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Home Management 
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Henderson's House Rules


The Rules of Domestic Bliss, February 21, 2006

If you are contemplating the clearing away of housemate complexity, Henderson's House Rules offers a guide to domestic bliss. Leaving this around the house is sure to tempt anyone into reading "the rules" of the living-in-the-same-house game.

The humor in this book is especially enjoyable, occasionally subtle and at other times brilliant. The solutions for everyday challenges could be as simple as a division of labor or pet training. Of course, many of the items will either make you laugh or cause you to consider how your life could be improved with a few simple adaptations of behavior.

If only life was perfect, my husband would let me run the dishwasher while he was watching TV after dinner, he would never ever leave clothes by the bed and I would never leave dishes in the sink to soak. My theory on the matter is that whatever doesn't annoy us doesn't need to be changed.

I like the rule about cleaning the kitchen: "Clean as soon as possible after cooking unless there is a valid reason not to." Valid reasons are also included but could be expanded to include things like: taking a bubble bath. Sometimes I'm too tired to do all the dishes after dinner and have much more energy in the morning.

Some of the highly entertaining issues include:

Things you can and can't do in bed if you don't sleep alone.
Cooking Versus Cleaning

Henderson's House Rules will be very useful for roommates or for couples who want to share house duties. As someone who alternates between leaving the house in total chaos and complete obsessive cleaning, this book shows the way to balance.

~The Rebecca Review
Lives in a Shoeless House
Currently breaking rules: 1.2, 1.17, 1.19, 2.10, 5.3, 5.6, 5.10 and 6.9. My husband is breaking fewer rules than I am...who knew? It will be fun to compare notes!


Sorting It Out


Possess more Freedom through less Possessions, November 23, 2006

"When you clear out your plentiful assortment of excess stuff and things, you not only straighten up your home, you also clear out space in your head." ~ pg. 149

If you feel that excess "stuff" around your house is distracting you from your life goals, many traditions promote organization as a way to also declutter the mind and clean out the cobwebs of your daily existence.

Many people, especially artists, can live in chaos and function on a normal level, but most of us want to be able to find things so we spend less time searching for our keys, looking for the ingredient we just know is in the kitchen someplace and living in fear of looking under the bed. I create very well in chaos, but then I have to take a break and organize myself for the next creative impulse.

Organizing can seem intimidating at first, but with "Sorting It Out" you will let go of old possessions in exchange for new ideas, a less complex lifestyle and a renewed spirit.

`It turns out that the less stuff you carry with you, the less you have to think about." ~ pg. 107

Do you feel overwhelmed by your possessions?

Do you dread coming home from work to find the house is still not how you'd like it to be, so you can relax?

Are you constantly looking for items you know exists but are buried someplace in a pile on the desk?

Do you have time for a garage sale or would it make you feel good to donate your items to a charity?

What do you do about items with sentimental value? Some tricky questions...

Don't give up yet! Help has arrived because Cynthia Friedlob has been there and decided that all that "stuff" was limiting her existence and standing in the way of the life she envisioned. Through her witty advice and humorous tales you can take on household clutter with flair. She also has advice for how to save time by setting up your bank account to automatically pay bills. This has worked very well for me over the past few months. She addresses the issue of "paper" in regards to bills, magazines, catalogues and newspapers.

I now have five big black garbage bags full of stuff to donate to charity and I will say someone is going to find a few good books to read! It really comes down to the decision to buy more bookshelves or help the books I've read find new homes. This year I had spring and autumn organizing and without so much stuff around the house, it is even easier to clean the carpets.

Whether you are taking on one room or one drawer or closet at a time, this book can help you clear out the chaos and find out what is truly valuable.

