Following recipes just got easier with the Recipe Reader from Key Ingredient



Recipe ReaderI enjoy trying out new recipes with my family. It’s always “hit or miss” because my husband and daughter tend to be picky. My son on the other hand would eat just about anything I place before him (thankfully).

Lately I have been doing pretty good finding recipes that my family enjoys. One of my goals for the new year (I refuse to use the term “resolution”) is to try at least once new recipe each week. It doesn’t matter if it’s a main meal or a side dish. Our family is in a meal “rut” that I want to get out of. We’re all bored with what I make for dinner because I tend to make the same things over and over again.

I spend a lot of time online looking for recipes. When I find something I like I usually  just bookmark it so I can refer to it later. In the past I’ve printed the recipes out, only to misplace them on the “black hole” known as my desk.

One recipe source I frequent often is Key Ingredient. It’s almost like a social networking site for recipe lovers. You can follow your favorite cooks, check out what is popular and newly posted or browse recipes by categories or ingredients.

One of my favorite things about Key Ingredient is the photos. NEVER visit the site when you are even slightly hungry because the images will make you want to devour your computer. LOL!

At Key Ingredient you’ll find recipes for all skill levels. You’ll also find basic recipes like Crockpot Baked Potato Soup to more elaborate ones like these awesome Peanut Butter Mousse in Tuile Cookie Spoons (love the cookie spoons!).

Photos Source: Key Ingredient

Photos Source: Key Ingredient

It’s great when I find a fabulous recipe that I really want to make for my family. The downside is having to go back and forth between my computer and the kitchen to follow the recipe. I can print the recipe out but it usually ends up getting dirty, wet or in the way. I also have limited counter space and I don’t have room for several pages of a recipe.

There is no way I a brining my iPad into the kitchen. I tend to be a bit of a klutz. Knowing my dumb luck I’d knock it into the sink or on the floor and break it.

It seemed like my only option was to bring up the recipe on my computer, then go back and forth between the living room and kitchen to follow the recipe. Not only is that time consuming it’s a bit of a pain in the neck to do that.

Sometimes I have one of my kids sit at my computer and shout the recipe out to me. I’m pretty sure my neighbors don’t appreciate that, unless they want to follow along and make the same recipe. Ha Ha.

I was sent to review a while back a cool device from Key Ingredient called a Recipe Reader. A Recipe Reader looks like an iPad Mini or Kindle on a stand. It also has a touch screen. The difference between the Recipe Reader and a tablet is that this device is specifically for reading recipes from Key Ingredient. It’s made to be used in the kitchen and can withstand being in the kitchen.


Kitchen-safe construction for durability and easy clean-up.

WiFi sync adds new recipes to your Recipe Reader automatically.

7-inch shatterproof touchscreen, adjustable font size, automatic screen rotation.

Full list of common ingredient substitutions with three built-in kitchen timers.

Search feature to quickly and easily find your favorite recipes.

Now all your favorite Key Ingredient recipes can be read directly from the device in your kitchen. You can also use other recipes that you found elsewhere on the Internet. Simply copy/paste the recipes into your Key Ingredient account and you can sync them with your Recipe Reader. I haven’t done this yet because I haven’t had time to sort through my bookmarks.

The built in timer has come in handy a few times. I have one timer, but sometimes you need more than one. This was especially handy on Thanksgiving when I had more than one thing I needed to keep track of it’s cooking time.

I like the substitution feature too. I haven’t had a need for any of them – yet – but I’m sure I will. I know you can substitute applesauce for oil, I am not sure the ratio. My husband did that once baking a cake (my husband is the baker in the family) and must not have used the right proportions because the cake turned out horrible. With the Recipe Reader if we find ourselves in a bind again at least I know where I can turn to for options.


I also love that you can browse recipes by categories and bookmark your favorites. The Recipe Reader comes with pre-loaded recipes to get you started (some really yummy sounding ones too).

I was surprised that you also get images of the completed recipe, when available. I initially assumed this would just show me the step-by-step directions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most recipes come with a photo. It’s a lot like what you find on the Key Ingredient website.

Recipe Reader can be set up wirelessly using your Wifi service. Initially we had a hard time setting ours up on our router and needed to contact tech support for assistance. They were quick to get back to us which is a plus. After a little trial and error we finally got it to work.

