Thursday, December 1, 2022

It's Getting Closer to Christmas - Don't Forget About Self-Care

We are now about 3 1/2 weeks away from Christmas. The pressure is on. Holiday decorations are going up in people's homes. Presents are being bought. Cards are being written and sent out. 

We want to feel happy and excited about the holidays - but if we are really honest with ourselves - they can be a bit stressful! Being organized - with a timeline that is spread out so that you don't get overwhelmed - will help.

Make a list of things that you need to do for the holidays - and spread them out over the next few weeks. Put them on your calendar - so that you will actually do them. Don't overload each day.

In between your tasks (shopping, writing cards, sending presents, decorating the house.....) - be sure to take care of yourself!  Self-care is really important - especially during times of high stress.

Some simple self-care things you can do:

  • Have a cup of tea and take some time to relax for a few minutes
  • Take some time to read a chapter in a book
  • Take a long hot bath - add some bath salts and candles for extra decadence
  • Take a walk - in the woods or just around your neighborhood
  • Watch one of your favorite movies - you deserve it
  • Call up a friend that you haven't spoken to in a while
  • Spend time with a loved one 
  • Ask your family members for help in getting ready for the holidays

We've all heard the saying "you need to take care of yourself - before you can take care of others". 

Don't over-commit yourself. Spread things out over the next few weeks. Don't wait until the last minute.

And most importantly - take care of yourself!

You deserve a happy and stress free holiday season!


If you are interested in a short 7 minute Guided Meditation to help you relax – send us an email with “Guided Meditation” in the subject line and we will send you a link to a relaxing Guided Meditation that will help calm and relax you during this stressful time.


*** If you are interested in a FREE Discovery Coaching Session to help you figure out what your next step in life will be – just email or fill out the contact form on our website.     Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest


Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

It's Time to Send Out Those Christmas Cards.....

And now - the next holiday..... 

Thanksgiving is over and the stores are primed for Christmas.  Sales and Santa's are everywhere.

It's hard to enjoy one holiday at a time when they all seem to run together. But this is the time to remember your family and friends and reach out to people, your friends and family, that you have neglected over the past year. It's not entirely your fault. We are inundated with so many obligations that we can barely keep up with everything and friends sometimes go by the wayside.

So instead of sending out Christmas cards where you barely sign your name to the card - write a short note that really means something.  Not a "form letter" that you send to every person in your address book. Write something special and meaningful to each person individually. A few sentences mean a lot.

Start now. A few cards every day so that you are not overwhelmed. Make it personal.

With email and texting, cards and real letters seem to have gone by the wayside. But getting a piece of real mail means something. Something special!

OK - if you don't want to send out "real" cards - because of the cost of the card or postage - how about if you sent out an eCard ???  There are FREE sites that will allow you to send out FREE cards - and you can  schedule when you want them to be sent out. You could send out  a bunch of cards - with a note attached - all with the touch of a button. It's not the same as a card you can touch - but it's the next best thing.

So start now - one card at a time. And before you know it, you will be done.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Getting Your Car Organized & Ready for Winter Emergencies

 It's not winter yet - but we have snow at some of our higher elevations - so - let's get ready for winter!

Check your tires. It might be time for snow tires!

Check to make sure that you have the essentials needed for winter - like a snow brush & ice scraper. It you don't - get some.

Make sure that your car is in working order and all of your fluids are filled up. 

Living out in the west - and driving long distances without a town or gas station in sight - brings about it's own problems.

Unlike being in a big city where there is a gas station and help within a block - living out in the west - with lots of land and few people - you always need to be prepared for any and all emergencies.

So – the question is ..... are you prepared ?

Now is the time to stock your car with winter essentials.

In your backseat:
* Snow brush
* Ice scraper (or two – various sizes)
* Blanket
* Gloves (keep extra’s in your car)
* Hat
* Scarf

* Snacks

In your glove compartment:

* Paper
* Pen
* Matches (in something waterproof)
* Candle (in a tin) – this can be used if your flashlight doesn’t work or for extra heat
* Tissues
* Hand wipes
* Cell Phone Car Charger
* Flashlight (make sure the batteries are good – or get a windup one)

In your trunk:

* Salt, cat litter or something to throw under your tires if you get stuck
* Extra Windshield Fluid
* Extra Antifreeze
* Spare Tire
* Shovel
* Jumper Cables
* First Aid Kit (basic)
* Towel (this can also be used as an extra blanket)
* Rope
* Bungee Cords
* Duct Tape (so many uses!)
* Tire Gauge
* Tire Repair kit
* Road Flares
* Fire Extinguisher (small one)
* Plastic Garbage Bags

If you are going to be driving outside of the city limits I would also suggest that you keep water and snacks in your car, especially if you have kids. You never know when an accident might keep you tied up for a long time and you will need water to keep you hydrated and snacks to keep the kids occupied.

