Category Archives: organization

The Ol’ Bag Lady Has Dinner in the Bag

 

New readers may not know that I am fondly called The Ol’ Bag Lady” by my husband.  Sometimes, he shortens it to just “Ol’ Bag.”  He may or may not be referring to my attitude, but certainly he is referring to my love for bags to organize my life.

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For years (OK, I have to admit, I should use the term decades here), I’ve sewn drawstring bags to organize toys at home, in the car and to use as gift bags for toys I give away.

 

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An organizing series I wrote a few years back was called Flying Frantic, which describes the lives of most women.  We have more people, projects and personal goals than we know what to do with.  The post on using tote bags to organize your life according to commitments was popular. I have one bag for church, one bag for homeschool coop and one bag of special things for my daughter in the car.

This Ol’ Bag Lady has found one more way to organize using bags – this time in the kitchen.

There are amazing women  who cook a month of meals at a time and throw them in the freezer.  Sounds like a great idea, but my family is not particularly fond of food that has been frozen.

“The noodles are mushy.”

“The hamburger tastes funny.”

And those were just my complaints.   I know, picky, picky, but there is nothing like a freshly cooked meal.  It’s just another thing to fit in a busy life. It’s easier to dream than do.

There are other amazing women who plan a week of meals and shop according to their meal plan.  I stand in awe.

Then, there are women like me.  I shop with a list and still forget items. The week I plan the entire menu is the week my husband ends up traveling out of town.  I grocery shop, but am too tired to cook dinner. I am embarrassed to admit how many days 4pm rolls around, or 5pm, and I’m slapping my forehead thinking, “UGH! Why do people in this house need to eat dinner every. single. night?”

We have a few standby crock-pot recipes, but it never fails, I run to the pantry and find I am short one item. Or I discover somebody put the spice jar back in the drawer, but it was empty. GGRRReat!

That’s when I had my Light bulb moment.

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Yep, I have children.  My stapler never works correctly.  And I was lucky to find the black Sharpie in my junk drawer without stabbing myself with a rusty nail or box cutter.  Not Pinterest pretty, but Got ‘Er Dun pretty.

White Chicken Chili Bag

The ingredients for one meal were bagged with the recipe, the ingredients to be added highlighted in case anybody else wanted to make dinner. Anybody? Anybody?

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The only ingredients purchased and added to the stuff in the bag.

Mindy’s White Chicken Chili

Sauté until soft, about 5 min:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium green pepper, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped

Add and sauté another minute:

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Add and simmer:

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 limes, juiced

Add:

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans(drain, mash one slightly)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, remove skin and shred meat

Although this is called “chili” it is more of a chicken and bean soup.  It is quick, easy and filling on a cold, rainy day, which is nearly every day during the winter in the Pacific Northwest. We serve with sour cream and grated cheese.

The other recipe  I bagged up for the pantry is the Southwest Roast.

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It’s one of the few recipes I have blogged, I’m not really a recipe kinda’ girl.

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The Southwest Roast with the Special Ingredient was another popular post because the recipe is simple and delicious.  You start is 24 hours ahead of time, so when you’re cleaning up dinner one night, you throw the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner in the crock and go to bed. 

If you get a little organized with your family’s  favorite recipes, you can have dinner in the bag.

Making your home sing Mondays               WHWButton#2

Multitasking Mommas Git ‘er Dun!

This old saying that will be true until the world comes to an end.

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(Photo created using Ribbet)

I’m not dissing men and husbands, especially my hard-working husband.  I’m talking about the general nature of a woman and her responsibilities.

Women plan for the future more. They buy clothes for the current season AND for the next one.  They purchase groceries on the list and stockpile sale items for future needs.

The majority of her work is rarely completed and usually repeated.  She washes the same dishes, clothes, counters, walls, floors, toilets and faces…

over

     and over

          and over

               and over

                    again.

Then she does it again.

A mom has to multitask because little kids can’t stand in line or take a number. In the morning, everyone is hungry and thirsty.  They need the bathroom or a diaper and snuggles. At the grocery store you shop and meet the needs of the munchkins duck-trailing you.  You might need to referee, comfort, answer a bajillion questions or find the restroom ten minutes ago.

And when the sun goes down, the kids are in bed, moms often use the quiet time to pick up the house, plan meals for the next day, sew, mend, or catch up on laundry.

During the night, moms still may need to feed the baby, comfort one who “I had a weally bad dweam!” or wipe up bodily fluids projected from any of the body cavities. A flu bug or a bed wetter may demand that laundry and mopping are done while the rest of the world is sleeping.

