Thursday, July 3, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide (for July)

We LOVE this month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  

Below is July, but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

It's soon going to be back to school time and that means getting off a summer schedule and back into tighter routines.  An important part of the transition is getting the kids (and yourself) to bed a bit earlier each night to help ease back into an earlier morning wake-up schedule.  Next, evaluate your "drop zone" where your kids hang their pack and jackets to be sure it's still a good system they like and will use.

To set your kids up for school year success, carve out a niche for them to work. A small table against a wall with a few shelves above it for supplies makes a perfect student office for studying, homework and projects.  Late July is also the time to keep an eagle eye out for school supplies on sale so you can stock up for the year ahead.

Enjoy The Big O: De-Cluttering Guide episode with Monica. With Monica's practical tips you can say GOODBYE to: overwhelm, knickknacks, disorganization, lost items and stress.  Then say HELLO to: joy, organization, cleanliness, productivity and focus. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

WIN: Skinny-Size it (101 Recipes!)

We are giving away 5 copies of "Skinny-Size It: 101 Recipes That Will Fill You Up and Slim You Down" by Molly Morgan, this week's interviewee.  

To enter, leave a comment on the related post on our Facebook page.  Share any great skinny-makeover strategy (i.e., your favorite skinny-sized recipe, your best ingredient swap, frequent flavor booster) and be eligible!

Names will be drawn and announced on Monday 6/30, noon (est).

Now for the show ...  Molly shares her best strategies for fast, easy and healthy food swaps and skinny strategies.  Listen here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I am flipping for it ...

Well, not really flipping, because that would be totally scary and quite dangerous, with my lack of coordination in my old age.  But, I do really love my FlipBelt.

It is no longer cool outside on my walks so no sweatshirt or jacket is needed.  By the way, I am SUPER happy about that!  So, now I put my FlipBelt around my waist and it holds my phone and my house keys flat against my waist.  I can jog, although not very long ;), and it totally stays put.  A lot more would fit in the several split pockets and could be perfect for a night out at a festival or for play at the park, when you don't really want to carry stuff around.

Visit to check them out - they are truly a simple and genius product!

And just in case you were wondering, the images aren't me - hee hee!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Audiobooks: The Unconventional Summer Escape

The Unconventional Summer Escape

The warm weather months have arrived. If you are one of those people who are looking for ways to mix up your summer routine, enrich your staycation, or make your way through your summer reading list – try audiobooks!

Portable, available in many different formats, and FREE at the library, audiobooks are the perfect warm weather companion. And, because of their rising popularity, many audiobooks are now releasing simultaneously with print. So, you can listen whether your reading list contains new releases, best sellers, or the classics.

Here are 5 convenient times to start listening this summer:

1. During your daily commute.It’d be nice if the term summer vacation applied even after college, but for many of us responsibilities continue to pile on even as the sun beats down. Since this often means spending a great deal of time in our cars commuting to work, running errands, and transporting our families from here to there, audiobooks are an easy way to make that drive time more fulfilling. See how quickly you listen your way through a popular trilogy or challenge yourself to pick up a new language on-the go.

2. While walking with friends (or your kids).Combine two popular social activities and start a walking book club. Walk together and listen one day during the week, then walk a second day and talk about the book. You’ll burn some extra calories and create some meaningful dialogue along the way. 

3. On the sidelines.If you have kids, you know sports schedules really kick into high gear during the summer months. While you are sunning on the sidelines during practices, press play on an audiobook. You can still watch your kids (which will mean a lot to them) and do a little something for yourself at the same time.

4. On road trips with the family.Crossing state lines with the entire family in tow? Pick a book you can all enjoy and turn up the volume on the car speakers. It’s a meaningful way to share a book together, spur conversation and make the drive time fly by. Plus, it’s a great way for the kids to get their summer reading started.

5. While cleaning up around the house.Washing dishes, doing laundry, mopping the floors – we all have to devote some time to household chores even when the sun is shining and we’d rather be outside. Add an audiobook to the mix and you can do what you have to do, with a little distraction from captivating narration. This could work to motivate kids as they work through their chores as well. Combining their summer reading list with clean-up time means they are freeing up some extra minutes for carefree summer fun!

Thanks to Playaway® for the tips and a great way to easily "read" and enjoy books - anytime!  If you are new to audiobooks and want a simple way to get started, visit your library and borrow a Playaway all-in-one audiobook. Playaways are pre-loaded with an entire audiobook and fit easily in your pocket for listening on the go. All you’ll need to do is plug in your ear buds and enjoy. More than 4 million Playaways are currently circulated in over 30 thousand schools, libraries, and military installations across the country and abroad. Learn more at  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kids Can Do: Last Minute Gifts for Dad

Our Kids Can Do means easy. 
And quick. And fun. And inexpensive.  

Since Father's Day is this coming weekend, here are two simple and cute last minute gift ideas for dad!

Homemade Puzzle Card:  These can be made from enlarging family photos or other special pictures.  Print them on heavy paper or attach them to cardboard.  Write a message on it, if you like.  Then cut into 12 pieces or so.  Present in an envelope.  Dad will have to assemble his own unique card before reading it!

Things I Love!  In the center of a piece of cardstock or fancy scrapbooking paper, decoratively write “ One Hundred Things I LOVE About You”.  In a graffiti-style fashion, highlight simple things that you love.  Take a nice pen and let your heart be your guide.  Decorate your paper creatively with single words or short phrases that bring a smile to your face.  Maybe you love the smell of maple syrup in the morning when you have breakfast with dad, dad's scruffy whiskers, or having a Friday night movie fest with your whole family!  

