Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Works for me Wednesday – blogging smarter

Or how I organise my blogging.

Reading blogs

1. I use Google reader. It is sooo easy to add blogs and since I sorted out my blogger problem, I am happy as a clam. This tip alone has saved me hours every week, hours I don’t have to go to each bookmarked blog to check if they’ve updated.

2. If I come across blogs I’m not sure I want to add to Google reader yet but I do find them interesting enough to explore, I have a word document called… wait for this…Blogs to read. I copy the URL and paste it in there. Then when I have some extra computer time, or while waiting for pages to download, I keep the document open and I can quickly have a browse. If the blog is something I enjoy and want to continue reading, I can then easily add the URL to google reader.

3. I also try and declutter my blogs on a monthly basis. I say try because it is very hard to eliminate blogs. However, facts are facts and sometimes they don’t serve you any longer. There were a lot of blogs I read regularly when I first started out that I just don’t enjoy now for various reasons – some are too crude, some are too negative (let me just quickly explain – I have no problems with being real, but too much negativity gets me down). So I’m not hard and fast like I am with my computer files and folders (but that’s another post) but I do have a scroll through and think about it.

Writing blog posts
I have many, many blogs. This one, the Take Charge one, a family one, the newsletter archives, and a secret one.

Someone called me an overachiever in my comments once because of all the blogs but it’s just that I really like sorting things out, hence (!) one for organising, one for travel, and so on.

1. I have another Word document called blogging for the week. This is where I plan most of my posts for the week ahead. When you start this - if you start this – you’ll be one week behind but after that it’s easy.

2. I have a page for each of the things I participate in on a weekly basis, like Menu Plan Monday, Tackle it Tuesday and WFMW. And I keep a basic format which I add to during the week. If I think of a recipe I want to put on the menu next week, I add it to my document so I don’t forget.

3. I also have a page for each blog. And I type the blog’s name in huge letters like this at the top of the page so I don’t have to strain my eyes. If I find a quote I like or I think about something I want to blog, I add my notes on the relevant page.

4. Now on my flash drive I have a folder called Blogging, and inside of this I have subfolders for each of my blogs. As I take pictures and compress them, I save them in their individual blog folders so it’s easy when I’m composing a blog post.

5. For the memes, I write those out on the weekend beforehand and post to my drafts. Funnily enough, except this particular post. This one’s fresh because I chose to rather go watch Music and Lyrics with my husband on Sunday night (my regular planning for the week time). Now I’ve just thought I should blog that so I’m going to open my document and add it under Take Charge blog.

6. Now another tip if you have a mailing list and you send out regular mailings…convert your blog posts to newsletter articles. I’m going to jazz this one up and submit to one of the article directories!

Commenting on blog posts
1. I must be honest here. Since Google reader, if I can only see two lines of a feed, I won’t go to the blog to read the entire post if I don’t have time. Unless it really grabs me, of course. So the blogs with their entire feeds always get read! Just in case you were wondering. So if I absolutely must comment, I’ll click through to the post and leave my comment.

2. This is a big important tip for me – I always try to remember (again I say try because sometimes I’m in a big hurry and I forget) to copy my comment before clicking submit (or whatever the button is on the various platforms). The times I don’t remember there is a problem and I lose my comment. I must also mention that I have a really hard time commenting on Typepad blogs. They don’t seem to like me and 99% of the time don’t accept my comments. Blogger and Wordpress are much friendlier. So if you’ve wondered, that’s the reason. Anyway, if the thing gives you an error, you can reload the page and comment again without typing it all up again. Who has the time?! And do the same before you hit publish. I have been known to lost posts too!

3. I LOVE it when people have ticked the box on their blogger profile. Go to your dashboard, click on edit profile, and tick the box that says show email address. It means I can reply to you and say hello and thanks for visiting. Please please please do this.

Again, if you leave a loooong comment, you could turn it into a blog post. It’s called blogging smarter :-)

Well, thanks for reading!

I hope this helps at least someone out in the blogosphere today. And if you have some blogging tips for me, please leave a comment. I would love to streamline even more!

