De-Stress the Holidays

Remember when you were ten years old and the holidays were exciting and FUN? I loved the decorations, the smell of the Christmas tree in the house, the family feasts, and the possibility of getting of tons-o-toys.

But as the years sped by, the holidays became less merry and more stressful . For several years, I even dreaded December a little because of the upheaval the season brought to my schedule, my bank account, and my waistline.

Hmmm, interesting that a few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer just two days before Christmas, no? Maybe there is something to that "stress causes illness" theory. Well, after beating cancer, I decided to stop the madness, simplify things, and make some changes that would help bring some sanity back to my holiday season. Here's what I've done over the years:

1. I stopped decorating the house if I wasn't in the mood or didn't have time to do it. This has resulted in me pulling out our cute little aluminum tree and retro decorations about every other year. Though he enjoys it when I decorate, my husband has ZERO interest in helping me decorate, so I only do it if and when the mood strikes me. I find I can just as easily be filled with the holiday spirit by enjoying everyone else's decorations.

2. My circle of fabulous girlfriends and I decided to stop buying one another Christmas gifts since we all live in relatively small houses, and we all have most everything we need. Instead, we just enjoy getting together at the Christmas party that one of the gals throws every year. This has saved all of us a boatload of money, time, and space.

3. Speaking of parties, I stopped saying yes to every single social invitation that comes up. By protecting my personal/sweetie time during these weeks, I find that I'm more relaxed, centered, and rejuvenated.

4. I try REALLY hard to eat more veggies, drink more water, exercise more regularly, and only nibble on all of the yummy treats that pop up all season long. I'm never going to "just say no" to holiday goodies. But I do try to minimize the damage but nibbling instead of gobbling. I also have found that I feel a heck of a lot better if I limit my party libations to just one adult beverage.

5. I focus on the positive things in my life like my good health, my supportive family, my wonderful friends, my sweet little dog Ruby Pearl, and my growing businesses. I also start brainstorming, planning, and visualizing for prosperity in the following year.

6. I make sure I set aside some time and money to give back either in my neighborhood or by volunteering through my business. It's true that when we give, we truly receive.

What have you done to de-stress this holiday season?

Getting It All Done Before Christmas

We are only about a month away from Christmas which means it's time to get busy and develop your plan of action so that none of your holiday tasks slip through the cracks.

I've put together a very detailed checklist that I am happy to forward to you. Email me at for your copy. But to get you started, here are some ideas for gift-buying that'll have you hitting the ground running on Black Friday.

  • Make a budget and gift list. First decide how much you want to spend. Then make your list of people to buy for, giving each a spending range. An excel spreadsheet is a great place to do this because you can move people around in spending ranges while still keeping an eye on the budget.
  • Make wish lists. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 36% of adults said that they are going to re-gift (giving a gift that you received to someone else) this year. To ensure that your gift won't end up in the re-gift pile, encourage your friends and family to start wish lists on their favorite sites such as and While you're at it, start your own wish lists
  • To reduce potential household clutter, give consumable gifts such as tasty homemade goodies, a nice bottle of wine, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant. And for your friend with a green thumb, give houseplants or plants that can be transplanted into to the gardener's yard when the weather warms up.
  • The greenest gift of all is the gift of your time, money and generosity to those in need. Instead of a huge family gift exchange, consider pooling your gift money and contributing to a charity such as which provides impoverished people with animals such as goats, chickens, and cows that can produce ongoing food and income for the family.
For my detailed holiday checklist that will keep you on track with your holiday to-dos, email me at The list includes everything from gift buying to setting the holiday table.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Where Hoarders Can Go For Help

There has recently been a spotlight directed on a dirty little secret hidden behind closed doors. With the popularity of the A&E television show "Hoarders" and The Oprah Winfrey Show's episodes on hoarding, the general public is seeing a phenomenon that professional organizers have long been familiar with: Compulsive Hoarding.

According to the Institute of Living, a mental health facility based in Connecticut that has a program specifically for hoarders, "compulsive hoarding is a common and potentially disabling problem, characterized by the accumulation of excessive clutter to the point that parts of one's home can no longer be used for their intended purpose."

