Monday, January 25, 2010

Re-decorating Your Space for Free

You can make your rooms over without spending too much money or can even do it for are some ideas to get you thinking...

For a small price:
  • Buy throw pillows to change your couch or bedding appearance
  • Paint can change a room dramatically, even if it's only on one wall
  • Buy an interesting lamp to add light to a room to bring out a new glow
  • Flowers - buy various kinds of grocery store flowers - and put in unique holders to add a changed look of beauty every week to your home
  • If you have interesting articles or pictures from magazines that you already recieve but don't want to toss them away, why not buy some inexpensive frames and change up a wall by displaying them as a piece of art work - makes for an interesting conversation piece as well
  • Change your dining table immediately by adding seat cushions or a new tablecloth and placemats
  • If you have blinds on your windows, why not add some curtains to soften up a room or two
For free:
  • Put a decorative shawl or blanket on your sofa or bed to make it look revived (I have a curtain panel on our piano that didn't go so well on the window and it simply looks like a runner rather than a curtain, so there are all kinds of ways to be creative with fabrics)
  • Make your own art work, if you are creative, create your own art piece and hang it up
  • Take items from other rooms (art work, chairs, etc.)  and place them in a new room to make it look as if you bought new items (you just bought them from your other rooms)
  • Rearrange the current furniture in a room; if it seems impossible, just try to angle it differently to add instant dramatic flare
  • Take rugs from different areas and put it down at an angle to see how you can easily change the appearance of any room
  • Take fruit and place them in interesting canisters or vases to show them off; it's also a way to change up a drab kitchen every week
  • Use your current books or photo albums and stack them on top of each other in a corner to add interest to an otherwise dull area 
  • Add your children's artwork to a blank wall space (just get some string and clothing pins or put them in frames that you already have)
  • Display items that you own that are too pretty to be put away.  Place them in a bowl or other clear container and display them proudly and then change them up whenever you want (jewelry, beautiful cards, pretty soaps, etc.)
Look around your home, I'm sure that you have interesting items that can be placed elsewhere to add immediate sparkle to dull areas and/or rooms.

Have a good week everyone!


Monday, January 18, 2010

So Many Vases...What Do I Do With Them?

Over the years I had collected many vases, most from my darling husband who showered me with floral arrangements on a monthly basis, and I had collected so many that it was time to let them go. 

If you have too many of your own collecting dust in your home, here are some ways to re-use or get rid of them safely and efficiently. 
  • Send to a local thrift store for re-sale
  • Recycle them (although I have heard some say that it was not ok, but my recycling unit took them)
  • Buy or gather new flowers and put them in the vase to give to a friend for their birthday or if they are not feeling well
  • Try your hand and creativity at faux floral arrangments (you can always give them as gifts later or arrange them around your home)
  • Take them to the office, for others to use
  • Give them to a local nursing home
  • Give them to a local community center (for flower making workshops)
  • Give them to a local hospital
  • Give them to local event or wedding planners (this is especially handy if you have many of one style)
  • Give them to your school (art teachers could use them for crafts)
  • Use them as candy dishes
  • Use them to showcase pretty shells or stones
  • Use them at your child's next Lemonade stand to make Lemonade
  • Use wide shaped vases to hold household items, such as keys, wallets and other odds and ends
  • Use them in a craft room for buttons, paper clips, ribbon, scissors, etc.
  • Use them as centerpieces for your table (add lemons, pinecones, ornaments, anything eye-catching)
  • Use them as utensil holders, if they are tall enough
  • Buy a Beta fish and use the vase as an aquarium
  • Log on to Freecyle (this site allows you to give away items, in your area, for free), someone else might be in need of a vase(s) for a small wedding or other event
As you see the possibilities are endless. 

Just remember not to get rid of all of them, keeping some vases in various sizes and textures can certainly come in handy.


Monday, January 11, 2010

De-Cluttering Your Life

I found an article on WebMD that makes this year even more worth it for you to de-clutter your life.

I have added it below as well.

Clear the Clutter Out of Your Life - Organize and simplify your life for better emotional health.

By Jennifer Nelson
WebMD FeatureReviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Simi Nwogugu of Brooklyn, New York, felt that her life was filled with clutter. Her drawers were filled with old notes and books from business school and years of paid bills. Toys that her sons had outgrown still littered the house. In fact, she felt so mentally cluttered that she couldn’t do the one thing she wanted: write.

To get out from under the clutter, the founder of HOD Consulting rented an expensive New York City office. Problem was, the clutter followed her. Finally, she stopped trying to escape clutter and began to organize it.

“I know where everything is and it is so much more pleasing to work from home. Most of all, I am writing again,” she says. Even her aching back and shoulders feel better.

When you can’t find things, you can feel frustrated, angry, and unproductive, says Kelli Ellis, an Orange County, Calif., design psychologist who’s appeared on TLC’s Clean Sweep television show. “You see that person who has papers flying out of files, or you see their handbag, and you say, 'I know exactly what your car looks like or what your home office looks like.'” Clutter spills over into every aspect of life.

Clutter, both mental and physical, can do a number on our productivity and eat away at our time. Think of all the minutes we waste looking for items that aren’t where they should be. Plus the sheer stress of a cluttered life means we may miss deadlines, work longer hours, and lose important stuff. Clutter equals stress. Where to start simplifying?

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Clutter

Between a zillion to-dos, work and family life, errant worries, and obligations, it’s no wonder you have a cluttered mind. Start by learning to let go.

“To be truly happy, sometimes you must eliminate unhealthy people and situations from your life,” says Alex Lluch, author of Secrets to Love Life and Be Happy. For instance, if you feel stuck in a dead-end job, resolve to make a change.

