far? 

Is everyone still feeling good and satisfied from yummy turkey and “fixins”?  How was your week of shopping?  Did you survive Black Friday?  I not only survived it, I enjoyed the morning at home in my jammies getting the same deals that were offered in the stores.  Sneaky?  Yes.  Did I keep my sanity?  Mostly.

Now that we have all of these gifts (or they are on their way from the North Pole) what do we do with them?  My suggestion is to….. WRAP THEM!  Yay!  Pretty presents with ribbons and bows.  No worries about kiddos (or spouses) peeking into hiding places.  What is the most simplified way to wrap?  Well, since we all know what a fan I am of setting up zones, it is time to set up “Gift Wrap Central” somewhere in your home. 

Before we go any further, I have a confession.  I LOVE gift wrap.  Therefore, I have put a moratorium on buying any more gift wrap.  Ever!  HOWEVER… What I do own is all neatly organized and easily accessible. 



Pretty Ribbons and Bows!



Tissue, Tags, Stationary, and other Gift Accoutrement! (The rolls seen on the right are stored upright in a bucket.)


My gift wrap rolls,  and ribbon bins will be seated on adjacent dining chairs as I carefully wrap all the family gifts upon my dining table.  I keep extra supplies (like scissors and scotch tape) in the gift wrap bin year round.  I have the blessing of having a no-napping-preschooler this Christmas.  Therefore, I am looking forward to wrapping everything this week before he is home for Christmas Break.  What are my other handy gift-wrapping ideas for you? 

  • Some people need portability like bins that can be stashed away between wrapping sessions. 
  • Others need a permanent set up (like in the corner of the laundry room). 
  • Many moms need secrecy, like under-bed-storage-boxes that can be used on the bedroom floor and then stashed away quickly. 
  • Wrap while they nap, if you can. 
  • Sesame Street is a good hour of uninterrupted fun in our house!  (Just make sure you start finishing up when you hear the Elmo’s World Theme!)  Find your source of uninterrupted fun time and go!

What other ideas do you have for Gift Wrap Central, my friends? 


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Can you think of FIVE things you are thankful for today?

Ask your family members and friends what they are thankful for on this special day.

I try to think of at least one thing a day to be thankful for.  That list usually grown exponentially once I begin having a grateful attitude.

I am thankful for a God who loves me enough to send His son to die on a cross in return for the gain of eternal life.

I am thankful for my sweet son and the vast improvements he is making.... and  for his preschool teachers who realize that he is an individual and lavish him with love and understanding.

I am thankful that I have a hubby who gets up and goes to work every day and that he is able to do what he feels called to do. 

I am thankful for in-laws who host Thanksgiving dinner (especially since I don't have the energy this year!) and parents who understand that travelling to see them the weekend after Christmas is just as good as being there Christmas Day.

I am thankful for NOT HAVING severe illness and trauma in our immediate family.  We are cancer free, debt surviving, and striving for abundant life.

It’s about more than just the turkey.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We have a winner!!!! Plus, Simplified Photos and Cards

First of all, I would like to thank those who commented for participating in our first ever giveaway!  I also want to extend heart-felt congratulations to TESS (check out her blogs- Atlastphotography and the 365 photo blog) for winning the random drawing for her very own HOME HUB NOTBOOK SYSTEM including: white-clear-view-pocket binder, fun binder pouch, two sheets of business card holders, notebook paper, 10 colored dividers with pockets, and sheet protectors! Here it is!!!!  


For those of you wondering how I made it random… each of the comments was assigned a number in the order they were received. The numbers were then put into a bowl and a blind drawing commenced. Like so….




It was VERY scientific.

Now on with the Simplifying!

How was the shopping? I must admit that I am usually mostly finished with my shopping by this point in the season, and yet this weekend I feel like I have just begun. Take heart, even the organized are human.

For those who have shopped and kept up with Simplifying the Season, Yay you! You are well on your way to that stress free Christmas you have dreamed of. For the rest of us, let's get cracking!

This week's topic: You should have been in pictures!

Seasonal Portraits. This is an insane time of year for portrait studios. We only do family portraits once a year and this is it! Just this week the photo place that we use starts scheduling for the first week of December. If you have not yet thought of booking a time slot for this traditional favorite, do it this week. December is bound to fill up quickly. Things to keep in mind when planning this particular picture possibility (I had to go with the alliteration):

  • What outfits do you want you and your family to wear?
  • What is your alternate outfit choice?
  • Do you need to work around school, work, and nap schedules? 
  • Keep these same things in mind when going to visit Santa.


While we're on the subject of Pictures, let's talk about:

Christmas Cards. The way I see it, if someone has not sent me a card in the past two years OR if someone sends me a card and only signs it without imparting any personal information whatsoever (example: "Merry Christmas! Love, Aunt June"), they do not really want to stay in touch with me. These two categories of people are off my Christmas card list. They probably breathe a sigh of relief for not having to send me a card just because I sent them one. We are being economical with postage and papers. We are being environmentally friendly with our resources as well. All of this, not to mention the amount of time we save by not writing and sending the abundance of cards. (I'm stepping on toes again aren't I? I am a-ok with that!) In return, I will not send a Christmas card where I simply sign it. I include the family portrait, or at least a picture of my son. I hand-write a few short notes about what has happened with us individually that may be of interest to the card recipient. (I am not against a wholesale typed up Christmas/end of the year letter.) I enjoy receiving little notes about what our friends and family have been up to for the past year in their cards as well. Both practices of sending the Christmas Cards and writing the Christmas letter are fine traditions. Make sure you plan a list of those who will receive cards. Sit down with you address book/various directories. Note the people for whom you would like to send cards. (Sounding similar to our Christmas Wish List Shopping?   Hmmmm.  I sense a theme!)  Seriously consider if you will have the time to send out cards with more than a "Love Mary" sentiment attached. Make out the card envelopes (or if you do not yet have cards, make labels). Labels can be hand-written or typed, but having them ready to stick and go when you are ready is a great resource! Go ahead and write your Christmas letter NOW. Many people will have a little extra time off to recreate this week with the Thanksgiving Holiday at hand. Make card labels and your Christmas letter a priority before the season escapes you… Otherwise, (and I do not believe this is a bad sentiment if it is what you plan to do) you may be sending out New Year's Cards.

