Saturday, September 24, 2011

Totally Together - Shortcuts to an Organized Life - Book Review & GIVEAWAY!

I recently came across Stephanie O'Dea's blog, all about a YEAR of slow cooking (yes, a full YEAR - this girl got creative!), and in looking through her blog I noticed she has a new book coming out - Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life.  I was intrigued, as I'm always trying to find ways to find a balance between life/home/kids/work/etc., so I contacted Stephanie and she graciously sent me a copy of her book to review AND a second copy for one of my blog readers!  Yes, you have a chance to win a FREE copy of
Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life just for being one of my blog readers AND for adding your feedback in the comments section below.  See how to win your copy at the bottom of this post.

Totally Together is a great guide for moms, or really any woman managing a household and trying to stay sane.  It is a quick read, an easily digestible guide to keeping your household together without killing yourself.  It is a REALISTIC approach cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, hosting guests, etc.  It even includes a week-by-week calendar for the year to keep you organized, and includes some simple cleaning tips that I've already incorporated into my daily & weekly routine.

Going into the Fall, which is the busiest time for my family (& I'm guessing most families!), it was well worth my time and sanity to read her book, remind me of what is important, help me prioritize my chores, and give me some tips/suggestions for cleaning & meal prep.  It even has suggested chores that kids can do, broken out by age - LOVE IT!  We're all trying to find a BALANCE in life, and this book is a helpful tool in achieving sanity in simpleness by keeping an organized life.  It is a great aid for any women who is trying to do it all!  You can pick up a copy at Amazon (my vendor of choice these days b/c I have FREE shipping with PRIME right now as a perk from the AMAZON MOM Store) or any major bookstore for about $10.  I think it would also make a a great gift, so pick up a copy for yourself and a friend of yours and share the sanity! 

Want to WIN a FREE copy of Totally Together?  Add to the conversation - SHARE the sanity!  Leave your feedback below in the comments section on the following topic: what is YOUR best organization/sanity keeping/family managing/time saver/meal preparation/cleaning tip?  Share your tip below in the comments section AND email the same tip to, and one randomly selected person will win!  The winner will be notified via email by October 7th, 2011. 



  1. This year I have two kids needing snack and lunch five days a week and one who needs snack three days a, I now stock up a cabinet bin and a refrigerator bin with the weeks snack an lunch foods. Pre-bagged or in containers, counted, separated etc so all I have to do each morning is grab out of each bin what is on the menu for the day and make sandwiches. It has saved me so much time and energy in the mornings when we tend to be running behind and stressed. I also love that since my bins are labled everyone knows not to use the food for snacks etc so I don't run out during the week. 10 weekly lunches and 13 snacks seemed overwhelming until I established this routine.

  2. My best organizational tip is to use bins and containers. This may seem obvious, but I keep finding things that are easier to find, store and use once they are kept in bins: kids' shoes, lunch box items, craft supplies, play dough, blow dryer and curling iron, unmated socks, the list could go on and on. I love bins and one regret I have is not buying stock in Rubbermaid years ago. :)

  3. @jaena, be careful not to become like my mother-in-law, the queen of "totes," as she calls rubbermaid tubs. we just moved her to a different house this summer, and i do not even want to know how many tubs she has... let's just say hundreds. :)

    i am the worst person ever to offer any sort of organizational tip, but what i can say is "make it automatic." you can't tell yourself that you will put something away or clean something up later (at least that doesn't work in my house). make it part of your routine and you will be much more successful. as i look around me at all the laundry that needs to be folded and put away, i see that i do not do a very good job of following my own rule. i probably deserve extra entries to win the book. (kidding...) :)

  4. I have found taking a blank calendar and penciling in meals for each day eliminates the dread of "what's for dinner". It's nice to know what's planned even if other things come up, I can just swap that days dinner plan for another day. It also helps with grocery shopping for the week.

