Sunday, February 24, 2013

A muddle-free 2013: Decluttering your home

As the domesticity queen, I am always on the lookout for fresh ideas to organize and declutter my home. Sometimes, my husband Roger would say “Ingrid Callot, you’re a neat freak!”

He kids, but I don’t mind him saying that because he also knows the value of an organized life. Anyway, I have stumbled upon this Forbes article by EB Solomont about freeing the home of paper clutter. Included in the writer’s list of tips are the following:

Sorting and filing papers using grammar.
Sorting by verb (e.g., pay the bills) and filing by noun (e.g., recipes) is a fun way of identifying among papers I need now against those that I need to store away.

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Paying bills online.
I’ve started doing this years ago, and it seems to be one of the most efficient ways to lessen paper waste. In this day and age, most credit card and utility companies provide options for how their clients can receive billing statements and pay the bill.

Eliminating old papers.
I ask myself this: “Is this stack of magazines worth the space in my home, or do I have all the information here available online?”

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Integrating a filing system in home furnishing.
This is something that I have to work on. My plan of action: Make a dining room sideboard cabinet as a discreet file cabinet.

Organizing the home doesn’t have to be taxing and difficult. All it takes is a little bit of planning and a few minutes a day of execution.

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My Facebook page provides updates about home organizing solutions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What does 'heart' mean?

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I recently dug into my Ingrid Callot memorabilia and found this ‘artsy heartsy’ DIY card from my son Jacob, who was five years old then when he gave it to me for Valentine’s Day. Memories flashed back as I held the card -- the look on my son’s face stained with red water color, the mess he created on our tile floor, and the feeling of pride for my son, which overcame my chagrin for the messed-up floor. Anyway, as the month of hearts brings people closer together and makes problems seem lighter, I start to rethink what the ‘heart’ truly means.

For me, Valentine’s Day is just a hallmark holiday, and celebrating love only during this day is a fluff. I believe that ‘the heart’ should be exalted every day of the year, and what matters most is the attitude you show and how much effort you exert into anything you do. I’d like to relate my own attitudes with ‘heart.’ I hear metaphors, such as giving with heart, heart-pounding situation, or working with a heavy heart. It goes on and on, but for me, ‘heart’ means:

• Being there for someone

• Doing things with a smile

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• Sharing joy with the people I love

• Encouraging others to achieve their dreams

• Paying things forward and doing random acts of kindness no matter how small they may be

• Staying true to my convictions

• Listening more and speaking less.

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I have a longer list, but this article can only take a few. However, the important thing that I’d like you to take from this is to live life with a heart and spread it for the world to see.

Get to know more of my simple pleasures by following this Facebook page.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

DIY: Handcrafted cards for your loved ones

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Last Sunday, Jacob asked me to help him make cards. I was surprised at this sudden interest of his; so I took advantage of it. I rummaged through our cabinets and drawers for materials we can use. I also channeled the Ingrid Callot artist in me. With all the odds and ends in place and my son’s interest still intact, I taught him how to handcraft cards.

In the process, he and I have found some interesting ways to DIY these pretty little things.

1. Scraps need not be scrapped.

Some scraps should not be taken at face value. Paper bits, spare ribbons, and old buttons can do better being stored away in a chest of sorts than chucked into the trash bin. Surplus from cutouts can be folded into cards and embellished with those ribbons, buttons, and stickers.

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2. Channel nature

Nature is a maze of countless avenues for creativity. Dried flowers, leaves, and twigs can be used as ornaments on a plain card, adding an eclectic touch to the project.

3. Cutouts and more cutouts

Paper cutouts provide a foolproof way to create a beautiful card. Interesting pictures from magazines or recycled wrapping papers can instantly beautify and personalize greeting cards.

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4. Bring in the easel

Painting is another way of bringing character to the card. Old paints and stashed watercolors come in handy. Simple dots, hearts, and flowers are interesting enough, or randomly splashing the card with different colors can create a fascinating result.

