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My all-time favorite blog & how it changed me

December 2, 2010

Zen Habits' creator/writer Leo Babauta; photo courtesy of zenhabits.net

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my personal holiday favorites: gifts, easy + FABULOUS recipes, simple yet beautiful decorations {and take a look at last week’s post: 5 ways to make your holidays HAPPY if you haven’t yet!}.  But today, I wanted to share what has brought me great “tidings of comfort and joy”… my all-time favorite blog:  Leo Babauta’s  www.ZenHabits.net

I’ve been following Zen Habits for about a year now and it has shifted me in some pretty amazing ways:

  • letting go of rigid goals {I’m still a huge believer in having a vision and making a plan, but am much more open to change.  This openness has brought some pretty incredible opportunities that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.}
  • streamlining {a big part of my organizing philosophy – see my “surround yourself with what you love” series: car, people, work, style, home}
  • working smarter {including creating frictionless systems and having a clear desk} {Leo has also become one of my business mentors – that’s another post!}
  • focusing {and focusing on what you truly love}
  • being in the moment {Finally! I’m able to actually experience this!}

Infusing Zen Habits into my life has shown me first hand the power of surrounding yourself with what you love. It’s too easy to become completely overwhelmed with the vast amount of “stuff” out there – from our computer and TV screens to our calendars and what we are “supposed to do.” Every single thing we choose to surround ourselves with shifts us in one way – or another. Be intentional about where you are shifting. {Shift yourself – don’t be shifted!}

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle {a quote from Zen Habits’ About page}

If you are in need of a shift towards peace during the holiday season – and beyond – visit Leo at www.ZenHabits.net. He describes Zen Habits as “finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.” Zen Habits is one of the Top 25 blogs in the world, and Time magazine named it the number one blog for 2010.

5 ways to make your HOLIDAYS HAPPY

November 22, 2010

photo courtesy of jurvetson

If you’re like me, you can feel the excitement and anticipation of what’s about to arrive… along with that added stress that’s trying it’s best to accompany the holiday season.  DO (don’t just read – grab a pen and paper and make a plan!) these 5 things to welcome the holidays – while turning your back on that stress:

1.  VISUALIZE

Find a few quiet minutes and think:  What do I want the holidays to be? {Not just for your family  – but for YOU!} Using “surround yourself with what you love” {last blog series} write down what you want to both experience and avoid.

This is what I’d love {and not love}:

LOVE:  experiencing and being the true meaning {cliche sounding, but true-and doable… if you need some ideas, let me know & I’ll send some to you – from an Advent workshop I attended} + calm AND happy times with loved ones + singing Christmas carols with my kids {they actually think I have a beautiful voice – which I so don’t! –  it’s my rock star moment} + favorite traditions {from yummy foods (she-crab soup on Christmas Eve & chocolate peanut butter balls) to the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf (if my boys don’t spend too much time pondering why identical elves are lined up in every store) + reading The Night Before Christmas + pulling out decorations and Christmas music + wrapping gifts + finding great {not necessarily “perfect”} gifts + that magical feeling I still get when I wake up Christmas morning + PEACE.

DON’T LOVE:  rushing around + overbooked schedules + paying for express shipping OR seeing “out of stock” when I go to buy something {because I waited too long} + attending my children’s Christmas programs and thinking “I really need to be using this hour getting stuff done” instead of being in the moment + spending too much money + not having any downtime + being amidst that “hustle and bustle” at a mall {know this goes in the “LOVE” category for some : ) + looking forward to the holidays being over

WHAT TO DO WITH THIS? Do your best to add your holiday “loves” into your calendar or to-do list. {This is EQUALLY important if what you love is a bit of nothing! Make sure to block out that quiet time.}  For the things on your “don’t love” list, see #2:

2. STREAMLINE

I still tend to pack too much into my suitcase {which I’m perfectly okay with}.  But when it comes to packing my schedule {including to-do’s}, I really do try to streamline as much as I can. This quote from a wellness program I’m involved in that beautifully sums it up:

“The most important perspective to keep is one of ‘crowding it out.’ Crowd out the draining tasks with uplifting choices. Crowd out the mediocre tasking junk food with excellent tasting indulgences. Crowd out the frenzy by prioritizing what you will do and bringing calm and joy to those experiences.”

