Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

What’s Goin’ On…

March 16th, 2011 by Jane

Doesn’t it seem like the world has gone crazy? Earthquakes, tsunamis, meltdowns and lay-offs have taken a toll on many; not to mention the toll that Charlie Sheen is wreaking on the collective good humor of his fans.

I’m thankful that our dear neighbors, who have been living in Tokyo while working on a research project, are finally safe in Bangkok. I can’t imagine how they got through the last week and I cannot wait until I get to hug them and their beautiful boys.

In a time of such upheaval, it seems silly to waste time worrying about mundane things, but that is the way of life, yes? The mind finds little bits to worry into bigger irritations and problems than they actually are. It is difficult to set those small burdens down until we are facing large ones.

Our chaotic, messy, vibrant house has become a peaceful refuge from the insanity of the outside world and I’m grateful for it. But, in between mental hand-wringing for the world, I’ve managed to squeeze in some pedestrian thoughts and activities. Here’s a sample:

1) Inflammation-Free
I’m reading several books on inflammation-free eating and I’m working on folding more of that into our daily diet. The good news is that it is not that far off from the way we eat and cook anyway.

2) Farm Box
I recently signed up for weekly delivery from this lovely company. Delicious, locally-grown food on my doorstep every Friday afternoon feels like Christmas. Thanks to my friend, Lindy for the suggestion and to this blogger for the inspiration. So far, we’ve gotten kale, bok choy, mustard greens, collard greens, mushrooms, tomatoes (hydroponically grown), strawberries (we get ‘em early here in Texas!), Texas oranges and grapefruit, a basil plant, cilantro, baby carrots, baby beets, bibb lettuce, spinach and cabbage. A cornucopia in a green plastic bin!

3) Yoga
A few weeks ago, I attended a conference led by one of my favorite yoga writers, Judith Lasater. I was apprehensive to meet her because I have read her books and followed her teachings for more than a decade. I’m happy to report that I learned a lot and she completely lived up to my high expectations. Plus, she was very funny! The upside is that the conference counts toward my next 300 hour requirements, as I’ve decided to go for my 500 hour teaching certification.

4) Organizing
I’ve spent a chunk of time reorganizing the kids’ rooms and working through piles of stuff. I’m pleased with the results, but there is more to do. I feel compelled to do this right now and I think the busywork is the result of my brain trying to work out a knot in a project I’m working on, which leads me to…

5) Writing
I”m working on a book and I’ve hit a few snags. I plan to chronicle some of the process here in the near future. That is part of the reason for infrequent posts here at 7Of, as my creative juices are funneled into my book. I continue to slog through the book-writing process and I hope to hit my stride again soon. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

That’s about it. What’s going on with you?

7 Signs of a Creative Flash Flood

September 14th, 2009 by Amy

We’ve been in a drought here in Central Texas, but this weekend it rained.


And rained.


And rained.


Our newly green world is now sprouting flowers and mushrooms.


After a long, hot, dry, crazy-making summer the drought at SevenOf has finally ended.


Seven sure signs of creative flash flooding:


1.  Inspiration

2.  Optimism

3.  Energy

4.  Focus

5.  Motivation

6.  Courage

7.  Vision


Look forward to plenty of flowers and mushrooms!


7 Items on My Bedside Table

May 26th, 2009 by Jane

My children live like squirrels. All three girls, but especially the twins, like to have their “stuff” all around them in their beds. On any random day you may find 25 stuffed animals, drawings, pens and paper, books, snacks and money in their beds or under their pillows. One of the twins slept with a Dora sprinkler in her bed for a year and a half. If you tried to move it, she turned into a howler monkey until you dropped it.

While my bedside is much neater and compartmentalized, I recently came to the conclusion that my little apples did not fall far from their maternal tree. Here is a list of  what I have next to my bed.

1. Books
I always read myself to sleep; I have ever since I learned to read. Right now, I am reading Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman. She says many things in this book that I have been thinking for years. I highly recommend it if you are a mother or are someone tring to understand mothers.

2. Ear Plugs
For the last decade, ear plugs have kept me married to my husband. He snores, loudly. And for the low, low price of $3.99, the cost of a package of 10 pair of ear plugs, I have been able to sleep in the same bed with him and wake up still loving him.

