Sunday, July 29, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 30 July 2007

Last week, we just didn't get around to those pizza potatoes. Since I skipped gym, I had the time to make the Thai Chicken Curry. When we bought the curry paste in Thailand in October last year, Dion asked the lady how much chicken you needed. I wasn't listening because I was doing my favourite thing on holiday, which is chatting to all the interesting people from different countries.

So I used about 500g of chicken and that curry was H O T! I like hot food but it was too hot even for me. And I made it healthy by adding some lentils - I shudder to think if I didn't add those.

Anyway, it was delicious but next time I will have to ask for instructions myself :)

In other news, I won nothing in last week's giveaway. No real surprise because I only entered about 10 or less contests. BUT Annie gifted me with a signature which you can see on my what do you value? post! Cool...

Now, onto this week's menu
Stirfried chicken, veggies and noodles

Tuesday (CoachJen's birthday)
M - out with a friend
D - takeaways

Pizza potatoes

Thai Chicken Curry and lots of rice!!!

M - work "do" (hopefully we'll be fed)
D - hot dogs and chips

Anybody have any quick and easy recipe ideas for me? By quick and easy I mean less than 20 mins prep time :-)
Go to my main blog page to see how you can save 20% on my Household Organising File.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Creative? Me?

Imagine my shock and horror when I saw that Annie awarded the Creative Blogger Award to me. Then I read what she wrote and it really is very sweet of her.

Marcia has lots of blogs and even a professional website full of creative ways to organize your life. She always has pictures of food she has made or organizing tips. She is very creative!

Thank you, Annie.

I browsed my Google Reader and thought that this is the ideal opportunity to introduce you to some really creative gals I stalk :) I have a thing about gorgeous photography and though I almost never comment (some of that is due to Typepad), I am always lurking. In fact, I'll let you in on a secret: I read my creative folder first every day because I love the yumminess of colour and art.

So I bestow this award on these 5 bloggers:

  1. Chronicles of me - Boho is a photographer and jewellery designer.
  2. Superhero Journal - Andrea makes the yummiest necklaces and is a photographer too. I wrote about how I love one of her posts the other day.
  3. The simple life - I've been reading Mindi's blog since before I even started blogging. She is a super-talented photographer and has the most GORGEOUS kids.
  4. Elizabeth Harris - I don't quite know how I stumbled upon her blog. Also a very-talented photographer. She took some baby pictures on her blog recently which are just GORGEOUS.
  5. Jennifer Deaton - I "met" Jennifer through Menu Plan Monday and went to visit her creative blog. I drooool at the cards and other gorgeous things she makes. Jennifer has a post which I've bookmarked because the baby gift she made is so beautiful. And she was so encouraging when I was trying to do something similar (in my non-artistic) way.
Go ahead and visit them - it is well worth your while :)

Have a great weekend everyone.

Giveaway!!! Household organising file

This is a sticky post - please scroll down for new posts!

So Shannon has this "dog days of summer" giveaway starting tomorrow and I've decided to participate.

The rules
1. If you'd like to be entered into the draw, you have to comment on this post. If you want to, you can also ask me an organising question!
2. You do NOT have to be a blogger to enter but you do need to let me have your email address. Anyone can enter since it's a digital download.
3. Comments close on Friday 12 mid-day South Africa time. So if you're international, best leave your comment now.
4. The draw happens this Friday, 27 July (incidentally, my husband's birthday :) ) so come back to check if you won!

I'm giving away a downloadable product I sell on my website called the Household Organising File. It has 25 downloadable forms spread out over 3 sections - planning, household and personal - and is guaranteed to make your life simpler, easier and more organised. Something we all need, don't we? :-)

By the way, if you do win and you've already purchased this product, then I'll give you my 12 days to goal-setting success e-book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ask the organiser - how much cleaning & organising time?

I love receiving emails from my readers, like this one I received a week or two ago:

I have ongoing health issues, don't want to spend all day doing tasks (which it seems I do as I am slower), want to enjoy life more and have more balance.

I was wondering in general how much time you spend each day/week cleaning/ organising, etc. in your home? Although I think these things are important, I am having a tough time getting a balance and needing more time for fun & just stepping away from it all.

May I ask how you put in time for fun/hobbies each day/week? Do you limit your cleaning/organising time?

Here is my answer, LC.

You definitely don’t want to spend all day doing tasks – you’re right, there is more to life!

1. I have a cleaning lady who comes in once a week to do a thorough clean, especially bathrooms and kitchen (because those are the non-negotiable areas I’m really fussy about) and ironing. I don’t do ironing – ever!

