Odds & Ends Miscellaneous Tips

G0 Month!

Are you still fired up to act on your new year’s resolutions, goals, intentions or however you choose to define your 2019 road map? Or is a cozy couch, blazing fireplace, and good book continually beckoning you away from tasks on these gray, soggy days? For me, I try to schedule in time for both my work, chores, and errands along with a sacred repose. I need my leisure time to recharge with my NYT crossword puzzles, Tai Chi/Qi Gong, and some tv time with my son for the last few days while he is visiting during holiday break. But if you need an excuse to get up and GO, January is the perfect time to do so. Why?

Time to Get Organized during GO Month

Time to Get Organized during GO Month

January is Get Organized & Be Productive (GO) Month, an annual initiative sponsored by the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO). This month-long event increases general public awareness of what NAPO is and how our members are drivers of change by providing unique services tailored to meet their individual client needs.

January is the ideal time for GO Month.  Why?  Because many of us set intentions for change in the new year.  To create personal spaces that enhance our comfort, our productivity, and our well-being.  NAPO officially proclaimed January as Get Organized (GO) Month in 2005 when they developed a public awareness campaign to focus national attention on how getting organized empowers people to regain control over their time, possessions, inboxes, and surroundings.

So GO, get started on the projects you have been longing to launch for ages.  Or GO finish those you began in 2018 but life got in the way and were never completed.  If you are going to sack out on the couch, you might wish to catch an episode or two of the new Netflix tv series Tidying Up hosted by celebrity organizer, Marie Kondo. This might inspire you to begin a makeover or simple rearrangement to spark joy in your home.

Need a hand to figure out where to start and how to begin?  GO to ThePracticalSort.com to schedule a free chat to make 2019 the year you meet your organizing goals.

Happy GO Month!

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Keep a rag handy. The coconut oil and old grease may drip down the door frame or trim.

You’ve probably noticed that I am on a coconut oil kick. But if it comes to the rescue, then why not?  Last week I touted the benefits of coconut oil to remove caulk residue from fingers and hands.  This week I discovered how to resolve noisy door hinges.  Yep, you guessed it.  My daughter's bedroom door had been squeaking for ages usually as a result of me forgetting to take care of it or when I would remember I'd put it off because I prefer not to use chemical sprays such as WD-40.

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A few nights ago, as I opened her door the annoying creak nearly woke my husband.  That prompted me to grab the jar of coconut oil and a rag to see if it would do the trick. 

I dunked my hand in the nearly liquid oil.  It is usually semi-solid but the house has been pretty warm the last few days causing it to liquefy.  I slathered it into each of the three door hinges unsure which triplet was the offender.  After the first application, the door still squeaked a bit so I tried again.  No sound, nothing.  Voila.  Mission accomplished.  No offending odors, no harmful chemicals.

Some of the original black hinge grease leaked onto the door, luckily I had my rag handy to wipe around each hinge.  Then I dampened the cloth to give the door and trim a quick cleaning.  

Are your door hinges squeaking?  Give coconut oil a try.




Reposted from Facebook

Try not to view this week’s tip as naggy mom syndrome.  Instead I invite you to consider it as a super practical and simple trick.  Have you ever apologized to visitors for the state of your home?  Face it, we all have at one time or another.  In fact, my kids got a huge kick out of this Facebook video because yes, that was (and possibly still could be) me.  I confess way too much in my blogs and tips.  But hey, we are all human with our own unique and not so unique foibles.

When Good Enough is...Good Enough

I don’t get nearly as frantic as I used to when company is expected.  I know that my home is usually in a presentable state, just not at the moment.  As we are undergoing a remodeling project, my furniture is buried under sheets, my floors are covered by Ram Board, and my stairs are encased under plastic.  Fortunately, the photographers from Architectural Digest are not scheduled for the next few weeks.  Seriously though, I have been making peace with my perfectionist tendencies because good enough is good enough most of the time.

One Minute Difference

The smallest touches make a substantial difference in how my home looks and the way I feel about it.  Want to make a noticeable impact in your home in one minute?  Make your bed.  That’s it.  In less than one minute the room went from rumpled to neat as a button.  If you have to wake up 1-2 minutes earlier to make your bed, it’s really no big deal, but when you return to your room later in the day or if expected guests should wander by an open bedroom door, you will have the gratification of knowing that your room looks put together. 

