Memorial Day Picnic Planning
May 23, 2017
Everything You Need for Your Memorial Day Picnic
Memorial Day is a time to commemorate those who have died while serving our country. Originating in the aftermath of the Civil War, the holiday has gone through many transformations over the last century and, like other holidays, holds different meanings for different people. Picnics and barbeques are one way that modern people tend to observe Memorial Day, making it a great time to gather with friends and family.
Here are some great products to make your holiday a memorable, enjoyable, and delicious one.
Cooking and Food Prep
A well-equipped barbeque makes grilling more efficient. This 20-piece, stainless steel barbecue set has every utensil you might need for large-scale grilling and includes a hard case to keep it all together.
Barbecuing is a fine art and knowing when the food is cooked to the right temperature is an acquired skill that takes time to master. A dedicated grill thermometer takes some of the guesswork out of cooking and guarantees your food is cooked to perfection, provided you don’t flake and wander off into the pool or get carried away with the drinks. This one has convenient, built-in side hooks and is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
A stainless steel grill tray adds plenty of cooking surface for vegetables and other foods, while providing raised edges and drainage holes for grease to run off. Its 18.25 x 12-inch profile provides plenty of cooking surface for your home-grilled delicacies.
Skewers are that darned item you always seem to forget. Buy this lot of a hundred and have some for your next picnic. Store them in a safe place so you can remember them next time around. When they’re empty, you’re left with a convenient squeeze bottle for barbeque sauce or condiments.
Keep your charcoal dry and free from debris for more efficient burning with this 12-pound capacity charcoal container. It doubles as a pet food storage container, so you might need more than one.
Careful planning of your holiday picnic will save you a lot of stress on the big day, while enabling you, the host, to have more time and energy to spend with your friends and family. Having the right amount of dishes, silverware, and adequate food storage containers is vital to a stress-free, smooth-rolling Memorial Day party.
Mesh food covers are a handy product you most likely have never heard of. Nothing is more of an appetite suppressant than flies and other insects on the potato salad. Well, there are other things, but we don’t need to go there. This set of three covers (15, 13.75 and 12 inches in diameter) keep flies and mosquitoes out and food accessible and appetizing. The really fabulous bonus is that you can collapse them flat for easy storage. For larger or multiple food quantities, you can’t go wrong with these larger, 17-inch food tents.
Condiment squeeze-bottles reduce silverware usage and make for easy cleanup. Choose from mustard (yellow), ketchup (red), or clear (great for dressings) for easy identification of your chosen condiment or sauce.
A standup cooler means easy access to beverages, plus convenient folding storage for when the party’s over. A convenient drain plug makes it easy to dry out before storing or transporting.
For “bring-your-own” parties, this beer (or pop) carrier safely transports cans or bottles and folds flat when empty for easy storage.
Roasted corn is always a treat at a barbeque, and these pronged corn holders make eating corn easier. Tailgaters might enjoy the football-themed corn holders.
A variety of serving trays keep food accessible at your outdoor feast. Plastic, wood, glass and even wicker servers are available to suit your taste and budget. These diner-style plastic baskets are great for outdoor use, and you don’t have to worry about them getting broken.
Serving relishes, salt and pepper and other condiments is easier done when you corral them in a server. This copper condiment caddy makes a great table accent while providing four partitioned holders for your sauces, ketchup and other food accompaniments.
Nothing is worse than a billowing table cloth during a blustery outdoor party. These attractive table weights ensure your picnic doesn’t end up on the ground. The novelty weights are attractive silver castings of the kind of bugs you might actually want near your food.
Storing your food and keeping it fresh is another picnic priority. How about combining your serving and food storage needs into single products for efficiency and less cleanup?Glass storage containers are great and some models are even oven safe, which saves on dishes. The TrueSeal brand have tight-fitting, spill-proof lids, which is great for outdoor events. If breakage is a concern, plastic containers might be a better choice. A variety of options and styles are included, including some vacuum-seal models, which are great when you want to prepare food in advance. Don’t forget some bag clips as they keep chips and other bagged foods fresh and prevent spillage when packing up.
Seating is the thing that seems to get most overlooked at picnics and parties. If we don’t normally have 20 people in our homes, it’s understandable. Always have extra seating with this inexpensive, collapsible picnic table. The built-in seats are smartly designed and the components disassemble and fold into a convenient travel case for on-the-go picnics.
Camping chairs are great for sitting around the fire and can be folded and packed when eating at a park. The brightly-colored folding chair has onboard drink storage, plus a handy side shelf for storing plates and other items. A deluxe chair has adjustable legs for uneven terrain and extra padding for comfort. Both of these chairs are also great for tailgating parties, afternoons spent at the beach and other outings.
Be ready for the unexpected May showers with a canopy. Shelter Logic makes a variety of colors and designs and they’re super-easy to assemble and break down. They start at about 110 dollars which is well worth the price in keeping you and your guests dry, should the weather take an unexpected turn. This is a small investment you’re likely to be thankful for at some point in your picnicking future.