Lisa Byrne

www.WellGroundedLife.com

from Roadmap to a Happy, Healthy, Meaningful Holiday Season

(click here for more info on this wonderful program)

3.  BUDGET

Establish your budget FIRST.  Then, make your list of who you’ll be buying for. After you know these two things, then determine how to allocate your $. I do an Excel spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • For (recipient’s name)
  • Gift Purchased (or gift idea)
  • Budget*
  • Actual*

* I made it to where these two columns calculate the total budgeted / spent at bottom. It’ll calculate as you plug in different amounts and you can keep adjusting until you have the #’s where they need to be.  BTW, this list is great to refer back to in years to come. {My husband will probably be amused that I’m giving budgeting advice but I’m very proud to say that this is what I did last year and it worked beautifully UNDERbudget!}

4.  ORGANIZE

As you know, I’ve fallen in love with order. It’ll not only keep you sane, but help you truly enjoy the season. One tip: Make a holiday organizer: This is what I use:  a pocket file holder {found one at Target for like $2.50} with the following tabs:

  • Ideas {such as tear-outs from magazines}
  • Cards {our holiday card mailing list + extra stamps + few extra cards + my writing pen}
  • Receipts {all receipts from holiday / gift items purchased}
  • List {my gift list: I just print out the spreadsheet, see #3 above}

5.  TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Drink lots of water, ensure downtime is on your schedule, breathe, spend time with some of your favorite people, get in some exercise {even if it’s 5 minutes here, 10 there}, throw in some healthy meals / snacks… And finally:

Keep all “things to do” {including those you’re keeping in your head} written in ONE PLACE!  Place with this holiday plan and regroup every few days.  {This tip falls under the “organize” category but it’s also one of the best ways you can take care of yourself. More order is HUGE for your well-being. And something else that’s big:  letting go…

Abandon Guilt. You are supposed to enjoy, indulge, delight, relax, and pamper during this time. In order to have a healthy and peaceful holiday season you will need to say no, say yes, establish priorities, get things done and leave things left undone. It is all okay. A moment in guilt is a moment wasted.

Lisa Byrne, Well Grounded Life

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some favorite recipes {fabulous for entertaining over the holidays}; some easy + beautiful decorations for your home + favorite gift ideas + more!

In closing, I just wanted to say that I am thankful for each of you and hope you are surrounded by what you love during the holiday season – and beyond!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and again, thank you for reading!

Surround yourself with what you love: HOME

November 17, 2010

photo: courtesy of R. Clock

While we don’t have much control over the outside world, what’s under our roof is a different story. And speaking of “story” – your home {the “setting” of your story} plays one of the biggest supporting roles in the life you are writing. Your home should be your personal oasis:  one that nurtures, comforts, welcomes you {and your family} – and, simply put, makes you happy.

I could write a book {actually, several} on this topic alone, but for now, I’ll just share a few thoughts mixed in with some of my favorite “home” quotes, starting with my all-time favorite.  It beautifully sums up how our surroundings (our spaces both at home and work) impact us:

The power of being in a space that feels fully aligned with our soul is sorely underrated. In all my years of coaching (and in my own life), I’ve seen few ways to practice Extreme Self-Care that have a more dramatic, immediate effect on our quality of life than this one idea. I’m not just talking about clearing clutter or getting organized, although these are a huge part of the formula; I’m talking about recognizing the impact your home or office has on your emotional and physical health, your energy levels, your self-esteem, your relationship to yourself and others, and your spiritual well-being. It’s called “creating a soul-nourishing environment,” and I’ve seen this vital concept – the transformation of a person’s home or office – literally transform his or her life.”

Cheryl Richardson, The Art of Extreme Self-Care

A few {of the many} things I like to surround myself with at home:

  • light {This drives my husband a little crazy but I need my mood lighting! I counter with this eco-friendly tip: use “good for the environment” light bulbs in favorite lights.}
  • comfort {from favorite blankets to super-comfy-while-trying-to-keep stylish clothes}
  • music {quite the variety-all depending on my mood}
  • quiet {for when I’m in the mood for NO noise}
  • happy kids {and happy husband!}
  • delicious food {I very much dislike wasting a meal – or snack – on “filler stuff” as I call it. I’m working on adding in really good stuff that’s really good for me… another post}
  • good wine {we’re building quite the collection of corks}
  • systems {keeps the day-day stuff running smoothly}
  • nature: bringing the outdoors in {fresh air (open windows), water (my tiny indoor fountain), styling (from pine cones to cut greenery/flowers), fire (in fireplace or on top of candle only!}
  • books {I just love them} and, of course, my magazines
  • favorite photos of loved ones/friends {and even better – when they are here in person!}
  • order {There’s nothing like it – especially if you’re like me at aren’t (or should I say “weren’t”?) naturally organized! Learning how to make it work – priceless! And I’m not just saying that because it’s what I do now professionally!}
  • our animals {the few times they haven’t been there… it’s just not the same … even though all they do is sleep!}
  • inspiration of different sorts {from our kids’ favorite artwork to the inspiration board in my “studio” – another thing my husband “loves,” when I refer to the office as the “studio”}