Feel free to share your thoughts on portraits, Christmas Cards, New Years Cards, and the "family newsletter"… or any other randomness that you feel like sharing with us as we Simplify the Season!

Next time we will talk about wrapping all those gifts. For those of you participating in Black Friday, Godspeed!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Simplified Shopping!

(Sorry this was set up as a auto post and it failed yesterday!!!!  Comment away!)  FIRST, there was something about having a contest today, wasn’t there?  Oh yes!!!!  I’m excited!  I am giving away ONE HOME HUB SYSTEMThis is the ultimate notebook system for corraling paperwork!  How can you win it?  Post a comment to this blog before 11:59 pm on Saturday Nov 22, 2008, at which time the contest will end.  A randomly drawn winner will be announced on Sunday Nov 23, 2008 - before midnight – in our regular weekly blog.  Now on with the Season…

At the risk of sounding like a school marm… Did everyone do their homework?  We all have our nice little lists, divided into columns, and ready to fill in the blanks with this handy blog posting, right?  And that will lead us to just one thing… shopping! 

Did somebody say shopping???  Isn't that just your favorite contact sport?  Ah, "Black Friday".  The excuse that women use for getting up at 3 am to go to their local stuff-mart to elbow, hair-pull, and scrimmage their way to the mile-long check out line for special offers from the stores - and all for the joy of purchasing this year's rendition of Tickle Me Elmo.  What?  You don't want to be a part of that brawl this year?  Hmmm... me neither.

Maybe your problem is similar to mine.  Maybe you have to buy gifts for people (read:  family members) whom you hardly know.  Do you end up spending hours wandering the malls and marts to try to find that special gift that will please the recipient?  Look no more I have the answer!

But first... THINK about this whole downsizing, streamlining, lack of clutter you are trying to bring into your own life.  (That is why you're here, isn't it?)  Now, let's try to do that when we're shopping for those special people on our list.  Let’s be on the look out this season for a gift that the recipient will actually use.   Novel concept?  You betcha!  Here is the answer you’ve been waiting for...

This is the Ultimate gift finder.  It is totally free to use.  It will scour the internet (yep, this whole crazy web thingy) for unique gift choices just for you.  All you have to do is fill in a minor detail or two (gender, age, interests, occasion) about the gift recipient.  Another perk of using this site is that you can get ideas without making a commitment.  You can even go to the retailer sites from the site and find more ideas!  Yes, it helped me find that wine chiller for my "hard to shop for" family member last year as well as sparking gift ideas for out of town relatives.  Personally, I have a hard time of thinking of gifts to put on my own wish list for Santa.  I have used this handy tool at to help me out on more than one occasion.

Are you a parent or a grandparent (or an aunt or an uncle) looking for toys for the tot in your life?  Try the search features on or for age appropriate toy ideas.

Are you trying to compile a wish list for yourself?  Use the sites listed above to see what unique things you can find for you!

Still no luck?  Get a gift card.  Make it personal.  Think about the recipient's tastes on this one.  For example, if the recipient is a luddite, a gift card for an electronic or computer store is probably not the best idea; however a restaurant gift card for that uncle who enjoys fine dining - a gift card to an Aunt's favorite boutique - some movie passes for the college student (babysitter) - and a bookstore gift card for the reader whose favorite author will be releasing a book past your holiday celebration deadline. 

Finish filling out Column B on all of your lists and…

Are you feeling empowered?  I know I am!  Make sure to let me know what unique things you're finding along the way.

Are you ready to simplify your holiday?

Finish filling out Column B on all of your lists and…



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Simplify the Season is underway!

My organizing pals, November is officially HALF over! That means one thing and one thing only... It is time to get down to serious business with this Simplifying of our Season! After all, Santa will be here is just 38 more sleeps!
Since it seems we are just getting down to business here, let's lay some ground work before we go any further. It does us no good to talk about all of the aspects of simplifying our holiday and then end up not knowing where we have stored all of this hard work, right?

I am a big believer in using a spreadsheet system to hold all of this data. One file with multiple sheets (one per topic) should keep you in step for a simple holiday. Not super computer confident? That's ok too. Grab a pretty notebook (or a plain old legal pad) and join us. The notebook system also works well for having all of those wish lists available when you are out shopping.

This is our plan by the week. Try to keep up. If you fall behind or join us late - just keep on moving forward. Skip what isn't relevant to you. E-mail with questions and suggestions. Let's have fun!!!!!!!!

This week we are going to prepare to go shopping. YAY! I was out and about this weekend and I can tell you that the hustle and bustle is already in the air. It is time to join in, my friends!

