Posts Tagged ‘Organization’

The outside temperature says it’s another hot summer day, but the heat doesn’t stop me from going outside with my camera. I know I will never get this day back again, so I seek to capture bits and pieces of it to enjoy and to record in my memory. Looking through my camera lens, I see things differently. Something mundane or ordinary becomes extraordinary when focused on intently. If you always look at things from the same distance and in the same way, they will never change. However, if you zoom in on them, you might see them in new and exciting ways.

#1 – Creativity in the Kitchen
Creativity reigns in the kitchen if you think outside the box. Here’s a series of ideas from Easy Food that are so interestingly-good, they need to be shared!

#2 – Reuse It!
While cleaning out my craft closet this week, I came up with a way to keep my many spools of ribbon from becoming a tangled mess in their tray. After cutting tubular accordian-foam sleeves, that protect fruit packed in boxes, into narrow bands, I placed a band around each spool of ribbon. Each band gently prevents the ribbon from unrolling. These bands work so much better than rubber bands, which can crush the ribbon, or tape, which can leave a sticky residue on ribbon. I’ve also used these foam sleeves to keep my rolls of wrapping paper from unrolling and for protecting fragile Christmas ornaments while they are in storage. Three ways to reuse something that’s normally tossed away!

#3 – Dimensions in Art

Sculptural Painting by Shintaro Ohata

Born in Hiroshima, Japan, artist Shintaro Ohata creates work of art that depict the “little things in everyday life.” His charactersistic style tells his stories by combining 2-D and 3-D elements – by placing sculptures in front of paintings. Additional dramatic effect is created in his artwork by his extraordinary ability to paint light and by his use of a young girl as his subject and representation of youth.

#4 – Cases for Cheer
Here’s an example of someone who looks at and thinks about pillowcases differently. When her Great Aunt Willie passed away from ovarian cancer a few years ago, 10-year-old Madison Zenker, founded Cases for Cheer, a nonprofit that makes and donates colorful pillowcases to cancer patients. Now thirteen-years-old, Madison continues to bring cheer to those going through cancer treatment and is a wonderful example of how someone so young, with a simple idea and the desire to help others, gives hope for the future of our world. If interested in donating funds, fabric, or time to Madison’s cause, check out Cases for Cheer.

#5 – Fountain of Youth
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
Sophia Loren

Tap into your “fountain of youth” this weekend by doing something you love!

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“Enough birds,” my mom says. “What?” I confusedly reply. “Enough birds,” she reiterates. “Okay,” I say as her meaning sinks in. My mom thinks I’ve posted too many photos of birds in my blog recently. Admittedly, I have become a bit bird crazy. Today’s photo of a Black-chinned Hummingbird is one that took great patience and a little luck to capture, so I have to share it! But I’ll try to give the little creatures a rest and aim my camera elsewhere for a little while . . . .

#1 -A Giving Challenge
“Give one thing away each day for 29 days. Share your stories about how it impacts your life to focus on giving. Join the 29-Day Giving Challenge today. Why? Because to see our world change, we have to do something to change our world. Plus, the best way to attract abundance into your life is to be in a perpetual state of giving and gratitude. Be an important part of the global giving movement that inspires more generosity on our planet.” These are the words on the 29-Day Giving Challenge: Changing Lives One Gift at a Time website that I learned about at a workshop I attended last weekend. Take on the challenge and see if your life doesn’t change!

#2 – Great Quotes and Great Images
Many of my favorite inspirational quotes have been paired up with some great photo images or artwork on the Present Outlook site. Check them out and print some up.

#3 – Get Organized!
According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, January is the official Get Organized Month.

