Bringing it all out of storage is not. Many trips up an down stairs, heavy boxes, few hands to help are usually the case BUT not when you call me in to help! That's what part of my work this week has been - helping clients bring out Christmas decor and for one client - then we re-organized the basement storage area. It'll be SO much easier putting everything away in January. Mind you that can be made easier too - if you book a session with me to help you put it all away :) I like doing the stairs and working hard with clients - saves me a trip to the gym and then I really earn my glass of wine at night! Cheers!
Whew...well there went November in a flash as expected and I know I've been behind in posting on the blog but I've been busy just like you! I've been helping all kinds of great clients get ready for the holidays. I tend to post more often on my Facebook page so make sure to LIKE and follow me over there. There is a link on the home page of the website.
OK so it IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas - how about making the house SMELL great too? I love this "recipe" given to me by my sister some years back. It is a great item to bag up and gift with an ingredient/instruction gift tag for neighbors, hostess gifts, teachers - anyone really :)
3 Cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1/4 c. whole cloves
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
4 c. water
Combine all in saucepan and bring to boil, Reduce heat and simmer, as long as you like, adding water as needed to keep mix from drying up. Can be stored lightly covered in refrigerator for several days.
It really IS Christmas in July today - for me at least! I've been having several issues with my desktop computer and my access to my weebly website editor so I haven't been able to post in a MONTH! Thank Heavens today I sat down and dealt with computer support/tech support related to several things and at least I'm somewhat up and running again! So back to my blog post...
Christmas/Chanukah in July?? Seems crazy but this is the BEST time to work on a great idea for the holidays...It's hot outside so spend some downtime inside and make those phtobooks you've been meaning to get to - they make such super gifts but not if you are scrambled trying to make them in November. ALSO one of my favorite ideas and something I did several years back - Make a family cookbook using your favorite photobook site. You can scan in the old recipe cards with the beloved handwriting of someone you love, scan in old/new photos, and use the text box to write out the recipe if you need to for easier reading. I did one of these a few years ago and gave out to several family members. I kept one for myself and love having all my family's long treasured recipes in one place! Remember if you need help organizing your photos or making the books - I help with that too!
You can click on the pdf to see what my recipe books looks like :)
The kids finished up school last week and that means for most of us here in the South our kids are now home full time the next couple of months...I worked with a client last week to help prepare for the kid "invasion" and set up some systems to help with their items and projects over the summer. It's easy to tailor these ideas no matter where you are and what you have to work with...Big key is labeling for ownership and accountability :)
I was sitting have my hair done a couple of weeks ago when Connie, my hairdresser and I got to talking about her grown sons. One had swam competively and she was telling me how she was having him go through boxes of old trophies and awards to determine which ones he wanted to keep. This made me think about some solutions for coping with letting certain awards go or a better way to keep all the items. If you are bogged down wth these items from your kids or even your own, two solutions I like are: 1) Make a picture book - Shutterfly and other companies have great templates where you could take pictures of the trophies and awards, document what, who and when in the text portion of book and that small book takes up a fraction of the space! Then your kids can still look and remember all the accomplishments without keeping every single item. The other idea is especially good if there is a name engraved on the trophy plate vs. a "generic" trophy 2) Take the trophy plate piece off each item and then mount onto foam board or pre-done frame backing and then hang your "trophy art" on a wall. Again, hanging one item that displays the important bits takes up far less space!
When my Gram passed away a few years ago, I grabbed all the little plastic containers that she kept all her costume jewelry organized in, out of the "donate" pile and was determined to do something with it. She never had her ears pierced so all the earrings were clip-ons. At one point, I looked into having them changed out for posts but either the earring wasn't a candidate based on size and shape or once I found out the cost for going the ones that could be sorted, it was exorbitant. So sadly, thev've sat in the plastic cases for awhile now. Well, until the other day, when I decided I needed to go back to the old fashioned wooden clipboard for taking to clients' homes. The plastic ones cracked easily. It dawned on me that I could dress up the plain brown board with a bit of contact paper and Gram's earrings. Now when I go on a job, it's like she's right there with me and just seeing my pretty board makes me smile. Maybe you've got jewelry like mine, taking up space someplace - waiting to be re-used? How about a hot glue gun and if not a clip board - then bedazzle an old frame or lamp base? You just might give life to 2 old things and love the result!
