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Organizing Media

Organizing Media

Sneaky Media

Media, like DVDs, cassettes, videos, CDs, and books, insidiously clutter our homes. These items sneak into our space without us even knowing why. We feel like organizing media today. Want to join us? Keep reading!

These items are often invisible until they overrun our environment or until they gang up with other types of clutter to take us down. Do you know that feeling?

Let’s Do This!

Let’s strike back and end this battle now. Follow these simple steps and suggestions.

1. Gather

Go through your home and gather every book, CD, DVD, video, and cassette (if you have any of the last two?). Do not get distracted by papers, clothes, Knick knacks, or other stuff around. You need to stay hyper-focused if you want to finish this process.

2. Divide

Divide this large media group into five categories: CDs, DVDs, videos, cassettes, books.

3. Cassettes (Tapes)

Let’s deal with those cassettes first, if you have any.

Do you have the equipment to listen to these? And would you listen to them — ever? (Honestly!). What are their contents? Are the contents something you can easily find online (like music)? Or is the material recorded conferences, for example? If so, could you find the same content online? If the contents of the cassettes are something personal you recorded and need to keep, find a service that can transfer that tape contents into digital. A digital format preserves the material and also makes it more accessible. Then you can let go of both the tapes and the tape player. Off with clutter!!!

If you MUST keep one or two tapes in the actual cassette format for utmost sentimental reasons, that item should go in your “warm & fuzzy” box. What is that box? This box is a special box everyone should have in their closet or under the bed, with very few carefully selected items that make you laugh or cry throughout your entire life. Of course, not everything can or should go in this box. You have to be super selective!

Place all cassettes you decide to digitize in a box or bin marked “to digitize.” Then, get your calendar (yes, right now) and schedule a date when you will do any research needed about this service and when you will mail this material to be digitized.

4. VHS anyone?

Everything said in point number 3 applies to any VHS video in your home.

Answer the same questions and take the same actions described for cassettes with your videos.

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Photo Home Decor Obsession

5. Books’ turn!

Check all those books collected through the home and see if anything should go away through donation, recycling, or selling. If you have a decent number of books to let go of, see if you can sell them at Half-Priced Books? They also buy movies and music so, keep that in mind.

Take the books you will keep to that home area where other books live. If you do not have a central place for the books in your home, maybe it is time to assign a place?

Don’t limit your ideas for lack of space or bookcases. There is an infinite number of ways to create bright displays for your books. In addition, books can make a design statement! Just check Pinterest, and you will see. Smashing idea; Points for Design!

6. A word about vinylVinyl 300x214 - Organizing Media

Vinyl has come back- no doubt about it. But being a vintage item, vinyl makes a statement on its own. Because we tend to listen to records on special moments and need vintage equipment to play them, these items tend to behave more appropriately. They don’t run away like their CDs and DVDs relatives. There is not much we need to say about vinyl. But if you have some records and their player but have not given these items the standing they crave, you are missing all the fun. Consider a place of honor to display and listen to your Vinyl music. It is unlikely that you have records you no longer want out of their jackets or in random home areas. But if you do, I am simply out of words. Let’s leave it at that.

7. How about DVDs and CDs?

Make a space in the living room or a home office for all the DVDs you keep. First, you will need to pair DVD and CD cases with their discs! For mysterious reasons, half of the cases we find are empty. That probably tells us their corresponding disks might be broken or scratched somewhere or under some gooey, unknown blob. Chances are those disks are no longer suitable to keep, and you can feel okay with trashing them. But when you let them go, make sure you discard their case as well.

Other DVDs and CDs will be in good condition. So, after matching them with their cases, you can decide to keep or donate them.

The DVDs and CDs you keep should probably be all together in a single place in the home. Typically, the optimal location for these is the living room.

When you decide where all your DVDs and CDs will live, take those you found during this exercise to that place in the home. Then see if any of the discs in your collection can go. You could donate or sell them (remember Half Priced Books?).

When you go through all your disks and eliminate what you don’t want or enjoy anymore, you make a more comfortable, appealing space for the DVDs and CDs you keep.

The Most Brilliant Idea Yet

On the other hand, consider that movies and music are easy and inexpensive to download these days. It might cost you more to store these items if you consider the space they occupy in your home and the amount you pay for each square foot of the house. And when was the last time you watched a movie from your DVDs or listened to a CD? (No, honestly!)

