Posted in Gardening, Home Maintenance, Suggestions, Timely Tips

For You and Your Plants

While this Timely Tip isn’t exactly about de-cluttering, it is about benefits – to you and your plants. Here’s something that I do each month – give the houseplants a shower. It started when I was in college, in part as a way to procrastinate about studying. Years later, I’m still at it. (By the way, I always do it during the first weekend of the month. That way, I don’t have to remember when the plants got their most recent monthly shower. Less mental clutter!)

I figure that photosynthesis works better when not competing with dust. Plants always look better after being soaked. Possible bonus points for you during this wintry time of year – absorbing the aroma of wet potting soil may conjure up thoughts of summer, which will return. And, speaking of summer, during that season, I haul the plants outside and mist them with the hose. Whichever season, and by whatever method, your plants will look positively happy. It will boost your spirits, too – really!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Worth Repeating

What’s your time worth? Probably plenty. Here’s a way to save some, if/while you wash your windows, inside and out, this spring. Wipe one surface horizontally and the other vertically. That way, you’ll better be able to tell where any streaks developed. It will cut down on task time plus, bonus points, you won’t be bugged by those left-over marks.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Saving Screens Sanity

Do you have slightly differently-sized screens for your windows? Is matching them a frustrating process?

Here’s an easy tip to tame the task. As you prepare to put them up, mark each with its location. After washing each screen, attach a piece of masking tape to its frame. With a magic marker or sharpie, write its direction. For example, I label my three living room screens as follows: living room (west), living room (southwest), living room (southeast).

I do this task in the spring, because the screens are up as late into the year as possible. (I hate bugs in the house, including those that somehow hang around in the fall, fighting off their inevitable end.) It’s much easier with warm fingers, instead of cold ones.

Welcome spring, especially after such a tough winter!!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Spring into Action!

Writing on a dreary Sunday, it’s rainy, with the temperature just around freezing. Snow persists, though some bare, muddy ground with still-brown grass is visible. Lovely – not!

Sunny and warm spring days WILL come! Truly, they will. Back during the fall, this page included a Timely Tip suggestion about repairing any screens needing attention. Didn’t get to it? Now’s an even better time. No doubt, in a few short weeks, we’ll open our windows to welcome spring’s fresh, soft air. Will you be faced with remembering that, oops, some screens are ripped or otherwise need work? You might consider digging them out now, and hauling them off for repair. They’ll be ready to put up and you won’t have to “compete” with other people ordering similar services.

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Home Maintenance, Planning Ahead, Reduce, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Decisions with Dots

As suggested in previous Timely Tips, are you working to clear clutter? If not, are you feeling stuck, unsure of how to start? Facing family resistance?

Here are some tips that might help you. Get some round adhesive dots in several different colors. Office supply stores stock them. Also, get some sturdy boxes and/or large, preferably clear, plastic bags. Clear bags will help prevent mistakes. Attach labels to the boxes and/or bags – Keep, Repair, Trash, Donate, Gift, Recycle, Sell and, if needed, Not a Clue.

You might alert your family that you will devote a couple of hours to each room in your home. You might allow time to share stories, which can be an important part of “saying goodbye” to items. Ask each person to attach dots on items in the room, according to a color key. White dots could be attached to items used daily, green ones for those used weekly. Next, yellow for those used monthly, then red for annual use. You might see consistencies, or no particular patterns. Either way, it’s likely to be interesting. The colors will guide you, as you decide what to do with each item.

The next step is quite important to achieving the sense of accomplishment you deserve. Place items in the right boxes or bags. Do what the labels direct! Be sure to actually act, or the boxes and/or bags will sit, perhaps bugging you, and could prevent you from moving forward to working in more rooms.

The reward? You might share a meal including family members’ favorite foods. During it, you could plan your next de-cluttering session.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Timely Tips

Fall Chores: What Fun!

Do you take down your window screens and store them for the winter? If not, you might consider it. They might endure less wear-and-tear from storms. I wrap mine in an old sheet in the garage, to make cleaning them easier before putting them up in the spring. Are any torn? Needing repair? Maybe do it now, rather than in the spring when, on that first lovely day when you want to put them up, you remember that, oops, some work is needed. Also, if you take care of them now, you won’t be “competing” with everyone else needing that service.

With the screens gone, you’ll probably enjoy more light during the darker months. How to get even more light? Part of my task is washing the windows, to be repeated in the spring when attaching the screens.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Home Maintenance, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Fixing an Oops

This page of Timely Tips is mostly meant to help you de-clutter, save time and brain power, etc. This tip might solve a problem and keep you safe.

I recently came across information about how to remove a broken lightbulb from a light fixture – hopefully nothing you will have to do anytime soon, if ever. Even so, it could be useful information to keep handy. Where? Perhaps you might place it in the One of a Kind binder suggested a few Timely Tips ago. Scroll down, and you’ll see it.

