Use It, Don’t Organize It

I am too organized.

You may not think that is a problem, but where others would give or throw things away, I find myself trying to find some organizer in which to store them.

I was cleaning off the rusty, metal shelves in the basement where I keep my houseplant supplies. On the bottom shelf was a roll of contact paper with watering cans on it. I thought someday I would use it.

The last time I cleaned the shelves I realized the time was now! The shelves were rusty and putting that contact paper down not only protected what I was storing…they look pretty.

“Use it or lose it” is also a good motto. If you don’t use it, get rid of it.

I stored this contact paper for several years.

I stored this contact paper for several years.

 

FIND A FRUGAL PARTNER

Everyone should have a “frugal partner.” That is someone you can call when you have an overabundance of produce in your garden, or you are leaving on vacation and have food that will spoil before you return, or you bought a case of cherry tomatoes and realized there is no way you will be able to eat them all by yourself.

I have a few frugal partners, but the one who calls me the most is my mom. She made two angel food cakes from scratch and brought them to our late Christmas gathering. They were gifts for two relatives who were celebrating birthdays. She left 9 egg yolks with me.

I mixed up a huge batch of noodles, which thrilled my husband, and froze half of them. Last night we celebrated my daughter-in-law’s birthday and she picked beef and noodles as the entrée. I was glad I had a package of homemade noodles in the freezer.

My frugal partners are also willing to take extra food off of my hands when I miscalculated. Like the amount of macaroni and cheese I made for the rehearsal dinner of my son’s wedding. We had four, full pans when the meal was over. I sent them home with my frugal partners.

The batch of noodles I made from the 9 egg yolks my mom dropped off.

The batch of noodles I made from the 9 egg yolks my mom dropped off.

THE STORES ARE CLOSED, NOW WHAT

It’s Christmas Eve; and in a perfect world everything would be bought, wrapped and under the tree.

But what if it’s not?

The best gifts to give are the sentimental gifts and value does not matter.

I have a double strand of pearls that belonged to my great-aunt May. She was a single, feisty lady, and as a teenager, I cleaned her house while she followed me around with her walker. (I hope I am as happy as she was when I find myself alone and needing a walker!)

When she passed away, I was given her pearls. They are not real and one string comes loose from the clasp every time I wear them, but each time I hold them I am a teenager again in great-aunt May’s happy little house.

A sentimental gift that always makes me think of great-aunt May.

When you don’t have time for a well-thought-out gift, look for one that has memories attached to it.

Merry Christmas!

A PENGUIN AND A SNOWMAN

Tuesday we had the Christmas party for my home group. I like to make something for them. Last year, I made coffee cozies, (http://wp.me/pKNzn-lD).

This year, as I was unpacking my Christmas decorations, I looked at my favorite Christmas kitchen towel. It is velvety soft and had blanket-stitched yarn on the edges. I decided to make kitchen towels like it for my home group.

I was looking at kitchen towels, and when I saw a velvety one with penguins on it, I had to get it for my friend who collects penguins. I found another one with a snowman sipping hot cocoa for my other friend.

I used green yarn to blanket stitch the edge of the penguin towel and variegated red yarn for the snowman towel. (I thought it needed jazzed up a bit.)

It didn’t take long to do and I enjoyed thinking about them as I added that detail. After all, it’s the thought that counts!

 

The kitchen towels I added blanket-stitch yarn to for Christmas gifts.

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A GIFT IS A GIFT EVEN IF IT IS A RE-GIFT

I have never had a problem with “re-gifting.” If it is something you cannot use, it is better to pass it on than to store it and let it gather dust.

Recently, I was asked if I could use some glass candlesticks. Knowing how much I like to entertain, they were sure I would use them and they are usually at all of my dinner parties so they would enjoy them too.

Imagine my shock when I opened the bag and found they were Mikasa Crystal!

Yeah, you can re-gift to me any time.

 

The “glass” candlesticks that were re-gifted to me.