3. Lotion, Cuticle Cream and Lip Balm

I like to be hydrated while I am sleeping.

4. Love Notes
I keep the most special love notes from my children in my bedside table drawer.

5. Pen and Paper
I started keeping pen and a cute pad in my drawer several years ago. I must tell you it helps me get to sleep faster if I write down the things that are on my mind. Sometimes it is the start of the grocery list, or it is a plan for the next day, and other times I write down ideas for this blog.

6. Tennis Ball
I keep several sizes of rubber balls in my drawer as suggested by the myofascial massage therapist I saw last summer. If you have a pain in your back or elsewhere, lie on a ball for two minutes and see if it goes away. Works for me every time.

7. Wadded Tissues
I confess: I keep balls of tissue under my pillow. I am an allergist’s dream and sometimes I need a tissue during the night. Keep ‘em under your pillow and you don’t have to search in the dark! Follow this link to customize your own tissue box.

7 Ways To Restyle An Old T-shirt – Redux

May 12th, 2009 by Amy

One of the most common ways readers find our blog is through a Google search for “restyling an old t-shirt.”


Given that the warm weather is here to stay and y’all are looking for T-shirt ideas … here is the original 7of  … and here are some more!


1.  Chaos

The “Chaos” T (at right) is brought to you from the fun folks at Compai … who are also the masterminds behind 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special.

The following can all be found at (links provided):


2.  Flapper

Feisty and very feminine … you’d never guess this little number (at left) was made from unflattering Ts.


3.  Gathered Yoke

A tailored look … very little sewing required!


4.  Pin Tuck

Form-fitting, yet entirely flexible.


5.  Ruffles



6.  Scarf

Paul, over at, sent in his idea for transforming pre-loved Ts into scarves … cozy!


7.  Skirt

Fun, flirty, and totally functional (at right). 

7 IKEA Hacks

March 25th, 2009 by Amy

The folks below don’t see IKEA items as finished products, but raw materials to be reused, repurposed, recycled and reconfigured. Welcome to the world of hacking IKEA.


Got some of your own? Send ‘em to IKEA Hacker dot com.



1.  KNUFF / Catchall Shelf

The clever folks at Design Sponge turned this magazine holder on its side … and thought “shelf.” Perfect!



2.  SÖT BARNSLIG / UBS Drive Cozy

Always losing your UBS drive in the depths of your laptop bag? Tuck it in a plush IKEA crocodile and you’ll have no problem keeping track of it.



3.  BENJAMIN / Laptop Stand

The curved wood of the Benjamin makes a modern laptop stand for your lap or table top.



4.  RUSCH / Personalized Clock

Lady Lulu walks you through transforming the super inexpensive and always available RUSCH clock into something super special. Clever, clever, clever.



5.  ASKER / Plant Hanger

While originally for use in the kitchen, these curvaceous pots look right at home hanging on the chain link fence outside.




6.  LACK / Credenza

Apartment Therapy has two different hack o’LACKs. Both Matt and Tyler took simple boxy bumped up to cool and functional. Cool.



7.  Random IKEA Stuff / Kitchen

I am currently renovating my kitchen. By “renovating” I mean I’ve knocked down sheetrock, taken out an island, destroyed most of the countertops, and rendered the room generally dysfunctional. Needless to say, I found this hack is particularly inspiring.

7 Products For A Lead-Free Lunch

February 26th, 2009 by Amy

Economical … Ecological … and Lead-Free.


Looks like the new power lunch is the one that comes from home!


The silver lead-free lining?


See how much money you’ll save by packing a lunch.



1.  Fish Food

These lunch bags cost a little more than most, but when you consider how much you’ll use them – oh, maybe a billion times – they are a terrific investment in both function and fun.


2.  Laptop Lunch

A bento-style lunchbox you don’t need a PhD in Engineering to assemble! An array of wonderful, colorful, and thoughtful lead-free lunch gear makes this product more of a lunch system than a simple lunch box. Their website even includes menu ideas!