How do we prepare?  Well, that’s simple!  Divide a sheet of paper into three columns. 1) In Column A, Make a list of everyone for whom you will need to buy gifts. Include family, friends, neighbors, clients, teachers, your child's favorite playmate, service people (school teachers, nursery workers, babysitters, hair dresser, the staff members at an office you frequent regularly, postal worker, barista, etc). Even if the gift is "just" a plate of cookies, jot the person down. Great! 2) In Column B, write down gift ideas. What? You're short on gift ideas? Your Uncle Joe has everything anyone could ever want? You have no idea what your silent Sister-in-law even likes? Whew. That's no problem! But I am going to leave you hanging for a few days before I unveil the solution. Check back Friday for that info and a special surprise! (Hint: There will be a winner involved!) 3) Column C is the place to list amount you wish to spend on this person, or the amount the aforementioned gift will cost. It is very easy to get off-list and thus off budget (and mostly over budget) at this time of year. Not only will that cause you stress now, but also when the credit card bills come in January. Note:  Your children have probably been dreaming up what they want to ask of Santa for weeks now.  This is the time to get them pinned down on writing to the jolly old elf.

Start your list and remember to check it twice. And then, check back for Friday's Special edition of Simplify the Season!!! I promise you it will be here in time for the weekend. Just in time for Christmas SHOPPING!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Simplify the Season Begins Here!

I was blessed enough this week to speak to a local MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) group.  These women were inviting and inspiring.  I presented “Simplify the Season” and it was a wonderful time of interaction.  I promised to have a list of gifts posted this weekend and you will find the (rather lengthy) list at the end of this blog.

Since we are now in Nov, we definitely need to begin talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and how to keep it all SIMPLE, right?  Let’s start with planning Thanksgiving.  This gathering of loved ones should be like any other special event.  If you were to send out an invite for such an event, you would need to include the “Who, What, When”.  In thinking of planning a large dinner, let’s look at these W’s. 

Who? – Who is hosting?  Who is coming?  If you aren’t hosting, offer to help the hostess by making your favorite dish or two.  If you are hosting, it’s time to start getting that head count.

What? – This is menu plan time.  What is everyone bringing?  It is perfectly fine to delegate dishes.  You still get to make your favorites (if you wish) or you can just be the hostess with the mostess by concentrating on preparing your home. 

When? – Thanksgiving Day or some other point near the actual holiday?  Lunch or dinner or somewhere in between?  If you have a large family or if your family is separated on the actual holiday, you can make the actual dinner (or if you are so motivated, a second dinner) on a day other than Thanksgiving Thursday.  Because of my dad’s work schedule, growing up my family NEVER had our Thanksgiving Meal on Thanksgiving Day.  Dad was usually off from work the Sunday following Thanksgiving and we would have our dinner and family celebration on that day.

Whatever day you choose and what ever plans you make, remember that this is often a stressful season, but it doesn’t have to be.  Thanksgiving in and of itself is a time to be THANKFUL!  Don’t let the stress of this season rob you of that.  I am so thrilled that you are starting on this journey with me!  As we continue the process of Simplifying the Season comment with your questions, your stories, and what is/isn’t working for you.  I always look forward to hearing from you!  Now let’s breathe and get started.

Oh, and here’s that list! 

Wow what a long list it is!  No, I'm not this creative on my own.  I had help.

Are you’re tired of the same old bottle of wine? Sure it’s a classic, but some tee-totalers may not find it all that useful. Here is a list of some fun, cheap, and cute Christmas gift ideas for neighbors, hostesses, teachers, and friends. As I have said before, consumable gifts are my favorites for this type of gift-giving! No clutter! Practical gifts to help out are a great (and novel) idea as well.

