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Cereal BoxesKids love cereal (and I must admit, I do too). School is in full force and everyone is looking for places to stash all those school papers, bills, catalogs, and schedules. Here’s a fun and creative way to make use of the empty cereal boxes. Get the kids involved in reusing the boxes to make handy holders for their desk and yours. Kids can let their imaginations run wild by decorating the outside of the box with decorative tissue paper, wrapping paper, markers, stickers, and fabric for a more tailored look. The larger cereal boxes work best for storing books and folders. The smaller boxes are great for keeping smaller odds and ends contained. For the safety of the child, adults need to cut the box with a utility knife at the desired angle and height. Wrap the decorative paper or fabric around the box to see how much is needed. Then unwrap, cut and secure the paper or fabric to the box with double-sided tape or glue. Trim the excess paper/fabric with scissors.

Take a moment to leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas!

For more tips and tricks for organizing your home or office, sign up to gain access to Grace Brooke’s ‘Organizer’s Tool Bag’.


bannerI love to simplify! I am always looking for ways to take less steps, get more done in less time, and eliminate time-wasters.

My world revolves at a fast pace. With children to care for, a business to operate, relationships to tend, and a home to maintain, I need to simplify in order to THRIVE. If you want to thrive in your personal and/or professional life, I encourage you to click here and sign up to gain access to my Organizer’s Tool Bag. I share tips on organizing products which I love and steps you can take to simplify & thrive.

Over the past month I have been working on simplifying my online presence (blog, website, and social networking) through eliminating visual clutter. I realized that clutter on the screen can be just as distracting as clutter on the desk. It has been a process, just as getting organized is. And once again, it is a refreshing feeling to let go and keep only what I really enjoy and love. By doing this, it creates space for me to grow and THRIVE!

What one step can you do today to simplify your life, your home, your work space, or your family? Take 10-minutes for yourself and take action on that one step. It will put a smile on your face!

For more tips & tools on simplifying your life, visit my website at and join my page on Facebook.

Simply Yours,


Before I had children I was very crafty. I was making my own greeting cards, using rubber stamps to make impressions into velvet and then decorating with the fabric, and creating other decor for my home. It has been a few years since I’ve had a chance to pull my sewing machine out of the closet. With little hands and sticky fingers crawling all over the place, it is difficult to begin a project and return to it in tack. There are times when I miss those days…where the craft projects cover the desk/kitchen table for days. My craft room turned into my daughter’s room five years ago. There is a different joy I experience in that room these days.

When I stumpled upon this fun idea for making your own accordion organizer to hold life’s little odds and ends, my creative juices started flowing again! It is perfect for storing business cards, ‘to-do’ list items, stamps, receipts, tickets, photos, and so much more. Keep one in your car, at your desk, and on your night stand to organize your thoughts, notes to self, and action items. Personalize the organizer with ribbons, labels, and a monogram.

If you are short on space and time and looking for a DIY project to help you organize your life, this organizer can be completed in an hour and requires little clean up. Makes a sweet gift too.

Head to for instructions on how to create your very own personalized ‘odds and ends’ organizer.

For more organizing tips and ideas, visit my website at Gain access to my ‘organizing tool box’ by signing up here. You will receive an email once a month filled with some of my favorite organizing tools and easy tips to simplify life.

refrigeratorYour refrigerator and what you keep in it (along with how you keep it) can say a lot about you.
A cluttered and dirty refrigerator can not only spoil your food, but your mood too!

Eating healthy, eliminating wasteful spending, and having order in your refrigerator can improve your life in many ways.

You want to keep your fridge as clutter-free as possible so cold air can circulate properly.

Here are some guidelines to follow…
1. Upper Shelf: For easy access, store last night’s leftovers and healthy, snack-size munchies (baby carrots, celery sticks, cheese sticks, etc.) in a clear, plastic container here. When you are hungry for a quick bit these should be the easiest things to reach for. Make sugar free drinks (like Crystal Light or Wylers) and keep them easily accessible.

2. Top Shelf: Put the most perishable items – such as milk, eggs, sour cream, and yogurt – in this cool spot. This is the closest spot to the fan. (Eggs kept in the door will go bad faster from the changing temperature every time you open and close the door.) Tip – To buy the freshest eggs, don’t go by the ‘expiration’ or ‘sell-by’ date on the carton. Every carton has a #1 to #365 printed on the side. That number is the day of the year the eggs were packed. If one carton has the #225 and the next has #240, the eggs with the #240 are 15 days fresher!

3. Middle Shelf: This is the ideal place to store lunch meats that are stored in airtight containers (not in the bags provided by the deli counter). Lunch meat can spoil quickly if not stored properly. If the meat has a sweet smell or has a slippery/slimy coating, toss it out. Before storing hot soups or sauces, let them cool on the counter for no more than two hours or chill the soup container in  ice water before refrigerating. Otherwise, the heat from the soups/sauces can raise the refrigerators temperature. Tip – Keep the fridge set at 34 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer set at zero degrees Fahrenheit or less. These temperatures help prevent the growth of microorganisms that can cause food to spoil.

4. Bottom Shelf/Drawer: Raw meats and poultry should be kept on the lowest level to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods, which can pose a safety risk. If you have two bottom drawers, store candies, soda, beer, and other ‘junk’ foods in the top drawer. If they are out of sight you are less likely to think about or reach for them when you have a craving.
5. Butter Hood And Egg Cups On Door: These are cute compartments, but should be left for nonfood items like batteries, medications, and makeup. Butter and eggs can quickly lose quality due to the area being too warm. 6. Door Shelves: Use this space for foods that are not so temperature-sensitive, like salad dressings, ketchup, and jelly. Store dry herbs and spices that are not used frequently here as well. The cool, dark refrigerator will help to keep the flavors of the herbs and spices to last longer.