Being prepared is always the best defense. Now relax and embrace the weather.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more....  

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Getting Organized - Tips to Help

Getting organized starts with "starting". That might sound "simplistic" but it's the reality of how a person can become "successful".

People often ask - 'where should I start"? The answer is always "what bothers you the most"?  There is no "one size fits all".  If the kitchen clutter bothers you - start with the kitchen. If the living room bothers you - start with the living room. 

It doesn't matter where you start - just start.

Taking that first step to wanting to clear you clutter and get organized is huge! 

But take a few minutes to create a goal and a plan on how to get there. People have a tendency to just jump into a project without a clear plan. That usually leads to a lot of wasted time and frustration when things come up that you did not anticipate.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not being realistic about the amount of time it actually takes to get organized. And they don't realize that it will "look worse before it looks better".  For example, if you plan on reorganizing your pantry, you usually take everything out of the pantry. It has to go somewhere. Then you have to decide what to keep and what to purge. And how to reorganize it so that it fits better and makes sense. 

And then all of a sudden hours have gone by and you have to be somewhere else. And there's a mess everywhere. 

You have to take into consideration how much time you actually have to work on your project and also (and more importantly), you have to leave enough time to clean up or put things away at the end. For a lot of people, leaving things out until the next time you can work on your organizing project, is not something that a lot of people can deal with. They don't want to look at the mess for a whole week before their next session.

Before you start a project, make sure that you are in a good frame of mind to purge things that you haven't used in the last 6 or 12 months, or are broken (no, you probably won't fix it), or no longer need. 

Have a box for donations that you can put things into throughout the year. When it's filled, take it to a  donation center.

Don't go out and buy a bunch of organizing bins and other items because you think that will help. You need to purge and come up with an organizing plan first so that you know what will make the most sense for that particular space.

For more "Tips to Getting and Staying Organized - Do's and Don'ts" - send me an email ( and I will send you a list with 40 tips to get you started!

Happy Organizing!

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more....  

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Expiration Dates - Maybe It's Time to Clean Out Your Pantry, Fridge and Medicine Cabinet

These days a lot of people have pantries where they can buy and store large amounts of food. A great idea to save time and money. You only have to shop once and you get discounts for buying in bulk. 

But, how long are these foods actually good for? A lot of foods, at least foods that go in your pantry, have an “expiration date” on them. Or a “sell by” date. Or a “best if used by” date. 

What does this all mean? Well, unfortunately the answer isn’t as simple is you might expect. Foods like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, herbs and many others have “best if used by” dates on them. 

Meats have “sell by” dates on them. These dates do not mean that the products are no longer good after that date. It means that, in the case of things like ketchup and mayonnaise (unopened), the products are at their ”best” if “used by” a specific date. After that the textures, consistency or taste might be affected. For meats the “sell by” date means that the stores want it out of the store and in your home “by” that date. But, you can still have it in your refrigerator after that date. It’s a bit confusing and scary. 

A great website that has a lot of information on “expiration dates” and can answer a lot of questions about those “dates on the cans” is: 

It has tips for storage and how long food lasts. It answers questions such as: “When should you wash fruit, before you store it in the refrigerator or right before you eat it?”.  The answer: “right before you eat it”. 

Another question -  “Is it O.K. to put hot foods directly into the fridge?”.  The answer: “yes”. 

The website has info on : * Fruits * Vegetables * Dairy & Eggs * Meat & Poultry * Fishes & Shellfish * Nuts & Legumes * Grains & Pasta * Condiments & Oils * Herbs & Spices * Snacks & Sweets * Baked Goods * Beverages It’s a great website ! 

Another great article was published in Southern Living. Check it out:

How Often Do You Actually Need To Replace Your Pantry Staples?

Check it these great resources so that you can know how long your food is safe to eat. 

Also - don't forget your bathroom and medicine cabinet. Medicine does expire! If it's past the expiration date the medicine will not be effective. But - please do not flush it down the toilet! Most pharmacies have bins where you can take your expired medicines (both script and OTC meds).

Makeup - yes, makeup also expires. It's a good idea to write down the date that you started using your makeup (mascara, eyeliner, lipstick.....) and dispose of it after a certain period to time. Makeup can get contaminated easily so you want to be careful not to share your makeup and also know how long you've had it.

Now it's time to clear out and organize your pantry, fridge and medicine cabinet! Get into the habit of doing this at least once every six months. 

