Timeless Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags

IMG_1100zip-loc

A Ziploc for every occasion!

As a frequent traveller, I cannot go anywhere without my Ziploc bags. They are perfect for so many uses, they are waterproof, see-through and you can write on them. And they hardly cost a cent!

Travel Bloggers.ca wrote a great article  on them which will certainly give you a few ideas before you pack your bags:

  1. Underwear: It makes it a lot easier when if the customs people decide to open your suitcase and rummage through it – no tell-tale underwear dropping out for all to see! Also great for keeping socks together.
  2. When I’m on a trip I use one to hold all the travel-related ‘stuff’ I pick up like brochures from hotels and attractions.
  3. Souvenir Protector: Pack fragile souvenirs in your suitcase, surrounded by two or three Ziplocs filled with air – or you can use the ones with socks/underwear to help protect the souvenirs too.
  4. Waterproof Billfold: Keep your passport, money, and other precious documents dry by storing them neatly in a sandwich-sized Ziploc. Ever get stuck in a rainstorm with your passport in your pocket? This will keep everything nice and dry.
  5. Jewellery Keeper: Put earrings or other small items into a sandwich-sized Ziploc and slip it into your bathroom bag. It’ll save your more precious items from getting lost.
  6. Electronics: Store all of your electronics, wires, chargers, MP3 players, etc. in a large Ziploc. You can see what’s in it while it’s closed, and it’ll keep your things together in one place so they don’t get lost in the nooks and crannies of your suitcase/bag.
  7. Swimsuit Bag: Put wet swimsuits into a large Ziploc until you get home or back to the hotel – works great for other wet clothes too.
  8. Inspection Bag: We put all of our liquids for our carry-on into one for quick inspection at the airport counter.
  9. Make Up & Liquids: Double-bagging all makeup and liquids such as hair spray, shampoo and conditioner means if there’s ever an explosion or leak it won’t ruin clothes.
  10. Camera Bag: Store your camera in a Ziploc to keep it safe and dry – especially if you’re going to be anywhere near water such as kayaking, boating etc.  It’s easy to remove, take some pictures and return it to safety. If the kayak or boat tips, your camera will be fine if it ends up in the water.
  11. Ice Pack: We travel with a small collapsible cooler for storing bottled water on our trips and just fill a Ziploc with ice every day to keep our drinks cold.
  12. Foreign Currency: Use a Ziploc bag to hold your home currency while travelling, and for storing foreign currency at home between trips.
  13. Wet Wipes: Wet washcloths and add some soapy water to have your own wet wipes on the go. The bag holds the water effortlessly and you can be use the cloth to wipe sticky fingers and lips or clean up a spill.

Read the entire article from Travel Bloggers here.

The Habits That Make You Happy

You too can jump for joy!

You too can jump for joy!

I just love this post from Zen Habits. It outlines a few things you can do each day that will increase the happiness in your life. And none of them are hard or take up much time.

Try doing these on a daily basis:

List 3 Good Things.  Tell someone or write down 3 good things that happened to you today. Focus on what you’re grateful for. This can create a mental habit of gratitude that you can use other times in your day (like when you’re focused on the things you don’t like or have). When you feel this, think about something you do have, that you love. Find a way to be grateful, and you’re happier.

  1. Help Someone. When we focus on ourselves, and the woeful state of our lives, we are self-centered. This shrinks the world to one little place with one little unhappy person. But what if we can expand that worldview, and expand our heart to include at least one other person? Maybe even a few others? Then we see that others are suffering too, even if that just means they’re stressed out. Then we can reach out, and do something to reduce their stress, put a smile on their face, make their lives easier. Help at least one person each day, and you’ll find your entire perspective shifted.
  2. Meditate.  Meditate for just 2 minutes a day, and you’ll create a habit that will allow you to notice your thoughts throughout the rest of the day, that will help you to be more present (unhappiness comes from not being present), that will help you notice the source of anxiety and distraction. That’s a lot that can be accomplished in 2 minutes! Sit every morning when you wake, and just notice your body, and then your breath. Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return to your breath. You become the watcher of your mind, and you’ll learn some useful things, I promise.
  3. Exercise. Everyone knows you should exercise, so I’m not going to belabor this point. But it really does make you happier, both in the moment of exercise (I’m exerting myself, I’m alive!) and throughout the rest of the day. Exercise lightly, if you’re not in the habit yet, and just for a few minutes a day to start out. Who doesn’t have a few minutes a day? If you don’t, you need to loosen up your schedule a bit.

