As the year ends, it’s time to be thinking about wrapping up the years’ financial documents. A website that can help you get the best deduction for your donated household items is its deductible.com. You simply plug in the items that you’ve donated, add the condition, new, good, etc…and the maximum deduction for that particular item will pop up. You can then go to chaostoorder.com and find a list of charitable organizations that will be happy to accept your donations. Another reason to weed out your closets and storage areas quickly before the end of the year and write off all you can on your 2011 taxes!
For all you holiday shoppers out there who are looking for some great gift ideas for your oh so organized gift recipients, here are Five Friday Favorite gift ideas to make that organizing junkie happy:
Brother P-Touch Labeler. An organizers must have for labeling everything from file folders to storage boxes. It a great size, you can carry it along anywhere, and it makes nice laminated labels. You can purchase the Brother P-Touch Labeler at Officemax.
Folding Step Stool. If you’re vertically challenged and have floor to ceiling cabinets in your kitchen, a good step stool is a necessity. The Easy Fold Step Stool can hang on a hook or even slide into the cabinet where you keep trays and cookie sheets.
Market Tote. This handy basket is is great for shopping and running errands. Listen to our organizer Pam discuss how she uses it. Watch our YouTube video where she explains how she likes to use this basket.
Opt for an “Experience” Gift. Rather than purchasing a gift that will eventually end up adding to clutter, choose to spend time with your gift recipient doing something they enjoy. A movie, theater tickets, dinner together—opt for an adventure rather than an item.
Give the Gift of Organization. If someone on your gift list has been wanting to get themselves organized, you can purchase a gift certificate from Chaos To Order in any amount. Buy your gift here–shipping is free
Holiday Decorating this weekend? Don’t forget to clean and organize any area before you pull out all of the decorations. You may have to put away some things you keep out during the rest of the year to lessen the clutter. Make use of the holiday boxes. When your Christmas knick knacks come out, fill the box up with what was in that spot so that you’re replacing things rather than just adding to the mix.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and if you’re hosting, today is a busy day. Not only do you need to think about meal preparation, but the daunting task of getting the house in order can be even more overwhelming. Here’s an iPhone app that can save you some time in the kitchen: The Chef Assistant iPhone App from Safeway. It will help guide you through getting the ingredients together and prepping the turkey. Then it turns into a timer while the turkey cooks according to the recipe in only two hours—this will leave you more time for getting the house in order! Remember when organizing to focus only on the rooms where guests will be, do not spend time in other rooms until the main areas have met your organizing expectations. Happy Thanksgiving!
Are you overwhelmed by household chaos with only 3 days left until Thanksgiving? Research shows that spending just a few minutes on cleaning and organizing can actually improve your mood. It gives you a sense of accomplishment–at least you’ve started even if you’re just making a dent. It also creates a feeling of order which can have a calming effect. So if you’ve got to get an organizing project going, just start. Don’t look at the big picture, look at one item at a time and put it in it’s place, baby steps. You’ll feel better if you can just get going, the sense of having started and working in the right direction may be just what you need to gather momentum. If all else fails, of course we can send one of our terrific organizers out to help you. We are busy this week helping many clients with Thanksgiving preparations, but it may be worth the call 847-825-8400.
With Thanksgiving less than one week away, it’s time to think about what you can do to help your day run as smoothly as possible. One thing that can make Thanksgiving cooking less stressful and more enjoyable is a good thermometer and timer. this particular thermometer by Taylor is very practical because you can use it the traditional way as a timer, or with the attached temperature probe. Insert the probe into your meat and indicate the desired internal temperature. The thin metal coil is 4′ long and can extend outside the oven, through the door, right on to the counter. It can also stick to the oven with its magnetic backing. If a recipe says cook to 160°, the timer beeps when it’s ready. It’s much better than using a handheld instant thermometer because you save time (and oven temperature) by not having to open the oven door to check the thermometer, not to mention poking holes in your meat and letting the juices run out. This handy little gadget is available onAmazon.com and it’s the perfect cooking companion for Thanksgiving Day. A great help in the annual challenge of getting all the food hot and ready at the same time, something to be thankful for!
November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge? According to The Wall Street Journal, most people never think about cleaning out the refrigerator when they are putting groceries away. The only time the fridge actually gets wiped down is when there is a spill or an obvious reason to do so. Do you know how long that jar of spicy mustard has been sitting on the shelf? Are the Maraschino cherries still even edible? Here’s an exhaustive list of how long any food should be kept called Stilltasty.com and yes, there’s even an iPhone app for that!
So get moving, take the time today to clean out your refrigerator. Empty it out, wipe it down, remove the decomposing science projects, have a “Must-Go” night tonight and enjoy a clean and organized fridge. You’ll appreciate it come Thanksgiving, because you’ll finally have space to store your leftovers.
Today is my husband John’s 50th birthday. I’m glad I did remember it today, but it did remind me of how hard it is in our world of chaos to keep track of important dates, birthdays and anniversaries. Technology has simplified some of this. I love having reminders on my electronic calendar, they remind me not only of birthdays, but of all the other important little things I need to be remember. Another alternative to having everything in your calendar is using the reminders feature in a site like Hallmark.com. They will save your important dates and can email you a reminder. It can also sync with Facebook so you can check which of your friends have birthdays coming up. And, of course, there’s also an app called Birthday Reminder. You can import birthdays (from your calendar or Facebook) and they will send you an email to remind you of the date. For those of you who are not ready to fully rely on technology to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, here is a Birthday Reminder Booklet to keep on the bookshelf!
