Saturday, December 30, 2017

Perfecting the Art of Serving as the Family Sherpa

For the past few years I have been serving as our family's Sherpa while my husband and kids ski and snowboard. (I don't ski. Maybe someday!) While I cannot claim to have anywhere near the skills, perseverance, and dignity of the  Sherpas of say, Mount Everest, I have found much value and enjoyment in serving my family in this capacity. Here are some tips I've learned during this little journey of mine.
1) Know the Best Place to Set Up Home Base: Scope out the resort, either in person or online and figure out where your best home base will be. Consider proximity to where your family gets off the slopes. This is super handy for safety if kids are making it down the slopes at different times, as they will know to go straight to you.  Also consider proximity to food, restrooms, and strong wifi signals.
2) Packing Gear: When the kids were younger (toddler to about 6 years), we found it super handy to bring our all terrain wagon. That way we could pack gear, food, and tired kids in there. We occasionally needed to enlist the help of someone to hoist the wagon up the stairs, but we found help was easy to find. Now that the kids are older they can carry more gear, and we can get by with a backpack or bag.
3) Food: If you want to save money, pack healthier or dietary restricted food, or want to avoid long food lines, packing your own meals and snacks is the way to go. Keep it simple. We pack sandwiches, chips, fruit and granola bars. Leftover pizza is a hit too.  Thermos' full of coffee, hot chocolate, and soup are perfect for extra cold days. Water and electrolyte drinks are great for rehydrating. Use a sharpie to mark everyone's initials on the cap ahead of time.
A backpack that has a cooler in it is particularly handy (great for vacations, hiking, & theme parks too!):
4) Keeping the Sherpa Entertained: I do love some good people watching, but I like to pack things to do as well. A good book, Kindle, and my phone with a great wifi connection are usually plenty to ensure I have an entertaining and productive day. In fact, I am writing this blog via the Blogger app as my family skis Bear Mountain! Make sure your favorite apps are updated on your phone.
5) Keeping Warm: Today it is unusually warm in Big Bear, CA.  However, days will come when many layers are necessary. Today we have a bag of extra layers to pack on when the sun goes down behind the mountain around 3pm and a cold chill moves in. There are also days when toe warmers and hand warmers become much needed items. My fellow Sherpas, it's important to get up and move around every once in a while. Have some exercises ready to do to keep your blood flowing.
Maybe one day I'll take some ski lessons, but for now I am enjoying serving as my family's Sherpa, and having some precious reading time 😉.   I will add more as I experience more!  I'd love to hear any tips you have too!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

5 Things We Can Learn From Boxing Day Traditions

Happy Boxing Day!  Boxing day is December 26, the day after Christmas.  It is a national holiday in the UK and Ireland, and also celebrated in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  It's a day off for many to enjoy family and friends, and many traditions.  It's also a big retail shopping day and sporting events.  Historically Boxing Day was a day off for servants who were typically working on Christmas Day.  They were given gifts of gratitude for their service.

From Wikipedia:
In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.[8] This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663.[9] This custom is linked to an older British tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
Here are 5 Things we can learn and implement during the holiday season from the Boxing Day Tradition:

1)  Gratitude:  How have you honored those who serve you throughout the year?  Do you have a tradition of giving gifts to teachers, coaches, delivery services, cleaning services, hairdressers, etc.?  Reflect on how your life has been blessed by these services.  Even the smallest of gestures can make a big difference.  I like to plan ahead during the winter break to think of these gestures for next year.  I like to identify homemade treats to make for next year, and if there's a sale on a non-perishable holiday item that would make a practical gift, I wrap them a year ahead of time to be ready for next year.  You may also consider leaving a basket of bottled waters and snacks at your door or lace of business for delivery service employees to enjoy.

2)  Giving:  Boxing Day has also been a day of giving.  As referenced here on The Spruce, boxes are placed at churches to collect money for the poor on Christmas Day and opened the following day.  Find ways you can involve your whole family in giving this holiday season.  Sponsor a family in need, serve meals to the homeless, or give to a charity that is close to your heart.  It's also a great time to take a close look at what you have around your own house that can bless others. Clear the clutter and donate! Here in Ventura County, California, we have many families who were affected by the historic Thomas Fire.  Click HERE to see where to donate and HERE for resources for the recovery process.  

