Hellen Buttigieg, the maven of organization, shares some simple tips for organizing your world in a flash.
Hellen Buttigieg knows a few things about getting organized - and staying organized. As a certified professional organizer, life coach and TV host, she helps people clear the clutter in their homes, minds and lives. Her successful TV show, Neat, ran on HGTV for three seasons and is still showing on Global.
Her company, We Organize U, is a full-service organizing haven. She and her staff of organizing experts help people sort through the clutter to find the gems. Just as people are different, so are their organizing styles, so she and her staff dream up solutions based on the individual needs of their clients.
According to Hellen, there are so many reasons why you should organize your life, home or business. One reason to get organized is to reduce stress. One sobering statistic on her company's website, weorganizeu.com, is that a disorganized, stressed out person spends about 10 to 20 percent of the day looking for misplaced items. When you think about how busy our lives are, that number represents a huge chunk of leisure time.
Below she shares some simple tips to help you get organized in five minutes or fewer so you can start enjoying your life. Her book, Organizing Outside the Box, offers more tips and tricks to get organized and be happy.
Photography by Robin Stubbert
Around the house
1 Make the bed, fluff the pillows and duvet.
2 Pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry hamper.
3 Put clean laundry away.
4 Take excess shoes out of the hallway closet or front hall and place them in the bedroom closets. Each family member should only keep one or two pairs of shoes (depending on space) by the door or hallway closet.
5 Go through your sock drawer and give up any socks without partners. If you haven't worn panty hose since 2008, it's time to toss those, too!
6 Gather up all your accessories (belts, hats, scarves) and let go of the ones you no longer like or use.
7 Gather all the wire hangers in your closet and put them in your car. Next time you go to the dry cleaners, you can take them in for recycling.
8 Before starting something new, spend five minutes putting away anything that's left out from the last project you worked on. This is a technique that teachers use to keep the kindergarten classroom tidy and it works equally well at home.
Photography by Stacey Brandford
9 Transfer all the photos from your camera onto your computer before your card fills up.
10 Scan the emails in your junk folder (to make sure nothing important ended up there) and then delete them.
11 Delete all the old voicemail messages from your home phone and cell phone.
Photography by Donna Griffith
12 Toss out any spoiled food from the refrigerator.
13 Toss out any stale food from the pantry.
14 Clear out one ‘junk drawer'. Toss anything you don't need or recognize. Divide the drawer by using old cheque book boxes or small plastic containers to keep similar items together.
15 Clean out your wallet/purse. Toss gum wrappers, scraps of paper and old tissues; file receipts and business cards.
16 Go through your cosmetics and toiletries and toss any items you no longer use or are past their expiration date (usually 6 months to a year).
17 Sort through 3 to 5 file folders and shred what you don't need. Keep a coloured folder upright in your filing cabinet to mark where you leave off.
18 Go through your collection of coupons and toss the expired ones. Put the others in your purse or the glove compartment of your car and use them next time you go shopping.
19 Put all the newspapers and mail flyers in the recycling bin.
20 Make a list of all important documents and contact information and remember to tell someone where it is, in case of emergency.
Roasted squash makes a delicious side dish for any meal.
With its slight kick, this chili-roasted squash might become your new favourite side dish.
1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the squash in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, discarding the pulp. Rinse the seeds and set aside to drain. Slice each squash half into 1/4"- to 1/2"-thick rounds.
2 In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the maple syrup, cumin, chipotle chili powder, paprika and salt. Add the squash and toss to thoroughly coat.
3 Arrange the squash in a single layer on a large baking sheet, overlapping the slices slightly if necessary. On a separate baking sheet, toss the squash seeds with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt.
4 Place the squash and seeds in the oven. Roast the squash, turning the slices halfway, until fork-tender, golden brown and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Check on the seeds after 10 minutes and remove from the oven when golden brown.
5 Place the squash on a large serving dish. Sprinkle the toasted seeds, queso fresco and cilantro over the squash. This dish is best served warm.
Prep & cook time: 45 minutes
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Excerpted from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink. Copyright Kimberley Hasselbrink © 2014. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved.
How to: Paint outdoor furniture
When undertaking a DIY project, there are usually a few things to consider. Add tempermental weather to the list and suddenly that little list has multiplied. How do you prepare your furniture for painting? What type of paint do you use? How does it differ for different types of material?
Though the process of painting outdoor furniture may seem daunting now, the best way to go about a DIY job is to be prepared. We talked to an expert at Canadian Tire to do just that. Michael Bache, Category Business Manager at Canadian Tire, shares his prepping and painting how tos to help put your DIY nerves at ease.
1 What supplies will you need for prepping and painting?
Depending on the state of the furniture (e.g. new wood, old plastic, painted metal, painted wood) and the type of paint chosen, a variety of items should be considered.
If using brush-on paint, consider using a primer before applying a new fresh coat of colour. When priming your furniture, make sure to use a good quality paintbrush and rags or drop cloths for clean-up. However, if you're using Krylon® Fusion™ no primer is required.
