Thursday, May 23, 2013

Organizing: Tips to Consider for a Successful Summer Gathering

It’s that time of year when the weather gets nice, BBQs gathering happen, pool parties, and summer gatherings happen. In order to make your gathering a success, consider these tips:

Clean in pieces. As soon as you ask friends over, start cleaning a little each day. Thirty minutes at a time can have your house in top shape in time for guests.
Take inventory. Before you even send out the invites, see what you have and what you need for entertaining. Stock up on supplies to save the stress of running around at the last minute.

Finding fridge space. Cool drinks and food are essential for summer entertaining, but the fridge gets packed in a hurry. So use your washing machine. Fill it with ice, and stick your beverages in to cool quickly (about 30 minutes). The great thing is the ice melts and goes right down the drain – no mess.
Tap a “secret” source. Stock up on supplies. You can get a huge selection from Uline, or go to your local party store.

Exercise grill diligence. Gests are mingling, you’re ready to grill a platter of kabobs and oh no! you forgot to get propane. To avoid an embarrassing party, set aside an hour a few days before the party to make sure the grill is clean, the tank is full, and everything is in working condition.
Cater to comfort. Encourage your guests to linger and visit well into the summer evening. Have the essentials they might need on hand. Think blankets, s’mores supplies, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Build your stash. Invest in one entertaining upgrade each year. Start with a dozen white cotton napkins. It’s a great way to cut paper waste. Plus, fabric doesn’t ball up or stick to barbecue sauce.

Plan the pairings. Come up with three simple summer menus paired with cocktails then practice making them. The more comfortable you are with what you’re serving, the more relaxed you’ll be at party time.
Plan it easy. Work party prep into your week. Make your playlist during your lunch hour at work. Plan the food you’re going to serve during your commute. Make dishes one at a time throughout the week so by the time the weekend comes, you’re ready to go.

Ditch cleanup duty. To avoid feeling like you have to clean up instead of socialize, take a tip from pro catering companies: Set up a “sanitation station.” Pick an out-of-the-way-space, like the mudroom or garage. Set up a garbage can and some buckets with soapy water for dishes. Let them soak overnight, then clean them easily the next day.
Cut up tunes. Create three summer entertaining playlists: brunch, lunch, and dinner. Think upbeat.

Raise your spirits. Premixed cocktails are the way to go! They cut the fuss (you don’t feel obligated to keep mixing drinks) and your budget (you aren’t trying to stock a full bar).
Time it right. Summer weekends fill up fast, so we tuck parties into post-work corners of Friday nights and earlier-than-expected Sunday mornings.

Send less on linens. A bolt of burlap is my secret weapon. It’s super inexpensive. I use it for everything: cut-to-fit tablecloths, runners, draping, wrapping, and lining.
Call for backup. Last minute guests? Our local Mexican restaurant does large orders to go, which is a huge help when you are short on time.

Make it almost potluck. Sharing the food load is fine. Most people want, or even expect, to contribute to a meal. Ask your guests to bring something east, such as a watermelon, fresh bread, or ice cream. They’re helping, but not preparing.
Shine a light. Retro style camp lanterns come in dozens of colors. Plus, the lanterns use oil, so they won’t blow out in the summer breeze.

Let ‘em nibble. Have at least one appetizer ready for guests to nosh on when they arrive. A tasty bite covers many behind schedule sins.
Get a bargain. Off price retailers like T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls are a treasure trove of seasonal entertaining pieces. I love scavenging for drink dispensers, platters, cake stands, serving bowls, and candles.

 Article taken from Better Homes and Garden June 2013
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Organizing: Garage Sale: Supplies for the Day of the Sale, Part 3

If you missed, Organizing: Garage Sale, Cleaning Out the House, Part 1 you can read about it here.

If you missed, Organizing: Garage Sales, Pricing Your Items, Part 2 you can read about it here.

On the day of the garage sale you will be busy setting out your items early.

Typically the rush happens first thing in the morning when people want to get all the good stuff. It will be busy and you will want to have everything organized beforehand so you aren't frantically looking for something or making signs the morning of while you have a big line waiting.

