Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Organizing Contest Submissions--Part One

Writer Wednesday

There are many contests available for writers, both published and unpublished. For the unpublished, it is a good way to get your work in front of editors and agents in a competitive market. Contest wins also look good when submitting to an agent or editor. For the published, contest wins and finaling are ways to show your readers that others have enjoyed the book. They will attract a new audience that might not have tried you without those badges of honor.

Because there are so many contests, you can easily lose track of which contests you've submitted which works to. Here are some tips for keeping track of your contest submissions.

1. Decide the best vehicle for keeping track of your submissions. This might be a spread sheet, a database file, or a notebook. Everyone is different. Some may prefer electronic records, while others prefer a hard copy that is portable and easily accessed.
2. For each contest entered, record the name of the contest, the material submitted, the contest fee, the contest contact name, the date submissions are due, the date you submitted, the dates the finalists and winners are announced, and how you fared in each contest.
3. Pre-print SAS postcards with "Your submission, (Title of Book), was received by (Name of Contest)on (Blank line for date). Then place a label with your name and address on the stamped side.
4. Give yourself a reminder in your calendar for every finalist/winner announcement date. Check with the contest coordinator if you haven't heard anything by this date.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Keeping Your Child Physically Fit for the School Year

Tips for Tuesday

It is important for your child to be healthy and stay healthy for best results throughout the school year. You can help by doing the following:

• Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
• Give your child a breakfast of protein, dairy, fruit and fiber before school.
• Provide a healthy lunch consisting of protein, dairy a fruit or vegetable and bread or fiber.
• Provide a healthy snack after school of fruit or vegetables and protein.
• Stock your pantry with healthy snack alternatives. Desserts should be a treat, not a day-long binge.
• Water, milk and fruit juice are the best beverages.
• Enroll your child in a physical activity, such as a sport or gymnastics/ballet class (Do not over-do extra-curricular activities—keep them to a minimum so your child does not tire out too quickly.)
• Stay on top of your child’s moods and investigate any changes, whether gradual or sudden.
• Take your child in for an annual physical, whether or not the school requires it.
• Read all instructions on packaging before dispensing meds, whether over-the-counter or prescription.
• Praise your children when they do well. Support them when they falter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moving to a Smaller Home

Moving on Monday

One of the biggest challenges when moving occurs when your new home is smaller than your current home. Or, you are combining two fully-furnished homes into one. The reality is, not everything will fit into the new home. So you must decide which items you are keeping, and those you aren't.

The best time to decide this is BEFORE you move. Why pay the movers to move furniture you won't be keeping? But how do you decide what to keep, and what to get rid of?

First, take inventory of what you own. Indicate which items you definitely need, such as a bed and dresser for each family member, and a set of dishes for everyday use. After deciding what you need, mark off those things you would like to bring to the new home if it fits--your preferred items. You'll see what's left on your list are things that you can probably do without. For example, you need a dresser for each room, and would like to bring your grandmother's antique chest to hold linens in the master bedroom. But that old dresser from college really isn't needed by anyone, and is in pretty bad shape, anyway.

Next, make a rough floor plan of your new home. Go back to the house and take photos, if necessary. You'll want to know where doors, windows, outlets and air vents are. Draw in the furniture that will fit into each room. If you have more than one sofa that can be considered for the family room, measure the space, then measure the sofas. Which would fit best, along with tables and a comfy chair? If both are similar in size, which do you like better? Which is newer? Which will wear better over time with your family? For example, the leather sofa is comfy and would look great with the stone fireplace. But will it really be best for small children and two dogs in a combined household?

After placing your "necessary" and "preferred" items into the floor plan, see if there will still be room in the house for any of your other items. Consider closets, pantry, basement, garage and attic. That's not to say you should feel the need to fill every available space. But if there are items that would be nice to keep and you have room, then by all means, keep them.

