Transforming Closets I

One of the most frequent challenges for people is their closets.  Whether in the kitchen or in the bedroom, it’s hard to make it all fit in!  So today I thought I would share some tips and ideas for organizing those special closet spaces.

First and foremost, we need to clean them out.  If you just keep shoving stuff in you’re not helping the situation.  You’ve got to decide if you use/wear it and then choose to keep it or share it with someone else (there are lots of organizations that take clothes donations, and some that take food or kitchen items too).  If after going through the whole closet you still have too much, consider storing it somewhere else in the house.  Perhaps under your bed for clothes, and in a pantry rack or small closet for food.  Also go through your pots, pans and other kitchen items, do you really need all 10 pans?   Don’t forget about those bookshelves and books stored in boxes too!  Bottom line really strive to eliminate some of the stuff in your closets.

Once you’ve removed some that isn’t liked or worn or used, immediately put it somewhere that you have to get rid of it.  Don’t leave it on your bed to be put back in the closet at the end of the day or on your kitchen floor where you’ll stuff it back in.  Try calling or visiting the website of a veteran’s association or local food bank and see if they do home pickups (most do) or if  you need to drop it off.  They may also take books, or you could try donating them at your local library.  If the weather is nice, you could do a garage sale, but usually with food and clothing, it’s just easier and better to donate it and be done with it.

So, now that the closet is emptier, pat yourself on the back!  It’s a huge step that you just took to get rid of stuff that isn’t helping you anymore.

I’m going to finish up today by talking about the major structures in your closet.  Do you have shelves?  One or two big, empty closets in the kitchen?  Do you have a single pole?  How are your clothes/food in the closet?  Do you have built in storage?  If you don’t have a custom designed storage system or shelves that work for you already in the closet, here are some suggestions: Home Depot has an option set up of either functional wire, or more decorative wood ideas you can check out here.  The wire solution is typically able to be installed by you, or you can hire someone to help you.  The Container Store and Ikea also have options for you to consider.  Getting a simple cabinet or cart is a great idea for some extra space in the kitchen, especially if you don’t have a pantry.

Before we get into some of the organizing details in 2 weeks, I suggest you invest in a better storage system if you don’t have one.  So spend some time over these 2 weeks to find an option that will help you better organize and use your space.

Stuck?  Need help knowing what’s best for you?  Share your thoughts and questions below.

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Celebrating Cherries

Today we’re celebrating national cherry month with some yummy family friendly recipes.

Breakfast

Peach and Cherry Frittata

Cherry vanilla oatmeal

Cherry almond muffins

Cherry breakfast cake

Snack

Cherry, Almond, Cinnamon granola

Walnut and cherry bars

Cherry snack mix

Peaches and cherries with balsamic dressing

Dinner

Cherry pork chops

Tangy cherry chicken

Pork with cherry sauce

Spicy cherry ribs

Dessert

Chocolate covered cherries

Cherry crisp

Puff pastry with cherries

White chocolate cherry cookies

Cherry pie

Brandied cherry crepes

Cherry parfait

Drink

Cherry Mojitos

Cherry cooler (no alcohol)

Cherry lime ricky

Visit Northwest Cherries for more yummy recipes!

Do you have favorite cherry foods or cherry related memories?  I would love if you would share them below!

Friendship Tips

This month we’re talking about friendships  a bit.  Today I thought I would share some tips with you on how to be a great friend.  Some may seem simple or over said, but they’re important!

Be yourself: trying to pretend to like something or someone will not get you anywhere.  Like what you like, who you like and don’t pretend.  But don’t be afraid to try new things too.

Be a good listener: even more important than talking and sharing is being a good listener.  Everyone loves a good listener.

Be there for them: if you know they’re having a baby, text them and ask if you can come over and cook or clean for them. If you know they’re struggling financially, ask to take your friend out to a coffee shop for a special treat and break from the stress (your treat of course).  Offer specific assistance, because saying “let me know how I can help” usually leaves your friend frustrated and not helped.

Smile: just smiling when you’re with them means that you appreciate and enjoy your friendship.

Pay attention: try your best to notice and remember things.  If they look distracted, ask them if they want to talk about it. Remember their birthday, drinking preferences and other favorites.