I like that there are no wires and plugs to get in your way. The entire unit is portable and lightweight. You can move it from one side of the counter to the other when you are cooking/baking so that it’s not in your way. It has a rechargeable battery so you don’t have to keep it plugged in all the time.

If one of your goals for the new year is to try new recipes (like me) and to try out healthier recipes, a Recipe Reader would be a “must have” for your kitchen. Recipe Reader would also make a great gift (especially for newlyweds).

For more information visit KeyIngredient.com. You can also check out Key Ingredient on Facebook (KeyIngredient), Twitter (@KeyIngredient) and Pinterest (KeyIngredient).

What do you think about the Recipe Reader? Does it sound like something that would come in handy in your kitchen?



*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Organize your pet’s toys & accessories with LazyBonezz

Stackable Drawer

Our pets have A LOT of toys. Sometimes my living room is so peppered with various pet toys that you would think we had toddlers running about. I think my pets make more of a mess with their toys then my kids did when they were little.

We had to get it under control. I took a HUGE wicker basket that I received as a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with our oldest child. The basket was too big to toss out. I wasn’t sure what I would need it for but I kept it anyway. I’m glad I did because it’s now our dog’s toy box. It’s the perfect height for him to reach in and grab his ever-growing-collection of toys.

With five cats it goes without saying that we have a lot of cat toys too. We used to toss them in the wicker basket with our dog’s toys, but they would fall to the bottom and were hard for my cats to reach. I ended up taking their toys and leaving them on one level of their “cat tree”. The only problem with that is they would constantly knock them down, or they would want to sit on that level and were unable to because the toys were in the way.

Cat Toys

We needed to do something because trying to walk across the living room in the dark with the cat toys all over the place was like trying to avoid tripping over a landmine. There were plenty of times in the middle of the night my husband would get up and step on something causing him to yell in pain, or he’d kick something noisy, like a ball with bells in it, across the room waking me up.

Thankfully we got the cat toy and accessory problem under control. We have a single, stackable drawer from LazyBonezz that helps us keep all the cat toys in one place. Not only that, it’s shallow enough for the cats to reach in and grab what they want. It’s also roomy enough to fit their play mats (folded). The drawer is also compact enough that we can tuck it next to their cat “tree” so that it’s not taking up much room elsewhere.

LazyBonezz Drawer

You can even collapse the drawer if you no longer need it or you want to put it away.

The box is sturdy too. Our large cats often lie on top of it. I was worried that it might cave in under their weight, but so far that has not happened. The product is also safe for pets.

The drawer measures 12″ L x 14.5″ W x 7.5″ H.

I love that I can open and close the drawer. They have yet to figure out how to open it, and I doubt they will. That way I can leave out some toys for them to play with, and keep them from pulling out anymore toys. After a couple of days I swap out the toys. That way they don’t get bored with them.

The drawer can be used for dog toys and accessories too. You can use one drawer for toys and the other for your dog’s leash, poop bags and brushes.

LazyBonezz Organization

In addition to the stackable drawer I received a really nice over the dog hanger/organizer. It has pockets dedicated to things like collars, toys, leashes and more. This would be great for our dog. The pockets can even fit a few of his sweaters too. The only problem with the over the door organizer is that it doesn’t work with our doors. We can really only use this on the bedroom closet door, but the way the molding is around the door the door won’t close with this one it. The molding is too close to the door that there is barely any “wiggle room”. That is such a shame too because I was looking forward to keeping our dog accessories in one place. Right now his collars (he has a few), sweaters, comb and brush are all over the place. They are not in one spot.

LazyBonezz Over Door Hanger

I hope when we FINALLY get to buy a house we’ll have a place to put this really nice organizer because I’m looking forward to organizing all of our dogs things.

Lazybonezz offers several different boxes to help you and your pet get organized and stay organized.


In addition to fabulous storage bins and boxes, LazyBonezz also offers the cutest bedding for your pet including a fun “bunk bed”.


Also available are feeding dishes, accessories and more.

If you would like to check out their wonderful pet products visit them at www.LazyBonezz.com. You can also follow them on Facebook nad Twitter.

When we finally move and I have a way of hanging up the hanging organizer I’ll be sure to post an updated review.



*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.

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My Owner’s Box – Customized Storage Units & More

My Owners Box

By now your children (or grandchildren) have unwrapped most (if not all) of their holiday gifts. Chances are your home looks like a bomb exploded and there are toys and boxes everywhere. I’m fortunate that my husband is a total neat freak so no sooner are my kids done unwrapping and unboxing gifts everything is taken up to the recycle bin.

