Tips & Tricks

Keep Your Home Safe When Leaving for the Holidays

If you are heading out of town for the holidays, for a long weekend or for a week, it’s a prudent idea to have a checklist of To-Do’s to ensure your home’s safety. Unfortunately this most wonderful time of year also brings about a rise in theft and burglaries. According to CNN Money burglaries peak during December because would-be thieves know people are on vacation, or are out shopping or visiting all day. Here’s our thorough guide to keeping your home safe and looking “occupied”.

Use these sectioned checklists:

Electronic

  • Put timers on several lights around the house, including your holiday lights and front/back porch lights. Have the timers go on and off at varying times, so an obviously unoccupied, dark home doesn’t suddenly all light up at 4:30pm. Winter hours mean dark mornings–set timers to also turn on 6:00-9:00am.
  • Double-check indoor/outdoor holiday lights and wiring. Don’t leave any fire hazards.
  • Unplug your automatic garage door opener so thieves can’t open it with a universal remote.
  • If you’ve got a security system, a video doorbell, or motion detector lights, check to make sure it’s working properly.

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Winter Driving: Preparing Yourself for the Cold Weather

Winter is a difficult time of year in a number of northern areas in the world, as freezing temperatures cause a variety of problems in occupants’ daily lives. Weather conditions such as freezing rain, sleet, and snow can be especially dangerous and threaten your safety when driving.

Roughly 76,000 people experience a car accident in the snow every year. This statistic underscores the need for safety precautions in order to keep you and your family protected from these risks. Beyond knowing what to do after a car accident, there are several ways to prepare for unexpected weather conditions. Here are some tips to have your car ready to go no matter the situation.

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5 Steps to Make Your Guest Bedroom Ready for Holiday Guests

A guest bedroom

The winter holidays are just around the corner, and I am C-A-L-M. We are getting ready early this year. We know who is coming over for dinner, and who will be staying with us. I know what the menu will be and who is bringing what dish. I’ve even made a shopping list. Bring it on! I admit it, I was feeling in control. Then, last night, one of the kiddos was feeling congested and he wanted the humidifier in his room. Piece of cake, I knew exactly where to look!

A few minutes later, as I am digging around in the guest bedroom closet, unsuccessfully trying to locate the humidifier, a terrible thought occurred to me. Guests will need to sleep in this very room and it looks like a tornado swept through here long ago! My smug holiday mood evaporated pretty quickly.

The door to the guest room is always closed, and for good reason! The bed hasn’t had sheets on it since the last guests stayed here (over the summer). On top of the bed, there are boxes and bags with various purchases needing to be returned to various stores. The Halloween bin is on the floor, empty.

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Get Help for the Holidays: Outsource, Delegate, Simplify!

Holidays

You survived Halloween and Thanksgiving, which means the winter holidays are just around the corner! The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of shopping, planning, hosting, traveling, and celebrating, all on top of your already frenetic life. This should be a joyful time of year, but with all that is on your to-do list, it feels overwhelming. Instead of hiding under your covers until January, tackle the holidays with this three-prong strategy: Outsource, Delegate and Simplify.

You deserve help – who says you need to tackle the entire holiday season by yourself?

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Organizing Strategies – Make it Simple; Make it a Habit; Adjust it; Stick With it

Make It Simple

There is one big mistake everyone makes when they begin to get organized. Want to know what it is? Containers, baskets and bins. That’s right. People rush out and buy lots of containers before they know what they need and before they sort through what they have.

Here’s how to approach the organizing process. We like to call it the Clutter Clearing System.

Step One: Form a vision for the space.

Let’s take the kitchen. Family is coming over and you’ll be hosting the holidays. Are the counters cluttered? Are the drawers packed full?

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Unique Gift Ideas for Your 2018 Christmas Gift List

I must come clean. I’ve already begun Christmas shopping. I know it’s not even Halloween yet. I’ve already made a 2018 Christmas gift list on my Wunderlist app to keep track of the gifts I need to buy and the gifts I’ve already purchased. The gift I got was for someone who is easy to shop for, that’s why I was able to find just the right thing when I was hardly looking.

But this made me think about all the people I need to buy gifts for who are incredibly hard to shop for. We all have a few of those relatives on our list. It also got me thinking about all the spouses, partners, non-shoppers and anyone else who struggles to come up with that something special for that someone special in their lives. The way I see it, when it comes to holidays we all need all the help we can get.

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The Instant Pot: Best Small Appliance Ever?

One of the most widely purchased kitchen products of recent times has been the Instant Pot. This new rendition of your mother’s pressure cooker has been heralded as the newest work-reducing, time-saving, must-have device. Now, I am not one to jump on trends, so I asked my girlfriends on Facebook whether the Instant Pot is something I should buy, what they liked about it, whether they used it frequently and what recipes they’ve tried.

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Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

When my eldest daughter was in kindergarten, I was a class helper. She sat next to a sweet boy from Japan, whose lunches were a daily source of amazement and envy—from the kids, as well as me and the teacher! He had a three-piece stainless bento box, and each layer contained beautifully-prepared food that looked like it should be on display somewhere: sushi rice shaped into animals or cars; carrots or apples carved into rosettes or spirals; bits of dried seaweed carefully cut into whiskers, or grass, or decorative stripes; tiny bite-sized cookies in ethereal shapes and colors. I’d glance over to my kid’s turkey and provolone sandwich, banana, and goldfish crackers, and wondered if I should be making more of an effort.

Fast forward many years, and I can’t even do the math on how many school lunches I’ve packed for my three children. I never did make anything remotely close to that boy’s lunches; my need to sleep in a little later (we all know even that extra 15 minutes helps!) overruled my desire for Instagram-worthy lunches. I have, however, been able to streamline my routine so the lunch-making portion of my morning takes just minutes. The key thing is to do as much as you can the night before…crazy simple!

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Making the Summer-to-Fall Transition: Prepare Your Home Before Winter Sets in

Take care of Fall home maintenance

The end of summer is all about change. Leaves are starting to fall, the weather’s just beginning to cool (okay, at least it’s less hot). The kids are back in school, and everyone settles into familiar and busy daily routines. Soon, you won’t have as much time for those little household jobs that’ll pay off later ­– or cost you some money if they’re neglected – so do yourself a favor: put down the TV remote, pull on your sweatpants and t-shirt, and get ‘em done now.

Clean Inside and Out

The end of summer is a good time to clean and organize your house, room by room. As your family begins to transition to fall clothing, start putting away the summer wardrobes. Store them safely in secure plastic containers, especially if they’ll be spending the winter in the attic or basement. Put away the doo-dads you picked up on vacation or your kids brought home from summer camp. If things have really gotten out of hand, you might consider having a professional home organizer help you tackle the clutter. 

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Professional Organizer’s Guide to Writing Thank You Notes

Everyone loves a thank you note

A Professional Organizer’s Guide to Writing More Thank You Notes

I am a big fan of appreciation and thanking someone warmly for a gift or a kind act. I love receiving handwritten thank you notes (I don’t knock email notes either) because it means someone took the time to let me know they both received the gift and are favorably acknowledging the efforts made on their behalf. A personal piece of correspondence is the best kind of mail to get. It’s a treasure in the sea of junk mail, catalogs, and bills. I especially adore a thank you note that points out something spot-on about the item and/or something special about your relationship with that person – bonus points!

Apparently, I am not alone. An article in the New York Times, “You Should Send That Thank You Note You’ve Been Meaning to Write” from July 20, 2018, agreed that people like getting thank you notes. Seriously, who would not like getting a thank you?

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