Worth repeating: Making homemade dog treats

13 July 2020

I first wrote this post back at Christmas 2015. I’m proud of this cookbook, which is still selling fifteen years after publication. If the idea of using some of your extra at-home time to bake for your dog is appealing, I encourage you to try out some of the recipes!

It’s a little late in December to be offering up gift ideas, but perhaps this is a gift you can give to your dog (and yourself) without needing the excuse of a holiday.

It’s the You Bake ‘Em Dog Biscuits Cookbook, written by none other than yours truly. This cookbook is the last book I had published a dog writer before starting my organizing business in 2005. Ten years after publication it’s still selling.

Making homemade dog treats

Making your own treats for your dogs has a number of benefits:

  • You control the ingredients
  • You control the size of the treats
  • You bake love right into the treat
  • You have the pleasure of doing something for your dog (or his friends or your friends’ dogs)

I developed the 50+ recipes in the cookbook (some were originally developed by me for a prior, smaller cookbook published by the same company). I’m lucky that my husband, Barry, who works from home right off the kitchen, is a culinary school graduate. He gave advice, when asked, as I was working on the recipes. My own dogs at the time (Pip and Kirby) were taster testers, but I farmed each recipe out to at least one willing dog lover, to test that the recipes work and to test that the dogs liked them.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of the warm heart that goes along with making dog treats for your dog. If you try any of the recipes, please let me know!

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What kind of procrastinator are you?

9 July 2020

Help for procrastinators

I think most of us procrastinate at least sometimes. (If you never procrastinate, you can go ahead and put off reading this post until later.) I used to be a terrible procrastinator, back when I was a writer. Since becoming an organizer 15 years ago, I’m better about it. But there are still tasks I put off. They’re usually tasks I don’t think I’ll enjoy. If they don’t have a deadline I have really hard time getting started on them.

I learned that enjoyment was my barrier to getting started on a task when I took the quiz that my friend, life coach and podcast cohost, Shannon Wilkinson, created. Shannon is a wizard when it comes to helping people get over procrastination. She created the six-question quiz so you can identify the source of your procrastination. (The four barriers are confidence, reward, enjoyment and focus.) And she created a six-page guide and worksheet to overcome each type of procrastination. It’s yours free when you visit her website.

Just check out Shannon’s Less Angst More Action: The Anti-Procrastination Guide to get started.

Once the quiz helped me identify enjoyment as my barrier (I’m kind of shocked that’s not why everybody procrastinates), I’ve been able to use her worksheet to help me get in touch with the benefits of doing the dreaded task. And then the barriers just vanish. It’s a little like a miracle.

I haven’t read the other guides, but I’m sure they’re equally great and I encourage you to take the quiz and check out the guide that pertains to you. You may find yourself, like me, doing important things you’ve been putting off forever.

And if you come away from the whole thing with an appreciation for Shannon’s particular brand of genius, I encourage you to tune into our podcast, Getting to Good Enough where you can benefit from her wisdom every week!

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What is true independence?

4 July 2020

Here in the United States, we’re celebrating Independence Day. That got me thinking about what independence means to me.

A few years ago I created a little graphic to declare what I think brings true freedom.

Less stuff = more freedom

This month I celebrate 15 years of helping people gain that independence. The longer I do this work, the more sure I am that we’re all better off when we surround ourselves with less.

Photo by Paul Poli via Flickr.

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ExactMats custom shelf liners: A review

29 June 2020

ExactMats, the Houston-based manufacturers of custom-made clear shelf liners, recently offered me a credit to try out their products. They’re national Business Partners of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and have the good sense to realize that professional organizers are great people to promote their products to our clients. (In addition to shelf/drawer liners, they make custom car floor mats and face shields. I’ll be blogging about their face shields soon!)

I had heard good things about ExactMats and even sent for a sample of their product, but I hadn’t tried them myself nor seen them at a client’s home. So I gratefully accepted their offer. I had the perfect place in my house to try them out.

When we renovated our kitchen in 2016 we left intact a built-in cabinet that was original to our 1908 house. We painted it white to match the new cabinets. The interior shelves were repainted as well and, unfortunately, our contractor used a paint that gripped like crazy. It took a lot of effort to remove certain items—like cookbooks or canisters—from the shelves. So I jumped at the chance to try Exact Mats on those shelves.

My husband and I carefully measured the shelves and I placed the order, entering in the dimensions, indicating that we wanted rounded corners, and selecting the Crystal liners, not the Riverstone, which has a little texture and is a little grippier (since grippy was our problem).