3)  Presence:  Celebrate presence more than presents!  Put your phones and devices down and focus on spending quality time with those you love.  

4)  Slowing Down:  Boxing Day extends the Christmas holiday.  In our fast paced world of go-go-go, we truly need more slowing down days.  This is a time to recover from the daily chaos.  Consider having a day with no plans whatsoever.  No to-do lists, no plans!

5)  Relish in Leftovers!:  Chances are there are many leftovers to enjoy from family celebrations.  Enjoy them to their fullest!  No leftovers around?  Use this day as a day to enjoy and appreciate food as the nourishing and delicious life force it gives you.  I like to plan ahead for next year too - if you have a Christmas or Holiday binder, add some recipes you'd like to try next year.  Thank you The Spruce for this handy blog post on recipes for leftovers!  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Tips for the Week Before Winter Break

This next week is the week before Winter Break for us.  If you have kids, chances are this is a very, very busy week.  Some activities like sports practices may have eased their way off the schedule by now, but others may have crept in like special performances.  There are also most likely parties galore at school, workplaces and with family and friends.  This is a wonderfully festive time of the year.  However, with all of the to-do's, it can be a very stressful time of year as well, especially for moms.  Here are some tips for this week that are helping keep me calm the chaos. 

1)  Gift @ the beginning of the week:  I like to bring gifts for teachers, staff, coworkers, etc. at the beginning of the week, not on Friday.  Friday typically has a lot going on; class parties, potlucks, other stuff to remember.  Bless those around you when you have more of a chance to take a moment to breathe and give a genuine thank you and holiday greetings. 

2)  Have some extra gifts on hand:  These are the "just in case gifts."  I like to make homemade things, baked items, hand scrubs, candles etc.  As much as I think I've captured everyone on my Christmas spreadsheet, I'm amazed how every year I am so glad I had an extra gift or 2 on hand.  I like to get these gifts prepped ahead of time as much as possible. 

3)  Plan some self care:  Being the one of the busiest and sugar-laden times of year, it's no wonder we are more prone to getting sick.  In addition to taking your vitamins and supplements, work some more veggies into your diet.  Drink plenty of water.  Limit your sugar intake.  You may want to also plan some pampering.  Anything that will relieve stress and rejuvenate your spirit you should plan to have in your schedule. 

4)  Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!:  Do things that will make your week easy.  Use paper plates, have a night or 2 of eating out if it's in the budget, prep food ahead of time, say no to extra commitments.  Simplify anything you can think of so you can truly enjoy this time of year. 

Best wishes for a wonderful week!

Friday, May 5, 2017

When Life Takes You to the Farm!

When life takes you to the farm, you get to veggie powered meal planning!
This morning I accompanied my daughter's Kindergarten class on a field trip to our local farm.  We came home with green onions, kohlrabi, beets, and carrots.  I already have quite a few veggies at home.  I knew that if I did not get to planning right away some would inevitably go to waste. Here's how I tackled the veggie powered meal planning!

1)  Check out Super Cook!
This website allows you to enter ingredients you have on hand and it searches for recipes with those very ingredients.  My first search yielded some great results!  Here are my selections from a long list of possibilities.  The site first lists recipes for which you have all of the ingredients, as you scroll down it will say the extra ingredients you need for other recipes. Quite often this includes pantry staples. so you may find quite a lot of recipes that would work for you.  
      Quick Carrot Beet Juice
      Easy Balsalmic Italian Beets
      Kohlrabi & Carrots
      Kohlrabi & Egg Noodles
      Roasted Kohlrabi

2)  Get a Plan for Leftover Ingredients.
I have not utilized my green onions yet.  I also know I have cauliflower to use up.  So, I delete all of my previous ingredients and focus on those instead.

