Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Simplify, simplify: 7 Great Tools

I often have people ask me how I do it all. How do I work, keep up with 3 kids, soccer, dance, school activities, three blogs, keep the house, have dinner on the table every night, laundry done, grocery shopping done, etc., etc., etc.

I have to simplify, prioritize and organize. I am not harried or stressed out on most days due to the tools I have acquired that help me simplify, prioritize and organize. It makes me more peaceful, my family more peaceful.

I thought I might share 7 random tools that I use to make my days simpler and more enjoyable...

1. Google Calendar. This is an online calendar that Colby and I share that is accessible to us wherever we are with a phone or laptop. This saves the conflicts of over scheduling, or the incessant phone calls of "What time is practice tonight?" (Ok, this is my ideal world... in real life, I get the call, "Are we free next weekend?" "Did you check the calendar?" "No... can you?" "Aren't you in front of your computer?" "Yes, but you know this stuff off the top of your head... just tell me... please?" "Yes, I know, but I am not telling you... this is why I implemented the calendar."

But, I digress. The online calendar really does work for us. We also have it set up to text us the day before an event. This is very helpful for those appointments that you scheduled 3 months earlier and have since lost the appointment card for. It is probably my most favorite 'techy' tool I use to keep the house organized and running smoothly.

2. Online recipe website. I use Allrecipes. Not only does it alleviate having bookshelves worth of cookbooks (ie. clutter), it has a great ingredient search. So, if I am short on groceries and don't want to run out, I can plug them into the search and it will spit out recipes that I can make with what I've got. It's great for a budget to since it will cut down on fast food trips when you think you have 'nothing' to eat.

3. Tortillas (or wraps). I always have some of these in our bread box. They have a much longer shelf life than bread, you can get some great healthy versions (tomato, spinach), and they are so versatile. You can wrap a standard sandwich (anything from peanut butter to ham & cheese), create fun little pinwheel recipes and make quesadillas (I use that term loosely in this house... basically it's anytime I throw some ingredients between 2 tortillas in the frying pan, such as cheese, beans, chicken, refried beans, corn, ham, black olives, really anything that your family wants). You can also use them as a more hearty (and healthy) meal like with chicken Caesar wraps (low fat dressing, of course) This is probably one of my biggest staples next to milk and coffee in our house. Oh, and they are dirt cheap- so stock up.

4. Coffee pot and coffee. Basically I could not start every day before the sun rises without it. Our broke 2 weeks ago and I had to hang my head and go into Walmart to get one at 6:30am since I could not make it through the day without my fix!

5. Virtual sticky notes. Sort of like Post-Its but on my Mac's desktop. I currently have 4 notes on my desktop with various to do's and reminders... it is just like using the old fashioned version, without the pieces of paper falling all over the place.

6. Online bill pay. I have utilized this for years and it is a godsend. I don't have all that pesky paperwork and cancelled checks to file, no need to run out and buy stamps, and I save money on checks, stamps and envelopes. I hate writing out checks and this saves me hours each month.

7. Magic Erasers. With any children in your house, you NEED these. I have had to clean up crayons, markers, lipstick, pudding... you never know what a kid is going to smear on a wall. You know I use only vinegar, baking soda and other natural cleaning ingredients in my house, so having the mild abrasion of the eraser helps me to get out some stuff that my mild cleaners can't.

I hope at least one of these tips helps someone simplify their life a bit.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -Hans Hofmann


  1. You too? Tortilla wraps!!! Definitely... we always have them on hand... and sour cream and shredded cheese. Quesadillas (a.k.a. some type of food with melted cheese between two tortillas) are awesome.

  2. Thanks, I am starting the google calender tonight, and putting the weekly dinner menu there as well.