Posted in Suggestions, Timely Tips

Set Boundaries to Control Clutter

Leafing through a magazine while getting the car’s oil changed recently, I read some interesting tips. A few are worth sharing.

Set boundaries to control clutter.

  • If you can, consider open storage. Closed cabinets and lidded boxes make it temptingly easy to stash new stuff.
  • Limit collections, like craft supplies or memorabilia, to one drawer or bin. Once full, purge. If you can, resist the temptation to fill another bin.
  • Unsure about how much you really use an item? Place a removable dot sticker on it, with the date. If not used for several months, it might be time to donate or give it away, as long as you’re not adding to someone else’s clutter.
Posted in Gardening, Seasons, Timely Tips

Season Transition Plant Care

This Timely Tip first appeared in late September of last year. It’s that time again!

Now that summer’s officially over, you’ll want to care for outdoor plants. Here are some suggestions found online.

1. You’ll want to move your plants indoors when temperatures regularly drop below 60, and definitely before they get as low as 45 degrees F. If you can, plan to gradually transition your plants indoors, putting them in a shady spot for a few weeks before bringing them inside.

2. Decide where the plants will go in advance. Try to match the conditions outdoors, putting plants that were in bright sunlight in south-facing windows. If not possible, at least try to gradually move plants to lower-light areas over a few days or weeks. They may still lose leaves in response to the reduced light, but you can try to minimize the loss.

Note: Without any windows in the way, plants get more sun outdoors than they do inside. Use this as inspiration to wash your windows (both inside and out, if possible). Your plants will appreciate it and, if it’s been a long time since their last cleaning, so will you!

3. Inspect your plants to see if any have outgrown their pots and need to be repotted. If they do, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes, and the appropriate new potting soil. Lightly prune plants that have gotten leggy while outside.

4. It’s really important to inspect your plants for pests and problems before you bring them indoors. Soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force any pests out in search of air. Drain thoroughly before bringing indoors. If you want to be extra sure that you’re not bringing in any uninvited guests with your plants, you may even want to quarantine them in a room separate from other plants for a few days.

5. Once you’ve got your plants transitioned indoors for the season, be sure not to overwater. For most plants, that means letting the soil dry to the touch before watering. You may find that the dry indoor air from your heat source(s) means that plants need nearly as much water in the winter as they do in the summer. Since they’ll grow less in response to less light, fertilizing monthly or bi-monthly during the winter should be sufficient.

Happy gardening and transition from summer to fall!

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Clothing, Suggestions, Timely Tips

How to Solve the Dilemma of Unmatched Socks

It happens to most of us. Somehow, a pair of socks isn’t a pair anymore. Does the washer eat one? Does the dryer hide one? It’s a mystery, but we sometimes end up with unmatched socks.

Now that summer is transitioning to fall and some of us are wearing socks again for the first time in months, the dilemma of unmatched socks is back. Some suggestions –
• Wear them with others whose “mates” have disappeared
• Use them as padding in packages
• Use them as storage for delicate holiday decorations
• Use them as dust rags
• Use them for craft projects, including as hand puppets
• Turn them into pet toys, like filled with catnip

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Timely Tips

Night Stand Serenity

From the archives…It can be a constant temptation – your night stand becomes a default home for odds and ends. Results – you have to look at clutter constantly, which actually can compromise your serenity. To stop the habit of dropping unnecessary stuff there, think of its surface as only for of-the-moment needs – the book you’re currently reading, the mug you’re drinking from, a pen and pad of paper for writing a note in the middle of the night. (BTW, that small action actually helps you “trick” your brain, so you can get back to sleep. Writing something down relaxes you.) Move mugs you’re done with to the kitchen, magazines to their real home (wherever that is), receipts to wherever you read mail and pay bills. Resist the temptation to drop something there, to deal with it later. This is a slippery slope! Remember – it always takes less time to put something in its rightful “home” the first time around, rather than to find homes for a pile of stuff later.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Fun Uses for Mason Jar Lids

From the archives, here are some clever suggestions for using mason jar lids. As canning season is about to start and with jars available in many stores, these could be both timely and fun.

While you might use a jar to hold flowers or other contents,
• Use the ring of a lid to press circles for biscuits or sugar cookies.
• Make a quick fridge photo frame. Trim a photo, using the flat lid piece as a template. Glue the photo to the inside of the flat plate and place it inside the ring. Glue a small magnet to the back of the plate. Ba-da-bing!
• Is your muffin tin MIA? If so, place six jar rings (wide side down) on a cookie sheet. Set a paper baking cup in each, fill it with batter, then bake according to the recipe.
• For a different votive candle holder, apply glue to the edge of the flat piece and place inside the ring. Let dry and enjoy candle light!

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Clever Re-uses

From the archives, here are two clever ways to reuse items. A plastic squeeze water bottle can double as a salad dressing shaker. If you mix your own vinaigrette, this is a handy way to bring it along to work or on a picnic. Also, the spout can prevent over pouring. Another use – for picnicking, to bring along cut carrots and celery sticks. Yet another use – store your sunglasses. This could be especially useful in the car, placed in a cup holder. No more crushed shades!

