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STOP! the junk mail

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 11:33 PM Comments comments (2)

LOVE this caption!   Doesn't it just epitomize what the majority of us feel about unwanted paper?

If you're reading this, chances are that  you dislike the clutter (mental and physical) that junk mail creates, and would do your utmost to ensure that it doesn't get past your door.  

The folks over at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse are dedicated to empowering consumers on how to protect their privacy, and have a website that's both informative & resourceful.  See what they have to say about junk mail i.e what it is, and what you can do to significantly reduce it in your life. 

Junk mail is advertising of one sort or another that arrives in your postal mailbox along with the mail you really want or need. What we call junk mail is actually the result of direct marketing campaigns designed to get you to buy a product or service.  It's called direct marketing because it attempts to match you and your buying preferences with offers that are likely to make you buy a product or service.  

When you purchase a product or service and give the company your name and address, the chances are that you are being added to one or more mailing lists used for direct marketing.  This is true when you buy a car or a house, use a shopping card, sign up for a credit card, subscribe to a magazine, buy something from a catalog, give money to a charity, or fill out a product registration form.
Your name, address, and other contact information, as well as the type of product or service, is entered into a computer database.  
The business that collects the information will use it to solicit more business from you.  They might also rent their list to other businesses so they can send you advertisements.  Lists are valuable, and renting lists is big business.                                                                                                                 

2. HOW CAN I GET OFF?                                                           

There are a variety of strategies you can use to get off direct marketing lists:  

Mailing lists of the major national marketers                                     If you want to be taken off as many national mailing lists as possible, your first step is to contact the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS). You must re-register after three years.

  • Register for the Mail Preference Service by mail:  Send a letter plus a $1 check or money order to:

Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

Click here for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's simple mail-in form. 

When you register, your name and address are placed in a "Do not Mail" file which is updated monthly.  DMA members are required to update their lists at least quarterly, and some do it monthly.  Businesses that aren't members of the DMA may also take advantage of this "Do not Mail" list, so registering with the DMA will reduce much of your junk mail.

  • Register online: For a quicker option than postal mail, sign up online at theDMA's website. There is no fee for online registration. 

  • Register names of deceased: The Direct Marketing Association also gives you the ability to register the names of deceased loved ones with their Deceased Do Not Contact list(DDNC) at

Flyers and Advertising supplements                                            Flyers are those ads stuffed in with other advertisements and delivered to your mailbox by the handful.  Envelopes containing an assortment of ads are another in this category, as are card decks which are a group of post-card sized bundles of advertising on card stock.                                                                                                             

The ads are often from local merchants and may be for carpet cleaning, window replacement, restaurants, cheap electronics and any number of other products and services. They are usually addressed to "Resident" or "Occupant" at your address. 
To reduce this kind of junk mail, do the following:    
  • Look for a mailing label attached directly to the flyer. You may see the name of the distribution company near your mailing address. If you don't find a label, you may find a phone number printed on the edge of the flyer itself.

  • Contact the company as indicated below, and request that your address be taken off the mailing list. If you're making a written request, send a copy of your mailing label along with the letter. If you call, chances are you'll have to work through a telephone tree and leave your name and address on an answering machine. It usually takes at least four to eight weeks to be removed. In some cases, the company may have a website that will allow you to remove yourself from their lists.

These are the major residential or occupant mailers:

  • Red Plum (Valassis): You can remove your name and addressfrom Red Plum (Valassis) mailings by completing their form.  

  • PennySaver in California and South Florida or The Flyer in West Florida: You can remove your name and address from these mailings two ways:

You may have to notify the distribution company more than once to make sure that your address has been removed from the mailing list. Once your name has been removed from the company's mailing list, you are also likely to have to remind your postal carrier not to deliver the advertising flyers. 

Catalogs, mail order lists and magazines   
When you buy something from a mail order catalog, your transaction is likely to be reported to Abacus. Abacus members, mostly catalog and publishing companies, contribute and exchange information about their customers. Your name may also be sold to other catalog and publishing companies. One way or another, when you ask for one catalog, you're likely to get catalogs from other companies as well.  

There are two ways to opt out of the Abacus database. You'll need your name, including any middle initial, your current address, and if you've moved recently, your previous address.

  • By e-mail: [email protected]
  • By mail:
    Epsilon Data Services
    P.O. Box 1478
    Broomfield, CO 80038

As a DMA member, Abacus subscribes to and suppresses any name and address on the DMA's Mail Preference Service file from its direct mail marketing lists.  Companies that do not participate in the DMAand Abacus opt-out programs must be contacted directly. This includes magazines, charities and many professional associations. 

