Tips & Tricks

My Personal Definition of Minimalism

An uncluttered family room, minimalism

Many years ago, when I first heard the term “minimalism,” I pictured a loft style space with high ceilings, tall bare windows, stark white walls and sparse white leather furniture. Surely, no one with children could lead a minimalist lifestyle. Families and minimalism were mutually exclusive in my mind. I firmly believed that you couldn’t be a Costco shopper and a minimalist at the same time. I was wrong.

 
Minimalism isn’t a harsh decorating style or a strict lifestyle regime.  It’s a big picture value system about the volume of stuff we “need” in our lives. Minimalists have “stuff,”

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Part 2 – Does the Thought of Tax Preparation Make You Panic?  You Are Not Alone

Organize your paperwork

Unless you are an accountant, for many of us, filing our tax returns ranks on the list of fun activities right next to root canals. Some of us get through this yearly chore one way or another and file our taxes by the deadline.

For others, it is not so easy. Many Americans who struggle with this deadline may end up paying hefty penalties for filing their taxes late or not at all. There could be many potential reasons for filing late, but for some, the reason is simply disorganization.

All over the United States families struggle with the volume of paper coming into the home. Catalogues, magazines, kids’ schoolwork and projects, work papers, receipts, oh and – mail, enter our homes daily.

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Five Reasons to Get Started on Your Taxes Today

Don't delay, file your taxes today!
The deadline to file your 2016 taxes is on April 18, 2017. That may feel like a long time from now, but the time to file is now. According to the IRS, 20-25% of Americans wait until right before the deadline to prepare their documents and file. By then, they may be looking at extensions, or worse expensive penalties.

 

Here are five reasons to get started on your taxes today:

  1. By the end of February most financial institutions have mailed out their respective tax documents. Gathering all your documents and getting organized now will help you figure out what if anything you need is missing.
  2.  If you plan on preparing your own tax return, getting started early will help you get organized and reduce the stress of the process as well as potential mistakes on your return.
  3. Tax preparation professionals will
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A Mom’s Guide to Fighting the Effects of Decision Fatigue

Do you suffer from decision fatigue?
Do you suffer from decision fatigue? Adults make thousands of decisions each day. These range from the mundane (cereal or oatmeal?) to important life and business decisions.  As we go through the day, our brain’s ability to make good decisions, compromises, and to resist temptations falters. Scientists call this decision fatigue. As a mom, you may have experienced this phenomenon as decision paralysis – when you’ve spent the day working, caring for your children and all the sudden you can’t figure out what to make for dinner?

 
As we make hundreds of big and small decisions and exert willpower over temptations, each act of resistance erodes our willpower at the end of the day. Like when our children ask us the same thing twenty times, and in the late afternoon we suddenly give in?

 
Scientists have even found that as decision fatigue sets in food becomes more appealing, making

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Before a Bathroom Remodel, Read This

Bathroom remodel

If you’ve ever seen a remodeling show on HGTV, you may have been inspired to remodel your home. It looks so easy, so fast and so manageable. The reality is, no surprise, a little more complex. We decided to remodel our master and guest bathrooms some time ago. We hoped to begin the project as soon as school started in September. We wanted to be done before the holidays so that we could entertain our family for Christmas. Sounds completely doable, right?

 
We met with our designer and contractor weeks before the start date and we got into their project queue. Contractors may have several projects going on at any given time. This means that your project will likely not begin immediately. In some ways, this is good, because it gives you leeway to research and select all the products for your project.

The Planning Phase

Unless you are an amazingly handy DIY type, you will need to work with a contractor and possibly a designer. Research the style

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Keep Your Home Protected When on Vacation

Upcoming school breaks allow PNW families to hit the slopes or get away to some warm and sunny locale. Use these guidelines to keep your home protected so you will not return home to anything unexpected.

 

  • Lock all the doors and windows. Secure sliding glass doors with a sliding glass door security bar .
  • Turn on the home security system. It is a good idea for a trusted friend or neighbor to have the alarm code in case a worker needs to enter the house or if the alarm is set off by accident. Place valuables in a home safe or in a safe deposit box.
  • Pet sitters are awesome for two reasons. Your pets
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Why Decluttering your Kitchen Will Help you Eat Healthier

Eat Healthier
It’s the month of January and many of us are trying to eat healthier and make better food choices. We know that clutter causes stress, anxiety and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Not many realize that a cluttered environment can also keep us from being successful in making good food choices. What if our home environment, specifically our kitchens are sabotaging our dieting efforts?