Stay in touch: you don’t have to call them every day, but do make an effort to email or text them at least once a month and find out how they are doing and what’s going on (so you can support them!)

Celebrate with them: celebration is an essential part of a healthy life and relationships.  Send them a card or e-card after a big event.  Email them and congratulate them.  Call them and ask them to come over so you can celebrate together.  Celebrate for big and little events.

Give compliments: this is a great way to support your friendship.  It doesn’t have to be a big compliment, or one every time you’re together, but honestly compliment them whenever you have occasion.

Be forgiving:  holding things against them is not only hurtful for them, it is also for you.  Forgive them so you can move on, and so you can possibly repair the friendship.

Communicate: tell them when you’re stressed or what you’re really feeling.  Being honest and sharing what’s really going on in your life is important for both of you.

Check your expectations: expect loyalty and support, but not constant attention.

Love them: no matter what, above all else, love them in whatever ways you know how.

Which one do you do best?  Which is hardest for you? Share your thoughts below.

Business Tips from the Presidents

In honor of Presidents Day here in the USA, I thought it would be fun to talk about some business tips that Presidents can teach us.

Reagan: known as the great communicator, something all business owners should be known for.

Clinton: connect with the people.  If you can’t connect with the people, you won’t succeed.

Washington: be passionate.  Passion drives us and keeps us going.

Ford: be prepared to make adjustments.  You’ve got a choice in life: react to changes or prepare for them.

Kennedy: have a sense of humor.  Everyone needs to laugh and remember that life isn’t all serious moments.

Lincoln: work with the best, even if they seem to be rivals.  Don’t see everyone as competitors, see how you can help and support each other, especially if they’re the best.

Roosevelt: be confident and upbeat.  It’s not about ignoring the problems or reality, it’s about acknowledging them and coming up with a plan to overcome them.

Adams: work with those you can trust.  If you can’t trust your coworkers or employees, you won’t get anywhere, or you’ll constantly be redoing what they’ve done.

Obama: put technology to use with purpose, and don’t forget what really matters in life. Don’t just have social media profiles, use them well.  And, don’t forget that you’ve got people in your life.  Make sure you spend time on your life, not just your business.

Carter: work on those details, but make sure to check out the big picture.  Life is about both details and the big picture.  Don’t take care of one and you could have big problems.

Those are just a few lessons we can learn from some past US presidents.  Share your thoughts and comments below.

Spreading Kindness as a Family

Today for our family post I thought we would talk about a special event that was celebrated yesterday, Random Acts of Kindness day!  I’ve shared about kindness several times before, but never with a focus on family like today.  So I have 4 thoughts for you today on celebrating random acts of kindness with your family.

Do a bit of kindness each day for one other person in your family.  Maybe you do chores for someone else.  Maybe you call home before you get there and ask if anything is needed from the store.  Maybe you pick up a treat from the corner bakery, bring home flowers or your partner’s favorite magazine.  Maybe you get your kids that special treat while you’re out shopping together.  Maybe you read that extra book or chapter before bed to your children.  Maybe you spend an extra 5 minutes playing with your pet.  Maybe you make dinner instead of the person who usually makes it.  Maybe you come home early so you can put your kids to bed. Maybe you share a compliment about what someone is wearing or how well they did their work that day.  Maybe you bring home a little $0.99 card that says “I love you” on it for your kids or partner.

Sharing food or a drink with someone is always a great way to be kind.  Rather than fight over the last cookie, share it!  If you’re getting a coffee or beverage from a coffee/ice cream shop, get one for someone else. If you stop to pick up bagels/donuts for work, pick up some for those at home.

Why should you do random acts of kindness?  First and foremost, it’s fun!!  Whenever someone gets surprised by your little bit of kindness their face always lights up.  They’re always thankful that you thought of them and cared enough to do something special for them. Second, it teaches your children how to be polite and respectful of others.  If we’re teaching children how to do that little bit of extra goodness, they’ll do better at jobs, in school, when working with clients or when dating.

If you want to read some more on kindness you can read this post or this one, and I encourage you to visit the Random Acts of Kindness website where they’ve got lots of great stuff.