There are a number of other habits that also help: mindful eating, drinking tea, doing yoga, socializing with others.

How do you form these habits? One at a time, starting as small as possible, with some social accountability. Set these habits in motion. You’ll notice yourself becoming more present, more grateful, more other-focused. The shift that results is nothing short of a miracle.

Read the entire post here from Zen Habits

Timely Travel Tips…

One small bag for man - one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

One small bag for man – one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

Since we are literally heading out the door to do a road trip for July 4th weekend, this post from Unclutterer.com was very timely! I love being able to take off at the drop of a hat and having your bags packed and ready to go is an essential step:

“I absolutely love getting away, be it a day trip or an overseas adventure. As an avid traveler, I’ve picked up a few tricks to eliminate the stress of getting out the door and onto the road in a timely manner. One of my favorites is to keep items in luggage that I never unpack. It’s always ready and saves me a lot of time. Plus, it keeps me from having to store my travel items in other locations when they’re not in use — the luggage is a great place to store my travel gear. The following are items I keep bagged, even when I’m at home.

I keep a travel toiletries bag packed and ready at all times (very important!)

A small bag for on the plane

If you’ll be flying or traveling by bus or train, it’s helpful to pre-pack a small bag of things you might want to keep under the seat in front of you. It might include extra chargers for your electronic devices (many bus and train seats have outlets), copies of prescriptions for active medicines, a little cash (you may want to buy on-board food), and your own empty water bottle.

I recommend buying an extra charger for your phone and keeping it stashed in this bag. Yes, it’s an additional cost but forgetting it at home or worse, at your destination, is a major hassle. Put it in your bag and forget about it.

Also consider bringing your own earphones if you want to watch TV without using airline freebies, a neck pillow and something light to throw over yourself in case it is chilly. Finally, don’t forget ear plugs, gum or an eye mask/sunglasses for sleeping. Again, these can be purchased and packed well ahead of time.

Read the entire article here.

Double Duty Furniture Cuts Clutter

Is it an ottoman? Is it a storage chest? No it's both!

Is it an ottoman? Is it a storage chest? No it’s both!

Furniture. It plays an integral role in making your home a cozy, comfortable place where you want to spend time.  Whether you are in a tiny New York City apartment or have just chosen to simplify your life and downsize,  multipurpose furniture plays even a bigger role to combine form and function – especially when it is stylish.

Finding piece that serve more than one purpose saves money. A sofa bed solves three problems – seating during the day and a place to sleep at night and it cuts your costs in half! A sofa bed in a child’s room can transform it into a guest room when needed.

Multipurpose furniture comes in all shapes and sizes. Ottomans with storage compartments offer seating, a place to rest your feet and somewhere to hide the kid’s toys, books, blankets etc. Small stools can work as side tables and seats. Beds can have storage drawers built in underneath.

But before looking for multi-function furniture, define how your family plan to use the space. Do you need storage, function or both? A piece doesn’t have to be used for its intended purpose; use your creativity. I have an antique french dresser as my home office storage and filing system and it looks gorgeous – the mirror even makes the space look bigger. I also use an antique bottle crate I found at a flea market to hold all my smaller bits and pieces in the kitchen. It looks great and is functional storage to boot!

But the main tip – it doesn’t matter what storage you have; at the end of the day make sure every item in your home goes back to the place you have allocated. It is the only way you will keep clutter at bay.

Image courtesy of  http://www.rangkep.com/

Feng Shui’s No. 1 enemy: clutter!

My Chi is definitely choked!

My Chi is definitely choked!

You know that feeling what you arrive home and it just feels stuffy, heavy or depressing and you don’t know why? It could be your home’s Chi! Chi (the Feng Shui term for energy) needs to be fresh and flowing, not stale and stagnant. The number one reason for this could be staring you in the face – your clutter!