A day or two before the sale collect these items and place in a box or bin labeled clearly, such as Garage Sale Supplies.
  • Plastic bags - for customers to put their items in (after they pay of course).
  • Box or bin - to collect your clothes hangers back
  • Cash box
  • Calculator
  • Notebook - to keep track of purchases, especially if it is a joint garage sale and you have multiple people selling items.
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Blank Computer Paper - for extra signs or to mark a large item "Sold"
  • Markers or Sharpies - to make extra signs or label items
  • Extra colored price tags or roll of masking tape (whatever you used to price your items, bring extra - to label items if something gets missed or price tag falls off.
  • Signs in your neighborhood - to direct people where the garage sale is
  • Price signs - to let people know how much items are
  • Category Signs - to keep your sale organized, such as boy clothes, girl clothes, household items, home decor, adult clothing, furniture, craft supplies, fishing supplies, gardening, Kids Toys.
  • Food - if you plan to sell water bottles, cups of coffee, candy bars, lemonade, etc.
If I have missed a supply that should be included in my garage sale supply bin, leave me a comment.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Organizing: Garage Sale: Pricing your Items, Part 2

If you missed, Organizing: Garage Sale, Cleaning Out the House, Part 1 you can read about it here.

As I am cleaning out the house I keep piles of like items together. I gather boxes and place all boy clothes in one box, all girl clothes in another box, all household items (vases, frames, dishes) in another box. My house does become a little cluttered with all the piles until the day of the garage sale. It does tend to be an organized disaster (with clutter all over the house). When I start out organized in the beginning it makes the pricing process way easier.

In the past I have used the colored circle stickers and put the price on them. I have found they don’t stick very well, especially to sets of clothes. This year I plan to use strips of masking tape on some items. It sticks, yet it is easier to remove from any item.
The pricing process can be a bit time consuming. Since I have piles and piles of kids clothes and don’t have the time to price every single individual shirt or pair of pants, I chose one price for each item of clothing, for example $.50 each, unless otherwise marked. I create one big sign (colorful and easy to see) that explains the item being sold and price per item and always add "unless otherwise marked". Any kids clothing item I don't want to sell for $0.50 each I will add a price to that specific item.

When pricing items, use your own judgement. How much would you pay for an item at a garage sale?

It is really important to label your items clearly. Whether signs are hung up that indicate the price or there are price stickers on the items, label clearly!
Up Next: Organizing: Garage Sale Supplies for the Day of the Sale, Part 3
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Organizing: Garage Sale, Cleaning Out the House, Part 1

This week I am getting ready for a garage sale on Saturday.

The past few years my parents’ neighborhood has had an annual neighborhood garage sale. Almost every year we have participated. Every year it gives me a chance to clean the house out, and get rid of unwanted, too small clothing items. It is quite a satisfying feeling, really!

Since I have two small children growing way to fast, I always have a plethora of kids toys, clothing, and books to add to the garage sale pile.
Here is how I go about organizing my items to sell:
I start in the kids’ rooms and go through every drawer, cubby, and closet. The kids are involved in the process right along with me. By the time we are done with both the rooms we have quite a pile started.
Next I will work in the master bedroom. I go through old clothes, shoes, bags, and work my way around through each drawer and closet. Anything I haven’t worn in awhile, or don’t like goes straight into the garage sale pile.
Next I will peruse my bookshelf and add any cookbooks I haven’t used in a really long time, books, or kids movies.
I simply work my way around the house going through each room: kitchen, office, garage, bedrooms, and finally end up outside in our shed cleaning out gardening items.
As I am cleaning out the house I like to keep piles of like items together: boys clothes, girls clothes, gardening items, adult clothes, household items, kids toys. I gather boxes and place all like items in boxes or keep them in piles together (if they don't fit in boxes).
My house does get a little messy for a few days with the piles all over, however, it is just part of the process. I would prefer to have piles everywhere for a few days than have these unwanted items cluttering my house forever.
When I start out organized it saves a bunch of time in the end for pricing, and organizing the night before or morning of the garage sale.
Next up: Organizing: Garage Sales, Pricing the Items, Part 2

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Random Post: Planting Our Garden

It was a gorgeous, amazing, hot, sunny, everything wonderful weekend in the Northwest. I took complete advantage of the beautiful weather and spent most of the day outside, and got some veggies planted in our garden. I wanted my children to be involved in the garden planting process. I asked each of them what they wanted to plant in the garden. Next we headed off to get the veggie plants at the store. We came home and got each of the veggie beds ready to plant.

Here is the layout of our garden. Not a huge space, but enough to enjoy some fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The first veggie bed consists of cucumbers, zucchini, and onions.
The second bed consists of tomatoes, onions, Jalapeño hot, and a pepper plant.

The third are the herbs which are rosemary, two kinds of parsley, and basil.

I do have room for more plants but wanted to start out small since I don’t want to overcrowd the veggies as the plants will grow bigger.
We also have a big pot of strawberries. Just imagine fresh strawberry jam, strawberry shortcake, just plain delicious, fresh strawberries.
Yum, I can’t wait for this garden to grow!

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