As I sit here in my office, I am surrounded by piles of junk. I impulsively decided to clean my study yesterday. Cleaning and organizing are my favorite forms of procrastination! After spending half a day pulling everything off the bookshelves to sort and dust, I now have a bigger mess than I had before. What to do? Well, right now I’m procrastinating by writing this post instead of choosing to clean up my newly-created mess. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

If mail clutter seems to be taking over your living quarters, then here’s a tip from a book I found yesterday while cleaning. Sheree Bykofsky author of 500 Terrific Ideas for Organizing Everything says, “Never let your mail sit around. Read your mail as soon as it arrives and sort each envelope into the following categories: pay, answer, file, dump. Then do it. Be selective about what you choose to file; think about whether you’ll ever need to locate that paper again, and if you do, will you really be able to find it? Your time is too valuable to spend constantly filing; and your home shouldn’t resemble the archives of the Library of Congress.”

#4 – Got Lemons?
Got lemons? Do what I do when I’ve got lots of lemons. I freeze some of them, so I can enjoy their flavor throughout the year. One way I like to freeze them is in round slices. After washing the lemons, I slice them with a sharp knife into thin rounds. Then I place the slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. After the slices are frozen solid, I transfer them to a freezer-safe container, alternating layers of wax paper and lemon slices. When I have company over and want to serve them a refreshing pitcher of water, I just reach into my freezer and grab a couple of frozen lemon slices and toss them into the water. I also keep lime slices, quartered orange slices, cucumber slices, and melon chunks in my freezer just for that purpose, too!

# 5 – How Do You Say Thank You?
How do you say “thank you” for sunshine or health . . . for clear days or gentle rains . . . for happiness, joy or love? You say it by sharing what you have. You say it by making the world a better place in which to live.
~Thomas D. Willhite~

May you experience joy this weekend!

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Standing in the aisle of a grocery store with my trusty clipboard in one hand and my market basket in the other, I searched a shelf for an ingredient for my Thanksgiving dinner. A woman pushed her squeaky shopping cart past me and said, “You look very organized.” For a moment I studied her face to determine whether she was being sincere or sarcastic and then I looked down at my clipboard and explained, “It’s a matter of survival.”

To survive and to alleviate stress during the holidays, I try to be as organized as possible. This past Thanksgiving holiday was a good example. With people coming and going on different days for almost a week, my home resembled an inn. What the woman in the grocery store was commenting on was the stack of papers on my clipboard. Everything I needed food-wise for that week was on my clipboard and at my fingertips: my master plan of menus for every day of the week, copies of the recipes I’d be using, and my super Organized Grocery List. After I explained to her how my Organized Grocery List worked, she said, “You should publish it!”

I organize myself by making lists and creating forms. This process requires me to think things through, to prioritize, and to jot down details. Here’s my Organized Grocery List that the woman in the store wanted published and it’s yours for free! It’s in a PDF form which allows you to repeatedly fill it out and print it up. The List is organized by grocery store departments such as meat, produce, dairy, etc., as well as by type of store. Some items are more cost effective to purchase at a warehouse store, other items are more easily purchased at a regular grocery store, and finally some items can only be purchased at specialty stores or farmer’s markets. Each item is color coded when it is put on the list to make for quick shopping at each of the stores.

Here’s to organized grocery shopping and less stress!

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Pepto-Bismol? Check. Ace bandage? Check. This is me mentally going through the contents of my traveling medicine bag. Whenever I travel long distances, I grab my plastic travel bag that contains medications and first aid items. I’ve learned that when traveling you can’t always buy medications when you need them. For the most part, my medicine bag is ready to go at a moment’s notice; I do, however, review expiration dates before I leave and replace any items that have expired. Most of the time the contents of my medicine bag does not change, but it may vary depending on my destination.

Obviously I’m a detail-oriented person, but I’ve learned a lot about packing from my mother. Once when I was preparing for a trip to China, my mother told me, “Throw in some strapping tape and an Ace bandage.” I mumbled to myself, “Why do I need those things?” Being a dutiful daughter, I threw them into my bag. Traveling in China during the 1980s was restrictive. You could not deviate from the schedule and most certainly could not leave the tour group to run to the nearest drugstore to make a purchase. So sure enough when someone in my tour group fell down and sprained her ankle, I stuck my hand up in the air proudly and said, “I have an Ace bandage!” And later during the tour when someone’s suitcase tore, I volunteered, “I have strapping tape, if you need it.” Two out of two – never again have I doubted my mom’s packing advice!

