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February 2009

January 2009

Closet Cleaning... Clearing The Way For a Wearable Wardrobe

Hangers in empty closet Nothing to wear? If this how you feel when you look into your closet, then this is the perfect time to hang on to what you will wear and strip away what you won't. It is now the end of January, allow for an hour or two to reacquaint yourself with your wardrobe or lack of one. Winter will be over soon and spring will be at your door. Might as well look good when it arrives.


-- Make this easier on yourself by getting out an empty shopping bag (or two) to hold the clothes you decide to donate. If you can spare it, then share it with someone less fortunate. Many charities now offer a scheduled pickup service for donated goods right at your front door.

-- Set a timer. Unless you have Mariah Carey's closet to clean, two hours should do it. Work without a break and keep moving.

-- Have a large mirror in the room where you will be trying on the clothes.

-- This is an exercise in discovery NOT organization. Don't worry about color coordinating your racks, just focus on whether or not the item is a keeper. These five questions will help you clear the way for a wearable wardrobe without spending a cent.

Try this exercise on for size:

1. Does it fit? Take a good honest look from all sides, bend over, sit down. If it shows anything you wouldn't want a stranger to see, into the bag it goes. NOTE: Sucking in your belly while wearing pantyhose to make the garment hang smoothly means it does not fit, sorry. If you can't get it over your head or up around your waist, stop, take it off and put it into the donation bag. Don't torture yourself, let it go. This item has become clutter in your closet. Be brave and make room for beautiful, new things to find you.

2. If it fits, is it flattering? You may think so, but go deeper here...Is it the image you want to project? What is it saying? Professional, housewife, or your 1983 senior trip outfit? Make sure it reflects who you are today.

3. If it passed the first two steps...Do you like it? Love it? Does it make you feel vibrant? If not, you probably won't wear it much, if at all. This is especially true if you had a bad emotional experience while wearing it. Time to let someone else enjoy it.

4. Where can I wear it? To work, meetings, shopping, dinner, doing errands? Is it useful to your lifestyle? If you have piles of sweaters but are moving to Florida, keep the best fitting  two or three. Same test for shoes and boots. If you are over high heels, keep one multi-purpose black pair of pumps (just in case) and say, "hello comfy flats."

5. Do you have the full accessory ensemble to complement it? If not, do you really want to spend the $ and time trying to find the perfect pair of shoes to match a pea green dress you bought on sale seasons ago, but have yet to wear? It may be cheaper to let it go.

Times up! By now, you should have a few full donation bags...good for you, good for someone else.

Try not to buy anything for at least a month. Wear what you have decided to keep. Make a list of things you would like to infuse back into your wardrobe, but try to wait on purchasing anything for a month. You might find you don't need as much after all!

Goal Getter...What To Write Down

Silver question mark

Part I, "Goal Getter"

The recent entry, Goals and Plans, generated quite a number of emails by readers of Here We Are. In that entry, I stressed writing down your goals. This is a very important step in the process of meeting them. Many of the emails asked for clarification on what to write down, and then what to do next after it is on paper.

For some people setting goals is an easy process. If this is you, great! If not, then grab your pen and paper and let's get goaling!

There is no mystery to this process. It is straight forward. The detective work comes in defining and then refining the steps you need to take. Don't worry, learn the saying, "Inch by inch makes a cinch!" I use it a lot in life and we are going to use it now on Here We Are to get you across the finish line.

Follow these steps in as detailed a manner as possible, don't cheat yourself, allow the ideas to flow:

Inch 1: WHAT do you wish to accomplish or achieve? Use this exercise to practice on a small goal. Is it losing five pounds? Organizing the basement? Learning digital photography? Since most of us are not preparing for the next Olympics where the world will be watching, think of this as a chance to conquer a private goal that will make you feel better. It is most effective to move beyond this step with a precise answer to the "What."

Let's say you write, "I want to read more books." At first it seems clear; however, upon a closer look, it is too vague. Instead, pick the exact books with a time frame to complete reading them. Example: I want to read Anita Shreve's books, "Sea Glass" in February, and "The Pilot's Wife" by the end of March.

So far, this seems simple, right? You wrote it down. You feel good thinking you are on your way to meeting your goal. This is partly true. You are ready to move forward to the next Inch.

Inch 2:  Now you have to take action to achieve the goal. This is the part where you turn the "What" into the "Why." Using the book example, there are probably many reasons the books haven't yet been read. Start by listing your reasons in clear, specific, simple terms. Yes, the "reasons" why you may not be getting to your goal. Think, "Why haven't I reached this goal before?"