2. My husband and I do a quick clean and tidy-up every other day of the week. My husband does the dishes and makes the bed and I do the rest. I would estimate that in total, we spend about an hour every day doing cooking and cleaning.

3. I use my weekend to set up and plan the week ahead so that it allows me to do bare minimum during the week. This includes cooking, getting gifts ready (if necessary), etc.

4. I also do more organising on the weekend because I cook more. Let me explain. If I cook or bake, I have to stay in the kitchen area because otherwise my food burns. (I tried using the timer but my study is on the other side of the house so I can’t hear it). Sometimes if I have to reply to lots of emails, I take a miniature timer with me but staying in the kitchen is better!

5. In between the chopping and stirring, I’ll make my shopping list, menu plan, check my cupboards and drawers to do some quick organising maintenance work.

6. I definitely make time for fun every day – I believe it’s VITAL and encourage you to add it to your to-do list every day.

If you don't schedule it in, the time will get swallowed up with "other stuff".

I read books for about an hour a day, sometimes more and blogs for about 30 – 60 minutes. And then on weekends, I read some more, we go to movies, bookshops, and so on. I actually write "finish Queen of the Castle" or whatever the book is on my weekend to-do list to make sure I get in some self-care and fun time.

7. I have many household systems in place so that I don't have to spend hours doing any one thing. It's easier to slot something into a system than to have to make a decision every single time.

Hope this helped!

Readers, do you have any other ideas on how LC can create time for fun and hobbies on a daily/ weekly basis?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - best decluttering tips

If you're anything like I am, you buy things on a regular basis like food, clothes, things for the house, etc.

In the same way, if you don't have a regular plan for decluttering, you will soon become overwhelmed with clutter.

Photogenic left a comment on my previous post asking for my best decluttering tips and I couldn't resist :)

1. I subscribe to the one in, one out theory. If you buy 3 T-shirts, give 3 away. I actually rotate - my T-shirts move from nice ones to gym ones, and then they go out!

2. Have a box somewhere (mine is in my laundry) that you can toss things in regularly.

3. Have a plan to get the stuff out of your house. My box leaves once a week with my cleaning lady. If I have to run errands like take clothes to church for the orphanage we support, or books to the bookstore, I take those bags to my car and leave them in the boot (trunk).

4. Ask yourself, "who can use this today?" instead of saying, "I might need this someday". When you focus on the benefit, it is easier to get rid of things.

What is your best decluttering tip?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - huge book shopping

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Last weekend I had the wonderful idea to go to 3 bookshops (they're all the same, just different franchises within about a 2km radius) to check out the latest stuff. Clearly I am soooo led by God because there was a HUGE SALE!!!!

No time to do the happy dance because the biggest store was about to close so I had about 7 minutes to grab everything and pay. Now I am a champion shopper so I grabbed a basket, focussed and got on with the job at hand :-)

We then went to the other two stores and got some more stuff at the one place.

And came home with this...

The two baskets on the right have things I picked up at Clicks - again, led by God - some great gift sets for rock-bottom prices.

This is my good deed of the day - we detoured at Pick & Pay and these stationery sets were going for R10 each ($US1.43), marked down from R39.99 ($US5.71) which is still dirt cheap. Anyway... I decided to pick some up and give them away.

You might be wondering why the photos above are in black and white - it's because the pile of shopping doesn't look so bad that way! But here is a smaller photo, in colour.

Anyway, I tackled both those surfaces this week and I'm very happy to say all that stuff is put away or has been given away.

1. Gave a stationery set to my cleaning lady for her 3 sons and another to an underprivileged school.
2. The books I bought purely for gifts have been put away on my gift shelf (which now overflows to a second shelf).
3. The books for me have been put on my bookshelf. I must say, it felt like I was working in a library because my bookshelf is sorted by topic, so I filed under job/work, family, life balance and novels.
4. Also moved some books to my bedside table to start reading soon.

What did you tackle today?

(don't forget to check my main blog for my giveaway)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 23 July 2007

This is a nice light week for us as we're eating out twice (record for us)! Well, we've been following the menu 100% for the last 3 - 4 weeks and about 90% before that, so we deserve it, don't we?!


Out to Mimmos with friends! I'm going to have my favourite chicken & spinach pasta. Yum - can't wait.

Homemade soup and garlic rolls

Thai chicken curry (we decided to finally use the spices we brought back from Thailand), rice and pumpkin

Out again because it's Dion's birthday!!! He needs to still make up his mind where he wants to go but we'll consult our red book for ideas.

Go here to browse my other low-fat and healthy recipes.

For more Menu Plan Monday participants, visit the Organizing Junkie.

