Posts Tagged organizing

TV Time!

Before I start, I want to advise those “oh, I don’t really watch TV” types to stop reading and go back to your Intellectual Nonfiction Book.  And I also want to ask you if you can see my house from up there on your high horse. 

So, then…it recently came to my attention how dire my TV addiction dependency is when the batteries in our remote control died, suddenly; we had NO IDEA WHAT TO DO.  (This should come as little surprise, as I’ve sung the praises of my PVR here before.)  We scurried to find the music station because that’s something we could tolerate watching all night without the need to change the channel.  Pathetic.  We’re not alone in our slavery to the TV!  Someone (?), a long time ago, called it the “electric fireplace” for a reason.

*Well, the reason is that the TV is the centerpiece of most living rooms Nowadays, whereas the fireplace was the centerpiece in the Good Old Days.  Now, there is actually an invention called the electric fireplace that functions similar to a regular Old Fashioned fireplace, so the whole thing gets even more confusing.  Anyway…

So, once again, I’ll link you to some clever tips to help you enjoy your teevee time.  I’m not talking “watching tv on the laptop”  – this is about real, assgroovery on the couch:

  • 2010 Fall TV Schedule – Premiere Dates  – Put these in your Google calendar!  Note that my most favourite show ever 30 Rock premieres Thursday, September 23.  (Roll your mouse over each weekday at the top; also not the legend at the bottom for new shows, returning shows, new timeslot.)
  • Zap2it   – I use this site for the TV listings.  Once you register you can customize this to your postal code + your Rogers or Bell (or whatever) service and Bob’s your uncle.  I love how you can set it to highlight your favourite shows, too.  See.  This is a time SAVER.
  • Television Without Pity – This is great for when:
    • You missed a crucial episode to your favourite TV series and you need to get a quick “weecap” or the full recap.
    • You have not yet heard enough clever Snark about your show and its characters. 
  • Episode Guides and Air Dates  
  • Rerun Check – Find out if your favourite show is new or a rerun this week. 
  • TV Show Easter Eggs – Notes on little hidden references and inside-jokes in TV shows.
  • Audience Sounds 

My favourite channel?  Rogers Cable 725.  A music channel!

*Circle of trust:  I recently went weeks without my favourite channel working because i thought it was ‘down’.  I finally called My Leading Brand Cable Service Provider and the voicemail made mention of the fact that most issues can be resolved by rebooting, so if you haven’t tried that, you should try that first.  But I stayed on the line because I couldn’t fathom how rebooting my cable box would make ONE channel come back.  Well it did.  And there is a lesson to be learned here somewhere…Even an IT diva sometimes forgets that rebooting is an easy first attempt to solve most technical things.  Mmm…Humble pie.


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Back to Basics: Being a Working Parent

Between work and home, sometimes it seems life is so busy that you just want to make sure your basics get done.  Ain’t no shame in it.  (And luckily for most of us, there is more than one way to be a good parent!)  Here are some tips to help you with the basics – the rest can go to heck:



A little planning goes a long way.  Most of us are just happy when everyone can agree to eat the same dinner.  (I now understand the old “this is not a restaurant”/ everyonesmom.) I made a failed attempt to have a full week of dinner menus planned for a while. (I don’t know what I was thinking).  If you can swing that or the Once a Month Cooking, then you’re all set.  A more reasonable compromise:  make a big/double dinner on Sundays so that you don’t have to cook after work on Mondays.  I heart not cooking on Mondays.
            *I made this one last weekend and it was a hit



Tony Little or Tony Robbins or whoever says to model successful behavior, so I asked the only working mom I know who totally seems to have her act together.  She said she got a cleaning lady and got her weekends back. 

*She also has two kids that sleep 7pm-7am (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP) every day.  She also made her own organic baby food and only gives her kids organic vegetarian food now.  Did I mention that she’s intelligent and beautiful too?  Let’s all take a moment to hate her…

…ok.  The key takeaway here is that you don’t need to be rich and famous to have someone come over every couple of weeks to help you clean.  It’s really not that expensive and the payoff for your family life is huge.