I found some great Cauliflower recipes, however, Super Cook does not always have every food item. Case in point: green onions!  I entered green onions and nothing came up.  So, I head on over to Google to do a search where I found this great option:

Summing things up, Super Cook can help you quickly get some awesome recipes for random ingredients!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Tips for Eco-Friendly Organizing

If you are looking for not only an organized space, but also an eco-friendly space, I’ve got some tips for you! 

1)      Minimize: 
Minimalism has been quite the buzz lately.  Minimalism is simply having less so you can enjoy the things you love more.  If you have not seen the documentary Minimalism yet, it is available on Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo and more and offers some wonderful insights into living a minimalist lifestyle.  Minimalism can look different depending on each individual.  When you have less stuff to care for, not only is home maintenance easier, but your time is literally freed up to focus on the activities and people you love more.  Plus, you are using less resources and consuming less, which is better for the environment.

2)      Identify Consumer Habits:
When decluttering and minimizing, you realize what the items are that you truly love and are useful to you and your family.  Look at your consumer habits.  Are you buying things that get little to no use or appreciation?  Have your consumer habits changed throughout the years?  Have you found yourself donating bags of clothes and household items, thinking wow, I wish I hadn’t bought some of that!  Our consumer habits do change when we go through different seasons of life like kids, changing hobbies etc.  As you move out of one season, find an organization to donate to that can put those items into the hands of a grateful consumer, without them having to buy new.  There are many wonderful organizations out there that are changing lives such as providing baby and children’s items to foster families, and charitable organizations who put your used items back in the marketplace.  When shopping, try buying used first.  I have saved a ton of money this way on everything from baby items to sports equipment and office furniture, all while having the peace of heart knowing I am keeping things out of landfills.

3)      Use organizing solutions you already have:
When I first meet with a client, I often tell them, please do not purchase any bins, baskets, or other organizing solutions until we are done with the decluttering process!  Chances are, you will find bins literally opening up for use.  After decluttering, when you are setting things in their place, if you find you do not have an organizing solution that would make sense for the space & make life simpler, then you can go ahead and buy, which gets us to #4.

4)      Purchase Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Organizing Tools:
There are a ton of options out there to keep the environment in mind while pursuing a simpler, more organized life.  Everything from planners and calendars made with recycled paper, to bins and drawer inserts made with sustainable materials.  Look for items made of recycled material, bamboo, and cotton.  Steer away from plastic whenever possible.  TheContainer Store offers many options.  You can read about their stance on Environmental Sustainability on their website, and check out their line of eco-friendly products.  Other retailers of note:  Smead, Dolphin Blue, Mighty Nest, and a basic search of “eco-friendly organizing products” on Amazon comes up with many great options too.

5)      Recycling tips:
When decluttering, it’s also good to know what you can recycle and how.  Your city’s website should have information on recycling of household hazardous waste, expired prescription and over the counter medications, and perhaps even electronic waste recycling programs.  Also look at your recycling options through your waste management provider. We were able to request a larger recycle bin, as well as a smaller trash bin to encourage our eco-friendly habits.  Clothing recycling is not always so clear.  Donate usable clothes to a charity of your choice, and consider keeping a (small) stash for cleaning rags.  Also check with your local animal shelters on what textiles they can use.  You can also cut up fabric to sew into new projects.  Textile waste has become a huge problem today.  This is another reason to consider buying eco-friendly clothing and clothing that may be more expensive, but will last much longer. 

6)       Look for more reusable options:
 As you work eco-friendly habits and solutions into your life, look for ways you can work more
 Reusable options in.  For example, consider using Bees Wrap, a good alternative to plastic wrap.
 For food containers look at glass and stainless steel options.  There are also cloth paper towels,
 Reusable snack bags, and don’t forget to use up old rags for cleaning.  Don’t forget to use your reusable  shopping bags not only at the grocery store, but at all retailers!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

MARCH Towards Simplicty

If you desire to "MARCH Towards Simplicity" head on over & follow Faithful Organizers on Facebook! We will have a new blog post every day focused on simplicity & organization, including one by yours truly, Neat Doctor!

