Category Archives: Organization

KEEPING ICE CREAM

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Growing up we had goats and that meant an ample supply of milk and cream. That of course was why we never bought ice cream. Homemade all the way baby!

When I got married and bought a carton the frozen gunk on top would drive me nuts. Then I saw a simple solution on TV one day and gave it a try. By George it worked and I have been doing it for 20 years.

You need 2 things. Ice cream (preferably dirt cheap)

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and Serane wrap.

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Simply rip off a piece and push it down onto the ice cream. Air is what causes that nasty gunk and the plastic wrap needs to completely cover the ice cream to keep it out.

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And that’s it, perfect ice cream every time.  Now I am going to get myself a scoop.

Christmas Light Storage

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Every year the Christmas decorations get pulled out and we think that THIS year we will be organized while putting them away. Of course by the time we put them away we are too exhausted to even think about it. That’s why now is a perfect time, before you start Spring cleaning!

I take no credit for this idea. I borrowed lights from a friend this year ans this is how they came. Wrapped neatly and organized, the only thing missing was a bow.

Start by cutting a piece of cardboard into the shape of a bone.  On each end cut a slit.

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Use a marker to label where those lights are to be hung.

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Using one of the slits to hold the end of the cord in place begin wrapping it around the length of the cardboard.

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When you are done it should look something like this.

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A fruit box works great to hold all the strands together for storage and when you start hanging them up again.  I suggest keeping the light clips and extension cords in the same box.

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I hope you find this helpful and that it makes the task of hanging lights next November a little less stressful.

Rosette Towels

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I have a small bathroom and it takes effort to store everything and still have it looking nice when guests arrive.  By simply using 2 bath sheets purchased at Wall Mart for $4 each and 2 large rubberbands I was able to freshen up the room in less than 5 minutes.

Bath sheets really do work best and the thin ones are easier to work with so don’t use your best guest towels.

Start by folding the towels into thirds lengthwise.  It does not need to be perfect as you will mess with it in a moment.

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Now hang it over the towel rack upside down so the fold is at the bottom. Slip the rubberband over the ends about 6 inches and repeat until it is nice and tight.

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Adjust the ends until you get a look you like.

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If you really want to get fancy tie a ribbon around the rubberband as if it were a bouquet of roses.

Easy breezy ams if people use them as hand towels you toss them right in the wash. Let me know if you give it a try.

Girl Scout Leader Binder

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I have a binder that i use to keep my year’s plan in. I found that it allowed me to plan further into the future and stay organized in the process. Each section has dividers so I can immediately flip to where I need to go.

The very first thing is a general view of the year. It has all the events that happen every year listed by month so that I don’t forget to include those activities.

Behind this is the badges we are currently working on.

Next is my outdoor checklists. As girls pass a skill I keep track so that I know which girls are ready for things and which girls are not. As new girls come into the Troop this becomes VERY important because I cannot keep track after awhile. The page below is for knife skills. I also have checklists for reading the weather, preparing for a hike, 10 essentials, basic camping skills, clothing/shoes for various situations and basic first aid.

Next is a current copy of the Troop handbook 2012.

Each year I try to get the parents to volunteer for ways to help. Commit early but always make sure to follow-up before the last minute to make sure they still can help.

12 SECTIONS

Now I have dividers for every month of the year. Within each section I have the following. This first form I found online and is a report Troops were asked to submit to their Service Unit. I use it for my own reference so I can go back and see what we have been doing. It also allows me to tell any interested girls what we have been doing for the last several months.

I use keepandshare.com to print off monthly calendar pages where I write down field trips, meeting ideas, contact information and things I need to do. I hand out the calendars to the girls for their own reference, minus the information that only I need.

http___www.keepandshare.com_calendar_printpdf

If we are working on a Council Own’s badge I keep a copy of the requirements in my binder.

FORMS

I keep 5 forms in this section. The first is specifically for planning something outdoors.

The second form is specifically for planning ceremonies. As it usually takes a few meetings to nail everything down, it helps me to keep track of what the girls want.

