Mama Says … What are you going to do with all of those photographs?

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I have a few things to blog about today; from photographs to donations to gratitude to freebies. Follow along with me, if you would please.

I came across a great way to tame the photograph monster that lurks in cabinets, drawers, closets, etc. I have always kept up with my photos putting them into photo albums or scrapbooks until the last 3 or 4 years. I am not sure what happened to my organization in this department, but I will say that the photograph monster has taken up 3 shelves in my hall cupboard. They are haphazardly placed. I hope they aren’t getting bent. And believe it or not disorganization and clutter drive me nuts.

     I confess there are dust bunnies lurking around my home and the bookshelves need polishing. Oh, by the way, the kitchen could stand a good mopping, too. But as far as my careful belief that every item has its place does not seem to extend to the pictures; until now. When I look at the mess, it seems so overwhelming. Where do I have unlimited time to go through envelopes and packets of photographs? Organizing the family photos has been a goal I have had for some time. But where to start?

     Thanks to my Organized Homemaker, Deniece Schofield, there is now a plan that sounds very manageable and simple. You are going to be amazed. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will all of the photos be organized all at once. The idea is to start and that is where this simple sorting plan comes in to play. Enough jibber jabber, here’s how.

     The Organized Homemaker says that sorting the photos is the key and she makes it a relative breeze. First collect all the loose photos you can find, wherever they may be stashed; hall closet, sock drawer, under the bed, etc. Once you have all the photographs in one place you are ready to start sorting.

     Figure out how you want the photos organized. Do you intend to give some of the pictures to specific people? Are you going to keep them all and put them in chronological order? What-ever categories you decide on get several file folders and label them accordingly. I have already started scrapbooks for my grandchildren. Daphne has done her own as have I. I need to make one for my son since he’s a manly man and not into girly stuff like scrapbooking. Something that might help is to use a dishpan and put the labeled file folders in the dishpan standing them up. I’ll keep mine sideways.

     Now go through your photos one packet/bunch at a time. By doing this you can decide how much time you have available and when you are available. It shouldn’t take too much time to go through one envelope of photos. You can work at this for 15 minutes or 2 hours. It is up to you. And because it is portable you can sort photos while watching TV, waiting for the baked potatoes to be done, waiting for the laundry timer, etc. When you need to quit just put your dishpan of photos away in a safe place. It’ll be ready for you the next time you have a few minutes.

     As an aside, think how fun it would be to sort photos with your family. You can share stories and reminisce together while deciding what goes where. Granted, it will take more time this way, but won’t it be time well spent? There doesn’t seem to be enough family together time, at least not for me. Wouldn’t the time be well spent bonding with your loved ones and strengthening the circle of love that binds you?

      Once the pictures are sorted by category you may wish to sort each folder by chronological order. But by the time you get to this step, it will be quick. Then you can either make scrapbooks to put them in or if not the crafty kind or don’t have the time, mount them in photo albums. A word of caution: use acid free paper, photo albums, ink, mounting supplies. Acid will eat up your treasured photos. Acid free items are available everywhere. They aren’t just for archivists any more.

     Ready, set, go… and have fun!

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Since we are in the de-clutter mode how about an idea that helps you clear out “stuff” and help another at the same time? There is no expense involved. Go through your closet and shoes assortment. Is there anything in there that you hope to fit someday but someday was 2 years ago? How about that jacket you bought on sale because it was so cute, on sale, and you just had to have it? Now when you see it in your closet you realize you have nothing to go with and it isn’t as cute as it looked on the store dummy? Have you just gotten the latest Air Nikes, but your old shoes are still in pretty good shape? Here’s a suggestion. Find a battered women’s shelter and donate your clothes to them. Sometimes they flee in the middle of the night in just their robes and nightgowns. Do you have a county hospital nearby that treats indigent patients? The staff would love to have clothes and shoes to put on their patients. I work for our country psych hospital and I can tell you we see a lot of homeless people and people of lower income. They come in with one set of clothes or in torn items that wouldn’t even make a good cleaning cloth. We have a closet for men’s and women’s clothes that is there because of generous donations. Think about it, will you? You be rid of excess “stuff” and you’ll feel good helping someone else. Sounds like a win-win to me.