Pay no attention to the order, be free in knowing there are no right or wrong terms, no one is checking grammar, and there is no limit to the number. So list away!!

The frustrated reader's list might look like this:

  • No extra time to read
  • Getting headaches, I think I need new glasses
  • Can't decide if I want to read or listen to audio book of "Sea Glass"
  • Lost the 20% off discount coupon for book store
  • Can't find Library card
  • Might have a copy of "The Pilot's Wife" in messy basement
  • My friend promised to loan me her copy, but I can't remember which book she owns
  • Should finish reading stack of magazines before starting a new book

This is the skeleton that will become your "plan of action." While it is still January, write down the "What" fromInch 1. Mull it over, make it more specific. In a day or two, when you are ready, move forward to Inch 2. Sit down and let it pour out of you, be honest, it is only you and the paper.

Look for Part II of "Goal Getter" in early February, so goal get your pen! Inch by inch...








Cold and Flu...10 Easy Tips to Keep The Germs Away

Germs in Colored String Patterns
While there are only two months of winter left this season, those nasty germs that cause cold and flu are still alive and well waiting to infect another victim. Don't let this be you!

Here are a ten tips to keep those bad bacteria and venomous viruses away:

1. Pens - Don't use the pen a store clerk hands you to sign a receipt. Always have your own at the ready.

2. Gloves - Buy a reasonably priced leather pair that allows for easy movement. Wear them always and everywhere when you go out. Chances are you won't touch your eyes, mouth, or nose while wearing gloves, so it won't matter what you touch in the store, in the library, or that much used entrance door handle at work. 

Remember I said "reasonably priced?" At the end of the season, throw the gloves out. If you use them in this manner, they will be dirty; no need to store them with your freshly cleaned coat. This may seem wasteful, but not more so than missing a week of work due to the flu. $ SAVING TIP: Buy a pair or two now while everything is on end-of-the-season sale and put them away for the next fall.

3. Credit Cards - Don't hand your credit card to a store clerk to swipe for you. Try to swipe it yourself using the new automatic swipe machines. If the clerk is sick, when they hand you back your card, it is the same as if you shook hands and you just put their germs into your wallet.

4. Water Bottles - This is a simple prevention step. Mark the label or tear it off so you know which bottle is yours. Don't risk drinking out of Typhoid Mary's bottle.

5. Soap Dishes - If you are using bar soap in your house, be sure to put the soap dish through a dishwasher cycle every week or so. A soap dish is a festering spot for germs because of all the hands touching it and the stagnant moisture.

6. Liquid Soap Pumps - Think you are free of the "soap dish" germ dilemma? The pump on the liquid soap dispenser is a hot spot for germs because everyone touches it before they wash. $ SAVING TIP: Use a paper-towel/cotton swipe with Rubbing Alcohol to wipe the pump top clean. It is cheap and a natural disinfectant.

7. Cell Phone - Use Rubbing Alcohol to wipe it down periodically throughout the year. Try not to share your phone with anyone during cold and flu season.

8. Hand Washing - This is the obvious answer to prevent infection, but what if you aren't near a sink? Keep a travel size bottle of Purell Hand Sanitizer handy. I like the individually wrapped Nice 'n Clean packets. No worry of spills or leaks, and they easily fit in a pocket, glovebox, or briefcase.

9. Public Serving Utensils - If you are attending a buffet or selecting your greens at a salad bar, DON'T use the utensils that everyone is using. If possible, use the fork and spoon you will use to eat with to also serve yourself. If you washed your hands before lunch, it is meaningless if you then touch the serving utensils at the buffet. Those germs are now accompanying you at the table as you reach for that freshly baked roll.

10. Toothpaste Tube - If someone in your household is sick, give them their own tube of toothpaste. Most people inadvertently touch the tube to their toothbrush when squeezing out the paste. The next person who then comes along to polish their pearly whites also gets a dose of germs!

Hope these tips help keep you healthy! Please add any tips you use to stay away from germs.


[The claims made about specific products or procedures on or through this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. The reviews and opinions provided are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. Please consult with a health-care professional before taking or administering any new product or treatment to yourself or anyone else.]

Brace For Impact...Words to Live By Today

Single white daisy flower
For a few stressful moments last week, the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 thought that pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberger's words, "Brace for impact," might be the last that they would ever hear. If you have never survived a harrowing moment on the edge between life and death, then let these now famous words be your guide to start living the life you want today.

Some might say that the passengers cheated death or that each person on that plane got a second chance. These philosophies may or may not be true, we can never really know the greater purpose. More importantly, the message is that no one person can rely on "tomorrow." Philip Vera Cruz asked, "If not you, then who, if not now, then when?" to question the impact you are making on your own life and that of others.

