Tuesday, July 17, 2012

5 Ways to Make Life Easier in Less Than 5 Minutes

You know those women who claim they can "do it all?" Well, they are no better than you or me, they just have better tricks of the trade.  With a domestic tool belt, everyone can find more time to do more...and setting up these tools doesn't take long.  Less than five minutes, in fact!

So here's my new feature series, "How to Make Life Easier in Less Than Five Minutes."  The addition of a child, business, and blog has taught me a thing or two about organization, and together with my modern family, we have pulled together some great ideas that really cut down on time, while helping organize our lives!

Making Life Easier in Less Than Five Minutes:

 1. Label Your Garbage Cans. You are probably laughing at this one.  But how many times have you gone to throw something away at a friend's house and couldn't figure out which garbage was the recycle bin, and which was the regular trash?  There's such a simple solution!  Just take a marker to your garbage bins and label one "Recycle", one "Trash", and one "Glass/Cans." Done!  You will never be asked that question again!

2. Put Favorite Liquids into Easy-Pour Bottles.  If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you can cut down on time searching for your favorite liquids and sauces by putting them in glass bottles and buying easy-pour spouts on them (commonly used for oil, vinegar, and alcohol).  I found these pretty glass bottles at Ikea, Ross, and Pier 1 Imports all for less than $10, then I found a bag of easy-pour spouts at the Dollar Tree ($1 for apack of 12). 
I added my favorite liquids--Balsamic Vinaigrette, Soy Sauce, and Olive Oil--and whoa la! Pretty enough to stay in close reach on the counter and ready for the next pasta, salad, or stir fry.

3. Make Your Own Snack Bags.  I have fallen victim to the 100 Calorie Packs.  Then I realized that I can make my own.  Not only is this a lot cheaper, but it helps with portion control, I can choose my favorite foods, AND I can recycle the snack bags.  When I buy a bag of Veggie Chips, pretzels, Chex Mix, or other snack food (even cookies!), I measure out 2-3 Weight Watcher Points worth, bag up the entire contents, and label each baggie with the number of points.  It's great for quick snacking on the go.  You can even do this using small Tupperware and yogurt, hummus, and cheeses.  This is one of my Rules to Weight Loss.

4. Plant Herbs. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to have a green thumb to grow herbs.  Thank goodness, because I love fresh herbs in my house.  It fills the entire kitchen with smells of Italy, makes cooking with fresh herbs as easy as a "snip" away, and I never have to go to the store for fresh basil, thyme, or sage.  These are the three herbs I recommend because they are hardy and produce a longer harvest than say, cilantro.  Plus, a $2.99 Basil plant from Trader Joes can be harvested for up to three months, which saves money too!  And, if you have more than you need, you can always...(see next tip)...

5. Freeze Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil.  I found this idea on Pinterest and I love it!  Using ice cube trays or these little tiny Tupperware containers (12 for $1 at the Dollar Tree), chop extra fresh herbs and place at the bottom of the containers.  Then, fill 1 or 2TBSP of Olive Oil and freeze.  The oil helps preserve the fresh herbs. When needed, drop into your favorite recipes--soups, pastas, sauces, dips--and you have a pre-measured oil/herb mix.

Bonus Tip: Tick Tac Box of Bobby Pins.  I always have bobby pins hanging around and they end up lost in the carpet, vacuum cleaner, a dish on nightstand.  But you can place them in a Tick Tac box and they are both easy to access and never get lost.  I love this idea!

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