It may take some hunting, but you can usually find a toll-free customer service number and/or address on the advertising piece.  
Let them know you not only want to be off their list, but you don't want them providing your contact information to other companies.

For magazines, it is best to inform them that you do not want your name and address sold to others when you subscribe. Be sure to inform them in writing.

Look here for ways of dealing with unsolicited mail from the sources below:
- Pre Approved offers of credit
- Phone books & reverse directories
- U.S. Postal Service & the National Change of Address database
- Charities & Non profits
- Sweepstakes and prizes
- Product registration cards & Consumer Surveys
- Supermarket loyalty cards
- Public Records
- Data Compilers & Mailing list companies

Value your privacy?  Want to take control of your personal information and limit accessibility?  Be proactive and find out more about your Privacy Rights!

Resolutions - what's your take?

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 2:17 AM Comments comments (0)
During a recent conversation with a friend, our discussion led to New Year's resolutions; the merits(or lack thereof) of setting any, and whether doing so at this particular time of the year didn't infact set a person up for failure.  

This got me wondering about New Year's resolutions(NYR), and why they are made: Is it because it is what's expected (societal pressure);  or is it because the person has committed to making a lifestyle change, is ready for the change and simply wants a fresh start at the beginning of the year? 
According to a recent review from the University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology, it appears that setting of resolutions isn't so much the problem, as it is in maintaining them.  Does this then mean that we are going about it (setting resolutions) the wrong way, and if so, how do we correct this?  Or is it just a case of making unsustainable commitmments?  If so, what constitutes sustainability and how does one go about achieving this?
So as you ponder the above, here's to a more balanced and productive 2013! 

Your thoughts are welcome .

State of Affairs

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 5:34 PM Comments comments (2)
Having an organized fridge is a great way to save time & minimize your costs.  At any given time, you are aware of what you have, how soon it needs to be used, and what you need to stock up on.
Recently many people in the Mid West to the Mid Atlantic region were left without power for a number of days,  and unfortunately had to deal with the discomfort of having no a/c & food spoilage amongst other things.
Being one of the unlucky few who had to throw away food, I figured it would be a good time to sanitize and re-organize  the fridge.  Now I must confess that prior to the storm, I hadn't been as diligent in maintaining an organized state of affairs, and as a result had to trash quite a bit of stuff!
As consumers, we have the power to curb waste by  being more realistic about what we are buying.  For instance, if you are a small household, then it probably wouldn't make much sense to buy in bulk since the food may expire before you get to use it.  Also paying more attention to proper storage methods of perishable items is another way to do so.
Perhaps you'll be inspired to become more conscientious if you think about how often you have to: 
- Throw away spoiled food. 
- Clean the resultant mess, not to mention the amount of time you waste each time you do so.
- Replace what you've thrown plus the associated costs eg. having to buy take-out since you can't make a salvage meal. 
To get the most bang for your buck, try incorporating the following practices:
  • Fruits and vegetables should be stored in the crisper drawers
  • Keep perishables in the cooler areas e.g. store dairy products in the back.
  • Store raw meat in the coldest section/on the bottom level above crisper drawers.  If you store above this level, you risk contaminating any food that may be below.
  • Store leftovers properly i.e. put them in appropriate containers(clear preferably), and label each with an appropriate description, including the date the food was packed.
  • When you add on, make sure you rotate the items so that newer stuff goes behind and the older ones get to be used up in a timely manner.
  • Avoid keeping the fridge door open so that the internal temperature remains constant.
  • Keep eggs in their original container - you don't want them picking up any smells that may be wafting around. 
  • Store milk on the door - temperature is much warmer.
  • Overload the crisper drawers/fridge because items will be forgotten.  I prefer to have my produce pre-cut, pre-packaged and organized accordingly (see pic above).  
Please note, these are just guidelines.  Feel free to organize in a manner that makes sense to you, and that suits your current lifestyle.  
How do you keep an organized fridge? 

Time management - Who's counting anyway?

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 11:18 PM Comments comments (1)
Accomplishing goals in a timely manner is a balancing act for most, and more often than not the scales aren't  tipped in our favor.  Think about it; if you were to rate yourself, would you say that you use your time efficiently: 
- Always?
- Most of the time?
- Some of the time?
- Never?

Depending on your response, you may not be struggling to "Keep up," and that's great!  On the flip side, you may be feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that you want.  In this case you'll need to identify where the inefficiencies are(lost time), and learn to manage yourself by looking  inward and focus on things that matter to you.

