Monday, July 30, 2012

Time To Dream

Did you know that the average person spends 150 hours per year looking for things?  That is a lot of time!

That is almost 25 minutes a day!  And if your home is more cluttered than average, that number can only go up!  So today I am asking the following question:

I can tell you right now that some of my hours would be spent on my front porch reading a really good book.  I would spend some of them in my kitchen baking up some warm and delicious for my family.  But I think that I would spend the majority of those hours just being with my family; watching movies with my kids, going for a long drive with Mr. P, maybe going out for lunch with my mother.

So again I ask the question, what would you do with an extra 150 hours per year?  In this day and age, finding an extra 150 hours is almost better than winning the lottery!  It makes it worth getting organized!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Charging Station

I wanted to show you a picture of my charging station.

It is in a cupboard in my office and I have to say that I am absolutely loving the fact that I no longer have cords running everywhere.  Mr. P. drilled a hole in the bottom shelf to run a power bar cord to the outlet just below.

Now everything is neatly tucked away and I have a spot for each thing being charged, my camera (not shown because I needed it to take the picture!), my iPad and my Kobo.  I still charge my cell phone in the kitchen because, quite frankly, if I tucked it away somewhere I would never remember to take it with me.  Mr. P. charges his cell phone next to the bed since he can sometimes get emergency plumbing calls in the middle of the night.

I even keep a small microfibre cloth in the cupboard to clean the iPad and Kobo before I use them again.  It's worked out perfectly!

Do you have a special spot to keep your electronics while they are charging?  How do you remind yourself to take your cell phone with you when you leave the house?  Mine is right next to the container that I keep my keys and sunglasses in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert

With the dog days of summer firmly upon us, I thought I would share with you a wonderful, frozen dessert.  This is Mr. P's favourite dessert and he often requests it for his birthday rather than birthday cake.

Mr. P was diagnosed with Diabetes a few years ago and I had to come up with dessert ideas for him so that he would not feel so deprived.  This one was a winner and, not only does it taste fantastic, it does not raise Mr. P's blood sugar levels too much.

I make this dessert with Splenda but you could use an equal amount of sugar if you would like.


2 tbsp Oreo crumbs
1 package of light cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Splenda
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tub of Ultra Low Fat Cool Whip

Line a loaf pan with tin foil.  Make sure there is extra hanging over each end.

Sprinkle the Oreo crumbs over the bottom. (Now you can get all fancy and melt some butter to combine with your Oreo crumbs and make a real crust, but we are trying to cut back on the calories so just a sprinkle on the bottom sticks to the filling and makes it's own thin crust.)

Beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter and Splenda until smooth.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.

I usually put them in for one minute, take them out, stir and then put them back in for another 30 seconds.  Stir until smooth.

Add the melted chocolate chips to the cream cheese, peanut butter mixture.

Beat until well combined.

Add in the tub of Cool Whip and blend until everything is even in colour.

Don't worry about whipping the air out of the Cool Whip.  You should end up with a mixture that is the consistency of mousse.  In fact, you could just pour this into serving dishes right now and serve it as mousse!

Pour mixture into loaf pan and smooth out.  Now place the whole thing in the freezer for at least 3 hours to freeze.  Once frozen, you can pop it out of the loaf pan and use the extra tin foil hanging over to completely wrap it.

I usually make two at a time so that I have an extra one in the freezer in case company drops by.  Take the dessert out of the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.

And there you have Mr. P's favourite dessert!  Just don't tell him there's an extra one in the freezer!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review - 10-Minute Feng Shui

In my quest to become a professional organizer I have been reading a lot of books.  Some of them recommend that people familiarize themselves with Feng Shui (pronounced "fung shway").  Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement that is thousands of years old and yet, until recently, few people in the West knew anything about it.

I found myself at the book store looking for a book that would explain Feng Shui to me and let me know how it could help in organizing someone's home.  What I found (in the bargain bin no less) was 10-Minute Feng Shui; a book purportedly designed for "busy, action-oriented Westerners who want quick results without a lot of bother".  That's me!  It was small (as in not too wordy) and cheap so I thought I would give it a try.