Now I just have to figure out a way to minimise my computer time. So far I get on the computer about 3 evenings a week. I do then tend to stay on for quite a while but I figure at least I have 2 evenings free. I also try to schedule a deadline like quickly get on for an hour before a TV show. That doesn’t always work because the computer is far more appealing to me than TV.

For more great tips, go visit Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - under my sink

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

When I was doing the homemaking meme, one of the questions was “what’s under your sink?” so I went to have a look and got a huge fright.

Looks like a big mess so I took a picture quickly and decided that would be my tackle this week.

So here’s the before.

And here’s the after – much better.

On the right side is my basket with all the everyday cleaning goodies. Behind the basket I keep spare cleaning cloths.

On the left side is where I keep my crafty stuff. Now I use that term very lightly. I make candles when the mood hits me and I like to make bath salts and foot soak (easy stuff like that). I think it’s from my chemistry background that I like mixing things.

In the front is a bucket I keep my “recipes” and all my mixing bowls, funnel and mixing spoons. At the back I keep the bath salts that are ready for decanting into special bottles, my Epsom and coarse sea salt, essential oils, and so on.

And at the bottom we keep all our trays and chopping boards.

Now please share, what’s under your sink?

Critique my blog

Oh by the way, I submitted my blog for a critique and here it is. What a nice man Bill is.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Menu plan Monday - 26 March 2007

Wholewheat pita with stirfried beef & veggies

Chicken ravioli with tomato & spinach sauce

Home-made pizza - I’m using the wholewheat pita bread as bases, spread with All Joy pasta tomato sauce and garlic and top with chicken, spinach and mushrooms. And then cheese on top.

Chillii tomato sausage casserole, rice and carrots (I'll write down exactly what I do and post the recipe on the weekend)

Lasagne and salad (from freezer)

For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Homemaking meme

I found this meme over at Kim's Candor when I was trawling through some of her older stuff.

Aprons - Y/N?
Definitely not. I have only ever owned 1 apron in my life and that was because we had to buy them at school for Home Economics!

Baking - Favorite thing to bake?
Muffins! I like unfussy baking. By this I mean, throw everything together, mix and pour. Since I discovered drop cookies, I never bake the kind you have to roll out. Too much work. You will never find me making a recipe that says “mix a, b and c in this bowl” and “do this and that with x and y”. Too much bother.
I also like pancakes and fridge tarts. 10 mins prep and you’re done! Lovely.

Clothesline - Y/N?
Yes, we do, and a tumble drier.

Donuts - Ever made them?
Honestly, it never even occurred to me to make them. That’s what Pick & Pay is for. LOL

Everyday - One homemaking thing you do everyday?
Wipe down my counter tops.

Freezer - Do you have a separate deep freezer?

Garbage Disposal - Y/N?
No, is this an American thing? I don’t know any South Africans who have this. If you’re reading and you have one, please leave me a comment!

Handbook - Y/N?
Yes, I have a Household Organising File with shopping lists, menu planners, travel checklists, and all sorts of other family info.

Ironing - Love it or hate it?
Hate is too mild a word! I utterly detest ironing!

Junk Drawer - Where is it?
It’s not really a junk drawer but more of a miscellaneous place to keep lightbulbs, batteries, and so forth. I call it the hardware place.

Kitchen - Design and decorating?
My kitchen cabinets are beige, mostly black appliances. I should take a picture and post it.

Love - What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Organising of course

Mop - Y/N?
Yes, once a week when Bea comes. Otherwise, if something spills, then we also mop.

Nylons - Wash them by hand or in the washer?
In a lingerie mesh bag in the washing machine

Oven - Do you use the window or open it to check?
Depends – I open it if food is cooking but for any baking, I look through the window.

Pizza - What do you put on yours?
Lots of veggies. I don't like mixing meats. I don't like salami and bacon on the same pizza. Love pineapple

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
I organize, read or get on the computer and catch up on my blog reading.

Recipe card box - Y/N?
No, I use flipfiles to organize my recipes aside from the 3 recipe books I do own.