3.  Lunchbots

I haven’t tried this new product yet, but my first reaction is “Thank You!” Seriously, how many times have I hoped for something like this?  Affordable, durable, and toxin-free … The fact that it’s stylish is gravy!


4.  Magic Box

This sleek, lead-free lunchbox by Aladdin comes complete with its own custom ice pack. Well-designed and well-made, this lunchbox rocks both the cafeteria and the office.



5.  Snack Taxi

A wonderful alternative to plastic sandwich/snack bags, these cute little pouches transport snacks for everyone from toddlers to teenagers … and beyond. Easy to clean, use, and label and unique enough that your goodies shouldn’t get “accidentally” eaten by anyone else. Handmade in Massachusetts by a small company with a big heart.  


6.  Stackable Stainless Steel

In a word … Brilliant! Wondering about those little containers in the picture? Those are for sauces! Again … Brilliant! Lightweight and lead-free, this amazing product is from To-Go Ware, an innovative company in India that puts its money where its mouth is. Read all about their story here.


7.  Zippy Zoo

Though my 5 year old son reported that he was told his Lefty Munchler was too “pre-school,” his quirky 9 year old sister happily brings her Benny Munchler to school everyday. The ingenious design unzips flat, making for much easier cleaning. Though priced practically the same as the ubiquitous lunchboxes at the Big Stores, this one is lead-free, with whimsy to spare.

7 Tips For Dealing With Paper Clutter

February 4th, 2009 by Amy

It feels like every horizontal surface in my house is covered with a thick layer of paper. Part of me likes the “lining the nest” aspect of knowing that all the paper that’s come into my house is still in here somewhere. But, another, larger part of me is getting tired of struggling constantly to cope with the mess.


Truth be told, I have no tips for dealing with paper clutter. But, I’ve been trolling the Internet looks for answers and am happy to share seven that seem promising.


1.  Bind It

Create binders for different topics. Three-hole punch recipes, warranties, bills, school notices or anything that would benefit from being together and put it all in a 3 ring binder. Easy to add and subtract paperwork and much more useful than having everything shoved in an overflowing file. I’m counting on this tip to change my life. 


2.  Contain It

Searching for tips, it’s easy to think that the solution lies in one massive trip to IKEA or The Container Store. Since I just want tips, not stuff, I’ve had to limit myself, but I just couldn’t resist the appeal of this clever solution on


Brilliantly repurposed magnetic containers allow you to contain the little things help in the fight against paper clutter. Use these in the home office or transfer them to the fridge, either way they let you transport the little things you need to deal with paper – the clips, stamps, and seals – to wherever the piles are most critical. They work vertically, horizontally, and when they inevitable slide off the mountain of paperwork, there won’t be any spills. Photo credit: Katy Maslow




3.  Display It

They say a cork board is the answer and I’m desperate enough to give it a try. Instead of using it for calendars and To Do lists, I think I’m going to use it for inspiration. (Geninne posted a lovely and inspiring example on her blog.) My plan is to take all the postcards, paint swatches, photographs, and fortune cookie fortunes off the floor and put them on the wall. Yeah, that should help! Photo credit: Geninne



4.  Divide It

Separate the personal from the professional. Sounds obvious, but it felt revelatory. My desk is laden with alternating layers of household bills and professional paperwork, meaning that I am forever distracting myself by mixing the business with … well, other business. Today I’m going to dig out two old shoe boxes, mark one “Home” and the other “Work” and see if I can’t delineate a boundary between the two.


5.  Note It

I make lots and lots of notes on lots and lots of tiny scraps of paper which are then promptly lost in the shuffle. Yet another great example of how my attempt to get organized ends in more disorganization. One shockingly simple solution: write it all in a notebook. Not only is everything in one place, but the paper trail of phone numbers, names, and dates is there when you need it. Using the Napkin Notebook has a way of making even minutia feel Very Important.  


6.  Recycle It

So much of what comes in to my house can just turn around and go right back out. Putting a recycling bin by the front door has helped me separate the wheat from the chaff.


7.  Store It Online if a nifty site with downloadable templates for lists. What is most appealing is that all the bits of information floating around my house are consolidated into an format that can be easily manipulated and printed.