If you have seen some of the hoarding episodes I referenced above, that's putting it mildly. In many cases, the homes of hoarders have become so congested that the hoarders are at risk of losing their children, their pets and even being evicted from what sometimes becomes condemned property.

Contrary to what some people assume, hoarders are not "lazy" or "just messy." The hoarding disorder affects up to 2 million people in the United States and is often accompanied by mental health issues such as ADD, ADHD, chronic disorganization, and obsessive-compulsive disorder to name a few.

While my company, Creative Order, only takes on mild hoarding cases (find the NSGCD clutter hoarding scale here), I have seen almost all ends of the hoarding spectrum. In the more extreme hoarding cases, it is more appropriate for me to refer these clients to professional organizers who have had very specific training on hoarding and chronic disorganization from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD).

Here are some sources of help for hoarders and their loved ones:


For lots more resources for hoarders, I invite you to go to professional organizer Geralin Thomas' site at Geralin has been featured on A&E's Hoarding show and has compiled an excellent hoarding resource list on her site.

If you or one of your loved ones is a hoarder, please consider seeking professional organizing and mental health assistance before the situation becomes a health and safety issue.

Stop Making Excuses and Start Taking Inspired Action

"I'd like to (fill in the blank), BUT...." You've heard it before. This is the way that most excuses begin. And many times those excuses have validity. But that doesn't change the fact that excuses are usually nothing more than our personal justification for not doing something that we don't want to do.

I was recently talking to a potential organizing client who complained that (1) she came by her clutter honestly because one of her parents was a "pack rat" and (2) she often stayed at work until after 7:00 p.m. and was too tired when she got home to deal with the mountains of clutter that had accumulated over the years.

The reason she called me was because she had finally had enough. She said that her home didn't feel like a sanctuary, clutter was taking over every room, and her personal relationships were being negatively impacted.

This brave lady decided to stop making excuses and start taking inspired action.

She is ready to turn off the EXCUSE-O-METER and let stuff go. We talked about donating things to people who really need them and throwing things away that have outlived their usefulness. She even talked about bringing in a cleaning company she got control of the clutter.

Before we got off the phone together, I told her I can't wait to hug her neck for being so brave. I believe wonderful changes in her life will result from the actions that she and I are going to begin taking this weekend.

What inspired action are you ready take to replace the excuses you've been making?

Saving on School Supplies

There are a few stores that always make my eyes light up when I walk through them: the hardware store, The Container Store, Your DeKalb Farmers Market, and the office supply store. ESPECIALLY the office supply store. I'm pretty convinced that one of the main reasons I used to get so excited about school starting is because it meant that I'd get new pencils, notebooks, folders, erasers, calculators, etc. Wow, I'm giddy just remembering.

But before I get you all hopped up on an Office Depot high, let's stop, take a breath, and plan a course of action. Here are a few tips for saving time and money while accumulating this school year's necessary supplies.

  • Take inventory of what you already have at home. Look in last year's school bags, your home office desk drawer and any other areas where extra school supplies may have landed. You know that junk drawer in the kitchen? It probably has plenty of pens and pencils to get you started. How do I know this? I've organized a LOT of junk drawers in my time. Plus, I'm a recovering pen hoarder.
  • Check out your local paper's circulars before shopping. Many stores will match the sales prices of other stores so pick the one with the lowest prices on your bigger ticket items and then see if they'll match their competitors' prices on the smaller stuff.
  • Bring your list. Unlike me, try and maintain some degree of self-control when purchasing office supplies. Buy what's on the school's list of the basics and get the heck out of the store. If you need extra support, take someone with you who is immune to the intoxicating smell of new notebook paper.
  • Buy throughout the year as sales come up. But be careful not to buy more than you have room to store. Occasionally, go through your backup inventory so you don't end up with duplication and lots of supplies that weren't needed.
  • Use stickers to jazz up less expensive but functional notebooks and folders. If the kids insist on upgrading to the flashier versions, have them pay the difference to help them learn valuable lessons about money.
  • Consider ordering supplies on line. is a convenient and comprehensive site that caters to elementary through high school supplies. Teachers also swear by for learning tools, games, stickers, and even software.
With a little planning and self-control, you can save a little while sending your student back to school armed with the tools to take on any class or project.