• Christmas balloon bouquet — "Uplifting" wishes for a fun-filled holiday!
• Bouquet of flowers or cookies — We're sending a "bouquet" of Christmas wishes your way!
• Bag of pistachios or peanuts in shells — Don't go "nuts" this Christmas! From your "nutty" neighbors.
• Fresh grapes — A "bunch-ful" of wishes for a "grape" holiday!
• Frozen lasagna — "What's for dinner?" During the holidays we hear this a lot, just heat this lasagna until it is hot!
• 7UP — (great for Holiday punches and tonics!) There's "seven" reasons why you are "up" on our list of favorites! Merry Christmas (list seven reasons).
• Christmas plates — Hoping you'll "arrange" to have a wonderful Christmas this year with a "plateful" of fun! (You can even fill with homemade cookies!)
• Christmas paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic utensils — A bit of "disposable" Christmas cheer! What could be better? No dishes, my dear!
• Bag of salad and dressing — "Tossing" out a wonderful Christmas wish to you and yours all "dressed" up with Christmas cheer!
• Magic Markers — Friends are the "magic" of Christmas!
• Roll of wrapping paper — "Wrap" yourself up in a wonderful holiday season!
• Bolt of Christmas ribbon — This simple gift is meant to help you "tie" up those loose ends this Christmas season!
• Mittens (fill with tape, scissors, tags and pen) — Let us "lend" you a "hand" this Christmas season!
*  Kitchen Towel and oven mitt sets -- For a "warm" hand of friendship just as you've given me, and the wish for a joyous season with love aplenty under the tree!/ "Hot" holiday wishes for you! Merry Christmas!
• Note cards or Post-It-Notes — Take "note!" We're thinking of you this holiday season! (Add a pretty pen!) – Perfect for a Teacher!
• Package of pens — Whenever you need them, they're never around, so here is a supply ... 'cuz you're Christmas bound!
• Symphony candy bars — Just a "note" of "sweet" Christmas tidings! (Music Teacher gift, anyone?)
• Starbursts — We are "bursting" with wishes for you to have a "starry" bright Christmas!
• Jolly Rancher soft chews — We "chews" to wish you a "jolly" holiday season!
• Christmas taffy — We're "pulling" for you to have a very merry Christmas!
• Christmas Rolos — "Rolo-long" with a Christmas song, spreading good cheer at the time of year!
• Werthers Original Butter Candies — "Original" Christmas greeting for no "butter" friends around.
• Reeses Peanut Butter Cups — There are so many "Reeses" why we like you!
• Mint M&M's — These are "mint" to wish you a "Magical" and "Merry" Christmas.
• Big candy bar or candy cane —"Enormous" Christmas wishes to you!
• Package of Milky Way reindeer — For won-"deer"-full friends from the whole herd!
• Poinsettia — Our friendship is forever "blooming." Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas!
• Ice cream roll or frozen drink concentrate — Happy "freezin'" season! Have a happy Christmas!
• Animal Crackers or Teddy Grahams — This neighborhood/family would be a "zoo" without you! Merry Christmas to a "beary" "grrreat" neighbor/granddad!
• Ritz snowflake crackers and a can of cheese — Have a "ritzy" Christmas season and "spread" around the joy!
• Townhouse crackers and cheese ball — From "our house" to "your house" with love. We hope you have a "ball" this Christmas!
• Cheese Nips — We're going to "nip" it in the bud and wish you "cheesy" holiday wishes!
• Jello Mousse Mix — Merry "Chris-mousse" to you!
• Frozen item — You're the "brrr-y" best!
• Frozen cinnamon or orange rolls — "Rise" to the occasion and celebrate the holidays in a "tasty" way.
• Pancake mix and syrup —We're "pouring out" Christmas wishes and hoping you have a Christmas to "flip over!" (What a bonus for a Christmas Breakfast!)
• Eggo Waffles and syrup — For a "quick-o" breakfast that will be just fine, when running late this holiday time! Merry Christmas from our house to yours!
• Toaster Struedel or English muffins — May your holidays be warm and "toasty" Merry Christmas!
• Frozen or refrigerated turnovers — The holidays are wrapping up, there is still one thing we want to do. We couldn't go another day without this holiday wish for you. May the new hear "turn over" with health, wealth and happiness, too!
• Baked item — It's a Christmas miracle ... I baked! Warm Christmas wishes to you and yours!
• Pepperidge Farm cookies — Homemade cookies would be so fine, but these are so much better than mine! Merry Christmas! (We love the little ginger men!)
• Bagels and cream cheese — "Spreading" a little Christmas "shmear" to our friends who are so dear!
• Soup mix — We wish you a wonderful holiday "simmering" gently with love!
• Bean soup mix — You've "bean" such good neighbors!
*   Popcorn and flavored seasoning -- Just "popping" in to wish you a Merry Christmas!
• Fritos Scoops and bean dip — Here is the "scoop" for "bean" so nice. "Dip" into fun!
*   Tortilla chips and and Spinach Dip -- Gifting you with some "Green" this Christmas Season!
• Apples and caramel dip — To a most "a-peel-ing" family. "Dip" into a very happy holiday season!
• Snack mix — Here is a "mix" of holiday wishes for you! (or) May your holidays be "Chextra" special!
• Bag of mini carrots and veggie dip — We know you are 24 "carrot" neighbors! What a treasure! Have a happy holiday!
• Flashlight — We love how you "light up" our lives. We've come to depend on your "glow." Here's a "flashlight" to store, so you'll always be sure to create "light" wherever you go!
• Batteries — "'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa was worried, he had an emergency. Boy was he flurried! The power was off, and his flashlight was dead. He didn't buy "batteries" when Mrs. Santa said. We don't want you in a similar plight, so we give you "batteries" to "lighten" your night! Merry Christmas to you. May you walk in the "light"!

See all the helpful solutions? Who doesn’t love dinner or breakfast provided during this busy time of year? How easy is it to write a cute note to stick on a bag of candy before heading out to a party?
Thanks to a mom of four from Utah for helping me compile this list. 


Saturday, November 1, 2008

DLS Day Light Savings

I'm not really sure what it is that we save by doing this little irritating ritual but -- tonight is the night to FALL BACK. Set your clock back one hour before going beddy-bye.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dancing Queen?

No, no, no. I said donating queen! I am the donating queen lately. I can't believe how the change in seasons - and the fact that my child has outgrown everything all at once - (Can you say "growth spurt"?) prompts me to go closet clearing. Knowing that Christmas is not that far off has also led me to start weeding out the toys we've outgrown in order to make room for the new onslaught.
Have the cooler temperatures prompted any pre-holiday nesting of your own?
"Simplify the Season" is in the air. Can you feel it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting back on track. (Fall time is fun time!)

I am using a borrowed computer. (Thank you Paul for sharing!) My laptop has given up on me after just over a year of service. Therefore I do not have Live Writer at this time. This makes me a bit sad, but lookie at the technology I still have! YAY! October is almost over. The temperatures here have been very fall like lately. I am actually in love with playing outside! I have really been choosing fun! It is hard to remember to live abundantly in all I do, but I am really working on that. How about you? Are you living life to the fullest? I finally have an update from here ... The magazine basket was purged to make room for all of the "soon to come" Christmas catalogs. The tree branch has been trimmed and the guys have chopped most of it into firewood. The big trees are still holding strong. The garage has been cleaned out. The yard sale is DONE. The decision to order a shed for the lawn eqipment (a safety measure really) has been made.

This is the time to get out all of your Fall decorations, give them a good dusting and sprinkle them about. I never, hardly ever, give decorating tips, but I will just this once. If there are holiday decorations that you own that you are not using (aka they are remaining stored away in their boxes year after year after year) DONATE THEM NOW. Someone else will still have time to use them this season and it will lighten your load when you go to repack the decorations that you love year after year. Less really is more sometimes.

Stay tuned for the start of "Simplify the Season". I will be bringing back some favorites from last year as well as adding some new goodies. Can you say "Holiday Hub"? I'm giddy! ~J

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Letting go.