For more balance and productivity in aspects of your life, let's look at how time wasters impact you life negatively,  and how you can  address them for more effectiveness:

Poor task management
Creating action-oriented lists enables for proper planning, and gets you to "commit all the details" on paper.  This way, the probability that your memory will "let you down" is minimized.  Not planning at all/ahead may result in unclear definition of what needs to be done, unnecessary repeating of tasks, and a poor estimation of time that should be spent on each.  
Minimize or avoid unplanned interruptions/distractions (phone calls/emails/internet, social media/ visitors) on your time whilst working,  so that you can maintain focus on what's important.  Scheduling specific time frames for different activities i.e. family vs work  is a good way to establish this.

Taking on too much
Not saying no, and helping everyone who requests you to, is not beneficial to you or others around you. Learning to set clearly defined boundaries, sticking to them  and only accepting what you can dedicate yourself to 100% creates the best output.  

Lack of delegation
Trying to accomplish everything on your own because you don't think anyone else can do it as well as you can?  Give yourself the gift of time and concentrate on what really matters to you (growing your business, improving your work-life balance, becoming more productive etc).  Learn to trust in others and their abilities, and delegate whenever possible - especially whatever is routine/basic. 

So who's counting anyway?  At the end of the day, the choice is yours to make.  Hopefully, you will be inspired to start the process of stemming the time drain!  Remember, you don't have to tackle everything at once - a step at a time is often enough to start a positive wave. 

Storage solutions - Front Entryway

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM Comments comments (7)
Let's face it, first impressions make lasting ones!   

A home's front entryway impacts a visitor positively or negatively,  depending on what it looks like.  

So, are you putting your best foot forward when it comes to yours?  

If you have a busy household, there is a higher likelihood that your entryway won't always be in as perfect a state as you would like it to be.  However, there are ways to make it more functional so that any clutter that arises is easily contained.  

Assigning aspecific homefor personal belongings (shoes, coats, hats, keys, umbrellas etc.) that may live in this area is one way to do this.  

Woven storage baskets are a good way to contain personal belongings.  

Mounted Pegshave been used here to hold bags, but they can also be used to hang other items such as coats, hats, scarves etc. 

Another is to assigneach household membera specific place to contain their items or documents or for posting/putting their messages.

Name tags are a good way to do so because everyone gets to know which container(in this case basket) belongs to whom.

Color-coding  is another option, and has been used here on the bulletin board + magazine file holders to identify each household member's section.  

Children can and should be encouraged from a young age to do their bit in keeping the space organized.   Provide them with storage options that are:
- Simple to use
- Accessible 
- Easily identifiable 

Labelingeach  bin with each child's name/assigninga numberto each peg and bin makes it easy for him/her to put shoes away (first photo) or towels and other items (second photo) away.  Photos of the child could also be used as a marker.

For those who live in space challenged apartments, condos or houses,being creative and making the most of multi-functional storage would be an efficient way to utilize your space.   

Tree storage benches make it possible to display art, hang coats, hats or scarves; store necessary personal items;  and can even provide a seat for putting on/taking off shoes.

Ashoe-storage benchis another great option because you can control the number of shoes that you have in the entryway at any given time.

Maximize storage by making the most of your physical space i.e. vertical (walls, doors), horizontal (floor space) and the ceiling.  Check out the following cool ideas on how to do exactly that as highlighted by the folks over atShelterness:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM Comments comments (9)
CLEAN, HEALTHY, GREEN- wouldn't it be great  if we could all describe our environment in this way?  Yesterday was Earth Day, and this got me thinking about the impact that we all could have on our surroundings just by making one little change in our daily habits/practices.  Think about it:  if you were to consciously eliminate or reduce waste, don't you think you would effect a change, and a positive one at that too?   

According to EPA, the amount of waste generated in the US is on the increase, and, there are benefits to be gained by adopting sustainable practices.  Shared below are some of EPA's guidelines, on what you can do to reduce and reuse waste:

  • Reduce food waste by using up the food you already bought and have in the house instead of buying more. You already paid for it - so use it!
  • Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
  • Reuse items around the house such as rags and wipes, empty jars and mugs, party decorations, and gift wrap.
  • Buy products in concentrate, bulk, and in refillable containers. They reduce packaging waste and can save you money!
  • Return used car tires to retailers or wholesalers that recycle or retread them. Tires are banned from most landfills, and illegally dumped tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
  • When buying products, check the labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