Why is it that all those important thoughts, ideas, and things to remember, flood us before bed or keep us awake at night? One idea I liked was keeping something by the bed to write it down on...Well, because I HATE to go out and buy anything before I re-use something else, this project was created. I bet you've got some old picture frames sitting around the house and with a quick coat of spray paint and insert of some decorative or plain white paper to fit now you've got a bedside dry erase board to keep notes and the random thought you don't want to forget in the morning. Add a pretty ribbon and dry erase marker and you are set! Just wipe off with kleenex and re-use forever! This is one I've made for a friend and I've done a larger one to hang on the wall for my niece. Trick for larger size/unusual size frames - use wrapping paper cut to fit so there are no visable paper seams under the glass!
My sister Jackie gave me this "recipe" years ago and I've loved it since. The "mix" can be made up and put in decorative pouches as go-to gifts with an instructions tag and recipients just need to add their own citrus. "CHRISTMAS SCENT" You'll need: 3 cinnamon sticks, 3 bay leaves, 1/4 c. whole cloves, 1 lemon (halved), 1 orange (halved) and 4 c. water. Combine all items in stainless steel saucepan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer as long as you like, adding additional water as needed to keep mixture from drying up. Can be stored lightly covered in fridge and reused the next day. Makes the house smell amazing!!!
So some (ok...maybe many :) of my ideas/projects come out of something that didn't originally work but end up working in a different way. This one actually came out of something working... just in a way that I hadn't thought about. As I was making the Southwest Turkey Soup the other day (blog post from yesterday) - I was also making up a batch of chicken fajitas so we'd be set for quick meals for the week. I never buy the taco/fajitas spice mix in the ready made packets as they are full of salt and other no-no's...I always just use my "pinch of this and that" and make my own. I used that same "pinch of this and that" for both the turkey soup AND the fajitas and they were both great. So it hit me, it would be easier if I went ahead and made up a batch of this mix and had it ready since I use it on so many things. Then it hit me, I should/could make a large batch and give as holiday goodies for teachers, neighbors, and friends. After a trip to the Dollar Store/Grocery for spices/jars, Jen's Devilish Delish Seasoning Mix has been created and made in proportions to fit a 8oz. Ball Jelly Jar. This set of jars comes in a set of 12. You could use any jar/container to suit you but just giving full disclsoure on the project. The 12 jars will run you about $7 at grocery store. Then to make the mix to fill 12 jars I bought at Dollar Store: 3 bottles (3oz-ish) each of Chili Powder and Paprika, 2 bottles (2oz-ish) each of Black Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, 1 bottle (3oz-ish) each Cayenne Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes and a large 16oz container of Kosher Salt. 8 ingredients in total. Then in assembly line method, the following goes into each jar: 3 T of both Chili Powder and Paprika, then 1 T of each of the following: Cayenne Papper, Salt, Red Pepper Flakes, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder and Black Pepper. This will fill each jar approx. 3/4 full. Then you can label/decorate to suit. I've done with Christmas motif on lids, tags and ribbon but you could do for any holiday or just in solid colors. Sky's the limit on the decor but no matter what you've got a great goodie at the ready EVEN if it's for use in your own spice cabinet!!
Thanks to everyone who sent emails and got in touch about the magnet baking tray idea from last week. Getting emails and feedback is not only fun but continues the inspiration for more ideas. Plus, it lets me pass on ideas from others! I got several emails saying how they used my idea and created a board for kids to use magnet letters and numbers, one hanging on wall - another one was using as a way to keep the kids occupied in the car. Another idea that was passed back to me was using the idea so little girls could play with magnetic "paperdolls" to be able to dress/design while sitting and using the magnet board. Those ideas made me think of the traveling that many of us will do with the kids for the holidays over the next several weeks. It got me wondering how else can this handy board be used? How about a game board? A piece of paper or solid color contact paper onto your old baking sheet, a few magnets and you've got tic-tac-toe for the road. I have also seen all kinds of travel/magnetic checker and other games you can buy that could be played on the sheet. Almost any regular game that uses a basic board, checkers, chess, etc. could be made by adding peel and stick magnet pieces to the bottom of the playing pieces. Use any of these ideas and you've got one more trick up your sleeve for a road trip whether it's a long trip to see relatives or just headed to the mall to do shopping! Thanks again for the feedback - it makes me love what I do even more and keeps me thinking ahead for more fun ideas!
Jen Payne, CPA, Professional Organizer and mom to two boys: Brendan (17) and Ryan (15).