You’ll need a raw potato, a new lightbulb, needle-nose pliers, and (maybe) a stepladder.

If the broken bulb is in a ceiling fixture, turn off the electrical power by removing the fuse or flipping the circuit breaker for that light switch. If the broken is in a lamp, turn off the switch and unplug it.

Push the potato into the socket so that the glass from the broken bulb is inside the potato. Turn the potato counterclockwise until the bulb is completely unscrewed from the socket. If the bulb won’t budge, use need-nose pliers.

Replace it with a new lightbulb. If the broken bulb was in a ceiling fixture, turn the power back on by returning the fuse to its proper spot or by flipping the circuit breaker back on. If the bulb was in a lamp, plug the lamp back into the wall.

Problem solved – let there be light, and safely!

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Filing, Holidays, Home Maintenance, Kitchen Organization, Mental Clutter, Planning Ahead, Recycle, Reduce, Seasons, Timely Tips

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year? What? It’s not January! The calendar shows August. Even so, with the school year already begun in some places, and about to start in many more, in some ways it feels like the beginning of a new year.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions in January and, if so, how long do they last? A few days? A week? A month or two? Here’s something you can do on a daily basis, to lighten your load – clear clutter each day. That’s right – get rid of something every day. You will feel lighter and, after a short time, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment. Can you imagine how it’ll be after 365 days?

Here are some tips to help.

  1. Consider how to do this. Give away, donate, recycle? If none are appropriate, toss?
  2. Don’t buy out of habit, or worse, out of boredom.
  3. Don’t keep items out of guilt or obligation. I had a pottery cookie jar, a gift from someone I’ve not been in touch with for years. I really didn’t like it all that much. I dropped something a few days ago, which landed on its lid, chipping it. Did I want to struggle with trying to glue the little pieces back on? No thanks! Could I “re-purpose” and use the bottom, say, as a planter? No, not really. I actually was relieved to place it in the trash.
  4. Does like = need? You may like some things that you don’t actually need.
  5. Don’t over-equip. You likely don’t need enough plates, cutlery, bed linens, towels, etc., to stock a hotel. If a big group of guests is coming, you might borrow from friends, neighbors, family.
  6. Save time. Every item you own takes time – to clean, maintain, perhaps repair. And, that’s after likely earning the money to buy, then taking the time to shop.
  7. Non-material gifts. Encourage those who might buy presents for you to make them gifts of experience or adventure. Concert tickets? A special restaurant meal? A hot air balloon ride? Also, consider time together, perhaps to be used on a big project. How about a donation in your name to a charity you hold dear?

Happy New Year!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Mental Clutter, Planning Ahead, Timely Tips

Staying Ahead of Clutter

Are you busy? Most people are. Is clutter getting away from you? If so, here’s a suggestion about how to control it. Assign a short period of time each week to de-cluttering, at the same time. Let’s say you put little ones to bed by 8.30 pm. Right after that, say, on Wednesday nights, devote 15 minutes to clearing clutter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all that you can accomplish. Once a month, work for an hour, also at an assigned time and day of the week.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Planning Ahead, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Pre-pre-pre Spring Sprucing Up

Just about everywhere, both here and abroad, it’s been a brutal bear of a winter. Despite today’s vernal equinox, real spring weather feels very far off. The snow gauge in my front garden still registers more than 1.5 feet. More snow and nighttime temperatures in the teens are on the way; at least, around Burlington, Vermont.

Is this extended season making you crazy? Challenging your spirits? I remember thinking, in early February, that watching the Olympics would get me through most of that month, then the worst of winter would be over. So much for that thought! Instead of perhaps scowling, here are some things that you might do to lift your spirits. When spring finally does arrive (and it will, please!), you’ll be a few steps ahead.

Buy something colorful now. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A new throw pillow or framed print might brighten up your living room, and put a smile on your face.

Similarly, treat yourself to some greenery. Think you have a black thumb? Try pothos, an easy plant to care for, tolerating lots of different light conditions. Available in a number of varieties, it wants water once a week. Mine does, anyway.

If you have them, dust your ceiling fans! That way, when it does warm up and you want their cooling breezes, you won’t be “treated” to a dust shower.

Wash the windows. Can’t get outside yet? Do the insides. You’ll be ahead of the game. If you’d rather wait until you can do the insides and outsides at the same time, wipe one surface horizontally and the other vertically. That way, you’ll better be able to tell where any streaks have developed.

Think about your spring bedding. Do you need to replace anything, for once it’s “safe” to store flannel sheets? Maybe do it now, because spring WILL come!

To the extent possible, forget about the calendar. Real spring weather will arrive when it’s good and ready. Since we’re not “driving the bus,” do what you can, now, to bring some new life into your home.