Moms master combining tasks, without losing the ability to detect and deal with suspicious sounds from other corners of the house and mentally planning up to four events.

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(Photo created using Ribbet)

I’m ironing, teaching Science and writing a grocery list. There was probably a load of laundry in the washer and the dryer, and a teenager that needed direction.

We’ve all had success and failures with multitasking. I turned on the wrong burner and melted my Tupperware canister of sugar while talking on the phone and canning. I’ve “lost” items because I accidentally put them in the fridge or freezer.  I’ve been sidetracked by a smaller project and forgot to do the main project.

Because numbered lists are easier for a sleep-deprived woman who just needs to be shown what’s next, I made ya’ one. Here’s criteria to guide your multitasking for maximum efficiency.

1.  Productivity

Don’t start so many projects you can’t finish any or don’t do them well. I don’t mean perfect, I gave up the dream of cupboards and closets being Pinterest-perfect before Pinterest was even invented. Remember, the goal of multitasking is to get more done in a day, not less.

2.  Priorities

The main goals of the day should be accomplished.  It’s easy to tackle other projects, then forget to make dinner.  Oh, you never do that?  May I bring my family to your house for dinner tonight?

When the kids were young I started One Fun Thing tradition. There’s always more work to do, so I tried to play with the kids each day.  I was home for them, not the house. We would choose one activity to do after the chores were done, like Play-Doh, painting, a picnic, craft, a board game or making a fort. It didn’t have take hours, 30 minutes can create a special memory.

3.  Safety

Please don’t rely on a child’s obedience for their safety; their safety is your responsibility. Don’t leave them alone in the bathtub or a car. The iron and stove shouldn’t be left unattended. Many household accidents  involving children occur quickly a short distance away from the adult. This isn’t to cast blame because accidents will happen.  But, there are times to concentrate on one task for safety reasons.

4. Relationships

A mom can feel like she’s the rope in a tug of war.  Kids’ radar senses when mom  is the busiest, in the bathroom, or finally sat down to relax.  The natural reaction is to be annoyed at the interruption, but it’s a compliment.  The kids want you, need you and consider you the source of all wisdom. Set boundaries for times they can’t interrupt, it’s part of teaching them manners, but make yourself available other times.

It only takes 30 seconds to build up a relationship. Answer those questions or let them know you’d love to answer later.  Use eye contact when you can and give verbal affirmation for their random spouts of information. They will repeat it until you answer.  They will repeat it until you answer.  They will repeat it until you answer.

Multitask phone calls only if you can still meet the caller’s needs.  Facebook or computer games take away from the conversation,  mindless tasks can be done.  The greater the need of the person on the other end of the conversation, the less (if anything) you should be doing.

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Misc. Multitasking Ideas:

  • My Aunt Joyce encouraged me to use nursing time to read to the toddler.  It reduced jealously, made  a special, snuggly time for all the kids, and kept the toddler out of trouble.
  • When I needed a long chat with a friend, I’d save the unfolded laundry for naptime, then call a girlfriend. When the kids were older and could be inside alone, I’d weed or water my plants and talk.
  • I kept a book in the bathroom.
  • My mom taught us all to not go to another level of the home without taking one thing to put away.
  • Adventures in Odyssey tapes, free college history lectures and Bible on CD are great for long projects, like painting a room.

 

A friend told me she could be a Proverbs 31 woman if she had servants.  I reminded her how they lived and said I considered our electrical appliances our servants. Click on the image below to read about women in the previous century whose work was never done.

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Multitasking can increase productivity and give a busy Mom time to relax.

How do you multitask to git ‘er dun?

                                      Making your home sing Mondays            

How to Git the Honey-Do List Dun

Warm weather  and weekends are for projects, or so women think.

Warm weather and weekends are for relaxing, or so men think.

Spring is getting closer and our Honey-Do Lists are getting longer. The longer the list gets, the higher chance you have for marital conflict. 

I asked my husband for his insight on the  Honey-Do List.  Oh boy, did I get insight.  I should have asked him when we got home from the honeymoon and saved myself years of frustration.  This is a direct quote. Hang onto your office chairs, ladies.

His admission also proved this post  could have been titled, "The Man Who Betrayed All Men.”

Apparently, the 1st time I ask him to do something, he views it as a "SUGGESTION."

Hubbster explained, "I don’t want to act at this point because I need to discern if it is a suggestion or is really critical. If I hear about it for about six years, then I know it’s important."

When he heard me typing 90mph, he started laughing.

"OH, NO! I just revealed my trade secrets!" Yes, you are busted, Mr. P.

