Tag Archives: tips

How To Survive the Summer Commute

Because I am a true California girl, summer is by far my most favorite season of the year. I love the long days, endless blue skies, and the super warm weather, not to mention the nights we are able to BBQ and dine al fresco at our local eateries.

However, one thing I do not love is my long commute in the blazing heat! Sure, I have a working air conditioner (thank goodness for that), but with a long drive and black interior in my car, it sometimes feels like I am heading to and from the office in my oven.

There are a few simple items that have really helped make my commute just a tad bit easier. The best part? Most of them are simple staples that you probably already have laying around!

Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

This type of water bottle is an absolute essential for me. When looking for a bottle, I found out that one of the most popular brands is S’well. I must admit I was a little surprised at their cost per bottle ($25-$35). What could be so fabulous about this type of water bottle? However, after a sip of surprisingly still cool water from my water bottle after it sat in 100+ heat for an hour, it became very clear that the money was well spent!

I keep this filled up for my drive to and from work, and I am happily refreshed with cool water whenever I need to take a sip.

Windshield Sun Shade

I have to admit this is a relatively new addition to my car’s accessories. Whenever I thought of windshield sunshades, I was immediately transported back to the 1990s with accordion-style cardboard shades (which were just plain awful!). However, I am excited to announce that the market carries a number of different options, which hopefully make them a bit easier to use. I chose a two-piece vinyl material option, which actually folds up into a very small bundle. While it takes an extra minute or so to put it up, I’m always so grateful to return to a car that hasn’t had the front seats baking in the sun for hours (hello shorts, skirts and dresses!).

Old Towel

Along the lines mentioned above, grabbing an old towel to throw in your trunk is such a great idea. I cannot explain how many times I have thrown it over my driver’s seat leather to provide a little extra coverage from sun coming from one of the side windows. It’s also a great accessory to have when you’re wearing your cute summer outfit and you cringe when your bare leg hits your car’s warm interior. Nothing genius about this idea, just a nice-to-have.

Lip Balm

I am a major lip balm queen and typically have a tube of this in just about everything I carry. However, I find that it’s not always super accessible. I leave a tube of my favorite balm (Burt’s Bees) in my drink holders for a quick moisturizing swipe through my commute. While I have found other brands tend to get mushy when they are left in a hot car, Burt’s Bees seems to hold up a bit better (though it definitely softens a bit).

Extra Sunglasses

Sunglasses are my other must-have during the summer. Like lip balm, I tend to have a few pairs in different work bags and purses, but always seem to find myself scrambling for a pair when I get into the car. I like to conveniently keep a back-up pair of sunglasses in my door compartment. That way, whether I have my purse within arm’s reach or not, I have something to get me through the drive.

For those of you that commute through the hot summer, I hope these tip help make your drive a bit more convenient! Happy Summer!

Q&A with a Professional Organizer [‘How to Start Decluttering’ Edition]

This week’s guest blog post comes to us from Bonnie Dewkett, a certified professional organizer who began organizing as a child, and has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer, creates and implements organizational systems for both the home and office. Passionate about helping others meet their organizational goals, Bonnie loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on people’s lives.


“I need to declutter, but I’m having trouble letting go of sentimental items or practical things that I might need ‘someday.’ What should I do?”

The best thing is to ask yourself what it’s costing you to keep the item.  If you pay rent or a mortgage you’re paying a per foot cost for everything in your home.  If it’s not worth that cost, out it goes.  Many items can be replaced for much less than you are paying to store them.  Another question to ask yourself is: “If I moved today, would I pay someone to move this for me?”  If the answer is no, donate it.

For sentimental items, I suggest giving yourself (and every other family member in the household) a limit.  For example, one tote per person.  The items inside the tote can change over time, but keeping your sentimental items limited is key.

If something is very meaningful to you, consider finding a way to honor it. For example, before donating something, I like to take a photo of it. You could also consider projects such as framing a piece of a wedding dress, using a shadow box for jewelry, or making a quilt from old t-shirts.

“When I start organizing a very cluttered space (attic, garage, etc.). I get overwhelmed by the volume of stuff. How do I stay motivated when it feels like there’s no end in sight?”

Break every large organizing project down into smaller tasks.  If you’re organizing the garage, make yourself a list.  It might look like this:

  • Sort through boxes
  • Sweep the floor
  • Add in shelves
  • Buy totes
  • Hang garden tools

Breaking a large project down into tasks makes it seem less overwhelming. It also allows you to find the time for each smaller task.  If you’re sorting through a number of boxes, remove those boxes, one at a time to another space.  Going through them one at a time allows you to focus and keeps the feeling of being overwhelmed to a minimum.

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“Is there one product or tool that you think everyone should use to help them stay organized?”

I love binders.  By inserting page protectors you can store just about anything; take out menus, manuals for appliances, printables, photos, and so much more.  My other favorite is the over-the-door shoe rack.  These are available at just about every super store (and even some dollar stores) and they can hold ANYTHING.  I love to use them for toys, snacks, water bottles, first aid supplies, accessories like scarves and mittens, arts and crafts supplies or even dolls.

“If someone is looking for professional help, but they’re not sure about how to budget for it or what type of services to get, what advice would you give to them?”

There are lots of affordable options out there for every budget.  Many organizers will design a plan for you so that you know what to do and when to do it.  It takes the guesswork out of the process.  Other organizers can even help you virtually through phone calls or videoconference sessions.  This keeps you accountable and on task.  If you can’t afford an organizer, find an organizing buddy with a neighbor or friend.  Spend time helping each other get organized and holding each other accountable for your goals.

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For more information, visit The Joyful Organizer website or email info@thejoyfulorganizer.com.

Q&A with a Jeweler [Glittering Gold Edition]

Mom Pic (Resized)Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif.  Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.


What is the difference between 24k, 18k and 14k gold? 
When it is mined, it’s 24k solid gold. To make it into jewelry, they have to mix in different alloys to maintain hardness.

18k gold is 75 percent pure (that’s why they stamp it 750) plus 25 percent other alloys to make it hard enough to make it into jewelry.

14k is 525 parts gold and 475 parts different alloys.

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If someone wanted to buy a gold piece of jewelry, would you recommend they not get 24k gold because it’s too soft?
24k is really malleable, so unless it’s a really thick piece of jewelry to make it very strong, then it will bend. If you were to buy a thick 24k ring, for instance, it will conform to the shape of your finger.

When you’re shopping for gold jewelry for yourself, what do you typically buy? 
I mostly buy 14k. With 18k you really cannot see the difference, it’s just that you’d know the difference. Some people like having more pure pieces in their collection, but to the general onlooker, no one will know if it’s 14k or 18k.

What does ‘gold filled’ or ‘gold plated’ mean? 
Gold filled is alloy mixed with gold to make it stronger. Usually, it will turn to a shade that’s less shiny than 14k. Typically they’ll do a flash coating of 14k on the outside to give it a nice 14k look, but that will wear away over time. Overall, it will stay a gold color, but it will not be as pretty of a color as what you’d get with 14k.

Gold plated means they’ve coated another metal, such as sterling or brass, with a coat of gold. It will wear off with time and the metal on the inside will show.

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts

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