Yes I know it just seems like yesterday that we were Christmas shopping, but it's that time of year - Toy Sales time!
Here are my Top 5 tips to help keep you sane and get the most out of the Toy Sales
1. Be prepared - don't just go in and grab what looks good. You'll end up taking half of it back because it's not appropriate.
2. Spend some time going through the catalogues and comparing prices, quality etc. If you are buying 90% of your things in one place but there are one or two things on sale somewhere else, you need to ask yourself if the $5 saving is worth the extra trip and line up at the registers.
3. Make a list - If you are buying gifts, make a list of who you need to buy for and then write what you are planning on getting them (include the name of the store, brand, size and price)
4. If you can, get in early. It is surprising how much stock runs out on the first day.
5. If you can't get there, or don't want to fight the crowds, contact us about our Toy Sale Shopping Service. We can take your list and fight the crowds for you. There are limited spots available for this service.
If you are friends with your neighbours, give them a set of your house keys
to keep in a safe place. A lot of people do that already, but also give your
neighbours a copy of emergency contact names and numbers. Just in case.
If you have ironed something and the fabric has gone shiny, spray a tea
towel with some white vinegar until it is slightly damp, lay it over the shiny
place and press with a cool iron. Respray as necessary.
I was pleased to be intereviewed by the Courier Mail last week regarding the Toy Sales. If you missed it, it was on Page 18/19 of Saturday's Courier Mail. If you don't have a copy of the paper, an edited version can be found here There are some great bargains to be had out there at the moment, so make sure you do your research and you can save some big bucks!
How often have you come home
and "filed" a piece of paperwork or a gift somewhere "safe"
and then when you needed it, have absolutely no idea where to even begin
searching?? Next time you do that, make a note on your calender (in a day later
in the year) of where you have put it. When you need it, check the calender and
no more searching. Obviously I'm not suggesting you bring home a wad of cash
and write where it is stashed for the world to see. You can make it a bit
cryptic if you want (but not too cryptic that you won't remember what it
Thanks Karen for this Tip!
Do you have any time saving tips to share? I'd love to hear them!
Hang a tennis ball from the ceiling of your garage so that when
you drive in, you know when to stop. Attach it to a piece of string in a
position where it touches your windscreen when your car is in enough to close
the garage door, but not touching the front wall of the garage.
No more having to do little paint touch ups when your car bumps
How often have you sworn at the sticky tape because you can't find the
end of it? Next time, save your breath and get some talcum powder or
cornflour on your finger and run it around the tape. The edge of it will
Have you ever opened the top off your boiled egg to discover that it's
not quite cooked enough yet? There is nothing worse than boiling eggs for a soldiers and finding the white isn't even set yet (and not a chance in the world the kids will eat it!)
Put the top back on and stick it in the
microwave on high for a few seconds to cook it a bit more. Phew, safe from another tantrum!
As the year progresses and kids grow, we inevitably reach the stage where school uniforms are too short. When you let the hem down, you are left with a crease that just never seems to go away and doesn't look the best. Next time, moisten a cloth with white vinegar, place it under the hem and iron it. The crease will disappear.
How is it that when you need to give an animal a tablet, they are worse than kids? Trying to get antibiotics down my cat's throat requires wearing a pair of gardening gloves to avoid red scratches up and down my arms.
Try this next time - get the tablet and crush it in a garlic press and then mix it through some of their favourite food. No large lumps means it will get eaten.
We have a lovely outdoor area at our house, complete with outdoor setting. We love sitting out there. Unfortunately, when we aren't home, the crows also like to sit out there and leave a lovely reminder of their visit all down the front of our chairs.
A couple of months ago, I got sick of having to clean the chairs every week and I took a tip from the cyclists I see riding around in spring with cable ties sticking out of their helmets and tied some cable ties along the tops of our chairs. Although it doesn't look the most glamorous, we don't have crow droppings on our chairs anymore.