I don’t know about you but after the holidays my mind starts focusing on finding places in our home for all the newly acquired “stuff”. Living in a very small condo means that there is not that much room for stuff, so we have to get creative with how we store things or donate a lot of older things to make room for the new things.

I’m always trying to encourage my kids to be neat and organized. Take my daughter for example. She often wears two different colored socks. It’s not a fashion statement, which she would like us to believe. It’s because she never puts her laundry away right away and things get knocked around and her socks end up all over the place (under the bed, behind the dresser, under the dresser…). The reason for two different socks is because she can never find a pair. Even when she finds a clean sock she just stuffs it in any random drawer rather then keep all her socks in ONE drawer.

I love it when my kids have shelves and cubbies to neatly store things in. My son has a new storage unit from a company called My Owners Box. My Owners Box offers different sized storage units and these really cool foldable drawers that you place inside of them.

There are different size units available – 6 cubes, 9 cubes or a nice 3 cube bench. We have the 6 cube unit. It’s not too big and not too small. It actually fits perfectly in the closet, exactly where I wanted it to go.

The unit comes un-assembled. Assembly is required. I let my husband assemble the unti for me. He had the entire unit done in about 10 minutes. It was really simple to put together.

As per my husband – don’t use the tool (screwdriver) they give you in the package to assemble it. He said it didn’t work. He used his own and he recommends you use your own screwdriver too. He also said that the little nails you use on the back of the unit to put the backing on are VERY tiny and he had a hard time holding on to them when he was hammering them in. Other then that he said it was a “piece of cake” to put together.

The unit it’s self has a baseball field design on it – both on the sides and on top. The top part is really nice. The images are photos rather then illustrations.


Top of storage unit

Side of storage unit

Side of storage unit

Other side of storage unit - POOR PHOTO! It's colorful in person.

Other side of storage unit – POOR PHOTO! It’s colorful in person.

You can customize your storage unit with the logo of your favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The drawers come in gray or blue and have all the different MLB team logos available. You can also get the drawers without a team logo too.

The drawers are made of a sturdy fabric with a fabric covered cardboard base. They can be folded up for easy storage. They drawers fit perfectly inside the shelf on the storage unit.

The drawers are sold individually so you can get more then one team logo. You can purchase 1-9 drawers depending on your storage unit and how many drawers you want. If you just want one drawer then order one. If you want one for all six cubbie holes, then order six. It’s totally up to you.

We happen to have three drawers, leaving three shelves open for large things.

My son likes the New York Yankees, especially after we met several of them one day at an event and when we toured Steiner Sports, which is a company that sells sports memorabilia.


My kids with Brett Gardner


My kids & hubby with Joba Chamberlain


AJ Burnett signing a baseball to give to my kids. They each received a baseball signed by several players.


My kids with Nick Swisher. He was hanging out at Steiner Sports with AJ Burnett while AJ was signing baseballs. It was a totally random meeting.

My son wasn’t really into baseball then. Suddenly he was totally into the Yankees. Humm… I wonder why? Could it be because he met several players in person that day (this happened several years ago). I think that has a lot to do with it. Plus my hubby is a Yankees fan as is my father. My grandfather it totally into the Mets.

There are two different Yankee logos you can choose from, the baseball logo or the letter logo. We opted for the baseball logo for the storage unit and the other logo for the StackIts (see more about them below).

Here are some photos of the completed unit with the drawers included. The first photo is when my husband completed the set, followed by a photo of one of the drawers a little open. The last photo is where the storage unit is now in the closet (it’s already filled up with stuff too!).

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

My Owners Box also sells storage cubes called StackIts. They are also fabric covered and can be folded when not in use. StackIts can also be stacked on top of each other, or side by side, depending on what you want to do with them.

I actually have the StackIts at my desk. They fit perfectly under the bottom shelf on my desk. They are even a great size to put folders in so I plan on using one to organize my folders and papers and the other one to store miscellaneous stuff like tape, batteries and other things that are falling out all over the place on my desk .

I love that the StackIts have handles built into the sides making them easy to tote around from one place to the next.

StackIt 2

StackIt 4

StackIt 3

StackIt 1

If they were a little lower I would pick up more to go under my son’s bed. Unfortunately they are too high to fit under his bed. He actually wants them so he can put them on top of his storaged unit but I really want them for my stuff. 🙂

The storage units, drawers and StackIts are available at www.MyOwnersBox.com. The storage units range in price from $99.99 – $149.99. The drawers are $15.99 each and the StackIts are $29.99 each. You can also save 15% on your order (see site for details).

