Making Life’s Perfect Pie!

ImageLemon Meringue pie has always been my favorite pie. I have always wondered, however, how a lemon pie tasted so sweet and flavorful when lemons are so sour.   When I was very young, I realized that lemons were very sour.   I didn’t like the taste, but I the smell of fresh lemon was wonderful.  Every time I smelled a fresh lemon, I would forget how bitter and sour they tasted until I tried them again.

Lemons, like many life’s trials and tribulations (as my Grandmother would say), we keep trying over and over again to make things perfect.   Make them feel, smell, and taste delightful.    If that didn’t work we add some other ingredient or nectar to the mix to and see how that works.    Eventually, with just the right dash of this ingredient, and less of something else, we usually make our lemons, or our life, into a respectable, if not outstanding, pie. 

 Perfection, one hundred percent of the time, is impossible to achieve in life or when baking.  Making a pie is a good example.   There are just so many different variables that can go wrong making pies.  The crust can be too sticky or crumbly; the filling can be too thin, thick, or lumpy, instead of smooth and creamy; or too tart or too sweet.   The oven thermostat can be out of whack and the pie can burn or be undercooked.  

Life also has many different variables as well.   We are not living in a bubble, our interactions with people and things are just a few of the obstacles that cause lives many challenges.  Because we are social beings and interact with our peers in many different arenas; family, school, sports, play, work, marriage, and so on.   Every time we relate to people in different environments there is something new that gets thrown into the mixture.   Just one more ingredient that may make the perfect pie or not, we just don’t know but we have to try it before we make any judgments.  There were times that the pie was too sour or too sweet, but with all the opportunities that life presented to me over the years I have had many chances to make it perfect.  

 In creating my ‘life pie’, and I know many of you will agree, there have been many different  life events mixed together, kneaded, pushed and pulled, and rolled out; at times too thin and sometimes too thick.   If handled too much, the crust sometimes became too tough and nothing could penetrate; or too thin so it broke apart or crumpled, and needed to be patched together many times.   During the course of trying to create my perfect ‘life pie,’ I learned that the challenge was always to discover the right ingredients and correct proportions in order to correct or alter the way ‘life’s pie’ turned out.  Ingredients and proportions changed along the road to my perfect life.

 Perfection however, is never going to be achieved.  I am always search for something to make my pie just perfect.   So after  many years searching for the perfect ‘life pie,’;  I am going back to my childhood to the advice my Mother and Father gave me; “just do your best, “ and when I did I knew they loved me and I would be all right.  

Go Fly A Kite!

Go Fly A Kite!.

Go Fly A Kite!

ImageHas anyone ever told you to, go fly a kite?   Maybe not in those exact words, but the meaning was the same. 

The more I think about that expression, the more I think that flying a kite is a very intricate, precise, and exasperating task.  I feel that it takes a very talented person to, go fly a kite.   You need experience, certain amount of expertise, energy, and stamina.    Not unlike, preparing a home for a move.   I see many similarities.  

There are certain seasons of the year that are better for flying a kite and for making a move from one home to another.   The best seasons are, I am told, in the spring and fall, but summer and winter also work.   In spring and fall the weather is cool with a good possibility that the weather, wind, and breezes are just right to accomplish the tasks at hand.  Whether it is kite flying or moving!

Both these endeavors require the right equipment and or tools.   For kites you need to have a light frame covered with the right material fitted to the frame in order to catch the wind in the right way.   You also need a substantial amount of string, rolled in the right way to easily unwind and wind up, that will assist in maneuvering the kite while airborne for optimal in air flight time.   Also essential is a tail for the kite, with just the right length and weight to assist in take off.

Likewise to prepare for a move, you need the proper materials, tools and equipment.   To pack you should secure the proper size, quality, and quantity of containers for the pieces you need to pack and move.    It is important not to over pack, or stuff, containers.   Putting too many heavy pieces all in one large container will make it impossible to lift and move without hurting yourself or someone else.    Use proper tape and material to protect and seal the cartons.   Utilizing sufficient materials for the items in the container will protect the items from breaking as well as shifting while in transit, and taping the container closed prevents containers from inadvertently opening if tipped or the bottom letting go if it were only folded closed.