P.S. And don't forget to go to my main blog page to see my giveaway!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My favourite organising tools #1 - notebook & pen

Edited to add the button - this is not the original person who was supposed to make the button for me!

This is a new series that I'll be posting on the blog, one post per week.

I battled a bit with perfectionism because I asked someone to make me a button and I wanted to wait for that first before starting the series. I'm still waiting for the button as you can see but since I've had this ready for about 10 days now, I decided to go ahead and post. I can always add it in afterwards, right?!

At the moment I have planned 10 tools but who knows? It could and probably will stretch to include more tools.

Why do I love notebooks and pens?

It is easier to jot some notes down immediately without losing the thought than to have to try to remember it.

I have notebooks all over the house, one next to my bed, one on the entrance hall table, one in my handbag, one in the car, etc.

This one is in the kitchen and I use it for my helper, Bea, to leave her any notes

This one is on our phone table

Pink notebook in my handbag

on my bedside table

Some uses for notebooks
  1. Notes for your helper or gardener
  2. To-do lists
  3. To-blog lists
  4. Client notes
  5. Meeting notes
  6. Great ideas - business and other
  7. Recipes to try
What else do you use notebooks for?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you... a meme!

Annie tagged me and wants me to answer these 5 questions.

1. What brings tears to your eyes, just about everytime?
Reading a beautiful post where a mother writes to her child about how she loves him/ her.
Examples are Born Smiling and 6 months of Ben

2. What does your favorite outfit look like, the one that you feel great in?
I don't have a favourite outfit per se, but I have a number of favourite items of clothing.

  1. Grey sleeveless T-shirt I bought in Thailand (it makes my top half look great - enough said :) )
  2. Dark blue bootleg denim jeans - make my butt look smaller (and I need all the help I can get) and my legs look longer
  3. Navy short-sleeved skirt suit - if I say so myself, this suit fits me perfectly (and I have one in yellow and another in red), the length is perfect to show off my legs (probably my best feature) and the jacket is at exactly the right length to minimise the aforementioned big butt. I wear it for interviews or when I just need to portray the right corporate image. I'm going to probably wear it for next month's talk because I know I can relax; I'll look good and I can focus on talking. (The photo doesn't do it justice but I tell you what - I'll get Dion to take a picture and I'll post it with me in it, ok???)

3. What color are you looking at a lot these days?

Autumn colours - greens, browns, oranges with an occasional pink!

4. Do you let your kids/hubbie drink after you, would you ever share a toothbrush with hubbie?
No and no again. I am very fussy with hygiene and he even teases me because I kiss him but I will not use his toothbrush or let him drink from my mug/ glass/ anything :-)

5. You're having dinner at your best friend's house, you find a hair in your food... what do you do?
Well now, because it's a good friend and I don't want to hurt their feelings, I won't say anything...
I'd either quietly spit out the food into a serviette (Jen, another one of those words :) ) or just move the food to the side of my plate to be disposed of later!

Now my five questions are:
  1. What do you do if someone pushes into a queue in front of you?
  2. If you had 6 months to live, what would you most regret not doing?
  3. What is your favourite hot drink and why?
  4. What do you do if you already have a plan and you then get invited to a "better" event?
  5. What do you most value? What is most important to you? You're not allowed to say God or any other people!

I'm tagging Michelle, Suzanne, Coach Jen, Corrie, Alexis and Lorie.

Tackle it Tuesday - outline my talk & writing ebook

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This week, I only put 2 items on my "goals for the week" list:

1. outlining my talk

I am doing a talk on 8 August and while I've spoken on the topic "Empowering women" many times before, I need to condense some things, do a proper outline and decide exactly what I want to cover this time. I also customise to the specific group so that needs to be also taken into account.

2. writing one chapter of my new e-book

I have done only 1 out of 5 chapters and I need to get cracking. As with everything else, it is the starting. Once I sit still and write the first 15 - 20 mins, I'm hooked and I can write for hours.

When I get a bit stuck, I tell myself, "what would I do if I were coaching myself?"

So today, I am going to (1) reward myself with reading blogs for 10 minutes AFTER I have written at least 30 minutes, and I will keep doing that until the chapter is done. Then (2) I am blogging it for accountability.

Those two things usually work for me!

Go visit 5 minutes for mom for more great tackles. And while you’re surfing, say hi to a blogger today!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Menu plan Monday - 16 July 2007 & good mail!

Look what I received on Friday from the Organising Junkie herself - good mail! What a lovely thank-you card all the way from Canada. I am already using the bookmark in my Bible.