I encourage you to make it your mission to do one, just one, Random Act of Kindness each day for someone-either online or in life.  You’ll be surprised and blessed by the result!

Share your favorite kind things to do below!

Loving Your Heart

Feb is American Heart Month.  It’s an opportunity for everyone, not just those in America to learn about the dangers, signs and preventative tips for heart disease, the number 1 killer of people in America.  You can learn more at the American Heart Association website.

Let’s talk about some action steps we can all take to get healthier and help our very important hearts.

1. Visit My Life Check and see how you’re doing with the 7 steps to improve your health.

2. Check out the warning signs of heart issues, not to be paranoid all the time, but just to know what to look for.

3. If you haven’t gotten in that Valentine’s date yet, check out some heart healthy ideas.

4. On the Heart Association website, there’s also lots of tips and thoughts about nutrition, physical activity, healthier kids, weight management, stress management, fats and oils, and quitting smoking.  Pick one or two to really get working on.  It could save your life.

I want you to be around for a very long time, after all, you’ve got people who depend on you and many gifts to share with the world.  Throughout the year I share a lot of tips and thoughts that can help you live a full, happy, healthy life, and I encourage you to share what you learn too. With a little education and some activity, we can help dramatically reduce the prevalence of heart disease in America and around the world.

How do you show love to your heart?  What’s your reason for doing so?  Share your thoughts and tips below.

Organizing Tools

Today I’m sharing a few tools that you can put to good use in your house, help yourself get organized and use for multiple purposes.

Doors:

There are several different kinds of over the door organizers you can use to help you store your kitchen products, stationary stuff, craft supplies, shoes or anything else.

Traditional sturdy metal, smaller pockets, shoe sized pockets, boxier shoe/container organizer, paper friendly organizer, and even one for short kitchen cabinets!

Spices:

I’ve suggested on Twitter that spices can be stored many places.

In drawers, in a cabinet friendly organizer, or behind a closet door.

Other Storage & Organization Tools:

This super awesome cabinet would work well for a crafter or handyman.  This one is great too!

Drawer organizers are essential.

And we can’t forget a solid cabinet to store all your papers in!  And one for daily use too.

Don’t forget to label your stuff!  Use a labeler to know what’s inside your efficient storage containers!

Having some of these tools in your life can help you be better organized, find things quicker and enjoy your hobbies and do more efficient work.  Do you have a favorite tool or item you like to organize your stuff in?  Share it below!

Family Valentine Fun

For Valentine’s day it’s important to show the kids that they’re part of your love too, so doing something special as a family is important.  Today I’m sharing some suggestions and would love to hear your suggestions below!

Visit the zoo, or aquarium near you.  It’s lots of fun to be reminded that we’re not alone in the world and there are tons of crazy creatures out there besides us!  You might even get lucky enough to see two animals sharing a little love, combing each others fur or sharing some food!

Visit a farm.  This may sound a little strange, but it can be a great family activity to visit a pick your own farm and get the foods you need to make a delicious dinner together.  Not only are you supporting a local business, you’re also eating more natural foods!  A farmer’s market is another great option if you don’t have a big farm near you.

Go to a movie.  This is fun if you don’t have a lot of time and can agree on what you want to see.  Otherwise, maybe Netflix or the movie store can provide you with some family friendly entertainment.

Play in the sand/snow!  Make hearts, castles and other fun creations together.

Make cupcakes as a family!

Everything from cakes to cookies and more treats!

Do a heart hunt!  Hide a small heart or two somewhere in the house and see who finds it first!  It’s kind of like hide and seek, but harder!

Volunteer for a charity. Spread some love this Valentine’s Day to those who need help.  Not only will you feel good about helping others, it’s a great time for family bonding.

If you’ve got a big extended family or lots of friends, try a Valentine’s Day potluck! It’s a great way to share the love (and responsibility) and bring everyone together to have some food, fun and great times.

Finally, check out some of the great craft websites on the web like Kaboose, Martha Stewart, Family Fun and others for more family fun (specific Valentine craft ideas coming Monday)!

What family activity do you have planned for Valentine’s this year?  Share your fun below!

