Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a relevant topic these days in light of the California wildfires and hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. This topic hit especially close to our family as my sister-in-law was evacuated from her home in early October because of wildfire. We are all so grateful that she and her family escaped with no injuries; unfortunately her home did incur some damage though and she is currently in the process of repairing and rebuilding her home. When the call to evacuate when out they had less than 30 minutes to grab essential items and leave. Needless to say, that’s not a lot of time.

When faced with an evacuation scenario some of the first things that people try to grab is their important papers and documents along with photos and memorabilia.

So how can you be sure that your important documents and photos are organized and ready if you need to gather them in a moment’s notice?

  • Store all of your most important documents in one, safe place. I recommend a safe deposit box or if you prefer them at home, a fire-proof, water-proof safe will work too.
  • Designate a trusted friend and family member as the keeper of your information. Give them second key to your safe and tell them where to find important papers if you’re not able to get them yourself.
  • Gather original copies of important legal documents (such as birth certificates, investment certificates, passports, car titles, wills, trusts, etc.).
  • Create a list of bank accounts, investment accounts and other important financial information (you don’t have to list all of the account numbers, but include the name of the financial institution and the type of account)
  • Gather one copy of each of your monthly/annual bills (utility, credit card, cell phone carrier, student loan, mortgage company, insurance company)
  • Copies of any and all of these documents can be stored online too. It’s always nice to know you have back-up when needed. If you are not comfortable storing documents online (in the cloud) then you can make copies on a thumb drive and give that drive to a trusted friend.
  • Usernames and passwords can be stored separately from important documents. An online app is probably the best way to keep passwords safe and yet accessible.
  • Photos are best stored online in my opinion because of the size of the documents. Here is a link to a list of trusted online storage solutions for photos. https://www.cloudwards.net/best-online-storage-for-photos/
  • For additional help with photos, I recommend Julie Kessler at Picture This Organized http://picturethisorganized.com/

For more information about preparing yourself for an emergency check out these helpful sites.





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Yard Sale without the Yard


Those of you that have worked with me know I’m not a huge fan of yard sales (garage sales, same thing). Unless you have nothing better to do with your Saturday, they are not a good return on your investment of time. A garage sale is A LOT of work. Items have to be sorted, priced, placed outside, signs need to be made and placed around the neighborhood and then you sit around all day hoping the right buyers come along to offer you pennies for your loot. Sounds like a great way to spend a weekend!

Bottom line, you just aren’t going to make much money in relation to the time you’re investing.

A better alternative is to cull the items that are actually worth something. Anything you can get at least $5 for is the absolute lowest I’d recommend holding on to. Instead of waiting for someone to happen to drive by and maybe want or need what you’re selling, why not use the power of social media and online marketing to your advantage? A bigger market means more competition for buyers and that means you can ask more money for your sale. The more obscure or taste specific the item, the more you’ll need a larger audience to find the right buyer.

It used to be that Craigslist and Ebay were just about our only options for expanding our market of used stuff. But today there are tons, and tons of online tools and apps to help you connect your no-longer-needed treasure with just the right treasure hunter. The result – you can sell your loot for more money, thus making your effort more worth-while.

By the way, anything that is worth less than $5 – if it can’t be sold in a lot – should be donated. You’re way to busy to mess around with all that little stuff.

Check out this NYTimes article detailing all the latest apps in online yard selling.



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5 Minute Organizing

Earlier today I opened the drawer and it looked like this. Ugh. I hate to look at a drawer like this. But this time, instead of closing it quickly to get it out of my mind I decided to tackle the task at hand.

open drawer I looked at the clock and I had 5 minutes. Enough time to take this drawer for chaos to organized. I even timed myself.

I already had the bins – I bought them at Target several days ago. Clearly this drawer had been on my mind, I just hadn’t gotten around to getting it organized. But what was my excuse when all I needed was 5 minutes?

Here’s what I started with: A messy drawer and three simple plastic bins.

IMG_1742 Next, I started my stop watch and got to sorting. Like with like. I took some time to get rid of anything I didn’t need or never used too. After two minutes, here’s what I had accomplished. Pretty quick and easy right?

sort I used the last three minutes to put the plastic bins in the drawer and arrange my categories in the space. They weren’t perfectly separated or categorized. The items I use more frequently were near the front – less or rarely used items corralled together in the back of the drawer.

