HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

How to Get Rid of Ants April 12, 2012

Filed under: General,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:43 pm
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It’s hard to feel good about organizing or decorating when ants go marching two by two through your space.  For those of you who think I lead a charmed life, sorry to pop your balloon.  We have ants.

True, these ants have tenure.  I’ve only lived in this house 4 years, and the ants have probably been here for most of the hundred years the house has stood here.  But I don’t have to like it, and I don’t have to share my snacks with them.

Since I have kids and I like to be all goody-goody about reducing chemicals in my home, I don’t just head for the pesticide aisle.  A couple of years ago, I contacted Mike McGrath, who hosts the show You Bet Your Garden on WHYY, which is a wealth of resources on plants, organic gardening, and natural lawn care techniques.  He pointed me to this little product, that has revolutionized my war on bugs.

ant killer

It’s a bit different because you don’t spray your stuff or your crawlers.  No, this is more subtle.  You just put a couple drops of Pic Liquid Ant Bait Killer down in a little cardboard or plastic doormat (included), and let the ants walk on it.  And they will, because this stuff is like Easter candy to them.  Did you know that ants are very systematic?  They follow in each other’s footsteps to their food source, and then the ants go marching home again, all in a line.  But at my house, their little legs will be coated with blue juice, which they carry home to their colony.  Within days, all of the ants in the colony have had a taste of the Kool-Aid.  No more ants.

Still, they are ants, and I have to go through this every spring.  I’ve been doing this for 4 years, and you see how much of this tiny bottle I’ve used?  Since I’m using so little, I worry a lot less about unintended targets getting a taste of my blue wrath.

After that’s all taken care of, I can get back to the fun stuff, decorating and organizing for spring.  Here’s hoping for peace around your baseboards.


Candyless Month: SMART Goals Help Organize Smarter Snacks February 16, 2012

Filed under: General,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:43 pm
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Remember when I told you I was going to try to get a handle on my candy addiction in January?  Boy, am I glad that’s over!

You might be wondering, how is this an organizing or decorating story?  Trust me, it is both.

The thing about organizing is that if you have a plan, a system, and the right tools on hand, you can be successful.  Without any of those things, well, you get more of what you’ve always gotten before.

My plan was to cut out my candy binges.  Not calories.  Not candy entirely.  Just the 3 o’clock and 8 o’clock binges.  That’s where I sit down and eat half a bag of M&M’s or an entire box of Girl Scout cookies.  My system was to have some substitute sweets on hand, including frozen fruit, oranges, Greek yogurt, and roasted vegetables. And the tools, well, that’s where you came in.  Every time I went into the pantry, I thought about this post I was eventually going to have to write, and so I thank you for being there for me.

My goals were SMART:  specific, measurable, applicable, realistic, and time-bound.  There was absolutely no reason I couldn’t be binge-free for thirty days.

Things pretty much went as planned.  Not having my daily sugar dose, some mornings I definitely woke up less sluggish.  Sugars that come from processed foods and candy really do gum up my works, which is way more noticeable than in my twenties.

Oh, and I remembered that I needed to drink more water.  Not just pour it and let it sit nearby, but actually drink it.  Osmosis isn’t a good way to get your hydration.

Then, near the end of the month, I took on a two day staging job, and my system failed.  (That’s the decorating part of the story.) I fell back on chowing through an entire bag of Skittles to get me through the job instead of taking sensible breaks for water and real food.  Skittles are so seductive, I even got my assistant hooked on them.  Sorry, Jill.  Although the Skittles.com site is one of the biggest wastes of time ever, I have to agree with the tweet/quote, “Where there are Skittles, there’s a way.”

OK, one slip is not bad.  But then I had a weak moment in the evening, which began with me reaching for a box of chocolate drizzled popcorn that I bought as a hostess gift in case I was invited to a holiday party.


Note to self:  buying candy just in case is probably a bad idea.

I struggled with this one, so close to the end of the month.  So I flipped the box and checked the stats.  10 servings in the box.  130 calories per serving.  Are you kidding me?  Stalling, I pulled out 9 plastic baggies, intending to eat just one serving.  It works for those Nabisco hundred calorie packs; it might work for me.  Here’s what one serving looked like.

Pathetic. Hardly worth the calories.

That particular night, my better nature won out.  I opted for a tub of Greek yogurt instead and saved about a gazillion calories.  ‘Cuz you know I was not just going to eat one serving of that popcorn.  You know I was going to eat the ENTIRE BOX, right?


Organizing my pantry and my thoughts help me stay on track.  I have no idea if I lost weight or not, but I can definitely say that one of my favorite shirts feels more loose.  Yeah!

So, it all ends well.  Borrowing a title from my blogger friend, Stephanie over at Intentional Girl, I’ve become a bit more intentional about my snacks.  Which is good, because candy season never really seems to end, does it?


