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I’m one of those people who just can’t stand clutter…anywhere. And with having a family of 7 (with four of those people being teenagers) it can be difficult to manage the clutter. Here are a few things I do to reduce clutter in my home.

  1. Clean as I go from room to room – as I move from room to room in my house I pick up something that shouldn’t be in one room and I take it and put it away in the room I am going to. This may only be one or two items at a time, but it helps control the build-up of clutter.
  1. Have a place for everything – if everything has a home then there will be less items lying around cluttering up the home. I tend to reorganize drawers and cabinets once every few months to make sure the same items are put away together (or near each other), especially if my ‘collection’ of those items has grown over the past few months.

As an example, I collect glass jars (i.e. jelly, salsa, etc. jars). I recently reorganized my hutch in my dining room to allow all of my glass jars to be put away in the same space.

FYI – I use glass jars for lots of things around my home: to sort out screws/nails in the garage, to pour cooking grease into so it doesn’t go down the drain and ruin my drains, to hold nail files, etc.

  1. Be creative and make nice looking holders – I try to recycle everything I can (it’s good for the planet), so I recycle the cardboard boxes from food items we use. As I cook I break down the boxes I used to put them on the counter until I had the opportunity to take them out to the recycle bin. This can start looking a bit tacky with a bunch of cardboard boxes sitting on the counter. So, I found a display box from a local retail store (I asked if I could have it since it was sitting on the shelf empty and they said yes), and I took some contact paper and covered it. Now, I have a place to put the empty cardboard boxes until they are taken out. This can also be done for magazines, small books, school papers, etc.
This is my empty box holder, but can be used to hold magazines, homework, papers, or whatever you can think of...

This is my empty box holder, but can be used to hold magazines, homework, papers, or whatever you can think of…

With so many people in my house we tend to get a lot of random stuff dumped on the counter (this is very typical in my house), so I took an empty Cup O Noodles box and covered it with the same contact paper and put it up on the counter. I clean it out every couple of weeks to help keep the clutter down. I have made several boxes like this for my kids’ rooms for their clutter, makeup, or to hold small items they want to keep together. It looks much nicer than stuff strewn all over the place.

This is my catch-all box, but can be used to hold anything from toys to makeup to desk supplies to sorting socks in a drawer...

This is my catch-all box, but can be used to hold anything from toys to makeup to desk supplies to sorting socks in a drawer…

  1. Cute, but functional – when I’m at the store I’m always on the lookout for something cute that is also functional for my home. I found this flower pot at one of our local dollar stores and decided that it would be perfect to hold my colorful knives (that have covers). I display this on my counter and it adds color to my décor (because of the colorful knives) and the holder matches the colors on my counter. And, it makes it functional as I am able to quickly grab the knives to use while I am cooking.
Cute, super cheap, was a flower pot...now a holder for my colorful knives...functional and beautiful...

Cute, super cheap, was a flower pot…now a holder for my colorful knives…functional and beautiful…

  1. Get rid of stuff that I don’t need – this is usually the biggest challenge for most people, and even for me at times. I like to keep ‘stuff’ as well, especially if I can see myself using it in the future. The challenge is that this ‘stuff’ continues to build and build and takes up more and more space. I require myself to get rid of stuff I know I’m really never going to use, or of something I just have too many off. I then bag it all up and deliver it to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army, or another organization that I know will use the items, especially clothes.

When I move I am usually completely unpacked within about a week (I can’t stand living out of boxes), but if I have stored some boxes away in the garage without unpacking them and they are still there 6 months to a year+ later, then I know that I either don’t need those items, or they have likely been replaced. So, I just donate the boxes. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once (depending on my mood and space to haul the boxes).

These are a few of the things I do in my home to keep it orderly and clutter-free. It isn’t always easy, but I can say that it is definitely worth it! There’s nothing like a clean, clutter-free home to relax in.

Serves 8

3 Lbs ground turkey meat, browned and drained

1 Large onion, sliced

8 Large potatoes, peeled and sliced

14 ½ Oz can cream of mushroom soup

14 ½ Oz can milk (fill the cream of mushroom soup can with milk)

Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Layer potatoes, onions, and turkey until all is used, very lightly sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper. Mix soup and milk together in a separate bowl and pour over top. Cook 3 hours on high.

