Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Rainy Day Family Activities

June 1, 2016

Here in Atlanta the children are out of school on summer vacation. We all want to spend lots of time outside enjoying the great outdoors but what do you do with your children when it’s pouring rain outside?

A certain amount of TV time or electronic game time is great. The children love playing with their devices.  I’m sure you don’t want them to spend the majority of their day in front of a screen!

Here are my top five suggestions:

1.      Do you have board games? Rainy days are a great time to pull them out.  Board games have a terrific educational component to them that is sometimes overlooked. The children engage in counting, reading, and taking turns. All wonderful skills!

young kids happy childrens family preparing funny cookies in kitchen at home

 2.      Do you like to bake? If you do that can be a really fun way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. The children can read the recipe, measure the ingredients, mix the batter and set the timer. These are also great educational skills to reinforce while they are away from the classroom. Of course, it’s really rewarding to have yummy treats to enjoy!

Mother with daughter reading book

 3.      Read a chapter book. Create a comfy spot with extra blankets and pillows. If your children are good readers you can take turns reading with your children. This helps to engage their mind and promotes creativity! Ask the children to draw a picture of their favorite character in the story.

Boy Coloring Pictures While Family Looking At It On Floor

 4.      Coloring – bring out the coloring books for adults and for children. You can have a selection of markers, colored pencils, and crayons available. Remember to talk while you’re coloring.

Full-length rear view of mother watching daughters trying on clothes in room

5.      Closets, Cupboards & drawers – Pick one. Have your children look at all their clothes in that one spot. Take all the clothes out of the designated area.  Ask them to try on any clothes that they are not sure if they fit. Put those in a donate bag. Put any clothes that your child say he won’t wear in the donate bag too. If there are clothes that need repair put them in a ‘to be mended’ bag. Tackle another area on the next rainy day. This way clothes don’t linger in your child’s room beyond their useful life and they are benefitting another child.

 I’d love to know about your favorite rainy day activity.

 

 

The Holidays are Coming!

October 15, 2013

Have you noticed that advertising and talking about the holidays has started already? In the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens there was a short paragraph about grocery shopping for the holidays. It mentioned that you can save money by buying some non-perishable ingredients in bulk now before the holiday rush begins in earnest.

The cover of the November issue of Real Simple magazine talks about holiday entertaining made easy. Real Simple magazine is referring specifically to Thanksgiving but really you can apply the tips to other holiday gatherings.

I was shopping at a mall in Atlanta over the weekend and saw many holiday displays. One store had Christmas bears for sale another was selling Christmas tree ornaments and even had several decorated trees on display already! I was really flabbergasted! Christmas on display before Halloween.

Does all the advanced warning of the holidays’ arrival put you into panic mode or does it make you want to organize yourself early?

There is something to be said for making your list in preparation for the holidays. When you start preparing in advance you allow plenty of time to get things done without stress and you give yourself time to do things at a reasonable pace rather than rushing through. Another benefit to preparing in advance is that you save money. If you’re buying gifts for family and friends you can save money when you take advantage of seasonal sales. When you wait to the last minute you may indulge in impulse buying – just to get it done.

If we’re talking about Halloween make list of the candy you’ll buy, the costume you’ll rent (if you dress up), and the decorations for your front door (if you decorate). Make a note on your calendar to buy your pumpkin and set aside time to carve it. Thinking about these chores or tasks allows you to mentally prepare to actually follow through and accomplish them.

What about your list for Thanksgiving, Channukah or Christmas? Thanksgiving could be really easy if you’re not hosting a dinner! My recommendation is to think about your plan for each of these holidays

. What is your vision for each of the holidays?
* Will you be hosting an event?
* Do you like to attend certain plays or programs (like the holiday lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens)?
* Do you like to decorate your house – inside and out?
* Do you like to give homemade baked goods as gifts?
* Do you want to send out holiday cards?

All these wonderful traditions take time. It’s possible to do them all but take a look at your calendar, factor in your daily routine and then schedule time to dedicate to the traditions that will bring your vision for the holidays to life. Only schedule those things that honestly fit your vision and your schedule. Be sure to allow time to simply relax and enjoy!

Clutter-Free Gifts

November 28, 2012

Did you go shopping this past weekend? Maybe you were one of those who shopped after their Thanksgiving Dinner? I didn’t shop on Thanksgiving Day but I did shop at some of the small businesses in my community on Small Business Saturday. Did you? I will admit that I’m a great cyber shopper and in fact was one of those shopping on Cyber Monday. Interesting don’t you think that these shopping days have been named…

There was a terrific chalkboard saying posted on Pinterest last week regarding purchasing gifts for children. It went something like this: 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, 1 thing they want, 1 thing they read. I love this and hope you do too!You do not need to purchase an abundance of things. Too many things just adds to the collection. As a professional organizer, I’m always repeating this mantra to my clients: 1 thing goes out before 1 thing comes in. This is a wonderful time of year to help your children organize their toys and books. If there are toys that are in good condition but that your children no longer play with donate them to a local charity or Goodwill. Books in good condition can be donated to a childcare facility, your local library, or even your school. This way you make room for some things to come in and teach your children that they do not have to hang on to things they are no longer using. A valuable life lesson!

