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What to Declutter After the Holidays

Hello, January! The holiday stuff has been put away (or has it?), the amount of baking and cooking has returned to normal, and everyone is back to work and school. There are plenty of decluttering opportunities post-holiday, so pick a weekend, do a little work to clear out your home, and start the year off with an energetic bang! We’ve got some terrific ideas on what to declutter and refresh.

Holiday Items

If you actually haven’t put these away yet, here is your chance to declutter these used-once-a-year goods. The bonus is you can declutter while you are putting them away. I do this every year, and it always makes the holiday storage boxes a bit roomier even if I’ve bought a few more decorative items. Start with the lights: get rid of any strings that don’t light up or have worn, brittle, or frayed cords. Next, give each decorative piece 30-seconds of your time. Does it have worn or broken parts, or faded or chipped spots? Do you still love it? Does it still have meaning for you? Does it seem outdated or out of place? Your answers to these questions will let you decide if you are keeping or donating the item. I usually donate my still-usable items to someone in my neighborhood or city Facebook Group—there are a lot of people out there who are happy to use your holiday items. Finally, take down all those sweet holiday cards and recycle them, or send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children for their recycled card program.

Winter Wear

We still have almost three months left of winter weather, and now is an appropriate time to declutter your outerwear and accessories. Bring out all the winter wear for everyone in your household. Go through each item for each person—hats, scarves, coats, gloves, long underwear, socks, boots, etc. Check items for tears or untreatable stains, for fit and comfort, and for style and desirability. If you have two items that are almost identical in style, material, and purpose, consider keeping only one. Donate coats in good condition to One Warm Coat, which has several locations around Puget Sound.

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Establish Social Distancing Boundaries with Friends Before You Gather

From Martha Stewart
August 6, 2020

 

Nail down a few ground rules ahead of time to ensure everyone is comfortable.

Clarifying your stance on social distancing has become an increasingly common—and potentially uncomfortable—conversation, especially as small gatherings resume across the country. Here, Daniel Post Senning, the great-great grandson of Emily Post and a modern etiquette expert, offers a few straightforward guidelines for keeping yourself safe and your friendships intact during this uncertain time.

 

Set your boundaries.

Good etiquette always means being clear about what you can and can’t do, says Post Senning, and that’s true whether you’re responding no to a birthday invitation or gently letting a dinner party host know in advance that you’re allergic to nuts. “In the world of etiquette, there’s something really generous about letting people know what your boundaries are,” he says. And whether you’re discussing your switch to a vegan diet, your son’s need to leave his soccer game early, or your preference for socializing while wearing a mask, you shouldn’t put off having that conversation. “The more work you can do ahead of time, the better,” says Post Senning. “You want to make your expectations explicit in a time when we don’t have the structure of our social expectations to lean on. We are navigating new information, and not everybody is making the same choices. The more you can communicate, the better. The earlier those conversations happen, the better. The more open and candid they are, the better.”

 

Read the rest on Martha Stewart.

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Meaningful, Mindful Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season

It’s been a challenging year for most of us, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that 2021 can’t come soon enough! We’ve dealt with lockdowns and quarantine, working and schooling remotely, sourdough starters and jigsaw puzzles. There’s also video conferencing fatigue, canceled travel plans, and too much takeout. How do we close out the year in a relevant way that helps us stay connected with and supportive of loved ones? With the December holidays just around the corner, we’ve been thinking about gifts for friends and family that will help do just that. Here are some ideas for meaningful, mindful gifts for this holiday season.

Self Care – Think about the recipient’s idea of self care, and put together a package as unique as they are. Is it interior decor magazines and chai tea? Yoga and facials? Red wine and chocolate? Long walks and audio books? Self care—any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health—is different for each person, so tailor your gifts accordingly.

Gift Cards to Local Businesses – Gift cards to local “mom & pop” shops and restaurants are a terrific way to give a gift while supporting a small business that needs the customers. No matter where your special person lives, there are surely fabulous places they love to patronize.

A Fun and Unique Subscription – How about a monthly succulent, date night, or Japanese snacks box? CrateJoy and My Subscription Addiction have amazing lists of fun, imaginative, and unique subscriptions for everyone on your list. A year of surprises would be fantastic for anyone!

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8 Great Reasons to Downsize Your Home

Is your home still meeting your needs? For most people as they start their adult lives and possibly their families, they start upsizing to larger homes with bonus rooms and big backyards. What happens when the kids move out or your lifestyle changes? The word “downsize” may bring to mind recently retired folks who’ve decided to sell their big family home and opt for a sparkly new condo somewhere sunny, and with a pool a few steps away. While that is definitely one of the ways to do it, there are many more reasons to downsize. You don’t even have to be retired!

1. More Cashflow

The housing market in the Greater Seattle Area has been booming for years, and downsizing is definitely one way to create more cashflow. You could free up more cash with a lower or even no mortgage. With a smaller home you’ll also have lower utility bills and homeowner’s insurance; you may even save more with no more HOA dues or yard maintenance costs. It’s also a viable way to consolidate a lot of debt—and lower financial anxiety. For example, sell your home and with the profits, pay off your home equity loan, college loan, and credit card, then pay off most or all of your mortgage. If you’ve been in your home for at least 10 years and it’s value has gone up significantly, you can use that equity to your advantage.

2. Freedom

A smaller home is much easier to maintain. With our eldest launched, one in college, and one in high school, we no longer needed such a big house and yard. We downsized to a smaller but still spacious home with almost no yard, and with the house being brand new, there is nothing it needs in terms of updating or remodeling. Less to clean and keep up = more time for leisure! I’ve got a friend who is loving the freedom of her downsize from a single-family house to a condo in a doorman building. She calls it a “lock and go” setup because she literally turns one key and she can travel and work remotely from anywhere in the world.

