How to Organize Your Home

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to organize a homeWho doesn’t dream of a home where everything is orderly and neatly in its place? Wouldn’t it be nice if everything had a place to start with? Organizing your home sounds like a lot of work, but with a few tools and a little elbow grease, you can get things together and reduce the amount of clutter that cramps your style.

Give Everything a Place

First, eliminate the piles of things that accumulate on the floors, counters, under beds, and the countless other places in your home. Use storage containers to help you with this daunting task. Plastic bins are sized to fit conveniently under beds, on shelves, and in garages in a variety of shapes and sizes. Find the ones that suit your needs and invest in this huge home helper.

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Use decorative baskets to conveniently stash magazines, books, toys, or craft supplies. Even your keys, which you have indubitably spent many mornings searching frantically for, need a home. Key holders are a decoration with a very practical function. Mount one by your door and get in the habit of hanging up your keys on your way in, so you can quickly grab them off the hook on your way out.

A Little at a Time

Instead of letting clutter grow into unmanageable piles, clean up as you go. Try to put things away when you finish using them rather than leaving them out to clean up later. When you are talking on the phone, or commercials come on during your TV shows, use that time to multi-task, and put dishes in the dishwasher or clear off just one section of your kitchen counter, or work your way across the living room. You’ll be surprised what a difference just a little bit of time can make.

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Don’t Be a Packrat

It is easy to fall into the habit of saving things “just in case.” Think back to the many pieces of junk you have saved “just in case.” How many times did these things come in handy? Is the space these things take up worth the cost of buying what you need. Take some time to go through closets and drawers to purge out the junk and the trash.

Keep just the things you actually need. Some people find it useful to only keep things that they have used in the past twelve months. While this method may seem extreme to you, it does alleviate a lot of mess to clean out the old useless items that hide behind closed doors. In no time at all, you will have a clean and organized home.


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How to Organize Your Computer Desk

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to organize a computer deskIf you’re like most computer owners, the computer desk or work station is an unsightly mess of cables, wires, loose CDs and other computer related paraphernalia. Organizing your computer desk can be done in a single afternoon, and the results will be extremely satisfying and possibly even productive. Here’s how to organize your computer desk.

Remove the Clutter

To begin organizing your computer desk, you must first remove much of the clutter that seems to litter the area. Throw trash in the trashcan and remove old plates and cups to the kitchen. Small items that belong in anther room should be taken to their true home. The clutter of CDs, wires, and flash drives that accompany computers today can also be removed, but keep those items handy as you don’t want to lose anything important.

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Arrange the Wires and Cables

Crawl around behind your computer table to organize the wires. You can organize computer cables by wrapping up the excess with tie-tabs from garbage bags or you can use a cable organizer to help keep wires from tangling and getting shorted by other wires.

Everything in Its Place

The actual computer is easy to clean with a can of spray air and a soft rag. Now that the clutter is removed, dust the table itself as well. Before you go and put the clutter back onto the desk in neat stacks the way you’re prone to do, consider finding a home for every item that is not on the top of the desk.

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All of the CD-ROMs that lay around can be organized into a CD holder along with their covers. This eliminates the need for the many cases and keep CDs in a handy, yet organized location. A desk organizer fitted into a desk drawer can keep pens, spare change, USB drives and extra cables in one place, again out of sight. Instruction manuals and other information sheets can be kept in a file box at the top of a closet.

Find a place to store all of the items that usually make the desk messy. Then, you’ll be able to clean your computer desk in a matter of minutes in the future. Plus you’ll be able to find anything you need without having to riffle through the stacks of who-knows-what on your desk.

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How to Maximize Space in Your Closet

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to make the most of space in a closetClosets fill up fast. When your closet is full to bursting, but you still need more room, you need to take a step back and see about organizing your closet to maximize space. Here’s how to find more space in your current closet.

Clean Out Clothes

Start with the number one item in your closet – your clothing. Take everything off the shelves and rods and analyze each piece before you put it back. Only put items back on the shelves or rods if you wear it currently, have worn it in the last six months, or have just purchased it.

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Any clothing you’re hoping to wear again, used to wear and still have, are too big, stained, torn, pilled, or otherwise in ill repair need to go. If you have a sentimental attachment to a pair of jeans or a dress, keep them, but limit this to one or two items – not your entire junior high wardrobe. If you lose weight in a month, you can treat yourself to a new wardrobe.

If you have a legitimate reason for two separate wardrobes such as a recent baby or extreme seasonal temperatures, remove the items you don’t fit into or can’t wear now and store them in a tote in the garage or attic. You can retrieve them when the weather changes or you lose that last ten pounds.