You can even design the look of your storage unit online using the customizer option. Simply select the size unit you want (6 cube, 9 cube or 3 cube bench). Then you can mix and match the drawers and the website keeps tracks of your designs and even keeps a running total so you know how much your custom designed unit will cost.

The quality of all the pieces are very good and I can see the unit, drawers and StackIts lasting a long, long time.

My Owners Box products are a great way to add decor to your child’s room (or even a “Man Cave”), as well as storage and organization.

I hope one day they offer NFL designs too. I know my husband would get a set for his “man cave” (that is if/when we ever move and if there is a finished basement for a man cave).

You can find My Owners Box on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest too.

My Owners Box 2


*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way.

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Get organized with P-Touch

You should see my home right now. It’s covered in Rubbermaid type storage containers and cardboard boxes. Inside the boxes are our holiday decorations.

We try to keep the boxes as organized as possible but we always seem to bring up the wrong boxes. We’ll find Easter decorations and miscellaneous stuff mixed in with the Christmas boxes. We always make sure to write on the outside of the boxes, but sometimes we re-use boxes and either forget to label them properly or we don’t scribble out the name of the original contents or forget to write the new contents on the box.

I had a brilliant idea that I’ve been slowly putting into place. I am using my P-Touch label maker to create a label for each and every box. That way we know exactly what is inside each box.

As we’ve been putting decorations up I have been making labels with my P-Touch Label Maker with the name of the box contents such as “Christmas Ornaments”, “Outside Lights”, “Christmas Breakables” and “Christmas Dishes”. The great thing about labeling the boxes this way is that we know EXACTLY what is inside each of the boxes and eliminates lugging the wrong boxes up stairs. We live on the top floor condo and our storage room is in the basement. The less boxes we have to bring up the better.

I reviewed a P-Touch Label Maker a couple of years ago (specifically the PT-1290 model). Here is my review in case you are interested in reading it – http://www.shescribes.com/2010/12/label-me-a-fan-of-p-touch-label-makers.html.

I love that label maker. I’ve used it to label everything from hanging files to personal items. I’m always thinking up ways of labeling things. 🙂

I received received an updated version. I was sent the NEW Brother P-touch PT-D200 labelmaker to try out.

I really like this new label maker. It offers so much to jazz up your labels, from fun fonts to frames. This is NOT your grandmothers label maker.

FYI… Staples normally sells this label maker for $39.99 but currently has is on sale for $9.99. HURRY!!!! You don’t want to miss out on this great deal. You can find it HERE. This would make a great gift for those who like to be organized, someone with a home business, a student or even those who enjoy crafts. At this great price it’s silly not to pick up a few for gifts.

Here are more details about what this handy little unit offers.

  • Includes more than 600 symbols and 95 frames
  • 12 Deco Mode patterns, plus 6 name badge formats
  • One-touch keys – quickly access fonts, symbols, frames and patterns
  • Graphical display – see how your label will look!
  • 8 professional fonts for label variety
  • Uses laminated, “TZe” tapes up to 12mm wide – great for indoor or outdoor use
  • Easy-access memory, store up to 30 “Favorite” labels
  • Print 1 or 2 lines of text
  • Split-back labels for easy peel and stick
  • Operates on 6 x “AAA” batteries or AC adapter (neither included)
  • Choose from four different label widths: 0.13″ (3.5mm), 0.23″ (6mm), 0.35″ (9mm) or 0.47″ (12mm)
  • Dimensions: 6.5″ x 6.1″ x 2.7″, 1.1 lbs
  • 1 year limited manufacturer warranty

What I love most about this label maker is that you can see how the label will look before you print it out, eliminating wasted tape.

I also love the available graphics. My husband thinks I’m nuts but almost every label I’ve printed out has some kind of a graphic on it. I think it’s fun to add them. You can certainly print out the label with just the text, but I prefer to liven things up with a fun font, cute graphics and one of the 95 different frames available.

You can literally create a different label each time if you wanted to. I’ve been trying to use the same font and frame for the various boxes we have, that way we can visually tell which box is for Christmas and which might be for another holiday or occasions. That way you don’t fully have to read the label. You just have to recognize the font and frame.