"Don't get caught up buying storage containers to organize your stuff until you've tossed out everything that you don't need." ~ pg. 38

~The Rebecca Review




Home Management 101


5 out of 5 stars=    How to Organize Your Entire House and more

Reviewer: The Rebecca Review.com

“This book shares all the information you will need to create a successful, easy-to-maintain system for your family. By learning the basic skills of an organized parent, you can react in a calm professional manner so that you control your household, rather than allowing it to control you.” ~Debbie Williams

If your home looks like a hurricane just hit and there is no storm in sight, this book might help you finally tackle your organizational challenges. If you just have a few things out of place, here or there, then this will give you a few basic ideas you can implement in your organizational wars.

My mother’s idea of organizing was to put everything in my room in the middle of the floor and let me sit and organize it for hours on end. Even after all this training, I still occasionally find myself in the middle of some disorganized, creative whirlwind.

There are times when you might be more in the mood to organize than at other times. To use those to the best advantage, read this book! It is really about more than just putting away clutter. I love her ideas about writing down items you run out of on “inventory” sheets hanging in various rooms. It saves running to the other room to find that pen and paper and …oops, you already forgot what you were going to write down. This is a great time saver.


Storage and Organization


Debbie Williams presents an action plan:

1. Let’s Get it Together – You will finally have ideas for how to sort through the items in your house. I like her idea about organizing one room at a time. It will give you a sense of satisfaction to see your home changing one room at a time.

2. Home Management 101 – A great section on managing paper clutter. I take ideas about sorting mail very seriously these days. One idea I discovered that saved me a ton of time sorting mail, was to get a P.O. Box. That way, I only get mail once a week for the most part and I take time all at once to sort through everything and organize bills, etc. As Debbie says: “Did you know that eighty percent of what you file is never looked at again.”

3. Conquering Common Clutter – It is very easy to organize your closets. The author gives ideas for various ways to organize various items. I used her system to organize my clothes into various sections so it is easy to decide on formal/casual, etc. I like her ideas on “rules about inside/outside toys” and “one toy rule” to keep toys put away when not in use. Her “conquering kitchen clutter” was enlightening. I finally purchased a “chore chart” and put it on the front of the refrigerator. Want to remove some of that art on the front of the refrigerator? The author has some ideas about how to organize your children’s creative offerings.

4. The Organized Parent – Ever considered organizing your car? This chapter has ideas about mobile desks, diaper bag checklists, creating a traveling nursery, creating stress-free holidays and even ideas on how to save money when ordering Christmas cards.

5. Office Management 101 – This situation is often a very highly specialized organization task, however most of us need the same basic items. Debbie gives ideas on how to consider the needs of all the people in your family who will be using this area.

6. From Here to There: Effective Time Management – This chapter really makes you more aware of the reality of priorities. Debbie encourages you to define what is most important in your life and schedule time for work, family AND yourself. She ends the chapter with a discussion about goal planning and the difference between must, should and would.

7. It’s A Dirty Job, But…- How to organize bathrooms, complete spring cleaning. Her ideas about freshening up pillows and comforters really do work and save drycleaner bills.

8. More Help for the Organizationally Challenged – A list of books with ISBN numbers so they are easy to look up at Am land. There is also a list of fun organizing products you can shop for online.

Throughout the book, the author gives Bright Ideas that are very helpful. One idea that has helped me be more organized is just getting a big black trash bag and walking through the house now and then. I did this for years and finally I can hardly find anything I want to give away. It has helped me keep the clutter down and it is less painful to get rid of your precious possessions a little at a time. After a few years, you start looking forward to donating items to good causes.

A cute book that is a fast-read so you can get right to all that organizing!


Clutter Busting Handbook


Clutter Turned Comedy, October 13, 2005

According to Rita Emmett, the Deadly SINS of Clutter require just a little repentance. If you are saving everything, insisting on bringing stuff into your house that you don't need or setting things aside until you "decide about it," then you will definitely want to read this hilarious book about clutter. She believes there are only four steps to eliminating clutter and gives the four primary causes of clutter.

She explains how you can prevent clutter from returning, forever. If you are tired of sorting, wondering how you accumulated so much "stuff," or just need to organize your house, then this book gives excellent advice and even a "clutter quiz."