Clean Out Shoes and Accessories

While you’re at it, sort through your shoes and other accessories, too. If you haven’t worn a pair, no matter how cute they are, give them away to a friend or donate them to someone who needs them. You can do the same with purses, bags, and other space hogs.

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Store the Bulky Stuff

If you have a wedding dress and heavy winter coat in your closet taking up half of the useable space, store them somewhere else. Perhaps stuff your coat into the hall closet, and consider hanging the wedding dress in a protective bag in the attic. Blankets, pillows and other soft items can be stored in space bags and then placed under the bed. This is also true of off season clothes.

Invest in a Closet System

Invest in a closet system if you don’t already have a system of shelves and drawers. A closet system will let you organize your things into their own spaces which helps reduce clutter and keeps all items in their most accessible location.


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How to Maximize Space in an Apartment

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to maximize space in an apartmentApartments are often a bit short on space, especially in critical locations such as kitchens and bathrooms. Maximizing this space can be an exercise in patience or simply a task for someone ready to use their creativity to earn extra space and a bit of extra organization as well.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Closet

Apartment closets are often too small for all of your clothes. If this is the case in your closet, take the clothes that are currently out of season and store them in large storage bags or totes. You may be able to fit the totes on the top shelf of the closet or you can buy specialty totes that slide under the bed. When the seasons change, simply switch out the clothes you are currently storing.

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You can also maximize apartment closet space by investing in a closet organization system. Find one that hangs on an existing closet bar so that you can take the system with you when you move on rather than being forced to leave it behind for the new tenants.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Kitchen

Maximize space in your apartment kitchen by eliminating waste such as a junk drawer. The items usually kept in a junk drawer can be organized into other areas by using gadgets such as a battery organizer, desk organizer, and a series of small containers to keep rubber bands, tie-tabs and other small items.

Store large kitchen items on top of the refrigerator or in a hall closet to leave the cabinets free for dishes and glasses. If you buy kitchen items or groceries in bulk, use the space under the table or above a washing machine to keep large boxes out of the way.

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Maximize Space in an Apartment Bedroom and Bath

You can save space in an apartment bedroom by using shelves to store items up rather than along walls. You can also buy platforms for your bed to give yourself additional space for storage underneath. If you have a large bed, consider moving your dresser into the closet if it will fit to give yourself extra wall and traffic space in the bedroom.

In an apartment bathroom, maximize cabinet space, buy placing shelves inside the cabinet. You can buy shelves that don’t require installation so you can use them in other apartments down the road. You may also consider a series of stacking baskets for towel storage or a system of shelves or cabinets that can be arranged over the toilet. Again, look for ways to store up the walls rather than across them to maximize the height of the room as the width will be severely limited.


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How to Maximize Space in a Dorm Room

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to maximize dorm spaceDorm rooms are small, there is no question about it. But savvy students can store all of their things in those small rooms and still have space for an extra pair of shoes – so long as they are small ones.

Store Up

Bring along a set of shelves to put inside your closet or against a wall. Some shelving units let you stack as many units together as you can, so you might consider these along with a stool. Put items you never use, such as textbooks and suitcases on the very top shelf with items used occasionally on the shelf underneath. Everyday items can be stored on the lower shelves. You can even store the stool on the shelf to keep it out from underfoot until you need it.

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Store Under

If your bed is not built in, raise it by using risers or cement blocks. Then, store as many crates and boxes as you can squeeze in under the bed. Off season clothing and extra towels can be stored this way since your shelf is taking part of your closet, and a big bin of shoes lets you dig through them when needed, but frees up valuable floor space.

Use Wall Space

Hang what you can from the bare, blank dorm room walls. If your walls are too tough for pushpins, try heavy duty hooks like Hercules hooks to hang your bathrobe, towels, jacket, scarves, earphones, TV cables and more.

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Avoid Knick-knacks

Cute mementoes of dates and spring break trips are grand, except they take up valuable shelf space. If you have some mementoes, store them under the bed or in the closet until you have a space large enough to show them off properly.

Scale Down

Do you really need a full stereo system when your iPod and portable speakers will do? Skip the desktop in favor of a laptop and keep that little refrigerator safely stowed under the desk. You don’t need legroom anyway.

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How To Increase Your Home Value

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how do I increase the value of a homeRead a home decorating magazine or watch a cable-TV home improvement show, and you might easily conclude that any upgrade will pay off when you sell. This is simply not so because even in good times, not all projects have widespread appeal. You’ll earn back virtually your entire investment in a kitchen or deck, but less than 75 cents on the dollar if you add a home office or sunroom, according to "Remodeling" magazine’s annual cost vs. value survey.