Glow sticks seem to be in abundance at this time of year. My kids are constantly asking for them at night time. Unfortunately they usually only get to use them for an hour or two before they have to go to bed and it seems like a bit of a waste.
To make them last longer, put them in the freezer till you want to use them again - they will come out still glowing! You can get 2-3 uses out of them before they stop working.
If you have cut flowers too short for the vase you want to put them in, use plastic drinking straws to extend the length of the stems. Obviously this won't work so well if you are using a clear glass vase. If that's the case, try dropping some marbles or glass beads in the bottom of the vase to raise the height.
Keep a couple of plastic shopping bags in your glovebox so on rainy days when you get back into your car with your umbrella, you can put the end of the umbrella into a bag to catch the water and stop the water from pooling on your car mats
All those shower caps the hotels leave for you when you are travelling will make a great portable water bowl for your dog when you are out walking. Fill it with water and hold it for your pooch to take a drink.
If you need to search for something within your excel spreadsheet, you don't need to search sheet by sheet. When you CTRL F to bring up Find and Replace, click on Options, then click on the dropdown menu for Within and change it from Sheet to Workbook. It will now search your entire workbook for you and list all of the places your searched item can be found.
Moving a piece of furniture can have a lasting impression on your carpet - We moved into our house 4 years ago and there is still a kink in the carpet from where their TV unit used to sit.
You can get rid of the indent quite easily by holding a steam iron over the top of where the indent is. Don't let it touch the carpet or it will melt, but the steam should penetrate the fibres, allowing them to spring back into place.
Then fluff them up with a brush and the indent should have disappeared!
Have you ever gone somewhere important and looked down and realised that half of your hem is hanging down? Slide a paperclip or two on the hem (preferably a similar colour) and it will hold the hem up till you have a chance to get it mended.
Next time you buy a carton of eggs and a few of them are stuck on the bottom, don't resign yourself to breaking them to get them out. Soak the carton in the sink for a few minutes. This will loosen the eggs and you will be able to remove them safely from the carton.
This Thursday is April 1, and apart from being April Fools Day and my cat Fudge's birthday, it is also the day that you should be changing the batteries in your smoke detector. Silence can kill. Don't risk your loved one's lives. For more information about this visit www.changeyourbattery.com.au
Picking cling wrap off the roll can be fiddly. Removing and using the cling wrap is easier if you store it in the fridge beforehand. This is because the majority of cling wraps have a component in them which adds to the "clingability" of the film and is heat affected. If your wrap is kept cool, it is much easier to peel off.
When kids rip open their presents at a party, it is almost impossible to know who gave which present. Have a parent on standby to write on the back of each card as the present is opened so you will know who to thank.
When kids are painting, use a moistened sponge to clean their brushes, rather than water. It avoids spills and drippy paint all over the table. It can also be used to clean messy fingers after the budding artists are finished.
Each time you change the photo in your photo frame, leave the old photo in there behind the new one. When you go to change it the time after that, it will be a lovely trip down memory lane for you (plus it saves having to find somewhere for the old photo to be kept once you remove it). I've been doing this since my kids were babies and it's a lovely reminder of how much they have grown.
If you are a regular reader, you would be familiar with our Tip of the Week. Each week I send a tip to my subscribers inbox as well as posting it here on my blog. I try to keep the tips short and sweet and it takes no effort to start using the tip.
I am always hearing from people about how much they love the tips and how they are quick and easy to implement into their lives. Thank you, I really appreciate and love the feedback.
It's time to turn the tables a bit and open it up to you. I would like to know who has a time saving, handy tip that they would like to share?
Until the 28th February, I would like to hear from you with your favourite tips.
Email me with your tip and at the end of the month, The winning tip which will be used as the following week's Tip of the Week.
I will also send the winner a waterproof notepad and pencil from My Aqua Notes. I wrote about these awesome notepads a couple of weeks ago - they come with suction caps and you stick them onto the shower wall. The paper is waterproof. So if you are like me and do your best thinking in the shower, these are fantastic!