The next form is to plan any event. It is a generic form that asks the basic questions of who, what, where, when and how much. As items are purchased for an event they are stapled to the form. After the event the treasurer can easily give a report of how funds were spent and if we stayed in budget. The reporter can use it to send a story to the newspaper if we vote to do so.

A donation request form.

The final form is for first aid reports. Any incidents are written down in case parents have a question.

IDEAS

This section is where I place general ideas that can be used as filler any time of the year. I might have brochures, fliers or business cards in here. The pamphlet below has a lot of great ideas that I found from Black Diamond Council.

I keep a flier of the old religious awards.



POCKETS

In the pockets I always keep a notepad, a couple of envelopes and the Color Guard lines.

I try to keep it simple as I keep many other things in my hanging files. There are many things I don’t need to keep in my binder because they are stored in my milk crates until needed. I hope I have given you a few ideas for managing your own Troop, let me know if you have any questions.

First Aid Kit

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I learned early on when The Boy started walking at 9 months that I needed to keep band aids with me at all times. I added them to the diaper bag along with the Tylenol and Motrin. When I no longer had to carry a diaper bag, I forgot to keep things in my car. One day while at my mom’s we drove to the park down the road and he got a bad cut and I had nothing to deal with it properly. Since then, I have always kept certain items in my vehicle. Over time, my first aid kit for my van has grown to what you see below.

First aid booklets. Even though I have had the course, it never hurts to have backup.

I divide everything into groups and keep them in plastic bags. This not only allows me to quickly grab what I need, but keeps the items clean and prevent paper packages from becoming ripped.

Rubber gloves

Consider purchasing latex and powder free gloves as you never know who will have an allergy or sensitivity to them, including you.

Hand warmers

Even in the summer these can be useful! If someone were to be too cold from being in the water this is a safe and quick way to help warmup their extremities. They can also be placed into shoes to warm the feet.

Wet wipes and antibiotic ointment wipes

Cotton balls and maxi pads. Don’t go for the thin ones, the thicker the better. These are the best thing for larger wounds.

Another use for the maxi pad is as cushioning such as when hiking and the straps for the backpack are hurting your shoulders.

Self sticking wrap, wrist support, knee support and sling.

Q-Tips and the larger ones you see at the doctor’s office.

Gauze in various shapes and sizes along with first aid tape. My scissors are missing will have to replace them. The popsicle sticks are a great splint.

Mouth guard for CPR, sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, kleenex and a marker. If you get a bite or rash use the marker to draw a circle around it. This allows you to see if the bite grows or the rash is spreading. It cannot be a washable marker!!!

Index cards are also useful if you are bit by a spider and are unsure if it is dangerous or not. Tapping it to the card and placing into a baggie allows you to show your doctor later on.

The majority of the time you only need a small band-aid and I keep those in the small box, along with ointment and a single pair of gloves. Most medications should not be exposed to extreme heat and should not be kept in the car for the long-term. But if you are taking a long trip, throw in those items that you might most commonly need such as something for the stomach or a headache. I keep sunscreen and bug spray in my car from May through August.

I keep it all in a zippered bag but a backpack with compartments also works well as does a fishing tackle box.

You should go through your kit periodically to remove expired medications and ensure things are not missing. I noticed I could not find my tweezers for removing splinters and had no water bottle so I will take care of that this week.

I mentioned earlier that I kept Motrin and Tylenol in my bag when The Boy was young. He would have febrile seizures so at the first sign of a temperature I was to start rotating those into his system. Accordingly, put in the items that apply to your family such as a thermometer, measuring spoon or an extra inhaler.

I hope taking a peek into my bag helps you!

Getting activities organized – Milk Crates

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I am involved in several things with my kids and church. However the thing I have the most responsibility for is a Girl Scout Troop. All the papers and information can begin to take over if one is not careful. Milk crates are cheap and can hold a lot of items in a portable container.

