Odds & Ends Miscellaneous Tips


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.

  Mesh bags tote groupings of fruits and vegetables

Mesh bags tote groupings of fruits and vegetables

Do you bring reusable sacks with you to the grocery store?  If so, that is awesome.  You are doing your part to save trees or prevent plastics from ending up in the waste stream and clogging our oceans and other water bodies.  Furthermore, you are likely saving money since many stores award cash-back for bringing along your own bags. 

But when it comes to produce are you still grabbing plastic or paper bags from the dispensers?  Until recently I was doing the same although I reused them until they were at the point of shredding.  Then a friend gifted me some Norwex produce bags which I love.  You can also use mesh laundry bags.  These bags help to keep my homologous fruits and vegetables together so I can easily toss them in the refrigerator bin when I get home.  

Or another idea, I had old throw pillows which I no longer need and inside were zippered cloth bags which held the stuffing.  I have repurposed those for produce and laundry.  These bags are perfect for items like fresh beans and peas.

 Use a zippered cloth bag for loose items like beans and peas

Use a zippered cloth bag for loose items like beans and peas

Finally, I have gotten to the point where I rarely bag my leafy produce anymore.  I used to be concerned about what it came in contact with in my cart.  However, as I reasoned it through, as long as I keep it in the top section of the cart, segregated from my meats it is likely no dirtier there than it was on the farm, handled by a multitude of shippers and store clerks and nestled among the other heads of lettuce, spinach, beets or whatnot. 

After each use, I toss them in the next load of laundry so they are fresh for the next trip to the store.  I keep all my grocery sacks nested inside the largest bag on the headrest of my car seat so that they are always with me if I stop on the fly.




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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.

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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). 

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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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.

Put An End to Misplaced Keys

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.


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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.




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.

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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
2. optoutprescreen.com
3. catalogchoice.org
4. directmail.com
5. ebillplace.com
6. paperkarma.com

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.


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