The 2nd time he hears me ask, he knows it’s important, but by the third time,  he knows he’s treading on thin ice. By the 3rd time I’m treading on thin ice, too, because I’m getting too close to nagging.

AS A WOMAN, anything that comes out of my mouth is important, so I assume I should only have to ask once.

AS A MAN, he knows I change my mind, my plans and my priorities, so he wants time to discern my asks.

The Honey-Do List can cause friction in marriage. After all, there are things only a man can do. I realized that after trying to pound a 16 penny nail into solid oak. I pounded and pounded and pounded, and couldn’t get the nail to go in. I thought it would be an easy project. I was wrong.

I ended up pounding the oak floor  in frustration instead of the nail. Yep, I did. Yep, it made me feel better. Nope, the shelf in the closet never got hung. I just couldn’t do it. Later, my laughing hubby explained how to drill holes in the wood first. It proved a point to both of us. There were some things he needed to do for a variety of reasons.

During the years my hubby traveled  for work and I was at home with six small kids, many things got broken. Many of those broken things didn’t get fixed. The pile became a source of irritation for both of us. To me, it symbolized his failure. To him, it symbolized my nagging.

At my next garage sale, I made a huge sign that said Honey-Didn’t Do and marked the broken items a dollar.  They all sold to retired men looking for things to do and women who had mastered DIY. Hubby and I both got a laugh, the list was knocked down in size, and I never missed those broken items.

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1. MAKE A LIST

The marital conundrum.  If you don’t remind a husband, he doesn’t remember.  If you remind him only once, he won’t remember.  If you remind him more than three times, you’re a nag.

Let the list do the nagging.  I bought cool little whiteboard for his side of the closet. The wall was textured and the sign kept falling down. I bought more double stick foamy stuff and used a ton. Didn’t work. I was gunna’ pound a 16 penny nail through the whole thing, but that hadn’t work 20 years prior, so I figured it wouldn’t work now.

I brought the whiteboard to the thrift store. However, the few weeks the thing actually stayed on our wall, it worked. He liked the idea of not having to remember the list and having the ability to do them in his timing. Now I keep a simple paper list.

 

2. DIY

Learn a new skill.  Bing it.  YouTube it. I divide my list into  Honey-Do and the  Honey-I-Dun-Did-it-Myself. Relieve some of  the burden if you can.

3. HELP THE HONEY HELP YOU

I needed a coat rack hung in the downstairs hallway for bathrobes. 

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They were in the way on the closet doors.

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I bought the coat rack I wanted.  The tools he needed were added to the pile.  When he came home from work I showed him the task.  It was done within the week.  I praised and thanked him.

It worked so well, the next week he asked me if I needed anything else done, since he was running to Home Depot.  I asked him to buy a white towel bar for the bathroom.  A few hours later, he brought me down to the bathroom to show me the finished project. 

He was as a proud as a kid with a homemade clay ashtray. 

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I smiled and stammered and said, “Well, thank you, honey, but that isn’t a towel bar.”

He stared and stammered and stared some more. The gerbils were running their guts out to process the information.  Coat rack….towel bar….coat rack…towel bar…

OH. I used glue and screws and it will NEVER come down.”

We now use coat hooks for our towels.  In the PNW it isn’t the best option because towels don’t dry quickly.  But, he was able to git ‘er dun, so we’re making the thing he dun got dun make do.

Speaking of git ‘er dun, this blog is done.  A three day weekend is coming up and I have to write my current Honey-Do List out. 

Good thing I know three ways to git the list dun!

I Scribble on My Walls

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When I first moved into my office a few months ago, now don’t go hating me now ‘cuz I have an office, seven people had to move out for this luxury to happen, I had this crazy desire to write on my walls. I took over two decades off from writing to raise kids who wrote on my walls, it’s now  my turn.

I don’t mean literally, after all, it took two coats of primer and two coats of gray to cover up the bright blue color chosen by the child we moved to the basement.

But, the need to see my projects and lists of things to do all at once was almost overwhelming.

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This was my first project and the four sections work very well.  I’m loving this.  But, it wasn’t enough.

My urge to scribble was greater than Harold’s – you know the kid with the purple crayon?

I wanted this 15 paned door from Craigslist, but didn’t get to it in time. I had to make-do until I could invent something cool for outlining a big project.

The light bulb moment occurred while shopping for toilet paper in Costco.  I know, toilet paper usually only inspires men, but I had an epiphany while grabbing the huge pack that would last a bachelor a year and my family a month.  I know that because last time I bought toilet paper I asked the bachelor next to me how long his package would last, while envying the amount of free time he had not buying toilet paper on a regular basis.