So put your thinking caps on and let me know what you come up with!
I'm not sure why they do it, but 9 times out of 10, toy companies don't put a volume switch or quiet mode on toys. Half the time there isn't even an off switch. If you can see where the sound comes out of the toy, cover the little vents with some sticky tape and this will reduce the noise level considerably.
Lots of people I"ve met have curtains that look good, but when you close them, they don't quite meet so there is a strip of light that comes in as soon as the sun peers over the horizon. To fix this, buy some velcro (you need both hook and loop) and attach pieces of hook on the edge of one side of the curtain and loop on the other side (at the same height so they meet up) and then when you close your curtains, they will keep the pesky light out.
If you are like most people, you would have received at least one gift card for Christmas. I love them. Especially because you can take them shopping during the sales and receive more bang for your buck.
The problem I find though, is that I spend part of the $ amount on the card and then put it back in my wallet and forget that it is there. 2 months later I will be shopping and find something in that store that I want to buy. I'll pull out the gift card and have absolutely no idea how much is on there. It's a lovely surprise if there is lots on there, but pretty disappointing if I find out there is only 28 cents left on there.
Recently I was in a shop and the sales assistant processed my gift card and then before handing it back to me, took a nikko pen and wrote the balance on the card for me. Next time I am shopping I will know exactly how much is left on the card.
I thought this was a great idea and will be doing that from now on! Try it and see....
Next time you are eating an icecream or sucking on a slurpie and get that unmistakable headache that is brain freeze, don't suffer with it. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It warms your mouth up and stops the brain freeze in a second or two.
I don't usually do beauty tips because they aren't my area of expertise, but I felt this one was appropriate.
With most people spending a lot of time in the pool over the Summer months, we end up with dry and stringy hair from all of that chlorine. Mix a teaspoon of bicarb soda into your shampoo before you put it in you hair and you will be able to feel the chlorine coming out as you wash it.
Imagine this, you are writing your Christmas card to Grandma who lives in Spain. You finish writing, get the kids to write their names, seal the envelope and put the stamp on. All done.
You forgot to put the photos in from your last holiday so she can see how much the kids have grown. You don't want to rip open the envelope, because you have already put the stamp on and that would be a waste. So what do you do?
Stick it in the freezer. Yes you read right. Stick the envelope in the freezer for an hour or two and then the envelope will unseal without tearing. Pop your photos in, seal it up, and drop it in the mail box.
Do you end up throwing out banana's at the end of the week because they are over ripe? When you get them home from the shops, break the bunch apart so that you have single banana's. This will stop them ripening so quickly.
Ironing can be a chore at the best of times. To make it easier, put your silk or linen clothes in the freezer for 30 minutes and when you remove, a single pass of the iron should do the trick! Of course, an even better tip is to get someone else to do your ironing for you :)
Do you have a rug on your floor that keeps sliding around when you walk on it? Lift up the corners and place some blutack on there. It will stop it sliding and won't leave a sticky residue when you want to move the rug.
My husband is always complaining that when I take the rubbish out, I forget to put a new liner in the bin. So now I keep half a dozen liners in the bottom of the bin so that when I take the full bag out, I can immediately reline the bin.
Next time you break a glass, grab a couple of slices of bread and press them into the floor to pick up all of the little fragments that you can’t see. This should help stop those pesky little fragments ending up in your foot.
To stop the ends of your drawstrings from fraying, tie a
knot in the end of each side and then get a lighter and give the ends a slight
singe. Doing this will melt the ends of the string together so that they don’t
Toy Sale Update: For those of you that
aren’t aware, the Kmart and Big W Toy Sales start on Thursday 2nd
July (less than 2 weeks) with Target and Myer following closely behind them.