Whatever doesn't fit into the home can be given to friends and relatives, or donated. You pay the movers by the pound/hour. Don't pay them to move things you can't put in the new home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Ultimate Frugalista--The College Student

Frugal Friday

If anyone has mastered the concept of frugality, it is the college student. Most are living on a limited budget, having little or no income while balancing classes, homework, extra-curricular activities and a social life. They know how to make the most of the money they have.

• Check with family members to see if they have anything the student can use, if only on a temporary basis.
• Shop thrift stores. Rather than try and ship large items or drive them down, scour local thrift stores for items like desks, beds and tables. When the school year is over, it can be donated back to the school.
• Go through hallways and alleys at the end of the school year and look for other students' discards. Seniors won't be needing their furniture the following year, and may leave it in the hall for anybody to claim. Only take these items if you have space to store them over the summer.
• Shop online. This will avoid having to ship or transport your items yourself. Many stores offer in-store pick-up so there won't be a shipping fee. You can order in your own town, and pick it up in the college town.
• Check for student discounts on items. For example, there might be back-to-school deals on electronics and home goods. Often, the city in which the school is located has student discounts on transporation and entertainment.
• Check with your school to see what they offer for 'free'. This might be meals, plays, sporting events or movies at the campus theater.
• Many schools offer excellent discounts on travel over the holidays or spring break.
• Shop sales. Like any other town, there are probably big box stores within a reasonable distance from the school that will have sales on food, toiletries and paper goods.
• Think reusable. Rather than stocking up on paper plates, cups and cutlery, purchase inexpensive plates, mugs, glasses and flatware. Not only will this save money in the long run, it will teach the student the responsibilty of cleaning and maintaining their own space.
• Check with the school. There are many items that schools will not allow in their dorms. This includes things like halogen lights, candles and microwave ovens. Once the school confiscates it, it's gone. So don't waste money on things that will be taken away. Check the rules before buying anything.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Helping Your Aging Parents--Consolidating Tasks

Senior Thursday

Last week we talked about creating a list of everything that needs to be done for your aging parents. Now that you have compiled that list, see if there are any tasks that can be consolidated with your own.

• Consolidate banking accounts to one bank so you only have to make one trip.
• Set up automatic bill-paying with utilities, insurance companies, etc., or ask to have the due dates the same as yours so you are only writing out bills once.
• Coordinate refills at the pharmacy with the days you pick up your own.
• Shop at the same grocery store as the elder and drop off the groceries on your way home. If your relative doesn’t live near you, consider setting up a grocery delivery system. It costs a bit more, but saves you time.
• Schedule appointments for the hairdresser, dentist, etc. at the same time. Of course, one of you may have to switch the salon you visit, but it’s worth saving the extra trip.
• Prepare an extra serving or two while making your own meals and freeze or store them for your parent(s).
• Hire a housekeeper for yourself or the elder.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Organizing Project Files--Part Three

Writer Wednesday

Every project you begin needs to be tracked. You will have research files at the start of the process, documents while composing drafts, submission records, edits and marketing efforts. There will be many versions of the same project as it goes through editing phases. Therefore, you will need to keep track of all these versions.

There are storage needs for both hard copy and electronic records. They should mirror each other for easiest retrieval.

11. Perform monthly back-ups of new files to external storage such as an external hard drive, CD or USB flash drive. Or subscribe to an online back-up service that automatically backs up any new files as they are created.
12. Keep a final version of every project in external storage.
13. Copy all your files to an external source at least once a year (even if you have online storage.)
14. Exchange back-up files with a friend for safe off-site storage.
15. Keep a hard copy of the final version of every project within easy access so it is readliy available for copying or faxing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is Your Medicine Cabinet Healthy?

Tips for Tuesday

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet is just the beginning. Keeping it safe is another. Periodically review your medicine cabinet (about every six months) and sort through what you have.