Or if there’s someone in your life who constantly brings you down with a negative attitude, find a way to disentangle yourself. “It may take some courage to eliminate this stuff from your life, but you will feel much more fulfilled once you are able to concentrate on the people and things that do make you happy.”

Lluch advocates clean sweeping your thoughts with a hot bath, a meditation practice, a long walk, a phone call to a friend -- whatever works for you. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in a pursuit that allows you to decompress, clear your mind, and rid your thoughts of the mental chitchat that clouds your creativity, passion, and productivity.

De-Clutter Your Desk and Work Space

Whether you work from a home office or a tiny cubicle, there’s no way you can be totally productive in a space that doesn’t function for you. “I have never actually met anybody who is extremely successful who works in absolute chaos,” says Ellis.

Sure, everyone has a junk drawer or a messy desk on occasion, but if your clutter is taking over, it’s time to scale back.

When Nwogugu tackled her home office with a very organized friend, they compiled three separate stashes: what to keep, what to shred (sensitive information), and what to just throw away.

Follow a similar routine working from desk to files to shelves. Clear everything off and sort into appropriate stacks. Use file folders, three-ring notebooks, or magazine sorters to hold important papers. And immediately pitch what you don't need. Get creative with containers. Coffee mugs and decorative boxes hold everything from paper clips and tacks to business cards and pens.

Look toward vertical wall space as a new storage solution. “We tend to make piles,” says Ellis. But piles are hard to address and papers within them become hidden. You can’t pay a bill or return an important message if it’s hidden at the bottom of a stack on your desk.

Instead, option wall space. Set bills in a hanging bin, keys on a hook, magazines in wall hangers. Now you can see and reach items easily.

Clean Out Clothing Skeletons in Your Cluttered Closet
If closets are your nemesis and yours could rival Vogue’s accessory closet, you’ll need to spend some time getting down and dirty. The first step to cleaning a closet is to take everything out. Then you can see what you have. Often you’ll need to purchase storage boxes or organizing bins, shoe holders, or shelving. Don’t forget plastic garbage bags for trash and donations. Have a few bins or boxes for items that don’t really belong in the closet but will be moved elsewhere. Be realistic. Do you really need or want each item?

Ellis’ mantra is, “If you haven’t seen it, needed it, or worn it in one year, get rid of it.”

Nwogugu’s friend had three questions when they came to every piece of clothing: Does it fit? Have you worn it in the last 12 months? Is there some sentimental value strong enough to keep it? If the answers are no, toss it in one of three options -- in a bag for charity, to sell at a garage sale or on eBay, or for the trash heap.

Nwogugu went through the same procedure for her husband’s clothes and shoes as well as her children’s. “By the time we were done with clothing, we had over 15 hefty trash bags of stuff for Salvation Army.”

Organization Tips for Your Clutter-Free Action Plan

Here are more steps to help you clear clutter from your life:

Organize in bite-size bits: If the thought of getting organized completely overwhelms you, set a timer for just 15 minutes a day. Knowing you won't spend hours working on an organizational project might make working in small nuggets easier to manage.

Mainstream email: Instead of checking email with each ding of the inbox, read your emails on a regular basis only twice a day. When you open an email, answer it immediately and don't save it for later.

Handle snail mail only once: Create a special time and place to read your snail mail regularly. During the appointed time, open the mail and immediately take action on it. File it with bills, shred it, toss it in the trash, etc. Commit to touching each piece of mail immediately and only once.

Avoid horizontal piles: When possible, avoid putting paper in horizontal stacks in your home or office. Save time and frustration by categorizing and finding a home for paper as soon as it comes through the door.

Purge regularly: This applies to every room in the house but don’t forget the kitchen and bathroom. Check expiration dates regularly on medicines, vitamins, supplements, and cosmetics. Stick to the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. If you can’t remember when you purchased it, let it go.

The first day after Nwogugu de-cluttered she walked around her apartment, remembering why she loved it. She no longer felt the need to escape. She looked forward to writing. "All around, I feel much better,” she says.

I hope this article helped some of you to make some changes in this new year.
Here's to your emotional health!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Storage for Holiday Decorations

Now that the holidays are over, here are some ideas to store your items.
  • Clear plastic containers - I use curtain containers for bows, fabric napkins, tape, gift tags, small ornaments, things that are difficult to store elswhere, etc.

  • Gift bags - I use gift bags to hold other gift bags and rolls. 

  • Clear box containers - we use these to hold similar items such as all mantle items (i.e. stockings, stocking holders, garland, etc.)
  • Apple or egg containers and cartons - you can easily store ornaments in here
  • Ziploc bags - you can place ornament holders (the metal ones) or other small items in here so that it doesn't get lost in a bigger container
  • Hanging organizer - these are the kind that have clear pockets and therefore could hold small ornaments and the like 
  • Coffee or vegetable cans - you can string lighted garlands around these, so that they don't get tangled
  • Shoe boxes - line the boxes with tissue paper to hold delicate items
  • Large trash bags - these are great to hold wreaths if you don't have a specific container for them
  • Zippered garment bags - these also work nicely to hold wreaths
  • Plastic grocery bags - these come in handy when you need to protect items that could get scratched up, such as Santa Clauses or Nutcrackers.  Once wrapped, simply put them in a bigger container
  • Cookie tins - are a great place to stash those items that are decorative but could make a mess if placed elsewhere, such as pinecones or items with glitter on them...

Another quick tip is to keep similar items together (i.e., keep the wreath with the wreath holder, keep the stockings with the stocking holders, table linens with napkin rings, etc.)

Happy New Year!


Whatever It Takes