Sometimes you have to have a little trial and error when planting a garden. Some plants just do better than others, and some just don’t do well even if they should based on your climate and the type of plant(s) you are putting in. The great thing about Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart is that they all have a 1 year guarantee on their plants. I keep all receipts and containers when I plant anything. That way, if they don’t do well, then I can exchange them for something else. There are lots of reasons why a plant may not make it: it went into shock when planted and just couldn’t recover (usually a result of handling the roots too rough or too much breakage of the roots when planting), the soil isn’t rich enough for the plant, it wasn’t watered enough (or maybe too much – they can die for too much water, too) in the beginning, or maybe it gets too much/not enough sun in that specific spot. Whatever the reason, it does happen.

This is what happened in my front yard. I had planted some shrubs that were supposed to be hardy and perfect for the (hot) desert. Unfortunately, they just didn’t survive, but I did keep them alive for a few months. So, I replaced them with these ice plants (which seem to be doing much better):

Ice plant

This was planted about a month ago and is blooming quite nicely!

 

And one of my three blueberry bushes just didn’t make it, so I replaced it with this shrub that I think looks perfect there:

This pretty bush that produces tiny purple flowers replaced one of my blueberry bushes that didn't make it

This pretty bush that produces tiny purple flowers replaced one of my blueberry bushes that didn’t make it

I got rid of the white rock in my front yard and planted a ton of new plants (flowers, trees, and shrubs) throughout my yard. Here’s some picture updates with how they are holding up in the triple digit heat we’ve been having lately.

My other two blueberry bushes are here as well. They don’t seem to be doing too well, but I’m trying to nurse them back to health. I think that they just get too much sun (and it’s been tooooo hot) in that area.

Front Area

The front area that didn’t have anything before those palm trees in the back

Hibiscus

My hibiscus seem to be doing quite well as they are filling out nicely. I can’t wait until they are full grown! They are going to be absolutely gorgeous!

We recently had a little bug infestation on a couple of our trees (we had little white crystal looking things on some of the leaves). Luckily, I pay attention to my plants and caught it quickly and I took care of it with a bug spray specifically made for plants. I got the concentrated stuff that I had to mix – it didn’t smell that great, but it did the job wonderfully! No more bugs! For planting these as little babies only 6-7 months ago, they are doing very well!

Tree 1

One of my trees (either the lemon or lime…I can’t remember which). It is growing quite nicely!

Tree 2

This is either a lemon or a lime tree (again, I don’t remember which one was which). This one seems to be growing more out that up, but that’s okay.

I didn’t get pictures of my rose bushes, my aloe plants, my shrubs in the front, or my orange trees, but they are all doing beautifully, too. It’s a little bit of work to make sure the weeds are pulled (and weed spray is administered in those spots), watering, bug spraying, transplanting, etc., but it is all worth it! I love my front yard and I think that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

P.S. I’d still like to add an avocado and apple tree to my yard and maybe a couple other small plants around the sitting area, but that will come in time.

6 Reasons For Downsizing

It happens every day – companies lay off employees and/or close partial or whole sections of their business, or downsize. The closure can bedownsizing anything from the layoff of a few employees, to closing an office or location, or even closing an entire geographical area down completely. I can assure you these decisions are never made lightly (or shouldn’t be at any rate). There are a few reasons a company might go this route, but all reasons relate to the financial impact the area or location has on the bottom line of the business.

1. Lower than Expected Results

Some business locations just don’t produce the results the business plan expects. Usually, a business plans extensively when opening a new business location, office, or area. The company expects a certain number of sales or a certain financial gain from any area or location, and if the location or office does not produce those expected results the business may choose to shut it down. This is especially true when it is a retail setting.

2. Economic Downturn

Sometimes a business faces a decline in sales or production because of the economy. If the company produces plastic containers (i.e. the kind you get your fast food in), for example, and the company has a reduced number of orders because of a slow economy in the fast food industry, the plastics company will be hurt from this. This could initiate layoffs or even the closing of a location if the hit is big enough on the company.

3. Concentrate Resources on Other Areas

A company only has so many resources that it can spread out among its different geographical areas. At times it doesn’t make sense to spread resources out so far that there aren’t enough resources for all areas. These are the times when a company may choose to close one or more geographical area(s) to allow resources to be concentrated more heavily in other areas.

