Friday, January 30, 2009

The Library: A Reader's Retreat

My family has recently enjoyed going to the library almost on a weekly basis. It's fun to see all the books (and other media) available to borrow free of charge. Even our two year old loves to play in the children's area and borrow books. For great tv free options, a library can't be beat.

My ten year old has used the "hold" option on books not in our local library, but in the same system, to be able to reserve books he wants to read. My husband likes checking out music cd's and humorous novels. I like to read non-fiction on things I'm interested in at the time. I may read some vegetarian magazines or how to organize a home (can you tell?). I have different interests that always give me something new to look up.

A great thing is that I can see what everyone in my family has checked out by checking online. Books checked out, books requested, and any fines are there for us to see without needing to call or visit the library. There's even a way for me to get a weekly update sent to my email box if I choose.

It's a wonderful extension of homeschooling. In fact, there are many books that you can just borrow instead of buying for this very purpose at libraries. There are story times and other activities available through our local library. Most (that are of any size) will have a book sale about once a year. So when it's useful to own a book, ask about these sales.

Check out your local library to see your options. You don't have to buy every book you read, or every cd you listen to, or every movie you see. Ask about inter-library loan. I've read very old books from a library all the way across the country. It's great fun and costs nothing. If you can't get to the library (due to a disability), there may be a way for you to get library items brought to you! All you have to do is ask. Check out your local library today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Nice Thing About Museums

No matter what kind of museum you enjoy, there are many interesting things to see and admire. There's a bit of history in every piece. What I like most about museums is that although I like to see the exhibitions, there is nothing I desire about the upkeep related to taking care of each piece. Thanks to curators, who oversee the care these collections require, we all can enjoy history a little more.

I have likened my house to a museum sometimes to get a feel for the care I must give to keep things in order and in good condition. It matters to me the maintenance needed to take care of one more item in my "collection". When I see something in a store I like, I need to remember that unless I remove an item at home to make room for this new item, that I will only add to my daily work of having to take care of one more thing. Depending if it will help me more than it will make me work, I may consider it.

I see many beautiful things when I'm out and about. But I can much more enjoy them knowing I don't have to take care of them. Sometimes leaving them exactly where they are is key to enjoying them best.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A great no bake recipe that I tasted at a seminar. I know that the ingredients don't seem like much, but they are yummy. I made these the other day and shared them with my family. They confirmed what I already knew... this recipe is a keeper for sure.


1 cup organic raisins
1 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon (or less) sea salt

unsweetened finely shredded coconut (optional)
sliced almonds (optional)

Process, using a food processor with S blade (or use a blender) on pulse, the first four ingredients until well mixed and chopped well. Using a very small amount of mix (it's rich), form into small balls. You can leave them as is or roll into coconut and put a slice of almond on top like I did. They are yummy either way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Junk Mail

Did you know about 45% of all junk mail is thrown away unopened? It's no wonder. If you, like me, have wondered what to do to cut down on the amount of uninvited mail that shows up in your mailbox, there is something you can do.

Type in "stop junk mail" on Google (or other search engine) and check out numerous websites for all kinds of tips for eliminating your unwanted mail. There are tips on how to deal with unwanted catalogs as well.

What I've found that has been helpful is to stop unwanted mail as soon as I see it coming. It takes a little effort, but they will take you off. If you have lots coming your way, make it a point to make some calls (or send postcards) 30 minutes every week until it's done.

Just state that you'd like to be taken off of their mailing lists. Be polite. If you are calling, make sure you have the mailing label in hand. If they made mistakes with your name or address, then give them the info as they wrote it. Do the same with the info if you are mailing them a request as well.

Using the same tips and guides to eliminate mail will also point ways to cut down on telemarketers and email spam as well. So, check it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Did you know that it takes 75,000 trees every week to print the Sunday edition of the New York Times newspaper? Not every newspaper is as large as the New York Times, but consider a move toward a greener life by taking a bold step.

Try a few months buying only the weekend edition of your newspaper or cancel your subscription altogether. Yes, in some households, it may be bold, but it sure cuts out a lot of paper and the results are immediate.