Clutter is the No.1 enemy of Feng Shui as the Chi can’t flow easily around your stuff and so it becomes stagnant – and hence why you too will feel this way, like you are stuck and can’t move on.

Kathryn Weber from Red Lotus Feng Shui has a great blog post on this topic that I think you will enjoy:

Having an uncluttered, organized home will repay you in time and money — and will return your peace of mind — and in just a few short weeks. Besides being a serious re-charge to your life and vitality, decluttering is good feng shui.

Everything you are surrounded by exerts an influence on your life.

If you’re surrounded by clutter and disorganization, it’s a serious energetic drain on your mind, your emotions and your physical body.  Too much stuff quickly turns a home “yin” and that makes energy turn negative. Once that happens, the circumstances of life start changing, too. You could say that clutter becomes the sticks and mortar that dam your life and stop the opportunities that flow to you.

Let’s get started with the basics.

What is clutter?

Clutter is anything that you don’t regularly use, things that you don’t like or enjoy or that are broken, or items kept out of guilt and obligation. Clutter includes items like old clothing, unused toys, mismatched dishes, or stacks of magazines. One of the worst sources of clutter is paper. Newspapers, mail, magazines, old greeting cards, and various paper items all clutter up our coffee tables, desks, and refrigerator.

What clutter isn’t

Clutter isn’t anything you truly love or use regularly. Clutter also isn’t a valuable collectible. Some things shouldn’t go in a landfill or in a garage sale. Your grandmother’s Fostoria crystal isn’t junk and shouldn’t be treated that way.

Ebay, local antiques or consignment stores are resources to help sell your collectible items. One woman made $15,000 off her clutter. Every week, she sat at her computer with five to 10 items she wanted to sell and in six months, she had made an extra $15,000 by selling her clutter on Ebay. Too much trouble to sell? Give special items away as gifts to someone who’ll appreciate them.

Clutter sources

There are a number of reasons for our over-accumulation. One is that we’ve moved from a disposable society to everything’s-a-collectible society and if everything is valuable, then you can’t throw anything away then, can you? We’ve also moved from a buy-it-as-you-need-it outlook to a buy-it-in-bulk mindset – and if we buy in bulk, we have to live in bulk.

Lastly, recreational shopping creates an overload of unused, unwanted household items. Hitting the mall every weekend just packs your house and empties your wallet.

Staying present. The difficulty with clutter is both past and future.

Too often people are tied to items because of the past (it was a wedding gift, it was Uncle Frank’s) and the future (what if I need a shoe buttoner again?). Yet clutter causes you problems in the present because you can’t find what you’re looking for or you have things you don’t really need or want. Other problems from the past include items we’ve inherited.

Many people feel like they have to keep everything passed down from their loved ones. It’s a tremendous burden of guilt. Remember that things are not people and it’s okay to let things go. To feel like you have to hold on to the possessions of your loved ones who are no longer around is to have to build your own life and hang on to their lives, too. It makes for a crowded house. Keep just a few items that you especially love or that you’ll use on a regular basis. My favorite item from my grandmother? Her cast iron skillet that stays on my stove to this day and gets almost daily use.

Go ahead, be wasteful

Have you ever heard the Depression era stories about being so poor that coffee grounds were dried in the sun and re-used? Well, it’s not the Depression anymore. It’s okay to throw things away. You have my permission and encouragement to get rid of stuff. There will be enough and you can always get more if you need it.

People hang on to so many things because they don’t want to be wasteful; like holding on to a shirt with a stain that won’t come out. The stain won’t come out the longer it hangs there, so why reach for it and then put it back on the rack? Throw it away once and for all.

Your role: The first step to getting control over clutter is recognizing your role in creating it.

Do you overshop? Do you keep things out of guilt (it’s Aunt Mary’s!)? Do you have to buy in bulk? Are you afraid to throw things away? Taking a hard look at how and why your house has gotten cluttered helps you get it under control and from becoming cluttered in the future. So recycle when you can, and throw away, donate, or sell the rest — and at every opportunity.