Some of you will be excited by this news, some of you won’t be really
interested, and the rest of you will be cringing at the thought of fighting the
crowds to get the toys you are after. Never fear, Hectic Helpers is here! We’ll
be attending the sales already for some of our clients, why not get us to do
your shopping as well. Click here for
Have you ever bought some shoes or a belt with some bling on it and one day pulled them out of the cupboard only to discover that some of the jewels are missing?
When you first buy them, take some time and give the bling a shot with some clear spray glue to set the stones a bit better or get a little pair of pliers and give them all a little tighten.
Have you signed up to get free entry to Movie World, Sea World or Wet & Wild for your kids on their birthday’s yet? You only have till June 30 to register at http://www.myfun.com.au au You can also purchase tickets for up to 4 people at a 50% discount to be used with the free kids ticket.
This week’s tip will be good timing for those of us who are starting to make big batches of soup and pasta sauce and freezing them for later use.
To stop your Tupperware and plastic containers from being stained by tomato based sauces and soups, give the container a spray with oil before filling and you will find that the container will remain stain free!
After last week’s tip on cleaning your jewellery with toothpaste, I had an email from Andrea from Mummys’ Little Helpers who’s husband is a jeweller and he advised the following information:
Apparently toothpaste is abrasive and wears away at precious metals. He suggests that as another low cost option to buying actual jewellery cleaning fluid, is to use a mix of - Household cloudy ammonia, any regular dishwashing detergent and hot water. Simply leave the jewellery to soak for 10 minutes and then clean with an old toothbrush. This will remove any dirt and other standard daily buildup. Please note that certain gems should only ever be cleaned professionally, such as, (but not limited to) natural emeralds, pearls and opals. He also recommends that everyone should remember to take their most precious items (such as engagement rings etc) in for regular inspections (6-12 mths) to ensure that general wear has not compromised the security of the stone in its setting. The majority of purchases these days include a warranty period whereby such inspections are free, but most customers simply do not get around to it due to other commitments. Having the checks done can save losing a treasured possession – and lots of money too!
Now for some shameless promotion of Hectic Helpers, I have had my profile featured on the Babes in Business site this month if you’d like to check me out
Does your chopping board always slide around when you are trying to cut things? Grab a couple of slices of paper towel and dampen them. Then lay them flat under your chopping board. No more slipping and sliding!
As the weather starts to turn cold, and the doonas come out of the cupboard, my first tip for this week is to wash your doona or get it dry cleaned to get rid of the musty smell from being in the cupboard for so long.
My second tip was suggested by my friend Deb.
Sew bits of velcro on each corner of your doona and then the inside corners of the doona cover. The doona will now stay in place and you won’t find yourself battling to stay warm in the middle of the night.
Before throwing out old birthday and Christmas cards, check the address on the back of the envelope and compare it against your address book to keep it up to date. Then, instead of throwing them out, why not put them in the craft box for the kids. They will get hours of fun out of them. If you don't have kids or they have outgrown doing craft, why not donate them to your local kindy or daycare?
Speaking of birthday and Christmas cards, are you always late in sending your cards, or just never get around to it at all? What if all you had to do was supply the names, addresses and birthday’s of all your friends and relatives and cards would magically get sent for you? Why not contact us today to find out how we can wave our magic wand and make it happen!
Have you opened a cupboard or walked into a room lately and it's been a bit stinky? Grab some cotton balls and put a drop or two of vanilla on them and put them in the stinky area to get rid of the smell.
This tip will take a while to do, but will be well worth it when you are done. If you look underneath your desk or behind your TV cabinet, do you see cables and cords running everywhere and all tangled up? If you were moving house tomorrow, would you have any idea what goes into where? Could you put them all back together again without losing it or needing a medicinal Chardy to calm your nerves?
Go behind your desk and grab the first cord you see and follow it up to the top. What does it come out of? Let's say it comes out of your computer monitor. Grab a pen and a sticky label and write "Back of Monitor", then wrap the label around the cord. Now follow the cord to the other end. In this case, it goes into the back of the hard drive. Do another label that says "Back of hard drive" Continue doing this with each of your cords till they are all labelled. You should also use this time to detangled the cords so they are a bit more organised.