As far as furniture + other decor, I try to stick with advice from my mom {who – along with my dad – are the true experts at creating a welcoming, beautiful, personal home}. Her advice:  If you don’t love it, don’t get it. {I must have heard that 1,000 times in response to my, “Look what I got – and it was only $____!!!”}  And she is right. Looking through my home and closet {with very few exceptions} the things I bought on impulse, often because they were “such good deals,” are things that end up in my Goodwill box.

Surrounding yourself {home, work, people, car, style} with what you love is about doing these two things:

  1. Designing a vision {knowing, keeping and adding what you DO love}, and
  2. Streamlining {taking away or changing what you DON’T}.

When we acknowledge the importance of home, we are taking note of ourselves.  Home is ultimately the place in our lives that is uniquely ours, a flexible space reflecting where we come from and how we got here.  The home becomes the canvas on which we express our own viewpoint and sense of style.  Once we arrive at that place, however, we often become overwhelmed with how much there is to do.  We have the desire to make the effort, but we are unsure how to start or where to begin.  We can change this feeling by adjusting our point of view so that we can enjoy the process of creating home, over time.

Louis Sagar, Zona Home: Essential Designs for Living

Making your home is a journey {not a destination} so, just as with life, HAVE FUN with it as you design it.

Surround yourself with what you love: STYLE

November 16, 2010

"Style" - one of my favorite book categories (The other: "organizing" : )

While style may not make quite as deep of an impact as what we do and who we’re with, don’t underestimate it’s power! It can add sparkle to the ho-hum, day-to-day which can have some pretty awesome affects on everything from your mood to your well-being. {It’s all connected!}

When most of us think of style, we think: fashion {and hair, makeup, accessories}But style is so much more.  It’s the way you do what you do – and what you surround yourself with. It’s not about being artificial {doing it just for show} but taking the time to enhance your life with what you truly love.  The ways you can do this are endless.  Here are a few {and in parenthesis, how I personally do it}:

– the way you wrap a gift {natural paper with combination of ribbon – depending on the recipient and occasion}

– how you set a table {candles – always! – even when it’s just the kids and me; and yes, sometimes I”ll even break the – ridiculous if you ask me – “no candles during the day” rule}

– the pen you write with {love my rainbow of Le Pens}

– the stationary you use {my stash includes Cranes, Sharp & Sally – just to name a few} + the way you sign a note

– the scent you wear {my classic: Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle; for daytime: Sarah Horowitz: What Comes From Within: Peace; when in desperate need of summer: Bobbi Brown’s Beach}

– and, of course, the clothes you wear … Here’s a quote from the newest book on {fashionable} style:

“Getting dressed should be fun, because everything we wear says something about who we are…” Lauren Conrad, Style, publisher: Harper.

Side note: What I’d also love for Lauren – or maybe her mom and dad –  to pen is a “how-to” book on raising GROUNDED kids.  Seriously, I would love to know her/their secrets on this subject!  If I had lived my late teens & early 20’s on reality TV, I’d like to think {but actually don’t really think} I would have come out as poised / unscathed / balanced as Lauren. I loved watching Laguna Beach and The Hills, but can’t help but think, “Wow, my kids are now closer to that age than I am!” My mind switches gears from being totally entertained to totally freaked, and as a mom I really, really want to know how she – and her parents! – did it. Lauren… if you are reading this I’d LOVE to interview you – and/or your mom – for future blog post : ) Okay… back to this post…

Surrounding yourself with what you love {style-wise} begins with simply taking notice in the little things and then adding in your own flair. If you need a little help getting started, check out Making your lifeSTYLE a-mah-zing and Imitation: the sincerest form of flattery.

NEXT:  In the final post of our surround yourself with what you love series, we’ll go HOME!

Surround yourself with what you love: WORK

October 31, 2010

photo: TV Guide, The Office

Moving the Surround Yourself with What You Love series to our work environment:  Whether you work in an office full of people or by yourself in a home office, our work environment {workspace, people, what we actually do} plays a big role in our lives.  Here, we’ll look at these three components and how you can add a little bit more of what you love to each.