I have 1 crate that holds all the inserts for badges girls can earn. Each hanging folder is a general subject where I place any information that can help with those badges. I keep contact information, snack ideas, games, crafts,brochures and the badges themselves in the correct folder. If I find something that fits a topic, it is easily slipped into the hanging file. While mine are related to Girl Scouts, the same idea can be used for anything.

CRATE #1
Each tab is a subject. Some hanging folders have files within them to separate the information. I include newspaper articles, information found online, resources from agencies as well as non profits, Boys Life and even National Geographic. Organizing them here means I don’t forget I have them and I keep a huge mess from forming.

Tabs: Animals, Art, Birds, Citizenship, Conservation, Cookies, Crafts, Emergency, Fashion, First Aid, Food, Girl Scouts, Health/Nutrition, Hike/Camp, Invent/Design, Mae Own, Money, Performances, Photo, Plants, Service, Science, Self Improvement and Sports

Badges

CRATE #2
Each tab is for a different Journey as well as Girl Scout traditions that apply to all levels. Because the Journey books are thin, they fit into the hanging folders quite easily. It is also a great place to keep magazines that I only use when dealing with the specific subject. If I don’t want the entire magazine I can staple the article together.

Tabs: Bridging, Thinking Day, TAP info, WOW, Quest/Teamwork, Get Moving/Energy, aMaze/Relationships, Sow What/Gardening, Fishing, Scrapbooking, Transportation, Holidays/Seasonal.

Journeys & Other Basics

CRATE #3
This is my Daisy level crate because they earn awards differently. Each hanging folder is assigned to a Petal where I keep the papers specific to them. One of the things I keep is picture books for each Petal. This crate has extra room so I keep specific items behind the files that relate to this level only.

Tabs: Petals/Uniform, Cookies/$, Crafts, Awards, Center, Each Petal has own file, Garden Journey, 3 Cheers

Daisy level

Take a peek inside the hanging folders. None of them are the exact same, they hold things I have found here and there related to the topic.

Plants

Workbook I found online, info from local noxious weed control board, poster, gardening tips, badge inserts

Money

Info from Modern Woodsmen, Consumer handbook, toy money, bank statement, local contact information

Conservation

Brochures, booklets, Boys Life

Honest and Fair

Story book, coloring page, ideas found online, Journey plan. Everything relates to the subject of the Petal.

I can add and remove items as needed or just grab a single file and go. I hope this helps you organize your life a little better. What will your milk crate be about?

Keep Receipts

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Yeah I know, you know what I am going to say, “keep your receipts”. We all know to do it, so why don’t we? I think there are 3 main reasons. First, we don’t want extra paper hanging around. Second, we don’t have anywhere to keep them. Third, we don’t do it immediately and just end up throwing them away. A good way to store our receipts is to staple the sides of a manilla folder together so it forms a pocket. Write on the tab the specific areas the folder will hold such as house, college or medical. In order to stay organized with them, you need to know WHY you should keep them.

1. Double check: Always double check your receipts, it is not uncommon to find that you were double charged for items, or that a sale price was not correctly applied. For example, recently at Wal Mart the items I purchased after Christmas should have been 50% off, but were rung up at regular price. Some stores have a policy that if the item is rung up incorrectly you can get it for free! Have 1 spot you put all receipts in your wallet or purse so that they will not get lost or in the way of everything else. Even a tiny coin purse will do the job efficiently. As often as you can, go through those receipts and decide where the next step is for them.

2. Reconciliation: If you charged either to your credit or debit cards, you need receipts until you are sure that the correct amount was charged to your account. Keep all those in an envelope where you open your bills and go through them when your monthly bank statement or credit card statement arrives or you can look at your account online. If they were charged or refunded to your card correctly, then you decide if you need them for the long term. Make sure you are checking your credit rating number once a year so that you can see if anything on the report is incorrect. If you have receipts or monthly statements showing payment it is much easier to get bad marks removed.

3. Warranty and Guarantee: Many things we buy have great warranties, but only if we keep the original receipt with the paperwork. Once you know you have been charged correctly, receipts should be stapled to the paperwork that come with an item. I have a filing cabinet and one section is dedicated purely to this type of paperwork.