Monday, February 20, 2017

5 Tips on How to Survive the Nuttiest of Nutty Weeks!

We all have them - the nuttiest of nutty, crazy busy weeks!  Even with our best efforts to minimize our activities and commitments they are still bound to happen on occasion.  So, how do you dive into weeks like these?  Here are a few tips which help me a lot.

1)  Go to Bed Early!  If you are a fellow night owl like me, this may seem like the opposite of what you need to do.  However, the added enegy and clarity from even an extra hour of sleep a night will be well worth it!

2)  Meal Plan:  If you can foresee the nutty week on your calendar, make sure you have simple go to recipes planned ahead for that week, write it down, and even plan a night or 2 to eat out if need be. So much stress will be lifted by planning things out.  You will also be assuring that you get some nutrition in yourself.  Be sure some snacks are packed in your purse/bag for the week too.

3)  Do a Mind Sweep Every Day: I recently learned this in a Getting Things Done seminar.  Take a few moments each day to write out everything that comes in mind that you need to do, attend to, call, etc. and write it down.  Capture it in whatever to do list/calendaring system you use, and revisit daily to make sure it's captured.

4)  Delegate as Much as Possible: If there is something in your week you can delegate or pass on to someone else, do it!

5)  Breathe Deeply!  Take some moments to be aware of your breathing patterns.  Take deep breaths and pray or meditate.  Sometimes just acknowledging our stress and place in this amazing universe can help bring calm and peace.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February: Focus on Love

Do what you love.
Spend more time with the people you love.

Sounds simple, right?  If you sit back and examine your schedule, are you living this out?  Examine it one more time; Are you REALLY living this out?  I asked myself this very question this month and the answer was sadly no.  I have been the victim of what plagues many today:  I'm too darn busy and it's all my fault!

Today we live in the age of the internet, with literally everything at our fingertips.  Do you want to learn a new skill?  There are YouTube videos that will teach you.  Did you hear about an amazing DIY recipe for homemade lip balm?  You can do that.  You can pin thousands of items on your Pinterest interest boards "to get to one day," perhaps not realizing the subtle stress you can put on yourself for those "one day" to-do's.  For families, you have the whole family schedule to manage in addition to your own which can prove to be crazy.  Then, if you happen to be like me, there are so many things I have volunteered to help with, and even enjoyed at one time or another, but the sheer volume of things I have said yes to is stripping that joy away.  You can change, and you can start RIGHT NOW!

Here are some things to start with if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Keep in mind that this may not be a quick and easy fix.  Be mindful to not just strip items off your schedule without giving careful thought to the implications.  You may have a commitment you need to finish in its entirety first.  So look at that end date of that commitment, and then do not take on another.  The "one in, one out" rule may work great for your wardrobe, but please exercise caution with this rule and your schedule!  Not until you get to he point where you are truly experiencing absolutely loving the activities you partake in and the people you spend time with, does the "one in, one out" rule for your schedule work.  (And yes, there will always be things like paying bills and cleaning house that we have to do, yet do not absolutely love!)

1)  Take some time out to identify:  what do you love to do, and who do you love to spend time with?
2)  Identify items taking too much of your time.  Make an action plan to simplify.
3)  If you feel stuck, like there are items you just cannot let go of or feel committed to, talk through your struggles with a friend, family member, counselor, life coach, professional organizer, someone who can help you prioritize and figure out a system that works for you.  If you find yourself not loving your line of work, perhaps some soul searching of a career change may be on the horizon. I am glad to report that by going through these steps myself, I am feeling the weights lift off!  I have a few commitments that will take a bit of time to finish out, but the end is in sight and I feel great about finishing those projects in their entirety.

Ultimately, take the steps to spend your precious time and energy on the things and people you LOVE!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January: Focus on Healthcare

January is a great month to get your healthcare off to a great start for the year!
Make any Dr. appointments you are due for, and reboot your vitamin, supplement and nutrition as needed. Start some research on fitness and nutrition and take some action to a new healthy you!

This year I am simplifying my "resolutions" into Monthly Focuses. Stay tuned each month for a new focus.