What’s worse, some renovations can even hurt you in the eyes of home buyers, a costly problem if you hope to sell in a softening market like today’s.

The Swimming Pool:

In some areas, especially hot-weather spots like Arizona and Florida, a pool is a must-have. In the Southwest, adding one boosts your home’s value by 11 percent on average, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But elsewhere it can just as easily turn off buyers, who worry about affording the upkeep and insurance. And if the most likely buyer of your home is a family with small children, think long and hard before installing a pool.

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"People with younger children may be leery of houses with pools for safety reasons," says Barry Graziano, a real estate agent with Prudential Rand Realty in White Plains, N. Y. "I’ve had families walk away. A pool can cut down on the number of people who will want to buy your house."

The Addition:

You’ve thought about how that great room and master bedroom wing will let the family spread out. But what you probably haven’t considered is what the space will look like from the outside.

"A badly designed addition can kill your resale value," says Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling. "People focus on the floor plan and the flow, but not on how it fits into the neighborhood or even the house itself."

Watch out for boxy, poorly detailed additions and be careful of a style that will look dated when you throw your open house. Spotting the trend that’s on its way out is trickier than you think. While it is easy to assume that sleek red European kitchen cabinetry is tomorrow’s harvest gold fridge, other design staples that seem like sure bets can quickly drift into obscurity too.

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That’s what Mark Johnson, a Whirlpool design manager, says is happening to stainless-steel appliances. "For a period of time, people aspired to a commercial kitchen" he says. "What I am seeing is more interest in warmer finishes."

You want a design trend with legs. Johnson says custom panels that dress appliances in maple or mahogany finishes are likely to remain popular for several years. Also, think about the materials for hardware like hinges and light fixtures. Polished brass or anything shiny is out. Brushed nickel is a better option. Johnson is betting that oiled-bronze finishes will take off next.

The Jacuzzi:

The elaborate master bath is okay, but the big circular tub with 15 jets that can pulse or massage is risky.

According to Holly Slaughter, brand manager at RealEstate.com, you’re better off with an oversize shower that has a rain showerhead and multiple jets (think of it as a car wash for humans).

Baby boomers have little time to spend hanging out in the bathtub, and parents with small kids prefer a conventional tub. Ultimately, don’t expect a future buyer to pay up for the luxury you considered an essential.

How to Reduce Back Pain

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

 how to help with back painIf you are constantly troubled by back pain and muscles spasms, you need to make some changes to avoid damaging your back. It may be that your posture is terrible or you’re putting too much strain on your back muscles. Reducing back pain can make your life much easier and much more enjoyable – here’s how.

Stop Lifting

If your back is troubling you day after day, your first step is to stop making it worse by lifting incorrectly, twisting oddly and carrying heavy weights. If you normally carry your toddler, have him walk for a few days. If you’re carrying a baby, invest in a hip shelf that can help save your back. Groceries wearing you down? Try folding carts or take one bag at a time. By reducing the work your back muscles are doing, you will be well on your way to reducing pain.

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Build Muscle

If you’re plagued by constant back pain, it is likely that you don’t have enough muscle to properly support your midsection. You need to build muscle in both your back and your abdominals as these muscles properly support your back. Visit with a personal trainer or begin a series of crunches and other midsection toning exercises to start building muscle. You’ll find the muscle builds slowly, but you’ll immediately notice a difference in how you stand and possibly your energy level. Every little bit of muscle helps, so start crunching!

Stand Up Straight

Often posture is the number one cause of back pain. Do you slouch? Try and catch yourself slouching and force yourself to stand up straight. Hours spend seated behind computers can hurt your back as well, so invest in a ergonomic chair or at the very least an ergonomic chair pad to help support your back – then sit in it correctly with your feet on the floor.

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Stretch and Walk

Going for a walk while standing up straight and taking deep breathes can have a huge impact on back pain. Raise your arms over your head to stretch your back and, without hurting yourself, try and touch your toes. Lay on your back and draw your knees up to your chest to help stretch your back as well. Then hop up from the floor, and start walking. The exercise will relax all of your muscles and get the blood moving.

Apply Heat

If your back still needs a bit more TLC, apply a heating pad or sit against a heated massage chair. The heat will help to soften and relax the muscle making knots loosen and spasms cease. A hot tub or even a hot shower can help to relax the muscle as well, especially if your able to stand in the shower with the hot spray focused on the area in need.

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How to Reduce Stress

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to reduce stressStress is a nasty burden that can come into your life uninvited and wreak havoc. Stress has been tied to any number of conditions including hypertension and obesity from stress related eating. If you’re dealing with stress and would like to reduce it, here’s how.