Now you will always know what cord plugs into where and if you need to unplug something, all you need to look at is the labels on the cords in the power plugs and you won't accidentally unplug the TV when you meant to unplug the DVD Player.
On another note – Last week I talked about a client of mine who had 3000 items in her deleted box. I must apologise because I was inaccurate in my quote. She actually has 8500!!! I saw them with my own eyes! Of course, she and I are going to spend some time working on this electronic clutter in the NEAR future.
The clutter on your computer is just as stifling as the clutter in your house. I was talking to a client the other day (yes you know who you are) and she told me that she has over 3000 items in her deleted folder in outlook. 3000! It is called a deleted folder because you have decided you no longer need the email so you delete it. It is not just another folder to store electronic clutter. If there is a chance you might need the email in the future, file it in another folder. If you won't need it. Delete it. Set up Outlook so that everytime you close down, your deleted folder gets emptied. If you aren't sure how to do this. Go to Tools, Options, Other, then place a tick next to the box that says Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting. There, doesn't that feel better??
A friend of mine asked me last week how she could keep the inside of her car clean when the kids spend so much time in there and make such a mess.
Clean Car Tip: Do like the hire car companies do and always keep a plastic bag in the car. Once a week when you get the kids out, grab the bag and put the rubbish in the bag and throw it in the bin. If your kids are old enough, get them to grab the rubbish each day as they get out. If they are still quite young, and the mess is food mashed into car seats, grab the wipes and give the seat a wipe over once a week. It is a quick 2 minute job, but if you do it each week, your car will be cleaner and you will be happier. Don't try and eliminate food from the car, you might have a cleaner car, but your stress levels will go through the roof with screaming fighting kids.
I think I have mentioned before that I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old, and they go to pre-prep and kindy 3 days a week. On these days, I used to really struggle to get out the door with any sanity left and most days, some sort of yelling would be involved. Even though we were doing the same things over and over again each day, I would spend the whole morning barking orders like a drill sergeant. This was not a great start to my day!
I had tried typing up reward charts for them before (I realise that the 2 year old really didn't have a concept about it, but had to do it for him because he likes to do what his big sister is doing). In doing this each morning I would still have to tell them what had to be done, the only difference was that they would then get a sticker when they did their jobs. So after a few days, the novelty would wear off, stuff would get forgotten and I would start yelling like a fish wife again.
Just before Christmas, we went to a friend's place for dinner and I noticed that their daughter had a chore chart, but it was different than the one's I had done before. It had pictures on it. Why had I never thought of that before?? That weekend, I made a simple chore chart up using clip art that had pictures of each job that I wanted the kids to do each morning. Then I sat down with the kids on Sunday afternoon and explained that we had a new list of jobs to do each morning, and when all of the jobs were completed, they could have a sticker and watch ABC kids before we went to kindy if we had time.
Why did I not think if this earlier?? Each morning now, the kids get up check their charts for the next jobs that they have to do. They go off and do them and they know that they won't get ABC kids if all jobs aren't done. I've even introduced new jobs for them to do. And they are doing them (woo hoo). It's been 4 weeks now that we have been doing the picture charts, and although we still have some raised voices and tears, our mornings are a lot more pleasant and organised.
Now if only I could get the toilet training of Master 2 to go as smoothly......
Every time I sit down to write a post on my blog, I check to see if anyone has left a comment form my previous blog. So far no one has posted a comment. I was beginning to think that I was writing this, hitting publish post and it was going off into cyberspace where there was so much other information that no one ever read it. I was getting a little discouraged.That was until I went to a networking lunch a couple of weeks ago and someone came up to me and told me that they enjoy reading my blog. I also realised that if I don't pose any questions on my blog, I'm not really likely to get any answers.
Now, on to the real blog post.....