The physical symptoms of clutter

Clutter stops the flow of energy. When energy stops flowing, there is a negative impact to our bodies, spirits, and energetic life flow in the form of money, opportunities, love, and enjoyment. Clutter manifests as excess weight, constipation, inability to think, feeling stuck in life, low vitality, and poor personal growth and movement.

Once you begin decluttering, you may find yourself unburdened by heavy emotions and will begin to feel lighter, more at ease and have a greater sense of happiness and personal well-being. Clutter holds us back, like a giant weight, and creates blockages in our lives and spirits. Feel yourself feel unencumbered by lifting  the burden of clutter and watch the increased flow of your life to start again.

Read the entire article here.

© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2010

Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook “Easy Money – 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui” visit http://www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

Copyright Kathryn Weber. All rights reserved

Top Tips to Downsize your Wardrobe

All your shirts in a row...

All your shirts in a row…

Downsizing your wardrobe can be one of the most dreaded tasks – you can try and put if off for as long as you can, but reality hits you every morning when you can’t find anything to wear. But it needn’t be!

A recent blog post by Small Notebook highlighted some handy tips for tackling this task:

…I get the general idea that if you haven’t worn a garment within a certain amount of time, you most likely never will, and it’s just taking up space. What’s more important to me is not how long it’s been since I’ve worn it, but why I haven’t worn it.

So if something has remained on the hanger, I start questioning it: Is it the right color? Is it too long or too short? Does it make me look frumpy? Is it worn out? Or do I just have too many clothes?

Understanding why I’m not wearing something helps me make better choices on future shopping trips, and I think that’s smarter than simply tossing clothes just to replace them with more later.

Tips on keeping clothes in other sizes:

• Keep only the clothes that you’ll be happy to see again. Keep the best stuff, not everything.

• Don’t save any clothes that are worn out. The maternity pants that you wore every day during those last weeks because they were the only pair that still fit (and therefore have drops of chocolate ice cream stains on them, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything) can be thrown away.

• You want to keep them in a box in your storage space, not in useful closet space with your current size.

• Go through them every year or so to see if you can size down your collection. Even classic styles can change every five or seven years. (Think how different denim looks now from a few years ago.)

• If you think it’s not likely you will wear them again, don’t save them, but don’t be afraid to set clothes aside in case you can wear them in the future. That’s kind of the whole point of storage space: using it for good, not for clutter.

To read the entire article click here. 

Why “should” is a dirty word when trying to get organized.

The books have taken over the bedroom...

The books have taken over the bedroom…

Deciding to declutter your home and get organized is hard enough without the guilt. The number one comment I hear when working with clients in the home is “but I should keep this because…”. We talk ourselves into why we SHOULD keep things rather than being able to LET GO of our possessions guilt free. And it is this thinking that is keeping us from moving forward in our organizing endeavours and is keeping us buried in the past. The No.1 excuse I hear is “I should keep this is because it may come in handy one day.” It’s time to bury the shoulds!

Unclutterer.com wrote a blog post about this very topic which really hit the nail on the head for me and I am guessing for many of my readers too. Here’s a peak at some “should” samples:

I need to keep these books because I should read them

Unless you’re in school, you can probably let go of this “should.” If you have absolutely no interest in reading some of the classics, you can give the books away; you really don’t have to read them. You only have so much reading time available in your life, so why not use that time to read the things you truly want to read?

should convert from my paper planner, address book, or to-do list to a digital system

Digital tools certainly have their advantages — but if paper works for you, there’s really no need to change. You may want to look at how you could back up these physical copies just in case they get lost or damaged, but there’s no reason you need to switch from what’s working well.

should keep this sentimental thing

Well, perhaps you should keep it. Is it actually sentimental to you or is it the kind of thing most people find sentimental? I got rid of all but a few pages of my high school yearbooks because I just didn’t care about it, even thought this act would horrify other people.

Read the entire article here.

The 5 benefits of a “docking station” in the home.