While traveling with my children over the years, I’ve learned that unexpected issues can arise and it’s always better to be prepared. Because of this I’ve had to add items to my traveling medicine bag. I’ll never forget this experience: It was a lovely day in Hawaii and my husband, children, and I were enjoying a day out on the beach. My oldest son was building a sand castle when he stepped on a bee and got stung underneath his big toe. I grabbed my room key, which was a plastic credit card-type, and gently scraped across his skin to remove the stinger. As his foot began to swell, I reached for a chilled can of soda from our day pack and held it to the swelling. Once back in our hotel room, I applied hydrocortisone cream to the area and gave him a Benadryl tablet. Since we were in Hawaii, we could have easily run out to a drugstore, but having these items on hand, I was able to attend to his swollen foot without delay and prevented his symptoms from getting worse.

Like prescribed medications, I keep this medicine bag in my carry on luggage. To make the traveling medicine bag lighter, more organized, and more compact, I remove all medicine from their boxes. Then I dismantle the boxes until they are flat and make photocopies of the important information on them. I cut out the photocopied information and put them into sandwich-sized Ziploc bags along with the medication. Blister packs of medication work well, but If you have bulky pill bottles or Costco-sized containers, pour some pills into labeled (medication name, # of mg/per pill, dose, expiration date) small, jewelry-sized plastic bags before placing them into the sandwich bags with the instruction sheets. All sandwich-sized Ziploc bags then get placed into the traveling medicine bag. I probably would have made a great Girl Scout, because I am always prepared!

Linnell’s Traveling Medicine Bag:
Ibuprofen (Advil)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Antidiarrheal (Imodium)
Antihistamine (Benadryl)
Hydrocortisone cream
Antibiotic ointment
Alcohol wipes
Assortment of bandages
Ace bandage
Blister pads or Moleskin
Digital thermometer
Dramamine or Sea Bands
Eye drops

If traveling overseas, I might add:
Dental repair kit

Always read and follow the accompanying instructions on medications and always check with your doctor to see if there are any contraindications for any member in the family to take these drugs.

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Holiday decorations are once again stored away and the New Year brings a fresh start in many ways. Lately, I’ve heard numerous conversations that contain three little words that manage to bring out the best and the worst in all of us, “Clean my closet.”

#1 – Organizing Your Closet
Have you ever gone clothes shopping and purchased an item very similar to one you already have or have you even purchased the exact same item again? I hear this all the time at work when clothes are being returned. One way to prevent this is to organize your closet by type and by color. For example, hang all blouses together. Then sort by sleeve length – group all long-sleeved ones together, short-sleeved ones together, and sleeveless ones together. Then within each sleeve length group, sort by color. Blacks with blacks, blues with blues, etc. By organizing this way you will always be able to take a quick visual inventory of what you have before you shop. After doing this myself I found out that I have seven white blouses!

#2 – Donate Clothes to a Cause
After cleaning out your closet consider donating the discards. Your donated clothes can make a difference in someone’s life. Here are a few organizations that will make good use of your clothes:

Dress for Success – Suits to Self-Sufficiency
“The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” www.dressforsuccess.org

The Women’s Alliance – Someone’s Future Is In Your Closet
“The Women’s Alliance is a national organization of independent, community based members who provide professional attire and career skills training to low income women and their families seeking self sufficiency.”

The Princess Project
“The Princess Project promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot otherwise afford them. Our effort is made possible through invaluable volunteer, donor and community support.”

Brides Against Breast Cancer
“To provide an opportunity for metastatic breast cancer patients’ dream or wish to be fulfilled by providing a special time of ‘Making Memories’ together with their families, a chance that might not have become a reality without the assistance of the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation.”