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Ideas for This Year’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this year is decidedly different. If you are not taking part in a traditional gathering, there are still so many wonderful ways to celebrate. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. There is always, always something to be grateful for! So brew up some pumpkin spice chai and read on for some ideas on what to do this Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! Walk or bike one of the Seattle’s areas 15 best city trails—how lucky are we to live in such a gorgeous part of the world! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. There are several races that have implemented COVID-safety precautions. Seattle has a Turkey Trot with waved starts, Woodinville has a Virtual Turkey Trot, and Issaquah is offering neighborhood-focused Turkey Trots.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (virtual this year) on the telly to get you into the spirit.

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A Parent’s Guide to Getting Your ADHD Student to Start School On Time

The key to starting remote school on time starts the night before. Since kids with ADHD may have sleep issues, a solid sleep routine can help your child be successful with their morning routine.

Begin the sleep ritual early. Turn off any electronic devices well ahead of bedtime, if possible. We know this is tough when school is currently remote and kids’ laptops and netbooks are their only real connection to their learning environment. It’s also challenging if your student is up late studying, but aim for an early bedtime as much as you can. Try a non-electronic ritual—like reading together or setting out the next day’s outfit—to help ease your child’s transition towards bedtime. Taking a hot shower or bath before bed can help the body get into sleep mode. Some kids with ADHD like to settle down with a book on tape or on Audible, but if that is too stimulating a white noise machine can help your child tune out noise and settle into sleep easier. If possible, try to avoid evening sports or lessons as these may overstimulate your child, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Try different strategies until you come up with a sleep routine that works well for your child.

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When Your Empty Nest Refills

Has your empty nest been refilled in light of this year’s unprecedented events? Guess what, you are not alone! According to a recent survey by Country Financial, 1 in 5 parents have had adult kids move back home in 2020. For younger millennials (24-29 year olds), 39% of them are either planning to move back home or have already done so. In some cases a child who was supposed to move out is staying home instead because their university is currently still remote-only. Whatever the reason, having a kid or two at home when you were expecting to be an empty nester is probably a surprise. We’ve got some tips on how to keep things positive and harmonious while enjoying this extra time together.

Set Expectations

Your kiddo is now an adult, and not only should you treat them as such, but they should also behave accordingly. Let them do their own laundry, give them chores, take turns doing groceries and making dinner—you get the idea. Unless you want your house to feel like your adult children’s personal “bed & breakfast,” set these expectations early on. It’s easy for your relationship to regress to the parent-child dynamic, but really try not to let it. Instead, move it towards more of an adult-roommates dynamic.

Communicate Needs

Everyone will have specific needs and these should be addressed and agreed upon. For example, if you and your spouse are accustomed to having dinner at 6pm but your late-working daughter likes to eat at 9pm, work out a compromise involving cooking and heating up leftovers. If your son has a daily 8am call with his boss, move your daily morning treadmill date with Van Halen earlier or later (or get AirPods!). It’s also important to communicate about finances. If your child is working, do you want them to help pay for utilities and groceries? If not, do they need financial support, and how much? Talking about it and clarifying details will make it a bit less stressful for both of you.

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Fall Decluttering: What To Get Rid Of

It’s probably safe to say most people are spending a lot more time at home these days! With Fall coming and the cooler, wetter weather on the horizon, there is even more indoor time to be had. While we’re all looking forward to pumpkin spice lattés, new Netflix shows, and the start of the holiday season, we should also take the opportunity to get rid of stuff. “Stuff” is an excellent catch-all term for items that just seem to accumulate over time and overstay their use and need. I look at the start of every season as a perfect time to clear out certain spaces around the house. These are awesome mini projects that should take no more than 1-2 hours each. Do one or two for a few weekends, and by Halloween you’ll have accomplished quite a lot!

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Put Your Home On An Organization Diet

We’ve all gone on a food diet at some point—changing the way you eat to create a more balanced and healthy body, mind, and lifestyle. Ever think of putting your cluttered and disorganized home on a diet? It’s the same idea, except this time you’re working on changing your household patterns and habits instead. Clearing out the clutter and getting your home more organized is a huge boost to your health, both physical and mental. With more time spent at home than normal, it’s the perfect time to work on your home environment. Enlist your other household members and spend a weekend or two on this new “diet”! Of course, if you don’t have the time or the energy, or if you just feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional organizer.

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Hiking in the Time of Coronavirus

Washington Trails Association
June 2020

Recreating responsibly as lands reopen

Here are the six tips to help you make the best decision for how to get outside right now. Making temporary changes to how you hike right now will help keep everyone healthier. Of course, if you’re sick, please stay home and take care of yourself. We hope you recover quickly.

RECREATE RESPONSIBLY

Know Before You Go: Use WTA’s Hiking Guide to plan your outing. Pick a couple backup trails in case your first pick is crowded.

The Hiking Guide and sidebar here include closures. If the area is closed, don’t go.

Plan Ahead: Head for lesser-traveled trails, and have a couple of alternates in mind if your first-choice is crowded. If your alternates are also packed, use WTA’s Trailblazer app to find another trailhead near you. Be sure to notify whoever you left your hiking itinerary with of the change.

Bring include hand sanitizer and a face covering. Wear it while passing other hikers; covering your face protects other folks from any particles you may be breathing out.

Pack a lunch and any extra treats you will want on the way there and back.

 

Read the entire article at Washington Trails Association.

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