Patriotic Christmas Shopping

I received an email the other day that really made me think. It was a little harsh but the message was good & timely so I’ve reprinted it here with my own edits and comments added. Author is unknown so I can’t give credit:

Each year as the holidays approach, giant foreign factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods –merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year can be different. This year Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.  Yes there is!

I was so glad to see on the internet the other day that Saturday Nov. 26th has been dubbed “Small Business Saturday.” You can celebrate by shopping local and supporting small businesses in your own neighborhood.

It’s time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in foreign-made wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut.  How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber? Or a gym  membership?  It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

And who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed?  Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

There are many family-run restaurants in your area– all offering gift certificates.  And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.  Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?  Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady or a professional organizer for a day. I happen to know one who is offering a discount for gift certificates bought in December!

If you were looking for something more personal, local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.  They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Hit one of the many craft shows this November & December.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.  And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater? Upper Darby Performing Art Center (www. has several holiday shows in December.

Honestly, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand lights for the house?  When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.  Why not leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip instead?

The Christmas shopping season doesn’t have to be about buying more for less, it can be about encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams.  When we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.  Besides, who needs more stuff? No one I know.

How do you feel about shopping local & small?

What laundry day looks like at my house

I often find that laundry is a major dilemma for moms. Either it’s never really done or there is clean and dirty laundry all over the house. I talked about this in my book but now I’m going to show you in pictures, my simple 4 steps to conquering the laundry mountains.

Because I have a flexible work schedule, I usually do this in one day when I’m working from home. If you work full time, you may want to do one person’s laundry at a time, or do the kids one night, the parents another. The point is, don’t do laundry everyday but definitely once a week at least!

Step 1: Bring it all in to one room & sort.

Step 2: Flip loads all day long

Step 3: Fold as you watch TV at night.

Step 4: Return laundry to everyone’s basket & have them put it away.

Organize Your Beauty Routine

Did you ever have one of those days where you stay in your pajamas and pound away at the computer until you finally look up and the kids are home from school? I’ve had those too. And sometimes they’re fun. But if you make a habit of those, you will eventually have to leave the house looking like you just rolled out of bed.

On the flip side, if you get up early enough to get a shower, put on some make-up and a decent outfit, you can feel more professional and put together before you have to walk out the door. This is one of my absolutes or organizing: start the day off right – on your terms. (from my book Absolutely Organized- A Mom’s Guide To a No-Stress Schedule and a Clutter-Free Home)  In order to do this, you’ve got to have a beauty regimen that is quick, easy and effective. As a mother of three who gets up at 6:30 am I know time is limited, and that’s why I have all the essentials at my fingertips and a method of getting ready in 20 minutes. So let me share my tips as both a Professional Organizer and a previous Mary Kay consultant:

  1. Use skin care products from one company: that includes your cleanser, moisturizer, any toners or masks that you may use and your foundation.  Skin care companies design these to work together and if you mix & match, you could have a chemical reaction right on your face.
  2. Clean out your make up on a regular basis. If you go to the dentist every 6 months, you usually replace your toothbrush, right? Use that day to replace your mascara and eye-liners too. You definitely don’t want any bacteria going into your eyes and that’s about the shelf life of these items.
  3. Check for expiration dates and if you can’t find them, use these basic rules of thumb for what to toss:
    1. Perfume or white creams that have turned yellow
    2. Sunscreen after one year
    3. Powders that have a shiny finish to them (from facial oils)
    4. Thick creams that have since become watery
    5. Anything you don’t remember buying!
  4. Brushes should be cleaned more frequently – about once a week. Think about this on a Sunday. Just run the brushes under warm water and rub them with soap, rinse and leave them in a mug or stand-up container to air dry. They’ll be good to go on Monday morning.
  5. Keep everyday items in one container in your bathroom – preferably in a drawer or cabinet. My everyday items include:  concealer, foundation, eyeliner, mascara and blush. Lipsticks usually stay in my purse and get applied before I leave the driveway each morning. That way you have them handy for touch-ups.
  6. Keep your refills in another drawer or in a plastic bin in the linen closet. I think people often make the mistake of buying cute canvas or wicker bins for the bathroom but they forget that most of these products leak! So plastic or vinyl is the way to go for bathroom products.
  7. For traveling, find a fold-up makeup bag with several sections. I pack my beauty products the morning of my trips. As I use each item, I put it in the bag. That way I don’t forget any of my essentials. The bag can lay flat so it’s the last item to go into the suitcase. When I arrive at my destination, it gets hung on the back of the bathroom door. No unpacking & losing little items!
  8. Once your products are cleaned out and contained properly, take a look at your method. I like to treat the beauty regimen like a recipe. I put all my ingredients on the left side of my sink. As I use each item, it goes to the right. That way, if I get interrupted I remember to use everything. (don’t you hate it when you forget the deodorant?)When I’m finished, everything goes back in its container under the sink.

So there you have it – eight steps to go from frumpy mom to professional woman! I think we all deserve a little time to take care of ourselves each day because when you look good, you feel good and that positive attitude will carry you through your day.