We can use our spectator status of the passengers' experience as a blinking neon reminder of how life can change in an instant. Is the light flashing for you to move toward your dreams, goals, and aspirations? Not sure what they are anymore? Take the precious time you have now to figure it out because, like it or not, one day we will all be pushing up daisies. As the country prepares for a new beginning tomorrow, brace for impact of the new life you are beginning today.

If there was ever a moment in your life when you believed you were hearing the last words you would ever hear but lived to tell about it, how did it change your life?

The PiddlePad...A Potty Training Product for Mom and Toddler

Cute baby sitting on stock pot

A Product Tip from Staci, The Mom Squad

When potty training your toddler, the decision to let your little one go out of the house without wearing a diaper or pull-up is a tricky one. You want to start giving them chances, but you don't want to have messy accidents to clean up. Moms, if you are dealing with this dilemma, I have a potty trainingproduct for you!

My two year old, Elle, and I have learned that quick trips around town are the best way to teach her to hold it. When we took our first trip out without a Pull-Ups on, I told her while we were in the drugstore to let me know if she needed to use the potty. So, of course, as soon as we got into the store she said, "Mommy, I need to use the potty." I was happy she told me, but this did not mean we were home
free. Later, she had an accident in her car seat. Afterward, I realized that this was a difficult accident to properly clean. I ended up taking the whole car seat cover off to wash it. A chore that was not a quick and easy fix.

Since then we have discovered the PiddlePad. It is a waterproof seat liner you can easily move from the car seat to a stroller. It has a non-slip backing, but a soft terrycloth top. Made by Kiddopotamus, it is available in retail stores and online. We got ours at Toys R Us for $7.99. It is an inexpensive fix to a very messy problem.

I highly recommend this to any parent whose child often has blow outs or is starting to potty train.
The PiddlePad helps alleviate time consuming cleanups for busy, on-the-go moms while expanding the "diaper free" time for your toddler!

{Product Review Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid review. No consideration of any kind was offered to or received by Lucimac Productions, the parent company of HWA.}

Used Holiday Cards… Repurposing Paper for a Positive Purpose

holiday cardsShades of Chartreuse - Freshly Green Tips

To-Do List: Store wreaths, wrap candlesticks, disconnect twinkling lights, and recycle 2008 holiday cards. WAIT!!!! Don’t just recycle them...REPURPOSE your holiday cards to help abused and abandoned children. I recently discovered a worthy cause that could greatly benefit from these dated well wishes. It will take you very little effort, time, and money; I promise.

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, “rescues abused, abandoned and neglected children of all races and faiths from the vicious cycle of child abuse.” I encourage you to read about their mission, and the children of all ages who might otherwise be living on the street or in deplorable conditions.

St. Jude’s is currently accepting all types of used greeting cards. The recycling program is open all year round. Just send the whole card. They recycle the cards by using the front and adding a new back of recycled paper. The “new” cards are then sold to raise revenue in support of their programs.

So if you still have those holiday cards in the recycling bin, stuck to a bulletin board or cluttering up the mantle…grab them, put them in a mailer envelope and the next time you are at the Post Office, send them to:

St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005.

Pictured is my stack of cards awaiting my next trip to the Post Office. I hope you will send yours, too. You will be doing a good thing by sharing your well wishes with children who could really use them. Thank you!

You Can Dare To Wash Cashmere... In The Washing Machine

Shrunken red sweater on keyboard
Tis' the season to wear chunky woolens and soft cashmere sweaters. The label says "Dry clean only," but you want to save time and money...and maybe even wear your favorite sweater again tomorrow. Next time it needs cleaning, instead of dropping it off, scheduling a pick-up, and missing your comfy sweater, wash it in the machine. Fear not! Your sweater should not shrink like the one in this picture! 

After much brow knitting and web-surfing for information, I decided to wash a 2-ply cashmere sweater with a silk collar in the washing machine. In the past, this sweater has endured repeated pressings and toxic chemicals, so I thought I'd chance it. Yes, there are those who will only hand wash, but the dripping water, soaked towels, and drying time involved puts a wet blanket on this activity.

Let's unravel how to try the not-so-scientific sweater experiment:

1. Button, zip, snap, or tie any parts that need connecting. Then turn the sweater inside out. NOTE: Do NOT turn inside out IF the sweater has appliques, like beads, sequins, rhinestones, rosettes, etc.

2. Put it in a white, well-worn, clean cotton pillowcase (no worries about dyes and it is porous).

3. Use a new, white cotton shoe-lace to tie the pillowcase closed -- wrap it around a few times and make a secure bow. [I used the white braided string off of a Lord & Taylor shopping bag!]