If repainting a metal or wood surface that has loose peeling paint, it must be removed for best adhesion. You can use sandpaper, steel wool, wire brush, scraper, or a stripper. You may require a tack cloth to clean up dust residue when sanding. If sanding a latex paint, a simple damp rag will work just fine.
2 Do these steps differ when prepping different materials, such as metal, plastic, wicker or wood?
Yes. Some products don't require primer, saving you a prep step. Using an aerosol is a benefit, too, as you also save a step in the prep. It generally dries faster and doesn't require clean-up since no paint brushes are involved. Even better, aerosols tend to give a factory style, air brush finish when applied properly, as opposed to a brush-on paint.
Bare wood generally requires a primer to seal the wood prior to painting as the surface is porous. The primer is used to provide a nice, smooth finish. Krylon Dual saves a step on both bare wood and metal since it primes and paints in one easy step. This saves time and allows people to have more time enjoying their furniture and less time prepping it!
3 What type of paint should you use for outdoor furniture?
Always follow the directions on the label for specific product use. This will ensure proper adhesion to your surface.
Plastic patio furniture should only have a paint specifically designed to adhere to plastic and hard-to-bond surfaces. Many general purpose paints can adhere to most surfaces except plastic.
For wicker or rattan, spray paints tend to make a nicer finish and easily gets into the grooves. Muskoka chairs are also easier to paint when using an aerosol as opposed to a paint brush. Now there's even an aerosol wood stain by Krylon. Spray stains make fast work of Muskoka chairs and planters - no brushes to clean up either.
5 What about rust prevention?
Paint designed especially for metal surfaces tends to add rust protection into the paint - make sure the paint says "rust proofing" or "rust inhibiting".
As our climate changes, U.V. rays are also a consideration - they're hard on our skin and our exterior patio furniture! Some paints actually have U.V. protection in their paint. This will help protect your finish to resist harsh weather conditions. We suggest storing patio furniture during the fall and winter months when not in use. If space is a problem, a variety of covers and tarps are available to help protect your investment.
6 What are the best painting methods to use?
Much of this is personal preference. However, some surfaces, like wicker and rattan, have a nicer finish when sprayed versus brushing.
7 What kind of finish, if any, should you use?
Most paint companies offer a variety of finishes to choose from - satin, gloss, textured, metallic, hammered, and more. As long as you use an appropriate paint for your exterior surface and follow the instructions, you should achieve the finish you want. The really nice thing about the variety of paints and finishes available is that people can turn "garage sale finds" into treasures. Mixing and matching old and new creates a different and personalized patio set.
8 How many coats should you use
Follow the instructions on the can, however many paints suggest two coats. When painting remember this rule of thumb: Thinner coats are better than thicker coats. Thinner coats dry faster and produce a harder finish.
9 What should you look for in a brush?
Is it the right paint brush for your paint? Oil-based paints generally have different bristles than latex paints. The brush label will specify this.
Is the paint brush the right size to do your project? If you are painting furniture, smaller brushes may be better. Ensure it fits into your paint container.
A roller can be great for large flat surfaces, like a tabletop. This can help reduce brush marks, too!
10 How does climate affect the painting process?
Weather is a big factor. For the most part, if you're getting a sunburn and sweating, it's probably too hot to paint. This will cause the paint to dry too fast. If it's too windy and you're using an aerosol paint, your paint may dissipate before it reaches the surface. Either wait for the wind to die down or use cardboard to build a spray tunnel. Humidity can affect the paint's dry time, which leaves more time for surface imperfections to take place on your finish. In general, 21ºC and about 50% humidity are ideal conditions for painting.
12 Any last tips?
Remember to protect other surfaces if working outside by using masking tape and drop cloths. Most importantly, regardless of your project, remember to always read product labels thoroughly and follow directions.
Make this twist on traditional lasagne with this recipe from Elana Karp and Suzanne Dumaine's new cookbook Plated.
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2 On a baking sheet, toss the mushrooms and squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper.
3 Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender, about 18 minutes.
4 While the vegetables roast, strip the stems from the kale leaves, then cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the garlic. In a large pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the kale and garlic and cook until the kale is wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
5 Remove the roasted mushrooms and squash from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Using a fork or spoon, mash the squash.
6 To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, sprinkle in the flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously, until no lumps remain. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, stirring to combine; remove the pot from the heat.
7 Spread a thin layer of the béchamel sauce over the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Add a layer of the lasagna noodles, followed by a layer of squash and mushrooms, the kale, more sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Repeat to make 2 more layers: noodles, vegetables, sauce and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the Gruyère.
8 Loosely cover the dish with foil, transfer to the oven and bake until the lasagna is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
9 Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.
10 Uncover the lasagna and continue baking until golden, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces. Wrap with foil and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, microwave the lasagna or warm it, covered, in the oven at 350°F.
Excerpted from Plated by Elana Karp & Suzanne Dumaine. Recipes Copyright © 2016 Elana Karp & Suzanne Dumaine, Photography copyright © 2016 Robert Bredvad. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers. All rights reserved.