Some DVDs and CDs might be homemade, with great sentimental value. You probably will want to keep all that material. However, here is my brilliant idea: Transfer their contents to an external drive dedicated to photos and videos or place the material in your computer and copy it to the cloud, for example. This way, all your memories are safe, shareable with others, more accessible to enjoy, and do not occupy the physical space CDs and DVDs take. Furthermore, you can also let go of CD players and DVD players. How about that? Off with the clutter, again!!!

Hopefully, these steps and ideas help you tackle the media clutter in your home. Probably media is not the most significant factor cluttering your environment, but every little bit counts. So, we need to divide, conquer, and work on every puzzle piece to get our desired results.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help or advice with your home organization.

15 Tips to a Happier Pantry

15 Tips to a Happier Pantry

Here are 15 tips for a happier pantry. These will help you increase the efficiency of your pantry space. You probably should consider these tips alongside more general aspects of kitchen planning. Please read 15 Less-Than-Exciting Kitchen Planning Considerations.

1. All Edibles In The Pantry

Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in the pantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include in the pantry pet food and snacks. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats together, snack time will always be a surprise for your furry friends. By mixing treats in a single container, you avoid having many bags and treat containers open at once.

2. Remove Cleaning Products

Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.

3. Use Floor Space Wisely

Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is good storage space, but we need to make it appropriate for holding our stuff.

4. Zone the Pantry

Create zones in your pantry so that the various product groups are on their space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.

5. Hook It Up

Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.

6. Contain Plastic Bags

Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags and yet keep them accessible.

7. Got Bulk?

Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry. Utilize these containers, aligning them along the pantry floor or the highest shelf in the pantry.

8. Pizazz!

Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen!

9. To Line Or Not To Line?

Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t even think about it. If shelf lining is essential to you, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner is easy to cut to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives out there, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves look sharp and are appropriately protected.

10. What To Do About Cans?

Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.

11. Pantry Corners — Do We Have To?

Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces.

12. Snacks, Anyone?

Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.

13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item

Dry goods will decide the defining question about your pantry: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?

The Pinterest look is a high maintenance alternative, as it requires the consistent transfer of all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.

The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered by bins or baskets.

The dry goods we refer to are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. In general, these items should not be exposed to moisture and should last fresh for some after we open the package.

Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count the different kinds of dry products in the dry goods category. Whether you go with the functional approach or the high-maintenance one, you will need to know what to buy and how much.

Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers as they waste much space. Go with rectangular or square but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.

14. Labeling Is Important

Labeling is not an unnecessary detail. On the contrary, labeling allows everyone to find what they need quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.

When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great, but that can be modified.

If you’d instead use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, then label your bins or baskets with the category of product it contains.

But regardless of your preferred method, labeling also the shelves is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.

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Where do spices go?

15. Where Do Spices Go?

Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. And as with any other pantry group, these should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all spices because it allows you to see them all at once.

When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.

Hopefully, these tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some pantry help. We love pantries!

15 Less-Than-Exciting (But Important) Kitchen Planning Considerations

15 Less-Than-Exciting (But Important) Kitchen Planning Considerations

Despite the increase of families ordering take-out dinners, the kitchen is still the heart of the home. This space is central to the house and allows families to gather and share special moments. A well-appointed kitchen is always a joy.

And whether getting the kitchen of your dreams you’ve wanted for years or just reorganizing the space to add efficiency to your days, here are some essential considerations for your kitchen space. 

We don’t always pay real attention to these factors when thinking of a kitchen revamp, but they are critical and will make your life easier, your kitchen more appealing, and support your lifestyle and health.

1. Thoroughly Declutter

There’s not much you can do in a kitchen that is cluttered and unappealing. So, the first thing it needs is thorough decluttering. Remove everything from drawers, cupboards, and cabinets to start.

Then sort every single item and decide what goes and what stays. The more you let go, the simpler your life will be. For example, why keep kitchen utensils and gadgets in duplicate or that you do not use or want?

2. Establish Kitchen Work Zones

Kitchen efficiency depends on the proper designation of work zones. To get the most out of your kitchen, establish zones according to how you use the space. Think about how you move around the area and what you do there to understand better where to allocate everything. 