It all boils down to good organization. You can have all the reminders and gadgets to let you know of important dates looming, but you have to be organized enough on the front end to set up the reminders. You can always ask your organizer to set them up for you. We love to help our clients do the little things that will help to keep them organized.
The holidays are right around the corner, so to avoid the chaos and crowds at the shopping malls this year, the obvious and organized choice is to do your holiday shopping online. There are some great sites out there with very unique gift ideas. I went to RedEnvelope.com and just bought a wonderful gift for my mom that I know she will treasure for many years to come. The site is beautiful and very user friendly with lovely pictures of items and the ability to zoom in and see different views. There are also many gifts that can be customized which is an added bonus to holiday online shopping. The checkout process was smooth and easy and I was able have my purchase sent in one of their beautiful signature red gift boxes that mom can also use in the future to keep holiday items in. Check out RedEnvelope.com and get your Christmas shopping done early, easily and organized!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and Chaos To Order was compensated accordingly.
Today’s Friday Favorite is a recommendation from our fabulous organizer Lara. If you have an abundance of crafts or any miscellaneous supplies, and a lack of built in storage space, using a good rolling cart can be a great option. Rolling carts are terrific for sorting school and office supplies, paper, projects, craft and scrapbooking supplies and much more. They come in several different sizes with different drawer options based on your specific needs. Labeling the drawers like Lara did in the photo below gives you a quick visual of all that’s stored inside. The drawers can be easily removed and brought to the craft table or counter to work on projects. When you’re finished working, you can just slide the drawer back into the cart for instant clean up. Having the cart on wheels makes it easy to move around from one area to another. If you have lots of little things that need to be contained and organized, this rolling cart may be just what you need. The carts can be purchased at Costco, OfficeMax and other office supply stores.
Our organizer Lara combines her impeccable organizing skills with her past teaching experience to help people tackle their clutter in creative ways. She approaches each project with the goal of finding a workable system that is easy to maintain. Thanks for the recommendation Lara!
I recently upgraded my computers and learned that Quicken, the personal financial software I have used for years, is no longer supported by the new operating system on my computer–big drag! So on the advice of our fabulous technical guru Dan Saavedra of Betadac Media, I switched to Mint.com. If Dan says it’s what I should do, I take his advice. He is always on top of the latest and greatest information in the world of technology. So I logged on at Mint, did I mention it was completely free? Then I downloaded all of my banking information which was very simple and voila—I was up and running on Mint. It automatically categorizes all spending, go to a gas station, it knows and puts the purchase into that category. You can also easily tweak the categories. It also generates budgets and helps you set goals that give you a good overview of your spending. I love that it’s a cloud based system and I can use it on my mobile phone and just last week they announced their app for the iPad. All the most current, up to date financial information is available on all my devices immediately—I’m feeling more organized. I still haven’t back logged everything for the year (you see, I’m not that organized), and I’m not sure if I’m going to split the year’s report between Quicken and Mint, but I’ll keep you posted and hopefully I will have figured it out before tax time!
My kids really made the rounds this year when trick-or-treating, they came home with an overload of Halloween candy. Now what do we do with it all? I certainly don’t want them to just eat it all up, and if I let them have just a couple of pieces each day, they’ll still be eating it in June—not to mention the extra trips to the dentist! Here are some suggestions for clearing out that candy clutter:
- Start by sorting it. Give your kids some zipper sandwich bags and let them sort and count it all up. Putting like kinds together will also help to keep the candy from getting that awful mixed candy smell.
- Store It. Believe it or not, some of that candy can last up to two years if it’s kept in a cool dry place. It’s always a good idea to hang on to chocolate bars for baking and smores, and throw your Snickers bars in the freezer for future snacks.
- Use your candy for baking. Here are 10 Recipe Ideas for Halloween Candy from Real Simple.
- Check out Halloweencandybuyback.com. Here you can find local places to donate your candy to troops deployed overseas.
If you’ve got kids, Halloween is definitely one of the most exciting days of the year. It can also be a crazy chaotic day with kids all going indifferent directions and parents trying to keep up with the craziness. Before everyone comes home from school to dress and dart out to for trick-or-treating, plan what you can in advance. Here are some thoughts:
- Lay out costumes. Know what they are wearing and where all the miscellaneous parts are. If the costume requires special parts or make-up, place it out with the costume.
- Have a healthy after school snack ready to give them when they get home from school. Have them eat it before chasing out to gather candy. This way you can at least ensure that they’ll get something decent and won’t just fill up on candy.
- Locate treat gathering containers. Little ones like those cute round pumpkins with a handle, while the older kids prefer to pile treats in bigger bags like a pillow case. You may even have something clever that ties in with the costume their wearing.
- prepare an easy meal like a pot of chili that can sit in a crock pot so dinner-on-the-go can happen whenever it’s convenient tonight. Throw to the wind any idea of having a pleasant sit-down meal on Halloween.
- Get your halloween hand-outs ready. Find a large bowl or decorative item like a cauldron and put the candy near the door.