Thank you so much, Laura - this made my day. I had been having a rather blah kind of day and this perked me right up :-)

Now, onto my menu plan for the week...

Pork chops, sweetcorn & potato bake (recipe below) and carrots

M – out at work function (I’m told they will feed us)
D – chilli & rice

D – burgers
M – leftover pizza (if you have not yet tried Sandra's pizza, do it. You won't regret it!)

Pasta with chickpea & vegetable sauce, topped with cheese

Chicken burgers and fat-free chips

Sweetcorn and potato bake
4 medium potatoes
1 can cream
style sweetcorn
salt, pepper, Italian herbs to taste

Scrub the potatoes with their skins on.
Dice into fairly big squares (about 2cm).
Throw into a microwave dish with spices and microwave on high for about 5 minutes (nearly but not quite done)
Now add the can of sweetcorn and stir the whole lot, to thoroughly mix.
Microwave for a further 2 - 3 minutes until potatoes are done.

There you go - done!

If you want to be decadent, you can top with cheese. I don't, but I do add some more pepper. Yum.

For more Menu Plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

I've been a bad commenter this last week because we had power cuts on two of the nights so I've been prioritising and doing the absolute basics, like sending out my newsletter and responding to emails. Got to practise what I preach, right?! :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ask the organiser - was I always organised?

Chandre wrote to me and asked me a really good question. I told her that it’s so good I’m going to answer it on the blog :-)

Were you always organized? I don’t necessarily mean as you are now, but did you have lists before, or put in petrol before it’s on empty, etc…

It seems easier for someone who already is a bit organized to get more organized, but tips for someone who's not at all, seems a big mission.

Here’s my answer:

The truth is that my personality does tend more towards organisation than not. But organising is a skill anyone can learn.

People always ask, “are leaders born or made?” My answer is “a bit of both, although leadership skills can be learnt”.

We all know wonderful leaders who are just so natural at it. Then we know some people who have been put in a leadership role and get better and better at it as they go along.

It’s the same with organising.

For the most part, I do come by it naturally but certain aspects have been harder than others. If I don’t take control of my time, I am shocking at it. It’s because I want to squeeze too many things into my day.

I learn very quickly that I'm not Superwoman and I also only have 24 hours in a day :-)

However, I went through some coaching a few years ago (2003), learnt the principles of good time management and have been sailing ever since. I go through hectic busy periods too but I know how to get it all back on track. And for the most part, quickly.

For me, spaces are easier to organise because you can see the finite proportions of the space, and things either fit or they don’t.

And generally there are a couple of principles you follow when organising anything – time or space – with a couple of tweaks here and there to suit your personality.

So, Chandre, I'd say yes, I've always had lists (love lists!!!) and I do put petrol in before the car's empty (but I do get quite close to the end because I like living on the edge :-) )

It will take time to start implementing some organising systems in your
life - you can start building good habits in just 15 minutes a day.

And like I've said before, organising is a means to an end.

The end is more peace, less stress and more time for what matters most to YOU.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - files!

Gorgeousness galore - these were spied on a colleague's desk.

Does this not make you happy? Beautiful bright , colourful folders, neatly organised?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - blogging photos & filing

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

1. This week, I decided to tackle a sub-folder that has been in my Blogging folder for months - photos to blog! When I download, I immediately sort and make separate folders and if I have time, I compress them all to website size. I'd done this already.

So I published all the photos on our personal blog (there were 3 posts and now there are 9) and I made lots of draft posts for this blog and the other one (check tomorrow for some Wordless Wed posts on both blogs).

2. While the photos were uploading to Blogger, I decided to use the time constructively by doing some filing. Some good multi-tasking going on. Upload 2 - 3 photos, punch papers, file, take file back to cupboard, rearrange photos and type captions, publish.



What did you tackle today, or what do you need to tackle?

Share in the comments!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 9 July 2007

Thank you for all the comments on the "biscuits" issue last week! I wanted to try make them this weekend but the recipe I have asked for buttermilk. I've just gone and done another search again and found another recipe without buttermilk so I will try that one next weekend. is my menu for the week

Brown rice with sundried tomato (Tastic - delicious!), chilli and carrots

Sweet & sour chicken with noodles - Lorie, aren't you glad I'm finally making your recipe? :-)

Baked potatoes with
chickpea & vegetable sauce

Chicken nuggets, fat-free chips (french fries) and freshly-sliced tomatoes

Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches and tomato soup

For more Menu Plan Monday participants, go on over to
Laura's blog.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Partial or full RSS feeds?

This week Ariane changed her blog set-up and started publishing full feeds instead of partial feeds.