4. Contract Changes

If a business relies on a contract with a larger company for its revenue (i.e. the company is a ‘middle-man’ between a larger company and consumers or other smaller businesses), then changes to the contract can affect the company’s financial status. If contract negotiations don’t go as planned, or some concessions had to be made to save the company, this can result in a small or large number of layoffs and possibly in shutting down geographical areas to compensate for revenue that was lost in the contract.

5. Changes to the Core Business

Like people, businesses go through change. These changes can be small and seem insignificant, and some can be large and extremely significant. If the changes result in an overhaul of the business, services, products, and brand, then the company may (usually) decide to overhaul the employees and areas it is in based on target customers for the new brand.

6. Legal Challenges

There are tons of laws for businesses that differ from state to state, and even city to city. These can be challenging to keep up with, especially for companies that do business in multiple states. This is why it is good to have a good business attorney that is knowledgeable in the areas the company does business in. However, if the company experiences legal problems it could result in layoffs, offices/locations being shut down, and ultimately the whole company going out of business in some cases.

There are many other reasons why a company would lay off employees, close geographical areas, and even close the business down, but these are the reasons I have seen/experienced throughout the years. At the end of the day it is about the financial success of the business. If the business doesn’t make money, then there is no reason to keep it running. As I said before, this is always a difficult decision for anyone in the position to make these decisions, but a necessary part of doing business.

A new way to win

As a recommendation by someone I know, and who knows some of the personal things I am going through, I have read the book A New Way to Win by mediator and therapist Tobias Desjardins.

While I am a highly educated individual and can read legal documents without challenges, in most cases, I still enjoy reading books that are written in such a way that a layperson could understand the concepts and meanings. This just makes the reading much more enjoyable, for me anyway (and makes the reading much quicker, too). A New Way to Win is a very easy read with only 139 pages of actual reading, which includes the foreword and introduction.

With divorce rates so high, and custody disputes almost as high, there are many people who need some extra assistance with understanding the process, understanding how custody disputes affect children, and what ‘winning’ really should mean.

Mr. Desjardins’ book is broken down into three basic sections:

  • Laying a Foundation for Change
  • Seven Power Strategies for Ending Your Custody Dispute
  • Making It Work In The Real World

Each section outlines these topics in an easy-to-read format that allows for an understanding of the concepts and gives detailed examples, including real-life examples that Mr. Desjardins has experienced with his own clients.

The information provided allows a parent to see a few specific things they may not realize as they are fighting a custody battle with their ex, no matter if the divorce is recent or it has been years since the divorce. It also gives parents information about how they can move past the break up, if they haven’t already.

The first section gives definitions, overviews, and examples to assist the reader in learning new definitions for old words and concepts that can help a parent understand the entire process in a different way. The second section gives specific power strategies to help a parent move forward, work with their children, how to negotiate with difficult people, and how to get past the stress. The third section focuses on how to put the information given in the previous two sections into play in low, moderate, and high-conflict custody disputes.

Being in a high-conflict custody dispute, I have learned a great deal from this book. When someone is in a custody dispute there are sometimes things that they forget, or just don’t realize, especially when it comes to their kids. As parents we want nothing less than the best for our children, but sometimes we forget about things we should or shouldn’t do as parents to protect them. After all, we are human and we will make mistakes.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is, or will soon be, in a custody dispute, no matter the level of the dispute. Even if the reader already knows the information presented in this book, it is a good reminder about how to be a better parent.

In addition, all proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the non-profit organization: International Center for Peaceful Shared Custody.

Salsa Chicken

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

64 Oz salsa

2 Cans corn, drained

2 Cans black beans, drained

Put all ingredients into the crockpot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. 30 – 60 minutes prior to serving, remove chicken, shred, and return to slow cooker to keep warm.

Serve over Spanish rice or in a burrito with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and salsa.

9/11 Memorial Museum

The events on September 11, 2001 are now in history books, on websites, museums, dedications, and in buildings across the country. While devastating, these events have created a door for Americans to come together as a country and become a stronger nation.