Can you imagine not having anyone use the last square and not tell you?  Can you image not having someone hanging the toilet paper the wrong way? Not having anybody unroll an entire roll just because they could?  Yea, I agree, that guy is deprived, right?  Anyhoo, back to the scribbling light bulb moment.

In between each row of the massive packages of toilet paper are wonderful brown pieces of paper.  I started grabbing the extra paper and rolling it up.

My ten year old daughter was horrified.  Yes, she is at an age where her mommy now embarrasses her at times.  “You can’t take that!”  she said. In her mind, entering double digits a few months back raised her rank in life, which now apparently includes the ability to advise her mother.

“Yes, I can! It’s going in the garbage or the recycle.”  The look on her face showed I hadn’t proven I wasn’t a thief.  “If it makes you feel better, I will ask if I can take it.”

Her conscience was soothed, but not her humiliation.  She tried to walk farther away from me, while I tried to keep the paper rolled up in my cart in between all the cases of beans and chicken broth and tried to not run over anybody because of my blocked  vision.

Exasperated, she finally rolled them up and tucked them under the bottom of the cart.  I could hardly wait to get home and thumbtack it to my walls, using my Grandma’s Thumbtacks, of course.

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Thanks to Costco toilet paper display, I had creativity at my fingertips. The Post-it notes worked well and I was able to organize and reorganize my explosion of random thoughts.

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Eventually, the mess became a rough outline for several  books.  The first in a series,   “The Christian Writer’s Coach: How to make the most out of writers conference”  will be published in about a month by the Northwest Christian Writers Association. I’m so excited!

Since unsolicited manuscripts are no longer accepted by the majority of agents and editors, you need to attend a writers conference to make the initial contact with those people that can make all your publication dreams come true. NCWA had a passion to write a book to help writers before, during and after attending a writers conference. Stay tuned.  I’ll letcha’ know when you can buy it.

The toilet paper paper worked, but I still had one more idea to try. It was supposed to look a little neater.  But, as you can see by the above picture, I’m not a tidy writer.  I think I’m a Type A organized person, but I think I’ve been lying to myself for years.  This is the real me.  I might even put this picture on Pinterest in rebellion against all those offices that look like an staged magazine setting.

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I laminated sheets of gray paper and taped them to my walls.  I write with dry erase markers and erase with rubbing alcohol. The little felt erasers on the end of the markers don’t work.

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The Type A side of my office. Where I sit and relax to read, when I’m not writing.  It’s also where my kids come and sit to talk while I’m writing.  Since I have a double-digit daughter and a bona-fide teenage son at home, I don’t mind.  It means we’re still on give-mom-advice speaking terms. 

They can sit, they can talk, and they can root around for my secret candy stashes.

They  just can’t scribble on my walls.

It’s my turn.

***********

? Do you storyboard? 

? How do you like to organize your jot  scribble stage of writing?

? Has anybody tried IdeaPaint for writing on walls?

I’m Still an Ol’ Bag

When a new school year starts,
we’re all thinking the same thing –
if only
I were more organized and efficient,
I would remember more and accomplish more.
We long for that
perfect container,
perfect shelving system,
perfect organizational feature,
that will magically transform our chaos into control.
In 2010, I blogged through an organizational kick
with some new ideas and some tried-and-true practices of mine.
My favorite system really did impact my life
in a powerful, helpful way.
Not everything I try works, so I felt it worth revisiting this tip.
OK…all this build-up……
….it involves this….

….and this.

As I began this new year not emotionally ready,
I realized my systems were in place and I was physically ready
using this simple sytem using my favorite tote bags.
Follow me back in time when I first admitted
It will turn chaos into control,
I promise…

Flying Frantic – Tote Bags

This is the second in a series,
hoping to inspire some organizational processes into frantically busy lives.
My husband lovingly calls me The Bag Lady.
Partly in jest of being an Ol’ Bag,
but partly because I use a lot of  tote bags.
I am a mom,
I homeschool,
I teach Sunday School
and am involved in a homeschool coop.
 I have discovered that instead of having one tote bag
that I would always forget to unpack or repack,
it’s easier to have one bag for each activity.
My coop bag has

the binder I need with all the information in clear sheet protectors,
 and a zippered pouch filled with school supplies.
They are never leave this bag, except during coop.
I can also throw in a book, a game to play or a purse project
Anything I need to bring, I slip it in during the week.