This includes more than what we purchase at a store. If you buy items at a home party those are equally important. For example, my Pampered Chef cookie bar stone pan was broke and I needed my receipt to show it was less than 3 years old to have it replaced free of charge.

4. Reimbursements: Have you ever bought something for work and could not get paid back because the receipt disappeared? All those type of receipts should be turned in immediately! Don’t forget to make a copy just in case the next person loses it. On the top of each receipt make a short note of why it needs to be reimbursed. Such as the trip you were on, who you took to lunch or who authorized the purchase. Have a file in your cabinet specifically for these types of receipts. If you cannot turn one in right away, keep it in the file with your copies. Once you are reimbursed toss the receipt and the copies.

5. Taxes: If you itemize, then you need to keep your receipts for anything that can be a deduction such as school, medical expenses and daycare. Do you do your own taxes or do you take them to a professional? If you keep your receipts organized, it will save YOU a lot of time and frustration. If you hand them off organized it will save you MONEY. How you organize these receipts will depend on what you need to claim. I create a new folder for each category. As you receive your end of year statements, put them all with these folders so that they don’t get lost. Then when it is time to file your tax return, you only have to deal with 1 folder at a time. After the receipts have been totaled, staple each category together with a grand total on top. All the bundles go into a manilla envelope with the year written on the front and a copy of the tax return inside. Be sure to SEAL so that nothing is lost. This allows you to easily file all the information yet still have access to it if needed. The one exception to this are receipts for your house.

6. Resale: Receipts that paid for work done to the house should be kept in a separate file along with the contact information of anyone you hired to do the work. This allows you quick access if something goes wrong, such as the new roof leaks. While the file cabinet is a good place, another is a binder. This is especially true if you are having a major renovation done or a custom build. This way you can have everything together in 1 place, including permits.

The same rule applies to your car. If it were to be in an accident the insurance company would want proof that you did any special improvements to the car, such as a larger motor or expensive rims. Do not keep these in your car!!!! However, they should be handed off when you sell or trade in your vehicle.

7. Proof of Payment: Especially when you pay cash, a receipt is your only proof that you paid. My daughter lost a book in 5th grade and we paid for it. In 6th grade she was told she still owed on it. She took the receipt to her new school and was able to prove we had paid for it. If your child does not receive their annual, a receipt is all you have to show they did indeed pay for it. All school receipts should be kept till the end of the school year when you are told your child owes no money. If you do automatic payments from your checking account, monthly statements are proof that it was done on time and can save you late fees. Unless you have a business or a sudden influx of money, bank statements generally only need to be kept a year.

8. Refunds – Lets say you pay for a trip that is cancelled, a receipt is how you are going to get your money back. It should be dated, signed and specify what the payment was for. Often the receipt will tell you who to contact for that refund. Paying for many things with your credit card also provides insurance to help with refunds.

When you have filed this year’s tax return, go through your paperwork from past years and toss all the items you no longer need. Doing it once a year allows you to complete a major purge. If the warranty is expired, toss it. If you no longer own it, toss it. If you have reconciled it, toss it. I have heard a variety of numbers on how many years we should keep our tax returns so I suggest just ask your accountant. They know your finances far better than anyone else!

Many areas offer free shredding so that your financial information is properly destroyed. If you don’t have that option, invest in a personal shredder to protect your identity. This includes carbon copies of checks because your signature can be learned, checks can be washed and reused, and account information makes everything accessible to thieves. Don’t forget to destroy old checks on accounts you have closed, thieves could still use them and damage YOUR credit. Many years ago my checkbook was stolen and the stress it caused for months was immense. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my identity stolen and don’t want to.

Meanwhile, invest in a fire safe to keep papers that are the most important. This includes birth certificates, most recent tax returns and insurance policies. Keep your receipts, keep yourself safe and keep more of your hard earned money.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a great article about the documents you need to prepare in case of your death.