More on handmade cards and other DIY projects on this MySpace page.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

REPOST: Relaxation Techniques to Clear Your Mind and Refocus

Is stress keeping you in a foul mood? Let this article assist you by giving some relaxation techniques to help you clear your mind.

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Amazing, isn't it, how a thing like a break up can invade every aspect of your life? You think about it night and day. You can't sleep, you can't eat, you can't think clearly. Your performance is slipping and before it gets you, you need to get ahold of this thing. You need to be able to function again. You need to relax!

Support groups definitely have their place, but you need something more portable. You need relaxation techniques you can take with you all the time; something you can do anywhere, whenever life starts you stressing again.

Learning relaxation techniques does not have to be complicated or expensive. You already possess all that you need.

Breathing Techniques

Relaxing breathing techniques come in many forms. The important part is to breathe! From ten deep breaths to trancelike meditational breathing, breathing is something anyone can do at any time. Breathing helps you to relax and clear your head. Breathing allows you to stop your fight or flight instinct and refocus.

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Focusing on your breathing now will stop the background chatter in your head. Here is one way to clear your mind and gain the perspective to go about your day. To start, sit or stand up straight and tall. Closing your eyes, if it's an option, may help take away distractions. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Fully expand your diaphragm. Notice as you do this that your stomach will rise. We're not being self conscious here - this is a sign that you are breathing properly, maximizing your oxygen intake with each breath. Hold the breath for a few moments and slowly exhale through your mouth. Envision yourself blowing your stress away. Picture the clutter leaving your body for now. See yourself as calm and relaxed. You may count as you go if it helps you to remain focused on your goal. Counting gives your brain something else to do and helps you from becoming sidetracked.

Repeat breathing for several breaths, until you feel calmed and refocused. Open your eyes and ask yourself, "What do I need to accomplish now?" Use this new focus to go about your day, refocusing as needed and allowing that you will deal with your emotional stress at a more opportune time.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), is a widely known relaxation technique. Like deep breathing techniques, it is portable. You can do it on your living room floor or in your office chair. By progressively tensing and relaxing your muscles, you gain body awareness. Chances are you haven't even realized you are walking around with your muscles tight and flexed. By repetitively tensing and relaxing your muscles, you learn to recognize when your body is in that tense and uptight state, and when you need to take a minute to breathe and relax tension away.

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Like deep breathing techniques, Progressive Muscle Relaxation allows you to refocus your life. PMR allows you to clear away tension, stop feeling like a train has hit you, and face tasks from a new place free from intellectual distractions.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a simple technique to follow. Start with your head, clearing away the greatest source of your tension and frustration. The idea is to tense a given muscle or group of muscles as tightly as you can, then relax the group and feel the difference between the two states. From here, try to take it a step further and relax your concerns away a little more.

The following are some examples of PMR in action. These are some exercises to do for each major area of the body, but don't stop there. Use the same basic method on any troublesome and tense areas. To begin, wrinkle your forehead and shut your eyes tightly. Clench your face and then let it go. Feel the difference between tense muscles and relaxed. Open your mouth wide. Let your mouth return to its natural position. Clench your jaw and relax it again.

Squeeze your head, neck and shoulders tightly together. Straighten and relax your posture. Do the same for your thighs and calves. Squeeze them together, point your toes, then curl them. Relax your legs and feet.

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As with breathing, try visualizing the sources of your stress as you tighten groups, then picture letting go of those emotions and people who are hurting you as you let go of the tension in your body and muscles. Repeat the process until you feel able to focus again.

When your emotional state is stressed, and you've lost direction, you need your own stress-relief toolbox that you can carry along with you anywhere. You need techniques that work for you even when you are at the office, facing deadlines, and an anxiety attacks rears its ugly head. Through simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing and muscle relaxation, you can clear your mind and gain much needed focus for the tasks ahead.

This Ingrid Callot Facebook page has more tips on how to keep stress away.