Tis the Season to Simplify and Feel the Joy! 6 Tips


Picture courtesy of www.BHG.com

Oh, how I love the holidays! Twinkling lights adorn my tree, stockings are hung on the mantle with care,  and beautifully wrapped presents …yea right! Truthfully, I’m not really loving it yet, because as usual I haven’t found the time to do it all! In fact, not a stocking is hung, black friday is come and gone, Cyber Monday has turned into tuesday and not a  single gift has been bought. Sound familiar? I sometimes feel that I get so caught up in what I need to do that I forget to feel the joy of the season – which is what it really all about! So, with that in mind, my 2007 motto and plan of action for the holidays is Simplify and feel the Joy! Here are my 6 tips to help simplify the holidays.

  1. Less is More. It’s true. When you finally bring down all those boxes from the attic, instinctively, you want to use it all. Don’t. It’s impossible to truly “see” through the clutter and the really special things will not be appreciated.

  2. Display what you Love. If it’s beautiful put it out. If it’s treasured put it out. Other wise keep it in the attic. It’s like decorating your home – if you empty out a room and only keep items that are meaningful and beautiful to you; you’ll find that you’ve turned your house into a home.

  3. Create a Christmas Treasure Chest. For all those items that are dear to our hearts, yet tend to clutter and clash with the beautiful things, store them in a holiday “treasure chest”. Items such as children’s grade school holiday art projects, Aunt Gladys’ hand painted ornaments, christmas books, etc…can be placed in a storage bench, chest or colorful christmas box and be a great conversation piece during the holidays.

  4. Make your list and check it twice. Before you spend hours shopping to find the perfect gift that ultimately will be returned on December 26th, consider if a gift card or cash would be better. Especially, when shopping for teenagers. Trust me, a gift card is much more appreciated than a sweater that is soooooo not in style. Just make sure it doesn’t expire and that it is for a store that they really like to shop at.

  5. Develop a Plan. Whenever I am really stressed, I eventually remember to breath and pull out my journal. For me, It’s the easiest way to think through chaos. The problem is that when you are stressed, you continually replay everything you need to do over and over in your mind. Get it down on paper and create lists. A list for gifts, a list for christmas dinner, a to do list for each day. Then cross them off as you go. Getting it down on paper, helps to clear your mind and focus on what needs to be done. Make it a ritual and every morning (or evening before) grab a cup of tea, a beautiful journal, and write. You’ll be amazed at how this simplifies even the craziest of days.

  6. Journal. At the end of every day, pull out that journal and write down 3 things that you are grateful for. Sarah Ban Breathnach and Oprah shared this idea several years ago and I can personally testify that this simple act can be life changing. To this day, I am amazed at how something that takes so little time, can be so big. Try it, and you’ll find that at the end of even a really horrible day, there is still something to be grateful for. If you kids are fighting, have them write or tell each other three things that they are grateful about each other. If you try only this one tip, I promise you will truly enJOY the holidays. It’s the best gift you can give yourself!



Thanksgiving Thoughts and Simple Centerpieces


I replied to an e-mail from a professional organizer today and told her to breath; enjoy her kids while they were small because time flies. You can never get yesterday back. As I pushed send, I realized that I really need to take my own advice. So, I’m taking a break (and a breath) and writing this post.

I really do have a choice. I can stress about my shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner, finding time to clean my house, and finishing work deadlines or I can be thankful the fact that I have deadlines at work and am sitting here working with my best friend from grade school and following our dreams together. I can be thankful that my family will be together on Thursday for the first time in money months. I could go on and on. The point is, that the best part about taking a breath is you take the time to appreciate your life right now and realize that all things considered and inspite of struggles and hardhships; how truly blessed you are.

My mother told me on the day that I got married, to remember that when you die, people will not remember you for how clean your house was, but for the time that you spent with them. I think she is very wise.

So my advice to all of us is to take a breath (often). Look around you. Lets be thankful for the little things we take for granted every day. Don’t let stress and “to do lists” deprive us of the things that are really important; making sure to enjoy the opportunity that Thanksgiving presents – a time to be with family, friends and loved ones.

Here are some beautiful (and easy) centerpieces made from things you may already have or can find outside. Who says fabulous can’t be easy and inexpensive?


A simple platter or tray with colorful leaves and vines, top with assorted candles of different widths and heights for a quick and interesting centerpiece. From www.BHG.com


Line a large tray with multiple pumpkins, gourds, pine cones and leaves. Tuck in some cut flowers and add your favorite candle sticks for a beautiful and stunning arrangement. From www.BHG.com


Fill a simple vase with branches of colorful leaves, berries, or pinecones for a simple yet elegant effect. From www.marthastewart.com


A glass bowl, water, cranberries and floating candles. From www.recipetips.com

Have wonderful Thanksgiving from our families to yours!


How to Draw a Floor Plan (and why it’s so important!)


To some people, the thought of drawing a floor plan may sound overwhelming, but in reality, it’s actually pretty simple with the step by step instructions below. Once you try it, you’ll wonder why you waited this long and you’ll find that your project ultimately will be much less stressful when you have a floor plan to reference.

There’s a good reason why professional designers and decorators start a project by drawing up a floor plan, and it’s because a floor plan truly is the foundation for a room that is functional as well as beautiful. Additionally, a floor plan will help you to determine not only what furniture will fit into the space, but what is the best furniture arrangement for that room. Whether you’re buying new furniture or using exisiting, it’s much easier (and fun!) to draw your floor plan and do multiple furniture arrangements on paper as opposed to breaking your back moving heavy items and then discovering out it doesn’t work.

Floor plans are important in the fact that they allow you (and prompt you) to really think out the space; planning for seating, lighting, electrical outlets, cable boxes, traffic flow, and more. The biggest problem that most people have is actually understanding a floor plan and feeling comfortable with it. The best way to understand how a floor plan applies to you is to imagine yourself in that room. Pretend to walk through the door. Look around and start visualizing each wall. Is there a great fire place that you want to hang a beautiful piece of artwork above? Consider making that the main conversation area around the fireplance. Perhaps on another wall there are two large windows with a gorgeous view – consider that area for a smaller conversation area or gametable for a secondary seating option that capitalizes on the view. Pretend that you are in one of the seating areas. Is there a lamp for reading? An outlet to plug in that lamp? A table to set down a drink? Is there enough room (3 feet) to walk between the furniture? 

To sum it up, drawing a floor plan can be the difference between a so-so room and a room that everyone wants to spend time in. Imagine yourself living, playing, and relaxing in that room. Have fun, be creative, relax and get started. I think you’ll discover that with a floor plan in hand, decorating  just got a little easier!

Click on the link below to our website and scroll down to the bottom right of the page, you’ll find printable step by step instructions to drawing your own floor plan. Additionally, you’ll even find a convenient download to print off free grid paper to help get you started. http://www.assistantproductgroup.com/APG-2/index-3.html Good luck!