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ENCORE of an Unexpected Gift – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

Turkey Deep Fryer for an Unexpected Gift

 

ENCORE of an UNEXPECTED GIFT – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

When one of our possessions is not used, over time it distracts us and creates a feeling of clutter. When curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try a deep fried turkey, Eric let me use it and four families gathered to ENJOY a FUN ADVENTURE.

This unexpected gift inspired Eric and I to write the following poem:

It’s on clearance, what a deal!
A turkey deep fryer to cook our Thanksgiving meal.

Just season to taste with spices and such
A pinch here and there, not too much.
But it says some assembly required
How to do it? I’m too tired.
Years go by and it sits on the shelf
Taunting me like an underutilized elf
Waiting to be used for the big holiday feast
Bothering my wife not in the least.
We should use it when the family’s in town
But it’s still not assembled, I feel so down.

Brenda asks how a deep fried turkey might cook
I’m eager to try it, let’s have a look.
She says, “I have a smoker to offer in trade
For your turkey deep fryer unused for a decade
“No, the fryer is mine.”
“But if you wanna use it, I guess that’s fine.”
Plans are made to break it in right
With special oil and a bird that won’t fight.
The big day draws near, how will it go?
Without some experience, there is no way to know.

Family and friends arrive to see
How a Thanksgiving bird is cooked for free.
The oil is hot, ready at last
Keep the temperature steady to cook it fast.
Anticipation and laughter fill the air
As we wait anxiously for our Thanksgiving fare.
The turkey is cooked and ready to eat.
The glorious meal is crispy and neat.
Making for a mouth-watering display
A great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

We invite you to view the one-minute YouTube video clips of HOW TO Safely Prepare and ENJOY A Deep Fried Turkey from START to FINISH.

 

STUFFology 101 Editor's Pick for October at Downpour Audio - web

STUFFology 101 To Be Featured For Train Your Brain Day

STUFFology 101 Featured Title for Train Your Brain DayNext week Tuesday, STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, will be the featured title for Train Your Brain Day.

Starting with the unofficial fall season (Labor Day weekend), STUFFology 101 was the top-ranked title in three categories (including self-help and stress management) for five days and then the top-selling nonfiction audio (sold 7,000 copies in one day).

STUFFology 101 is the Editor’s Pick of October at Downpour Audio (for consumers) as a follow-on to Marie Kondo’s best-selling Tidying Up book. Woweeee!  STUFFology 101 Editor's Pick for October at Downpour Audio

It will be the Editor’s Pick for the Library Market from October 12 – 19th.  Librarians may order direct from Blackstone Library.

Friends of STUFFology 101 (Click for Table of Contents), if you haven’t yet had a chance to pick up a copy, listen to the audio while you clear the clutter in your life or buy a copy as a gift for a friend or family member!

STUFFology 101 was the top-ranked title in three categories (including self-help and stress management) for five days .

STUFFology 101 was the top-selling nonfiction audio selling 7,000 copies in one day.

 

Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 Cluttergories

Throw it Out or Keep it All?

Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 CluttergoriesRetired psychiatrist and fellow Toastmaster, Harald Krueger leaves us on tenterhooks with his parody of STUFFology 101.

He says, “Throw it out. Throw it all out!”

But does he really mean it?

See for yourself as he rips through each of the cluttergories – physical, mental, digital, temporal, and sensual.

It’s just too funny to resist. He even breaks into song!

This video of Harald’s presentation was taken with a smartphone during a Thursday evening High Desert Toastmasters club meeting at Robertson’s Honda in Palmdale.

I hope he feels better now that he got this off his chest.

I think he wants to keep it all!

We’ll definitely find out when we invite him to speak at our next community event.

Thank YOU, Harald!

If the video does not play below, click on this link: http://youtu.be/SynvPpov5v4

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STUFFology 101 REVIEW – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  Marie KondoMarie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up takes a Samurai’s approach to ridding ourselves of physical clutter.

Written before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan her book was released just in time to fill an urgent need of thousands of displaced families in Japan who needed to decide what to keep and what to let go.

Since then it has topped the bestseller list.

Rarely one to join the bandwagon, something drew me to this little hardcover English translation of Kondo’s book. As I read the pages, one incessant question wouldn’t go away: Who is this woman?

Who is Marie Kondo?

Very little has been published beyond the same biographical information rehashed in the media including the major media. Usually, one can find enough information online to satiate one’s curiosity; but Kondo is holding onto her privacy like Ft. Knox.