Style of house
Pressed ceilings, wooden floors (most of which are covered by carpets). Living areas are fairly open-plan.

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?
For company, yes, a tablecloth. Usually there’s a runner on my table and we put out placemats when we eat.

Under the kitchen sink
This – and that is going to be my tackle for next week. Looking a bit hairy.

Vacuum - How many times a week?
Once a week, when Bea comes on a Monday.

Wash - How many loads do you do a week?
We usually do 2 loads, sometimes 3 if we wash a lot of linen.

X'es - Do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off?
Yes, yes, yes. There is almost nothing like that feeling of completion when you can cross them off.

Yard - Who does what?
I do nothing. LOL. We have a gardener every second week who mows the lawn and does some weeding and so on. However, my husband is in charge of the outside – swimming pool, garden, etc. So he has to organize all that – people to work, black bags, etc.

ZZZ's - What is your last homemaking task for the day?
Do a quick 5-minute pick up of any mugs, glasses, books, stuff lying around, and return them to their correct places. In the lounge, I straighten the cushions last.

In fact, I have a funny story – my husband doesn’t bother with the cushions. I don’t even think he notices them if they’re looking ugly. So one morning, to give him a shock, I said, “Oh my word. Someone must have broken into the house. The cushions are all out of order and I didn’t leave them like that”. LOL

Friday, March 23, 2007

Google reader & blogger blogs

I'm feeling really pleased at the moment. Why? Because I figured out something on Google reader.

I've been having problems adding some blogs because I get a message like "no feed for this blog".

I left some comments on a number of blogs but nobody could give me an answer. It was actually when I emailed Rae that I started thinking of a solution.

I thought of adding all the blogs I couldn't see with Google to my Bloglines account (that I set up once but never ever used).

So I entered the blog URL and when Bloglines gives you all the different feeds, I copied that link and pasted it into Google reader.

  1. Go to bloglines.
  2. Under Feeds, click on Add.
  3. Under subscribe, enter the URL.
  4. Then under Available feeds, copy the top feed URL and paste into Google reader under Add subscription.

It works!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - evening routine

If you're a Flylady fan, you'll know exactly what I mean when I talk about your evening routine.

This is one of the things that really works for me. I don't do this 100% of the time (I don't quite know why - stubbornness, maybe?) but I try about 3 out of the 5 work days. It's easier when I know I have important client meetings because I do dress up a bit so it's easy to just grab a suit and hang it on this hook inside my wardrobe.

Everytime I do, I am utterly amazed at how much time it saves me in the mornings.

We are going to talk more about routines and things to make your life easier on the Simplify your Life e-course. The next one starts on 25 March. Book your spot.
For more great tips, go visit Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - Recipes and the fridge

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

After I commented over on Laura’s post, I realised that I hadn’t sorted through my recipe file box and my household organising file for probably a year.

I am usually very good about throwing away paper so there's not very much to start with but it was still irritating me so I had to get stuck in.

I also stick recipes up so I'll have them handy to try out. Like this...

Above the recipe box, I used to keep my menu plans and other stuff because my fridge was so full.

This is my recipe "box" that I keep next to the microwave. A limited space forces me to declutter if things get out of hand.



And then here's my fridge, with a million and one fridge magnets, old photos, lists of this and that (like the 10 best feel-good songs ever, courtesy of my husband LOL), generally, a mess.



Here is all the paper I decluttered from the mug section, fridge, recipe books and side cupboard.

And this is what I did with all the loose recipes - I stuck them on an A4 page before putting them in a flipfile.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Menu plan Monday - 19 March 2007

I found this lovely quote:

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French.
Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good. -Alice May Brock, author (1941-)

If you're interested, you can find my recipe and comments about the pizza pancakes here.

Stirfried chicken, veggies and rice. I’m going to do it in a fruity sauce with some orange juice. I use a salad dressing called Citrus something-or-other, add some fruit juice and that's my sauce. Easy!

