I love shopping, and I pride myself on not getting sucked in by sales and not buying what I don’t need. But, based on the closets that I help organize everyday, most people are easily sidetracked and end up buying too much and not the items they need. So, for those of you who may be shopping on Black Friday or any other day, here are my tips for an efficient shopping experience.
- Don’t be sidetracked by items you don’t need.
- Check that inventory tags have been removed before leaving a store.
- Have gifts wrapped at the store when possible. Also have them shipped whenever possible.
- Don’t go into a store without knowing what you want and how much you want to spend.
- Ask for help. If it appears that an employee is clueless, disengage immediately
- When shopping in a department store, start on the top floor, get everything you need there, and work your way down.
What does every mom REALLY want for mother’s day? It’s not breakfast in bed, it’s not flowers, and it’s not a new kitchen appliance. What she really wants is more time, more hours in the day, and the feeling, at least for a few minutes, of being caught up. Caught up with all of the emails, endless forms that need to be filled out, loads of laundry, and to do lists. Caught up with her friends and what’s going on in their lives, and caught up with herself. That is what would make her happy.
Continue reading “What Moms Really Want: Mother’s Day Gift Guide” »
Between agitating over the perennial what to wear, where to go, what to buy, how to pay, and why you ate so much, the time between Thanksgiving and New’s Year can be filled with high-octane stress.
However, there are safe ways to self-medicate that have nothing to do with booze, pills or acute psychotherapy. Here, I’ve streamlined some of the easiest to swallow, tackle and take effect organizing tips that will leave you feeling calmer, more in control and believe it or not — more festive this holiday season.
- Clean out your underwear drawer. Anything ripped or saggy goes straight in the trash. Then, move the sassy to the front, and you might end up wearing them!
- Throw out any and all pens or markers in your house that are out of ink. If you have kids, make it a game for them to hunt, peck and test out the goods. Once you’ve grouped them together, you’ll likely to find that you DON’T need to restock anytime soon.
- Don’t just look in that medicine cabinet — throw out every prescription or medication that has outlived its expiration date. Not only will you have more room for great creams (go ahead, buy yourself a new one now that you have room!), but your skin may be more luminous for having invested this time.
- Audit your electronics. Loose wires, old chargers and extra remotes do not make for lovely object d’art. Chuck with bravado. The odds that you will need them again, are the odds that Kim Kardashian married for love.
- Clean out your fridge and pantry. Expired goods, crusty-almost-done jelly jars, anything unrecognizable —out! You may not actually lose weight in doing this — but your kitchen sure as heck will.
- Bid adieu to all of your mismatched socks. They’ve been hanging around all year waiting for their sole mate. If a sock’s mate hasn’t appeared yet, it’s gone for good.
Commit to just a few of these, and I promise you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed! Happy holiday!
Every year, I host the holiday meal after Yom Kippur (called “Break Fast,” when you literally break the fast from sundown the previous day). This is the only holiday I enjoy hosting for several reasons. First, the traditional meal is bagels and appetizing which I order already on platters. Second, it’s buffet style, so no serving is required. Third, while some of my guests may wait until sundown to eat, others eat as soon as they arrive. This means I don’t need to have seating for each guest. Finally, I use paper plates and plastic utensils, making clean up a breeze!
The only thing I actually cook is my “famous” baked cinnamon French toast. I say it’s famous because I refer to it in my book, Secrets of an Organized Mom, and it’s amazing the number of people around the country who have emailed me asking for the recipe. I prepare it the night before and heat it up as my guests arrive. My house smells delicious and people think I slaved all day in the kitchen. Here’s my recipe, so you can try it yourself:
Recipe: Baked Cinnamon French Toast
Ingredients: 6 eggs
2 1/2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (can use more)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Method: Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in bowl. Slice baguette into thin slices and layer in a 9 x 9 pan.
Pour mixture over bread and refrigerate (overnight if possible).
Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and nuts.
After bread has soaked in liquid, spread over top of bread.
Cook on 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until puffed and golden.