Back to School Made Easy: Clothes

I've always loved school. As a little girl, I would get giddy with anticipation at the thought of starting a new school year. Yeah, I know I'm a freak.

And so we have the new school year fast approaching for many and for some on an alternative annual schedule, it's already here! Throughout August, I'll be providing tips to help ease the chaos of getting kids ready for the new school year:


* Before starting your back-to-school shopping, take stock of what's already in your student's closets and drawers. This is a great time to pull everything out of their closets to determine (1) what still fits, (2) what's not being worn because your kid doesn't really like the garment or it's uncomfortable and scratchy, and (3) what pieces are needed to fill in the gaps.

* If the unwanted clothes are still in like-new condition, find a local consignment store and set up an account so that you can make a little money on your kid's castoffs.

* When you're ready to start shopping, bring a list of the garments you're looking for to flesh out your student(s) closet. Just like at the grocery store, a list helps you save time, stay focused, and minimizes trendy impulse purchase.

* Consider buying new clothes online as long as the seller has a flexible return policy. In my hometown of Atlanta, traffic is so crazy, it's worth it to buy stuff online just to avoid the stress and time of driving. Plus, you can avoid the crowds at the malls and discount stores during the back-to-school feeding frenzy.

* Remember those consignment stores I mentioned earlier? They are a GREAT place to buy clothes for kids, tweens, and teens. A friend of mine has a teen who has just discovered that he can sell his old clothes and get some really cool gently-used clothes in the same store. This new discovery is saving his parents a ton compared to what they'd have to pay to new stuff to keep up with their fickle teen's ever-changing taste in fashion.

Next time we'll discuss ways to save money and time getting school supplies.

Making Money From Clutter

The old saying goes, "One person's junk is another person's treasure." While helping people reclaim their spare rooms (aka "junk rooms"), basements, and garages, my clients and I come across lots of items that are no longer serving them that could be resold for some cold, hard cash.

another news clip where I discuss a free local classifieds site I've partnered with that's perfect for de-cluttering your home or office. The site is ( in the Atlanta market), and it's owned by the international auction site, Unlike ebays auctions, however, transactions are handled locally between the buyer and seller. The seller posts the item on kijiji's user-friendly site for a set price (no bidding necessary), and then meets the buyer locally to exchange the goods for cash or check.

Plus the buyer gets to touch and see the item before they buy. And because it's the responsibility of the buyer to transport the item home, it's easy for sellers to get rid of larger items like furniture and even cars. If your goal is to make a little money while getting clutter out of your home or garage, see if has made it into your market.

Efficient Landscaping

Planning and proper preparation can make all the difference in the success of a project. Admittedly, I can get caught in the trap of over-planning (some may call that procrastination). But I'd like to share an example where I embarked on a project without doing enough preparation and paid a price for it.

About ten years ago, I discovered a love of gardening and began landscaping my backyard. Because it was so shady back there, the lawn was nothing more than a big patch of red clay with an occasional grass sprig or weed.

To cover up some of the bare spots, I created mulch paths surrounded by shrubs and plant beds. After digging up many wheelbarrows of dirt and laying down almost as many loads of pine bark, the paths were done....or so I thought.

What I failed to do back then was lay down a weed barrier or edging. Over the years this oversight has led to many hours of weeding the paths, pulling up grass that encroached into my neatly laid lines (after losing some trees, the grass magically began growing), and trying to control the path mulch from washing into the yard when it rained.

Fast forward ten year later and I'm finally investing some sweat equity and planning into fixing my former mistakes. After waiting until the most recent batch of old mulch had broken down. I weeded the paths AGAIN, installed new path edging, laid weed fabric, and filled the paths back up with countless loads of mulch that I had left over from a tree removal. Now I can rest assured that I won't be weeding or re-mulching my paths for the next couple of seasons.

And to simplify my yard maintenance even further, when THIS batch of mulch eventually disintegrates, I'm investing in rubber mulch made from ground up recycled tires. That stuff won't need to be replaced for years. By doing the prep work that I should have done a decade ago, I'll be saving myself hours of back breaking weeding. Now if I can just figure out a way to keep those oak trees from shedding so many leaves in the fall.

What type of prep work do you do to make your gardening projects more efficient long term?