Now I can’t comment on Typepad blogs 95% of the time so I didn’t leave a comment but I made sure to email her and tell her THANK YOU! I’m sure she thought I was a raving lunatic.

Why should you publish a full feed?

Most people are busy and only have a certain amount of time to blog surf.

I am one of those people :-) and if I am pressed for time like I am most days, I only read the partial feeds from my Google Reader and I don’t click through to read the full feed unless I am absolutely dying to read the rest of it (mostly I don’t).

I also only click through onto a blog (even when the full feed is published) if I want to comment. I read somewhere that less than 10% of people comment and based on my own experience, I think this could be true.

When I was setting up my blogs, I chose to publish full feeds because I figured that I would rather people read what I’m writing and not comment (although those are very, very welcome and much, much appreciated) than skip ¾ of my writing through a partial feed.

I’d say that although I always click through on some blogs, I only do so for about 10% of the blogs in my Google Reader.

So what do you think?

  1. Do you publish a full or partial feed?
  2. How did you decide?
  3. What % of the time do you click through to read the rest of someone’s partial feed?

Is anyone else having a problem with blogger where it doesn't want to let you put your cursor in the title field to type a heading? If yes, please tell me how you fixed it. Thanks!!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Addicted to blogging?

70%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I saw this on Annie's blog in last week's weekend reflection and had to do it!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thursday 13 - 13 self-care ideas

Did you know you can organise your self-care?

Now and again, you need to put yourself first, even if just for a day.

Here are 13 self-care ideas:

  1. Have a nice bubble bath.

  2. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.

  3. Get your hair done.

  4. Relax with a favourite book and a cup of tea or coffee. This is my favourite form of self-care

  5. Get takeaways.

  6. Buy some flowers - hey, sometimes, we’ve got to do it for ourselves!

  7. Watch a chick flick

  8. Take a 30-minute nap

  9. Start simplifying your life

  10. Bake a cake, some muffins, etc.

  11. Organise your clothes!

  12. Burn a fragrant candle and just relax

  13. Write in your journal for 30 minutes

Get out your planner and book a date with yourself at least once a month, preferably once a week or even once a day.

If you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done!

How often do you have self-care time?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - reading list (Excel)

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

We were at the library last weekend and I stood in front of the Cathy Kelly section, trying to remember which books I'd already read. And I couldn't.

Stuff like that freaks me out so I decided that I had to update my reading list in Excel. I do it in Excel so I can sort by author, print it out and take it with me to the library.
I've just realised that I read The Mummy Diaries twice - can't remember reading it at all :)

I have to do the whole of 2006 (about 70 - 80 books) and half of 2007.
Wish me well - I will come back and tell you when it's done
edited to add - I am officially done! That means 73 books for 2006 and 39 for 2007 so far :-)

Go visit 5 minutes for mom for more great tackles. And while you’re surfing, say hi to a blogger today!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 2 July 2007 & organising your menu plan visits

Biscuits and cookies
One of the things I LOVE about blogging is learning about different parts of the world.

I asked Anne and Sandra last week about “biscuits”, and while I still don’t get what they are, I think I’ll have to try and make some to get the proper idea.

We call cookies “biscuits”, you see. And biscuits? Well, I don't know. So it gets very confusing – please forgive all the questions on your blogs!
Organising your MPM visits
While I was blog surfing last week, someone asked "how do you get around to all the MPM blogs?"
1. The short answer is I don't. I am forced to be really disciplined with blog reading and commenting because otherwise nothing else in and on my business would get done. By the way, I'm two!

2. I usually surf the MPM blogs for about 20 - 30 minutes. Now I only follow the links to the blogs which are not in my google reader.
Because I'm going to read the others anyway.

3. My goal is 10 blogs every Monday. I try and pick a couple of new-to-me blogs so that I get out and socialise (don't we all like to sometimes stay in our comfort zone?!). Sometimes I get sidetracked so I don't get around to all 10 in one sitting. But then I just come back later when I have a few minutes.

4. If I find a good recipe, I have a document called "blog recipes to try" and I paste the recipe in there. When I try it, I print and put in my recipe file (if a keeper) or just delete if we didn't like.

We didn't like the pizza pancakes but we loved Sandra's pizza.
Anyway, hope you liked hearing my ways of organising MPM.

Stirfried kidney beans, veggies and noodles (vegetarian because I was not prepared to face the end-of-the-month traffic at HyperMeat)

Oven-baked pork chops, carrots and potato bake

Chicken curry and rice

Pasta with chickpea & vegetable sauce, topped with cheese

Homemade soup and cheese rolls

For more Menu Plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.