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Holidays are Approaching - Start Planning Thanksgiving!

The holidays are approaching - it's time to start planning now so that you can have a stress free holiday season.

It's been a rough few years of not being allowed to gather in groups - so getting back to "normal" - isn't as easy as we may think. Some people are still worried about gathering in large groups. Be sensitive to everyone's feelings and don't take it personally if some people want to skip some of the festivities and keep it small.

The holiday gatherings might be small - but you can still make them special by making your favorite foods. Don't let the state of the world ruin your holidays.

Turkey and stuffing are what make the holiday special. So go ahead and plan a great dinner and try to forget the outside world for a few short hours.

Take a deep breath. And let's get through one holiday at a time.

Re-read this Thanksgiving article that will give you a STEP by STEP way to have a STRESS FREE Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving   Organized and Stress Free  - Yes, It is Possible

Yes, “Organized“, “Stress Free” and “Thanksgiving” can be used in the same sentence.

It all starts with the word “organized”. Don’t let it scare you. Embrace it. By being organized and planning ahead you can actually enjoy a holiday.

Start by deciding on what you want your holiday to be like. Do you really want to serve a sit down dinner for twenty (20) people? Or would a buffet be acceptable for you? Would it be acceptable for your “family”?

The pressure of trying to please everyone, especially parents and doing things “exactly” like when you were little and everything was perfect is how the “stress” starts.

It’s your house and your dinner party. You can start new traditions. I didn’t say that it would be easy or that you wouldn’t get some flack, but all “traditions” started somewhere. Make your own. You deserve some happiness.

If you really want a fancy sit down dinner party but twenty (20) people is too much for you to handle then cut the guest list down.

If you really want all twenty (20) people there then maybe you should consider a buffet. It’s much easier and your family will eventually come to terms with the fact that maybe you aren’t serving a formal sit down dinner, but the food is just as good.

You can make Thanksgiving as simple or as complicated as you want….it all depends on how organized you are willing to be.

A good way to keep the stress levels down is to divide and conquer.  Enlist your family for help. Don’t take “no” for an answer. This is your holiday too and you have a right to enjoy it. And we all know that old saying  “if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

Start at least two (2) or three (3) weeks before Thanksgiving.

Decide on the type of gathering (formal or informal), the size of the guest list and the menu.

Don’t attempt to make something new for dinner or try out a new dessert that day. It could turn out to be a disaster and that would cause you more stress. If you really want to try a new dish….test it out prior to Thanksgiving.

Menu: Do you really want to serve cranberry relish and sweet potato’s even if you don’t like them and only serve them because “they are always served at Thanksgiving”?

Make up your own menu (yes, it is radical). Serve something different. Serve something you like!
If you are having a small Thanksgiving dinner don’t feel obligated to serve Turkey. I know, blasphemy! I once made stuffed Cornish Hen. It was wonderful and just as delicious as turkey. You can also stuff a small chicken or even a duck! Or be really different and have Ham! The possibilities are endless.

Start new traditions! It’s not easy to buck the system but once you make up your mind that you deserve to be happy and stress free on a Holiday you will wonder why you waited so long.

Remember, the whole point of a Holiday is family and friends and spending “quality” time together.

Everything does not have to be perfect. Be thankful for what you have and not for what you don’t.

A great piece of advice: don’t attempt to clean your oven Thanksgiving morning before you put in the turkey. I did that once, years ago in my new house, when I was young and anxious to please. I then found out that after the oven is cleaned it needs to cool down and the oven will stay locked for another hour or so after it’s done. And you can’t open it! It certainly put a dent into my dinner timetable!

By starting early and making lists and getting as much done ahead of time you will avoid a lot of stress.

Once you have your menu planned work backwards and make up a timetable to what needs to be done.
For example: if you want your dinner to be served at 6 p.m., what time do you have to put the turkey into the oven? What time do the potato’s and vegetables need to be started?  Just make a list and put it on your refrigerator door so that you don’t have to second guess yourself and aren’t panicking at the last minute.

When your family or guests start to arrive your mind and attention will be elsewhere….so a list can help you stay on track. Don’t leave anything to chance.

A few days before Thanksgiving:

* Shop for all of the essentials, including as much of the food as can be purchased ahead of time
* Make sure that you have enough spices and things that you will need for the food (and rarely buy)
* Do any of the baking or make any desserts that can be made ahead of time
* Thaw the turkey (the size will determine how many days it takes to thaw in the refrigerator)
* Buy the wine or any beverages

The day before Thanksgiving:

* Buy any last minute items at the grocery store
* Chop anything that can be chopped ahead of time (vegetables, bread for stuff…but do not stuff the turkey ahead of time) and put them in plastic bags so that you will be all ready to go the next day
* Make sure you have enough ice
* Prepare any of the food items that can be made ahead of time
* Make your family aware of exactly what you need them to help you with on Thanksgiving.
* Having assigned tasks for your kids and spouse ahead of time takes away some of the stress of what’s expected of them the next day.