  • Recycle office paper, newspapers, beverage containers, electronic equipment and batteries. Check with your local recycling facility to see what materials they accept.
  • Consider using safer alternatives to common and potentially hazardous chemicals used in products and processes.
  • For businesses, there may be federal and/or state regulations on the disposal of electronics and mercury-containing lamps.
  • To help reduce waste, use two-sided printing and copying, buy supplies made with recycled content, and recycle used printer cartridges.
  • Before replacing a computer that no longer fits your needs, investigate enhancing the computer's capacity by installing a hard disk drive, chip, or memory-expansion card. Such modifications can be made with little know-how using the help of the manufacturer or a do-it-yourself guide.
  • When purchasing new electronics, consider a leasing program that includes proper reuse and recycling.
  • After office festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
AT SCHOOL(Students)
  • Before starting a new school year, sort through the school supplies on-hand. Many supplies, like notebooks or pens and pencils, can be reused or recycled. You can share your used books and other school supplies with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren.
  • For school dances or other events, decorations and other supplies can be borrowed or rented. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse them.
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition.
  • If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste if your school has separation bins!
  • To reduce packaging waste, use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging, use compact or concentrated products, or buy products in bulk.

(Faculty & Staff)
  • Before starting a new school year, sort through your materials. Many supplies can be reused or recycled. Notebooks, folders, and binders can be reused.
  • To reduce packaging waste, use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging, use compact or concentrated products, or buy products in bulk.
  • Borrow or rent your decorations and supplies for parties and events. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse your decorations and supplies.

  • If staying in a hotel, check the bedding and linen policy with housekeeping. Some hotels ask that the customer request the bedding or linen be laundered by putting a specific note card on the bed and leaving the towels on the floor. This practice conserves water resources. If your hotel does not follow this practice, use a comment card to ask them to adopt it.
  • When you're at the mall, don't get a new shopping bag for every item-combine bags or put them in your backpack. (And be sure to hold onto the receipt!)
  • When you leave your hotel room, switch off the air conditioning, lights, and TV to reduce energy use.
  • Before you leave home, adjust the air conditioning and water heater thermostats to conserve energy.
  • While on your trip, remember to take only the amount of products that you need from restaurants or lodgings. Take only napkins, condiment packets, free brochures, maps, or coupons that you will actually use.

Color Your World - Indoors {II}

Posted on April 9, 2012 at 6:46 PM Comments comments (4)
- They packed a punch!  With their intensity and lusciousness, they filled our senses with vibrancy, at times shocking us with their audacity.

- Enticed we were by their softness, creating in us a sense of weightlessness. 

- Oh how they mixed and matched - boldly & beautifully, toned down,  contrasting & complementary - in ways perhaps that the mind had yet  to comprehend. 

- Showered we were with flowers, and our very core spoken to by the ancestral and native prints.

Yes indeed, the Spring/Summer 2012 trends landed with a bang!  True, trends are not timeless, but does that mean that you can't or shouldn't partake of the spoils?  Most certainly not!   Incorporating what's in vogue can be done either by going all out and embracing change on a larger scale:  

 Or in smaller doses, in which case you may be happier with pops of color here and there:

Perhaps bold strokes are not your cup of tea,  and what you truly crave is a soothing palette?  Then it's really a matter of choice about which room(s) and how you'd like to create this mood.  

Painting the walls and using colored or  printed accessories achieves this effect.


Using colored tiles

Match to your own tune, and mix to your heart's desire .  Whether you do this by incorporating an accent color and furnishings that have mixed prints/patterns, or you choose to go for a muted tone, indulge your inner soul and come alive, or just be!  

Burst alive!  Floral prints, or patterns are a great way to bring color into your home.  They can be used to create vibrancy,  calmness or even as conversation pieces.  Make use  of furniture, rugs, curtains or blinds and other accessories to achieve the mood you seek.

Whether all you want is to immerse your senses, and be surrounded by flowers

Or just have a touch of them... go ahead and indulge yourself.

Want a touch of the exotic in your home?  An ability to revel in aspects of a culture that you attracted to?  How?  By investing in furnishings and color that depict this element be it African, American,  Asian,  Australian or European.

African inspired:
Furniture (dark wood) & leather, wall art, picture frames 

Asian inspired wall covering from rice paper

Set a trend  - YOUR STYLE, YOUR HOME, YOUR WAY.  Be sure to share any pics and where you got your inspiration from.  Thanks!  