The book's author, Skye Alexander (hmmmm, Skye...seems appropriate), contends that the objective of Feng Shui is to create harmony and balance in your environment.  She goes on to say that there are many schools of thought on Feng Shui and that she is only going to give me that basics.  Sounds good to me!

The most basic element of Feng Shui is to entice Ch'i (pronounced "chee"), a vital energy that animates all life, to enter your home and circulate throughout bringing with it something the Chinese call the Three Great Blessings - health, wealth and happiness.  Ch'i enters your home through the front door and windows and exits through the back door, shower drain and toilet (yep, toilet!).  In the meantime you want the Ch'i to move through your home much the same way that you do.  If you can walk comfortably through the different rooms of your home, it will be easier for Ch'i to circulate but if you must walk around awkwardly placed furniture, architectural obstructions, and clutter then Ch'i will also have a hard time getting through.

These are I Ching coins.  You will need to know this.  I get mine for free at the Mandarin (a local Chinese food buffet) during Chinese New Year.

The author offers some "cures" for the various problems in your home and life.  The following are some of the "easy and inexpensive cures" for prosperity:

- Hang a mirror above your stove
- Hang a mirror beside your stove
- Place a bowl near your front door and drop a penny in it each time you go in or out
- Place 3 coins in a red envelope and place it on your desk
- Fill a red envelope with rice and place it on a shelf in your kitchen
- Tie three I Ching coins together with a red ribbon and hang them above your stove (perhaps from the mirror up there)
- Tie three I Ching coins together with a red ribbon and hang them from a tree in your front yard (my neighbors are going to think Christmas has come early!)
- Tie 8 I Ching coins together with a red ribbon and hang near your desk or computer
- Display a gold star near your desk
- Hang a wind chime in the window directly across from your front door
- Place a live plant in your work area
- Place a large plant near the back door
- Tape 3 coins under it (she could have mentioned this before I potted that heavy plant!)
- Set a large stone outside your back door (I wouldn't recommend this one - I tripped)
- Set two large stones at the bottom of a steep flight of steps (again, doesn't sound too safe if you ask me)
- Hang a mirror above your desk
- Hang a mirror above your computer (whatever you do don't break any of these mirrors because that would add up to 28 years bad luck, so far!)
- Hang a crystal in your kitchen window
- Hang a crystal in office window
- Place a vase of yellow flowers in the kitchen
- Place a vase of yellow and red flowers in your office
- Place a black stone on your desk
- Place a piece of amethyst on your desk (I'm running out of room to work!)
- Place an egg-shaped object in your office
- Place a quartz crystal on your desk (Ok, at this point I'm going to have to try and balance them all like the rocks in the top photo if they are all going to fit on my desk!  Seriously, nothing else on the desk already!)
- Frame a paper money bill and display it on your desk (Agggghhhh!)
- Hang a small mirror on the outside of your bathroom door (I'm really going to have to start doing my hair more)
- Hang a mobile in you kitchen
- Hang a wooden wind chime in your office window (next to the crystal)
- Hang a glass wind chime in your office window (Look lady, I don't have the corner office!  How many office windows do you think I have!)
- Place a small fountain in your office (Great, now I have to pee every 15 minutes which is really cutting into my work time!)
- Burn pine incense in your office
- Tie 8 small bells on a red cord and hang them on the door to your office
- Place three coins in a wooden box and set it on your desk (This is obviously Feng Shui for corporate executives that can afford to have a wall of windows and a desk the size of a small apartment.  I could try balancing all the other crap on top of the wooden box but I'm being so distracted my all the wind chimes, bells and water falls that I can't even think straight anymore!)
- Place a figurine of a lion in your office (Really?!)
- Set 8 pieces of jade on your desk (not one!  eight!)
- Set a small pyramid on your desk (I assume she means anything outside of the Valley of Kings)

These are just some of Skye's suggestions for prosperity.  There is also another whole section devoted to "cures" for love and one for "cures" for happiness.  It makes a line at the beginning of the book kind of redundant.  "Eliminating clutter, which is one of the most powerful and common Feng Shui cures, is both practical and symbolic."  I have decided to be practical by eliminating all these newly acquired "cures" and symbolically chucking them in the garbage! I now feel at one with the universe.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Make Your Bedroom An Oasis

Not too many years ago my bedroom was a mess.  I never made the bed, there were laundry baskets all over the floor and there was an eliptical machine in the corner that, while great for hanging clothes, only made me feel guilty each night that I went to bed without exercising.