I have a church bag.
Throughout the week, I fill it with things I need to bring to the church.
 A book to return to someone, sanitizers, tracts I ordered,
Sunday school treats, prizes or craft items.
On Sunday morning it eliminates the frantic rush,
helping us to get to church on time
AND
in the Spirit.
My camera bag is also stocked.
The right pocket has personal items,
the front pocket paper items,
and left pocket camera supplies.
 I can leave the purse, throw my wallet in my camera bag,
 and I am ready to hike, sightsee or just stalk my children.
Even though it isn’t a bag, this errand basket organizes my life.
When Woolworths went out of business,
I bought a stack of these beauties for $1 each.
They are some of my prize possessions.
I keep it by the door and add:
-returns that need to be made
-lone overdue library book found under the couch
-packages that need to be mailed
I even have a special Zune bag from Hawaii.
The bag orignally came with coffee,
but is perfect for my Zune and accesories.
Yes, I made the container for my ear phones
from a dental floss box.
Remove label, add a monkey sticker,
and it is a cute little thing ready to hold treasures.
During their younger years, each of our kids had a library bag. My husand mounted a peg shelf at their level, so they could always return their bag, with books in it, to the peg shelf. It kept books from being lost and  made it easier to return the books. A clear pocket on the outside would have been a great idea for the checkout slip.

When I am beginning to organize things to bring or send to someone, I begin a brown paper bag in the closet with their name printed in black, bold letters. As things are purchased, found or finished, they are put into the bag. If it is to be mailed, I might even pick out the box ahead of time and put that in the closet labeled. When it is full, it is mailed.

My youngest keeps a toy bag packed in the van. She is encouraged to keep a few toys, books, personal items, water bottle and maybe a snack. Living in a busy area, one accident on the highway and your commute home just got 29 minutes longer. Baseball season is here, and games can get long for the little ones.

Now that it is baseball season I have a baseball bag. Because it can be chilly, I keep a fleece blanket, extra hats and gloves, snacks and kleenex.

Just for fun, I looked up bag in the Bible.

Didja’ know David organized his five smooth stones  in a shepherd’s bag? 1 Samuel 17:40

The best use I found for a bag yet was in the book of Job.

Job 14:17
My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You cover my iniquity.

Another good reason for my hubby to call me The Bag Lady.

Bind Us Together

I am one who likes to be organized.
Actually, I love to be organized.
I don’t function well when things are not organized.
I like to know where things are
and where they go when I am done with them.
I long for my family to have that same passion.
They don’t, yet.
My organizational system has to be easy enough for the rest of the family,
who doesn’t obssess over organization,
(I just LOVE that word – organization)
to utilize.
I had several different binders in the cupboard,
mismatched,
poorly labeled,
unproductive.
I saw a blog with this cute idea,
matching, scrapbooked binders.
If you are the blogger who posted this idea, please leave your link below.
I totally gapped out who inspired me and I would love to give you credit!
I made a mistake in buying binders from Target
 in their new bulk section in the back of the store 6/$7.
These two weren’t even used.
I checked the four I had completed,
and they were cracked already.
I knew when I bought them they were cheap and wouldn’t last long.
I expected them to last longer than a week.
I brought them back and back individual, more expensive binders.
Grrr.
I love saving money as much as I love organizing.
Completed binders in cupboard.
Got rid of about ten unused cookbooks in the process.
Yea!  Declutter!
*Amazing Grace and Jon both love to cook.  They each have a binder for the recipes they have collected from other people and from magazines.
*Low Iodine – has the guidelines and recipes to follow the diet I need to utilize as part of the thyroid cancer treatment.
*Meal Planning – a work in progress where I am listing all types of meals I can make from each type of meat, salads, side dishes, breads, soups for quick inspirational reference
-have included various articles about menu planning, nutritional values, etc.
-one section for those magazine pages I have ripped out with recipes I want to try
*Christmas – contains lists of who we send and receive Christmas cards from each year and recipes for all our traditional goodies.  Recipes easily get lost in my house, so I copied every Christmas recipe over in red and green fine tipped markers on index cards and keep in clear pages with slots. 
*Household – one tab for the ongoing Case of the Leaky Dishwasher, one for doctors/dentists, one for garbage/recycle/yardwaste brochures, one for Honey Do projects, one for long-term projects
*Addresses – we have address listings for the church we attend, along with the directories from three other churches we have attended
Each binder is a work in progress and will be improved as we use it.  For now, I just get excited everytime we open the door and see the red and white goodness gleaming from that top shelf. 
 
 
This project SHOULD bind us together with cords of organization that cannot be broken.
 
What are YOU working on to organize your life?