Using to Make Room for Baby

I am excited to announce that I have recently partnered with, the free local classified web site, to promote their Baby On Board campaign where we're helping expectant parents get their homes organized in anticipation of their new baby.

Kijiji, which means "village" in Swahili, is a family friendly , safe, and easy to use classified site that does not contain explicit adult content as some other classified sites do. This makes a great site for expectant parents to use to buy and sell items as they stock up on baby gear.

Go to and at the top of the page you'll find the link to my tips for making room for baby while saving money.

To kick off the campaign, I'll be appearing Monday, June 1 at 8:38on FamilyNet TV's Mornings with Lorri & Larry. FamilyNet TV is on Comcast channel 265 in the Atlanta market. We'll be discussing how new parents can affordably transform a spare bedroom or home office into a cozy, fun baby's room. Here are a few of my helpful tips in case you miss the show or don't get FamilyNet TV in your market:

  • To transform a home office or spare bedroom into a new baby's room, it is necessary to first purge the old furniture from the space. is an easy solution for this as it only takes a few clicks to create an ad for that old desk, computer, or spare bedroom set. Selling unused furniture, electronics, and appliances from the home is a great way to offset the average $2,500 that new parents spend on baby-related items.
  • To furnish the baby's room, consider buying gently used baby items on According to eBay market data as reported by ItsDeductible, a used crib averages $37 and a rocker or glider averages just $41! That's a substantial savings from what new parents would pay retail.
  • Rather than purchase a new changing table, convert an gently-used or antique wooden dresser to a changing table by adding a changing pad to the top. They average for around $31 on Paint the dresser to match the baby's room, update the hardware and drawer liners and you'll have a great piece that can be re-purposed in the child's room as they grow older.
  • Keep a tall bookshelf near the changing table as another storage option. You can place memorabilia on the upper shelves, extra clothing and bedding on the lower shelves, and use the easy-to-reach middle shelves for necessary changing supplies.
  • To maximize storage options, don't forget about all that space under the baby's crib! Plastic drawers and under-bed storage boxes are great solutions for clothing that the baby has not yet grown into.
Tune in on Monday for even more tips for getting ready for that little ray of sunshine!

Freshening Up the Home Office

I believe that it's a good idea to occasionally do something new in a space just to enliven its energy. Maybe paint a room a new color, add a new piece of furniture, or rearrange the furnishings already there.

Today I jazzed up my home office space by adding elfa shelving over my desk. The photo posted was taken just after I put everything back in place. Let's take a tour of the new workspace.

* On the very top shelf, I keep items that I sometimes reference but rarely need. These include colored hanging file folders, CDs from classes I've taken, and transcripts from a Success Circle Mastermind that I recently belonged to. Rather than give these items the valuable real estate that is reachable from my desk chair, I've put them up on the top shelf. I keep a stepladder close by to help me reach these items when necessary.

* On the next shelf down we have items that I use a little more often such as copy paper, writing tablets, thank you cards, manila folders, labels, and sheet protectors. These are easily reachable just by standing up from my desk chair.

* Further down and closer to the desk top is my reference material such as organizing and coaching books, notebooks from annual NAPO conferences, my binders from my Coach for Life training, and the notebook where I keep resource material for a book I'm planning to write.

* Moving down closer to the desk top, we're getting into pricier real estate. In order to live on the shelf right about the desk, an item has to be something that I use all the time. This is where I keep my dictionary and thesaurus, tissues, desk lamp, and a 3-tiered paper sorter.

Speaking of my 3-tiered paper sorter, I use the middle shelf of the paper sorter for papers that need to be filed. Once the pile reaches the top shelf of the paper sorter, that's my visual alert that it's time for me to do some personal filing. The other shelves on this paper sorter include ACTION at the top (high-priority projects I'm in the middle of right now) and PROJECTS on the bottom for things I plan on working on in the future.

* Finally, we have the desk top. I use a laptop computer for its portability. To keep it from overheating, I have it sitting on a plastic stand that was originally meant to be an under-cabinet glass holder. The pile of papers to the right of the computer is my ACTION pile for the day. On the far left corner of the desk is a tray that holds the little things one might have in desk drawer, only I don't have a desk drawer. So I have my sticky notes, stapler, paperclips, etc. in this tray. The tray was once the lid to the striped box on the very top shelf over the desk. I love to repurpose items!