If you were going to undertake a drastic life shift by ridding yourself of mementos and even family pics, you’d want to be assured that the person advising you has a lifetime of knowledge grounded in research. What are her credentials? The best I could find is a kindergartener who loved to tidy up and a quarter century later, at age thirty, married, without children, advises us to rid ourselves of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

What if Kondo has children and later discovers a need to hold onto her children’s treasures? What will be her advice to those parents who hopped on the KonMari bandwagon to rid themselves of these possessions?

As a reader and STUFFologist, I am raising the red flag. Buyer beware of following a young lady who felt alone as a child and felt comforted by breathing life into her possessions. Today, due to timing and the forces of marketing (remember, the pet rock craze?), she’s a 2-million copy best-selling author without clear credentials.

What Works

Still, I do agree with a number of her ideas.

  1. Put things back where they belong.
  2. Take care of your things and they’ll take care of you.
  3. Fold and/or roll socks without folding over and stretching out the cuffs.
  4. Fold underwear compactly in threes.
  5. Fold and store each item vertically like books on a bookshelf, and not stacked atop one another where you’ll forget what’s at the bottom.

I do not agree with her self-admitted impatience. Although, that’s just me. I tend to be patient in our world hungry for instant fixes.

I do like organizing my clothes in my drawers and Kondo’s technique appeals to me. However, I do not agree with her technique of folding T-shirts. I’m rather meticulous in my approach and as many times as I tried, I could not find the wrinkle-free sweet spot for my cotton shirts made in the U.S.A., Vietnam, China, Nicaragua, or Jordan. Admittedly, I don’t have any made in Japan, while Kondo does.

I did apply her “Does this spark joy?” criteria to one third of the books on one of my bookshelves. IT WORKED. Yet, those that didn’t spark joy remain in a pile on the floor in front of the bookshelf with a space remaining where they once more. Now, I must take care not to stub my toe on the stack on the floor below.

Our Need for Quick Fixes

We’re a society who wants quick fixes. We want success, now. We lack patience. Kondo advises completing our decluttering in one major effort until something clicks and you’ll never have to do it again.

I’m not sure Kondo’s quick-fix click is a lifetime fix. Kondo admits to being impatient—needing it done right now. But just as eating fast food frequently results in poor health and crash diets are following by even greater weight gain, crash decluttering may result in long-term regrets. In fact, it may create an even greater problem, such as hoarding for fear of future loss.

What we need is patience and mindful accumulating of the things we need. In these ways, we develop life-changing habits for the long haul. I’m under the impression Kondo’s obsession with tidiness is due to her desire to shop and bring things into her space to feel good. Now, a walk in nature. Ahhh that feels good.

 

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It’s Our Third Anniversary and We Finally Sign a Post-Nup

For nearly three years, Eric and I had been working together without nuptials on S.T.U.F.F.

“What,” you ask? “You’re not even married.”

Weeeaaaall, in a way we are.

You see when you commit to work with someone, it becomes like a marriage.

Three years ago, we made the commitment to collaborate on writing a book about decluttering. We felt like book spouses, marrying our ideas together during weekends as our vision for the book took shape. And just like the newlywed phase passes, we too had differences. Despite our disagreements, we remained committed to seeing the birth of our baby (book).STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book  Avadian + Riddle

STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter was conceived early July 2012. She took nearly two years to be born. Like most parents, we felt PROUD and JOY at her birth on April 1, 2014.

Yes, that was April Fool’s Day. We believe it’s best not to take ourselves too seriously. We also felt relief: No more labor pains! Ask Eric about indexing.

We knew she would be a FUN child so we launched her into the world with a FUN party.

She’s 14 months old now and remains a FUN child.

Since then, STUFFology 101  was released as an eBook, and later seeing her influence spread (worldwide English Audio rights sold) and recently Korean Language rights, we’re happy to see her make a path in this big world of ours where many ideas are shared.

Eric Riddle and Brenda Avadian sign their post nup agreementTo ensure we progress according to our initial vision and that should something happen to either or both of us that our “heirs and assigns” will be confident in carrying out our wishes, we retained a Los Angeles-based Intellectual Property attorney to draft our post-nup.

To think, how many partners can agree to a pre-nup much less a post-nup. But this ability to see eye-to-eye is how Eric and I started working together in the first place. We agree on most things–the important ones being integrity and a stable with both-feet-on-the-ground approach to our business and marketing decisions.

We also believe in keeping lines of communication as open as humanly possible. Some days (weeks?) it’s harder than others, but we’ve managed to reach our third anniversary.

When I reflect on it, it’s almost like following our apronym S.T.U.F.F. Instead of letting go, we let in and developed our ideas until we created a book.

We simply got Started.

We Trusted the process.

We Understood how each step builds upon the next.

Sometimes we struggled, but we maintained Focus on each area.

And eventually, we Finished.

