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Author: Carla ShipmanFamily General Organizing Organizing Products Seasonal

OMG! My Car Is A Mess

Wow! Summer vacation is right around the corner.  I’m sure we all can become overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of chauffeuring our children back and forth and to all the end of school events.  Let alone commuting to your own appointments; the last thing most of us are thinking about is keeping our car clean and organized.  After all, being that high profile chauffer to those daily and extracurricular activities can be very tasking.  It isn’t until a friend you haven’t seen in ages comes up to your car you feel embarrassed. Then you get a frightful look on your face when you realize it looks like you’ve lived in the car for the past 6 months.  You say to yourself I’ve got to clean this car.

Don’t fret you still have time to get your car ready for the summer.  Keeping your car organized can make your travel time less stressful.  Here are some helpful tips below:

  1. Sort and clean out your car: Get rid of anything that doesn’t belong.  Keep a small trash bag in the car. If you have children assign duties.  One child can take out trash and another can take out toys, groceries etc…make it a family affair.  Let anyone who comes in your know about your “trash in, trash out” policy.  Get a small car vacuum and vacuum once a week.   It will make a big difference.
  2. Make sure you have all important papers in your glove compartment like car manual, registration and insurance forms.  Check every six months to make sure those documents are up to date. Keep a small change purse so you will always have money for those parking meters.  Keep your GPS handy.
  3. Remember to keep your car smelling fresh with air fresheners. It adds a nice touch of clean. Look in your local coupon circular for car wash specials.
  4. Keep reading material, cds and dvds to a minimum.  Too many of these items can cause clutter and end up on the car floor.  Remember to establish an in and out policy.  About 10 minutes before we make it home I ask my son, “is my car clean back there?”  Then he knows it’s time to gather up his stuff.
  5. There are some really cool car storage organizers you can get at Organized A to Z that can help you save time and money to keep the car organized.
  6. Here are some items that should be in your car at all times:  You can get one of those trunk organizers and place Velcro at the bottom.  Place items like first aid kit, flashlight, blanket, umbrella, neck pillow, paper towels, canvas tote bag, cleaning rag, ice scraper, empty water bottle, and jumper cables.  In addition, keep a pre-packed beach bag; don’t forget sunscreen and chairs for summer activities.
  7. Lastly, we spend so much time in our car why not makes it as comfortable as possible. Once you establish a system to declutter and organize your life in your car you will feel a better.

Enjoy your summer!  Happy Organizing.

Author: Cindy EddyFamily General Home Seasonal

School to Summer Transition

Children all over the country are excited about the end of school.  Their visions of having endless free time fill their minds, while parents scramble to figure out what to do with their children during this free time.  May-June can be a time of great stress to parents, but with proper organization, the transition can flow smoothly.  Below are a few tips to help with this transition:School's Out!

School Papers and Supplies

–       When school ends, help your child decide which beautiful works of art should be saved, and which could be discarded (or sent to Grandma and Grandpa for their refrigerator).  Hold up three pictures, and ask them to select one for keeping.  Then repeat this process until only the best ones are left.  Taking photos of school projects can help preserve the memory and save space in your home.

–       If you prefer to keep important test papers, research projects, and paperwork from the year, decide where you will store them.  Try to recycle as much of it as possible.

–       Go through your child’s school supplies, and decide what can be reused next year and what needs to be tossed or donated.  Keep the reusable supplies together, for easy access in September.  There is no need to purchase duplicate supplies year after year.

Home Organization

–       It’s that time of year again to sort through your child’s closet, pack away the winter clothes and pull out the summer clothes.  Check for size, and pull out any clothes, shoes, etc., that are too small.  Decide what to do with clothes that are too small – donate, save for another child, or find a new home.  Keep some clothes out for cooler weather, just in case.

–       Set up your home for summer activities, such as a drawing area, a reading nook, a place for playing games, and other activities of interest.  Check the backyard for poison ivy, and clear out debris.  Check the children’s sports equipment and bicycles for safety, and make any necessary repairs as soon as possible.

Summer Camp

–       Keep brochures of summer camps and special programs together.  Compare the dates with your family calendar, and once the decisions are made, recycle the ones which are not used.