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You know, it has been a long time since I have shared with you all some of the things I am grateful for. I think about my blessings every day, but I haven’t put them down in words of late.

3 things I am grateful for today: 1) The gift of hope. Even when things seem to be topsy-turvy, I believe hope helps us handle whatever we are called on to do or endure; 2) I am grateful that I will be switching to day shift in a couple of weeks from night shift. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the night shift and I think the folks I work with are good people, but this past year finding enough sleep to function has been really hard. I find myself planning when I next get to crawl into bed as I am getting out of bed for work; 3) The invention of the knitting loom which allows me to make beanies for people. I can even do it while watching the little TV that I do watch. I don’t feel so guilty sitting in front of the boob tube when I am doing something creative and constructive with my hands. (Daphne, it is your fault you got me invested in Ravenswood! Bad daughter, bad. 🙂 And of course since I like the show it gets canceled. Who’s bad idea was that? Bad network, bad. 🙂 )

     By the way, we still have a couple of hardcover journals available for jotting down what you are grateful for, as well as whatever crosses your mind. Please let us know if you would be interested in obtaining one. It’s free and we’ll pay the postage. We just want to spread some joy around.
Blog you later!

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Sugar and Spice Advice #2

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Ever had the (dis)pleasure of having a bug bite
or bee sting? How did you treat it? I remember
my sister getting stung by a bee years ago while
at Lake Pymatuning. I guess my sister was sweeter
than I am because we were sitting at the same table
and she was the target for the unhappy bee. I also
remember my father making a moist mud pack and
putting it directly on the bite. Wise move or old wives tale?
Let’s find out.

Remedies recommended by the “experts” include
1) Applying a cold compress to soothe inflamma-
tion and relieve irritation; (I guess cold wet mud
would fit into this category.)
2) Try calamine lotion, you know the lovely pink
stuff your mom used to smear on you. It helps
reduce the itch and pain;
3) Use a paste of baking soda, meat tenderizer, &
vinegar. (We didn’t have this with us while
spending the day at the lake. Who knew?) This
combo breaks down the venom and draws out
the burn.
4) Toothpaste. Yep, you read me right. Toothpaste
neutralizes the poison at its entry point and
acts like a mild anesthetic. (Can’t say we were
carrying that with us on our picnic  either.)
My dad’s mud compress? Seemed to work. My
sister said the pain wasn’t as bad. I guess it’s not
the best choice, but if you don’t have meat tender-
izer, vinegar, toothpaste, or calamine lotion packed
in your picnic basket, mud will work in a pinch.

Brought to you by Sugar and Spice Designs,
purveyors of fine handmade products.

Mama Says … It’s time to declutter your life!

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Here is that de-cluttering system I was touting as the next best thing to sliced bread. (Speaking of bread, do you have your bread in a breadbox or in bags all over the counter?)

According to Mrs. Deniece Schofield, the organized homemaker, there are 6 basic rules of organization that apply in many circumstances (and some of these are great rules to abide by in human relationships), and not just when you are trying to tame the lion of messiness. These four are: 1) Think before you act; 2) Discard and sort; 3) Group; 4) Be motion minded; 5) Practice preventive maintenance; and 6) Use your accrued benefits (more on this one at another time).

Industrial and motion experts have estimated that workers are only 50 to 70% as efficient as they could be. Why, you wonder? Simply because they act before they think. Some people think that the time they spend planning could have already been used to get the thing they are trying to do done. If you are like this, can you think of a time(s) when you just went off and did something only to find yourself redoing it because what you did didn’t work out? I know I have. To me it is worth my time to think about what I am going to do and how to best do it. This has saved me a number of times from going back to the store for something I missed to tearing apart what was done and doing it the smart way. A person definitely does not save time (nor energy nor frustration) going about something without planning. (I can’t say I have become perfect at it, but I’ve gotten a lot better since taking the organization class and reading the Organized Homemaker’s wonderful book.)

Now here is the simple but effective way to clear up/out clutter. Determine what function each specific area of your house is going to serve. Do you really want electric saws and fishing gear decorating your bedroom? Ouch! Then work in 1 area at a time. Keep 3 boxes or dishpans in the area along with one large trash can. Our expert calls this the “four container method.”