I like that it uses batteries which makes it more portable. Eventually I’d like to find an AC adapter to save on batteries.

This label maker uses TZe label tape which is rather pricey. For two 26.2′ rolls it will cost you between $20 – $30 depending on the color you want. Twenty six feet (per cartridge) should last the average person a long time but it’s not good for people who want many different color options like I do. I would love to have several different colors. Right now I only have black on white.

I can only find the twin packs too. They seem to be readily available. I cannot seem to track down single cartridges.

I always find ways of using my label maker. I have even used them on bottles of medication. For example, I take several medications in the morning. Before I eat or drink anything I have to take my thyroid medication (I can’t eat/drink for a 1/2 hour after taking it). I am NOT a morning person so at 5:30 AM I’m fumbling around. My eyes can’t focus on my medications so it’s not easy to find the bottle of pills for my Thyroid medication. To make it easier I printed out a label that says “Thyroid” on it. Now I can easily distinguish which bottle is my Thyroid medication no matter how “out of it” I am in the morning.

I also labeled the cats medication, just to be on the safe side (I wouldn’t want to accidentally take her medication).

Another great use is to label gifts. Instead of using regular paper tags you can simply type out a label and use that instead.

You can also use the label maker to label things around your house to make things easier for your house guests. That way they know which remote works what device and what cabinet they can find the coffee (I’m using them as examples – I am sure you can come up with better ideas).

The labels are easy to peel on and off so you can easily remove them or change them often.

You can find the new PT-D200 Label Maker at many retail locations across the country.

For more information visit about this specific model visit http://www.brother-usa.com/PTouch/modeldetail.aspx?PRODUCTID=PTD200.

I found a video about the new label maker (below). You can also find it here, http://bit.ly/UEglq9.


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way. 

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Celebrating Spring with a Snapfish Party

I am obsessed with taking pictures. I take pictures almost every day. I love taking pictures of my children (much to their dismay – you have to love teens…). They grow up so quickly that I want to be able to remember all the little moments as well as the big ones. I also like taking pictures of my pets when they do something cute or funny.

When we’re out and about and I have my camera with me, watch out! Plan on stopping numerous times why I try and snap the “money shot”. My husband jokes that I’m the only person he knows who’ll take 200 pictures of the same butterfly. What he doesn’t understand is that I’m hoping to capture a few impressive photos. The rest of just delete (thank goodness for digital cameras).

I’ll share some of my favorite pictures here in this post. Sadly these pictures are wasting away on my external hard drive. It’s a shame too. That is why I love being able to share them with my readers. It’s nice to “see” them again.

I would have to say that 95% of my photos never get seen outside of my immediate family. Once I show photos to my husband and kids they get transferred to my external (one of many) or burned on to discs. It’s almost as if I shouldn’t bother taking photos. But the fact is that I LOVE taking pictures. I just don’t know what to do with them after I take them. 

My husband gave me a photo book for Christmas 2010. Since then I have become hooked on photo books. We have several in our bookcase. I make up photo books for my trips to LA, the kids, our family, “the year in review” and so forth. They are fun to look at over and over again. I love how you can add text, group photos together and create a truly one-of-a-kind book. They are much nicer then traditional photo albums. We have about 30 photo albums that we barely look at. We look at our photo books all the time.

Photo books make great gifts. They are fun to give to the grandparents filled with photos of the grandchildren over the year. They are also fun to give to your friends. I had the idea of giving one to a childhood friend of mine with photos of us through the years. That would be a fun way to take a walk down “memory lane”.

I have always wanted to get a few of my photos made into a canvas print so I can display them around my home. I love how they look. Framed or unframed they really make photos come alive. Ideally I would love to have a family portrait done on a canvas print.

For some odd reason I tend to take better nature and animal photos then I do my children. I would love to have canvas prints made up of my entire family. 

I really need to get my photos off my hard drive and on to something that showcases them so that I can proudly share them with family and friends. This is why I am super excited to announce that I was asked to host a Snapfish at home party to help celebrate Spring with family and friends. I cannot wait to share my photos with everyone as well as explore all the fun ways we can share out beloved photos with one another.

I was actually looking to Snapfish to create invitations for the party. I wanted to order but I’m not sure if they will arrive in time for me to mail them out to everyone. Plus I’ve already spoke to everyone so an invitation at this point might be redundant.  My daughter’s birthday is coming up. While I was looking for invitation for this party I found a few my daughter might like. We just need to finalize what she wants to do for her birthday. 

