Monday, December 28, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

I've FINALLY moved the blog!

After numerous attempts to do post-dated posts, I decided to stop flogging the dead horse and move to Wordpress.

Please add my new domain to your Google Reader, :) and if I'm on your sidebar, please link to the new domain too. Thank you kindly.

Oh, please be patient with me as I'm a technophobe and ... I'm still fixing up some things - spacing in the sidebars, etc, etc. - but do let me know what's working, what's not, etc :)

See you over there!
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P.S. Does anyone know how to get that numbered comment thing I see on some blogs?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Feeling overwhelmed about Christmas?

I read an absolutely fabulous post over at Beth's place the other day called The Christmas Police.

What a great reminder to simplify!

If you're feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do, STOP.
  • You don't have to buy more gifts.

  • You don't have to do more baking

  • You don't have to send out Christmas cards even if you've received some.

  • You don't have to decorate your house to match your neighbours' houses.

  • You don't have to put up another tree.

  • You don't have to go to that party you don't want to go to.
Just relax and BE.

After the initial bout of slight panic, it's strangely freeing to go against the grain!

Give yourself permission to STOP and enjoy what you have done (even if it's nothing). Nobody enjoys being around frazzled people, especially at this time of year.

Which is exactly why I'm avoiding the malls in Johannesburg... although I decided on the red daily planner and wouldn't you know? They only had ONE left when I went last week so I snapped it up!

What do you need to give yourself permission to stop doing?
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P.S. Mine is in the comments :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do you send Christmas cards? Here's how I get them done.

  • I make a list of everyone I want to send a card to.
  • Gather all the cards from my storage box
  • Address them all - I store the addresses in Outlook
  • Then when the cards are sitting on my desk with all the addresses peeking at me, I'm more motivated to actually write out the messages and get them done.
  • I try and write a few every day so that all the writing doesn't become a burden. I don't believe in just saying "To ________ From _________ " so I try and put a bit of effort into it.
  • I took 10 with me to the hairdresser's last week and while the colour was on my hair, I managed to write out 6.
In South Africa, people aren't really big on giving Christmas cards. Or maybe that's only in my circle???

This year I took about 40 from my stash (I buy them at half price just after Christmas every year) and I think 10 were for people in South Africa; the rest are being sent overseas.

Do you send Christmas cards? What's your strategy for getting them done?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

10 ways to keep your car clean, tidy and organised

We all know that between kids, shopping, work and gym, it is often a challenge to keep the car nice and clean. It doesn't have to be an impossible task if you put some or all of these ideas into practice.

Here are 10 things I do to keep my car clean, tidy and organised.


1. I don't allow any messy, greasy food in my car and I only eat fruit that won't mess. This rule applies to me and to other people.

2. I don't allow anybody to smoke in my car.

3. I also have some wet wipes in my cubby-hole to wipe my hands from the fruit. I then use the same wet wipe to clean my steering wheel, my dashboard, gear lever, etc. It's called repurposing.

4. To keep your car smelling nice, leave a plastic refill bag of fabric softener under your car seat. The smell permeates the whole car and makes it smell lovely.


1. I keep some plastic bags in my cubby-hole so that I can throw away apple cores, bits of paper, etc. This bag leaves my car every weekend or once it's full, whichever comes first.

2. I also have a special plastic bag for my umbrella. There is nothing worse than wet-car smell from horrible, wet umbrellas.

3. In the boot (trunk) of my car, I keep a box so that my shopping bags don't move around. Inside the box, I keep a couple of fabric shopping bags.


1. I have a notebook and pen in the actual car mainly to write down when I fill up with petrol but also to make notes so I don't forget things. If I'm driving and I remember something I have to do, I quickly make a note of it at the traffic light.

2. When you fill up with petrol, note down the number of L and then you can work out when you next should fill up. Now, if you don't get the same consumption for a number of times, then you should get your car checked out at the next service.