Here are some ideas for zoning your kitchen:

  • Establish a clear distinction between a cooking zone, a meal prep zone, and a baking zone. Establish these zones according to how you will use each one and what is most efficient.
  • Assign the drawer and cabinet closest to the dishwasher to flatware and dishes. It is easier to put these items away when emptying the dishwasher. 
  • Place all baking tools and accessories together to save time and effort when baking if you bake.
  • Keep most frequently used items within easy reach. Less frequently used appliances or seasonal serving dishes, for example, can occupy out-of-the-way places such as higher shelves or back sections of cabinets.
  • You want to place glasses and dishes in upper cabinets because that space is more accessible. But specifically, glasses probably should go on the upper cabinet closest to the fridge because the fridge is where beverages are. 
  • Dishes might go on an upper cabinet above or directly across from the dishwasher to facilitate putting them away. 
  • The counter area by the fridge is probably the ideal place for a coffee/tea station. Thus, the drawer immediately below that coffee station should have all coffee/tea accessories. 

 3. Create Extra Storage Options

Sometimes, a proper declutter won’t yield the kitchen space needed for optimal organization. In those instances, it becomes essential to create new storage space.

Over-the-door storage racks are good alternatives. These go on kitchen doors and inside cabinet doors. A formidable storage solution is the Elfa Spice Rack (sold at The Container Store). It goes inside the pantry door to accommodate all cooking spices and condiments, creating more space inside the pantry for other things.

Pull-out drawer or drawer inserts in cabinets solve the never-ending problem of things getting lost in the depths of cabinets. When the budget does not allow for a kitchen remodel, achieve the same result by using bins to organize the cabinet contents. You can pull out these bins to manage their contents, eliminating the need to bend over and reach inside the cabinet.

4. Evaluate Your Trash Situation

Few things are less exciting than trash. Whether you like to compost, recycle, sort your garbage some other way, or discard what you no longer need, you need a system that works for you. Nothing speaks of unhealthy habits like trash and perishing food accumulated in the kitchen for lack of a proper disposal system. To maintain a clean yet great-looking kitchen, we have to think about the trash situation. 

Investing in a large, functional trashcan for the kitchen is a must. Some kitchens have a pull-out drawer that contains a space for the trashcan. If this is your case, measure that space and divide that number by two. Then get two identical containers that will comfortably fit together in that area: one of trash and one for recycling. Think out of the box when looking for these containers, as these do not need to be actual trashcans. They just need to be light in weight and conform to the required measurements.

If your kitchen does not have cabinet space for trash, it is even more important to pay attention to the style of your trashcan. Consider getting a rectangular, double-sided trashcan. Rectangular ones are easier to disguise. Please avoid round trashcans, which waste space and make their presence unavoidable. Budget permitting, get a trashcan with a sensor lid for a hands-free experience, which keeps the bin cleaner.

5. Clean Up Your Food Container Act

Do yourself a favor and recycle all that mismatched, old plastic stuff that overflows your cabinets. Get a set of new, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, plastic, or glass containers with lids. You need them to store left-overs and organize your fridge and freezer (more on that in the following section about systems you should have in place).

You should probably also get an additional but less expensive set for sharing food with others (avoiding resenting them for stealing your best containers or growing old waiting for them to return them).

Select a specific cabinet, preferably a lower one, to neatly organize those containers in one single place in your kitchen.

6. Corral Cleaning Products

Store cleaning products that pertain to the kitchen under the kitchen sink. Install cabinet organization solutions in that space so you can easily access these products and equipment.

The under-sink cabinet is also an excellent place to store the various types of filters you might need in the kitchen (sink faucet, fridge/freezer, etc.), as well as your trash bags.

7. Know What That “Junk” Drawer Is and Is Not

It is handy to have a miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen but not a junk drawer. Junk drawer implies accepting everything we do not want to decide on — clutter. And it would be best if you did not wish for a clutter drawer. This miscellaneous drawer is not a substitute for the garage either. I have seen drills and all kinds of tools in the “junk drawer” of some kitchens.

The miscellaneous drawer should contain a few things that are often needed, such as a tape measure, a couple of pens, scissors, a note pad, some tape, maybe envelopes and stamps, a mini screwdriver, and the like.

Tools go in the garage. Lightbulbs and batteries should have their bins and belong in the laundry room area or utility closet. Get the idea?

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8. Determine Where the Spices Go

Where do spices go? The most convenient place for the spices is near the stove, given that this is where we frequently use them. Select an upper cabinet to the right or left of the stove area for the spices. Another great area is the drawer next to the stove.

Once you select the storage space for spices, choose among the many spice storage solutions available to make your life easier while cooking with them.