Snapfish offers so much more than just copies of your pictures. They have jewelry, home decor, office products, stationary and more.

When people think about photos on every day objects they often think about mugs, calendars or mouse pads. Snapfish does offer these products but they also offer t-shirts, aprons, posters, “skins” for your smart phone or laptop, playing cards and ornaments, to name a few.

Father’s Day is coming up soon. I saw a few things I’d like to create for a Father’s Day gift. I love the desk organizer and desktop calendar. I think I’m going to use Snapfish to make those up for my husband for Father’s Day.

Did you know that you can have your Snapfish order sent to your local Walmart, Duane Reed, Meijer or Walgreens for pick up? I didn’t know that. That is great to know. We have a Walgreens a few miles from where I live.

When shopping on Snapfish look for the icon that says “Pick up in store” and you can have your order ready for pick up the same day you order it in most intances. Some of the products include posters, photo books, cards and of course prints.

My Snapfisih party is scheduled for May 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. I’m going to share the party with my readers through photos and possibly video. I’ll share with you the fun ideas we come up with plus anything I learn to help bring you photos out of hiding on hard drives and out for everyone to see and enjoy.  I am super excited about this. I’m very passionate about photography and I’m excited to see how Snapfish can help me to showcase my favorite photos for all to see.

For more information about Snapfish visit www.Snapfish.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/Snapfish) and on Twitter (@SnapfishbyHP).


*This is a compensated post, however as always I only choose to work professionally with companies that I would recommend personally.


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‘Tis the Season… to get ORGANIZED!

The holiday season is almost at an end. Just a few more days and it will be 2011. Many people will return to work and the kids will be well rested after their Winter break.

One thing I know will be on many people’s mind at the start of the new year is getting organized. I think that has to be one of the top five resolutions, behind loosing weight, eating healthy and exercising.

I always feel the need to organize things before the start of the new year. I like to start off the new year with a fresh start. My “game plan” is to get organized, and stay organized, but that doesn’t usually pan out that way. I’m probably one of the LEAST organized people around. Yet some how I managed to marry so one who is so organized that our music CDs are not only alphabetized but also ordered in sequence to their release date. LOL!

I know many of my readers are bloggers and many other readers work from home. Even if you are a stay-at-home Mom or Dad it still important to keep certain areas of you life organized.

Here are a few tips from SMEAD to help you get organized before the start of the new year.

Clean Out Your Files

It’s easy for your cabinets and folders to become overstuffed with outdated paperwork, so it’s important that you take time once a year to purge the old and make room for the new. Start with your reference, client, and financial files. Ask yourself whether or not those documents will be relevant to your work in the coming year – completed projects and last year’s receipts should not be living in your active files! If you might need to refer back to those papers at some point in the future (for legal, tax, or other reasons), move those items to an archive file out of your office in permanent storage. But obsolete journal articles and memos that serve no real long-term purpose can be tossed or shredded. And if you find papers that have no logical home in your filing system, create a new folder with the appropriate category. When January 1 hits, you should be able to file any new document in seconds!

This also would apply to those who do not have a home business (or blog). You still need to keep important financial and medical reciepts and records in check. If your family lives on a budget its also important to keep track of the money that you spend. Having an organized filing system will help you keep track of things. I also find keeping important papers like warranties easily accessible.

Take A Look At Your Home and/or Office

Clutter can take over throughout the year – you get busy, create a few piles here, a stack over there, and suddenly you can’t see a single horizontal surface! Go around the room and collect up every homeless item you find, creating a set spot for each:

–  Supplies and equipment: Only keep what you use on a regular basis then store the “extras” in a cabinet or closet.

–  Books and periodicals: Store journals in a magazine holder grouped by title or topic.

–  Reference manuals: Keep loose brochures and sets of papers in expanding files or 3-ring binders with Index Dividers between topics. Try Smead’s durable TUFF Expanding File for frequently accessed items.

–  Multimedia: To save space, remove CDs and DVDs from their jewel cases and store them in file folders with self-adhesive CD/DVD pockets.

–  Blank stationery items: Neatly stored in either stacking trays or a document sorter.

–  To-do’s: Set up a desk file sorter or hanging files with categories for each type of action – “to call,” “to pay,” “to file,” “to read,” etc.

– Consider donating unused items. For example, our local animal shelter uses office supplies and are always in need of donations. Classrooms can also benefit from extra paper, pens, pencils and so forth.