If you pick out your clothes the night before and have them ready for the next day, you’ll save valuable morning time.  Also, I keep reading about how it’s a good idea to have a “launch pad” near the front door where each family member has their own spot/cubby/whatever to keep their things that need to go with them to school/daycare/work the next morning.  Most of us don’t have the wherewithal in the mornings to remember all the hats, sunglasses, mittens, bags, permissions slips, letters to be mailed, books…

Want more tips?  Here you go

Bonus:  Some Back to School Tips from the best tip sites I know of:
Tips from
Tips from

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Let Me Check My Schedule

I love the Internet and it loves me right back.  The latest object of my affection is the Google Calendar.  I have no idea how I survived without it before.  True Story. 

Sure, we have a calendar on our fridge but who remembers to check that every day?  And, sure, we all have Outlook calendars at work, but we can’t share them with anyone outside of our domain

I started using the Google calendar a couple of months ago because my husband and I kept forgetting Important Birthdays.  Now I’ve progressed to using it for all kinds of visits, appointments, events, reminders etc. and I even had my husband set one up too.  We share them so we can see each others’ schedules, which makes double-booking less of a problem. (Admittedly, that didn’t happen too often, but when it did, it was painful.)

Some reasons why you should give Google Calendar a try at home: 

  • It’s accessible from anywhere there’s an internet connection (including your mobile device, if you have a web browser).
  • It integrates with Google maps!  When the Where field contains a location that is recognized by Google Maps, a map displays when you double-click your event. 
  • If you’re into sports, you can subscribe to sports schedules to have them show in your Google Calendar
  • Reminders – you can get them sent to you by email or text message.  This is a big deal.
  • You can get as simple or as complicated as you want –use some or all of the nifty features.
  • Google Calendar integrates with Remember the Milk – another powerful organizational tool for task lists that the Internet People rave about all the time
  • You can save your calendar as a pdf – the pdf creator is built into the site
  • These people Know What They’re Talking About and their comment was “the more I use it, the better it gets.”
  • You can share your calendar or even make it public; you can add shared or public calendars to your calendar view.  This means that if your church, daycare, soccer team or Secret Club has a public Google Calendar, you can add it you yours.  This ALSO means that if the City created a public Google Calendar for each garbage zone, you could simply add that to you calendar too!  And set it to send you reminders! Can I get an amen?
  • It’s free


Get Google Calendar Savvy

Keyboard Shortcuts

Rock Your Google Calendar in 18 Ways

7 Google Calendar Planning Tips

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Coffee Culture

For some reason I get annoyed when restaurant staff tack “today” on the end of their questions. “Would you like chocolate sauce on your sundae today?” or “Would you like to supersize that today?” seems to imply that I go there every day. I don’t go anywhere every day – that’s ludicrous!

EXCEPT I do go to Tim Horton’s every day. Once you have a Timmy’s (Or Fivebucks for you brew-geoisie) routine, you can’t just stop on a dime. You have to stop at Timmy’s Every. Single. Time. (Poet. Know it. Check.) In fact, my son thinks we’re supposed to go every time he gets in the car because we almost always do. We even gave one of his Valentines to the drive through lady we see every day. Timmy’s is so ingrained in us that even non-coffee-drinkers have their “regular” order they get from Timmy’s. Keep this in a list on your pda/phone/mobile device so you’re always prepared to be the Nice Guy who picks up coffee for people you visit.

More on Tim Horton’s:

  • Here’s an application for your iPhone – a Tim Horton’s locator
  • If you find rolling up the rim to be a hardship, never fear. You can use this to help you out.
  • Tim Horton’s nutrition guide. This is not for the faint of heart! I was gravely disappointed that my usual coffee was 4 WeightWatchers POINTS! Darn you 18% cream, darn you!


I like my coffee how I like my men…
I could come up with NOTHING appropriate to follow this statement.



Coffee and the Geek
Who else but a geek would come up with this?

Geeks have always been into caffeine in the form of Mountain Dew (the US recipe has caffeine), Jolt, coffee etc. Thinkgeek even has a whole section called “caffeine“. At the Service Desk, someone’s last name on our team means “coffee”. I’ll give $20 Tim’s card to whoever figures that out first.