Next to the office supply tray on a separate but flush shelf is a staggered file holder. In this, I keep those files and reference materials that I access ALL the time as my assessment forms, my Waiting For file, my Someday/Maybe file, and my current year's tax file.

So you see, I keep my desktop relatively open because it helps my creativity when I can spread my work out a bit and am not too distracted by visual clutter. Close by, I keep those items that I use quite often. And a little further away, I store supplies that I need but don't want junking up my work space.

And the best part is that it only took me about 30 mintues to install the elfa and restock the whole thing! I *heart* the ease of installation, flexibility, and durability of elfa shelving. My husband is also pretty excited to have inherited the Skandia hutch I was using before today. What do you use to store items in your home office?

Daily Candy Kids

Look for me in the April 27th Atlanta edition of Daily Candy Kids where I discuss ways to tame kids toys and artwork. With overzealous grandparents and well-meaning aunts and uncles, toys just seem to multiply overnight.

On Daily Candy Kids, I offer tips for using overlooked spaces such as the backs of doors and underneath beds to stow toys and children's artwork.

Here's a bonus tip just for my Better Organized blog readers: You can place stackable drawers side by side under many children's beds. They make great containers for tiny little parts and pieces, doll clothes, and Legos. Plus the drawers can be pulled completely out in case the toys need to be played with in another part of the house.

Measure the space from the floor to the bedframe and head out to The Container Store, Target, Big Lots, or even The Dollar Store for the plastic stackable drawers. Or if you're looking for a bed with built-in drawers, check out IKEA's selection.

Decatur Electronics Recycling Day Postponed

The City of Decatur announced the cancellation and rescheduling of the March 28, 2009 Electronics Recycling Day due to heavy rains and lightening over the weekend. Because the event is held outdoors , the severe weather made it a safety hazard for the workers and volunteers.

Electronics Recycling Day has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 25 from 9:00 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Decatur High School parking lot. Visit for a complete list of electronic items that may be recycled and for more details about the event. You may also call (404) 377-5571 for information.

Recyclng Electronics

When I am organizing my clients, they'll often have old televisions, computers, monitors and other electronics that they've never gotten rid of because they aren't sure of the best, most environmentally friendly disposal options.

Here are a few suggestions for folks in the Atlanta area:

  • The City of Decatur hosts its Electronics Recycling event in the spring and the fall of each year. This year's spring event is coming up next weekend on March 28. Bring your old televisions, computers, fax machines, telephones, stereo equipment, electric lawn equipment, etc. to the Decatur High School parking lot from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. They are even recycling clean Styrofoam and old batteries. Note that there is a charge of $10 (exact change requested) for television donations. For a more detailed list of acceptable donations, go to
  • Keep Atlanta Beautiful has partnered with Atlanta Public Schools to provide e-waste recycling drop-off centers in the City of Atlanta. They have kicked off a program at Grady High School which gives students and local neighbors a permanent location to recycle old electronics every third Saturday of the month. The drop-off location is currently at the 8th Street parking lot across from Grady. For more information and a detailed list of acceptable donations, click here.
  • A company that my husband has used for computer repair, HM Solutions Incorporated, recently sent us an email saying, "If you have any computer equipment you do not use, please contact us. We will take your old equipment, recondition it, and donate it to a worthy cause, whether it be an underprivileged individual or to a family who cannot afford a computer." For more information about this program, please contact Bobby Sahij at
These are just a few of the electronics recycling opportunities available. Google "Electronics Recycling" and include your city or county name, and you'll find even more convenient options.

Elfa Sale Extended

One of my favorite closet systems, elfa, rarely goes on sale. But I'm happy to report that The Container Store has put it on sale for 30% off until May 10, 2009.

According to a recent email from Melissa Reiff, President of The Container Store, they have too much inventory of elfa, their most popular closet system. There's even some elfa product on sale for as much as 50% off.

If you already have elfa in any of your closets, you know how easy it is to install and how flexible it is to change as the needs of the space change. I love to use it in childrens' closets because the shelves and bars can be installed very low when the kids are preschool age and then gradually raised as the kids grow.

Heck, it's so durable that, when the kids move out, your elfa will still be holding up and you can transform that closet for use in your new home office or guest room.