An unmade bed creates a cluttered, rumpled appearance no matter how tidy the rest of the room is

An unmade bed creates a cluttered, rumpled appearance no matter how tidy the rest of the room is


Consider what it feels like when you stay at a hotel and the maid has performed her magic.  You open the door and the room looks fresh and inviting.  Surprisingly, even if the rest of the room is less than tidy, with a made bed, the room will still appear relatively neat.  Try it and see.

Make your bed daily to create a finished, neat look

Make your bed daily to create a finished, neat look

20 is the New 25


Have you been wondering about the "20 is Plenty" orange yard signs that have popped up around the Portland Metro area?

In the event you did not catch this important tidbit buried in the news on April 1, 2018, the new speed limit on residential streets has been reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph.  This 5 mile per hour reduction minimizes the risk of severe injury and death to pedestrians.

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According to Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), in general, streets without a center line are subject to the new 20 mph restrictions.  Even if the signage has not been replaced to reflect the modification, the change is still in effect.  The city is in the process of replacing roughly 2000 speed limit signs.

Here's a quick tip that I use to help me slow down my pace.  When I am driving in residential neighborhoods, I change my radio station to classical music.  I noticed that I tend to drive faster with rock and roll or upbeat jazz, while I am gentler with the accelerator with classical music streaming.  It's a psychological thing that seems to work. 

For more information about the new ordinance, click here.




Have you ever planned a trip or needed to drive to a new location and mapped out a route the old-fashioned way or via an App?  Then before you embark you realize there is construction or an accident causing a jam along that highway.  Or your friend says "hey, there is a shortcut that can get you there quicker with less hassle."  Time to reroute.

Are you like me, hesitant to set short or long range goals because you fear failure?  What if the outcome is not the one you desired?  What if you can't complete the project?

Rather than wander aimlessly through life not getting things done which inevitably results in frustration and overwhelm down the road, try a new 2-step approach.

This year in lieu of setting new year's resolutions or goals, I decided to set intentions.  Setting an intention versus a goal seems to be more informal and less threatening if the outcome is not as I hoped.

The second thing is to view the intention or if you choose, the goal as simply guidance just like a road map.  If you look at it that way, when you see that a different path or method is more efficient and useful you are given the freedom to modify to best suit your needs.  Additionally, as with a trip, if you conclude that this is not the best time to travel or that the journey is not in your best interests, you can put it aside for another time.  

Looking at your milestones as guidance or a road map takes the pressure off which means LESS STRESS yet still gives you the opportunity to work toward an end result that is appropriate for you and your needs.

Give this new paradigm a try and let me know what you think.

If you need help re-routing your thinking or creating a new road map for your home, contact ThePracticalSort.com.

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Looking for flooring ideas for your stairs?  Shying away from slippery surfaces?  Dissatisfied with matted down carpet that looks perpetually dirty in this high traffic area?

Over the years, I have tried a range of options and each had their issues.  Nearly tumbling down a flight of stairs on slick hardwood made me realize that while I loved the classic look, it was not ideal on the stairs.  Although as you will notice from the photo, we opted to use it on the large landing.  

Most of the wall to wall carpeting we tried looked worn and dingy not long after installation.

When my family moved into our current home nearly a decade ago, I decided to try something different.  I wanted a color camouflaging dirt without a deep pile to avoid that worn out look.  I chose a two-tone brown indoor/outdoor carpeting which accents our adjacent hardwoods nicely.

As it approaches its 10th anniversary, it still looks relatively new.  Yes, you can tell where the foot traffic is heavier, but not nearly to the degree that any of our previous carpets displayed in far less time.  Except for white lint or a dark mud stain, it rarely shows any dirt.  When it does, it has been super easy to clean.  And yes, I am embarrassed to admit that next week will be the first time since we moved in that it will be professionally cleaned.

Indoor/outdoor carpets are not just for patios.  Look for a dense, thickly woven weave for more durability and colors that will hide grime .  Check out this guide from Lowes for choosing indoor/outdoor carpet varieties.


A few days ago, an acquaintance bemoaned that she frequently misplaces her keys.  As most organizers would advise, she had a basket for her keys by her front door.  However, she is typically distracted as she returns home and beelines to the destination for whatever is currently on her mind.  Thereby laying her keys there. 

I asked her if there is a wall directly across from her door.  When she replied yes, I suggested that she hang a key holder at eye level so that is the first thing she sees.   Having the word "KEYS" on it will help as a reminder.  The featured key holder can be found at Target.com.  She loved the idea. 