I don’t like things being out of place once they are done being used. So as I go about straightening the house when I find something in the wrong room I immediately pick it up and return it to where it belongs. I usually try to return 2-3 items a time. Seriously, a waste of time on my part running back and forth. Well, hello Box #1! This box is meant to hold everything that belongs in another room. Sure saves time with the running back and forth. You can just take a friendly stroll replacing things directly from the basket to the area where they belong, and voila! you are done with that little chore.

Box number two is for those items that you want to give away or sell. Just be sure you get those donated items to the right destination in a minimum of time. If you have determined to sell the items, not a bad idea for a little extra cash, get to the swap meet or have that yard sale soon. What’s the point of de-cluttering if you are only going to have those items sitting around ad infinitum?

Box number three is for those things you aren’t sure what you are going to do with them. Should it stay or should it go now? Just make sure that you’re unsure box isn’t overflowing and you are keeping more things than you have gotten rid of.

Trash can – obvious. Perfect receptacle for the broken comb, last night’s candy bar wrapper, pantyhose with giant runs, etc. You get the idea.

The goal is not to just move things from one pile to another, but actually do something with the piles. And don’t forget the “year rule.” If you haven’t used it in a year or in two years maximum you most likely aren’t going to use it. Get rid of it. My instructor, Senor Acosta, was adamant about the year rule. I’ll be generous and give you a bit longer time.

I know that sentimentality makes things hard to give away. I am not saying part w/ everything. For example, several years ago a coworker who knows I am a chocoholic gave me the cutest little fondue set with a tea light to melt the chocolate, 4 dessert plates, and little tongs for Christmas. I had meant to use that a million and one times, but never did. So I donated it to our church thrift store. I haven’t seen that coworker in just about as many years so there was no point in me holding on to it. It can be done.

Trust me. You will feel so much better when you get rid of some of the excess. Your home will be neater and more comfortable to be in. You won’t be afraid to have visitors over. You will possibly make yourself some extra cash or at least bring a little joy into your life by giving your goods to someone in need. The added boon is you won’t have to polish it, clean it, dust it, etc. With all the pros involved what are you waiting for?

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My partner in crime and administrator of our blog and I have come up with a tiny little column that offers quick and simple tips and advice. We decided to call it “Sugar and Spice Advice” after the name of our really fledgling handmade business. Please feel free to give us your tips as well. We do love to hear from our readers. We’d also appreciate it if you would share our blog with your friends and family. Muchisimas gracias!
BLOG  YOU LATER!

Sugar and Spice Advice

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water aerobic running

SMALL TIPS AND IDEAS THAT GO A LONG WAY

Water Workouts – That’s right. Get fit while cool-
ing off in the pool. Water has a natural buoyancy that
provides gentle resistance for your muscles. You can
build your strength without hurting your joints or back.
For a big girl like me that makes a lot of sense. It’s
also great for seniors, those with arthritis, pregnant
ladies, and those who don’t find running to be the
way they want to work out. And if you are still suf-
fering from the heat as we are in Cali, the pool is
ideal. So listed below are 3 exercises that target
various muscle groups.
CoreStrength – Hold on to the pool deck with your
back up against the wall and your legs elevated to
90 degrees. You’ll be in an L position. Swing your
legs slowly to one side and return to center where
you will bend your legs in and out and then swing
to the right. Do this 10 times w/o letting your chest
or lower back sag.
Shoulders – Raise your arms out to the side in a
horizontal position and then lower your arms for
10 reps. Raise them out in front of you and then
lower them for 10 reps. The resistance of the
water will not only help strengthen you but will
aid you in getting rid of those “substitute teacher
arms;” this was a phrase my daughter taught me.
The name applies to that loose, excess fat hang-
ing from the triceps area that jiggles when writ-
ing on the chalkboard.
Legs  – Hold on to the side of the pool with your
back against the deck. Bring your legs up so that
you are in the L position again. Open your legs to
a V angle and then close them for 10 reps. Good for
the hips and thighs. With your legs straight down do
scissor kicks for 10 reps. Good for you upper and
lower legs while giving the abdomen a work out, too.
(I don’t know if there is such a thing as “substitute
teacher legs”, but if there is, I’ve got them, and
want to get rid of them.
Working out in the pool seems like a cool idea
to me.

Brought to you by Sugar and Spice Designs, purveyors
of fine homemade items.