Extensions of this activity is to do the same graffiti-style journaling on a white photo frame matte and gift it with a special picture inside.  Or how about decorating a blank note card?  “Reasons You Deserve a Happy Father's Day!”, for example.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide (for June)

We LOVE this month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  

With Monica's practical tips you can, say GOODBYE tooverwhelm, knick-knacks, disorganization, lost items, and stress.  Then say HELLO to: joy, organization, cleanliness, productivity, and focus.

Below you'll find an excerpt from June, but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

De-Clutter for June
The kitchen is the most used space in your home and it can get cluttered quickly. The first week in June, go through your kitchen drawers to de-clutter utensils, cooking tools and kitchen linens. Once a week for the rest of June, tackle a cabinet or two to identify items you rarely use and donate or sell them. Appliances you rarely use (espresso maker, ice cream maker, bread maker, juicer) are good candidates for eBay or Craigslist and most other kitchen items are better off donated.

If you keep food in your cabinets instead of a pantry, check expiration dates and get rid of anything old, especially grain-based products which can attract or hatch dormant eggs into pests. Group items by type such as canned goods, pastas and other grain-based foods, sauces, oils, vinegars, condiments, snacks, cereals and beverages. Containerize small categories using bins or baskets and label your shelves or containers to remind yourself and family of what belongs where. 

We all keep an organized list on our fridge of freezer
contents to avoid waste and duplicates.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Good Thinkin' Dad!

We were packing up my grandma's stuff for a move.  She has several bookshelves with collectibles on them that she wanted to display in her new place.  The only safe way to transport them is to wrap, box, move and set back up.

So, get this - I am in the kitchen boxing stuff and take a look out.  There is my dad taking pictures of the bookshelves with his phone.  GENIUS!

I wonder if I would have thought of this ... sadly, probably not!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kids Can Do: Sunny Summer Art Projects

What is Kids Can Do (KCD)? Educational, practical and easy things kids can do!  They are often made with common household materials that you may already have on hand and they don’t require much preparation or expense.  What Really Matters = simple.  Enjoy this batch of summer-themed KCD.

Sun Catchers: Tint water with food coloring in various small bowls.  Using a medicine dropper, drop colored water onto coffee filters.  Punch a hole, add a string, and hang in front of a window for a colorful sun catcher.  

Summer Flower: Have children use washable markers to color on coffee filters.  When finished use a spray bottle with clear water and spray the coffee filter.  All the colors they used will run together.  When dry glue or staple on a stem.
Graffiti Painting: Put on bathing suits and paint outdoors!  Attach large sheets of paper to a fence or building.  Use plunger-type spray bottles filled with bright tempera paint diluted with water to spray splashy designs on the paper wall.  Clean up is super easy with an outdoor hose!
Sidewalk Paint: You'll need: 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup water, and 6-8 drops of food coloring.  Mix the cornstarch and cold water together.  Add food coloring and stir.  Repeat to make different colors.  This paint can be easily washed off with water and is great for painting large areas temporarily.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide (for May)

It's time for another peek at our beloved month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  We guarantee it will bring you joy, cleanliness, productivity and focus.  (Doesn't that sound lovely?)

Below you'll find an excerpt from the MAY section (pertaining to YOUR CAR!), but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

WELCOME May!  Bring it on, baby!
Springtime is the season to put down the car windows and what feels better than tooling around in a spotless ride? First, remove the old french fries, fast food bags, candy wrappers, toys, papers, books and other clutter littering the passenger compartment. Then empty the trunk or hatch, setting aside any items you don’t absolutely need to have with you every day.

Group maintenance items like washer fluid, oil, jumper cables into a container in the trunk. Contain everything else in a box or a trunk organizer tool such as theRola organizer, Jokari Grocery Tote or this 3-section houndstooth trunk organizer.
Carry disposable grocery bags with you to use as trash bags. Grocery store bags make great trash bags because they’re free, compact and when one gets full, just tie it, toss it and replace it with a new one. To keep your car clutter-free all year long, use the same process you’d use in your home. In the car, as with any space, being organized is all about awareness. Each time you arrive home and turn off the engine, look around your car for items that don’t belong there and bring those things into the house or get rid of them. This small daily habit will prevent things from accumulating in your car and making it feel cluttered and dirty. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CRAZY Easy After-School Snack!

We've all danced a little jig in the kitchen to get our kids to make healthier snack choices.  We sneak. We make it fun.  We involve the kids.  (We do what we need to do!?!? Right!?!?)

Here's one that encompasses all three: sneak, fun, involve.  We should add one more ... easy.

How about Banana No Bake "Cupcakes"?  (Thanks FamilyFun Magazine for having the cutest ideas! You should definitely follow them on Pinterest.)

Here's what you'll need:
√ bananas
√ peanut butter
√ toppings:  blueberries, chopped nuts, coconut, etc.

Here's how you make the "cupcakes":
1.  slice the bananas into 1-inch thick pieces
2.  using a Ziplock bag with a corner snipped off, pipe a swirl of peanut butter onto the banana
3.  decorate with berries, nuts, coconut or other healthy toppings.

Still having a snack-attack? Check out these other favorite V&J posts:

Cute-sy Caramel Yogurt Pies
Healthy-er Mexican Cheese Fondue
Anytime Pumpkin Apple Muffins