It is also important that we have the right space or area as well as the proper time, to either fly a kite or prepare for a move.   The more space the better.   Flying a kite is fun when you can run along an empty stretch of beach or on a playing field.  To do this you need to be aware of time of day as well as the weather.  It is really difficult to fly a kite properly and safely when the beach is crowded with sunbathers and children playing or the playing field is having activities.  So finding the right time and space is important for an enjoyable kite flying adventure.

To make moving easier and less cumbersome, it is best to;

  • Develop a time line and action plan
  • Set aside blocks of time
  • Tackle one room or area at a time
  • Have the proper supplies and materials
  • Have a ‘buddy’ to help you, it is less overwhelming.

Most importantly, for both kite flying and moving, make sure you are traveling light!   On your kite keep the tail properly weighted based on the weather conditions.   With moving, travel light.  Clean and downsize as you go from room to room.   You do not want to be weighed down when you move for 3 reasons;

  1. It is difficult to lift and move the cartons
  2. Depending on how far you are moving, the cost of the move is based on weight
  3. You want to be free of old clutter as you transition to your new home.

Thinking of moving now or in the future, then think about how to go fly a kite and what is required to do that, and apply the same or similar theory to prepping for your move.   With the right breeze and all the other material and techniques necessary to kite flying, you and your kite will fly freely with a safe landing.   Or if you take a short cut, skimp on materials, make things too heavy, plan time and space poorly, you and your kite will quite likely crash or get hung up on avoidable obstacles.   

Do Cats Imitate Us or Do We Imitate Cats?

My rescue cat, Lilac, is pretty set in her ways.   Her daily routine is the same every day, as far as I can tell.  Every morning, she is waiting for me to give her breakfast, and then she follows the sun and lounges in every sunny spot.   By late morning she is lounging on the back of the love seat pretending to nap, but with one eye open looking to see that no unwelcome visitors venture into her domain.   Early afternoon finds her really napping in the loft.

I would say Lilac is in her comfort zone, and when things in the zone change, Lilac is not very happy and she lets us know about it in no uncertain terms.   She becomes cranky and upset, she lashes out at whoever happens to be available, and it takes some time for her to come to terms with a change.   This behavior certainly mimic’s how people react when something changes in their lives.  So the question that I have been pondering is:   Do cats imitate us or do we imitate cats?

Everyone has their routines and comfort zones, and they are usually similar to the beings they live, work, or hang out with on a regular basis.   When something or someone disrupts the routine or pace of life that has been constant for so long and change occurs, the entire environment and atmosphere around us becomes disoriented and confused.    This happens throughout our lives and usually we can quickly adjust and accept life changes within a reasonable length of time and with minimal attitude.

However, the older we get the harder it is to cope and accept changes in our life.  I have had this conversation with family members of clients, and they have told me that their parent is acting strange, not like their usual calm, compliant self.  The parent is upset, angry, emotional, and just plain old nasty.  They do not understand why, because the changes they are proposing or making are meant to make the parent’s life easier and happier.   Yet their parent is acting out, just like a teenager!

So to get back to my questions of who is imitating whom, I believe the answer is a little bit of both!   It seems like it is a natural instinct to resist change in our lives.  We all resist and try to make changes to the change; it is natural whether we are infants or senior citizen.  Even Lilac, my cat, finds way to work within the changed environment to make the change acceptable to her.  Lilac doesn’t like a cover on the love seat so she works and works at pulling and punching a portion of the throw off until she has sufficient space for her nap!   My cat uses a passive aggressive attitude toward change, hoping that we will give in.

Once we can accept that changes are difficult for everyone, we can begin to understand and try to overcome the attitudes and passive aggressive behaviors while working to convince and accommodate everyone involved with the change.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” ~Author Unknown

Decluttering and Downsizing a Kitchen!

Kitchens are a very special place for many people.   They could be your domain, refuge, and gathering spot.  Or it may be just a necessary evil that you need, but do not enjoy.   However you feel about or use your kitchen, it might be either the first or the very last space in your home to declutter and downsize.  One reason for this is there are so many nooks and crannies to store, put, and hide things.