Brenda-Avadian-in-Mexico-Drinking-leche-de-Coca-fresca

Most THINGS don’t Matter Unexpected Gifts Do

Life Lesson: Most THINGS don’t Matter Unexpected Gifts Do

Oftentimes, we are caught up with THINGS.

We collect things. We clean, organize, and display them. We feel a loss when things go missing.

Yet, if we let go of some of these things or even better, don’t bring them into our homes, we’ll receive unexpected gifts that may surprise us.

Brenda Avadian in Mexico Drinking la Leche fresca de CocoWhile on a trip to Mexico, my husband and I lived high on the hog, we also lived along the middle of the hog, and under the hog. Okay, I’m stretching the cliché a little.

We returned home appreciating that we had a shelter even though it was a fixer-upper. We questioned if we should proceed with remodeling.

Even now, in our information-rich world, the more things we acquire, we run the risk of creating physical clutter, which soon grows into toxic mental clutter that takes time away from what matters in our lives.

Ever ask a person a question and not get a straight answer?

C’mon, what is it? Yes or No?

It’s hard to decide with a clutter-filled mind.

Instead, when we declutter the various cluttergories in our lives, we feel lighter, more focused, and are more decisive.

At around 7 minutes in the video, you’re invited to do an exercise. Click on link for an overview of the STUFFology 101 Cluttergories. Print a copy and then write your notes (from the video) on the reverse.

And the hog?

We finally ate the hog, but carnitas are not part of this story except for an unexpected gift.

I crossed one item off my Bucket List—a goal I’d had since I read stories in the 5th or 6th grade recounting family gatherings in Mexico.

What was it?

Watch the end of the video for my unexpected gift.

Yours will be different, and that’s what makes these gifts unexpected.

ENJOY.

If the embedded video does not display below, click on http://youtu.be/ViA9Xdsvz2g

 

How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_bins_2015-R

How to be clutter free

The dog days of summer are nearly upon us; Graduations, Father’s Day, vacations, and maybe a project or two. What is on your to do list? May I suggest picking a spot to de-clutter?

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter we said, “The stuff we think we’ll need some day often gets in the way – and this is what we call clutter.” It is the physical clutter that I want you to think about for your de-cluttering project.

Since you define your own clutter, pick an area that would make you feel better if it was clutter free. Many items are available to you to clean and organize that area in a method that suits you personally. A quick trip to Home Depot illustrates the many options to choose from. How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_bins_2015 - R

I favor plastic storage bins because they resist water and critters better than cardboard, and come in many shapes and sizes. They can also be stacked neatly in a closet or used in conjunction with utility shelving in the garage.

Decide which will work best for your situation before purchasing something just because it is on sale or looks good at the store. Once you have what you need for your project, put some serious thought in what you want to keep, toss, or donate. Putting everything in bins on shelving in the garage is not necessarily de-cluttering your living space.

Out of sight and out of mind in the house is just moving clutter to the garage in plastic bins. Do not do this! Rather, keep what is important to you in the bins, and donate what is not. Be as ruthless as you can be with yourself. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.

How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_shelves_2015 - RFinish a specific area of clutter before moving on to the next. This process should make you feel lighter as you complete each, momentum is a good thing. A quick review of S.T.U.F.F. may help.

I suggest working in 30-90 minute increments so you can complete a given area versus trying to do the whole house in one day. De-cluttering is a process, not an event. If you don’t feel like you are making meaningful progress it will not get done. Who wants that kind of frustration?

Take before and after photos to record your success; maybe even send us a note and picture to SUCCESS@STUFFology101.com to share with others. Sometimes seeing how other folks do things can inspire us to take action with our own clutter.

Summertime presents us with the opportunity to consider the physical clutter in our living space. Use the storage solutions available at your local retailer to de-clutter just one area TODAY.

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Which type are YOU when managing emails?

I disagree with Joe Pinsker’s article in the Atlantic that “Those who can comfortably ignore unread notifications, and those who feel the need to take action immediately.”

A Third Type of Person

There’s a third kind of person when it comes to email messages and I find myself among them. We are those who check our email inboxes throughout the day to respond to important, urgent, and sometimes quick emails. We are those who consciously decide what to subscribe to and what to let go. We are those who may have multiple email addresses. We are those who access our emails when we want to and, in some cases, turn off the notification sounds to avoid annoying Pavlovian bells.

Judging from the comments to his article, others agree.

In 1995, I had one email account with AOL. I received about 35 a day and replied within the hour and in some cases, within 24 hours. Even then, colleagues lamented the fact that they couldn’t respond quickly due to a deluge of 35 emails a week!