And this entire process took me almost exactly five minutes. Here’s the proof:

stop watch

My beautiful after photo – from chaos to calm in just 5 minutes!


What can you get organized in just 5 minutes? A desk drawer, one shelf in the linen closet or pantry, top drawer in your bathroom, your purse, car clutter, the work bench in the garage… the possibilities are endless. And maybe some of these projects need more than 5 minutes – but just 5 minutes here and there will get it done eventually.


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Shame Has No Place Here

It’s only January 11th and I am filled with joy for what I see as a theme for 2015. I hope it becomes a new theme for my entire life.

I’ve have said this over and over again, but the real joy of my job is my clients. I adore them. I’m in awe of their hard work, vulnerability and courage to make real change in their lives. There is not a single client I have worked with that hasn’t taught me something about myself and the work I do.

Lately, I’m learning a whole lot about shame and the destructive role it can play in people’s lives. Shame is about hiding, darkness, ridicule, condemnation, judgement, pride, hatred, self-hatred, and stagnation. I don’t anything to do with any of those words! I want to be and I want the work I do to be about growth, vulnerability, light, freedom, encouragement, grace, truth and forgiveness.

shameThis year let’s shed the shame. Let’s resolve to live in the light and rid ourselves of expectations of perfection. None of us are without fault or mistakes – but we don’t have to live saddled with the burden of our imperfections. I have seen first hand how amazing life can be when we bring our mistakes into the light and receive the freedom that comes when we no longer hear the lies that we have listened to for so long:

“I’m the only one.”

“No one would understand.”

“Everyone would hate me or be disgusted with me if they knew the truth.”

“I can’t ever stop. There’s no hope for me.”

These are the lies of shame. There is no place for them in our lives anymore. We chose to live in the light.



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Holiday Downtime Organizing: Before and After

We did it! Starting at about 10:30 we ventured downstairs and starting pulling boxes and bags. We sorted, culled and reminisced as we plowed through old Christmas decorations, arts and crafts supplies, childhood memorabilia, old electronics, ski gear and much more. I even ventured to open the sealed box that my wedding dress has been in for the past 17 years and tried it on again. I’d been saving it – for what I don’t know – honestly it’s just been taking up space. I decided that it would be better served to be donated so someone else could wear it again. I have the pictures from my wedding day – do I really need to keep the dress?

Attachment-1We wrapped up the project at about 4:00. Not bad for only five hours. When we were done we had 3 large bags of trash, a box to shred and a car full of donations. Nothing feels so good as getting all of that stuff out of the house!

The storage room BEFORE

The storage room BEFORE

The storage room AFTER

The storage room AFTER

All photos were placed to the side and we will begin the long process of sorting through those this week. The plan: arrange by year, select a few to be scanned from each year, cull the ones that no one wants to look at again (German countryside shots from my time as an exchange student) and then have the pics we want scanned by a professional with a high- powered scanner. This is really the key to tackling photos by the way – have the ones that are important scanned and pay to have a professional with a high- powered scanner do it for you. It’s not worth the time to sit there and scan them yourself. Once the photos are scanned, in groups according to year, then I’ll begin to compile a few digital books. The key here is just a few. I’ll choose only the top 75 or so photos for each book. One for childhood, one when my husband and I started dating and college, one for the first five years or so of our marriage, etc. Remember, the photos are supposed to be just a remembrance of your past – not a day by day documentation.

Today we’re going to tackle organizing the gym! Can’t wait!


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Holiday Downtime Organizing

Organized_Utility_Storage_Room_1The gifts have been purchased, wrapped, opened and returned. The company is gone. The marathon of family and friend gatherings have ceased. So now what?

What better time to make use of some downtime and get some home organization projects done? That’s exactly what my husband and I are planning for today. On the agenda – clean out the storage room that becomes a catch-all throughout the year and pull together our photographs and begin to organize those.

We’ll get the storage room in order today – that’s easily a one day project. But the photos will last well into 2015. The plan with those is to organize them by year and select a few from each year to be scanned. Then later I’ll compile the scanned photos in a digital photo album. Getting started today will get the ball rolling and motivate me to complete the project before summer.

If you have some downtime this holiday break may I suggest that you consider a project you can complete or get started as well? Here are a bunch more ideas for filling the time from Houzz.