• Discard expired medications. (The best way is to take them to a hazardous waste collection so they don’t get into your town's water supply.) If you can't find an expiration date, but you've had the medicine for at least two years, discard it. Chemical changes over time can change the effectiveness of medications, and even make you seriously ill.
• Discard any prescription medications you have not taken in over a year. These also have a limited shelf life and can undergo chemical changes.
• Discard any medication without a label.
• Discard old toothbrushes
• Discard rusty nail clippers, tweezers, etc.
• Place often-used items near the bottom of the cabinet, and less-used items at the top.
• Place bottles and boxes with labels outward so you can easily locate what you need.
• If more than one person uses the medicine cabinet, store each person's prescription items on a different shelf. With prescription bottles from the same pharmacy all looking identical, one can easily grab the wrong bottle in the middle of the night and take the wrong tablets if they look similar to their own.
• Call your pharmacy for refills of prescription items when you notice you are down to about five pills. The pharmacy will have it ready for you on time, even if they have to order it from their supplier or call your physician for refills. Never wait until you take the last pill.
• Use plastic cups or containers for small items such as ointment tubes, cotton swabs and nail clippers.
• Store like items together--hair care, skin care, etc.
• Discard any cosmetics over a year old.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What To Do With That Extra Furniture

Moving On Mondays

As mentioned in previous posts, it is important to declutter your home when you are staging it to sell. This often means getting rid of extra furniture from rooms. "Getting rid of it" can have several meanings. Sometimes, you need a temporary home for it. Sometimes you want it to have a new home. Sometimes it's just trash.

Whether you are saving it for later, or giving it away, here are a few options to consider.

Give It to Family--Is there anyone in your family that has a need for the item? Perhaps a college student is renting his/her first apartment. Or a young couple is furnishing a new home. Check around before donating or selling it.
Store It--If you are sure you have room in your new home, or you really want to keep it, put it in storage. Choose a portable option that you can load at home and have stored elsewhere, or load up your items and take them to a storage facility. Review your finances before selecting this option. If you don't sell your home quickly, you will be paying that monthly fee.
Donate It—This includes everything as big as international organizations like the Salvation Army, to small, local programs that help abused women get back on their feet in a new home. There are organizations that cater to the youth, to unmarried pregnant teens, and to the disabled. Many local churches have annual rummage sales to help raise money for various organizations. Choose one that’s near to you, or dear to your heart.
Sell It--If you would like to try and make money on some of your items, you can take them to an auction house, or try to sell them on-line. Sites such as eBay and Craig’s List help you sell used (or new) items online. Local auction houses are more restricted in the items they accept, as well as the times of the sales.
Exchange It—This is a program where you give your items away to someone who needs them—no money exchanges hands. Oftentimes, the person taking your items will give something to you in return, that you may need but they no longer want. The largest of these is
Consign It—There are store fronts that do the sales for you. Bring in your items, and they sell them. They usually have a time limit of several months, and will donate anything that doesn't sell within that time frame, unless you go back to pick them up. They are often seasonal, and can be very selective.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stretching Your Shopping Dollar

Frugal Friday

As the cost of everything goes up, we want to make our dollars stretch farther. Since retailers aren't cooperating, it is up to us to find ways to get the most out of our money. Here are some tips when shopping, whether on the internet, or in the store.

• Use sites like or to compare prices of the same item at different online retailers.
• Clip coupons. Clip manufacturer coupons from the Sunday paper inserts, print them from online sources. Combine these with store coupons, and save tens of dollars each visit.
• Take advantage of social living coupon sites such as These site often offer deals as much as 50% off the regular price.
• Buy local. Shop at local farmer's markets for organic produce. You won't be paying extra for the shipping costs.
• Stop paying for postage. Pay your bills online through your bank. Most offer this service free of charge.
• Mail in those rebates! Most people don't send in the rebate form, defeating the purpose of purchasing the item. Send it in as soon as you get home so you don't forget. They usually expire within a few weeks.
• Keep receipts. Returns are easier this way. Although many stores will honor returns without a receipt, you may only get the most recent sale price rather than the full price you paid.
• Shop seasonally. There are many items like appliances and home goods that go on sale the same time every year.
• Shop used. Attend flea markets, consignment shops, resale shops and book sales at your local library. You can find like-new clothing and household items

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Helping Your Aging Parents--Overview

Senior Thursday

In a world where baby-boomers are reaching retirement age, and people are living longer, we are seeing more and more situations of role reversals. The children of aging parents are becoming the caretakers. The mother is now the ‘child’ and the daughter is now a ‘mother.’