SMART Goals in the New Year January 10, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:26 pm
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Resolutions stink.  The new year holds so much promise, I hate to think about mucking it up with resolutions that most of us break before the New Years noisemakers are put away. Franklin Covey compares how resolutions have changed over the last ten years that they’ve been tracking them.  My goal to improve my overall health is in line with the third most popular resolution.

So here’s a shocker.  This year, I’ve got a 30-day January goal, because I know I can be succesful for 30 days without setting myself up for resolution failure. I’m going to try to tame my sweet tooth, which gets really fierce at 3 pm and 8 pm.  So, no more candy and yucky carb binges at these key times.

Thirty days.  This is do-able.

The best tool I know of to help increase the chance of success is SMART.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Applicable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  Instead of a vague wish to eat healthier, here is my plan:


Eliminate afternoon and evening sugar binges.  Fruit will replace the junk.  When I just need to keep my mouth busy, I’ll pop some Trident.


This is a binary function.  I either do or don’t indulge on a daily basis.  But I’m not cutting out all sweets, just binges.  You know what I mean.  (Crud, when is Girl Scout Cookie season??? I may be in trouble already.)


I’m not trying to lose weight, although that may happen.  I’m trying to improve my health overall, even out my energy levels through the day, and improve my oral health.  Candy can be hard on your teeth.


I’ve loved sweets all my life, so I’ve got to have alternatives on hand, because a total swearing off just won’t work.  Did you read this month’s Getting It Together newsletter for my roasted vegetable recipe? Today’s pot of roasted veggies included:
white potatoes
garlic cloves
yellow pattypan squash
white button mushrooms
 Here’s what one of my readers had to say, just today:   I love reading your newsletter; you always have a good story and some timely advice.  This month you also had a wonderful recipe that I made and loved.!  I couldn’t believe how tasty the veggies were, and they required so little preparation.  Very healthy too!  Thank you for the recipe!

Time bound

A 30 day moratorium is reasonable.  I figure I can do anything for 30 days.
Experts agree that accountability also drastically improves the chances of succeeding in your goals.  So now that I’ve told a few of my favorite friends what I’m up to for the new year, it was really hard to give in and mess up today.  I ended up with just two small squares of chocolate and a handful of honey roasted peanuts, and that was mostly because I had a bad start to the day by accidentally skipping breakfast.
I hope you’ll let me know what you are up to this New Year, so we can support each other.  If you haven’t written it down, use SMART to guide your planning.

Organize A Pantry To Meet New USDA Dietary Guidelines July 6, 2011

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:45 pm
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With the USDA’s recently updated food graphic and dietary guidelines, we’re leaving behind the food pyramid that many of us learned about in grade school.

  One thing we didn’t really learn way back then, and still isn’t addressed in the guidelines, was what to keep in the pantry.  We’re in the midst of a food renaissance of sorts, and it’s fashionable, but not always practical to shop local, fresh, and often for the larger portions of veggies, fruits and grains that the government advocates.  Here’s how to outfit your pantry so you can always have nutritious basics or entire meals that taste good on hand.

Pantry Twelve Commandments 

  1. Keep whole wheat rolls, pasta, and brown rice on hand for a quick and healthy side dish for any type of  meal. Couscous and polenta are also easy to store and easy to fix staples that fulfill the grain “wedge” of the plate.  
  2. Avoid storing non-food items, like cleaners, light bulbs, plastic storage containers, in the pantry.  If you must, assign them their own shelf.  These items just become clutter, and you really want to see your foods clearly so you can prepare them easily.
  3. Store all food items together in a pantry or in cabinets that are close to the food prep area.
  4. Keep similar items together.  By doing this, you are more likely to use items before they expire.  You’ll also be less likely to over buy the same items at the store.
  5. When putting groceries away, put newer items behind older items of the same type.  Use the FIFO (first in, first out) rule.
  6. Eat down to the shelves twice a year.  Do the same with the freezer.  See how creative you can be with your combinations.  Stop buying items you never actually eat, regardless of their health claims.
  7. Store small quantities of opened items or small items like sauce packets in clear containers, jars, or baskets.  Re-use empty glass jars, like those from spaghetti sauce, to store small quantities of crackers, nuts, dried beans, and rice.
  8. Use risers to allow visibility to cans near the back of the shelf.  Canned beans are a great way to introduce veggie-based protein into your  diet.  Canned meats can be an economical source of protein for use in soups and veggie-based dishes.
  9. Use rolling carts to make items on the floor easier to corral and access.
  10. Adjust shelf positions if needed, and add rolling shelves for too-deep or hard-to-access shelves.
  11. Use lazy-susans to make full use of corners or high shelves.
  12. If you want help in the kitchen, label shelves so others know where items should go.  Have your family help you put items away, and you’ll likely learn what they prefer.  Load up on plant-based items they like, and try something new from time to time.