YOUR WORK SPACE

Order plays a tremendous role here.  A few basics:

  1. STREAMLINE:  Take away what you really don’t need – or love!
  2. SORT:  Group like items together {creating “centers” such as office supplies, discs, catalogs, …}
  3. PLACE: Each item {or group} should have a home
  4. MAINTAIN: Developing habits of keeping the order you create after any organizing project is KEY

Bottom Line: You should be able to find what you need when you need it. BTW, the same goes for PAPER (receipts, correspondence, manuals, the list goes on) and VIRTUAL (stuff on your computer including documents, email inbox, bookmarks, photos) CLUTTER}.

Don’t forget… the “fun” stuff!  If you read my blog / newsletter, you know I’m big into not only creating more order but infusing what you love aesthetically into your surroundings.  As far as work goes, these are a few ways I do it:

  • visual style {from lighting, colors, favorite photo, screen saver, “stuff I love” board…}
  • favorite scent {When working at my desk, my candle is lit.  If you work around others, be considerate!  Your favorite may not be your co-worker’s favorite}
  • comfort {I also have to be in complete comfort when at home office – as I type this I’ve got my Uggs, favorite blanket and pillow in big chair- if desk is around others, you can at least have comfy shoes to throw on under desk.}
  • sound {I go for complete silence, to my ocean machine, to my favorite music – depending on what I’m doing.}

PEOPLE

My last post was on WHO we have around us:  how to know if you are getting {& giving} good vibes or bad ones and what you can do about it.  In a working environment, people play a HUGE role in our satisfaction and performance – possibly making more of an impact on us than our actual job duties.

For info on dealing with toxic employees {how to: recognize early warning signs, handle, avoid hiring them in the 1st place}, click this link.  My mentor/friend Doug Wilder of Wilder Business Success Inc. is one of the featured experts answering questions, posed by Karen Mathis/Daily Record, on this topic.

Behind the Scenes

As with life in general, surrounding yourself with a good support system has been a lifesaver to me in business.  One example relates to my least favorite topic:  finances. My lifesaver:  Amanda Brzoska.

I met Amanda through a peer mentoring group I’m involved with at the Women Business Center {yet another lifesaver … if you are a business owner at any stage, consider becoming involved with this fabulous organization}.  I desperately needed control of my books and Amanda came to my rescue.  A certified QuickBooks Pro advisor, among other credentials, Amanda was extremely knowledgeable and quickly did for me what QuickBooks for Dummies had failed to do:  have my QB’s up and running!

What makes Amanda stand out?  She made me feel completely comfortable.  One thing I now consider equally among qualifications and recommendations is the comfort-level I have when meeting with someone I’m considering working with.

{As Managing Member of My Small Business Assistant, LLC, Amanda helps entrepreneurs in areas where it is more cost effective to outsource – such as bookkeeping and payroll processing.  Click here if you’d like more info.  Also, check out her blog, Advice Receivable – an entrepreneur’s diary! }

With her supportive “partner approach,” Amanda has helped me conquer my fear of finances.  The “knowledge is power” thing is so true – once you tackle something you are unfamiliar / uncomfortable with, your circle of comfort widens and you become stronger, wiser…  {This is really big with personal finances as well (more order = more peace) future post.}

WHAT YOU DO

Doing what you love for a living is the ultimate. {And I absolutely believe it’s doable.} But if you’re not there – at least yet- working with what you’ve got can make a big impact on your attitude which makes a big impact on everything.  And who knows, what you are doing now could actually evolve into something you love.  {There’s not just one right option, decision, plan, direction….}  Here are just a few things I’ve experienced:

  • Know It All: {This is when it’s a good thing!} Know everything you have going on – take all the scraps of paper, to-do lists, stuff in your head – get it all down into one place.
  • Prioritize: determine what’s most important {and what can be simply deleted?}
  • Plan: by properly planning – you are better able to make sure those most important things are done at best time
  • Passion: If you’re not doing what you love during working hours, make sure to make time for it after hours.  We all need something we can lose ourselves in.
  • Long-Term Vision: If you have an idea of something you’d like to do “one day” – whether it’s working for yourself or with your dream company – don’t give up!  Make a vision board, draft a business plan, do some embodiment-ing,  etc etc etc!

With such a large percentage of our day spent at “work,” creating the best surroundings is time well spent.  We all have more control than we often think…

Surround yourself with what you love: PEOPLE

October 21, 2010

photo courtesy of h. koppdelaney

 

The Surround Yourself with What You Love blog series started with your car {10 ways to turn your CAR into your HAVEN}Now, moving to PEOPLE – arguably both the hardest to change BUT the most significant of our surroundings.