We have not gotten a newspaper since the mid 1990's. Occasionally we have bought (or borrowed from a friend) the paper for classifieds or checked online for the headlines from larger national papers, but we have always been glad that we made the decision to discontinue it.

The other option is to get an online subscription to your favorite newspaper. The good news is that many magazines offer this service as well. Check out yours today!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


As the song goes..."Oh, the weather outside is frightful..." so I've decided to do some organizing.

Being a bit of a bookworm (non-fiction), when I check out books from the library on what I'm currently interested in, I burn through them. I think I've read about every book about organizing the home that my local library owns!

One interesting tip that I gleaned from Julie Morgenstern on "Organizing from the Inside Out". When organizing, people tend to throw out things first. She says there's a method to it. She uses the acronym, S-P-A-C-E to remember the order of things.

S - Sort
P - Purge
A - Assign a Home
C - Containerize
E - Equalize

First, Sort: getting your things into categories, separating things into like items. You may find you have some paper files that need to go elsewhere or long lost projects that are outdated and no longer wanted.

Second, Purge: You can now see all you have from the sort step. Now you can decide what stays and what goes. Some may go into the trash, be moved to another location in your house or be given away and some will stay. This is the step where you may find you have 9 unused garment bags taking up space. Can you use some for dust covers for infrequently worn suits or dresses that you still want to keep? The rest you can pitch if you haven't used them for some time. Anything you don't like or can't use (or won't use) can be given away or tossed.

Third, Assign a Home: This is the step I love. You get to decide where things should go. Most people who write on this subject will tell you that you will be most organized if you put things where you use them. This applies to all rooms of the house. So remember that when you are assigning a home to all items. Most people put things where there is room and not where they should go. Assign all items to a certain spot in your home. When asked, you should be able to tell someone else where an item is without searching for it. Keep that in mind.

Fourth, Containerize: See what you have and the space you need to put it in and then you can decide what kind of containers you need to use. Just like you wouldn't need a deep drawer for only two small items, you need to make sure the items you have will fit into the appropriate container, shelf, drawer, etc. with a little "wiggle" room so things aren't stuffed in. This is the step that people often do ahead of when they should. They go buy containers without sorting and purging first. And assigning a home is very important before you go buy anything or you may be getting something that isn't appropriate. Wait to buy until after the first three steps are done. Don't forget that you may have some containers already that don't have a job yet. (Too many of us buy these because we like them and never get around to actually using them. When I'm tempted to buy something to "help" get organized, I try to think of a use for it right there at the store before I buy it. Most often I end up not buying the item at all.) Remember that measuring spaces cannot be undervalued in this step.

Fifth, Equalize: This step is the working and adjusting step. Make it work and if it doesn't when your circumstances change in 6 months, then adjust it. You've learned the steps, just go back and think through it again. Make it work for you. Once you've had organization you'll realize how much it really does the work for you. Remember to always put things away when you are done using them and it'll work like clockwork.

One interesting story: a couple had some leftover items from a recent room remodel project they did in their home. It was taking room up into their garage so they finally decided to organize it. When they went to buy a shelf to do this, they found the appropriate one to cost around $100. When the man figured out how much the actual materials were worth that they wanted to organize, he realized that they were not worth $100 total. They then easily decided to give the items away and not buy the $100 shelf in the end. When they needed a certain item in the future, they could just go and buy the piece they needed without keeping everything. So do your homework before deciding to keep even the useful things. Unless you use it quite frequently, you could be blessing someone else with it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Self-less Victory

Life is full of new beginnings. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is still undiscovered.

May you be able to reach the goals that you've been working on for awhile. Sometimes the victories over things that we've been challenged with to work our hardest are the sweetest.

This time of year people make resolutions that may be broken all too soon because of unrealistic high expectations. And sometimes our goals are too low to mean anything at all.

Maybe this year we can be part of helping someone else achieve a goal that they've been working on for a good while. Doing so moves our focus from selfish to self-less.

When you think of all the resolutions that you've broken, how many of them would you have been able to succeed at had you gotten the support you needed? Think about it, really. If we help each other...Oh, the sweet victories we'd have!

Have a great year in 2009!