Oh, those nooks and crannies are wonderful until you try and find something.   How many times have you tried to find something, couldn’t find it, and purchased a new one?   Only to find the one you knew you had but it was shoved in the back of the drawer (or cabinet), hidden under a pile of other important items.  This month let’s just tackle kitchen drawers, how bad can that be?

The process will be the same or similar for all drawers, so just pick a drawer.    In my kitchen we only have four drawers, 2 for utensils and 2 for junk!   A Christmas presents started us to work on organizing one utensil drawer, however, once we got going one drawer lead to two; and we felt so good about the progress we ended up doing all four drawers.

Our Christmas present was a beautiful wooden drawer organizer, which adjusts to the width of the drawer you happen to be concentrating on.   We started with the cooking utensil drawer by;

  • Removing all the contents
  • Cleaning the drawer (wash and dry thoroughly)
  • While waiting for drawer to dry, go through the items in the drawer;
  • Throw out any broken items
  • Separate duplicates
  • Insert drawer organizer and adjust size to drawer.
  • Return items to drawer in the appropriate size space.
  • Segregate one of a kind items in their own space

Do not return duplicate items, unless they are different sizes of an item like spatulas or such.  Duplicate items that you do not need, can be donated or given to someone, but don’t hang on to them.

Like I said doing one drawer, was just the start of the project.  All the other drawers were the same basic process, but the junk drawers took a bit longer.   Junk drawers require looking through papers and things, so it is definitely something we put off as long as possible.

Once you put back all the items in there appropriate compartments and toss or give the rest away stand back and admire the great job you did and how beautiful they look.

Shoe Fetish or Just a Love Affair

It always amazes me when I am downsizing and decluttering closets how many shoes people have. Not just women, but men too! People seem to have a real issue throwing away or even donating, unused and older shoes.

Scattered on closet floors, hanging over doors in bags, and the real serious shoe people have them methodically stored in plastic boxes labeled by color and style.  If they get really carried away, or leaning toward obsessive compulsive behavior they will even make a note to what outfit and handbag it goes with!  Makes you want to ask; Is it a shoe fetish or just a love affair with shoes?

I freely admit that I love shoes!  Shoe shopping is really the only shopping I truly love.  There is something about the new shoe smell (something like a new care smell), trying on new shoes, and visualizing what outfit you will wear with them.  This is why I love to buy new shoes, BUT my question is; Why is it so difficult to part with shoes once they no longer meet our needs?

I have pondered this question for a while now.  I think there are a few possibilities why we procrastinate.  We cannot part with them because;

  1. I still liked them,
  2. They are still comfortable (unlike other pieces of clothing) and still look reasonably good.
  3. They make me feel good, beautiful, or whatever.
  4. I still like the style and have not been able to find another pair in that color or heel height.
  5. They just do not make shoes like these anymore.
  6.  I have an odd shoe size and they are hard to find.
  7. They are classic, never go out of style, and go with everything!

These are my excuses, I am sure you some of them or have your own perfectly valid and rational reasons for hanging on to shoes for longer than reasonably necessary.

So what are shoe lovers to do, when shoes tumble out of your closet, or worse yet you need a whole closet for only your shoes?   It is difficult, but tough decisions must be made.

  1. Separate shoes that you wear regularly and put them to one side.
  2. Take the shoes that you wear with particular outfits (some shoes in #1 may overlap),
  • Ask the question – How often have I worn these shoes and outfit in the past 12 months?  If the answer is zero to 2, seriously consider donating the shoes and the outfit.
  • Then take a look at the shoes that you cannot remember when you last wore them and toss or donate them.

Separate the regularly worn shoes from the ‘special’ shoes in your closet, then when you buy a new pair evaluate whether to retire a pair from either collection, and DO IT!

Just like Neil Sedaka’s song says, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,  when you have this love affair with shoes it is really hard.   However, I know we will all find another pair of ratty, old sneakers or comfortable boots to fill the void in our heart.

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP!

Are you or someone you know . . .?

  • Preparing to enter the spring real estate market?
  • Overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to get ready?
  • Has limited time or energy to do everything?
  • That needs help on where to begin, who to call, or how much time this process will take?

If you do, I can help!