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Did you know that sunscreen expires?

Back in the day, when I was a middle school teacher, one of my students decided to test the effectiveness of sunscreen. He had these really cool plastic tabs that could detect UVA and UVB rays and determine whether his sunscreen was effectively screening, or NOT. Before his experiment I had no idea that sunscreen could expire. Did you?

Most manufacturers these days do stamp their bottles of sunscreen with an expiration date – typically about three years from the date of production. Three years is the general rule of thumb that you can expect your sunscreen to continue to work for you.


Now that we’ve hit summer, I purchased several new bottles of sunscreen at the store. Before I put them away, I did what the experts suggest and wrote the date of purchase (month and year) on the bottles so I could easily refer back to when I opened them. Three years from now it will be easy to see which bottles need to be disposed.

A couple of other tips: I buy several bottles of sunscreen and store them in various places such as the car, the swim bag, my purse, so I’m not caught without a bottle when we’re out and about. I store the other bottles all in one place, by the back door, so everyone knows where to find some when they need it and it’s easy to grab it and go too.

For more information about sunscreen storage and usage consult these helpful links:

8 Sunscreen Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Does Sunscreen Expire – Mayo Clinic

P.S. I also write the date on the top of my mayonnaise jars when I open them. Again, a quick and easy way to know when the bottle has got to go.



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Trader Joe’s Top 10

Denver has just entered the 21st century. We finally have a Trader Joe’s – two in fact!

Before my husband and I moved here from California we begged and pleaded with TJ’s to consider opening a store in Denver. But the archaic liquor laws here and the fact that at the time there were no other TJ’s in the mid-west meant it wasn’t going to happen. Fast forward 15 years and TJ’s has arrived!

We waited a good week before we ventured near the Colorado and 8th store – heard the lines were crazy long and the parking near impossible. The next week my husband and I were excited to make a date night of the event. It was pretty great. No longer did we have to wait for a trip to a coast or New Mexico to stock up on our favorite TJ’s products. No more shipping wine into Denver when we were lucky enough to drive near a TJ’s. We’ve even been known to check a box of Two Buck Chuck as luggage and bring it home. Now we could take home anything we wanted – even perishables – and know that we didn’t have to wait another year to restock. Having our Denver TJ’s is really dream come true.

The lines in Denver have died down now and if you haven’t made the trip yet – now is the time. A friend told me about this blog post of favorite TJ’s products, so I thought it would be fun to create my own. This is just the tip of the iceberg though and I’m sure you’ll find your own favorite products as you become more acquainted with your local TJ’s.

After you read through my top 10 – tell us what your favorite TJ’s products are.

#1: Wine and Beer

wineThe wine and beer selections are amazing at TJ’s. Just be sure you visit the Colorado and 8th location in Denver if you want alcohol – the archaic liquor laws are still in effect. Most people know about Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) and yes, that’s great wine. In fact it won two years in a row at a little wine tasting party that we host. But I think even more worthwhile are the Trader Joe’s Coastal and Reserve products. They are amazing and still very, very reasonable at $5-$10 a bottle. I was told that a $10 bottle of wine from TJ’s is really like a $20 bottle and I think that’s very true. As for specific recommendations for beer, that’s out of my league, but if you like beer you’ll be sure to be pleased with their selection.

#2 Marcona Almonds with Rosemary

almondsPerfect for munching, adding to salads and great with cheese and cracker platter. When they are not sold out – stock up!

#3 Mandarin Orange Chicken

TraderJoesMandarinOrangeChickenFrontDefinitely not the healthiest thing in the world, but sure is yummy. Tastes very much like Chinese take -out when you skillet saute it. My kids gobbled it up and I must admit I sneaked a few pieces for myself.

#4 Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

dark chocNeed I say more?

#5 Curry SaucescurryBefore TJ’s I would shop at Whole Foods for the best versions of these bottled simmer sauces. TJ’s offers them as well and they are a great way to start a simple meal with sauteed chicken or vegetables. We like to serve them over jasmine rice and with a side of naan. TJ’s has a frozen naan as well, but we haven’t tried it yet so can’t speak to whether it’s worth getting or not.

#6 Dried Fruit

fruitFantastic selection here. I know that a lot of people swear by the dried blackberries. I’m going to try those next. We usually get mango and pineapple. The kids eat crave it like candy.