7 Coupon Websites

January 15th, 2009 by Amy

Instead of waiting for deals to come to their door, more and more … and more … consumers are visiting online coupon sites in search of bargains. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, 27 million people paid a visit to a coupon site this past October! Offering printable coupons and discount codes for items ranging from food to fashion, here are some of the most popular.















7 Items for an Emergency Gift Stash

January 12th, 2009 by Jane

Were you caught unprepared this past holiday season when your neighbor stopped by with a gift? Has your kid told you about a last minute birthday for a friend or teacher? Need something to take to a sick friend? No need to hyperventilate, just keep a few things on hand to get you through these situations with grace. After the holidays, you can stock your gift stash when a lot of things are on sale.  Clear out a little-used drawer or pack these things into a box and put them with your gift-wrapping supplies. You can breathe easy knowing you are prepared for random gifting!

1. A Vase, Just in Case
Keep a few assorted small vases on hand.  Pick up inexpensive vases at discount stores, antique stores or thrift shops.  Use for a single stem or fill it with that person’s favorite candy.

2. People will be Drawn to You  
A lovely journal or sketchbook is the perfect gift for a creative person.  Pair it with a set of high-quality pens or markers and make it really special.

3. Handmade and Local  
Scarves are easy to store and make a nice gift for man, woman or child! Search the online store, Etsy, for handmade mufflers, scarves and cowls.  You can even do a search for artists in your area and save some points on your carbon footprint!

4. Large Parties
Large 3-D puzzles make a great family gift.

5. Books!
Keep copies on hand of your favorite novel, cookbook, children’s books or inspirational books. I love to share my favorite books with friends because we get to talk about what we read. One of my favorite novels is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Delicious recipes and lovely photographs make Café Pasqual’s Cookbook: Spirited Recipes from Santa Fe one of the best for giving. Any of the Olivia books by Ian Falconer would be a treat for children and their parents.

6. Games for the Family
We love Apples to Apples at our house, but try this great board game site for more suggestions for games for every age. Maybe they will invite you over to play!

7. Let Them Choose
And finally, gift cards!  Yes, a gift card for Starbuck’s, iTunes, Amazon or your favorite local store makes a great gift for anyone of any age and they are easy for you to store!. Just remember these usually have an expiration date.

7 Steps to a Party

December 29th, 2008 by Jane

In the mood for a party, but feeling daunted by the work involved in planning it? The simple ideas below will allow you to throw a party in seven steps start to finish with one trip to the grocery store.   Recipe suggestions feed 4-6 people but are easily multiplied for a crowd. Now you can be the host with the most and still have enough pep to enjoy your own party!

1. Appetizer
Purchase a package of cream cheese and jarred pesto (basil, sun-dried tomato, artichoke-any flavor will do.) Allow cream cheese to soften, stir in a few tablespoons of pesto, arrange on a platter with high quality crackers and olives.

2. Entrée
Purchase a rotisserie chicken, some fresh fettuccini, a can of cannellini beans, a few lemons, a wedge of Parmesan cheese, a bunch of parsley or arugula and some garlic. Cook and drain the pasta. Stir in the chopped chicken, the rinsed beans, a little minced garlic, and two generous handfuls of arugula.  Add some grated cheese and a few squeezes of lemon and give it one more stir. Salt and pepper to taste.  Voila!

3. Side Dish
Purchase bagged baby salad greens, a ripe pear, toasted or candied nuts, a log of goat cheese, and some bottled balsamic dressing.  Peel and slice the pear, crumble the goat cheese and toss all together.

4. Dessert
Purchase high quality vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate fudge sauce.  Mix a tablespoon of Khalua or brewed espresso into the fudge sauce. Top with leftover chopped nuts. Put on a pot of coffee.

5. Wine
For perfect wine pairings for this or any meal visit this great site. You’ll look like a wine expert!

6. Centerpiece
Purchase extra lemons and pile in bowls.  Place a few Gerbera daisies in floral tubes and tuck in between the lemons.  Or mix the daisies with roses for a lovely and fragrant display. Light some candles.

7. Music
Download some music for ambience. 

You’re done! Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy.

© 2008 7of