6. Door Shelves: Use this space for foods that are not so temperature-sensitive, like salad dressing, ketchup, and jelly. This is also the ideal space to store dried herbs and spices since the coolness of the refrigerator help keep the flavors lasting longer.

Tip: Have a pre-printed list of foods commonly consumed on or near the refrigerator for easy access. Highlight or check off items that need to be purchased. Just grab-n-go next time you head to the super market.

Your Efficiency Specialist

Your Efficiency Specialist


The March 2009 issue of my e-newlsetter is posted. Take a peek and read about why you should simplify your life. Click the link below.

While you’re there, sign up to receive future newsletters sent to your inbox!

Grace Brooke, Your Efficiency Specialist’s newsletter

These days I don’t watch much TV and therefore, I have done away with cable. However, I saw via email that Oprah was having a show on ‘simplifying your life’. I had to watch! Off to mom’s I went…

Oprah’s guest, Mary Carlomagno spoke about how “she started to take stock of her life and identify areas that seemed off balance. As an experiment, she began giving up one thing—like alcohol, elevators or shopping—each month. ‘When you make these subtle changes, and you practice it every day, it really opens up space,'” she says. When you create space in your life, something new can come in.

Mary also went on to say, “You shouldn’t think of the process (simplifying) as a punishment. ‘It can’t be, ‘Oh, you’re taking this away from me,’ she says. ‘It’s: ‘What am I opening up? What am I going to gain from this experience?’ And with this experience, you gain the appreciation for the things in life you are so blessed to have.”

Watch Video

What does your space say about you? How does it FEEL? What does it look like? Are you spending too much of your time and money on things that don’t add value or quality (spiritual) to your life? Cutting back on unneccessary stuff and eliminating wasteful spending will allow space for new joys in your life. It gives you the opportunity to spend more time with loved ones, start a new hobby that you have been putting off due to lack of time, and moments where you can just ‘be’. Simplifying your life is about adding more love, peace, and joy and eliminating the chaos, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed. It shouldn’t be a punishment.

What can you do today that will take you one step closer to a simplified life? View what Oprah’s audience had to say.

My motto is, “Say Y.E.S. to a simplified life!”

Each morning I have a routine. Part of my routine is making beds. There is something about having the beds made that makes me feel ‘pulled together’, ‘neat and tidy’, and ready for a successful day. There is the rare occasion when I don’t make the beds and find that I feel less ‘in order’ on those days. It is amazing how the simple act of making beds has an affect on me. I know millions may not relate with me and wonder why bother making something that will get messy again 12 hours later.

I am curious to know…do you make your bed each morning? Does making your bed affect your mood, behavior or productivity for the day?

Give your answer here… Do you make your bed each morning?
( polls)

Toys! Where do you put all of them? That is a question I get asked often. My first suggestion is to NOT use a toy chest. I have found them to be ‘blackholes’ for toys. If your child wants a specific toy, he/she either can’t find it in the ‘blackhole’ or they have to pull EVERYTHING out because it is located at the bottom of the chest.

bushel-box2Here is a simple, DIY alternative to storing toys in a toy chest. Get a handful of wooden boxes (like the wooden apple box in the photo…they can be purchased for very little or you may be lucky and find someone giving them away) and mount 4 casters/rollers to the underside four corners of the box.

If you prefer the distressed look, leave them as is. Otherwise, consider painting the boxes in the same color scheme as the room or use chalk board paint. Using chalk board paint makes labeling the boxes a breeze. Just write what belongs in the box with chalk! This way the toys can be switched out at anytime and quickly labeled with the new information. The children can add their own art work as well.

Due to the smaller size of the wooden boxes, toys can be sorted by type (books, dolls, cars, Little People, blocks, etc.) and they won’t get lost as easily. These boxes can be rolled into another room to be played with or rolled out of sight and out of the way. (As a young child, I would of had fun using the box on wheels as a little go-cart… Didn’t the Little Rascals have something like this?)

It is a simple project and could add some charm to any playroom!

Recycle logoOne of the aspects I enjoy about my profession is helping clients find new innovative ways to recycle what they already have in their home or office. Often it is an item that is no longer needed for a particular use, but after discovering a new purpose for that item, the object becomes a ‘treasured’  possession again.  

I had a client that was saving a dress that was special to her…mostly due to the memories of when and where she wore it. The client knew she should let the dress go (she hadn’t worn it in years) and donate it, but was hesitate to do so. I suggested using the fabric to make two accent pillows and keep the memory alive (in a different form).

As a Professional Organizer and eco-friendly American, I am excited when a new green website is introduce to me. Following is a list of websites that will assist you in cutting back on the distribution of unwanted phone books, find used cardboard boxes for moving to your next home, getting money for your used electronics and gadgets, and save money and paper by printing only want you want printed.

Remember to, reduce, re-use, and recycle!

Have you heard about the man in San Diego who is attempting to cut down on his possession and own just 100 things?

Dave Bruno, 37, of San Diego has created a challenge for himself. His goal is to toss or donate all of his belongings and keep only 100 items (or a pair of shoes equals one item according to Dave). Last summer, Dave realized how much stuff his family and himself have accumulated over the years. Currently, Dave doesn’t have a deadline for when he plans to be finished. In the meantime, you can check out his website at and read the following article to find out more about this challenge.

I would like to ask you, ‘Would you be able to scale down your belongings to just 100 things?’ Please take a moment to leave a comment. We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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