She went on to say that she was so late to work a few days before because her keys had been misplaced.  At that point, I also suggested that she keep a spare set in her purse.  Her purse is always has with her when she leaves the house.  Hopefully she won't misplace the spare set.

If you frequently misplace your keys, in addition to these suggestions, you might wish to consider an electronic key finder which you can hang on the key holder.  Tomsguide.com provides a review of wireless key finders for 2017.

Every year I seem to need a new pair of slippers.  I attempt to purchase those that appear to be made well from reputable brands, but after a few weeks of wear, they slowly begin to disintegrate.  The soles wear away, the material rips, and soon I find that my once snug and cozy slippers are leaving my feet chilly and exposed.

This year I found a very warm and sturdy pair of faux fur booties by Dearfoams.  I couldn't wait to get home and clomp around the house in them (yes, that is the sound the rubber soles make with each step). 

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After a day or so, I noticed black streaks on our hardwood floors.  In fact, you could tell every path I took throughout the house in the previous 24 hours.  I attempted to walk gingerly to avoid leaving scuffs to no avail.

I contacted the manufacturer to see if they had suggestions.  They were well aware of the issue and recommended that I return them to the store.

Bottom line, even if the shoes will keep your toes toasty be sure to check out the material and color used to construct the sole especially if you have hardwood or light-colored floors.  Admittedly, the scuff marks easily wiped away although it quickly became onerous to track down every scuff in order to obliterate them.


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Have lots of Legos that are sadly no longer being used? Are you looking for one or two minifigs or bricks to finish that Lego masterpiece but you wish to avoid purchasing a whole new set? Check out bricksandminifigs.com. Bricks and Minifigs is a Lego enthusiast's dream. They buy, trade and sell new and used Legos with locations across the country and now in Canada. There are 4 stores in the PDX metro area.


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Since this tip was published, as you all know Hurricane Irma also made landfall throughout the Caribbean Islands, up through the Florida Keys and beyond leaving devastation in her wake.  After Harvey, resources are spreading thin, while the needs continue to grow.  BusinessInsider.com has compiled a list of national and local charities vetted by Charity Navigator to provide aid to Irma victims .  Charity Navigator is an independent non-profit that rates over 8000 charities.  Business Insider also suggests some international organizations to support the affected islands.  Those are not rated by Charity Navigator.  As always, use due diligence prior to donating.

With the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey making landfall on August 25, 2017, the extraordinary need continues.  I don't wish to sound preachy, but for those of us not in the storm's path, we can lend a hand to our neighbors to the south by donating to a variety of organizations providing rescue efforts, shelter, food, supplies, medical assistance, & pet resources. 

Before donating, I always advise to practice due diligence when choosing organizations.  If you wish to donate in-kind goods, be sure to check with the agency first to ensure that the donation meets their needs.  The last thing we want to do, despite our best intentions, is unnecessarily cause unwanted clutter.

Below are some organizations who are providing services.  This is by no means a comprehensive list or an endorsement. Click on the names for the website links.

The American Red Cross

The Salvation Army

Save the Children        

Americares (providing emergency medical and health supplies to first responders)

All Hands (volunteer-powered disaster relief organization)

Animal Rescue New Orleans

SPCA of Texas

Portlight (disaster relief specifically for those with disabilities)

Thank you from The Practical Sort.


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After you have tossed the recyclable unwanted mail and removed your name from junk mail lists,  sort the remainder into baskets or files for bills to be paid, action items, and reading.  When you have time, you can rapidly grab what you need and get to work or take some reading leisure time.

Keep recycling and trash baskets/bins near your mail sorting location. Getting too much junk mail? Check out some of these sites to remove your name from mailing lists:
1. dmachoice.thedma.org
4. directmail.com

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Keep Your Drink Hot for Hours

Use a double-insulated metal travel mug.  It will keep your coffee, tea, soup, or hot chocolate steaming hot or icy cold for hours. 

Grocery Bags

Fill one large reusable grocery bag with your additional bags and sling them over the back of your car's headrest so they will always be with you when you get to the store.  Throw in some reusable containers/lids for bulk items.  I also carry a spare funnel for filling bulk spices.


Tired of trying to figure out which end is up on appliance plugs?  Put a piece of masking tape on the "up" side for quick reference.

Remembering to Put Things Away

Do you forget to take items up or downstairs?  Use a stair basket or tuck things on the stairs but out of the way of tripping as a reminder to put items away without making extra trips.