In many families, this can put a stress on the time and energy left for one’s own family. But there are ways to reorganize your life, and ways to help your parents and still maintain your own life.

Finding The Time

The time you devote to your aging relative depends on their situation. Some may be in a nursing home, some may be in assisted living, others are still in their own home, but unable to care for daily tasks such as cooking meals or maintaining the yard.

The first thing you will need to do is make a list of everything that needs to be done for the elder. If he/she is on his own home, then the tasks are much the same as those in your house. If they are living with you, there are still tasks, such as doctor visits or laundry, that will need to be done in addition to your own. Even if they are living in a nursing home, there are still some things you will be responsible for.

Next Week: Consolidating Tasks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Organizing Your Project Files--Part Two

Writer Wednesday

Every project you begin needs to be tracked. You will have research files at the start of the process, documents while composing drafts, submission records, edits and marketing efforts. There will be many versions of the same project as it goes through editing phases. Therefore, you will need to keep track of all these versions.

There are storage needs for both hard copy and electronic records. They should mirror each other for easiest retrieval.

6. Save portions of larger projects in smaller files (ex. chapters) as you work. They can all be combined into one file when you need to print it.
7. If you keep more than one version of a project, include the date in the file name for quick identification.
8. Use "Print Preview" before printing to avoid mistakes.
9. Keep a copy of any version you send to a contest, agent or editor so you can refer to it later if necessary.
10. Perform daily backup of any files you edit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stocking Your Medicine Cabinet

Tips for Tuesday

Every well-stocked medicine cabinet should have the following items:

• Analgesic
• Antacid
• Antibiotic ointment
• Anti-diarrhea medicine
• Antihistamines (both topical and internal) for allergic reactions
• Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
• Bandages
• Cold/flu medication
• Cold sore medication if anyone in the family is prone to them
• Cortisone cream
• Cotton swabs
• Cough syrup/drops
• Decongestant
• Deodorant
• First-aid supplies
• Floss
• Hand lotion
• Ibuprofen or other pain reliever/anti-inflammatory
• Laxative or stool softener
• Lip balm
• Mouthwash
• Nail clippers/scissors/file
• Nasal spray
• Prescription medications as needed
• Razor blades (refills)
• Shaving cream
• Toothbrush/toothpaste
• Vitamin supplements
• Thermometer
• Dosing cup or spoon

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet is only the beginning. If you don't maintain it, you may be jeopardizing your health. Come back next week for Part Two: Maintaining Your Medicine Cabinet

Monday, August 15, 2011

Donating Books and Magazines

Moving On Mondays

While decluttering is about getting rid of things you don't need, more importantly, it is about simplifying your life. Once you pare down your belongings, your lifestyle will change. Less stuff means less stuff to care for. Less stuff to care for means more time with your family.

Decluttering is also about disposing of items responsibly. You shouldn't just throw your unwanted items in the trash. There are many different organizations and groups that would welcome your discards. Here are some ideas for donating books and magazines.

• Used Book Stores—Depending on the books, you may be able to donate or sell them to used book stores. Some are selective in what they accept. Check to see if there is a Half Price Books store near you.
• Libraries—Most libraries hold semi-annual used book sales. All books are donated and the proceeds go to fund library events. Check with your local library. Some accept donations year-round. Others only accept donations in the few weeks preceding the event.
• Prisons—Check with your local prison to see what types of books or magazines they might like for the inmates. Many have their own libraries and accept both fiction and non-fiction books.
• Senior Centers—This is a great place to donate books, magazines and even puzzles. These items are kept in a public area for all residents to use/borrow.
• Women’s Shelters—Women in these programs are often seeking medical assistance as well as job-search assistance. They have a lot of free time, and it’s better to use that time reading than watching television.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saving Money on Travel

Frugal Friday

We work hard all year, looking forward to our vacation. But with the cost of groceries, gas and utilities rising, things like vacations are going by the wayside in order to afford the necessities. However, with smart shopping, you can travel on a budget.

