#114 Paint the Woodwork

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Paint the Woodwork

As I look around my home, my first thought is that I must add this suggestion to my to-do list ASAP. How does the woodwork in a typical home get so beat up? You’d think a herd of antelope have charged through the doorways and against the chair rail in almost every room.

Stained Woodwork

Some people don’t like painted woodwork and have gone to great lengths for the cherry or walnut stained trim that comprises baseboards, door jams, and crown moulding throughout the house. Others, have cursed those oil based stains as they attempted to paint over them years later with washable latex. While stained trim is definitely beautiful, especially in older homes where the quality of wood used for trim was high end, it can be both dark and comfortable as well as dark and dreary. If dark and comfortable is the feel you want and have… read no further. If it’s dark and drab or if your woodwork is already painted – read on.

Colored Trim

In Colonial style homes, the tradition of painting trim a darker color than the walls is still practiced. Often, because dark colors draw your attention, when there is detailed trim that acts as part of the room decor (dental molding, etc) the contrast of it against a light wall has an artistic feel. In many of the modern homes where trim was mass produced, it’s rather nondescript and acts more as a simple frame for a door or window opening so it is commonly white.

White Trim

White may not be white – or so says Better Home and Garden Magazine. In an online article, they remind us that ‘white’ comes in a variety of tones that vary across a spectrum of cool to warm; each one complimenting the primary wall color differently. They recommend taking a paint chip of the primary wall color to the paint store to see which ‘white’ works the best and then make it consistent throughout the room. Personally, I prefer a white, white – on the cool side throughout the whole house. It seems chaotic to choose a different white color for each room.


Perhaps the most important part of choosing a paint for trim is knowing to get a hardy, washable paint. This is where quality matters. Bob Villa, one of televisions most beloved home improvement specialists, suggests a alkyd-oil based paint in either semi or high gloss for most traditional household trim work. It is by far, the most durable and the most washable – tolerant of harsh cleaners. Personally, cleaning up with oil-based paints is cumbersome and it doesn’t come off easily after drying on areas it wasn’t supposed to be on in the first place (my hands, the floor, the doorknobs, etc) so I use water based paints in semi-gloss but go for high quality, high durability. Behr paints have been rated highly by consumer reports over the years and have been satisfactory in my personal experience. It goes on well and blends well if all I am doing is random touch ups.

Take a walk through your house and glance around at the trim in each room and then grab a paint brush and a fresh can of paint and…

Paint the woodwork.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#167 Clean Out Your Car

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean out your car

If it’s true that a clean house is a predictor of your health and happiness then it must follow that the cleanliness of the inside of our automobile is also somewhat of a predictor… especially for those of us who spend a ton of time driving. Our mental health is more stable when our environment is stable – organization and cleanliness manifest a sense of stability no matter the location.

Top to Bottom

Reader’s Digest suggests there’s much more to cleaning the interior of our car than simply dusting and vacuuming and an order in which to do those things. To start – as in your home – you should vacuum first! But from top to bottom; starting with the dashboard, then the seats, and finally the carpet. Vacuuming creates dust so don’t wipe things down until the vacuuming is finished. When you wipe things down, don’t stop at the obvious… be sure to wipe the inside of the door – the door jam – it’s the part that everyone first sees and ultimately determines how tightly your door closes.

Nooks & Crannies

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?), the center console, and the seat pockets. I’m lazy when it comes to those areas and when I do make the effort, I typically find little treasures that make me cringe, not to mention items I’d forgotten I had. Generally I’m a few dollars richer for the loose change that has collected there.

Taboo Items

The next step is to be sure to remove all the items that one should never keep in a car. Valuables is the obvious choice but there are other items that can be negatively affected by significant changes in temperature (heat & cold); plastic, for example. Eliminate any water bottles that have been exposed the the intense hot temperatures possible with a car sitting in the sun. Same advice goes for anything electronic; computers, cell phones, and tablets can overheat when exposed to extreme temperature, rendering them temporarily inoperable. Electronics are also frequent targets of thieves, making your car a tempting target.


Inevitably, getting into a nice clean car that smells fresh ignites that ‘new car’ sensation – always a good feeling. Cleanliness is like a blank slate and allows your mind to focus on tasks at hand; clutter is distracting. Cleanliness helps us avoid the perils of allergens; the inside of your car is a small space so keeping the air there dust free will ultimately be beneficial. Take a look at your schedule and find some time to carve out so that you can …

Clean out your car.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#178 Clean Your Underwear Drawer

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean your underwear drawer

Who’s laughing? Are you laughing because you think this is a ridiculous suggestion or because you’re sure that in following this suggestion, a comedy would ensue? Perhaps you’ve been exposed to someone recently who really needs to follow this advice!