Reluctant to toss or recycle a smoothie container? It could store a ball of string, with the end coming out the end. Another use – turned upside-down, its lid can serve as a funnel for pouring homemade salad dressing into a bottle. Next, two uses for when painting. For kids, pour paint into smoothie cups. A brush can rest securely through the hole without tipping, and the lid minimizes spills. You might tape the lid to the bottom, “just in case.” For grownups, if painting overhead on ceilings or trim, place a smoothie lid over a brush handle to protect your hand from any drips or dribbles.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

A Way to Keep Foods Cold, With a Cool Additional Use

Here’s one that’s good for picnics and other outdoor events, especially timely with the upcoming July Fourth holiday in mind.

Need a way to keep foods cold in a cooler? Instead of using ice, consider this cool alternative. (Oh – bad pun!) Wet a sponge, put it in a plastic sandwich bag (or two), then place it in the freezer. You might want two or three.

Benefits: once placed in the bottom of a cooler, it’s flat, which could keep food containers upright. Also, since it’s relatively “skinny,” it also can be slid down the side of the cooler, to further help in keeping food chilled.

Bonus points – if you need a wet sponge for clean-up at the end of your event, you’ll have one ready. Once back home, repeat the process. Wet the sponge, replace in the sandwich bag, then freeze it for the next time.

Also, unrelated, but fun to think about with this particular holiday – “he who drinks a fifth on the Fourth will not go forth on the fifth.” Ha!

Posted in Kitchen Organization, Timely Tips

Caring for Wood in the Kitchen

While oiling a favorite wooden spatula this morning, I thought to write a Timely Tip about it. I prefer it to silicone, since wooden utensils won’t scratch pots and pans. Wood also won’t leach chemicals or chemically react with hot food. Here are some care suggestions for your wood utensils and/or cutting boards.
¥ DON’T put wood utensils or cutting boards into the dishwasher. The intense steam and extended time in hot water will crack the wood.
¥ DON’T let the utensils sit in water to soak for extended periods of time.
¥ DO wash the utensils in hot, soapy water fairly quickly after use.
¥ DO pat the utensils dry with a cloth and let air dry.
¥ DO rub with a slice of lemon and let air dry if any strong flavors have seeped into the wood.
¥ DO apply mineral oil to the wood to prevent it from drying out and cracking. If you’ve not done it before (if old or new), do it once a week for a month, then once a month for a year, then yearly for life. You likely can find inexpensive mineral oil at your local hardware store. I pour a bit onto cutting boards, then spread using paper towels. For utensils, a bit on paper towels, then rubbed around does the trick. Everything will look great, and nice patterns may emerge that you hadn’t seen before.

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Suggestions, Timely Tips

A Simple Way to Conquer Clutter

Here’s a nifty suggestion just read online. Happy to pass it along.

If you’re always surrounded by seemingly endless piles of clutter — old catalogs and magazines, empty envelopes, the recycling and more — you might benefit from a shortcut to help conquer your clutter. This simple solution might not seem like much, but it could be just the trick.

Keep a small trash can, recycling bin or container in every room of your home. That might seem like a lot of trash cans, perhaps even unnecessarily so. Maybe de-cluttering and keeping your life free of unneeded things is more about making the process as uncomplicated and stress-free as possible. Maybe you let clutter stack up around the house because you can’t get into the habit of bringing stuff to the trash can or recycling bin. (Or maybe you get distracted on your way to toss things.) Maybe you skip getting to tasks you need to start because you’ve got to get over the hump about tossing them out.

Is it not trash or recycling that’s cluttering your life? If so, then you might use this suggestion in a slightly different way. Place “back home” baskets in each room.  They’re containers where you might put items that don’t belong there, to be brought back to their rightful places later on. Example – you find your car keys in your pocket while in your bedroom. Into a basket they might go, until they’re back to your back pack, purse, wall hook, or other “home” where they normally “live.”

If your goal is to reduce the amount of stuff you have, period, this idea could work with “out boxes,” where you might put items to toss, donate, or give away to others, presuming that you don’t add to their clutter.

The trick for making this work (and to avoid the containers becoming clutter piles themselves) is to schedule a consistent time each week to deal with each bin, back-home basket or outbox. That way, they won’t become added clutter. Bonus points – you’ll smile and maybe feel that you’ve accomplished something. You will have!

Posted in Testimonials

I worked with Ellen Gurwitz for two Saturdays. Under her guidance and logical approach, we turned my depressing basement from Clutter and Grunginess into Order and Cleanliness. It is nothing short of a miracle. Now I take all my friends down to see my basement!

For 29 years, everything that didn’t have a home found a home in the basement, along with drifts of dust and cobwebs. Now only those things that I want and need have a place in the basement. I feel that a breath of fresh air has entered my spirit. – Ann