The perfect docking station

The perfect docking station

This is one of my favourite pieces of advice to give clients – make yourself a docking station! What do I mean by this? A docking station is a place where things land that come in the house – whether it is the mail, your hand bag, the kids school notes etc – to be dealt with so they don’t end up all over the house causing clutter.  It is a sorting place, a communications centre, the hub of the home basically. Unclutter.com wrote a post on the 5 benefits of what they call a “destination station” which sums it up quite nicely:

Here are five benefits of creating one for yourself:

  1. Stay in the know.  A destination station can be a place to stay in contact with family members and housemates even when you’re not all present. For example, you can post a calendar to keep track of joint appointments, parent-teacher meetings, vacation schedules, etc. You can also mount a chalkboard to leave important notes and messages.
  2. Find things quickly and easily in one central location. Skip the scavenger hunt for bills that need to be paid or items that you need to mail or return to the store. Instead, keep those items in the command center so you can quickly put your hands on them when you need to, and use baskets and containers to collect specific items in an organized way. By having them in one central spot, you won’t have to search your entire home to find what you’re looking for when you need it.
  3. Keep track of frequently used items. The command center can also be a place to keep things you use often. This can be a great spot for your keys, daily bag, mobile phone and charger, tablet, sunglasses, or any other items you need before heading out the door. You might even install a hook for your favorite jacket. Again, since the items are kept in one location, you’ll always find your things quickly and easily.
  4. Stop clutter from creeping into various spaces. When the things in your home don’t have permanent storage places, they can often bounce about various rooms and create clutter. It can be tricky to know where to put things that won’t be staying in your house, and the destination station will give you a location to organize and store your stuff until it’s time for the items to leave.

Read the entire article here.

The downsizing dilemma: when your furniture won’t fit out the door…

Will it fit? Or will it won't...

Will it fit? Or will it won’t…

Here is an interesting article from News.com.au that makes you think twice next time you wish to buy furniture:

OOOPS. Your favourite piece of furniture won’t fit through the door. What now?

You’ve moved into your dream home, apartment, terrace or townhouse. The trouble is, your beautiful couch (or desk, bookcase or bedhead) won’t fit up the stairs. What to do? It’s conundrum more common than you might think, Access Removals proprietor (and “head muscle”) Chris Papaspyru says.

Once it was pianos and billiard tables that caused headaches at moving time; now it’s everyday items such as dining tables, bedheads and even barbecues.

Changes to occupational health and safety laws means awkward and bulky furniture can no longer be hoisted over the side of a balcony by mates with a rope and a prayer.

Moving today can be a strategic operation requiring a crane and even street closures. And it’s not just the rich who need to call in the professionals.

Removal companies say shifting large items is a growing problem, whether it’s empty nesters downsizing to units or those trying to squeeze modern furniture into tiny terrace homes. Then there are those who order new furniture only to find it won’t fit.

Adding to the dilemma is that many new blocks have narrow stairwells and small lifts.

DAYS OF PLANNING

Wridgways marketing director Jane Riley says Sydney’s high-density, multi-storey living and hilly landscape accounts for a third of the firm’s most challenging jobs.

Complex moves can take days to plan and include an inspection and access check.

“Thirty years ago a lounge suite would be a three-seater and two arm chairs but these days it could be modular or recliners,” she says. We ask many questions to ascertain the best way to move these items.”

Read the full article here.

The ABC (&D) of organizing your stuff

I recently read this little gem in an issue of Woman’s Day (in the US) and thought it put the art of organizing in a simple, easy to follow strategy that could suit most homes and people. What do you think?

The ultimate under stair storage solution

The ultimate under stair storage solution!

What to put where:

A items: You use these at least once a day, like your toothbrush so you will want to have them our on the counter, right there in front of you. An everyday piece of jewellery such as your watch would go in a dish on the dresser and your underwear should be in the top dresser drawer, easy to retrieve.

B items: These items are still used a lot, but more like weekly such as some kitchen utensils or your workout clothes. They would be kept inside an easy to reach cupboard rather than on the counter and a drawer down from the A items.

C items: These are used seasonally or rarely such as Christmas decorations or your luggage. Store these in a spot such as the top shelf of a wardrobe or under the stairs out of the way until needed. You could store the Christmas decorations inside the luggage – win win!

D items: This is the stuff you don’t use, but are keeping for a legitimate reason such as tax records or baby equipment waiting for the next child. Store them as out of the way as much as possible such as in a cupboard in the garage (or in the basement if you have one).

Easy peasy!