In all seriousness, this is one of those ‘areas’ that is typically at the bottom of most to-do lists. We rotely get dressed each day without much thought as to the condition of our undies unless we are expecting to be seduced later in the day. And… the less seduction in your life… the worse condition your personables are likely to be in.

I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon until as a young widow, someone suggested going shopping to replace my undies collection. I was not yet in a state where that need could be recognized but after some time I was appalled at the state of my scanties. I had been married a few years and I was a new mom… the condition of my undergarments were definitely not prioritized and there were far too many stretched out, worn out, or faded out undies that qualified as only ‘period or post pregnancy’ panties (you know what I mean ladies?) Some went into ‘that’ pile and many others were simply tossed.

Today, as a marriage counselor, I can attest to a common frustration – mostly attributed to men – that indicts a lackadaisical attitude against female partners when it comes to their unmentionables. I’m not specifically speaking about seduction lingerie but more about the everyday wearables that are frequently worn and washed. The proverbial tee-shirt bra and boyshort undies along with the little lace thongs that after too short a time – stretch and fade – losing their overall attractiveness.

Women aren’t the only culprits! Men may be even more culpable with respect to boxers or briefs that get stretched and stained to the point that they are downright repulsive. I understand there’s a strategy to letting the jewels get some air but when they are flapping in the wind also… what’s the point?

You’ll feel better about yourself when you start with an attractive, clean, and well-fitting skivvies. Even white cotton that meets those criteria is more pleasurable to both wear and look at than the alternative I’m discussing. Long ago a friend taught me the trick of buying a couple of basic colored bras and then I could choose any combination of colors in my panties and it would look like a ‘set’…. One doesn’t have to have hefty finances to underlayer nicely.

As you get dressed today, or ready for bed… open the drawer that contains these items and quickly assess the additional lifespan of each piece. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll have addressed a personal care item with the simple gesture of …

Cleaning your underwear drawer.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#180 Organize Your Manuals

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Organize your Manuals

Do you have a drawer of instruction or operating manuals? Is it overflowing? Outdated? I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more. I am often amazed at how many coffee pots I’ve purchased since the last time the drawer was cleaned! (I go through them faster than tires on my car!)

Why Bother?

My dad taught me the importance of keeping manuals and while it’s a little less imperative now that everything and anything is on the internet – one of the habits I have is stapling a receipt or at least noting the date of acquisition on the instruction/operation manual. Recording the date of purchase is important for warranty information. Having the original manual is also a nicety for the person who buys the item secondhand from you. It demonstrates that you ‘take care’ of our belongings and that you are responsible (that’s what Dad said).  

Memory Lane

Looking through a collection of appliance/apparatus manuals can be entertaining as well… the last time I made this effort we found information for a Karaoke machine I had bought the children more than ten years ago… it offered an opportunity to walk down memory lane for awhile and giggle at the memories of bellowing teenage voices – the Britney Spear ‘wanna-be’s’.

Quick & Easy

It’s a simple chore that really only takes a few minutes… a much shorter time than we imagine. While you certainly can take it seriously and create a binder with sections and labels – it’s probably just as productive to weed out the drawer. Whether its a tool sitting in the garage, an appliance that you use every day, or a toy that’s been forgotten the manual may be lying dormant in that drawer. Right now while it’s fresh on your mind, either tackle the task or scribble on your to-do list…

Organize your manuals.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below


#215 Organize your ‘tupperware’

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Organize your ‘tupperware’

I am using ‘tupperware’ to represent all food storage containers which, I think is a generational thing but you know what I mean. Like yesterday’s post, this suggestion is more about a tiny thing that will make you feel better each time you open the cabinet than some grand design to promote happiness. Ironically however, you may find a sense of ‘feeling good’ overcome you because your level of annoyance will be reduced each time you open the cabinet where you keep food storage containers.


There’s an entire industry aimed at helping us keep these plastic or glass dishes with their accompanying lids under control. It’s interesting because one would think it’s much easier than most of us make it and I’m not sure where it goes so wrong. It’s true though, unless you live alone or you have anal tendencies, it seems to be a major challenge to keep any consistent organization to the food saving containers we accumulate over time.


Maybe it’s because this is the place we grant our hoarding desires a pass. We may tend to keep every container that is REusable – adding it to our already sufficient supply. Eventually they accumulate to the point that they overrun any good intention. And… what happens to the lids? Do they meet up with the socks that disappear? Ideally, we keep the lids and bowls together but then we run out of room quickly and so the nesting of bowls takes place and maybe, the lids get disgruntled because some of them disappear for good.