4. Throw in a few similar colored, lightweight hand towels to "cushion" the sweater in the machine. [Bonus: save time and energy doing other laundry that goes into the dryer.]

5. Only using the "Delicate/Hand Wash" cycle, set water to Cold/Cold or Cool/Cool temperature.

6. Don't use softener. [Not sure why, but this is what most of the research advised.]

7. Conventional Woolite or a cashmere soap aren't necessary...I regularly use Avalon Organics Lavender Shampoo. Add about 2 Tablespoons to a small load; this is plenty to make a nice natural lather. [I also read that baby shampoo can be used.] NOTE: I have also successfully tested sweaters using regular liquid laundry detergents by both Seventh Generation & lavender scented Mrs. Meyer's. Just be sure to use a small amount!

8. Remove from the machine as soon as the cycle is finished, take the sweater out of the pillowcase, block and let air dry flat. [I used the top of a small laundry rack, put a towel under the sweater to avoid rack-lines. Drape the arms slightly over the sides and resting on top to avoid stretching, and support a collar on one of the rungs if needed.] NOTE: See comments for instructions on "blocking" and other tips!

9. After a few hours, turn the sweater right-side out. Re-block if necessary and leave to continue air-drying. I checked it once more, gave it a quick shake and put it back until it was dry.

10. The sweater kept its size and shape. The shampoo made it soft and lavender scented!

Still unsure? Try this experiment with a cashmere sweater you can spare to lose. Let us know if it turns out well or knot...Good luck and keep warm!

An Anniversary Epiphany

Three Cream puffs yellow, pink, white
As you know, today is January 6, and for many it brings the end of the traditional Christmas season known as the Epiphany. But did you also know that it is Women’s Little Christmas? A very fun and interesting tradition started in Ireland. On this day, the men take over the housework so that the women can enjoy a day off! While this sounds great in theory, I am not sure if what women find when they return home is better or worse than when they left! [Sorry male readers, but the women know exactly what I mean.]

So why is the picture for this post of three frosted cream puffs? Today is also the three-month anniversary of Here We Are!! With so much to celebrate this day, we have decided to show our blog readers how much you are appreciated by instituting a monthly gift giveaway treat. While the treats may not be of the sugar persuasion, we hope they will be a sweet surprise for the lucky blog subscriber(s).

Here We Are is only three months old and we are off to a great start! This post comes with a big THANK YOU to all of our readers and subscribers. Please take a minute to read the page dedicated to how the giveaways work. No purchase is necessary but you do need to subscribe to the blog. If you are subscribed, then you are already included. If you haven’t yet subscribed, then please do so to be included for our next giveaway.

In honor of our three-month blogging anniversary, instead of frosted cream puffs, three of our subscribers will each get a new copy of Simple Abundance. Staci, lead contributor for The Mom Squad, and I are very grateful for all of the support, comments, and good will you have given us over the past three-months. Thank you and we look forward to sharing 2009 with you!

Remember, you don’t need to do anything but read the gift giveaway policy; we will contact you if you are one of the three recipients.

Goals and Plans…Resolution Schmezalution

Numbered running track with red lanes

A good resolution is like an old horse, which is often saddled but rarely ridden.
--Mexican Proverb

We are officially into 2009 and the talk shows, news clips, and featured articles are all advising us on how to quit smoking, lose weight, save money, blah, blah, blah. Typical New Year’s resolution hype that rarely lasts and doesn’t dig deep enough to initiate action with a plan that produces results or meets goals. Resolutions don't work, but defined intentions with detailed direction will get you where you want to go.

As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, A goal without a plan is just a wish. Here are six questions to ask yourself today so that on December 31, 2009, (yes, a year from now) your plans can be completed goals. Pick them in any order, try them all in one day, or pick one until you have the answer, then move on to the next. There are no right or wrong answers. They should be pondered between you and your conscience, then written down in your journal (although any piece of paper will do, just WRITE it down), and perhaps discussed with your BFF.

   On your mark, get set, goal:

  • WHO do you want to be on December 31, 2009?
  • WHAT do you wish to accomplish or achieve this year?
  • WHEN will you accept that you are able to make your wish a do-able plan?
  • WHERE can you find help, information, and support to turn your plan into completed goals?
  • WHY do you seek this change in your life?
  • HOW did you hold yourself back in 2008 from implementing or achieving your plan?

Discover your answers using your heart, gut, and mind and then take action. All the best of stamina, luck, and direction as you get on track for 2009.

When you are ready, share your plan with us and tell us how it is coming along. I'd be really excited to hear it.