Welcome to October.  Now it really is more fall-like, isn't it?  We start to realize that the 85 days left until Christmas is going to be all too short!  Do not fear.  "Simplify the Season" is coming soon.  With all this talk of change of seasons, I thought it would be a good time to discuss change in organizing.  (Wow, what a seg-way!)

"Change is not easy, but it is incredibly liberating."(1) Stemming from this idea is that the stuff we surround ourselves with should be stuff that we love, we find useful, is current.  So what happens to the stuff that is out-of-date, obsolete, no longer useful to us, or lovely?  Friend, that is what we call "clutter".  Whether it is your home or office, if the contents are not serving you and your present purpose, they have no business being in your life.  Does that sound harsh?  Maybe a little.  Maybe because it is true.  I am not suggesting we throw out everything we own and start anew.  I am suggesting that we all are capable of filling our lives (and homes) with stuff that really has no purpose other than collecting dust.  I may be talking about your bread machine, that 7th pair of black heels, or the spare 2000 paper clips which are lurking in a desk drawer.  what is it for you, friend?  Is there one area that you know you really need to let go of certain stuff?  Will you commit to take time this week to JUST THINK about what that space in your home will be once you let go of the stuff?  Ok, enough about the change part for now.  Do you want to know abut the liberating part?  That is the part where you find that you don't miss what you've donated and tossed.  The part where you have a room that looks the way you want it to look in your head.  You have peace.  You have room to live, conduct business, share your life, breathe.  That is true liberation.

I have had the candid conversation with many women lately who feel like being a grown-up, trying to have everything under control, and motherhood has zapped their fun.  At what point do we forget about living life abundantly?  When is it that we trade in fun for drudgery?  My challenge to you this week is to have fun.  In all that you do, have fun.  If you haven't heard of living abundantly before, I would love to talk with you more about it.  If you aren't sure what this "having fun" is all about, think about what defines FUN for you.  This is more than a 15 minute challenge to contentment.  Laugh, paint pottery, quilt, sure... fix dinner, do a load of wash, make the beds, pick up the toys.... but in all your daily decisions, choose fun.



1. It's All Too Much: An easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff; Peter Walsh; copyright 2007; page 52.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Equinox, anyone?

This week we usher in Fall.  It doesn't quite feel fall-ish here in Northeast Florida.  It is a bit cooler, and for that we are thankful.  The humidity will lift soon enough, I'm sure.  Ah Fall.  Autumn.  My favorite time of the year.  (And no, it is not just because many allergens are dying off, although that is a nice blessing, isn't it?!)  I love Fall for:  Pumpkins and dry air.  Children in costumes.  The anticipation of upcoming holidays and all the bustle and celebration they promise.  Warm colors exploding from a natural pallet of reds, oranges, browns, yellows, and left-over-greens. (sigh)  I love autumn. 

With the beginning of Autumn, what's on my to-do list for the near future?  I am so glad you asked.  For the next month or so I plan to spend some time "finishing summer". 

  • Making one last warm trip to the beach before the winds turn to cutting iciness.  Maybe we'll finally try out that kite? 
  • Sorting out the magazine basket (I love magazines!) to make room for the influx of toy and gift catalogs that arrive starting soon.
  • Cleaning out the garage (or storage unit/man cave) so that all of our outdoors toys will be accessible for us to spend the Fall outside! 
  • Removing some branches from trees that need a serious trim.  And creating firewood!

Oh, how did you rejuvenate this past week?  I picked up a stack of books at the local library and have been enjoying reading the wisdom of Peter Walsh.  While I don't always agree with Mr. Walsh, I do find him insightful.  He really does look past the "stuff" to the heart of the clutter.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Living well.

I can't believe that it was February the last time we talked about this topic (oh, and here too!).

What are you doing to live well this week?  I feel like I've been running after everyone and every thing else this week.  I think as moms we often get into that groove.  I am reminded tonight to take a breath and to live well for me.  If I am not living well for me - I am not a good servant for Him, I am not the best mom and I can be, nor am I the best wife (or friend, or daughter, or organizer, or me) I can be. 

This week I challenge you to make a list (and not just because lists are so much doggone fun!).  Make a list of things you can do that will make you feel as if you are living well. 

  • Is it a visit to a local antique shop? 
  • Getting a mani/pedi/facial/massage?
  • Reading a book/magazine/article?
  • Learning a new song?
  • What is it for you that makes you feel like you are living well?
  • Will you commit to do it this week?



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Update Update Update


In case it has been awhile since you've checked it out, head on over to to see what you've been missing!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to school time!

Happy Labor Day!  Thank you for all of you who work the daily grind (even today as many of us were out dining and shopping). 

I realize for much of the country, you have probably already gone back to school.  My husband finished out his first full week  of teaching rather happily.  Thanks to the great sales as of late, school shopping is finally finished for the whole family.  Tomorrow holds the real "back to school" feel in our home; because, you see, tomorrow is the first day of pre-school!

I am not finding it as bitter-sweet as I thought I would.  I am actually glad for this new adventure in our lives.  My three-year-old has been asking to go to school on an almost daily basis for about a month now.  We have watched DVD's about favorite characters (Elmo and Blue) going to school.  It is an exciting time.  All that said, I have put a lot of planning into tomorrow.  The homework assignment "All About Me..." poster is finally complete and in the packed up back pack (lest we forget this very important item!).  The lunch is all packed (except the hot portion).  Everything is Magic Marker labeled.  The clothes are laid out - down to the shoes.  I feel as though I have planned well.

So I ask those of you who are parents, for your first day agendas.  What do you do on that first day with a silent house, you stay at home mom?  What do you do the first day coordinating buses, car-pools, after school schedules?  Working parent, what is your challenge with after school care?