I was at a morning tea today where we got onto the subject of emails. Mainly those that you receive after you have been at a networking function where a generic email is sent out to all those people who handed over business cards. The general concensus was that it if you are going to send an email like this out, please consider the wording that you use. If you didn't personally speak to everyone who gave you a card, don't start the email by saying "it was lovely chatting to you" This is more likely to turn people off from doing business with you. Perhaps you could break your list up into people that you did speak to and use that line and the people that you didn't speak to you could say something along the lines of "I'm sorry we didn't get the chance to chat at the ABC function, I found the speaker very interesting didn't you etc.
The other area that people seem to either not know about, or forget is BCC. When you are sending an email to a group of people that don't necessarily know each other ie your database, don't list all of their email addresses for everyone to see. Put them in the BCC box (which is located below the CC box) When your email is sent, their emails will be hidden and their privacy will be respected. If your BCC box doesn't automatically open in a new email, you can click on the To or CC buttons and this will open up a box to select names from your address book. There will also be a BCC box to put your names in.
I'd like to ask now if anyone has any other tips for email etiquette that they would like to share.
I cleaned out my chest freezer on the weekend - something that was long overdue. Mixed in with all the ice down the bottom were all these little packets of sausages and chops that I had painstakingly separated into kid sized portions and put them into the freezer for those nights when I am making something they won't eat. Each time I went searching for them, I couldn't find them. It's easy to lose a packet of 2 chops or sausages in a 250 litre chest freezer.
I decided that something needed to be done about it. So I grabbed all of these little packets and put them inside a Tupperware container and put the lid on. Now I have all of the kids meals in one place and they won't be lost.
This will also work well for breaking packets of meals up into single sized portions. You could have a container for chicken and one for lamb etc.
I am so tired of getting the Yellow pages out only to discover that I have pulled out A-K when I really need L-Z. Seriously, I think that there must be some sort of jinx or something on my copies of Yellow Pages, I don't think I ever pull the correct one out first. I know the sensible thing to do would be to have them sitting on the shelf with the spine facing out, but I don't. I have then end facing out. But....I came across a very easy to implement tip though that has eliminated this problem....
Get a nikko pen and write either A-K or L-Z on the end that is facing out. That way you always know which is the one you need.
Now if I could just work out how to magically know what everything is listed under........
This week's tip comes as I have just finished doing the floors...
Special mops for wooden floors or 'static' types are very expensive. You can modify your old broom by fitting a stocking over the bristle part and then simply sweep the floors as usual. Animal hair will stick to the stocking like a magnet and dust and dirt will collect far better than using a broom alone.
How exciting! My very first blog. Setting this up has been on my 'to do' list for months now and I haven't made the time to do it. Yesterday I went to a Mums In Business Business Building Session and we talked about blogs. That was just the motivation I needed to get started!
As a personal concierge, my job is to make my client's lives easier and give them back some of the valuable time they spend doing everyday tasks. My aim for this blog is to post some useful tips for people to use in everyday life to save time and money. I'd love to hear from you once you've used my tip. I'd also love to hear about any tips you have.
So let's get this started....
Today's tip is:
Does your pantry have sauce packets and dried pasta & sauce packets just laying around in a pile and you never know what you have because it's too hard to go looking through it all? Get one of those large plastic containers that has been sitting in the plastic cupboard with nothing to do (you know the one that is too big for leftovers, but too small for cakes) and place all of your packets in there standing up. That way when you need a sauce packet or pasta packet, you just need to flick through to see what is there. You'll also find you have a lot more space in your pantry.
I cannot overstate the value of having you as my Lifestyle Manager. When I moved overseas with less than one week notice, I never thought I would find someone I could trust to manage my tax, investment properties, and mail and be the first point of contact for any business back in Australia to the same level I would. Your professionalism, good judgement and very efficient approach have saved me time, money and sanity. I am grateful for your hard work and I would be pleased to recommend your services to anyone in the future.