–       Gather all required camp medical forms, and mark due dates on your calendar.  If your child is due for an annual checkup, schedule the appointment before the medical forms are due.  Bring all medical forms to your appointment, so the pediatrician can fill out all of the forms at once.  If your child does not need an appointment, send the medical forms to the pediatrician to fill out.

Communication

–       Communicate with the parents of your children’s school friends, to find out what their children are doing.  Perhaps you can arrange to send your child to the same day camp as his or her school friend, to reinforce the friendship.

–       Collect addresses of your children’s friends.  If you travel, your child can send postcards to maintain a connection.

Enjoy your time with your children.  Summer vacations will not last forever, but the memories you share, will!

Author: Annette ReymanGeneral Seasonal

How Long Should I keep It?

It can be a challenge to keep on top of our stock of supplies, especially those things that are used in the background of our busy lives.  While we run to keep up with kids, new gadgetry and demanding jobs, we grab new products along the way, push the old stuff to the back and, before we know it, our cupboards are overflowing with “I-don’t-know-what.”

Seasonal clean-outs are cyclical opportunities to address some of the ‘stuff’ of our lives that have outlived their expiration dates.  “Spring Cleaning” is a perfect time to go through some of our familiar-yet-forgotten supplies.  To name a few: cosmetics, medications and spices are some accoutrements of our daily lives.  And, while these staples can last a long time, they rarely last forever and require an occasional review to curtail and maintain our collections.

Cosmetics:

Did you know that makeup and lotions have expiration dates?  Sometimes we collect extra cosmetics because of a good sale, a one-time whim or phase, or because we receive samples.  After a while, it’s easy to forget exactly what we have, and even where we have it.  To address this issue, set up a staging area – a made-bed with a towel (not your favorite) laid out to absorb any leaks.  Then go on a treasure hunt.  Check bedroom and bathroom drawers and cabinets to find all your makeup, lotions, and perfumes and gather them to your stage.

Begin by weeding out the items that you know you will never use again:

  • If it’s been opened, toss it in the trash.
  • If still sealed, check the expiration date to decide if you will pass it on or throw it out.

Check the expiration dates of the keepers before returning them to their containers.  If you can’t find the date, this website will help: http://checkcosmetic.net/.

Medications:

Prescription drugs or over the counter, it is important to go through your stock of medications at least annually.  It can be confusing and dangerous to keep medications around that no longer work for you or are not compatible with your other meds.  Clear the kitchen table and empty out all your medications from one cabinet.  (Unlike toiletries, it is best to tackle these items one area at a time so as not to mix any medications up).  Dispose of the drugs that have expired and the ones that you are no longer supposed to be taking – expired or not.  Return the drugs you will keep to their cabinet, keeping over-the-counter drugs separate.  As for the rejects, it is important to be responsible about their disposal.  Many medications have safe disposal methods posted right on the containers.  Some medications are flushable.  Others can be thrown in the trash after mixing them with coffee grinds or kitty litter first (to ensure that some unsuspecting animal or child does not consume them).  Protect yourself by removing any identifying labels before discarding the container.  Visit the FDA website for more about safe drug disposal and the DEA website to find out about prescription drug “Take Back Days” in your community.

Spices:

Whether you’re an avid gourmet chef, a casual Rachel Ray, or the microwave queen of the east coast, I’ll bet you have a few spices in your kitchen.  And, unless you are a college student just starting out, I’d also bet that they’ve been there for a few years.  This is okay since most spices have a shelf life of up to five years.  As you can see I said five, not fifty.  Ok, so they’re sitting there not hurting anyone – big deal.  Well they are also taking up lots of cupboard space that could possibly be better used for getting some of your more current inventory off the countertops.  Also, just because you haven’t touched them in years doesn’t mean that they’ve remained untouched.  Spices are edible and if you’re not going to eat them, there may be a bug or two that would be happy to help.  On their websites, spice companies have guidelines as to how long a spice is good.  Some containers are marked with expiration dates.  Here are a couple of quick decision makers:

  • For McCormick’s spices, if it’s in a little rectangular tin can (with the exception of black pepper), throw it out.  Those cans have not been made since the 90’s.
  • If you haven’t used it at all in five years, throw it out – when you finally find a recipe that calls for that spice, why would you want to risk ruining your creation with something gone bad?

For more information about how long to keep your spices visit the McCormick website or SpiceAdvice.com