The people we are surrounded by {our friends, spouse**, children**, co-workers*, boss*, partner, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, retailers*, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, the list goes on…} either energize or drain us. We all have our bad days and absolutely need to give each other some slack, but it’s crucial for our well-being to surround ourselves with people that are good for us.

{* Those we “work” with – whether in an office or at the grocery store – will be discussed next time.}

{** I’m NOT recommending ditching those in these two categories! However, much of the following can be applied to “spouse” and “kids” too… : )

This post in no way is intended to solve all of our “people issues” but to simply encourage us become more aware of who’s in our lives and how we are affected by them AND to remind us we have more control than we often realize. {I’ve included a few good articles to take you further if needed since I’m NOT the expert!}

OBSERVING

Begin paying attention:  How do you feel:

  • when an email from ___________ is waiting in your in box?
  • when _________’s name pops up on caller ID?
  • after you spend time with _______________?
  • when you see ___________ while going through your photos?
  • when your calendar reminds you that tomorrow you’re having lunch with _______________?

Think about why you feel that good {or bad} vibe.  With the really strong {+ OR -} vibes, do you notice particular patterns?

 

ADDING + PURGING

How do you add more of what you love?

How can you spend a bit more time those you love? {I’m using the word “love” loosely but you get the idea.} {BTW, I’ve just added “WAYS to add more time with those you love” to my editorial calendar.  It’s something I personally need to do more of, and writing a post on it may just help me figure out how to do!} Who’s missing that you may need?

6 Friends Every Mom Needs in Her Momtourage by Lian Dolan, Oprah.com

How to Make a True Friend Worth More than 14.6 Cents by GoodLifeZen.com’s Mary Jaksch

The Friendship Test: Friends Don’t Let Friends Do All of the Work by Martha Beck, Oprah.com

How do you take out what {who} you don’t love?

Some “situations” are easier to disconnect with than others. {That sounds harsh:  I genuinely try to be a nice person (not perfect, keep reading) but strongly believe in distancing yourself from negative people – or dealing with them head on.  I am much better at the “distancing” than the “dealing” – but I’m working on it.

Confront Your Toxic Relationships by Cheryl Richardson, Oprah.com

How to Deal with Difficult (Even Impossible) People by Deepak Chopra, Oprah.com

 

REFLECTING WITHIN

Could it be YOU that is:

(A) allowing yourself to be negatively affected by certain individuals? {I do believe in this, but admit it’s  irritating when I’M annoyed and someone says to me it’s MY fault for letting her / him get to me.}

OR

(B) on the giving end of those “negative” vibes? I like to think I’m enjoyable to be around, but know I’m guilty of {occasionally!?!} sending out bad vibes.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of me having a difficult day.  However, there are other times when my own negativity goes a lot deeper, like when I’m:

  • feeling insecure.   This happens less frequently now that I’m older and wiser {caring a lot less about what others think of me – living more authentically – is a beautiful thing}.

The Cure for Self-Consciousness by Martha Beck, Oprah.com

How to deal with insecurity & doubt; from Oprah.com by Deepak Chopra, Oprah.com

  • going against what I know is right;
  • expecting someone else to “fill me up” {co-dependent!}; or
  • rightfully frustrated with someone but am not setting boundaries or standing up for myself.

Begin to Set Personal Boundaries by Cheryl Richardson, Oprah.com

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

  1. Become familiar with how the people in your life – including you!- are impacting you.
  2. Understand what {who} you need + what {who} you don’t.
  3. Know when to take action and when to let go.

Unlike the car – surrounding yourself with people you love is not a quick fix.  It’s a lifetime thing. But, undeniably worth intentionally cultivating.

Stock your car! This is what I keep in mine…

October 13, 2010

In my last post I shared ways to turn your CAR into your HAVEN. One of the tips: keep your car well-stocked. You may need a completely different list {or no list at all}.  Here’s mine:

in my console:

  • console organizer: vehicle registration & insurance info + discount cards & coupons + business cards + gift certificates + dry cleaning tickets

This helps organize all of those bits of paper that get stuffed next to your seat. {Target: $1}

also in console:

  • mini spray bottle & brush {for styling boys’ bedheads when it doesn’t get done before leaving}
  • cute notepad & pen {since I usually am writing notes to teachers en route to school – at stop lights of course!}
  • a few CDs / current book on tape
  • hand lotion
  • change

car tote: As mentioned in my last post {#4 of the 10 Tips}, this is what I carry to and from the car when arriving or leaving home.  It’s become a huge help to me in staying more organized.  It nicely contains all of my stuff that accumulates in the front seat.