 

Tired and hungry after a long day, you may be confronted with all the clutter and to-do’s in your kitchen. In that moment, your stress level may go up, but it is unlikely you will want to declutter! Your brain will seek something pleasurable instead, and you might want to reach for the bag of chips on the counter.
Research shows that if we unclutter the kitchen counters and pantry cupboards we may eat fewer snacks. Brian Wansink, PhD., Cornell Food Psychologist, author of the book Slim by Design states that according to research, people who live in cluttered environments eat 44% more snacks

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The Case for Handwritten Thank You Notes

Thank You Notes are an Important Tradition

The holidays are about traditions. Some holiday traditions are generic and some are unique to the family, some are old and some new. At some point, the job of passing on these traditions shifts from the grandparents, to parents of young children. It’s not discussed, it just happens that way. Family traditions need repetition in order to carry on, much like good habits need repetition to stick. In our half Jewish family, we do a great job with the traditions surrounding Christmas, but we are lousy about lighting the menorah at Hanukkah. This year we only remembered the first day, shame on us. Actually, shame on my husband and me, because we need to be the ones to carry out these traditions so that they become ingrained in our children’s experience of the holidays. It’s that whole lead by example thing. Something else the kids won’t continue, if we don’t, and that is to properly thank their relatives for gifts received.
It’s easy to open a box under the tree, but someone made an effort to pick the gift out. Maybe they even waited in an irritatingly long line at the post office to mail it. They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it out of love. In my opinion,

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Get Your Paperwork Under Control This Month!

Organize paperwork

It’s January and that means it’s time to catch up on things like paperwork and bills. Time to pay that holiday credit card bill (ouch!) and finish up returns and exchanges. As you pay your bills and do your filing, you might notice how full your file cabinets have become over the past year. January is the perfect time to purge paper. Doing it now will not only help you feel in control, but with everything neatly filed, tax season will be a breeze!

 
Do you have a pile of old utility statements?

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Do You Need a Clutter Diet?

One in four gifts may go unused. Sparefoot.com study says.

What to do With Unwanted Gifts

Once the holidays are over, “on average, more than 1 in 4 gifts go unused.” “79% of Americans admit they never use some of their gifts,” found a recent study by Sparefoot.com. That means in a family of five receiving 4 gifts each, every holiday season 5 items would go unused. If these unwanted and unused items remain in the home over 10 years this would be 50 items. 50 boxes taking up space needed for other things. This number is very conservative – many more gifts are given in a typical family. This statistic also doesn’t include gifts received for birthdays and other special days as well. All these potentially unwanted gifts contribute to our clutter, our overstuffed closets, cupboards, and toy chests.

Why do we keep unwanted items?

Folks will often tell us: “We should keep it because it was a gift. We may use it one day. We can’t give it away it is brand new. The gift has value. Maybe we’ll re-gift it. Maybe someone in the family will use it.”

Clutter causes anxiety

When we keep unwanted items eventually our homes become cluttered and this clutter creates stress and anxiety. If the closets are full then it becomes difficult to retrieve what we need. We lose track of where things are. Toys take over several rooms in the house because there is no more space in the children’s bedrooms or playroom. Kitchen counters disappear under unused appliances and gadgets making meal preparation and cleaning difficult. Garages fill up with bins and boxes and cars no longer fit. The home stops being a restful place.  Anxiety and stress impacts how the family functions.

Gift Obligation

Once the receiver thanks the giver warmly, the receiver has no further obligation to the giver. If your children receive a new board game from grandma and show little interest in playing it, snap a picture of the kids playing the game and let it go. If you receive a duplicate on something you already own, consider donating one of the items.

Clutter Diet

Clutter in our homes has also been linked to poor diet choices. Cluttered kitchens have been linked to increased snacking. Many Americans will make New Year’s Resolutions to eat better or to begin a diet. Many agree that in addition to a food diet they also need a clutter diet.

One in One Out

To keep clutter from growing, utilize the one in one out policy. If you received a holiday gift of a kitchen gadget you are excited about, donate a kitchen gadget from your cupboards that you no longer use. Love your new Nespresso coffee machine? Donate your old coffee maker. This way you will create space for your new gift without increasing the volume of stuff in your home. Utilize this strategy in every room of your home.

 
Much like eating healthfully, keeping a home clutter free is an ongoing challenge. Both require tenacity. To be successful, sometimes we seek the assistance of a nutritionist and sometimes we seek the support of a professional home organizer! Are you ready to begin your clutter diet in 2017?

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