The liners arrived in just a few days. All we had to do was unroll them and let them rest for a little while to relax the roll. Here’s a photo of two of them laid out on our counter:

Then we just placed each on the shelf. It couldn’t have been easier. I’ve never liked shelf liners because of the hassle of measuring and cutting and so forth. (And, in my case, the risk of error in cutting.) But these custom-made liners were a breeze! Here’s a photo of the shelf liner placed on one shelf in the cabinet without anything on it:

I really like the way they look nice. They remind me a smooth, glass surface. And they don’t grip our stuff. (Hooray!) The lined shelves are so much better than the bare painted surface we had before. Here’s a couple of the shelves with the liner and the stuff placed back on top:

I’ll absolutely be telling my clients about them. They do require some planning, of course. And they come with a price tag. But for those clients who have the budget and like to use shelf liners, I’ll absolutely recommend them!

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Obscure words for messes

25 June 2020

I’m a word person. I made my living as a freelance pet writer for ten years before starting Peace of Mind Organizing in 2005. I love writing, which is how I manage to blog at least once a week on two different blogs. And I especially love writing about organizing and clutter. So how is it that I never heard of these words?

My friend and podcast co-host, Shannon Wilkinson, introduced me to two synonyms for “mess,” when she posted one of her cartoons on Facebook. My reaction was “how have I never heard of these words?” So she sent along a link to this blog post from the inimitable Merriam-Webster.com.

Here’s her cartoon:

Have you ever heard of these words?

  • Strubbly
  • Gaumy
  • Streel
  • Slommacky
  • Hurrah’s nest
  • Shambolic

They all have subtly different meanings. I think my favorite (or perhaps the one I can relate most to) is Shambolic, which, as Shannon’s cartoon points out, means “obviously disorganized or confused.”

I encourage you to read the Merriam-Webster blog post, 6 obscure words for messes to learn more about these excellent words, including their origins.

Follow Shannon on Instagram if you’d like to see more of her cartoons!

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Worth repeating: Five questions to ask yourself before getting rid of paper

22 June 2020


Paper is one of the toughest things for people to make decisions about. I wrote this post eight years ago to help you figure out whether you need to keep a piece of paper. These five questions are still valid today.

Sometimes when I work with clients, I realize that they’ve hung onto a lot of paper out of fear. They’re afraid that they’ll toss or shred a piece of paper and find out later that they need it.

When you’re afraid to let go of paper, before long you get overrun. Then you add a feeling of overwhelm to the fear and it becomes really hard to go through the paper.

So to make things a little easier (and perhaps take away some of the fear), here are the five questions I suggest you ask yourself when you’re trying to make a decision about whether or not to keep a particular piece of paper (particularly paper related to finances):

  • Can I get this information online?
  • Can I replace this paper if necessary?
  • Have I kept this type of information in the past and, if so, did I reference it?
  • Can I scan this document and keep it electronically?
  • What’s the worse that can happen if I get rid of this?

The fact of the matter is that very few papers are irreplaceable. So fear of getting rid of them is pretty unwarranted. You can always ask your tax advisor or your financial planner for advice. But hanging onto unneeded paper can weigh you down.

Why not take a few minutes now to go through your file cabinet and get rid of some outdated paper? (Don’t forget to shred anything with identifying information like social security numbers or account numbers.)

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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Countdown to the Hamilton movie

17 June 2020


I’ve made no secret of the fact that I adore the Broadway show Hamilton (and its non-Broadway incarnations). I’ve seen it four times (three times in Chicago and once in St. Louis) and had a ticket for a May performance in St. Louis that was canceled. I was also planning to see it on our anniversary trip to New York in April. That trip, too, was canceled, thanks to the pandemic.

So you can imagine my glee when I learned that the Hamilton movie —a filmed version of the Broadway production with the original cast, shot two weeks before the original cast stopped performing—is being released for streaming on Disney+ on July 3, rather than in October 2021 in movie theaters as originally planned.

I’m already thinking about what I want to do to prepare in order to enhance my viewing pleasure. And I’m clearing my calendar for the day on July 3 with the intention of watching it many times.

Here’s my plan, in case you’re also a fan and might find it helpful:

  • I’m going to re-listen to The Hamilcast podcast episodes featuring The Cabinet (i.e. the creative geniuses behind the production, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics and stars in the original cast as Alexander Hamilton; director Thomas Kail, who also directed the movie; orchestrator Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler). That’s been made easy with a special page linking to those episodes. I’d better get busy because there are 13 episodes in this collection.
  • I’ll listen to the soundtrack many times between now and July 3 (but I’d do that anyway), as well as the Hamilton Mixtape.
  • I’m going to scour YouTube looking for interviews and performances I might have missed (or re-watching favorites). I just noticed this interview on CBS that had escaped my notice. And to whet my appetite, I’ll rewatch these two award-show performances: Alexander Hamilton on the Grammys and Yorktown on the Tonys, both in 2016 .
  • If I have time, I might watch Fosse/Verdon on Hulu, the mini-series about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. Tommy Kail directed five of the episodes and all four members of The Cabinet were involved. (I also love Cabaret and Chicago, so I’m sure to enjoy it.)

If you know of anything I should add to my list, please let me know in the comments. July 3 can’t come soon enough!

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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Recommended *

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  • Getting to Good Enough podcast