Color your world - Indoors {I}

Posted on March 26, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (2)
Color has an amazing ability to transform a space by:
- adding character
- tying together elements of a room for more cohesion, or
creating a mood {soothing, productive, vibrant etc.}

So this spring, why not kick-start your transition from winter by injecting some color into your home and surroundings?  How you ask? By doing so one room at a time!  

If you do not have the time, or budget for a large scale paint job, consider painting  either the interior/exterior of your cabinets(as shown in the pictures below) for a refreshing take on your space.


Tiling and grouting not your cup of tea?  How about paneling  walls for that particular dose of old world charm - no?  Not that either?  Yet you still want "that look", "that vibe",  or to have your kitchen feeling like it's been remodeled, right?  Well whatever your inspiration, let your inner style shine, and get acquainted with Wallpaper.   

For a pinch here(as cabinet door insert) 

A dab there(in the background)
Or a dose everywhere

 Explore all the design possibilities that this technique has to offer, and find what resonates with you.

Accessorize, accessorize,   accessorize for quick, easy and instant gratification.   Have fun while picking out the colors, patterns or textures that will help transform your kitchen into the space you'd like it to be.

- Use colorful kitchenware 

- Add a vase of flowers, or a bowl of fresh fruit, or an herb garden,  or whatever catches your fancy for that extra burst of color.


(Photos: Better Homes & Garden) 

In what ways have you  added color to your kitchen?  Please share your stories.


Be Inspired

Posted on August 20, 2011 at 12:48 AM Comments comments (0)
Last time I checked, summer was just beginning and now, it's coming to an end or already has (according to Airline speak, summer ends on Aug 23rd)!  Given the longer daylight hours, has it been all play or have you managed to pull off the right balance between work and play?  Whatever the case may be, how do you stay/get inspired to work on your at-home organizing projects?

With the temperatures being what they have been i.e. long sultry days, I can see how tempting it would be to chill out and avoid working on say a garage, attic or outdoor project!  If this has been your goal, and you still haven't got around to it, or you have but just couldn't get past the heat then try and plan for an early start (when temperatures are cooler).  However, if this is not possible, set up a cooling and hydrating station where you can take a break as needed, and marshal the forces of friends or other family members to help out - after all, many hands make light work!  Also, ensure that all your supplies are on hand in order to avoid the irritation that comes with not being able to find what you need when you need it, and to avoid the disruption of your work flow.

On the other hand, if the day is lovely, why would you want to spend it  indoors, right?  Rather than fighting that feeling, go outside and commune with nature (whatever this means to you).  Feed your spirit and allow your inner engine to be revved up!  You may be surprised to find that your "hiatus" has puts a positive spin on what previously seemed challenging or uninspiring. Therefore, roll up your sleeves and get to work - a balanced space = a balanced mind!

As summer wraps up, enjoy what's left of it, but do what needs-to and must-be done.

Is that the time?

Posted on June 5, 2011 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (8)
Can't be!  How is that even possible? Yet, you haven't even scratched the surface of your to-do-list!  Does that sound familiar? But you vow, come rain or sun, to get everything done before the day is over!  Is that even possible, and are you really being honest with yourself?  

Let's stick to the facts for a minute: a day has only 24 hours in it, right?  Within this time frame you need to work, eat, rest(sleep, chill out) and play (I see the raised eyebrows... yes,it is doable) right?  So tell me, how much more could you possibly squeeze into the remaining hours without compromising something else in the process?

You're probably thinking that life is all about compromise anyway, and that something is bound to suffer.  True... given the fast pace of life today, and the ever growing demands on your time, you can be forgiven for thinking that you shall never get to "catch up," or never get to do all the things you want to do.  

However, I want to challenge you to think differently, to change your approach to doing things so that your outcome is more positive.  For smarter use of time, try and incorporate the following steps into your life: 

Plan, plan, plan... get into the habit of planning your tasks or activities beforehand i.e. a day/a week/a month in advance.  What this does is enable you to see how well/poorly your using your time, and eventually gets you to develop the discipline and determination required for a more efficient and effective you.

Always begin by categorizing your tasks in the following manner:
- Must be done
- Should be done
- Can be deferred or delegated 
This enables you to become more diligent with your time, less of a procrastinator and more productive in what you do.

Befriend your calendar.  Use it to plan your lists, your tasks and your daily activities so that you have an overview of all important appointments and events, errands, routines etc on hand.  By so doing, you get to see where you are being unrealistic about your time allocation.

Don't be too hard on yourself if your off to a slow start.  Remember, it takes a certain amount of discipline, motivation, and practice to make things perfect.  As Orison Swett Marden so aptly put it,"The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably in thought and act."