The pantry is the next best option in the absence of cabinet space or a drawer for spices. As with any other pantry group, herbs should be together on a shelf area. Use a tiered spice rack on the shelf to better see everything without much effort.

When a pantry shelf is not available, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.

9. Light Up!

The kitchen should be well lit in various ways. Ideally, the kitchen will combine top light and task or functional illumination. Light sources are up to your style and budget. However, good, efficient lighting is crucial. In addition, lighting directly impacts your mood. For example, placing light under upper kitchen cabinets offers the functional task illumination needed on counters while preparing food, but it also does wonders for the ambiance of your kitchen.

10. Clear Counters

Sometimes people go overboard with décor on kitchen counters and islands. Although some décor items are important, do not overload flat surfaces with stuff. Counter space is not storage either. Keep counters as clear as possible. It makes the kitchen look much better and gives you the space needed to work.

11. Don’t Ignore The Pantry Pantry After 8 225x300 - 15 Less-Than-Exciting (But Important) Kitchen Planning Considerations

The process of organizing the kitchen needs to include the pantry. Organizing the pantry is an excellent opportunity to clean the space and, if warranted, line or reline the shelves.

You will be amazed at all the duplicates and expired products in your pantry when you see it all in front of you.

To keep an organized pantry, follow these simple steps.

  • Throw out any expired food.
  • Separate items you are keeping into categories and designate appropriate spaces in the pantry for these categories. Better yet, label the pantry areas accordingly to make it easier for everyone in the house to maintain the space organization achieved. Place products with a closer expiration date to the front to use these first.
  • Invest in pantry containers to store rice, cereals, flours, sugars, grains, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Square and rectangular containers utilize the space best. Containers stand and stack better than the usually opened product bags with clips we keep in the pantry, right? With these containers, products stay fresh, and you can always see what you have and how much, thus knowing when to buy more. Additionally, your pantry will have that magazine look you admire while browsing social media. It takes some effort and discipline to keep the system as you need to transfer the products to the containers when coming home from the store, but it pays off immensely in the day-to-day kitchen operation. Oh, make sure you label these containers.
  • Remove pre-packed items from their primary packing — group snacks in clear containers for easier access.

12. Befriend Your Fridge

As a principle, it is best to limit your grocery shopping of produce and meats to smaller quantities that the family will consume weekly. This practice preserves the product’s freshness and nutritional value. It also helps organize your refrigerator space efficiently and enables remembering the items in your fridge so food does not get spoiled.

An organized fridge leads to a more straightforward cooking process, more in-home cooking, money savings, and better health.

An excellent routine to achieve an organized refrigerator and freezer is to wash, cut, and repack produce and meats when coming from the store. This process takes some time and effort but ensures that the refrigerator and freezer stay clean and organized. Opening the fridge to see plastic and paper bags, some halfway open, saluting you is not an inviting proposition.

The washing, cutting, and repacking of produce and meat before placing these in your fridge or freezer also saves significant time throughout the week during cooking.

Having the proper containers for your fridge and freezer is crucial. Invest in transparent or translucent containers that can be labeled and relabeled, BPA-free, and dishwasher safe.

Being disorganized can cost you. Think about all the food you throw away in an average month. Get organized to stop the waste.

By the way, your fridge and freezer need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting each month, on average. Use an open pack of baking soda to get rid of odors in your fridge safely, should this become a concern.

A well-kept kitchen is not a one-time process. Staying tidy requires lifestyle changes. If you’re ready for those changes and would like professional assistance with your kitchen adventure, don’t hesitate to contact us at My Space Reclaimed, LLC. We will be thrilled to partner with you.

13. Adopt A Meal Planning SystemProfessional Organizer My Space Reclaimed 18 300x225 - 15 Less-Than-Exciting (But Important) Kitchen Planning Considerations

If you don’t have a meal planning routine, you should see how it can make your life much easier. Of course, this requires some prep work, but it is just once. Then you’ll be gliding through your weekly planning, shopping, cooking.

It starts by going through all your clippings and books full of recipes. By the way, as a bonus for following this procedure, you get a streamlined kitchen book and recipe area.

Get all those recipes out and choose only those you truly like or want to try. Then, either clip them or make photocopies of those recipes, so you can individually place them in 4″ X 6″ index cards. Next, divide these cards into salads, main dishes, pasta, soups, desserts, beverages, protein shakes/smoothies, dressings, snacks, etc. Finally, get all your categories sorted into index card boxes (choose the style of boxes that makes your heart sing).

