Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. II

As the pace of the holiday season picks up, your time might be getting used up fast, too. From the archives, here are some suggestions to save some time, and maybe some sanity, too.

  • Retire the family newsletter. With so many people using social media these days, the “old-school” annual recap may be redundant now.
  • Bake in bulk. Make a big batch of sugar cookies now. You can freeze the dough or even baked cookies. (Thaw overnight at room temperature.)
  • Reconsider crystal. Do you have delicate (hand-wash-only) glassware that you’d like to use? Maybe skip it during this most hectic of seasons, and use it some other time. Instead, your nicest dishwasher-safe glassware will make life easier, both before and after a celebration.
  • Skip the party playlist. Delegate DJ-ing to a music streaming service, like Pandora. You can choose from multiple preprogrammed channels or customize a mix.

For a laugh, from Erma Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End, in October 1987. “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” (Of course, I don’t agree with this, but I did laugh out loud when reading it recently. Here’s hoping you did, too.)

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Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Three Powerful Words

Reduce, reuse, recycle. They are suggestions we hear often. Some people groan, while others take them to heart, with gestures both large and small, benefitting us all. Please consider the following recommendations for the holidays and at other times of year. They provide a different twist on those three powerful words.

Reduce. Americans gain an average of seven pounds during the holidays. Would it be possible to decrease your food and drink intake by some percentage, to make the scale’s upward creep less challenging? Stepping onto the scale on January 2nd might be a little less unpleasant.

This is not a grumpy curmudgeon’s instruction to only chew on carrot sticks and celery stalks at parties. Maybe reconsider the last glass of red wine and/or piece of dark chocolate. (They are reported to be good for the heart. Even so, that’s tough for me, too, since I consider them to be basic food groups!) Instead, you might drink an extra glass of water. Your body will be grateful, even if it can’t voice its appreciation.

Chatting with a swimming buddy about these three powerful words, Nina shared the following Tibetan proverb – The secret to living well and longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.

Reuse. If you exchange holiday presents, what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? While it’s certainly responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future, you might bag it for package padding when the time comes.

Another good reuse – unmatched socks. How does that happen, anyway? Does the washer eat a sock? Does the dryer hide one? Use unmatched socks as padding when packing delicate objects for shipping. Put fragile ornaments inside them for storage. Lastly, you also might wear unmatched socks together, even if only at home. Bonus points – it could make you laugh. (Think about the Tibetan proverb!)

Recycle – yourself, by donating blood. As written previously, donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes about an hour, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Happy holidays! May they bring you, and those dear to you, all that you wish, and more. Cheers!

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. I

As the holiday season quickly approaches, here are a few tips to save time now, and maybe a bit of sanity, too. From the archives –

  • Find any gifts bought spontaneously through the year and stored who-knows-where.
  • Add all holiday events into a shared family digital calendar – every party, cookie swap, caroling event, concert.
  • If needed, drop off fancy holiday outfits at the dry cleaner’s.
  • Shop for non-perishable groceries and booze before stores get crazy, and place orders for any in-demand specialty foods that might be in shorter supply later.
  • Order any specialty clothes, pajamas, etc., that might need to be monogrammed now, in November, before a supplier’s production staff gets very busy.
Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

October Holiday Decorating

These days, there’s some conjecture about whether or not Halloween has become the second-most decorated holiday. Who really cares? It gives us opportunities to be creative and maybe also a bit outrageous.

Here’s a fun and incredibly inexpensive idea, from Amy Sedaris’s book
I like you: hospitality under the influence. The book is funny, creative and “spicy.” (Read: over-the-top and sassy.)

To make the Nosey Tissue Ghost, you’ll need two sheets of facial tissue. Lay one out flat, then ball up the other one and place it in the center of the flattened sheet. Use monofilament (clear fishing) line to tie the head off at the neck. Dot with a felt tipped pen to mark eyes. Using clear tape, attach some more line to the top of the head.

Where to hang it? From a tree, from a front porch ceiling, anywhere where it could cause a stir. Clear fishing line is especially good, because it’s strong and will help to make the ghost look like it’s flying through the air. The local hardware store sells 500 yards for $3.00. (Once added to your craft supplies stash, it’s likely to come in handy for other uses, too.)

A few hung together could be even better. Boo!

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Admittedly, I’ve posted the following suggestions before. They’re still of use; at least, I think so. Happy holidays!

It’s the holiday season and all that goes along with it – happy gatherings, glorious music, decorations, lights and, of course, presents. Wearing my de-cluttering “hat,” here are some suggestions to perhaps decrease your own and perhaps others’ clutter, too.

Reduce. Many people already have enough stuff. What to give? For something memorable, how about something intangible, like a special restaurant meal, or an experience. Yes, this is a repeated idea, but still feels valid. Concert tickets? A hot air balloon ride? Or, how about an especially good bottle of wine, with the promise to share it over an equally impressive homemade meal, including a truly decadent dessert? A built-in bonus – time together which, in these increasingly busy times for many of us, is precious. Perhaps save this gift for the New Year, after all of the holiday busy-ness, when you might be able to relax and enjoy it more.

Reuse. Another reprised suggestion, but what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? Sure, while responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future and have storage space, you might bag it for when the time comes. Another easy reuse – as written, egg cartons are great to snugly store ornaments.

Recycle. Yourself. Yes, by donating blood, also suggested before. Donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, and I’m no fan, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes ~45 minutes, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

Refrigerator Stuffing – Not a New Dish, But About Saving Space!

A few days ago, I read some magazine tips about saving space in the fridge, which can get so packed during the holiday season. To keep condiments upright and to prevent mess, place them in a six-pack holder on the door. Leftover casseroles? Layer them, with cutting boards or cookie sheets between the containers. To use freezer space well, a basic desk sorter (a base with vertical dividers) can hold packages of meat, veggies and other frozen foods. That could leave space for bulkier items, like bagged ice, frozen desserts, breads, etc.