Random Musing #1
Is French Vanilla cappuccino (et al.) a gateway coffee? I’m leaning toward “yes”. It’s how I started drinking coffee years ago. My husband would never drink coffee with me. Just cappuccino. Then he started working in an office with some strange ritual to determine who buys coffee that day. And now he drinks coffee. Conclusion: my husband is stubborn.

Eventually, you work your way up to black coffee by the time you’re advanced in age. (“Cream and sugar? Oh, we don’t touch that stuff!”) And you drink it with lunch.


Random Musing #2
“Contrary to what we’ve all learned in the past, espresso is not the style of coffee that has the most caffeine. In fact, the longer a bean is roasted, the less caffeine content it has – the caffeine is cooked off while the bean roasts. If you want a big caffeine buzz, lighter (or milder) roasts will give you that kick, while the darker roasts, though more complex and flavourful, have a lower caffeine content. Espresso, being the darkest roast, also has the lowest amount of caffeine.”
Cite: Kelly @ the Service Desk, 2009

For some more facts on coffee, here’s the obligatory Wikipedia article.


Coffee Cleverness

  • I’ve heard you can richen your beef gravy with coffee.
  • Chocolate cake in a coffee mug!
  • Smelling too many fragrances confuses your olfactory area and coffee can help “neutralize your nose
  • I thought this was my own clever idea. Nope! Real Simple suggests you use a martini shaker to mix iced coffee.
  • If you break the wine cork into the bottle, you can use a coffee filter to strain it.
  • This lid changes colour with heat so you know if it’s too hot to drink yet.
  • Here’s a USB hub that has a clock AND a cup warmer!
  • Here’s a coffee link for the foodies.

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About the Lists

I think the reason I like making lists so much is because it “clears the cache”, so to speak.  Your head is much lighter without carrying all that unnecessary detail around.  (Save your “airhead” jokes!) You can look at the list later and see if you can make it actionable.

Sure, there are the standard “To Do” or “To Get” lists, but you can really make use of lists for:    

  • Contact information – you never know when you’ll need an address or phone number
  • Coffee preferences of people you know
  • Gift ideas/links
  • Sizes of clothing/batteries/vacuum bags/light bulbs and other household stuff
  • Groceries – order it according to the sections of the store (produce, dairy etc.)

(Hmm…this is a bit self-referential, isn’t it – a list about lists?)    

Again, I thought I came up with most of these ideas and then read these.  *sigh*  Some of these lists are fine kept on a piece of paper in your wallet, on a whiteboard on the fridge, on your PDA/cell phone, or in your Internet mail.  


Let’s talk about good old Notepad  

I realize that Notepad isn’t very new or elegant, but it opens really quickly and certainly serves its purpose – to make notes – duh (Did I just write that?)  

I always have a Notepad document open in case I need to paste a link, a list or chunk of text into an email or Proper Document (like Word) later.  

You can use it kind of like a visual clipboard.  (I have always eschewed Word’s clipboard for multiple items because I like to see what I have on my clipboard in a clear way.)  Also, when you paste something into Notepad, it clears the formatting.  Now when you copy the text and paste it somewhere else, it will take on your default font size/style and match the rest of your document.  

I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that my son’s baby book was originally in Notepad.  I knew that I would be too much of a perfectionist to just write his milestones messily, in pen or pencil, in his baby book whenever inspiration hit.  So, instead, I wrote the date and whatever cute/funny/disgusting happened in his Notepad file.* After his first birthday, I copied all the important stuff into his baby book.  Now it’s all in the same colour of ink throughout the whole book and I haven’t got anything scratched out.  I also tucked a printout of the original Notepad file in there too.  How do you like me now?   

*I just learned that if you hit F5 in Notepad, it inserts the date and time.  It’s right there in the Help, too.  Why have I never seen this before?  This would have certainly come in handy in my BabyBook.txt.    

Or if you’re the busybody who likes to record other people’s coffee breaks, you can use Notepad as a diary.

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