Select a day of the week to make your meal planning. On that day, each week, mix and match recipes to compose your weekly meals. For each meal, choose the main course and other dishes as desired. You’ll have all kinds of options, so choose the type and number of dishes needed per each meal you’ll be making. Then, group each day’s recipes and have them accessible for later cooking.

Since each recipe includes its ingredients and the amounts, you have your grocery list done! Add any other items like snacks and miscellaneous needed and go shopping to that list.

Coming back from the store, remove bags and packaging from every item. Wash all produce, meats, fish, etc. Store packaging helps you transport things home but is not appropriate for storing food items in your freezer or fridge. Peel, cut, divide, season all your items as needed and transfer them to your food storage containers.

If you still have some energy left and would like to save significant time during your week, batch-cook dishes shared by some of your recipes. Then use your containers to save those dishes until you need them throughout the week.

Did you notice that so far, you have gained not only a streamlined, great-looking, manageable, and helpful recipe system but also a great-looking fridge and freezer thanks to your new meal prep and container systems?

14. Follow A Dishwashing Procedure

Provided that your dishwasher is in working order, there is no need to see the accumulation of dirty dishes and things in the sink or counter.

Start every morning with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher. As kitchen stuff gets used, each person should rinse their items and place them inside the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink or the counter. After dinner, presumably the last meal of the day, all dirty stuff will be inside the dishwasher. The dishwasher runs, and at the end of the cycle or first thing in the morning, whoever is responsible for this task, puts items away.

The dishwasher is available for a new day every morning. However, if the day starts with a loaded dishwasher with clean stuff, there is no chance to accumulate used equipment inside it. Therefore, dirty stuff gets all over the kitchen. It’s as simple as starting the day with an empty dishwasher. Really!

15. Clean & Maintain Appliances

Get in the habit of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer, inside and out, at least once a month. It’s always a good idea to do a weekly fridge cleanout before shopping for groceries. That ensures no food gets forgotten and spoiled in the fridge, plus it makes space in the refrigerator and frees-up containers for that week’s fresh groceries.

Clean your microwave weekly, inside and out. It makes no sense to warm up meals in a crusty microwave featuring food remains from weeks ago.

The dishwasher needs cleaning as well. Do not neglect the dishwasher filter. The filter needs to be hand-cleaned about every other week for the dishwasher to do its job correctly.

So, there you have it — fifteen less-than-exciting considerations to make your kitchen space more efficient, whether renovating the area or just reorganizing. 

Hopefully, these steps will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and productive once into place.

But if you feel this is too much for you to handle alone, you don’t have to. Contact us! We’ll be thrilled to partner with you on your kitchen adventure.

For The Love Of Dogs

For The Love Of Dogs

Let’s discuss some aspects of caring for, living with, and loving a dog that sometimes even dog owners ignore.

If you know me, you know I love animals more than words can express. In particular, I adore dogs.

When working with a new client with dogs, I ensure those little ones have an adequate, clean, and comfy place to sleep (I will celebrate big if I hear they share your bed!).

I will note where they eat and drink and inquire about (and observe) the type of relationship my clients have with their pups. It’s in my nature to look out for these defenseless, loving beings.

Many never notice when I clean their companions’ bowls and feed them fresh food from their pantry and serve them fresh water. I try to be discrete to avoid my fellow humans from feeling self-conscious.

But today, I’d like to address a couple of things about living with dogs. I might ruffle some feathers, but I am not apologizing for that — not this time.

Dogs deserve all our love, compassion, and more! As humans, we owe them big. Dogs, as we know them, did not exist in nature. We created them by domesticating their wild ancestors. We created this type of creature that depends on us. It would be absurd to turn our backs on them by neglecting their complex needs. Dogs are intelligent, sentient, social beings, and often caring for them with “just the basics” won’t do.

Why do you “own” dogs? If the answer is purely practical, please look for a loving, deserving family for them. Dogs love and need love. They are much better than us at seeing through our intentions and feelings. Dogs know when they are not loved. That can break a dog’s heart and spirit. So, if you have dogs but do not love them — truly love them, do yourself and the dogs a favor and rehome them asap.

Now, continue reading if you have dogs because you genuinely love and respect them. On behalf of my canine friends, I have some pointers that might not be the usual things we consider.