• Travel during the week. Flights and hotels are cheaper. Flights are usually cheapest to book on Tuesdays.
• Passes vs. a la carte. If you can purchase a day pass to an amusement park or attraction, it is usually much cheaper than paying for each portion individually.
• Ask a travel agent. Do your own research online for your trip, then ask a travel agent if they can get better deals for you. Often, they can because they can buy package deals.
• One-way rentals. Rental car companies move their fleets north in the spring and south in the fall. Cash in on low rental rates by traveling during these months. Always document damage on the car before and after you drive it to avoid damage charges.
• Rent in town. Rental car companies often charge as much as 10 percent more at the airport. Take a shuttle into town and rent locally.
• ATMs vs. foreign currency exchange. Fees for withdrawing money from your bank while abroad are often lower than using a currency exchange. Check with your bank before traveling so you know what fees to expect.
• Some credit cards charge fees for using your card out of the country. Check yours before you go. Is the fee worth the convenience?
• Shop local thrift stores for low-priced souvenirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Safety in the Home for Seniors

Senior Thursday

Independence is important to everyone. So it is no surprise that seniors prefer to stay in their own home rather than move into assisted living. Unfortunately, they don't always have the mental or physical capability to be on their own.

If they refuse to move, then family members should make certain the house is as safe an environment as possible for the senior.

• Falls are a major problem. Take away anything that would cause a fall, such as throw rugs and cords. Also, transitions from room to room should be flat and safe.
• Furniture can be a hazard. Are corners sharp? Would chairs tip over easily? Can the senior lower him/herself into the chair easily, and get up without help?
• Kitchens pose many threats. Floors can be slippery when wet. Fires can start with loose clothing or forgetting to turn off appliances. Cleaning supplies can be mistaken for beverages.
• Bathrooms are especially hazardous. The obvious is falls. They can happen from water on the floor, or slippery tubs. Any electrical appliances can pose a threat near water also.

Any senior living alone should have their home inpsected for potential hazards. To learn more about this service that Prima By Design offers, call 847-955-1822. The fee for a safety check is far less than the cost of a hospitalization.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Organizing Your Project Files--Part One

Writer Wednesday

Every project you begin needs to be tracked. You will have research files at the start of the process, documents while composing drafts, submission records, edits and marketing efforts, to name a few. There will be many versions of the same project as it goes through editing phases. Therefore, you will need to keep track of all these versions.

There are storage needs for both hard copy and electronic records. They should mirror each other for easiest retrieval.

1. Start a folder or file box for every new project, such as a magazine article or novel. The size of the project will determine the size of the file.
2. Include in the file anything related to the project. This would be character sketches, plotting worksheets, chapter outlines, floor plans, maps, photos and family trees, for example.
3. Create a spreadsheet timeline for your novel to keep track of time. If your setting begins on a Sunday, you don't want to reference Thursday or Friday the following day in the book.
4. For projects with many characters, create a family tree to show each character's relation to another. This helps keep track of character's ages also, if the book spans several years.
5. Use chapter worksheets to track character conflict and growth. A story can't move forward without these elements. So make sure every chapter has them.

Next week: Part Two of Organizing Project Files

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Maximize Your Space

Tips for Tuesday

Even though houses seem to be getting bigger and bigger, we've accumulated so much stuff, even large rooms and closets can't always hold what we need. In that case, the best solution is to get rid of some of your stuff.

There are instances, however, where the house or apartment is just plain small, and a challenge for the home owner. But there are ways to maximize the space to make it a comfortable but functional living area.