So, the challenge is to get in there again. First rule – discard any container that does not have a matching (and well fitting) lid. Next, consider how often you will use said container. If it’s a keeper, set it aside – if not, recycle or repurpose it and get it OUT of the cabinet. Once you have all the keepers together, make the choice to nest them and stack the lids or store them with the lids attached; either is perfectly acceptable.

Feel Good

Organization helps us to feel a sense of order – to feel in control of our lives. It’s great that we keep general appearances in good shape but superfluous if each time we open a cabinet or drawer, the chaos screams hello. This is one small step you can easily take to keep disorder – and mayhem – at bay. Next time you put away the dishes, take a few minutes and…

Organize your ‘tupperware’.

I love hearing your thoughts and idas. Please share in the comments below.

#216 Clean your Sock Drawer

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean your sock drawer

You may wonder how this particular tip helps you lead an easier, happier, or more productive life and yet I know a ton of people who have a sock pile… a stack of single socks that lie in waiting for the match. Some lay so long that the elasticity of them degrades and any attempt at stretching results in that unwanted crinkle sound depicting sock death.

Marry those babies

Cleaning your sock drawer reunites all those singles; re-pairing them and increasing the ever-eroding options you have each morning as you dress your feet. How many of us wait until the drawer is empty of pairs before we take some time to organize? I’m convinced that the fad popular with kids these days of wearing non-matching socks is because it is easier than finding matches and/or cleaning out the sock drawer. For those of you not wanting to adopt the fad… maybe it’s time.

Repurpose singles

If your house is like mine, there will be socks that don’t match. I used to keep them for a year or so and then at the end of a year I assumed they were buried inside my washing machine or tucked in a sheet I never use so I threw them out or found a way to repurpose them (very interesting link here).

Minutes to spare

It really takes just takes a few minutes to lay them all out and make matches of the ones that have been separated from their mate. Matching the few pair that exist there will allow you to feel more organized, a little accomplished, and aware of what’s really there. Consider taking a couple of minutes as you dress tomorrow to …

Clean your sock drawer.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#291 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Pick up litter

What? Keep reading… I’m not suggesting that you put on an orange vest, grab a pointed stick, and walk down the side of the interstate. My suggestion is much more simple; more basic; and perhaps have more impact than those crews we see walking alongside the roadways. Although, I am grateful for those individuals who volunteer to clean our environment.

This tip for happiness is subtle. It addresses those random pieces of litter we see and think nothing of. It is the random cup left on a park bench; the napkin that blew away; or the bottle top that went rolling.  While I certainly wish that we could all be responsible for our own refuse, I am suggesting that we also individually accept responsibility for properly disposing a piece of trash that was left behind by another.

If we all engaged in this activity once a day – every day of the year – I am certain that the amount of litter we see from day to day would be significantly reduced. Besides, the energy we spend bending over one extra time during the day would be good for us.

At the very least, keeping this suggestion in the forefront of your mind will remind you to toss your own trash appropriately. The ‘happiness’ this suggestion induces may not be immediate and yet I am certain that when there is less clutter, trash, and chaos in our immediate environment, our sense of well-being is increased. So, not only might you be increasing your own internal sense of contentment because you know you are doing something worthwhile but you may inadvertently be increasing mine because the absence of litter reduces my distress. All because you made a decision to…

Pick up Litter.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#345 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.



Minimizing is a thing these days. From the tiny home craze to the amazing success of Marie Kondō’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up… we are beginning to connect to the concept of ‘less’. Retiree’s are ‘downsizing’; families are embracing a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle; and an entire industry has risen on the concept of ‘decluttering’. After decades of acquiring mentality people are finding peace in the concept of ‘letting go’.

Reducing clutter relieves anxiety. We simply feel better when things around us are in order. Indeed, less stress about our environment allows us to sleep better, particularly when the decluttering is in the room where we sleep. The benefits of decluttering include increased happiness… when we are happier, we are more productive and creative.

Years ago when I had an estimate for house cleaning, the woman said she had to charge me more for all of the ‘chotchkies’ she would have to dust. Ummm. That’s a fair disadvantage to collecting random baubles.

In order to successfully declutter we have to be conscious of what we truly need. How many junk drawers do we have to have – really? Take a good look around at all those knick-knacks you’ve been collecting in the pursuit of making the cover of Good Housekeeping and assess their importance. Are they things you’d grab in the even of a fire? Would you miss it if it was gone?

Start small. Clean out the drawers you rarely dive into. Try the back of the closet and thin out the clothes you didn’t wear this year. Do the basement, the attic, and the garage. By the time you get through those spaces you will have more discernment and can attack the main living spaces.

Think of how much time you’ll fee up when you don’t have to dust/clean all those nooks and crannies after you…


I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.