I find myself curious about others' lives at this point.  What are your "back to school" rituals?  I have a dear friend whose husband goes into work late on the first day of school.  He stays home a little longer and cooks a big breakfast for the whole family.  I plan to try to maintain a "life as normal" status quo in the morning so as not to upset the applecart that is my young one.  Yes, Elli, I will TRY TRY TRY to remember to take a picture of him in the morning.  So tell me, what do you do that is different/special for that very first day?  How do you plan?  If you are beyond the point of having school aged children, what did you do for your children when they were small that was special?  What is YOUR best first day of school memory?

For any of you who are interested, there is still space available in the up coming Home Hub Seminar for Monday evening (Sept 15, 5:30-7pm).


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ferocious Fay? No way.

Tropical Storm Fay (nope my Minnesota friend, it never got to be a hurricane here) derailed some plans around our area this past week.  Thankfully we were never without power and there is no major storm damage here.  I'm hoping that holds true for our water level. 

Thanks to all for the great response to the upcoming Home Hub Seminar.  There are still seats available for Monday evening (Sept 15, 5:30-7pm) if you are still interested.

Next time we will talk about "Back to School"!



Sunday, August 17, 2008

An exciting Announcement!


Hello organizing friends!  We've been doing some end of summer traveling this month.  School starts in our district tomorrow.  Can you believe it!?!

I have something new in the works for organizewithjulie!  I think you are going to be very excited to hear this news! Many of you have expressed to me that you want to set up a Home Hub or that you just don't know what to do with all of the paper work that infiltrates your home.  No worries!  Coming to Jacksonville, FL in the month of September, I am offering a FREE workshop to help us all Conquer the Paper Chaos! 

You will be able to see what a Home Hub is like in real life action. You will learn how to set up a Custom Home Hub Notebook System… and it is easy!

This is the perfect time of year to figure out: how to schedule your week, how to plan your meals, what to do with all the incoming school papers and the mail. You can get your bills paid on time. You will be able to return calls in a timely manner. Your home life will become less chaotic. This system is designed to give you everything you need at your finger tips.

With school just starting, the paper work you are about to receive will seem endless. This is my proven survival technique.

The Dates are:

Monday Sept 15, 5:30pm - 7


Tuesday Sept 16, 10 am - 11:30am.

The seminar is totally FREE. If you choose to buy notebooks or supplies at the seminar, those materials will be extra.

Send an e-mail to or leave a comment here to let me know that you are interested.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Preparing for the worst


This is summer in sunny Florida which means only one thing to many -  Hurricane season is upon us.  That's right folks, from June through November we are on alert.  I can remember vividly the summer of 2004, living in Central Florida and having FOUR hurricanes pass over us.  I think the longest we were without power at any one given time was 2 weeks.  That was a blessing by some standards.  I can remember this because #1 I am a Florida native and have never had to deal with anything so bizarre in my many years of life and #2 I was in my second trimester of pregnancy and quite uncomfortable.

So what does one do in the Florida summer to prepare?  I am so glad you asked!  You need to get a kit, make a plan, stay informed.  You can keep your kit (stored in a handy plastic bin with lid) in the safe room of your home or in your car.  Just make sure everyone knows where it is.  For more info, check out  

Please make an evacuation plan with your family even if you do not think you will be leaving.  It is best to be prepared.

Don't forget about Fido and Fluffy.  Find a pet approved shelter or include their items in your kit. 

Know that lengthy blackouts are usually expected when a hurricane happens.  Combining the information with the "Blackout" section as well as the "Hurricane" section is worthwhile.

If you are reading this and are not located in a hurricane zone, has information for preparing for all types of disasters - blackouts, wildfires, volcanoes, and flooding included.

It's time to take 30 minutes and ASSEMBLE A KIT/MAKE A PLAN. 

Stay safe!



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer, It's got me upside-down

Where have I been? Having fun mostly!

There's lots going on in our little corner of the world this summer. Many of you know that Paul was performing with Sax 4th Avenue in Peru for a large portion of this month. I am happy to have him home. It was an awesome opportunity and we are both very glad he was able to serve with such wonderful friends. We look forward to more summer trips like this one. He did leave the day after school was out and returned last Monday, so this was very much a whirl-wind for us all. He is still adjusting to life back in the states; but oh what a blessing!

The fourth was a very laid back time for us with NO PLANNING going into a casual block party. It was one of the greatest parties I've ever been a part of and I hope that we are able to do many more. I guess when you have neighbors as caring and fun as mine, there's no way to not have a great time!

Summer is a fun time for us as a family. We are able to spend about 3 months together making plans for daily events and big vacation adventures. Our schedule has, unfortunately, gone out the window. I know there will be a rude awakening come August, but it is light so late and we are just ready for that family fun.

As far as the organizing realm is concerned... Many of you are in the process of trying to assemble your own Household Hub Binders. If you need personal assistance, I am free to workshop it with you. Here is a general guideline and FAQ.

~What is a Household/Home Hub Binder? Its essence is that it should be a manual for your daily life. This is the place to keep your - weekly schedule, grocery lists, take out menus, sales ads/coupons, financial information, school fliers, business cards, contact info.

~How do I start? Gather all of your paper and see what it is that you need to put into your binder. Make stacks of like items (finances all together, school stuff all together, etc). Use stickies to label each broad category. Write labels for sub categories as well.

~Now what? Assemble your binder by using the categories you've created. Use pocket dividers, sheet protectors, and business card sleeves where necessary. Include a pencil pouch in the front of the binder to hold extra pens, stamps (for bill paying and correspondence), a mini calculator, and other small items.