Accepting What Is

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!  This year I’ve tried hard to make many of my tweets (@growwithlaura) and blog posts single-friendly.  You don’t have to have a date for Valentine’s Day.  Matter of fact, if you don’t love yourself, no matter how many partners/friends you have, Valentine’s Day will still stink!  A lesson I’ve been learning lately is about appreciating what you do have.  What I have at the moment is LOTS of time.  So I’m planning my week to put that time to good use, or to be flexible if work does come up.  So how do we appreciate and make use of what we do have?

First, accept that it’s not easy to learn.  You need to be super proactive and gather a lot of support for this.  Tell your best friend when you’re struggling, and ask them to support you either with a daily text, email or just a hug.

Second, do what you need to do now.   Make a list of the things you want to do in your life like making a plan for your finances, trying lots of new ice cream flavors, starting a business, ending bad habits or relocating.  Also plan any trips and time with family you want to take part in, but don’t necessarily want to drag anyone along for.

Third, learn about yourself!  Spend at least an hour a day reading books, articles, blog posts and other things that will help you discover who you are, what makes you tick, and what you’re meant to do.  Do activities to develop your creative side and to help yourself relax.  Spend time learning how your body works, and learn how your body needs to be loved.

The bottom line is that if you’re single, and even if you’re not, take advantage of the time you do have.  We’re all on earth for a certain, limited, amount of time.  Each and every moment should be used for something important, even if that important event is taking 5 minutes to quietly watch the birds play on the snow or your dog play at the edge of the ocean waves.  The more you love yourself the more love you will be able to give to the rest of the world, and you’ll receive more too.

Share what you love best about yourself below!

Business Communications

Today we’re talking about a subject that’s been frustrating me for a week or two now: communication. Today’s post will be specifically about communication within and about your business, but these tips can apply to other areas of your life also.  If you want more general thoughts on communication, check out this blog post.

-Always answer the questions that are asked of you.

It really bothers me when it takes forever to find the answers to basic questions on people’s web pages or in ads.  And if you’re specifically asked a question like what kind of coffee do you drink at work, and you go on and on about the great K Cup machine that you use, you’re not being helpful!!  The point of being in business is to get people the services, answers and help they are paying for!  After you tell them that you prefer Green Mountain Breakfast Blend, THEN please tell them all about the great K Cup machine you have.

-Be clear in your advertising, on your website, on your business card and in your newsletter(s).

If you’re not being clear it makes people think a couple of things.  1-you’ re intentionally hiding stuff.  2-you don’t really know what your company does, so you can’t make clear and understandable ads.  3-you can’t write.  Hire someone, or ask for advice then!  Don’t be cloudy, clouds don’t encourage people to buy from you unless you’re selling rain gear.

-Just say it.

Don’t hide your prices to be sneaky or tricky or because you do a special price for each person depending on how you’re feeling that day.  There’s been so much distrust and upheaval in the business world in the past few years that it’s even more difficult to get potential customers to like and trust you.  Be honest about your experience, your passions, who you are, include an updated photo, what clients you work with, the prices you charge and what you will or won’t do.

So, these 3 points being said, I’ll be first and tell you who I am and what I do.  This blog is specifically for my Life Turnaround business.  In this business I help you turn around your home, family, personal life, finances and business.  I do home organizations for $20 per hour, personal coaching and mentoring for $20 per half hour, financial planning for $25 per hour, personal shopping for $20-$30 per appointment, business growth and development for $25 per hour (including social media planning, business growth, business organization), and speaking for $25 per hour.  I also run 2 other businesses, Fresh Perspectives about life and spirituality, and Creativity Unleashed about event planning and creative services.  I keep my prices low to be sensitive to all economic situations, and guarantee confidentiality and great service always. About half of my work is done on location in New Jersey, but I do much of it online as well.  In 2011 I’m sharing a message of hope, and helping you find the answers, solutions, services and keys to saving you time and money and helping you regain control of your life, finances, home and business.  (If anything isn’t clear, ask me below!)

This week I encourage you to take the extra 2 minutes to re-read all your communications before you send them.  Share your thoughts and challenges on business communications below.