The night before Thanksgiving: 

* Set the table and get out all of your platters and serving dishes.
* Make sure that you have enough dishes and silverware. If you don’t, now is the time to call one of your guests and ask to borrow something. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that you broke the gravy boat last Thanksgiving and never replaced it.

When I entertain I love to use all of my special platters and dishes. I love to fuss over my family and I love to set a very special table. I don’t consider it extra work or a hardship or stressful. It’s my way of telling my family and friends just how special they are.

But again…..the Holiday and family and friends are what’s important….not the china or the food. So if you aren’t the type of person to pull off a sit down dinner with all the decorations - don’t beat yourself up. There are only so many Martha Stewart's around. And she has a staff to help her!

Thanksgiving Day: 

* Wake up early so that you can have some “you” time to have coffee and relax before
the day starts (it will get stressful enough later, so the morning might be the only time you have)
* Read over your lists and timetable
* Gather all of your food and cooking utensils, pots and pans ....
* Measure out everything that you can ahead of time and set it aside
* Follow your time table and start making the food according to the schedule
* Once the food comes out of the oven let it rest a while (you can cover it with foil)
* Start cutting the meat and plating the food
* Have family members start their assigned tasks (setting out and serving food, pouring the drinks…)

ENJOY your meal…… sit and talk…..

After the meal:

Have a plan in place to clear the table. Since I always make a ton of extra food so that my guests can take home leftovers I start with portioning the leftovers into plastic containers and putting each family’s containers into a plastic bag and setting it near the door so that they don’t forget them.

Once I have the leftovers divided up and mine put away in the refrigerator and freezer I then start to collect the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I don’t start the dishwasher until after they leave so that we won’t be bothered with the noise.

Again, this is where your family members can jump in and help clear and stack dishes. It makes quick work of things when you have other people help.

I need to have as many things cleared up and put away as possible before I start serving dessert. This also gives everyone time to rest and relax before they start eating again.

Some people like to leave the dishes and the mess until the next day. And sometimes I wish I could too, but it’s worse the next day when you get up and walk into a mess. I’d rather get it done and over with.

Make quick work of it (or as much as will fit into the dishwasher) and then sit and relax and spend time with your family.

Remember, a Holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, figure out why it isn’t and change it. Skip the big complicated meal, the fancy desserts and the good china and make it as simple as you are able to handle.

Start your own tradition….and make it about family!

Happy Holidays !

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Clutter - It's more than just Stuff. Letting Go of Whatever is Cluttering Your Life.

Clutter comes in many forms. It's not just about "stuff" or "possessions". There are many types of clutter. Most people only think about clutter in terms of physical clutter. But there is so much more.

Types of Clutter:

  • Physical Clutter:           things that you have
  • Paper Clutter:               piles of paper everywhere
  • Digital Clutter:             emails & internet
  • Time Clutter:                things that you do
  • Brain Clutter:                things that you think about
  • Relationship Clutter:    people in your life that are not good for you
  • Emotional Clutter:        things that you burden yourself with

What are some things that are cluttering your life?
Stress  -  Work  -  To Many Things On Your To Do List   -  Guilt  -  Worrying  -  Clothes  -  Stuff  -  Obligations  -  Noise  -  Regrets  -  Jealousy  -  Failure  -  Bad Relationships  -  Paper  -  Commitments ...

Take some time to think about all of the things that are cluttering your life and try to decide what you can let go of. 
Pick one thing in each category that is cluttering your life and let it go. 
It's not easy - but if you continue to let these things clutter your life - you won't have time for the good things in your life. Or the new things in your life. 
Things and people - come and go out of our life. That doesn't mean that we didn't care about them. As we grow we all develop new and different interests. With work and family - we don't always have time for some of the activities or hobbies that we enjoyed when we were younger. Our focus changes as we age. It's not a bad thing. But we need to let go of some of the material things that are cluttering our lives to make room for our current life. And sometimes we also need to let go of  relationships that are no longer in our best interest.
Learn to embrace your current life without the clutter of a life that no longer serves in your best interest.
There are many different types of clutter. Look at each type of clutter and start letting go of some of the things that no longer make you feel fulfilled. You deserve to be happy and clutter free.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more....