renovation and revitalization

xArchitect by suphakit73I’m in the process of redesigning my website. Like many renovation projects, it’s exciting, time consuming and involves a lot of decision making.

Since summer is typically slow for the organizing business, this seemed like a good time to make some updates. I’ll be taking a taking a break from blogging while the new site is under development.

Until then, here’s hoping you make time for fun, as well as productivity, this summer.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by MarcieTM
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product review – consumer action handbook

xconsumeraction

photo courtesy usa.gov

The GSA produces a free consumer handbook to help you make educated decisions when you shop.

It offers questions for you to ask when you’re considering buying products and services. It also addresses avoiding identity theft, filing a consumer complaint, and managing someone else’s finances. There are tips for detecting and reporting telephone and email scams, too.

The handbook is available in English or Spanish, and you can download it or ask that it be mailed to you.

Be an educated consumer – understand value before you buy, learn how to safeguard your financial information and avoid fraud.

Have you used the Consumer Action Handbook to find information? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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find financial freedom

xFlag5Do you dread seeing bills or bank statements in the mail?

Do you know how much you spend each month?

Do you have enough money saved for retirement?

July 1st is National Financial Freedom Day. If you panic at the thought of balancing your checkbook or worry about saving for long-term goals, take some time this week to consider your financial situation. Instead of living in fear, do some research. Look at your spending habits and see if you can cut something. Read an article about saving or investing:

  • Michelle Singletary is a finance writer with a syndicated column who gives practical advice and offers solutions to readers. Many of her columns focus on being more intentional about what you do with your money.
  • AARP magazine has a lot to say about finances, including this article by financial advisor Allan Roth on fighting financial clutter.
  • GOBankingRates offers articles about saving and investing. Two of my recent favorites are how to save money this summer and reasons people aren’t saving for retirement.

Earlier this week I wrote about making small changes. As Independence Day approaches, what are some small steps you can take to achieve financial freedom? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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quote: take charge of change

Change by Naypong

photo by Naypong

If you aren’t happy with the way your home or office looks and functions, you can make a change. If you want to make changes to your habits, you can. If you don’t feel challenged at work, you can change that. If you want to change someone else, forget about it.

The first week of July is Take Charge of Change Week. The start of summer is a good time to consider making a change. It’s not a New Year’s resolution; it’s accomplishing something for yourself because you deserve it.

 

Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be – John Wooden

 

Try making a small change and see how it feels. What have you got to lose? If it doesn’t work out, you can try something else. Once you’re comfortable with the new habit/activity/routine, you can introduce another small change. Don’t wait until January to make promises to yourself. You deserve better.

What can you do differently that will make the summer more appealing, more productive or more peaceful? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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product review – glass pantry jars

xglass jars

photo by anchor hocking

The kitchen remodel continues slowly, and I’ve returned to the pantry. I haven’t given up on new shelving, but in the meantime, I can make the existing shelves more functional.

When I buy dry goods, they need better storage than the floppy plastic bags they come home in. I have used a variety of glass jars in my pantry over the past 30 years. My all-time favorite is clear glass, with plastic screw-on lids, that come in three sizes and stack nicely. Unfortunately, they’ve been discontinued, and since some of the original dozen didn’t survive a cross-country move, I’ve been hunting for suitable substitutes ever since.

During my quest, I’ve learned that square jars make better use of space than round ones, jars that claim to be stackable sometimes aren’t, and some metal lids turn rusty if you don’t dry them immediately after washing.

I’ve finally found a square stacking jar that I can commit to. It comes in different sizes, and you can buy them individually or as a set. As I wrote in April, small purchases can improve both comfort and function, so I’ve decided to replace the mashup of jars that don’t work together and commit to one style that does. Not a life-changing decision, but it serves the space better and creates a sense of calm that I appreciate when I open the pantry doors.

I like the heavy glass, the airtight lid, the fact that they stack reliably, come in different sizes, and you can see what’s inside. The only drawback, for me, is the lid with rubber gasket. Unlike a jar with a screw-on lid, you cannot grab these by the top or you’ll pull the lid off, so you need to be aware how you handle them. Also, coffee grounds and small food bits tend to get stuck in the gasket and you can’t shake them back into the jar. Other than that small irritation, they work well for me.