The Container Store offers complimentary elfa design in the stores, online, and by phone. Often my clients will have me or one of my Lead Organizers look at their space (closet, pantry, garage) and discuss the best layout of the space based on their organizing plan. Then the client takes their measurements to The Container Store and has TCS it design on their computerized design system. TCS pulls all the pieces for the client and then the client calls Creative Order in to handle the installation of the system. Finally, we work with the client to appropriately fill the shelves of their new system.

If you've been thinking about organizing or re-designing a closet, pantry, or garage, contact me at suellen at creativeorder dot com and I'll walk you through it step by step.

De-Cluttering the Bathroom

Isn't it amazing how the smallest room in most homes, the bathroom, can become the most cluttered?

Most of my clients have multiple bathrooms including a master bath, a guest bath and often a separate bath that is designated to the kids or spouse. (I hear that one of the secrets to a happy household is separate bathrooms.)

Ladies, I must say that we normally cause most of the clutter in a master bath. With our razors, soaps, gels, lotions, body sprays, and makeup that make us smell fabulous and look pretty, we can quickly clutter up a shower stall and vanity top.

Following are some of the ways to minimize bathroom clutter:

  • Bottles of Shampoo and Conditioner: If you have several bottles in your shower caddy, either use them up, give them away, or throw them out. Are you saving them because they were expensive and you don't want to use them up? Did they just not provide the results you expected? Remember that hair conditioner can also be used as shaving lotion and shampoo can be used to clean your makeup brushes and hair brushes.
  • Old towels and wash cloths: Life is too short to use scratchy, dingy towels on your squeaky-clean body. Almost everyone has too many mismatched towels on hand. Consider re-purposing your old towels as car/pet towels or donate them to your local animal shelter. Most households only need two-three towels per family member.
  • Blowdryers, diffusers, and curling irons: The first question to ask is, "Do I use this?" If not, donate it. I would make one exception, however. You may want to keep one travel size blowdryer on hand for overnight guests.
  • Makeup: If the makeup is old and expired, throw it out. Pink eye is not pretty, people. Most women have a core set of makeup for everyday use with a few extras thrown in for dramatic evening flair. Gather all of your non-core makeup in one bag or basket and then be relentless as you decide what to keep and what to toss. If it's the wrong color, made you break out, or is no longer age-appropriate (should you still be using party glitter once you're over 40? I'm just saying...), then toss it.
  • Medicine cabinet: Go through your medicine cabinet and throw out expired meds. A couple of years ago I cleaned out a client's medicine cabinet that contained Chloraseptic throat spray that expired in the 80s. Yikes! And to entertain your nosy friends, put some kind of zany picture on the inside of your medicine cabinet door. It will make them laugh, but they won't be able to comment about it without divulging that they were snooping.
  • Under-sink cabinet. Occasionally pull everything out from under your bathroom sink to determine whether it still deserves to stay. If you can afford to have pullout drawers installed in this area, they are wonderful! If not, you can always use a couple of plastic sweater boxes or shoe boxes as makeshift drawers.
I have only one bathroom in my little fifties ranch house which I, of course, share with my husband. And this tiny bathroom does not have a sink cabinet. Needless to say, we have learned to really streamline our personal toiletries. I installed a small wall cabinet for my toiletries and my husband uses the medicine cabinet for his. I fit all of my makeup into two little cosmetic bags. To be happy and functional in our shared little bathroom, less is definitely better.

Container Store / Oprah Special Offer

In partnership with "Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour", The Container Store is offering
20% off
storewide sale through March 1, 2009.

This discount can be used on everything in the store, including The Container Store's awesome elfa shelving solutions.

Go to to get the coupon for in-store purchases or you can order online and use the promo code CLUTTERCREW.

Also happening at The Container Store is their annual Tax Time Sale where you can find discounts on really cute folders like the ones above.

I always encourage my organizing clients to stock up on translucent plastic file tote boxes this time of year because you can find them on sale at The Container Store or almost any office supply store.

Tip: Post-tax time is the perfect time of year to evaluate your file drawers and pull out those files that can be thrown out, shredded, or stored outside of your active work area in such places as an attic, garage, or basement. Just don't forget to label the plastic file boxes before you move them to their new, out-of-the-way home.