Safety First

Microchip your dog(s) and keep the national registry updated about pertinent changes like moving (duh!). Also, don’t forget to include them in all possible national registries. Registering your dog(s) will substantially increase the chances of finding your fur babies if they ever get lost. There is no point in using the technology if you drop the ball by not keeping the registries up to date.

Create a name tag with your phone number and address (not the vet’s) for the dog’s collar. If the dog gets lost, it is easier to reunite him with the owners if he has a tag on the collar with the home number, given that the vet’s office is not open 24/7.

It is essential to have that tag because not everyone will be willing or able to take the dog to a place to scan the microchip. And, as I learned the hard way once (happy ending, though!), not all sites have scanners that can read all kinds of microchips.

If your animal sleeps in the room with you and the metal sound of their ID plate bothers you, consider following a routine to remove the collar last thing before going to be and putting it back on first thing in the morning.

Adopt, Do Not Buy!

Millions of animals need a good home out there! Don’t pay hundreds of dollars for an animal when so much love dies every day in shelters! Dogs get depressed and heartbroken in those places. They know why they are there. They feel the rejection and void in their hearts. Yet, ironically, these are the most grateful, intelligent, and graceful creatures you will ever find.

Besides, whenever money is involved with animals, inevitably unscrupulous behavior follows at some point. Nothing good ever comes from seeing animals in terms of dollars and cents. If you only knew the horrors these animals go through in places like puppy mills (that supply pet shops), you would definitively consider adopting instead of buying.

Spay or Neuter

Be a responsible owner and spay or neuter your dogs. There are way too many pups out there in shelters waiting for a loving family. Avoid the heartache of dealing with a litter of puppies. Chances are puppies will end up in houses where they are less than cherished, especially if the owners of these puppies did not have to pay a hefty price for them.

Adequate Shelter

If you have chosen to share your home with an animal, be kind. Animals deserve so much better from us. They did not choose to be your pet. You did.

Do not get a dog and ignore him or leave him outside. Dogs have socialization and love needs. They also feel the heat and the cold. The “house dog” is okay for cartoons and stories (perhaps), but it does not cut in real life.

Kenneling

If you kennel your dog(s) when you are not home, ensure that the kennel has adequate ventilation and that the dog has access to clean water. 

There are water bottles for kennels that work with gravity and water demand as the dog drinks. These eliminate the mess.

Remember that the dog will do his best to avoid soiling the kennel, but do not push their limits or abuse their good nature and respect for you. You don’t want their bladder to explode or the dog in pain. Keep in mind that you have a kenneled dog at home. Either go home at the usual time and allow them to go potty or make arrangements with a neighbor or paid service to walk the dog at some time during your absence.

Ensure the kennel has a soft surface for the dog to rest. For example, get a kennel cushion or place a couple of plush (clean) towels inside the kennel.

Find a good location for the kennel. For example, avoid direct sunlight or dangerous spaces with access to electrical cables. When the kennel is in an area with a fan or windows, leave the fan on and window blinds or shutters open for the dog to enjoy natural light. It is best not to cover the kennel with towels or blankets. The dog enjoys seeing the surroundings. 

Maybe leave the tv on or the radio at low volume for entertainment? 

Consider also leaving a chew toy inside the kennel.

When the dog is very young or getting used to living in your home, leave a piece of clothing or bedding with your scent.

By the way, a kennel that is the appropriate size allows the dog to stand upright and move around. Ensure the kennel is the correct size for your dog. Can you imagine spending your days in a cage where you can’t even stretch your legs? That is a form of torture (and even then, the dog still loves you. Dang! We don’t deserve them).

Cleanliness

Some breeds are supposed to skip bathing (or so I’ve heard — like the puli dog). Even if your dog does not share your bed, please bathe them from time to time, groom them, clip their nails, express their anal glands (yep, that too!). Don’t want to do this yourself? Hire a grooming service. Don’t have the resources for that and don’t want to do it yourself? Don’t have a dog!

I have heard many times, “we don’t want the dog inside because he smells.” And who’s fault is that? I bet you would smell ten times worse than any dog if you stop showering for several weeks.

When bathing your animals regularly, homes with pets tend to develop strong odors when not following proper hygiene. Therefore, wash their beds and clean their quarters as often as possible. Make this part of your cleaning routine (as in schedule it!).

Walking The Dog

Smile, for God’s sake! I can’t tell you the many times I have crossed paths with people walking their dogs that look so miserable and act so anti-socially that they don’t even answer a “hello.” 

It is your privilege to be in the company of such a magnificent creature that loves you! If this thought does not make you smile, read the seventh paragraph above again.