The book begins with a funny letter and then introduces you to the clutter generation. There are wonderful bits of information like the inspiring:

"Cleaning professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in an average home."

Rita Emmett is also the author of "The Procrastinator's Handbook" which only took her 38 years to write. She is a recovered "Pack Rat" who knows how to motivate with humor and insight. She gives advice on how to organize books, notes, greeting cards, paper clutter, business cards and clothes. She delves into creative storage ideas and give excellent advice on how to sort a closet. She also addresses issues like:

What do I do with all this furniture I just inherited?
Do I really need to put some things in storage?
Will removing clutter lower my stress level?
What do I do with all these holiday decorations?

Her advice on e-mail has been very useful on a day-by-day basis. I like her idea of not even opening some e-mails. If I see "FW" it is gone. You may have to get a little selfish with your time, but it is "YOUR" time.

I started to read this book while my mother was moving. She is now sorting her office, but we were able to effectively organize the rest of the house while I was there for a week. We had some funny moments sorting through the "junk box" and it was quite the healing experience to see a house filled with boxes turn into "home."

As an organizer at heart who has helped numerous people clean up the clutter and organize their houses, I can highly recommend this book. My mother says I should do this for a living, but currently I'm exclusive.

One of my own secrets for reducing clutter involves giving away things to charity and consistently going through my house to find things I don't use anymore. I think if you take one room or one closet at a time, it is much easier to deal with clutter. I also find that putting a pile of unrelated items in the middle of a room makes it easier to decide what you don't need.

Books organized. Check.
File cabinet organized. Check.

I had to laugh when I noticed the picture on page 144. My mother used to teach me to organize my room as a child by pulling everything out from under the bed and everything that was disorganized in the closets. There I would sit organizing until I had a wonderful sense of satisfaction I never forgot.



The Clothesline


Nostalgia, July 26, 2006

Reviewers: The Rebecca Review

"The simple act of picking clean, wet clothes out of a wicker basket, shaking them out, and hanging them up makes me slow down, giving me time to compose the rest of my day."

Washing machines are great for convenience, but there is a magical quality to hand washing clothes with a delicious essential oil soap (orange or lavender) and hanging them outside to dry. Of course, this means you need a clothesline and a secluded back yard.

As a child we used a soap called Sunlight and washed clothes in a ring washer. I know, I'm too young to know about ring washers, but in Africa that is what we used and we even had a sink with a washboard type surface.

The spinning umbrella clothesline was behind the house with a mountain right behind where animals could easily find their way down to our house. Often while putting up clothes, I'd walk up the steps and scare a baboon who would screech at me for interrupting the stealing of fruit. I'm not sure who scared who more, but clothes definitely ended up thrown about the garden as I ran one way and the baboon ran the other.

Memories of running outside to quickly take down the clothes in the afternoon is also a fun memory. As the rain would start to soak the clothes and sheets, we'd frantically be pulling them off the line, then hanging them inside to dry overnight.

With memories of hanging out clothes on a line, this book becomes even more meaningful. If you have a penchant for lavender ironing water and verbena soap, this will also be a delight.

This unique book has recipes for making your own soap with herbs, describes the variety of clotheslines, shows pictures of many different clothespin bags and explains how to wash linens. How do you make a new clothesline last longer? Why use a naturally scented softener?

Throughout this informative and very practical guide there are also moments of inspiration for designing your own laundry room. The storage of linens with small herbal sachets is followed by recipes and creative ideas. A special section shows how clotheslines found their way into art. Urban clotheslines and country clotheslines are included. Remember clothespin toys? They have pictures of those too.

"I know this sounds funny, but I think of hanging clothes as an almost religious experience." ~Betsy Bennett, artist (Sheets to the Wind II painting)

Now and then I just wish I could take my laundry down to the river and wash it on stones. I have strange notions, but mostly they appeal to my outdoor nature. By washing our clothes inside, we miss out on the feeling of the sun on our skin and the sound of clothes whipping about in the wind. While at my mother's house one day I found two clothespins and decided to keep them. My mother and grandmother always had clotheslines and I remember many happy hours as a child running through the sheets warmed by the sun.