I don't recommend storing old files in cardboard banker boxes because the boxes can begin to fall apart in humid environments, are easy for rodents and bugs to get into, and they don't stack as securely as plastic bins.

Time and Money Saver: The Six O'Clock Scramble

There was recent discussion amongst NAPO organizers about an on-line dinner planning service called The Six O'Clock Scramble ( that I wanted to share with you. It sounds like a time AND money saver. And who couldn't use more time and money, right?

Each week Six O'Clock Scramble subscribers receive:

  • Five family-tested, healthy, delicious, and quick dinner recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare
  • An organized grocery list so you can grocery shop just once per week
  • A searchable database where you can customize your weekly dinner plan
  • Your own recipe box where you can save you family's favorite 30-minute meals
  • A newsletter with useful tips for easier mealtime, snacks, and lunches
  • Nutritional information for each recipe to help you take charge of your health
Several NAPO organizers said that their lives have been so much easier since subscribing to this service. And it's not just for busy moms! I saw a testimonial on the site from a couple who are recent empty-nesters, and they described how they have been able to save money on groceries because they are only buying what they know they will use in a given week.

Plus it's healthier than eating out because The Scramble emphasizes whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables. And if you have special dietary needs such as vegetarian or Kosher, you can swap out any meal with a selection from the Scramble database.

Finally, I love their recipe box feature too. They say on the FAQ section that they will even keep your recipe box for up to a year after your subscription ends.

You may also want to pick up The Six O'Clock Scrambler book at Barnes & Noble.

My Word of the Year: Courage

Last year I was introduced to an interesting idea by Christine Kane in her wonderful LiveCreative blog. Instead of making a list of New Year's resolutions each January, she suggests that you pick just one word to focus on throughout the year.

Last year the word that I picked was "Connection" because I really wanted to connect more deeply with my friends, my family, my colleagues, and my clients.

I kept the word "Connection" on my vision board all year to remind myself of the improvements that I wanted to make in this area of my life.

I found that as 2008 progressed, not only did I bond more with others, but I also re-connected with my spirituality in a profound way. What an unexpected surprise!

This year the word that I have picked is "Courage" (hence the Cowardly Lion in the photo above).

I want to step more bravely into improving my body and health through CrossFit, a Zone diet, and bicycling.

I want to fearlessly develop my Life Coaching practice while I continue to grow my organizing business.

And I want to be more bold and authentic in my writing. I am starting a couple of other blogs related to life coaching and thriving after cancer. It is my goal to be fearlessly open to whatever inspirations may come from these endeavors.

Here's an exerpt from Christine Kane's blog to give you an idea of how you might use this approach as you begin the new year:

Several years ago, my friend Kathy and I decided that, instead of making resolutions, we would pick a word that would guide us throughout the year. It would be our touchstone. It would remind us to live our lives at the BE level.

This didn't mean that we didn't take action. It meant that our actions were inspired from the BE level. In fact, I took more action than ever with this new approach!

For two years, I've blogged about this inspiring way to begin the year. The response has been huge. So have the success rates! I regularly hear from people who have created big changes in these lives because they focused on one word.


Let's say you're one of the many people who would normally choose "Get Organized." You're tired of chaos and clutter. So, you think, "I need to get organized. That will be my resolution."

But then you read this article. You decide to try this new approach.

You sit with your clutter. You spend a few days pondering words. You realize in an "Ah-Ha" moment that you hold on to lots of things. You're scared to let go.

So you choose the word "Release" because it inspires you in a bigger way than "Get organized."

So, every time you approach your clutter you remind yourself of that word. "Release," you say softly. You start to let the clutter go.

Eventually, you realize that you're still holding on to lots more than just physical clutter. You realize that you hold onto resentment at old relationships. "Release," you remind yourself.

You realize that holding on is affecting your diet and health. "Release" applies to some of the extra weight you've gained as well. Throughout the year, you can see clearly how much you hold on. "Release" is your touchstone. It grows you throughout the year. It becomes your guiding force, not your harsh standard.

Your clutter became your teacher simply because you shifted your intent towards it. This wouldn't have happened if you'd opted only to "Get Organized."

What word will you choose for 2009?

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishers her "LiveCreative" weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for her FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at