Do you use containers in your pantry? What qualities are important to you for food storage? Leave a comment, below.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the products mentioned. This post does contain affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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reader question – organized packing for sleepaway camp

Luggage by phasinphoto

photo by phasinphoto

The kids are going to camp! You get a break from all their activities, they get to try new things, and it becomes an annual adventure. Getting them ready for that adventure can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. A reader asked for tips to pack kids for sleepaway camp.

I recommend starting the process a few weeks before they leave, to give yourself enough time to see what you have, shop for what you need and label everything. This also allows you to buy things when you see them on sale.

If your backpacks or duffel bags haven’t been opened since last year, you may need to clean them or air them out. Choose a staging area – the child’s room, guest room, family room – for gathering everything you’ll need to pack. Print the camp’s packing list and put it on a clipboard, beside the luggage. You can use the packing list as a shopping list for items you don’t have. Keep it on the clipboard so it doesn’t get lost.

This is a good time to have your kids try on their summer clothes and see what fits. You can highlight items on the packing list that you need to buy. As you place things in the luggage, check them off the list.

You’re not packing at this point, since you don’t have everything you need; you’re just gathering. If you buy new clothing, wash it and label it right away. Don’t wait until the night before you have to meet the bus! You don’t need to buy name labels; fine point permanent markers  are easy to use and wash well. If your kids are old enough to write, they can help label their own clothes. Put into the luggage any clothes that aren’t going to be worn before camp starts.

As you get closer to the departure date, make sure you have everything checked off on the packing list. Put liquids in plastic bags to minimize spills, and take advantage of every open space – roll socks and put them inside shoes, for example. The night before your camper leaves, put in any last-minute items and place the luggage near your door.

Remember that your kids are not going to put the same effort into packing for the trip home. After all your hard work, don’t expect your well-packed bags to return that way; most parents are happy just to have the correct things come back.

To give yourself a head start for next summer, empty the luggage, wipe it off if it’s muddy, and decide where to store it. After you’ve washed everything, I suggest returning the laundry bag and toiletries kit to the luggage, along with anything like sheets and towels that are used only for camp. Make sure they’re dry and put them in giant zipper bags to keep them clean.

It’s been a long time since my mom sewed labels into my clothes and my dad pulled my huge footlocker out of the attic every year, marking the beginning of summer for me. I still get that same feeling of anticipation when it’s time to get ready for camp. Do you have any packing tips to add? Leave a reply, below.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the products mentioned. This post does contain affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie™
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5-minute organizing for the end of the school year

xpaper by scottchan

photo by scottchan

Have you tried any of the 5-minute organizing techniques I wrote about previously? I have heard from more fans of the idea that you can use small increments of time to work on organizing projects.

If you have children in school, you probably have accumulated stacks of paperwork throughout the year. Instead of waiting for the mythical day when you’ll get it all sorted out, spend five minutes a day preparing for the end of this school year and the start of next year.

Begin by selecting a place to store the papers you want to keep, then decide how much space you want to devote to the year’s memorabilia. You can use a paper portfolio, a fabric box or a plastic bin. They can be stored under a bed or in a closet. If you want to store paper in the basement, garage or attic, stick with a sturdy plastic bin. Whatever method you choose, make sure you label the outside so you know what’s in it.

You and your children can spend five minutes a day going through the paperwork they have brought home since the beginning of the school year. Choose the best representatives instead of keeping everything. Take photos of oversized pieces of artwork or three-dimensional projects that you want to remember.

If you want to go digital, photograph or scan everything you want to keep, and create an electronic file for each school year.

Whether you go digital, keep some paper, or use a combination of both, start clearing out previous schoolwork after you finish this year’s. Once the backlog is gone, you can set up for next year, so you’ll be prepared when the paper starts streaming in again.

Do you keep your kids’ school papers? Where do you keep them? Leave a comment, below.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the products mentioned. This post does contain affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
Find more organizing and productivity tips on twitter, facebook and pinterest

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