Going to supper at my sister-in-law’s house, north of Pretoria. It’s like the Great Trek. We always tease her and say we’ll need to book into a hotel, she’s so far away (75 km from our house!)

Here in South Africa it is Human Rights Day and a public holiday, so we are going over to friends for lunch. I offered to make a salad - I'll use tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, lettuce and apple. Yum.

We won't be very hungry in the evening so we'll just have some toasted sandwiches.

Penne arrabiata (sp? tomato and chilli sauce) with cheese on top

Omelette with slices of potato baked into the omelette. I learnt this from my one other serious boyfriend's mother way back when I was about 16! I will post pictures next week under weekend cooking on my other blog.

For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

Does anyone know why I can't add most of the blogspot blogs to Google reader??? Please help me out - I'll be eternally grateful!

I currently have to go look in my favourites for Laura and Jen and Barb.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - cheap shower gel

This week, my tips are more money-saving than organising.

1. I don’t ever buy the normal shower gels. Of course I get some sometimes as gifts but that doesn’t count.

If I have to buy any shower gel, I get some foam bath. Even kiddies foam bath (like in the picture) will do. Here in South Africa, they are about half the price of shower gel, even cheaper than that sometimes.

They work exactly the same as shower gel but at far less expense.

2. Then, when you’re done with the shower gel, there will be a few droplets at the bottom. Put a little water in the bottom and shake it up to make foam. I then squirt this on my hands for soap. It’s good for at least 3 hand washes.

3. Another quick tip – if you have shampoo you don’t like, use it for liquid handwash. You can use the conditioner (diluted with water) for fabric softener.

For more great tips, go visit Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tacke it Tuesday - handbags

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Okay so I promised that I’d do the handbags this week.

These were all in a big old mess (too ugly to take a picture). That’s because I am a handbag junkie. In fact, handbags, wallets and watches. But since I found my perfect wallet, I’m almost cured. Same story with the watches

I find I go through phases with handbags – at the moment, I carry around my diary, a coaching notebook (for my coaching, not coaching clients) and a general notebook. In addition, there’s a make-up bag, wallet, cell phone and some pens.

Anyway, I bought one of these fabric organiser things from Ackermans. There are 3 nice big shelves on the top and then littler ones below that. The little ones are meant for shoes but you know I like to use things, not as they were intended, but as I see fit.

Now the double rail in my wardrobe is a bit of a hindrance but I found that it doesn’t bother me too much and keeps my handbags much neater – they were all over the place before.

Top half of organiser

Bottom half of organiser

This basket is on the bottom of the wardrobe. It holds 5 bags if I place them in nicely. At the back I have a big red/ maroon bag that is holding a smaller black suede bag.

WOW - I just saw this is my 50th post. Been slack around these parts until recently.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Other uses for candle holders

I like to use things around the house items for other, lesser-known purposes.

So today I thought I'd tell you how I use candle holders, for reasons other than candles, that is.

  1. I use them on my bedside table to store my rings when I go to sleep. In the photo, you can see my wedding ring and the other one I wear on my right hand.
  2. I also use it to keep some vinegar when it's summer. My grandmother taught me a little bit of vinegar near your bed keeps mosquitoes away. By the way, this also works for flies in the kitchen when you're preparing meat.
  3. I also use another one for loose change.
  4. You can also use for paper clips on a desk.
What else can you think of?

Menu Plan Monday - 12 March 2007

Last week’s menu went well again. I think I’m firmly into the habit now so it is going well.

The pizza pancakes took some getting used to….I don’t think I’ll be making them again soon...don’t have the patience for all that frying (and I generally don’t do the frying thing) but I did take some pictures and will post those next week!

Updated - my recipe and comments are here.

Wholewheat pita with stirfried beef and veggies

Pie and salad

Spaghetti bolognaise with salad

Chicken curry & basmati rice, with tomato and cucumber finely diced on the side

Eating at our friends’ house for supper.
For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - meal preparation

This week’s WFMW is easy-peasy since this is the kitchen edition.

I have most of my “bright ideas” in the kitchen. I think it’s because I’m naturally lazy so I find shortcuts for almost everything in there.

