Saturday, November 14, 2009
Penelope Loves Lists
It's a new site with a new name, but it will have a lot of the same sort of content, so I hope you'll drop by soon!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
We're working on some exciting new changes to our website, so we're taking a short break from posting.
We'll be back soon and better than ever!
Friday, October 2, 2009
So, set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes and, for today, let's work on just two drawers in the fridge. Take them out, empty of any old items, wash the drawer in soapy water and set to dry. Wipe out the empty space in the fridge where the drawer was and then put the drawer back in place.
That's it for today! We'll work on the rest of the fridge later in the week.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I read his book about a year ago and realized that many of his strategies matched mine. I especially find that having multiple points of "capture" helps me keep from losing the tiny thought threads that make up my complicated life. David Allen really fine-tunes this idea by having notebooks and tape recorders available to him almost anywhere he goes.
I do the same, mostly using a note pad at each of my work stations and then by leaving phone messages to myself as reminders for things I need to do later at home. It's grabbing those thoughts the moment you have them, capturing them and then allowing your mind to move past them that makes all the difference.
For a look at more Workstations of the Rich and Famous, see this great Lifehacker post.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
So, set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes and, for today, tackle your fridge door. Take items out, throw away anything old and clean the shelves with hot soapy water.
When your 15 minutes are up, stop. Make a mental note about where you were and move on to whatever else you need to accomplish. We'll move onto the rest of the fridge later in the week.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
In the last 7 days I've been to two Back to School Nights, one for my fifth grader, one for my high school freshman. (A moment to mourn my youth...and, ok, moving on...) Both were well worth my time, to be sure, as I care deeply about my kids and their academic lives.
But, as a working parent, I still have a love/hate relationship with this school institution.
5 Things I Love About Back To School Night:
1) I love to meet the teachers. Showing up shows them I care and gives me a mental picture to draw on as I talk to my kids about their days for the rest of the school year.
2) There's something so satisfying to my inner 8-year-old to sit at a school desk looking attentive.
3) That inner 8-year-old is such a Teacher's Pet by nature that it's all I can do not to randomly raise my hand, saying "pick me! pick me!" Mostly I'm successful at quashing this impulse, but it's there.
4) I love going to BTSN with my daughter's dad. We've been divorced for 10 years but remain really good friends. We enjoy reverting to our high school days, sniggering every once in a while at some of the nuttier parents. (Last night's highlight: a guy who asked the teacher questions the entire time, never even letting her get in her own spiel. The nerve!)
5) It's a good chance to sneak a peek at my kid's desks to make sure they're using all the school supplies we've purchased for them.
5 Things I Hate About Back To School Night:
1) The hectic schedule for the evening: getting home from a full day of work, getting kids home, getting them started on homework and dinner, getting myself fed and freshened up, all before heading back out the door. Good pre-planning is key here: I make sure to have a make-ahead dinner done and ready for quick reheating and assembling.
2) Figuring out what to do with the kids while we're at Back to School Night, since they're not invited. This always creates a quandry. Do we hire a babysitter? Should they stay on their own now that they're old enough? This year for the first time we opted for the latter.
3) Parents who use BTSN as conference time with the teachers. I always feel bad when the teacher gets cornered by one of these inconsiderate parents and has to gracefully bow out.
4) Parents who disobey the "no kids" rule. I know that it's tough to figure out what to do with the kids, but, try, would you? Few things are more distracting than crying toddlers while the teacher's trying to talk.
5) Teachers who are not prepared for the talk they have to give to parents. This happens rarely, but when the teacher isn't prepared, it's just painful to watch them try to fill the time allotted. When they end too quickly and there are no questions from the parents with ten minutes left, a heavy silence falls over the room. Awkward!
This year, though, I tried to relish every moment of each Back to School Night. As the kids get older, time goes by faster. I realized suddenly last night that I only have three more of these evenings left to celebrate my daughter's school life. Then, she'll be off to college and I'll be missing this annual event dearly.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
(OK, if you can't stand the thought of gunking up your hands, you can use a spoon. You know who you are. But really, here's your chance to live a little on the wild side.)
* To make it eggless (and vegan), use 2 tbsp of ground flax + 4 tbsp water as an egg substitute.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
My new bed meant we needed new bedding, of course, which is something I don't buy that often. I got a new quilt, new blanket, new sheets, the whole kit and kaboodle. The coolest part? After taking all of these things from their packaging, I had several new organization tools: those plastic, zippered packages are perfect not just for bringing home your new bedding purchase, but also for:
- storing your older sheets and blankets while protecting them from dust, etc. This makes them much easier to stack them in your linen closet.
- storing your Christmas decorations or any item in the garage, the plastic protects them from dampness and critters
- container for loose toys. My son keeps his little plastic soldiers in one of these bags.
- the smaller, sham-sized package is a great to separate liquids like lotion, shampoo, etc in your travel bag.
- today, I decided the small, clear package was just the thing for organizing my dog Cooper's various body-care items: bath soap, nail clippers, toothbrush and doggie toothpaste. This way, I can easily access these items in the larger container I use in my linen closet. (Sorry for the terrible photo, by the way.)
Monday, September 21, 2009
It's a sad fact that my husband and I have, for the last TEN years, slept in a full size bed. We live in a tiny, 1,100 square foot house and we kept thinking "when we get a larger house, we'll get a larger bed." Then, the real estate crisis hit and we landed squarely underwater. An ice age will happen before we can sell our house at a gain. (Insert silent weeping here.)
So, we decided to make a total "quality of life" purchase: a new, ridiculously, absurdly large California King size bed. We bought it last night. That meant we needed to do some shifting around, including giving our old full size bed to our 10-year-old son.
This is, in short, a hassle. Or...with the right mind set, an opportunity. When you shift the beds around, it means you need to find places for all the stuff you've (stupidly) put under said beds. Which gives you a fantastic opportunity to reorganize your linen closet.
This is what I did today. I gotta say, I secretly love having a reason to reorganize. But, I also have to say, it's surprising how often you have to do this to keep a small house uncluttered. I'd last gone through these areas not more than 6 months ago and they needed more thinning out today.
This game of musical beds was also a great chance to vacuum under the beds, along the walls, all the places you don't normally get to in weekly cleaning. This is why I think this totally inconvenient project is really an opportunity. The same thing can be said for the next time your toilet overflows (great chance to really, super deeply clean that bathroom floor) or you find ants in your kitchen cabinets (take the opportunity to thin out your dishes and dust the shelves). It's all about attitude, really. This is what I tell myself to keep some vestige of sanity.
I'm all done with this weekend's project now: bed delivered, new bedding washed and put on the behemoth sleeping platform (it looks great, actually).
Now my big worry is: how am I ever going to find my husband in this huge bed? I'm seriously concerned about this.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Two of the things I can't live without in my kitchen originally came from the office supply store: a sharpie and binder clips.
I keep the sharpie in my silverware drawer (not in a random kitchen junk drawer!) so I can easily pull it out and write the date on jars that I open. Spaghetti sauce, that interesting but slightly odd salsa we tried, half-used cream cheese now stranded without a bagel in the house--that sort of thing which can sometimes sit there for a while. Having the open date on there just makes it easier for me to see at a glance if a jar might still be viable or needs to be cleared out.
I use binder clips instead of those silly, giant clips to keep bags closed. I used to use clothespins, but I hate when they flip apart and I have to maneuver them back together. Nope, binder clips. They don't take up much space either inside the cereal box or in their container on my windowsill--and they're super strong, never fall apart and they're inexpensive.