#7 Prepared Salads

prepared saladIf you need a quick lunch or are packing a lunch to go you really can’t beat the prepared salads (and sandwiches) from TJ’s. We buy them for ski days and just to have on hand for a quick lunch. Be sure to read the labels though, so are not exactly low-fat or lean in calories. But they are all yummy!

#8 Coffee

coffeeAwesome selection and delicious!

#9 Prepared Indian Food

indianLike the salads these are delicious, microwave ready meals. Great for a quick lunch or sever with veggies or salad to make a complete dinner.

#10 Pita Chip Crackers

pitaA cross between a chip and a cracker. They are my new favorites to serve with cheese. And by the way, TJ’s has an awesome cheese selection as well!


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Soup’s On!

mld104930_0310_lentilc1_vertI’m a California girl, a Southern California girl even, so I grew up eating salad. Salad has been my thing as long as I can remember. Anytime I need to bring something to contribute to a meal, I always choose a salad.

Now I live in Colorado. And you may not know this, but it’s colder here. Actually, right this minute there is a 35 degree difference in temperature. I love living in Colorado and there are so many awesome things about this state – but honestly, I miss the warm, salad weather.

To compensate I’m becoming a soup girl. Never have I eaten so much soup as I have since I’ve moved here. And since I love to cook I’m always trying out new recipes and asking around for recipes. I even took a “Hearty and Healthy Soups” class at Sur la Table. It was really fun.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup – this is a family favorite. I love to throw it all in the crock pot the mornings that we go skiing and come home to the smell. Quick tip: throw in frozen chicken and then remove and shred just before serving.

Beef Barley Soup – another great soup for the crock pot. This recipe is quick and easy and provides a delicious hearty meal.

Bulgar Lentil Soup – a great veggie option from Martha Stewart. Don’t forget the vinegar at the end. It makes the meal!

White Bean and Kale with Sausage – you can make this one vegetarian by removing the sausage. I love sausage and so rarely do that. The tip here is that the beans take longer to cook than the recipe indicates (at least at my house) so plan for an extra hour to simmer those little guys.

What are some of your favorite recipes? Please share I’m always on the hunt for more.


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It’s December First!

Hello Readers!


I’ve double checked my calendar and despite my disbelief, it IS December 1st. Can hardly believe it. Maybe it comes to such a surprise because we had such a late Thanksgiving this year??

As you recall, today is THE DAY – the big gift challenge day. So, how’d you do? Are you done? How does it feel?

I have to admit I’m actually not 100% done – more like 90% to date. I guess I technically didn’t meet the challenge. But I don’t feel like I failed, I’m OK with being almost done. My list of things left to do is pretty short. I still need to go to the post office and ship my packages – but most of my packages wrapped and boxed and ready to go. I have one more thing to buy for the kids’ teacher gifts – but I can get it a the grocery store and the kids can wrap it. I didn’t get my digital photo book done in time to get it shipped to me before this week – so that’s one gift that will just have to wait. Even though I didn’t completely meet the challenge, I feel good because I’ve done way more than I would have if I didn’t start the challenge to begin with.

For those of you that completed the challenge and are completely done with your shopping, congratulations! I’m impressed. And you get to enjoy your December with a whole new perspective I hope.

For those of you that are getting there (like me) congratulations to you too.  Chances are you’re way ahead of the game and that counts for a great deal as you move into one of the busiest months of the year. As the end of the month approached I found myself starting to stress out that I wasn’t going to meet the December 1st deadline. Then I realized the point of this challenge was not to transfer the stress of holiday shopping and wrapping from December to November. The point was to plan ahead, beat the crowds and create more time in December to actually enjoy the season with “get tos” as opposed to “have tos”.

No matter where you are in your challenge today is a great day to take a moment and reflect on what you want out of your holiday season this year. The purpose of the holidays remain the same – to enjoy the people we love and have some time to relax and celebrate. Take a moment today to decide what’s realistic for you to accomplish in the next few weeks. Perhaps you’re close to finishing your holiday checklist and you can see it through this week. Or perhaps you need to edit your list. Sometimes a deadline is the best thing in the world to help us realize that our goals were not realistic and we need adjust our expectations.

I’ll be in touch in December with some holiday decorating and entertaining tips. I hope you’ll reach out with some of yours’ too.

Happy Holidays (and I mean that),


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