  5. I have found that I cook more than I need for most meals and freeze the part that we don't eat. i have also been getting fruit on sale in season and freezing it for smoothies. Now I am buying all my food that I need, meat, canned, and frozen at the beginning of the month and then each week I shop for my produce. It has been a lot of work but I have pulled from the ezmeals, flylady, and numerous others.

  6. Since I've been married, I have started doing a load of laundry every day. It doesn't pile up or get away from me...and it feels really productive, without a lot of "hands on" time.
    Also, I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets, particularly my cup cabinet, so it wasn't full to overflowing. This made me a lot less hesitant to empty the dishwasher because everything had its place, without too much work. I wasn't spending time shuffling things around to make them fit.

  7. I struggle with organization, but the tips that have helped me are:
    -Invest in a label maker and some clear plastic storage containers for cupboards and closets.
    -Keep a grocery list and a weekly menu plan on the side of the fridge.
    -When you make a freezer friendly meal, (ie: soups, some hot dishes, etc.) double the batch and throw half of it in the freezer for later.
    -Buy chicken, ground beef, etc. on sale and freeze. If freezing raw, spread ground beef flat in gallon ziploc bags to fit nicely in your freezer. Brown some of the ground beef and cook/shred some of the chicken before freezing and you will thank yourself later!

  8. I feel, as I am sure most of us feel, I have no advice to offer (especially since we are wanting to win this book), but one thing that has helped in my house is breaking "chores" down into small jobs that I can spread throughout the evening and week... dust downstairs, clean shower, vacuum living room... Makes me feel like I accomplished something, but I didn't spend ALL DAY cleaning.

  9. As a stay-at-home mom of three children,ages 1, 3, and 5, I am constantly looking for new family managing/time saving/sanity keeping, etc. tips! Life can feel downright crazy sometimes! :-). Here are a few things that have helped our household:
    -I do loads of laundry during the day then after the kids go to bed at night my husband and I knock out folding them together while we catch up on the day. It gives us some time to talk and connect and helps me feel less overwhelmed about the seemingly endless amount of laundry that piles up!
    - Every week I have two sections of the house that I "deep clean.". I rotate throughout the house so that with in a month or so, each section of the house is getting deep cleaned at least once. This way I don't feel completely overwhelmed by having to clean the entire house at once. I TRY to vacuum every Friday but that doesn't always get done.... But at least I feel good knowing I have my two sections of the house deep cleaned for the week.
    - For sanity keeping puroses I try to get at least 30 min of cardio in a day. Even if it's just an evening walk with a friend. Something to give my mind a little break at some point during the day.

    The time I struggle the most is when one (or more) of my kids are sick..... Everything just seems to go haywire..... Any tips from anyone on getting through those rough days anyone??

  10. I have only been married for four months and have been a little overwhelmed at how quickly things around the house can go from "organized" to feeling VERY unorganized! (And we don't even have any kids yet!) I do some of the same things that others have posted...
    --Buy fruit when it's on sale, wash, cut, and freeze it for smoothies throughout the week.
    --I try to stay on top of the laundry and clothes that we don't always hang up after working all day by doing a little bit every night (if possible). I've found that I really don't mind picking up and doing laundry if it's a little at a time.
    --As far as evening meals, we use because it helps us plan out what we'll have for dinner, AND it gives us the shopping list and one small little box of directions, making it pretty fast meal prep. I usually try to do a couple meals per week that are larger so left overs can either be taken for lunch the next day or eaten for dinner on a night when we have to work late.
    --Being a teacher means that there are always papers to grade (pretty much every night) and lesson plans to do (on the weekend), so I try to get as much grading done as possible when we watching a football game on Saturday or Sunday, since I can feel like I'm not "wasting" that much time but still enjoy being with my husband for the game.
    --For things like birthday cards, making appointments, etc. I try to get at least two of those things done from my "to do" list per week...if I try to do more than that it gets quite overwhelming.
    I'm sure I'll need MUCH more help with organization once there are kids in the picture some day, but those are things that are keeping me sane right now.