I read an article that said that you spend 1/3 of your life in your bedroom and it should be a haven from the rest of the world.  You should not have anything in your room that makes you feel bad.  I looked around my own room and I felt bad every time I saw the dirty laundry on the floor or the clean laundry sitting in baskets waiting to be folded.  I also felt guilty every time I looked at that darned eliptical machine!  I did not need this guilt at the end of a long day!

I resolved then and there that I would make my room inviting; I would make it my reward for a long day of work and taking care of my family.  My bedroom makes me smile now.  I enjoy spending time in there and I most importantly, I got rid of all of the guilt.

You deserve a refuge from the storm that is life too!  Take anything out of your bedroom that does not make you smile. Choose items that make you feel warm and comfy.  You don't have to have the best sheets and blankets just ones that make you feel good.

Also to ensure a good nights rest, be sure to change your pillows at least every 18-24 months.  An old pillow does not give your head the support that it needs and you can ultimately end up with chronic neck and back pain.  In time, dead skin, dust mites and other allergens can accumulate on your pillow. This can cause more than nasal congestion. These items can weigh down your pillow, causing it to go flat or lose shape.

Here's a trick to see if your pillow needs to be changed.  Hold your arm directly out in front of you.

Now centre your pillow over your hand.

If the pillow looks like the one above, it's past time to change it.  The weight of all the sweat, dust, dust mites makes the pillow heavier and it will fold over your hand.

A good pillow will stand up and will be difficult to balance on your hand (and even harder to balance when one is trying to take a picture of it too!).  

It is my hope for you that your room makes you feel as snug as a bug in a rug!  Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bedroom Finishing Touches

I'm staying with the bedroom theme for the rest of the week.  I will eventually show you my dresser drawers but I'm waiting on Mr. P. to find the time to make me some drawer dividers.  I priced out some pre-made ones and it was going to cost over $200 for drawer dividers for all three dressers.  Mr. P. is convinced that he can make some much cheaper than that!  I bow to his good judgement!

The first thing I wanted to show you that I did in the bedroom was an idea that I got from Pinterest.  If you haven't joined Pinterest just have a look at it.  I have gotten some fabulous ideas for decorating and organizing and I have found some wonderful recipes there too.

Last fall when I was opening my bedroom window to let a breeze in, I heard a loud clunk inside the wall.  It turns out that all of our windows in this old house have counter-weights in the walls that allow the windows to stay up without any support.  The cord had eventually given away after 110 years and the window was no longer attached to the counter-weight.  I'm sure that there is some way of taking off the trim and re-attaching the counter-weight but that was too much work for me.  Instead I went to a home building store and picked up one of these.

This is a bracket that could be used to hold up a shelf or used as decorative trim.  I looks so nice in the window and even looks nice from the outside.

Another thing that I did was to get rid of the antacid containers from the night stands.  Mr. P. and I both seem to need them in the middle of the night (I'm sure it has nothing to do with my wonderful cooking!).

This one is my night stand.

And this is Mr. P's.  It was difficult getting the tablets out in the middle of the night and shaking the container always woke up the other person.  The fix was so simple!

I picked up this little sugar bowl at Home Sense for $2.99 for my night stand.

Mr. P's came from the same place but it's a little bigger and a little more masculine (not much, but a little).

It's nice getting those unsightly antacid bottles off of the night stands.

I think that I have shown you just about every inch of my bedroom so far, except for the dresser drawers, which is coming!  I have one more bedroom tip for you on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bedroom Closet After!


On Friday I showed you this picture of my horrible bedroom closet.  It was a disaster!  Mr. P. and I spent an entire weekend re-designing it and now it looks amazing!

Mr. P. and I completely emptied the closet.  I could not believe how much junk we got out of there!  This is how I left off on Friday.