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Holidays, Seasons, Timely Tips

Holiday Wrap-up

If you’re in the process of taking down holiday decorations, here are some storage tips. Did you buy new ornaments? Did the packaging somehow disappear? You can safely store ornaments in boxes from liquor stores – the ones with sections. Do you have some smaller, and perhaps especially delicate, ornaments? They could fit nicely into egg cartons. If possible, write a list of each box’s contents on its side, so you’ll know what’s where.

Have strings of lights to store? Wrap them around coffee cans, with the plugs placed inside.

Do you have partly used-up rolls of wrapping paper? Tame them with slit toilet paper or paper towel rolls, which you can slide over the ends.

How to store all of that wrapping paper? If space allows, run a wire or two across the top of a closet or along the underside of a shelf, and slide the wrapping in. You’ll save storage space and also be able to easily see what you have.

Posted in Holidays, Recycle, Seasons, Timely Tips

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It’s the holiday season and all that goes along with it – happy gatherings, glorious music, decorations, lights and, of course, presents. Wearing my de-cluttering “hat,” here are some suggestions to perhaps decrease your own and perhaps others’ clutter, too.

Reduce. Many people already have enough stuff. What to give? For something memorable, how about something intangible, like a special restaurant meal, or an experience. Yes, this is a repeated idea from last year, but still feels valid. Concert tickets? A hot air balloon ride? Or, how about an especially good bottle of wine, with the promise to share it over an equally impressive homemade meal, including a truly decadent dessert? A built-in bonus – time together which, in these increasingly busy times for many of us, is precious. Perhaps save this gift for the New Year, after all of the holiday busy-ness, when you might be able to relax and enjoy it more.

Reuse. Another reprised suggestion, but what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? Sure, while responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future and have storage space, you might bag it for when the time comes. Another easy reuse – as written last year, egg cartons are great to snugly store ornaments.

Recycle. Yourself. Yes, by donating blood, also suggested last year. Donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, and I’m no fan, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes ~45 minutes, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Holidays, Seasons, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Storing Holiday Ornaments and Lights

The best way to store holiday ornaments and lights is in original packaging. If you’re like most mere mortals, you’ve not kept it and it’s long gone. Here are some tips to help keep it all organized until needed next holiday season.

As written in another December posting, cardboard wine boxes with partitions are great for storing ornaments. If useful, you might write an inventory list on the box. Also good for small ornaments – egg cartons.

If you still have wrapping paper from opened presents and have access to a shredder, you might run the wrapping through it, then use the newly smaller pieces to cushion delicate ornaments. Bonus points – recycling!

If you’ve made food-based ornaments from salt dough and/or macaroni, place them in resealable sandwich bags. That will protect them from pests and humidity.

An empty coffee can is great for storing lights. Cut a slit in the plastic lid and place the plug end of the light string in it, with extra bulbs, if you have them. Include a piece of paper about where you strung the lights. Wrap the lights around the can to keep them tangle-free.

For each string of garland, attach a piece of masking tape about where you used it, to make next year’s decorating easier. You might loosely wrap the garland around a hanger, then place it in a big plastic dry cleaner’s bag. That kind of bag might hold artificial wreaths well, too.

Zippered garment bags will protect big lawn ornaments. Hang them in the garage, if you have one.

De-Clutter Me! serves Burlington, Vermont, and surrounding areas. Call or email today! 802.598.3639 or clearclutternow@gmail.com.

Posted in Holidays, Seasons, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Eight Ways to Keep Good Holiday Cheer

Feeling “holidazed” by too much shopping, decorating, socializing? Or, is this an “off” year? Are you feeling low? Is this season bittersweet? Instead of wincing every time you see or hear a holiday commercial, here are some things you can do to keep a spring in your step. Bonus points, they’re mostly free and entirely eco-friendly.

1. Take a long winter walk or hike. What’s better than a crisp walk as the afternoon light fades, evening’s lights come on and stars appear, to boost your spirits? It could be perfect for Christmas Eve or for the day itself.

2. Do something spontaneously nice for others. How about baking cookies, then wrapping and leaving them on the doorsteps of family and friends?

3. Spruce up your abode. If you’re not decorating for the holidays, you might spiff up a room or two. I know of someone who spent a solo Christmas Eve painting her bedroom in a bright and fresh lemon color. While painting she listened to Christmas music and drank wine. Despite the wine, it turned out fine and she was thrilled.

4. Cook dinner for a friend. Who would refuse time shared over home-cooked food? And, some quiet, instead of restaurant bustle, could be as delicious as the eats!

5. Donate blood. Contributions often decrease during the holidays, but the need remains constant. Contact the Red Cross. You’ve feel virtuous, maybe like after voting, and you’ll do some real good.

6. Get excited for the New Year. Make plans! If your holidays aren’t the happiest, pull out your new 2014 calendar and mark dates with favorite things to do. Winter sledding? Spring planting? Summer bike rides? Fall apple picking? You get the idea.

7. Send a handwritten letter or call someone. Sure, it’s the season for holiday cards but, especially when so many people rely on social media for contact, someone in your life will be thrilled to hear from you in a more personal way.

8. Volunteer time or funds. Many organizations look for volunteers to help with clothes, food or meal-related events during the holidays. During an “off” holiday season years ago, I helped serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter. The staff appreciated the help and its guest residents did, too. I left with a healthy dose of gratitude for all that I was so fortunate to have.

Cheers!

De-clutter Me! serves Burlington, Vermont, and surrounding areas. Call or email today! 802.598.3639 or clearclutternow@gmail.com.