We usually take a family vacation over the holidays and the vacation itself makes up a large portion of my gift to my children. I am a big believer in clutter-free gift giving. These gifts usually involve an experience and they don’t take up any space! You don’t have to put them away.  There are many ways to give a clutter-free gift All you have to do is know the person to whom you are giving and then use your imagination. Here are some questions to get your creative juices flowing. What do they like to do? What are their favorite foods? Do they have a hobby?

Here are a few concrete suggestions:

1. Tickets to a show, the movies, or a local attraction – like the aquarium

2. Something baked: cookies, a cake, or even a casserole

3. Gift certificate to a restaurant (if the person has children you could include babysitting!)

4. Gift certificate for a spa service: facial, manicure/pedicure

5. Gift certificate for a lesson: tennis, golf, skiing, snowboarding, ballroom dance

6. Hire a Professional Organizer for a few hours to help a friend or family member get organized in 1 area of their home

The best part of giving a clutter-free gift is that you are not just giving a thing to use you are also giving an experience! It’s two gifts rolled into one – Isn’t that wonderful!

Do you have time to…?

October 10, 2012

Do you get that deer in the headlights dazed look around this time of year when someone says something like ‘Do you have time to help me …’? There is always so much going on in the fall. Reconnecting with friends you haven’t seen much of during the summer at meetings, like the Garden Club or Book Club.  If you have children in school then there are the school parents nights to attend and parent/teacher conferences.  How about making or finding your child’s halloween costume? Following Halloween is my favorite of fall celebrations: Thanksgiving. But, leading up to Thanksgiving for me is the baking and preparing of the goodies which make up the Thanksgiving feast. Right on the tail of Thanksgiving comes Channukah and Christmas. I don’t know about you but I sometimes get a little overwhelmed thinking about all the activities that go along with Christmas.

Personally, I have lots of tasks to take care of in preparation for Christmas. I send out cards, decorate my house and bake lots and lots of cookies. I have several cookie monsters in my family and love to provide them with these delectable cookie treats at Christmas. I also have gifts to buy for my immediate family and for my siblings. So, in addition to buying the gifts, they also have to be wrapped and mailed to the recipients. How do I accomplish these tasks and keep from feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed? It’s all about organizing & prioritizing my time demands and knowing what additional tasks I can take on without overtaxing my schedule.

How can you avoid the deer in the headlights look as we get deep into fall? This is the topic of a workshop my colleague, Jonda Beattie, and I are presenting on Friday, October 19th in Alpharetta, Georgia. It’s going to be a wonderful workshop complete with holiday punch, christmas cookies and door prizes. Jonda and I will share our strategies that enable us to complete all the tasks surrounding these holidays AND enjoy them! Attendees will also receive a terrific handout full of useful tips. I hope to see some of you there.

Multiple Interests

April 17, 2012

Do you have multiple interests? I do. I love to garden and now is prime gardening season for me. More on that later. I also love to do fine needlepoint. I have a needlepoint project that I am close to completing and can already see it in its completed form – a pillow! Baking is another interest or hobby I have. My husband loves to have cakes and cookies in the house. His metabolism is so fast that he needs to eat these yummy creations in order to maintain his slim weight – lucky guy!

Then there is my business. This business I run is more than an interest it is a passion and a responsibility. As such it is a priority for me. So how do I keep track of the projects I want to implement or changes I want to make in my business as well as my other hobbies and interests? Another way to ask this question is: how do I make time for my other interests and stay on top of the projects I have going on for my business? I should also say that another interest I have or another place I devote my time is to my home and my family. I bet you have many things that demand your attention also!

So, what to do? Life is a bit of a juggling act. I have written before that I don’t believe in a perfect balance between work life and personal life. Let’s take this one step further and imagine that all my interests (business, family and friends included) are spheres which I can juggle. Dan Thurman (the closing keynote speaker at the NAPO Conference in Baltimore) pointed out that when juggling you have to let go of one thing in order to catch another. He also said that you should never try to do it all at once. Instead, do one thing at a time and do it really well.

Back to my interests and hobbies, how do I apply this advice? I schedule my time carefully. For me it is imperative that I truly focus my attention on the task at hand. This way if I only have a small amount of time to give to that task I will be mindfully present and do my very best. Also, I do not try to do it all every day. There’s no way I can give time to every interest I have or every project I’m interested in every day.  I pick and chose what I do according to the time I have available and the importance of the task. When I’m not working on a particular project it is on the back burner. I know where I left off and will be ready to pick it back up when I next assign some time to that project.

Sometimes I only have a little bit of time to spend on a project but a little bit is better than if I did nothing at all. Just a few minutes ago, after I had my lunch, I went out into my garden for about 15 minutes. It is a gorgeous sunny day and I had a bag to contain any clipping I did or weeds I pulled so that I would not have to go back and pick up after myself. I also had my clippers. I did a little weeding and clipped some beautiful roses which I put in water when I came back inside. All together I spent about 30 minutes – a terrific (green clear my head to get back into work mode) break.

My advice is to identify the ways in which you spend your time. Figure out your priorities. Plan your time so that you are only focusing on one interest at a time and doing it well. As Dan Thurman indicated in his speech nobody starts out juggling 5, 6, or 7 items. You start with one or two and build up to more. So, if you are juggling so many interests that you feel like your head is spinning perhaps you need to scale it back a little. Then, as you are more comfortable add one interest at a time.