And now for the BIG reveal!

I didn't take enough pictures during the process because I was so busy I forgot!  As you can see Mr.P. removed all the shelves on the left hand side of the closet and he also removed the bar.  Once he finished that I got in there and painted the walls with some leftover paint from the bedroom.  The funny thing was that the new paint almost matched the old paint perfectly!  The new was just slightly more grey.  The old paint was original to the house (110 years).

I also add some wallpaper on each side of the closet.

Mr. P. then installed three sets of wooden shelves stacked one on top of the other, 2 bars to hang clothes and a shelf on top.

I put extra sheets, blankets and pillowcases on the top shelf.  Mr. P. got the top bar to hang his clothes.  It's quite a bit higher than I would ordinarily put it but Mr. P. is 6'4" and can easily reach it.

Mr. P. installed a lower bar for my clothes.  We have essentially doubled our hanging space!  I found the trunk on the floor at Walmart and this serves double duty.  Not only does it hold all my sweaters, keeping them neatly folded inside and eliminating any hanger marks, but it is also great to stand on to reach the top shelf.

I added some baskets onto the shelves to hold things like socks and underwear.  I also added some to sort some of my jewellery.

I got these at the dollar store and sorted all of my bracelets into them to keep them from getting tangled.

To keep my necklaces from getting tangled I added some hooks to a piece of trim and hung them all up.  It makes it much easier to find the one I want in a hurry.

I added some hooks to the side of the shelves to hold Mr. P's ties (his suits and my dresses are kept in a cedar-lined closet in the hallway).

I also added some hooks on the right hand side of the closet to hold belts and anything else that needs to hang up.

I am absolutely thrilled with how it all turned out!  Mr. P. is thrilled because he now has 2/3 more space to hang his clothes!

We did a major purge of items out of that closet.  My ironing board went into another room and  a lot of the extra sheets went elsewhere simply because they no longer went with the new decorated room.  I donated throw pillows and plenty of clothes.  One of the things that I am most proud of is letting go of this.

When I was 18 I lost a dear friend to Cystic Fibrosis.  Shortly after that loss I had to paint a still-life in art class and the items I chose were things that meant something between my friend and I.  I gave her the teddy bear while in the hospital, she bought me the necklace, our favourite cassette tape and a picture of her and I together.  I've held on to it all these years but I didn't really honour it because it was always stuck in a closet somewhere.  I decided it was time to let it go.  I took a picture of it so that I could remember it.

Over the years I have cleaned that closet over and over again only to have it get messed up again within a couple of weeks.  By completely re-designing it I have been able to keep it looking exactly the same for almost two months now.  Everything has a spot and everything is easy to find.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bedroom Closet Before

I can't believe I'm doing this!  Ok, deep breath!  This is a picture of my bedroom closet before I totally re-designed it.

It was horrible and it was even worse than usual because I knew that I was going to be gutting it and so I had basically stopped cleaning it altogether.  And while I am making confessions I should also admit that 3/4 of that rod are my clothes.  Poor Mr. P., like most men, only got a small portion of the actual hanging space.

I had several sweater hanging on the back of the door and that wasn't good for either the door or my sweaters.

The top shelf was up so high I could barely reach anything up there.

The next shelf held even more stuff including things that I used for ironing.

This shelf held jewelery and other junk.

There is an extra pillow and some books and I can see a throw pillow on this shelf.

I'm actually surprised that I can see some floor in there!  The crates held extra sheet sets and the bottom shelf held more sweaters and sweatshirts.

I even kept my ironing board in this closet.

After taking all the clothes off of the rod we could see just how much more junk we had on the shelves!

There were even hooks on the wall behind the clothes that had belts and ties hanging on them.

As you can see, the closet was very poorly designed.  The rod went right through the middle of the shelves making it difficult to see anything on the back half of them.  I'm also pretty sure that the green is the original paint colour.

I cannot believe that this much stuff came out of that little bedroom closet!  Let's just say that Mr. P. and I did a major purge before we started putting things back in!

Come back on Monday and I will show you how I re-designed the closet so that it not only looks amazing but also functions much better.