Anyway, back to the topic.

Whenever I buy meat, I get home and split it all up into individual portions immediately. I’m on Weigh-Less so one portion of beef is 60g and one portion of chicken (white meat) is 110g.

I get out my scale, use the small sandwich bags as a glove as I measure out the meat, scoop it up and pull the plastic bag over the meat, twist and that’s one ready. And so on and so on.

Then I put the individual portions in a plastic container like this…and into the freezer.

Aside from the meat, I do the same when I boil up legumes like chick peas, lentils and my favourite, red kidney beans. They also go into individual containers in the freezer.

And then the vegetables. I try and chop up enough veggies for the week or if I don’t get that far, then at least enough for Monday’s meal (remember every Monday we eat lots of veggies).

I always stirfry our meals individually because I use only 1 tablespoon of oil for my meal whereas I don’t deprive Dion. LOL

So while mine is cooking, here are all the ingredients for his meal.

Having all the portions ready and prepared saves a lot of time and certainly works for me with my busy lifestyle.

For my other kitchen posts, click here.

For more great tips from this week's kitchen edition, go visit Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - organising giftwrap & bedside table

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I usually do my tackles on the weekend since I’m at work during the week. This is one of the systems that keeps me on track since I’m constantly doing something in the decluttering/ organising area to keep my house in tip-top shape. Well…mostly.

This weekend I was drugged out on Nurofen so I only did a couple of small tackles. They are what we in the coaching world call tolerations. They drain your energy a little bit every time you see them. So I felt almost compelled to tackle them this week because they call to me everytime I pass them.

Mini tackle 1
These are my rolls of wrapping paper and some other bits that also found their way to this spot.

After - nice, neat wastepaper basket

Mini tackle 2
Bedside table with too many books, too many Bibles, too many bookmarks, notepads, etc.


And after. I know it won’t stay this way for very long but it’s satisfying while it lasts.

Mini tackle 3

And then for the third project, I tackled some long-overdue blogging. This is a blog we made for our friends and then I also had to update the ministry blog at church.

Mini tackle 4

And last but not least, I got all up to date on my end-of-month business tasks like balancing the account, updating client lists, responding to emails, and so on. I won’t bore you with the less-than-cool aspects.

That’s it for this week. I’m leaving the handbags for next week.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Menu plan Monday - 5 March 2007

We were unexpectedly invited out for supper with friends so we didn’t do Friday’s egg on toast. We had lovely chicken wraps – yum!

Stirfried beef, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and pumpkin

Homemade beef mince and vegetable pie with salad on the side

Eating out - I’m at a one-hour Stephen Covey presentation on leadership at Nelson Mandela Square. If you’re also going, please email me – I’d love to meet up with you.

Cottage pie

Pizza pancakes - from Laura's Menu Plan last week (too lazy to go look up the link)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ultimate blog party

Welcome to the ultimate blog party hosted by 5 minutes for mom.

Come on in and let me get you a cup of coffee while I introduce myself to you:

If you're new to this part of the world, I'm Marcia and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. I've been married for almost 12 years (we celebrate our anniversary next month on 29th April) to Dion and we don't have any kids yet. We love travelling - the last trip we took was to Thailand and Malaysia.

I teach people how to have more time, less stress and increased personal productivity through my coaching and organising. My main website is over here. Please do stop by to collect your free ebook, Organise your Home, and browse around the site to see what's happening. At the moment I have two main projects on the go:

1. A workshop for women called From Drab to Fab where I team up with an image consultant/ wardrobe planner. You can read more and book your place here. If you're in Johannesburg on 24 March, you have to be there.
2. Simplify your Life e-course. It's an e-course so that you can participate no matter where in the world you are. I believe in bite-sized steps, don't you? We are going to simplify your life, one step at a time, over 10 weeks. This way you won't get overwhelmed or distracted. Book your place now.

In addition to blogging, I write a monthly newsletter article.

Just recently, I wrote a post on why I blog. You can read it here.

But now, I'm off to visit your blogs. Come back soon!