Have we missed anything? Feel free to comment and let us know how you plan your Memorial Day picnic. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!
Interview with an Organizer – Claire Tompkins
May 21, 2017
Claire Tompkins is a professional organizer and Clutter Coach who is passionate about organizing because it makes her clients’ lives easier and gives them more time to spend doing the things they enjoy. That’s what organizing is all about – not just being neat or having the right containers!
In over 15 years as a professional organizer – and through trial and error – she’s learned what works and what doesn’t. She creates effective, simple, practical systems for real people that produce successful, life-changing outcomes. Simplicity and being able to convert practices into daily habits is the key to her organizing strategy.
Her specialty is chunking down this big topic so it’s not overwhelming. That’s the concept behind her book, Five Minutes to a Relaxing Bedroom and her podcast, Organize Your Life with Clutter Coach Claire, which is based on her book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized. Both books are available on Amazon.
LH: Can you tell me a little bit about your history? What was your path into professional organizing and how long have you been doing it?
CL: I was tired of doing office and gardening work. I wanted to find a career I didn’t need to go back to school for. I read about organizers in a book about home-based businesses and was intrigued. Turns out a friend knew someone who was doing it so I met her and then joined NAPO. Did a bunch of pro bono work, read books, and talked to other organizers to get my chops, but I had a natural affinity for it.
LH: Do you offer one-on-one services, virtual services, or both?
CL: I do both. My strength is coaching so it’s not critical that I be in the same room with my client. I’ve successfully worked with people via Skype and even just email for productivity and time management coaching.
LH: I see you offer both “productivity coaching” and “get it done coaching.” How do they differ?
CL: The former is for people at work, and the latter for people at home. Many techniques are the same, but each group has special challenges. People at work need to deal with meetings and people at home are often juggling family needs, just as an example.
LH: I see you are an artist. Are there ways that being an artist informs your organizing practices?
CL: What an interesting question! I can think of a few ways. One is my natural curiosity. In my artwork, I get inspiration from numerous sources and pick and choose what goes into any one piece. With organizing, I have many years of experience with clients and styles and techniques that I can select from to customize a plan for each client.
There’s also trial and error. In my art studio, I usually start with some kind of idea, but as I’m making something the idea grows and changes and sometimes gets abandoned altogether. With organizing, there’s no way to know something will work until you try it and live with it for awhile.
LH: Do you do business and personal/individual organizing?
CL: Yes. I like the variety!
LH: What challenges do you face when working with individuals?
CL: It’s a challenge when a client says he or she is ready to get organized but I see by their behavior that they really aren’t. Sometimes they just aren’t willing to devote the time. I strive to be clear that I can teach my clients how to organize but I can’t move in with them and do it everyday! Maintaining organization is a lifestyle. It shouldn’t take too much time everyday, but it needs to be a regular practice.
LH: Do you ever have people relapse into former bad habits or “fall off the wagon?” If so, how do you deal with them?
CL: Oh sure – that happens to everyone. Me included. That’s one reason I like to keep systems simple. Something is bound to happen to knock you off the wagon and the easier it is to get back on, the more likely you will. Some clients rely on me for regular tune ups. They know things will degrade and fall between the cracks over time. It’s not a problem, as long as you address it eventually.
LH: Can you tell me a bit about your most challenging client and how you were able to help him/her?
CL: Hmm, I don’t really think in those terms. I think clients who make progress do so because they decided they were ready before they hired me and I merely guide them. I did have an ADD coaching client recently who described himself as hopeless (his wife convinced him to hire me). It seemed to me that his feelings of being incapable were his main problem, not his lack of skill. So I emphasized concepts like “chipping away is progress.” He didn’t need to fix everything at once. That helped him feel less overwhelmed. There’s certainly some therapy to what I do.
LH: Is there hope for hoarders? Have you worked with any?
CL: I have worked with hoarders, but not to successful completion. In some cases, I was able to provide some temporary relief, but making significant change is very difficult. People with full blown hoarding disorder need to work with a therapist in addition to an organizer in order to address the psychiatric issues.
LH: What are some other ways in which people benefit from your services?
CL: Freedom from the burden of stuff! Recognizing that they are in charge of their stuff and not at the mercy of it. Clarity about what they want and what they don’t want.
LH: How do you feel about children and organizing?
CL: It’s never too early to start! Parents owe it to their kids to teach them organizing and decluttering skills. These are important skills for becoming competent, mature adults.
LH: A lot of people find the time constraints of modern life at odds with their ability to organize. Do you have suggestions for people who are short on time?
CL: Well, there’s this:
The world is too big for us, too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself It’s an incessant strain, to keep pace… and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly, you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more! ~Atlantic Journal, June 16, 1833~
In other words, it’s not a new problem. If you don’t have much time, you shouldn’t have a complex organizing scheme. If you don’t have a big house, you shouldn’t have more stuff than will fit in it. Sounds brutal, but there’s no magic here. Oh, also, let go of perfectionism.
LH: Are you an organized person by nature, or did you come into organizing through a life challenge?