This tote works well for me: it’s heavy duty AND looks good + I can scoop my arm through when heading out the door in morning: a free hand left for coffee! {Kohls: $19 – on sale}

what’s typically in my tote:

  • wallet (that includes my Triple AAA card:  an essential!)
  • iPhone {with calendar, contacts, built-in camera for client before & after’s and kids’ stuff}
  • sunglasses
  • reading material {both work OR fun – whatever I’m in the mood for} and easy “to-do” stuff {great to have something for those waiting around” times}
  • clip board {where I keep my weekly planning page + other working “things”}
  • baby wipes {even though my babies aren’t babies anymore, I will forever keep wipes handy!}
  • water bottle
  • clear pouch that keeps small random things:  my must-have-on-hand beauty products {including lip gloss/nail file/lotion/hair band…} and gum/mints + hand sanitizer + earphones for iPod + tissues + pen/pencil/highlighter. Being clear is key – it enables me to quickly find what I need.
  • purse {I usually switch purses daily so I just grab from my tote what I need & put in purse before exiting the car to go in somewhere}.  And speaking of purses, I just found a GREAT thing for keeping it from falling off seat and dumping contents all over – see pic below:
  • I just found this fabulous way to keep my purse from falling on floor & dumping contents everywhere: it’s a paint can hook! {Lowes: 2 for $1.77}

mini-office: For me, the best place for this is on my floor board of my passenger seat – reachable when safely stopped. {My tote is what typically goes in the passenger seat.}

This mini-office keeps you organized whether you’re running a business OR running a home! {Case Logic’s website: $40 – can also find at Target}

what’s in my portable office:

  • supplies:  paper clips, stapler, scissors, rubber bands, tape {regular, masking & double-sided}, client/project folders, stickies, legal pad, rubber bands, gem clips, mini-flash light, extra pencil/pens, Sharpie, book light, matches, measuring tape
  • snacks: energy bars +  other on-the-go non-perishables {I love raw cashews, wasabi peas, dried apricots}
  • mini: stain remover stick, sewing kit, medical kit, umbrella
  • devotion {to read when I’m needing to “think/feel/act/be better” – which is everyday}

for the kids:

  • clipboard, pencils, markers
  • couple of books {not optimal, but on days when we have too much going on, they’ll get their reading done in car}
  • water bottle + {preferably healthy – we are trying} snack
  • And for trips:  favorite pillow or blanket + each takes a small bag with their choice of book, toy, video – whatever will fit!

backseat bin: I keep a plastic bin in the back that holds random things that otherwise would be strewn throughout the back:

  • outdoor blanket
  • plastic utensils/straws
  • grocery totes
  • to-be-recycled grocery bags {that I end up having to use at store when I forget to bring in my eco-friendly grocery totes}
  • yoga mat

car wash stash: When I first started going to the drive-through/vacuum-yourself car wash I noticed the “over-the-top Type-A ones” {now I just call them the “smart ones”} had a few tricks in their trunk.  I now come prepared, too:

  • microfiber cloth
  • detail brush
  • mini broom {to sweep off seats/parts of car that vacuum just doesn’t seem to suck up – with two young boys and a traveling dog, our car can get pretty messy!}
  • Armor All wipes
  • scent of some sort {lavender is my car favorite – I get at Lowes but they’ve been out of this particular scent and as much as I love them, I can’t drive around in a tiki bar with pina coladas on my mind.  So I’m temporarily using something I got at Target: green bamboo.  But I’m looking for other options if you have recommendations!}

also:

  • GPS {even though I will still find a way to get lost}
  • car trash bag {attached to back of passenger seat – I can reach it and the kids can, too}

What I probably should have but don’t:

  • phone charger {I charge overnight}
  • DS charger {when going on a trip, it’s the kids‘ responsibility to ensure DS’s are charged : )
  • packed gym bag {I’ll sometimes have this but having it all the time would be a better thing}
  • jumper cables {as mentioned at top of post:  Triple AAA:  a great thing!}
  • car seat protector {we never got these for under our kids’ seats – what were we thinking?}
  • mini pencil sharpener {dull/broken pencils:  I need to add that to my “things that drive me crazy” list on my blog’s about me page…

What do YOU keep in your car that’s not on this list?  I’d LOVE to hear!!!