Find Stressors

The first step to reduce stress is to find the items that are actually causing the problem. What makes you stress – your in-laws? A dirty house? Bills? Only when you understand what is causing the problem can you work on resolving it. Spend time charting your stress. Every time you feel tension and stress, make a note on a running list as to what caused it. Even when you begin dealing with stressors, keep track as this will help you reduce stress in the future as well.

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Resolve Issues

If you have unresolved issues causing you stress such as credit card debt, broken relationships or a list of things you need to do that you can’t seem to start, take a day off work and make a list of things to actually accomplish. Call your banker to get started on a debt consolidation loan or set up payments so that you can pay off the debt on your own.

Make some phone calls to help mend broken fences or have a picture burning ceremony to finalize a break-up. Pull out that list of things to do and make a goal to accomplish at least three of them. Then, once you get rolling, you’ll likely feel so good, you’ll just keep going until your life is back in shape again.

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Organize and Simplify

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to eliminate chaos. Organize and simplify your life. If you hate climbing out of bed to turn off the lights, a simple device such as the Clapper Plus can eliminate that annoyance. Desk organizers can help you find stamps, batteries and rubber bands when you need them. A coat and key rack can eliminate the five minutes of stress every morning while you search for your keys.

Beat Stress the Natural Way

Finally, when you have your life back under control and you’ve simplified your surroundings, you can work to actively reduce the remaining stress. You may find that just cleaning out cabinets is enough to help you relax again, but you should set up a regular fitness and nutrition program.

Exercise, even walking, has been shown time and time again to help reduce stress. Take your pet or child on a walk in the evenings to get some fresh air, exercise and time together. All three of those things will help to eliminate crippling stress.

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How to Check Your Blood Pressure at Home

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to check blood pressureIn a world of high cholesterol and rising obesity, checking your blood pressure is one way to ensure that your health is remaining steady or improving as you exercise and maintain a healthy diet. You can check your blood pressure at home with blood pressure monitors or you can check it periodically at the doctor’s office or a pharmacy.

Checking Blood Pressure at Home

If you have an inexpensive blood pressure monitor at home, you can check your blood pressure as often as you’d like. Wrap the fabric cuff around your upper arm while your arm is supported at heart level. Squeeze the bulb to inflate the cuff until the pressure gauge peaks. Stop pumping and the cuff will slowly deflate.

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Read Your Results

The digital readout on the monitor will be your blood pressure. The top number is the systolic pressure or the pressure when the heat actually beats, and the bottom number is the diastolic pressure or the lowest pressure while the heart rests between beats. After taking your blood pressure the first time, wait two to five minutes and take it again. Then average the two results together for the most accurate reading.

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Analyze Your Blood Pressure Results

If your blood pressure came back higher than 140 over 90, you may be suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. Contact your doctor’s office for a follow up reading and advice on lowering your blood pressure to ensure your health and safety.

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How to Lose Weight by Walking

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to lose weight by walkingWhen you’re looking to lose weight correctly – slowly, over time, there is no better way to exercise and burn fat than by walking. Brisk walking for longer lengths of time is one of the most effective fat burning techniques and it’s something everyone can do, regardless of fitness level.

Assemble Your Walking Gear

To get starting walking, you’ll need walking shoes. Any athletic shoes will do, but walking shoes will have the ideal support for the kind of strides you’ll be taking. Be sure the shoes have proper arch and heel support. You can also use a water bottle for longer walks, and to monitor your progress, pedometers are great tools.

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A pedometer will count the number of steps you take which can translate to distance. Finally, if you’re very serious about rapid walking weight loss, you may consider walking sticks as using these seriously boosts the calorie burning properties of a gentle stroll.

Find a Location

You want to walk in a safe place that is not heavily trafficked. You can walk along a sidewalk, around a track or even in your office building or the mall. You’ll want to walk when you’re unlikely to be interrupted or have to stop repeatedly. Walking works best when done continuously for long stretches of time, so find somewhere where you get pointed in a direction and go – this may have to be a treadmill.

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Go Walking

Put on your new shoes, clip on your pedometer and start walking. Stand up straight and take deep breathes while you walk. You want to move at a fast clip. If you can talk while you’re walking, you’re doing well. If you can sing, you need to pick up the pace. Walk for at least thirty minutes at a stretch, but if you want the best results, walk for forty-five minutes to an hour each day. If you walk in shorter bursts, shoot for 10,000 steps a day as measured by your pedometer.

Control Your Diet

You’ll want to control your diet while you’re on your new walking regime. The exercise may make you hungry, so you’ll want to find healthy snacks to avoid consuming the calories you’ve just burned. So long as you are controlling or even reducing your calories, and walking daily, you should see terrific results.

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