Are you hosting a barbecue this summer? If planning your party is putting a dampener on beach weekends, here are my tips for a stress free barbecue!
One Week Before:
- Finalize your headcount.
- Figure out the menu, including what drinks you’ll serve.
- If guests ask to bring something, have suggestions ready. Then, keep a list so there are no repeats.
- Shop for food and drinks. Don’t forget to purchase alternative options for vegetarians, and condiments, too!
- Shop for plates, utensils, and linens.
- Check your grill: if you are low on supplies like propane or need new tools, purchase that too. Don’t forget to purchase bug spray and citronella candles!
- Make sure you have enough tables and chairs for the event.
One Day Before:
- Prepare whatever food you can. You don’t want to be working during your own party! And if your budget allows, hiring help for food prep and cleanup can change the tone of the day for you, too.
- Put all drinks in the refrigerator. In summer weather, you’ll need to have plenty of cold water and ice available throughout the day.
- Tidy the house, inside and out!
- Figure out your summer music playlist. If you dare, you can leave this one up to one of your kids.
Day of the Party:
- Wake up early. Get dressed — keep it casual for a barbecue!
- Set the table early and make it festive with flowers and great summer serve ware.
- Make sure to have some outdoor games available.
- Make sure that no food is overcooked or undercooked! And set up your grill somewhat distanced from the center of the party.
- Pour yourself a drink before guests arrive, and get ready for some real summer fun!
I admit to not being a sports fan, not knowing who the contenders are for the 2014 Super Bowl, and even (gasp) not really caring. Yet, I find myself hosting 20 to 30 people each year for a Super Bowl party that’s often pulled together at the last minute. Since clearly I’m not a last minute party planner, you might wonder why this happens, and the answer is twofold. First, my husband and son spend the week or so before the game casually mentioning to friends that they should come over to watch the game without keeping track of how many people “might” be coming. And, two, the Super Bowl lends itself to such casual entertaining, that it’s not difficult to pull off. So, if you find yourself in this position, here are my tips for a simple but easy Super Bowl celebration!
- Assemble a guest list. Or, in my case, figure out who has already been invited and confirm who is actually coming.
- Consider a simple email instead of an actual invitation. In the email, you can clarify the time you want people to arrive and ask for an RSVP response.
- Encourage guests to bring specific items. I always request that guests bring dessert. It’s one less thing to worry about.
- Easy appetizers are perfectly appropriate. This is the one party where you can simply pour some chips and pretzels in bowls, and you’re all set.
- Create party areas. Make sure you have enough seating for people to watch the game, but also be prepared for those who may want to mingle (or just watch the commercials). I leave televisions on in the kitchen, living room, and den and encourage people to move around.
- Serve dinner buffet style. And there’s no shame in just ordering in pizzas and eating on paper plates.
- Do most of the clean up during the last quarter of the game. Admittedly, this only works if, like me, you’re not vested in the outcome of the game. If you use disposable plates and utensils, all that’s required is throwing things in one big garbage bag and taking it outside.
‘Tis the season of many parties, and as invitations start appearing in your mailbox, you can’t help but be confused by the dizzying display of dress codes. There’s business casual, casual chic, country club casual, dressy casual, resort casual, and just casual. There’s also black tie, festive, cocktail, and my personal favorite, “dress ↑”. Dress codes, like Henry Ford’s Model T, used to be a lot simpler. Now, even when there is a dress designation on your invitation, it’s unclear what to wear. So, what can you do? Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll be dressed to impress this holiday season.
- Who’s on the guest list? If it’s an office party, you might dress more conservatively than if the party will be attended by your still wild and crazy college friends.
- What will your host/hostess be wearing? There’s no shame in asking when you’re really not sure.
- Where’s the party being held? If the party is being held in a fancy hotel you can dress more formally then if the party is held at someone’s home or a more casual restaurant.
- When is the party? Weekends, especially Saturday nights call for more formal dress than a weeknight party.