GIVING GIFTS EARLY

I received my first Christmas gift a few weeks before Thanksgiving. My friend gave me home-grown parsley that she had dehydrated and put in a canning jar. She gave it to me early so I could use it on my Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember being able to open a Christmas gift early when I was a teenager. It was a lovely dress and Mom decided I would enjoy wearing it to a Christmas service. She did not go out and buy another gift to replace it; I just had one less gift under the tree. I felt like a princess in my new dress!

If you decide to give a gift early, don’t feel like you have to replace it with another one. It’s not the gift, or when you receive it, it’s the thought that counts!

Homegrown, dehydrated parsley.

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WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR MOTHER’S DAY IS BREAKFAST IN BED

The younger generation made it difficult for me at Christmas when they requested no toys or clothes for their children for Christmas. This week as I was pondering what to give my mother for Mother’s Day, I wondered what my children would do if I said, “No flowers or candy this year.”

When my kids asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day I told them, “Breakfast in bed.” They didn’t believe me…or they don’t want to get up early!

I do not want a big breakfast of pancakes or waffles or French toast. They could make something simple and leave it on the counter with a note. Here are some ideas…

  • Bagels and cream cheese with fresh fruit
  • Croissants with fresh fruit
  • Danish with fresh fruit
  • Yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Cinnamon Bread with fresh fruit
  • Raisin Toast with fresh fruit

As you can tell, I don’t “drink my fruit.” I don’t drink juice, but would rather have the actual fruit: orange, apple, grapes, bananas, strawberries.

FlyLady.net recommends gifts that you don’t have to dust. Edible gifts fit the bill. Last year my children lavished me with beautiful flowers and candy. I enjoyed them and was grateful but still would rather have breakfast in bed.

 

Mother's Day Flowers and Candy

Mother’s Day Flowers and Candy

ANOTHER IDEA FOR CONDIMENT PACKETS

A friend read my post about condiments and suggested another great way to use them…

…send them to a deployed soldier.

Our soldiers are fed “MRE’s”, which stands for “Meals Ready to Eat”. (Of course, they have a nickname for them, but my son wouldn’t repeat it to me!) They can be bland and soldiers frequently ask for things to jazz them up; taco seasoning is one request.

It’s funny, kids will refuse to eat something, but when you put ketchup on it, they change their mind! Ketchup could only help a “MRE”.

Ketchup Packets

Ketchup Packets

WHERE ARE THE APPLIANCES?

I have posted many pictures of my kitchen counter. It is small and always empty. I am sure you think I clear it off and put the clutter on the table before I take the pictures. After all, there are always appliances on a counter top. Right?

Wrong! My counter looks exactly like that…empty…most of the time. So where are the appliances? I store them in the upper cupboard where they are close at hand when I am ready to cook. I had to give away my extra glasses and cups to make room. (I store the glasses I use for my dinner parties in a box in the basement near the table.) My toaster ended up on top of the china cabinet, on a tray to collect the crumbs, and my microwave is on top of the dishwasher.

The problem is not that your kitchen is too small or there is no storage; the problem is we all have too much stuff.

My can opener and mixer are on the bottom shelf.

My can opener and mixer are on the bottom shelf.

INVENTORY YOUR CHRISTMAS ITEMS

If you have already put away your decorations for the year, you should still make an inventory of the new decorations you purchased. It will keep you from buying duplicate items. You should have a list of the number of boxes, bags, rolls of wrapping paper and Christmas cards you have on hand.

If everything is boxed up, but still not taken to the attic or garage, you might want to open them up to inventory them. Be sure to set aside any that you no longer love to donate.

If your tree is still up and the halls are still decked, I have one thing to say…”The wise men already came, (Jan. 6th), it’s time to start putting it all away!”

When you finish, you can always decorate for Valentine’s Day and the house will no longer look bare.

My 2012 Christmas Tree

My 2012 Christmas Tree