Other uses for a Home Hub Binder:

~ New Home Owner Manual - paint colors, service companies, age of appliances. (Great Gift!) ~ Vacation Home Manual - emergency contacts, operating systems, local favorites. ~ Finance Only Binder - track investments, bank statement, and account info. ~ Health Hub - Medical/Shot Records, Insurance Info, Explanation of Benefits/Dates of Service. ~ Decorator's Dream - Fabric Samples, Paint Chips, Magazine Inspiration Pages, Measurements. ~ Correspondence with your nanny/childcare - notes, schedules, plans of action, emergency info.

I know that we don't want to think about it yet, but summer is just about half over. Wouldn't it be nice to have a system in place for all of that school generated paperwork before it begins to filter into your home?

So tell me fellow Home Hubbers, what are your questions, concerns, points of advice? If you are interested in a workshop session, leave a comment or send an e-mail. I'd love to help you bring order to your paperwork chaos.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crafty Organization

I did not fall off the face of the earth. I just had a Birthday, packed up hubby's classroom, and have been enjoying summer! And look at the cute things I've been crafting... all for the sake of organization, of course! First of all, I have been looking for some sort of hanging bin or basket for the "on the way out the door" items. I need to get the sunscreen, bug repellent, and baby powder (for the beach sand, ya know?) off of my kitchen counter top and out of the reach of little hands. Did I mention that little hands like to find "goo"? I have not been able to find the perfect hanging basket. But then I remembered that there was a lovely French Proven├žal tin bucket holding an arrangement of silk Spring flowers that needed a new purpose in its life. I was unaware of the sad shape it was in. When I found this lovely article, the paint was cracking badly. The grey areas are from the paint that chipped off as I was washing the outdoor/garage grime off with a soft cloth. The brown spots are rust. I actually liked the rust when this was hanging outdoors with the flowers tucked inside. It gave it a nice country feel. Now that it is going to be in my kitchen, I find that I am not so fond of the rust. It didn't take my brain long to decide that something beautiful could be made from a resource I already had right here in front of me. What was my answer? Decoupage! (The art of decorating with cut outs of fabric or paper.) I just happen to have this swanky scrappy paper that fits the bill perfectly! So (with the help of my three-year-old son) this is my finished product! TADA! That's it! Just two different patterns of paper, a little water, and lots of glue made that rusty, paint-chippy bucket into this little work of art! May I also mention that this was a very "Green" choice? You know... the whole reusing what you have thing. And since I am on such a crafty roll.... I took a frame, which I bought for the purpose of getting the basket of keys up off of the same spot on my kitchen counter, and spruced it up and actually got it up on to my wall! YAY! Pretty and ingenuity in one fell swoop! See how the papers are all matchy-matchy? Isn't is fun!? I know that some of you are far craftier than I. share with me your crafty organizing solutions! You know I'd love to see them! Even if it has nothing to do with getting organized, take some time this week to do something creative! .

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lost and Found

My dear friends, do you know what is in your wallet? Sure there's the normal credit card/ID type of stuff. What about membership cards? Insurance cards? Account numbers? Social security numbers? Because of a small mishap I had this week, I am going to encourage you to do something you may consider a bit odd. It is not something I would have ever considered before this past week. First, I will share my story. What happened this past week? We had a holiday. (Yay Memorial Day!) My family met up with some friends at the local zoo. (Yay!) And come Tuesday morning (aka grocery morning) I could not find my purse. (Boo!) I did have my Driver's License and my annual zoo pass, (Yay!) which were in the stroller pocket, not my purse. So what did I do? After a cursory search through the house and car, I grabbed my spare credit card and headed to the grocery store. By Wednesday afternoon, after checking my accounts status and calling the zoo's lost-and-found, I had concluded that my purse was lost and gone forever. (Boo.) Thus, I canceled the cards that were in my purse and panicked about what other info may have leaked into the wrong hands. (Double Boo.) Wednesday night, by God's grace (and probably some tiny little hands), my purse materialized. (Super yay!) All of this really got me thinking... It's time to take 15 minutes and.... inventory your wallet! I will implore you to write or type a complete inventory of your wallet. File it with your other personal information or add it to your HOUSEHOLD HUB binder. Update it regularly. .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flying the friendly skies?

Let’s get our quart sized zip top bags ready and pack for that flight!

A note on air travel… If you have not traveled our friendly skies in awhile you may want to check out the newest guidelines for what you can/cannot take aboard. Make sure to keep this list handy for packing AND for souvenir buying. In case you were curious, snow globes are a no go for your carry-on.

Many of you are familiar with the spare suit case trick. You take along an empty bag inside of a full bag so that when you are shopping on a trip you already have luggage in which to stow the loot for you return trip. I have mixed feelings about this process, but thought I would put it out there. I say, just pack some spare travel space bags and shrink you clothes down to size for the return. There is no extra luggage. This saves you money and space.

The essential carry-on and what it should contain (prescriptions and OTC medications, cosmetics, a hair tie, a toothbrush/toothpaste duo, your cell phone, a change of underwear, a spare tee, a spare pair of pants/skirt (from the girl who has flown cross county wearing an OJ soaked pair of cargos- yes this is a good idea), I also take spare socks, snacks (for when you are stuck on the runway), and entertainment (a book, magazine, deck of cards). Just in case your luggage doesn't make it when you do, you'll have your important items with you. Wearing a light sweater aboard is also a advantageous idea. (Of course if you are a handsome saxophone player just put the necessities in the horn case and pray your suitcase makes it to your final destination when you do.)

One more note... Tag Tag Tag you luggage with something obvious for baggage claim. Lime green luggage tags, the yarn atop the handle, whatever it takes to make your bag stand out and easily recognized. (I even saw animal shaped tags at Target this week. Sure they are meant for the kiddos, but why should they have all the fun?) One final note: ALWAYS check the tag before leaving the baggage claim area (or security checkpoint) to ensure that someone else wasn't like-minded in their choice of luggage and tag.