- Why stress when you have a Little Black Dress? There’s a reason why this wardrobe staple has stood the test of time so well. No matter the occasion, there’s never a time when your LBD isn’t perfectly appropriate. Change your lipstick and your jewelry, and you can step it up or down in minutes.
Party on…and dress ↑!
Every Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for many things…my loving family, good health, and fulfilling career. And, I’m especially thankful that I don’t have to host Thanksgiving dinner. On Thanksgiving morning, my family participates in the Turkey Trot, a multi-generational 5K race. While my father-in-law, husband, and son try to beat previous years’ records, my mother walks, I run so slowly I may as well be walking, and my mother-in-law rides in a golf cart. My daughter collects t-shirts and takes pictures. After the run, we have a relaxing day at the beach. Dinner is eaten in a large restaurant with many other families. While it may not be the most intimate of settings, I love not having to spend the day cooking and cleaning.
If you’re not as lucky as I am, and you’re hosting the meal, it’s important to plan ahead so you can enjoy the holiday. If you follow these tips, on Thanksgiving morning you should be calm and ready to start crossing things off your list.
1. Have a game plan and be ready to execute.
2. Start by determining who will be on the guest list. When you invite someone, and they ask what they can bring, do not be a martyr. Tell them very specifically what they should bring. If they have a special dish they like to make, by all means take them up on it. With any luck, this will lighten your load significantly.
3. Select the menu and keep it as simple as possible…turkey and two or three side dishes. Make your grocery list and shop for non-perishable items in advance. Prepare anything that can be made in advance.
4. Figure out the flow of the kitchen. How long does each item need to cook, what can be in the oven at the same time, when does each dish need to go in and come out of the oven?
5. Think about what time you’ll shower and dress and what time the children will bathe and dress. Know what everyone will wear (including yourself). Write this all down, so you don’t forget a single detail.
6. On the night before Thanksgiving, set the table. Or, if your children are old enough, let them set the table. Engage your children by allowing them to decorate the table with homemade crafts. They can also make and decorate place cards.
7. If there will be a large group of young children invited, you may want to select a movie in advance that can be watched if 10 shrieking children descend into complete chaos, and you crave quiet.
8. Unless having your spouse and children around is helpful, send them out of the house for as long as possible. And if things start to feel out of control, there’s no shame in ordering in a few pizzas and calling it a day. It’s the sentiment that counts!
There are some people who love playing host and those who believe that guests and fish stink after three days. I have to admit, that I fall into the latter category. Yet, even though my guests’ visits are short and sweet, I still make sure my guest room is well stocked and my guests are comfortable for the duration of their stay. If you want to ensure that the time you have guests is as enjoyable for you as it is for them, here are my tried and true “guest rules”:
1. The guest room and bathroom should be dusted and clean, including clean sheets on the bed and fresh towels and soap in the bathroom. Have extra pillows and a blanket available. A light for reading, an alarm clock, and a working television are also nice to have.
2. Consider sleeping in your guest room for a night. It’s the only way you’ll know if it’s comfortable or if there are other issues that need to be fixed.
3. Remove any personal items that you may have been storing in the guest room. If you can’t allocate an entire dresser or closet, empty a few drawers and a portion of the closet. Empty hangers should be in the closet.
4. Let guests know about any house rules. For example, you may not allow eating outside the kitchen, and there may be specific instructions about turning on or off an alarm.
5. Your guests should be told what time meals will be served and whether there are any structured activities that are occurring on a schedule.
6. Be specific about when your guests should arrive and when you expect them to leave. There’s nothing worse than guests who arrive at inconvenient times and/or overstay their welcome.
7. If you have a vacation home, consider not inviting guests on consecutive weekends. Playing host/hostess is exhausting, so having your own weekend in between hosting guests gives you time to unwind and do what you want to do.
8. Leave some time unscheduled so everyone can relax.
9. Ask in advance about food preferences and allergies. Do any necessary grocery shopping prior to your guests’ arrival.
10. Add fresh flowers in a small vase to the guest room. Your guests feel special, and it requires minimal effort on your part.