Hundreds of Americans, heroes, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, children, uncles, aunts, and grandparents were killed in the attack that day either directly from attack or the resulting collapse of the buildings and fires that consumed the buildings. These victims have not been forgotten.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum, located at Greenwich St and Fulton St in New York, is a detailed chronicle of the attacks that occurred on 9/11, the history that lead up to his horrendous attack, including personal voices, thoughts and items from those in the middle of the attack.

The museum is home to many, many artifacts from ground zero, fire trucks, memorial inscriptions, personal items donated by loved ones, missing posters from those who went missing that day, among other items.

For more information on the Memorial Museum, please visit https://www.911memorial.org/visit

Most business owners look for best practices in a variety of topics to help them create a good business and to enhance their business practices. But, after weeding through all of the best practices, what should a business owner really look for, take as good advice, and what should he or she do with all of the information?

Not all information is for every business.

Best practices come from what a business has tried and found to be successful, but the idea or solution won’t work in every situation or with every business. Be on the lookout for best practices that come from companies that are 1) in your industry and 2) are like the type of company that you want your company to be like.

Look for and at everything.

You may be looking for specific advice to tackle a specific issue in your business, but don’t overlook the litany of other information that is out there. You may be having an issue in your company that you don’t even know about, or maybe you accidently come across a great idea that you believe could work for your business. Reading (with an open mind) can help you find information you didn’t know you needed or wanted.

Be careful to do your research.

While there is a lot of advice, information, and best practices out there, be sure you do your own research on the topic as well. For example, of someone recommends a specific program to help solve a specific need, research:

  1. The company offering the advice – did it really solve the issue(s) they say it did?
  2. The company offering the service – what is their track record, what are the costs, ect.?
  3. Competing businesses / competing quotes – check to see if the recommended company is in-line with the competition with software, pricing, terms, etc.

Company cultures are different.

When looking at best practices, depending on the type of best practices you are seeking, look at the culture of the company you are taking this advice from. Do they have a similar culture to your company? Do they have the type of culture that you want your company to have?

It is better to adapt rather than adopt.

Since best practices are things that companies have tried that they have found to be successful, look at the information and advice as just that – advice and information. When you find something that you believe should be implemented in your company, take a good look at how, when, where, and why it should be implemented. Then, look at how you can adapt the information or advice to your business – tailor the approach to suite your needs, your company’s needs, and to be the most effective based on your business and culture. You know your employees best – adapt the strategy in a way that will be most appealing and effective to them.

Share, share, share.

When you have found something that works for you, please do share! Share within your organization, within your industry, to friends and family, and acquaintances. Your best practice may just spark an idea for someone else and may help them become successful, too.

Chicken And Chips

Serves 8

6 Cups diced, cooked chicken

2 Cans cream of chicken soup

16 Oz sour cream

½ Cup salsa

4 Cups cheese

4 Cups crushed corn chips

Combine chicken, soup, sour cream, and salsa. Spoon half of this mixture into a casserole dish. Top with half the cheese and 2 cups of the crushed corn chips; repeat. Cook on 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Everyone has demons that they battle throughout their lives. These demons are different for each and every one of us. And every one of us handles these demons differently. For each of us, these things that we suffer with and through are huge for us, and how we deal with them will determine how we cope, move forward, and how these things ultimately affect us emotionally and physically.

Whether your demons are depression, anxiety, other psychological ailments, physical ailments, or circumstances that are beyond your control, there is help out there.

I know first-hand that these types of circumstances can seem like the end of the world, especially when it seems like there’s no end in sight or like there’s nothing I can do about it.

My plea for anyone who is suffering with their demons – please get help with your problems, regardless if you feel like anything can be done or not. Counseling, suicide hotlines, psychologists, family doctors – there are tons of resources out there for everyone. You just have to seek out the help.

I thought I could battle my own demons on my own. I have had a rough life in my own way and at first I thought I could just handle it, that I was strong enough, that I didn’t need help from anyone. After a while, I decided to seek help – really just to find out if there was something someone can do for me. Now, through help I have received, I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, I have learned how to process information better – in my own way, and I have let go of things that I haven’t been able to in the past. I am a better person for seeking and receiving help, for working through my own personal issues, and for allowing someone (a professional) in to my inner world to help me.

Robin Williams passed away too soon. He was loved by so many as he made us laugh and cry through his wonderful ability to entertain, through his exceptional talent.

Please, before your demons get the best of you, please seek some help.

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