Ahh, it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Over the years, my email input has grown and leveled off at about 100+ emails daily. I respond within the day or 24 hours—sometimes, just to acknowledge receipt and that I’ll respond by a given date. (This assures senders that their email was received and the ball is now in my court.) I’ll hit “Reply” then add a note in my calendar or in brackets at the start of the subject line of the draft reply email  such as [PROMISED Reply by #/##/####] before saving it to my Drafts folder.

Emails and Volleyball

I view email correspondence like a game of volleyball. When the ball’s in your court, you need to return it.

Sure, there are people who insist on making others play volleyball by themselves. I’ve heard my husband say, “If you really need to reach me and I haven’t replied to your email, call me.” Others place the burden on the sender with an automated reply informing them of the hundreds of emails they receive and if they don’t reply, to resend them the email. Again, this places the burden on the sender to run to the other side of the net and serve, to keep the ball/email in play.

Organize Emails

To organize the emails I receive daily, I use nine email addresses: six for work with two different websites (STUFFology101.com and TheCaregiversVoice.com) and my publishing company; two personal email addresses; and a Google account I use twice a month.

We have our own methods to organize our emails, just as we organize our sock drawers. However, a little inspiration and new ways of organizing can go a long way. While some use all the bells and whistles (tagging, filtering, flagging, categorizing), I go so far as to create subfolders in Outlook. I find these especially useful when I’m corresponding with a client on a project. Once the assignment is finished, I delete the subfolder.

Lost Subfolders

Brenda Avadian's Outlook folder - Digital declutterEarlier this month, after work-related travel subsided, I directed time and energy to two old subfolders with a combined 200 emails. They included Los Angeles County emails, environmental studies, initiatives, reports, and related correspondence from my work last year as a town council president. I was shocked to discover they were gone. GONE!

I back up every week, but I just noticed this, which means I’ve since backed up Outlook with the lost subfolders. Besides, in one week I can get through 1,000 emails. Restoring last week’s backup would mean redoing a LOT of work. Just a thought for you to consider when relying on backups.

A visit to the online forums indicated that Outlook subfolders do have a tendency to disappear. This is the first time this has happened to me without my being aware of the cause.

At a crossroads and in a quandary

Is this one of those unexpected gifts?

On the one hand, I’ve saved myself a lot of time, because these data-intense emails will no longer take my time.

On the other, what about the lost records?

Those who can DELETE

Some people, you may be one of them, easily delete backlogs of emails when they grow too large. One publisher/broker wrote to tell me his Outlook froze after having tens of thousands of emails. YIKES!

One of our readers wrote that she deleted 4,000 emails since 2010. I’ve learned in most cases, when people tell me this, it’s usually because they haven’t deleted those sales announcements, newsletters, and other non-essential emails that fill their inboxes daily.

What I’m writing about are those emails that require follow-up during the course of business, day to day.

In STUFFology 101, I shared my goal to reduce all top-level emails to less than five carried over to the next day. I’ll achieve this goal this year. It takes disciplined effort during days, evenings (without TV), and even some weekends to dive deep. Not letting the ball drop and surprising people (even after a year) are worth it to me, an old-fashioned person who believes in following up. After losing touch with some, they’ve ended up becoming clients.

Reducing emails brings me clarity of mind, increased focus, and a feeling of lightness that comes with reducing digital clutter in order to have less mental clutter.

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STUFFology 101 Review – Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life

Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life offers more than just tips on how to deal with the clutter in your life. Author Sally Thomas talks about multiple issues that may be preventing you from living your life simply. A look at the Table of Contents shows these include mindset, decluttering & living with less, frugality & money, and getting more out of life.

Her 99 ways are broken down by sections in the book. Each section incorporates tasks for the reader to complete before moving forward. The section on mindset offers a quick overview of why it (your own mindset) is important to the decluttering process.

The second section formally begins the 99 ways to simplify with “declutter and live with less”. I appreciated these tips because they are easy to understand and follow. Some are common sense, but she took the time to assemble them in an organized fashion. These tips deal with different areas of the house that tend to accumulate clutter as well as her thoughts about the mechanics of decluttering in general. Frugal Simplicity Book Cover

In the third section the author highlights 42 different ways to save money, which fit well with the broad topic of the book, simplicity. The advice in this section reminded me of things our parents may have done and took for granted; her list provides a gentle reminder for the next generation.

The fourth section concludes her 99 ways to simplify under the heading of “simplify & get more out of life”. I liked this section because the tips made me think a little deeper about how I prioritize my day. Simple advice is often clear on paper but not necessarily easy to follow because of our hectic lives. The book also contains a bonus section, but I won’t spoil the surprise!

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter we focus on fun and flexible approaches to get your mind out of what you define as clutter. Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life is a bit broader in scope, but still a quick read full of actionable advice. If you want to declutter and simplify your life it is well worth your time.