~The Rebecca Review


One Year to an Organized Life


4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Way to Get Organized, June 6, 2009
Regina Leeds has written an excellent book on organizing your entire life in a matter of months or even weeks, depending on how much time you have to work on each project. This book starts with organizing your kitchen in January but I used it to motivate me to get my kitchen organized this month. So you can start anytime and the kitchen is probably the best place to start.

Regina Leeds asks a lot of good questions and one of them really helped me to figure out what I needed most in my kitchen. That would be "counter space." By clearing out and reorganizing some of the shelves in my cupboards I had more space on my counters due to putting some things away. I knew I was unhappy with my kitchen I just didn't know where to start. Fortunately the job only took a few hours. I didn't write anything in a journal first so I saved time that way.

In each month, the first week is about journaling which you can skip if you are not motivated by writing things down. The journaling can take thirty to sixty minutes which I personally would find to be a waste of time. I also didn't like Regina's idea about using the top of the refrigerator to store paper products. Those would seem to belong in a closet or pantry.

While Regina talks about getting rid of old Tupperware I was surprised she didn't advise using some of their storage systems for organizing kitchen cupboards. I'd be lost without my Tupperware organizers, especially since I love to bake and need all sorts of flours and other specialty ingredients like soy flour, etc.

This book has some interesting ideas that I'd never thought of like donating old towels to animal shelters. You can also cut them up and make them into rags. In the section on bathrooms there is advice to shop for new towels and to "swap" barely used beauty products with friends at a party.

There is a section on how to organize all your photos which will be fun if you enjoy scrapbooking. There is also advice on how to spruce up a guest bedroom/bathroom. While reading this book you may find yourself buying a shredder or redecorating a bedroom. The advice for the holiday season is also helpful and will make your celebrations much less stressful.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. I didn't think the section on cleaning out a garage was detailed enough but it was still helpful. I have to clean out a clients garage in a few weeks so I was looking for some tips. Instead I ended up redoing my kitchen, which is something I really needed to do.

If your house is cluttered and you feel like you live in chaos, give this book a try. Within a few months you won't recognize your home. This book is that good!

~The Rebecca Review


How to Master Your Muck


5.0 out of 5 stars Inventive Ideas for Immediate Results, August 16, 2009
"How to Master Your Muck" is essential reading for anyone who owns a business or who works from home and has an office that needs organizing. As someone who cleans and organizes for a living I gained a new understanding of what it takes to organize an office much more effectively. I am always on the lookout for books that give me new ideas that will impress my clients.

This book also helped me immediately with some small things I should have been paying attention to in my own home. Like I had the hard drive tower on top of my desk because it was easier to turn it on that way. Since my husband and I share the same office and he works on the computer daily removing the hard drive tower freed up some needed desk space and he was able to work more efficiently than before.

Kathi Burns is a professional organizer who has worked with thousands of clients. She not only organizes offices she can also help you select clothes for your wardrobe. She believes that outward actions like organizing and buying a new wardrobe can lead to increased confidence and therefore more money. There is also a section on how to stay on top of your schedule and keep business cards organized so you keep bringing in new business by staying in contact with the people that matter.

There is some information on how to handle email that will free up a lot of your time. For me the simple advice to make up a draft copy of a letter I seem to keep retyping in various ways freed up some of my time. Each time an author writes me about a review I seem to always be retyping the address for where they should send the books. I guess I've always thought it was important to write an original letter to each author.

The only thing missing from this book is a few sketches of the organizing equipment mentioned in each chapter. Fortunately Kathi Burns does give URLs at the end of the book so you can look things up online.

While this book will be perfect if you have a home office there really isn't any information on how to organize a kitchen, pantry, bathroom, living room or bedroom. 

~The Rebecca Review



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