#3 – Organizing Necklaces
If your necklaces are in a tangled heap in a box or in a drawer, here’s a suggestion for you. In my closet I’ve hung one of those accordion-style wooden mug racks that has 13 pegs. Not only can I sort my necklaces by lengths, I can keep them tangle-free. Another advantage to this system is that I can see all of my necklaces at a glance – which makes it easier to select the right one.

#4 – A Restyling Tip
According to Deborah Mitchell, Senior Editor of Environmental Protections, “Collectively, Americans discard two quadrillion pounds (that’s a two with fifteen zeroes) of used clothing and textiles into the landfills each year.” Clothing made of quality fabrics can be restyled or recycled for you with the help of a seamstress. Often times a few changes can give an article of clothing a new look. Take it in, shorten it, take off the sleeves, make a top out of a dress. Be creative!

#5 – Einstein on Clothes
If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies. It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.
Albert Einstein

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Tingling extremities, abdominal pain, and nausea were symptoms that stopped me in my tracks. The catch is, my husband was complaining of these symptoms, not me. He’s a relatively healthy guy, but he does have high cholesterol and glucose numbers that place him into the “almost” diabetic category. Listening to him describe these symptoms, the only thing I could say was, “We’re going to the emergency room.” He denied it was anything serious and mumbled he just wanted to rest. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I knew if he was having a heart attack, we didn’t have precious minutes to sit and rest. I gathered up a few things and shoved him out the door. When the emergency room doctor questioned my husband about his symptoms and his health history, he couldn’t remember exact dates or details. That’s when I jumped into the conversation, since I had most of the answers in the binder on my lap. Thankfully, one of the items I thought to bring from home was my husband’s health binder. Documentation of his medications and corresponding dosages, recent lab reports, date and results of his last physical, and names of specialists he’d seen were all neatly filed away in this binder. Okay, maybe not neatly, but nonetheless, filed.

The visit to the emergency room revealed two things: First, my husband has a sound heart. Second, having his health information at our fingertips saved valuable time and reduced the stress of having to accurately recall pertinent information from memory at a critical time. With that said, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of organized medical records.

Request copies of reports each time you have a procedure done. All lab work, diagnostic exams, pathology reports, test results, hospital visits, and other significant documents should be filed. Save copies of referral slips and prescription information. Bring immunization cards to physicals for updates. You think you’ll never forget certain dates or physical conditions you’ve had, but you will. Even though your doctor has everything documented in your patient chart at his office, he may not be around if there’s an emergency.

There are many ways to approach this type of project, but the following way seems to me to be the easiest method to organize and access the information:

1. Purchase a binder for each member of the family and label it with his/her name.

2. Purchase binder dividers with tabs. You might need a dozen per family member; usually younger family members need fewer dividers, because they see fewer specialists. Label the tabs with the following categories and file documents with most recent on top:

Diagnostics – Any diagnostic report such as x-rays, mammograms, scans, MRIs, CTs, ultrasounds, biopsy and pathology reports, etc.

Health History – All documents from previous doctors. Each time you change physicians, get copies of your records. You may have to pay to have copies made, but it’s well worth it.

Labs – All lab work reports go here.

Immunizations – Immunization cards, TB test results, flu shot records, vaccine information, etc.

Name of Your Primary Care Physician – Under my PCP’s divider, I keep notes I make while in his office. If I’ve asked questions and written down his answers, I file that paper. I also keep a copy of any patient information forms I’ve filled out or signed.

Specialists – Each specialist you see should have his own divider. Examples of specialist dividers might be: ob-gyn, dermatology, cardiology, physical therapy, allergy, podiatry, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.

Prescriptions – File prescription information forms you receive from the pharmacy. Besides the name of the medication, these forms should include dose, instructions, and side effects. If you’ve been on a medication for years, always keep the first form received and the most current form in your binder. That way you’ll know how long you’ve been on any particular medication.

Vision and Dental – These categories are optional for inclusion.

For health’s sake, get organized!

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