Be aware that most airlines are starting to charge for extra bags and may have weight limits or additional charges for all baggage.

It's time to take 15 minutes and... peruse the above website.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Pre-Vacation Clean Up

Why? Because it is so nice to come home to a tidy home. It is good to know that there aren't chores hanging over your head that will need you immediate attention when you walk through the door. And finally, because you will be doing so much laundry when you first arrive home you will not have time to think about doing anything else. Stick to your normal cleaning and household routine as much as possible. Three days before you leave: Put your mail and paper delivery on hold. Alert a neighbor that you will be gone so that they can keep an eye out for your home. Two days before you leave: Make sure that the house is relatively neat, beds are changed, and the major household cleaning has been accomplished. While you are away from your home, the dust will still settle, but the overall appearance of your home should be tidy. The day before you leave: Clean out the fridge. Pick up toys, put clothes in hampers, do all the major tidying so that you are not rushing to pick up and find things on the day of your trip. The day you leave: Turn off the valve for the water going to your clothes washer, especially if it is indoors. Turn up or off the air conditioner so that you are not being wasteful. Take out the garbage! .

Monday, May 12, 2008

Road Trip, Bambino Style

How do you travel with a child without going insane? Here's the scoop, keep them entertained. We do mostly car travel with our family. The main reason for this is that I have not yet been brave enough to board a plane with my son and husband. Nor have I felt brave enough to fly the friendly skies alone with the aforementioned child. Are you looking for some great travel toys beyond a favorite book or two and a lovey? I prefer car toys that do not make their own noise. Activity books for preschoolers like this one from Constructive Playthings have lots to do (and all the pieces are attached!). Our Magna-doodle is a perfect way to take art on the road without the mess. Older kiddos may enjoy a more complex etch-a-sketch. We make sure that we have plenty of music to play and the travel DVD player. We keep a ball in the car for use during our stretch breaks. Toys with lots of pieces (Legos, puzzles, etc) get left at home. It is too hard to keep up with all the pieces as we travel; I refuse to even attempt it. (Well, ever since the tragic loss of Monkey #10 - This is the rule.) Snacks are also a great way to pass the time and keep us all happy. I like dry cereal, cookies, crackers, and freeze-dried fruit for the "less mess" scenario with a small child. What are some of your families favorite travel toys/activities? What are your opinions and experiences with hotel kid packs? The coloring books and crayons are always a nice touch. On one trip to a theme park the resort included a themed (new) bath toy squirter for our child. That was fun and unique! .

Friday, May 9, 2008


I’ve decided to deem May as “Travel Month”

Keep in mind that I am only thinking of domestic travel with this list. When going abroad there are so many things to contend with, contacting you friendly local travel agent is wise.

As promised, the aforementioned packing list TA DA

One Plastic Laundry Bag per person. Put a dryer sheet in each bag. You’ll thank me at the end of the week when your dirty laundry is following you around. (If you have little ones, remember the bags for diaper disposal, as well.)

Add a separate bag for wet stuff (swim wear or otherwise).




Diapers AND WIPES/Underwear/Pull Ups





Dresses and SLIPS


Swim Wear (and swim diapers)

Swim cover-up/sarong

Light Sweater/Jacket

Shoes/Sandals/Sneakers/Dress Shoes/Flip Flops/Water Socks.


Hair dryer, if not provided



Hair product – spray, gel, pomade

Hair clips and ties

Soap/Body Wash




Cotton Swabs


Razor, Shaving Gel, After Shave

Cosmetics Bag – Don’t forget the moisturizer!

Makeup remover

Lip Balm SPF

Sunscreen AND after sun lotion

Contacts, Solution, Case, Drops


First Aid

Nail kit

Feminine items

OTC and Prescription Medications



Special blanket/Pillow, and for the kiddos stuffed animals/lovies


Tote/Day Bag



Antibacterial Wipes/gels/lotions

Snacks and drinks (and napkins)

Camera and spare batteries

Rain gear – Umbrella/poncho/hat/coat

Beach Towels

Playing cards

Zip top bags

Sewing Kit

Mosquito Repellant


Flashlight and spare batteries

Cell phone – cord and charger

Travel Alarm (if not integrated into your phone)

Palm, Ipod, etc – charger

Laptop – cord and accessories

Stamps for mailing postcards “Wish you were here!”


Hostess Gifts

Sporting Equipment/Musical Equipment/IT Equipment


Notebook and pen

ID and Insurance information

MAPS for en route

MAPS of your destination

Airline tickets or e-tickets

CONTACT INFO for your destinations (lodging) and family members. (Yes, I pack my address book)

This moves us along to ITINERARIES- two copies. Make sure to take one copy with (on your person/in your carryon) and leave a copy behind with a trusted family member or friend. This is especially important when flying. Include phone numbers of your destinations and your flight numbers on the itineraries. Make sure your confirmation numbers are recorded here. ALSO include the hours of operation and phone numbers for attractions.

Obviously we are talking about domestic summer travel. If you need to forgo the swim wear and pack the parka, then by all means make this list your own.

Take 15 minutes and customize this list! Then make sure Fluffy and Fido have their summer reservations. If pets are traveling with you, pack their items as well (kennel, leash, water and food dishes, bottled water and food, litter box, special bed/blanket/towel).

In case ya didn't notice EL, You're on your own with that whole weird "camping" thing.

Tell me fellow travelers, did I omit anything essential?

Next time:

Traveling with children.

The pre vacay clean up.


Air Travel