3. I also like keeping a magazine in the car. When I'm kept waiting somewhere, I can use the time constructively to catch up on my reading.

Now it's your turn :)

Please share your favourite tips in the comments

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Storing gift wrap, bows, gift tags and greeting cards

We moved the guest bed into my study to make space for the babies so I had to get rid of a lot of stuff and I tried to think of better solutions to store things I still had to keep.

Like gift wrap, cards, bows, etc.

I still store the long rolls of wrapping paper like this...

but everything else is now consolidated and lives in this one place on the shelf

bottom box
wrapping paper I can re-use, gift bags and coloured raffia

small box on left
ribbons, bows, gift tags and things to make the presents look pretty. I bought a pack of small tree decorations and attach a bauble to some gifts. Very pretty.

medium box on top right
cards, cards and more cards

I don't think I've ever written about my view on greeting cards.

I almost never * buy single greeting cards of any sort. Generally I prefer to write my own message so I buy packs of blank cards - all different sorts so I'm bound to find something for every type of occasion.

My husband is the same - writes beautiful, meaningful messages in cards (I still have every single one he's ever given me!). In fact I've told him a gazillion times he should have his own greeting card range because he'd make a fortune.

Also I think paying upwards of R20 for a card (just over $2) is a huge rip-off. Especially because I always feel (maybe arrogantly?) that people would rather hear my heart in my own words.

My way works out to between R3 and R5 a card, depending on the size of the card.

* Exception is when there's a leaving do at work, or someone's birthday and you need a gigantic card that a whole team of people can sign. Then again people can be so uncreative and all write versions of "happy birthday" or "enjoy your day" not the missives like I do. Why is it I'm usually in charge of these things?!

So back to the box.

I had tons of Christmas cards in there plus all the blank cards, thank you cards and some extra packs of gift tags.

Do you prefer to write your own messages or do you prefer a store-bought card?
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

juggling work and babies...

Today is my first day back at work!

Connor and Kendra, 15 weeks
(couldn't resist this opportunity to show off some baby pics)

It must be hard to juggle your work and your babies?

How do you do it? :-)

Leanne from Joburg

I wrote about balancing work, life and family before...

I thank God every day that I'm organised so I can save lots of time in a myriad of different ways.

I honestly don't know how people do this mothering thing (especially of multiples) if they're not organised :) I would go nuts.

  1. I have lots of systems so that things that have to get done like cooking and cleaning get done with the least amount of fuss.
  2. I also always cook double and when I'm in the mood and have an extra bit of time, I'll cook even more and freeze all the extra meals. At the time of writing I have 10 extra meals in my freezer (that's enough for two weeks) and on my to-do list today is to cook another two meals as I have the nanny here.
  3. I'm fortunate that I have a wonderful boss who's allowed me a more flexible working day now that the babies are here. However that means when I'm at work, I'm totally there. No faffing around; I get to it and get my work done.
  4. I've pared down my business considerably. When I'm at home and working on a newsletter, I set myself a time goal, focus and get it done.
  5. I always assume that a baby will wake before I expect it to so I try and work quickly. At home I clean as I go, or tidy as I go. I don't ever think "I'll come back to this later".
  6. Of course when the babies need my attention, all this goes out the window.
I think in short, I've been forced to use my time effectively. I've learned that now more than ever I can't afford to procrastinate otherwise it might never get done (even simple things like eating breakfast).

Calling all mothers!

Please share your best tips with me for juggling work and babies (any work - inside or outside the home)

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Help! I need your best DROP cookie (biscuit) recipes

The baking for Christmas has started in earnest.

But I only have one good recipe for drop cookies (we call them biscuits) and I need your help.

I don't want to just google "drop cookies" as I want recipes that people have actually tried and tested. And loved to eat!

Like my oatmeal cookies, the easiest things in the world to make.

Why drop cookies?

I don't do the "normal" ones, the ones where you roll the dough in flour and cut out with shapes - far, far too much work and way too messy!

Unfortunately I'm not in the least bit crafty so this is how they'll be presented to people.