CL: I used to take more after my dad, who was a bit of a pack rat. He was a writer and had piles everywhere. But, he knew where things were in the piles. Sometime during my 20’s I just felt that having so much stuff out and in view all the time was making it hard for me to stay focused, so I started paring down and putting things away. That was the beginning of my realization that physical and mental clutter are related and they both cause stress.
LH: What would you suggest to the organizationally-challenged person as a first step towards getting their house/life/everything in order?
CL: I believe in emphasizing the positive. In the free e-course I offer on my website, I have people start with creating a vision of how they would prefer to live, rather than focus on what’s wrong.
LH: How do you market your services and what or who do you see as competition?
CL: I write a blog, do a podcast and send a newsletter to my list, and I’m a bit active on social media. My main competition is all the other things people would rather spend time and money on than organizing.
LH: Do you do inbound and outbound marketing?
CL: If you mean website links and ads, very little. I do have a shop on my site that’s curated with items I personally recommend.
LH: How long, once you established your business did it take before it became profitable?
CL: Well, probably about 10 years, but that’s mostly because I had another job and other things going on in my life. I didn’t pursue it full time.
LH: Are you active in professional organizing groups and do you organize any local demonstrations or workshops (for individuals or businesses)?
CL: I’m a member of NAPO, but I’m not very active in it. I’ve taught classes in person but I don’t really enjoy it. I have a class on the Skillshare website and intend to do more digital classes. For businesses, I’ve had the best results as a consultant rather than a workshop leader because I can customize my recommendations and have a more meaningful conversation with them.
LH: Do you have any tips or advice for people interested in doing professional organizing?
CL: I’ve met people who say they are very good at organizing, but that’s only a part of what a good organizer does. I’m at the service of my client. I don’t impose my ideas on them. I spend time finding out what they need and want and judge what they are able and willing to do and then make recommendations. Anyone who wants to go into a home and just “whip it into shape” will probably be frustrated. So, be a person who can meet your clients where they are and offer your expertise to help them achieve THEIR goals, not yours.
LH: Thank you much for sharing your work with us.
CL: You’re welcome!
Find out more about Claire Tompkins on her website: www.cluttercoach.net!
Umbra Jewelry Holders
May 9, 2017
Umbra Jewelry Holders – Lovely Gifts for All Occasions
If you’re thinking about small gifts for your special someone, here are some jewelry holders that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. Umbra has a unique approach to design and marketing that distinguishes them from other manufacturers in the decor and homeware market. Stationed in Toronto, Canada, this company is best known for bringing smart, high-end designs into modern homes. They employ a large team of international designers and credit and celebrate them in their marketing material. This is one of the points that sets them apart from the competition.
The Little Black Dress line of jewelry and accessory holders are some of my favorite Umbra products. The first from the series were designed by Sung Wook Park, and harken back to a 40s practice of repurposing ornate corsets and girdles into hanging storage bags.
The Little Black Corset Jewelry Organizer takes The Little Black Dress theme to the next level of naughtiness. With 20 clear pockets and 23 Velcro holders for necklaces, this diminutive organizer is great for travel as you can roll it up in your luggage, and hang it on any hook or closet rod. A contrasting silver ring adorns the bottom and may be used for scarves or belts. Witty and stylish, this organizer is begging to travel in your sweetie’s luggage. Designers: Sung Wook Park and Marcee Ruby.
Small, elegant and minimal, Umbra’s animal ring holders distill the essence of animals into contemporary, sublime objets d’ art. Available in trendy copper, satin, white, and chrome finishes, these tiny jewelry holders keep rings and other keepsakes secure and accessible.
Simply-designed with a hint of modern elegance, the copper stacking jewelry holder stores rings, earrings and other small keepsakes in its two compartments. The copper lid doubles as a tray for easy access to your frequently-worn jewelry.
Darkly-stained, Paulownia hardwood lends a hint of the tropic to her vanity, while providing three intelligently-designed storage trays. Unlike traditional jewelry boxes, this three-tiered holder gives easy access to necklaces, rings, earrings and other jewelry. A tan linen lining protects jewelry, while complementing the brown wood, and a black metal frame adds a bit of modernity to the design.
The Orchid Gun Metal Jewelry Tree combines the yin of gentle organic curves with an industrial, yangish, powder-coated finish, achieving a perfect balance of anima and animus. Despite the name “Orchid,” the thickness of the stems and buds evokes pussy willows , with each bud acting as a resting place for bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry. The leaf-shaped base holds rings and other small items. Simple and well-designed, this functional display makes a compelling accent on her dresser. Designer: Anne Charbonneau.
The spinning Daisy-Go-Round Jewelry Stand has the convenient rotation of a lazy Susan engineered into yet another design that blends industrial with floral, for a contemporary effect. Stylized wire flowers perch on sturdy, staggered stems for hanging earrings, necklaces and other jewelry. The chrome finish provides a foil to the flower theme and gives it a sleek, clean appearance. Designer: Alan Wisniewski.
Great for every occasion and taste, Umbra jewelry holders combine utility and style into useful little jewelry displays for your amour to cherish.