• Go vertical. Use wall space all the way up to the ceiling. This might be shelving or tall cabinets. When storing your possessions, containerize smaller items, and label all bins.
• Use multi-purpose furniture. Purchase storage ottomans for the family room. Use a file cabinet as an night stand in the guest room. Use a tall, narrow dresser in the bathroom to store toiletries.
• Use the attic. Install a floor, then add storage units such as bins, portable closets and hooks.
• Overhead storage. This can be utilized in the basement or garage. If your basement isn't finished, install hooks/rods in the rafters and hang items like wreaths, holiday decorations and off season clothes. For garages, use hooks in the rafters, or install drop-down shelving over your cars.
• Use nooks and crannies. Corners are great for storing less-used items. Or build shallow nooks into your walls to hold magazines, display collectibles or store bottles/cans.
• Use the space under your stairs. If you have any stairs in your house, there is space beneath them. Make a bookshelf, install a closet, or use it for seasonal storage.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Staging Your House to Sell--The Interior

Moving On Mondays

Once a potential buyer gets past your front door, you must trust the house to sell itself. In order to do that, you need to take away anything that is you, and replace it with decorating and items that are neutral. You want your home to look like a store display, so the buyer can envision themselves living in that space with their items, not yours.

Here are some basic tips for interior staging.

Lighting--The house should be bright and cheerful. If there aren't overhead lights, then add floor or table lamps so every corner is lit. Use maximum wattage for your bulbs. Open blinds and draperies. Leave the lights on when you go out, just in case someone comes by to look at it while you're working.
Painting--Cover any dark or bright colors. That doesn't mean everything has to be white or beige. Go with natural tones like green, taupe, blue or gray.
Repairs--Thoroughly explore your house, looking for any little thing that needs repair. This might be holes in screens, carpet stains, broken tiles or leaky pipes. While none of these alone would prevent a buyer from making an offer, added up, they may make the house next door look better.
Furniture Placement--Start with a focal point in every room. Then arrange the furniture around that focal point. Add in art work and accessories for a splash of color. Group displays in odd numbers--three to five of each.
Clean, clean, clean--This can't be stressed enough. You may think a house can be easily cleaned, so the buyer should look past the dirt. But if the competition is showing at its best, your house may be passed on, even if priced lower. Potential buyers will be wondering how well the rest of the house is taken care of if you can't even clean it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Saving Money on Your Utilities

Frugal Friday

We all like to save money whenever possible. And saving money around the home allows you to spend money on fun things like vacations or family time. Here are some ways to save on your utilities.

• If you have a traditional water heater, purchase a thermal blanket and wrap it. Wrap the outgoing pipes also. If you need to replace an old water heater, spend the extra money on a tankless water heater. The money you save on heating the water will pay for the unit.
• Use solar power whenever possible. There are solar grills, solar lights and solar fans, just to name a few.
• Install a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home.
• Replace incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent light bulbs (CFL). CFL bulbs use less energy and last longer. You can buy all sizes, and most are now dimmable.
• Turn the valves under your sinks halfway off. Every time you turn on the water to wash your hands or dishes, you'll use half the water.
• Dry your clothes only until they are damp, then hang them up to finish drying.
• Your AC and dehumidifer pull water out of the air that can be used for watering your garden or washing your car.
• Place rain barrels around the house to collect rain water that can be used in the garden.
• Keep the coils on your refrigerator and freezer clear of dust.
• Disconnect any electronics or appliances that aren't used regularly. They just drain electricity. Also unplug cell phones anre other rechargeable items once they are fully charged so they don't draw power.
• Consider purchasing a convection oven if you are in need of a new oven. They are more expensive but save 20% on your utility bill.
• Close air vents in vacant rooms.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Organizing Your Medical Information

Senior Thursday

Throughout the year, many medical issues can arise, resulting in visits to the doctor's office or even a hospital stay. Sometimes it is a routine visit for preventative care. Other times, it is because of an illness. Whatever the reason for the visit, an organized set of medical information will help you receive the best care possible.
Not only is it important for you to know what care you have received, it is also important that all your physicians and specialists are aware of treatment you are receiving elsewhere. Below are some guidelines to help you organize your medical records.

Create a Binder or File
Create a filing system for your medical information based upon volume and preferences. You can have one file or binder for the entire family, or you may want one file or binder per family member.