– Purchase a basket that you can take with you room to room. Toss things that don’t believe in the basket and carry them to the place where they do belong. You can also make that as a chore for children. Have them collect things that are out of place and return them to where they belong.

– If you have a do with a lot of toys a basket is a great place to keep them from taking over your floor. Our dog has his own “toy box” (a large basket).

Having an assigned storage space for everything makes it easier for you to maintain order after the first of the year. Just take a few minutes at the end of each day to put things away (not hard when you know where everything goes!)

Make Some Plans

If you’re ending 2010 wishing you had accomplished more, now is the time to take a look at what got in your way. Endless interruptions throughout your work day? Or did you just have a hard time getting started on those bigger, more important projects? Decide now what you would like to accomplish in the next year, then plan some uninterrupted time in your calendar to work toward these goals. 

Also set aside some time each day, or each week, to go around your home and re-organize things that might be out of place. Its also a good time to review your calendar to make sure there are no projects coming up that need to be attended to.

Making a “To Do List” is also a great way to stay on track. I have plenty of lists like that around my home. In my kitchen I have a “To Do List” for recipes I want to try and for groceries I need from the store. On my desk I have a “To Do List” of projects I am working on. Even my kids have a “To Do List” in their agendas so that they know when book reports and other projects are due.

Having your family on board with getting organized and staying organized will make things much easier on you. Here are some great tips on how to get your family to be more organized too.

Set Up a Family Calendar

There is really only one way to avoid scheduling conflicts and last minute scrambles – and that is to set up a “family calendar.” Hang a large wall calendar in a high-traffic area of the house (kitchen seems to work well, because everyone goes there daily). Label each family member’s activities in a different color (Susie in blue, Jimmy in orange, mom in green, dad in red) for easy recognition. Then take a second to record every single upcoming activity for each person in the family – meetings, social engagements, sporting events, doctor appointments, you name it. Every time someone brings home an invitation to a party or permission slip for a field trip, write it down. Every time the school sends out a calendar of upcoming days off, transfer it to the family calendar. When your boss asks if you can work late or your child’s piano teacher wants to switch from Tuesday to Wednesday, change the calendar. Get in the habit of putting EVERYTHING related to your family’s schedule in one place.  To get started, try out the Smead Organomics Family Calendar.

Get On the Same Page

The next step is to block off a regular weekly meeting with the entire family to go over your upcoming schedule. Take a look at any activities occurring within the next couple of weeks – address conflicts (ex: mom’s got to work late and Johnny needs a ride home from the game, so he should make plans to go with a friend), decide on any shopping trips you need for supplies (so you can bake cupcakes for the school party or get Jimmy’s diorama put together), and add the week’s chores to the calendar. If you carry a personal planner or PDA, this is also the time to update your portable calendar with the current info (it doesn’t do you much good to plan out the week if you can’t see the schedule while you’re out of the house!) Your stress level will drop by a factor of ten, just having each person’s to-do’s and responsibilities written down in one visible place.

Get Ready The Night Before (Or Sooner!)

Now that you have your schedule in order, you need to work on your daily routines. Getting ready in the morning is much easier if you start working on it the night before. Have your children spend 15 minutes before they go to bed packing everything they need for school into their book bags. Ask each person to pick out the clothes they plan to wear the next day and lay them out on a chair. Make everyone’s lunches in advance and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Also consider setting up a “launching pad” – a table, chair, basket, or other container located near the door where each person can put the supplies they will need the next day. If your kids can never seem to remember what they need for school, create a standard checklist for them – homework, band instrument, gym clothes, sports equipment, supplies for any extracurricular activities, library books, whatever. You can even make a note of where they tend to leave things if that helps – “Gym Clothes: check the laundry basket.” The goal is to have everything in one place when it comes time to hit the road.

Getting your life and your family organized does sound like a daunting task. It might be at first but once you get everyone and everything organized its much easier to stay organized as long as you make it a point to make an effort every day or every week to keep everything in check.

To learn more about SMEAD products visit www.SMEAD.com. For more great organization tips, contests and samples “Like” SMEAD on Facebook, http://www.Facebook.com/home.php?#!/ClubOrganomics.

What do YOU do to get organized? Are you already an organized person or are you more like me, “organized chaos”? LOL! I would love to hear YOUR tips and suggestions on how to organize everything from my day to day life to my blog.


*This is a compensated post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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