During February, I have an extra day to help you!
Schedule your complimentary Strategy Session
to review your plans, objectives, and goals; and I will answer
your Where, Who, and How questions, on beginning
 to downsize and preparing for the move.

CALL TODAY, 508-285-4802, to schedule your
 LEAP YEAR strategy session, and receive:

  • A written summary of primary action areas and dates to meet to complete project on time.
    AND HAVE:
  • An Opportunity to save $75.00 or more* on a WITTZ END service package IF booked during your Strategy Session!                

 

*Save $75.00 or more on a WITTZ END service package (depending on package size), when booked during your  strategy session.  Everyone receives the written summary just for booking strategy session.

 

You Do Not Need To Be Moving To Downsize or Declutter

Whenever I give a talk on downsizing and decluttering the first thing I emphasize to the audience that you do not need to be moving to downsize or declutter.   This is the truth!    Maybe, if we downsized and decluttered more frequently then the thought of moving would not be so stressful.

I use the KISS Theory– Keep It Simple Silly!   Do not make this process more complicated and cumbersome than it needs to be.  Start small, keep it simple, and just start!

Let’s get started with a closet – any closet! Here are four steps:

  • Gather your material and allocate dedicated block of time for project. Materials that you will probably need are:
    Trash bags, plastic bins, a labeler, and plastic or fabric storage bags or bins for shelves.
  • Getting started
    1. Set up trash bags and plastic bins.
    2. Empty everything from closet and vacuum
    3. Map closet so you know where things are going – Dresses, suits, blouses, etc.
  • Start sorting the items, ask questions (answer honestly), and only handle the items once-be decisive and make the tough decisions.
    1. Yes or No questions – will you wear/use again, is it out of style, does it fit?
    2. If yes then decide if it goes back in closet or in a plastic bin for next season; if no, then it is either trash, donate, or possibly       consignment.
  • Once the decisions are made – act on them.  Never wait, because then you change your mind or become distracted and the job is not finished.   Do whatever you need to do that day, and then you are truly finished.

These are the same 4 steps you need to do for each and every item in the any closet you have. If there are any items not decided on ask the following questions:

  • When was the last time you saw, used, or needed this item?
  • Do you know what the item is?
  • Does it belong to someone else?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions or others you might come up with, then you do not need the item, so either throw out or donate it.

At the end of your allotted time, you should have a clean, decluttered, and downsized closet. The KISS theory works every time. Never allow stress to be part of the process.

 

Save 12 In 2012

What's In Your Attic?

Attention Baby Boomers and Adult Children of seniors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island!
Are you facing the task of decluttering, downsizing, and clearing out your home or your parents home in 2012?   If so, WITTZ END has a January 2012 SPECIAL to help you with this project.

SAVE 12% when you purchase, in full, ANY WITTZ END service plan, by January 31, 2012 and you have until June 30, 2012 to use the services (additional fees may apply, call for details).

For further details email; claire@atwittzend.com or call 508-285-4802.

Going On Vacation, Make Sure Your Home is Prepared!

If you are going on vacation make sure to prepare your home, because you never know what may happen while you are away.   Even though you fully expect to return home in a few days or so, you never know what can happen.   You could be in an accident, became ill,  or worse; then people will enter your home to get important information and items for you.

Would you be embarrassed to have family, friends, or neighbors rummaging around your home and looking through your belongings?

I am working with a client who a year ago left to spend the holidays with family in the mid west and has not returned home.  Her parents got sick and then the client became deathly ill and can not return to her ‘doll house’ she loves so much.

Throughout the year, she has depended on friends and neighbors to care for the house and send her items that she needed.   Realizing that this cannot continue indefinitely and is looking to sell and move permanently.  To do this she needs to remember all the items she has and decide whether to move or dispose of the items.   This is hard enough when you are on site to visually see and touch the items to make your decisions, but to do this from a distance and not be feeling well makes it much more difficult.

There are strategies that we can all take advantage of with modern technology to inventory our homes, and store this inventory virtually ‘in the cloud’ to be accessed by you or your representatives (if need be) when the time comes.   This would make this particular situation easier and less stressful.   In future blogs I will talk more about this process and why it is so important to have this information available.

 

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