BINDER SYSTEM: Purchase a binder large enough for the family, or have one for each family member. Use dividers to separate into medical visits, insurance, testing and prescription sections. If you have only one binder, have these four sections for each family member. You will have to hole punch all your paperwork with this method. Place your papers in the binder in chronological (or reverse) order. Be consistent.

FILE SYSTEM: Delegate a section in your file cabinet for each family member, or purchase a file box for each person. Then create individual folders for doctor visits, prescriptions, lab tests and insurance. You can further divide into smaller categories such as a folder for each doctor or each hospital stay if necessary. Be consistent in how you add papers into each folder. Either put them in front for reverse chronological order, or in the back for straight chronological order.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Organizing Your Personal Library

Writer Wednesday

Writers amass a large number of books. Some are "How To" books for writing. Some are reference books for their various projects. And most writers are avid readers. Many of their shelves are occupied by "Keepers" they've read and childhood favorites.

So how does one keep track of all these books? If you see a book at the store, can you rely on your memory as to whether or not you already own it? If you lend a book to a friend, do you remember to get it back? If you need a book you know you own, can you quickly find it?

Keeping accurate records of your books will help in all these areas.

1. Arrange your books on your shelves by subject, then alphabetically by author within each subject. Use subjects that have meaning to you. For example, if you write historicals in the Victorian Era, your subjects might include "Costume," "Food," "Entertainment" and "Transportation." If you are writing a mystery set in contemporary Chicago, your subjects might include "Police," "Museums," "Restaurants" and "Public Transportation."
2. Keep a master list or database record of your books. There are programs you can purchase or download. Some are as simple as entering an ISBN #, while others require more input. Some options are Microsoft Access Database, Libellus Personal Library, or Book Collector by
3. Take your master list with you when you shop so you don't duplicate what you already have. Some applications are transferrable to your smartphone or iPad for easy transportability.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Saving Time Around the House

Tips for Tuesday

Wouldn't we all like a little more time? If you were to take all your day-to-day tasks, add in the hours you spend at work, and all the family events you're obligated to attend, you are left with precious little time to yourself. Here are some tips to help you streamline your life, get things done more quickly, and have more time for yourself and your family.

• Keep new garbage bags at the bottom of the can for quick replacement at take-out time
• Keep a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies on each level of the house so you don’t have to drag everything up and down stairs
• Keep vinegar in a spray bottle for quick clean-up of windows, drains, etc.
• Bring a basket or box along while cleaning to collect items for other rooms—put stray items away when you get to that room
• Line roasting pans with foil for easy clean-up
• Cook in bulk and freeze extra servings for busy evenings
• Use clear containers whenever possible for easy viewing of contents
• Label any non-transparent boxes in storage so you know their contents without having to open them
• Purchase a programmable thermostat to save time switching settings back and forth
• Tape your repairman’s phone number to furnace, water heater, etc., so you don’t have to search for it in an emergency
• Program frequently-used phone numbers into your home and cellular phones
• Keep a supply of greeting cards on hand for unexpected events such as illnesses

Monday, August 1, 2011

De-cluttering Your House to Sell

Moving On Mondays

Before any interior staging is done, you should de-clutter your home. No matter how new the paint or how clean the carpet, if your house has piles of magazines on the floor, toys lined up against the walls, or boxes stacked in your spare bedroom, potential buyers will walk away with the impression that the house is not cared for properly. They will most likely not look past the clutter to see the benefits of the home.

• Clean not only what you can see but also what’s behind closed doors
• Make it look like there’s room to spare in closets and cabinets and on shelves
• There should be ample room for walking around furniture—store extra pieces you're keeping for the new home
• Keep packed boxes to a minimum—place them in temporary storage
• Collections should be packed away
• Pack away bulky toys
• Remove bins/boxes from under beds or other furniture
• Remove extra art from walls (potential buyers will think ‘repairs’ from all the holes)
• Schedule weekly pick-ups with your favorite charity