Allow your dog to sniff around. What is the purpose of walking your dog if you constantly pull the leash when all the dog wants is to “read the news”? Smells are to a dog like Facebook or Instagram is to you. That is how they know who is around and what is happening. Their daily walk might be the only socialization the dog will get in his entire day!

Consider using a harness instead of latching the leash to the dog’s collar. When the dog pulls away or if you pull the dog, the collar hurts tender tendons in the neck. This kind of injury can be serious. And speaking of leashes, avoid those retractable ones. There have been too many instances of those leashes causing severe injuries to dogs and humans alike!

Food And Water

Thoroughly clean your dog’s bowls daily with soap and water, regardless of the type of food you feed your dogs. If your dog eats wet or raw food, you must adhere to a schedule to remove and discard leftovers and wash the bowls after every feeding.

When it comes to the water dish, it is not just a matter of replenishing the water. Every time a dog drinks water from a bowl, the saliva goes into it, and mixed with the water, it creates a slimy film in the bowl. So let’s keep those bowls squeaky clean and grant them constant access to fresh, abundant water.

Consider a raised feeder for their bowls for medium or large dog breeds. It is hard for taller dogs to eat or drink from a bowl on the floor. These raised feeders also help their digestion, given how they eat their food more comfortably.

Avoid human food. Yes, to human-grade food for dogs, but the food should be prepared according to their particular needs and calibrated in composition and caloric value. 

Do not give dogs your chicken bones and things like that. Some dogs might behave as if they were garbage disposals. But they are not and should not be treated as such. Avoid feeding them the family’s leftovers, and much less, the food that has spoiled in your fridge. You and the dog will both pay for awful consequences.

If your pup eats dry food, transferring the food to a sealed plastic container in your pantry (floor level) will keep the food clean and fresh. Also, you will quickly know when to buy more, and the food will be accessible and easy to serve. Do not keep the dry food bag open in the garage!

Zzzzzz

Hopefully, your dog has a comfortable bed of his own or at least a comfy, cozy corner to sleep in and feel safe. Wash the bed at least every month if the bed has a removable cover. When dogs sleep on blankets or towels, wash all that stuff regularly. Dogs need a clean place too!

Invest In Training

Better to have a trained dog than to spend the few years he lives with us yelling at the poor creature when he does the wrong thing. Dogs are intelligent creatures. It is us, humans, that are inconsistent and impatient with them. How are they supposed to learn when we do not show them what we expect? (But then again, we all know some people should have taken IQ tests before having human children!)

Keep Them Healthy

Vet care

The least you can do for your dog is to ensure that he has an annual checkup with the vet to receive their shots and, at minimum, one thorough dental cleaning per year. Bacteria from the gums can easily affect the heart of a dog.

Of course, every time the dog looks or acts strangely, you should take them to the vet to ensure his wellbeing.

Prevent heartworms

Do not forget the heartworm medication every single month. It is deplorable to see a dog suffering from heartworms when this is easily avoidable.

Treat those fleas!

Can you imagine what the dog goes through living with an infestation of fleas 24/7? Well, don’t treat the fleas, and you won’t have to imagine it for long. Enough said!

Preparing For Baby

Put that baby blanket to good use

Before bringing your new baby home, allow the dog to familiarize himself with the baby’s scent. A used baby blanket is great to place in the dog’s kennel or bed. The reception of your baby by your furry friend will be much different.

Don’t break their heart!

Please do not neglect your dog or feel you have to keep the dog out now that you have a baby. That is a sure way to break a dog’s heart and create resentment towards your baby. Dogs are (or should be) part of the family. They naturally bond with babies and love caring for them! If you feel you do not have enough love to share now that you have a child, find a loving family that does not feel that way. The dog deserves it!

Train early on

Consider engaging a trainer before the baby arrives. A trainer can help you and the dog work on walks with a stroller and other foreseeable situations you might want to prepare. Advance training will decrease stress arising from bringing the newest family member home. Primarily, work on barking at the door and greeting visitors. These are two areas where significant challenges arise upon bringing a new baby to a home with dogs.

Dogs And Kids

Dogs and kids are a great combination only when the children have learned to respect the dog. 

Some people think it is pretty funny or speaks highly of the dog when their children do all kinds of things to their dog, and the dog does not bite or snarl. This only speaks highly of those persons’ stupidity, I’m afraid. They are pushing their dogs’ limits, potentially creating a dangerous situation for both child and dog. The dog is being harmed, abused, or at least disrespected. Adults model a terrible example for their children this way.