Please share your favourite recipes for drop cookies with me.

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P.S. So far two of those huge formula tins filled with biscuits have been handed out; I have another two wrapped and ready on my launch pad to go next.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

on how I plan my life

Amanda from Michigan, USA writes I love all your posts but I especially enjoy the ones about your planners/notebooks and how you organize them.

I'm secretly very glad Amanda wanted to know about the planning aspect since it is one thing that really works very well in my life.

First and most importantly, I do weekly planning - of our household, my business, socially, etc.

I firmly believe that doing only daily planning will drive you nuts - it certainly did for me - because you really feel the pressure of the to-do list every. single. day.

I do my business planning on Fridays because that's when my accountability partner and I chat. Household planning usually gets done before the grocery shop - these days that's a Thursday - but when I go back to work (I'm still on maternity leave), it'll also move to Fridays. And then, the social and personal stuff gets done on a Sunday late afternoon.

My tools

I use both a paper and an electronic (Outlook) planner. Outlook is mainly to remind me to pay bills and not miss appointments especially when I've had busy days where I haven't even opened my paper diary.

We also have a ginormous calendar in our kitchen where we mark off any socials but also things like when we need to phone in the electricity meter reading, when the gardener is due (we only get him in twice a month), when I start a new bottle of vitamins for the babies, etc, etc.

I get an immense sense of satisfaction when I can use up stuff in the freezer and pantry so I first have a look there before I do my menu plan for the week.

Usually after I see which basic items I have, I add to my grocery list. E.g. if I have chicken in the freezer and I want to make Apricot Chicken, I may have to add a can of apricots or a sachet of brown onion soup to the grocery list.

Then I do a quick check through the house to see if we have things like breakfast and lunch goodies, cleaning stuff, baby items like formula and nappies and personal items for D and me.


Quickly, in a nutshell, because I've written a whole system on organising your business, I review goals and set some action steps every week.

Personal and social

On Sunday nights I check all the calendars and see what's etched in stone (doctors' visits, supper with friends, etc.) and what still has to be done but can be moved around (gym!) depending on how busy we are. Also we don't like to be too busy in any one week, more so than ever now with the babies because sleep is our number 1 priority.

I then plan when I will work on which business tasks because I don't like feeling stressed out with too much to do. You see, I've realised my limitations :)

I usually coach clients on Mondays so I'll do a freezer meal (almost no kitchen time). Tuesdays I write my weekly newsletter so I won't make any social plans. And so on.

My other notebook

I also carry around a notebook to jot down basically anything that strikes my fancy:

  • things to blog
  • talk to nanny about ________
  • things to buy
  • website changes
  • birthday cards to write out
  • etc
If there's anything that needs to be transferred to the planner, I do so on a Sunday evening so that there's actual allocated time to attend to it.
Next year's planner

I've already seen the planner I want to get for next year - the only problem is it comes in two gorgeous colours - deep purple and deep red. Both delicious, yummy colours. Both are absolutely lovely to the touch (I'm a tactile person) and so, because I can't choose, I haven't bought mine yet.

Which colour do you think I should go for?

Have you bought your 2010 planner yet?

If you're undecided, here's a series of 5 posts I did to help you out (with pics)

Choose the perfect planner

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P.S. I will write about the babies in another post - it takes military precision to organise those two :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

...getting ready for Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I'd point you towards some helpful Christmas posts

Think about clutter-free gifts

Organizing and storing holiday items

Declutter your children's toys

Let's talk gifts - what's your philosophy on the whole gift-giving issue, especially in this economy?

Do you go ALL out, no expense spared?

Do you have a gift limit?

Do you buy for kids only or also for adults?

Do you do handmade gifts?

Share in the comments - I'd love to hear what you do.

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P.S. I'll start by sharing my gift-giving philosophy in the comments.

P.P.S. We found out we were pregnant on Christmas Eve last year. I put up this little stocking not knowing that there were TWO little babies :)