Children need to learn, early in life, that dogs need to be respected and cherished, and that is why the dog shares the home with the family. What part of this is funny or should make the dog owner proud? I do not have a frigging idea!

Things We Do That Dogs Hate

Play dress-up

Think it is so cute and funny to dress up your dog for Halloween or whatever other occasion? Newsflash! they do not share your views on this. So do not do this ridiculous thing! Dogs don’t like the feel, and they know how stupid they look.

Face to face loving

Do not love your dog by placing your face in front of theirs. Dogs hate it! They might tolerate it because it is you, and they love you and do not want to disappoint you. But they do not like this a bit.

Leaving them outside

Some dogs are suited for cold climates, but others are not. If it feels cold to you and your dog is not a furry snow beast (like our Great Pyrenees), consider getting them a size-appropriate jacket for those moments when there is no other option than going outside. 

Do not presume that being dogs and having fur is automatic protection. Freezing weather is probably an instance when your dog won’t be bothered if you dress them warmly (just jacket and booties, no clown customs, please!)

If your dog sleeps outside, bring them inside unless outside is their choice (some breeds are like that)! They are part of the family. If you do not think a dog’s place is inside the home, again, DO NOT HAVE A DOG! 

It is a crime to leave a dog outside when it is too hot or too cold in many states. There is a reason for that — it is an aberrant act of cruelty!

Shaving off their fur in the summer

The dog’s fur not only protects him against the cold but also insulates him in the heat. Some people think they are doing their dog a favor by shaving off the hair when it is too hot out there. Unfortunately, this makes the dog lose their natural protection against the heat. Unless the dog is very matted and there is no better solution than shaving the hair, do not do such a thing!

Final Thoughts

Do not ignore your dog(s). Dogs look for eye contact as a reassurance of your love. So please look at them, smile at them, talk to them. Often. 

Tomography images of the dog’s brain have shown that when a dog sees his beloved human, the brain lights up in the same manner the human brain behaves in the presence of a loved one.

Whoever abandons an old dog because he has become an inconvenience or no longer as much fun as they used to be, deserves the same treatment by their children. 

In neglecting or rejecting an older dog, that is the lesson they are teaching their children. So, wait for it — Karma is a bitch and is coming for you one of these days.

If you have the privilege of sharing your home with an animal, then honor that. Honor them! Don’t consider that a privilege? Then allow someone else to give those creatures the love, happiness, care, and honor they deserve.

For the love of dogs!

Some Clutter Truths

Some Clutter Truths

How Would That Look Like?

Imagine a beautiful store window. But then you can’t focus on any particular item in it.

Think of a beautiful And then clutter covers countertops, cabinets are packed to the brim, and there are boxes all over the place.

Visualize a hotel room with a closet full of empty wire hangers, every inch of the walls has some artwork or painting, blankets (with prints of all colors and different types) are folded on the bed, and bathroom cabinets are full of toiletries to last for three months (with daily use).

What if showroom was full of mismatched hangers, many pieces of clothing on top of each other, and store supplies boxes under the clothes?

Clutter Truths

The above scenarios convey the following truths about clutter:

  • We can’t organize clutter
    • We can’t organize clutter
    • A cluttered place will never look elegant, inviting, organized, or appealing
    • Clutter will ruin the beauty in any space
    • Clear space is to a home what a wide, white mat is to a work of art – It highlights the beauty of its surroundings

Why Can’t We Let Go

We often find it hard to let go of things we no longer need or want. This difficulty might come from something when we need it (if we ever need it). But we often don’t even know what we own and end up buying duplicates anyway!

Other times we think discarding some expensive item is throwing money away. But the money was spent when buying that thing, not when tossing it—keeping expensive things that we no longer want, will not bring the money back. And frequently, keeping those things costs us more money than letting those items go.

In the meantime, the fear of letting go holds us hostage to a cluttered environment – a home in disarray and chaos. Whether we notice it or not, our life energy gets sucked into a tornado of . And the cluttered space prevents us from enjoying the things we do keep. When everything seems unique, then nothing really is.

I invite you to take the plunge and free yourself of useless possessions. Re-evaluate your relationship with things. The less we own, the easier it is to keep up with what we have, and the more we start appreciating everything – material possessions or otherwise.

I can partner with you on this journey!


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