Frugal Living Interview
When you read Stephanie O'Dea's blog,
Totally Together Journal
, you can't help but feeling like you know
her and you like
her so much! Her easy manner and sense of humor makes her feel like she's your
best friend. It is so much easier to take advice from an 'expert' that you feel comfortable with, don't
you think? But don't let it fool you - Stephanie is a home organization guru!
I am pleased to welcome Stephanie O'Dea to Frugal Living Now today to share with us some of her secrets
for being Totally Together!
1. Hi, Stephanie, thank you for joining us today! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog,
Totally Together Journal
I thought of making a daily planner for moms when I was working full-time with my 6-month old in tow running
child care centers. I loved being able to work with my baby, and found that the only way I could keep on top
of all of my professional, personal, and mommy to-do lists was to write them all down in a page-a-day calendar.
Excited, I emailed the Franklin Covey company, and did hear back from their product development division, but
nothing ever came from that email exchange.
A few years later, I dug out my notes while in the midst of a move (we had 2 little ones by then!) and was
inspired to hunt for an agent and publisher. I was able to secure both, but the publisher decided to not go
ahead with publication, which really bummed me out. I had already started the blog to help promote the book,
and have decided to try my hardest to keep it going.
I'm also the author of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slowcooking
upon my New Year's Challenge to use a slow cooker every day in 2008. I really like helping busy families in
any way I can, and the slow cooker is a no-brainer when it comes to quick, easy, nutritious and low-cost
meals. This book is doing quite well, and is enjoying a third week on the New York Times Best Seller's list!
2. I think a lot of moms can relate to your dilemma of wearing what often feels like too many hats to be
able to organize all those jobs without going crazy. How did you come up with your organizing solutions?
I think it's okay to acknowledge that you're going crazy once in a while, and that's when you need to enlist
help. It's okay to enforce rules around the house for your children (and spouse!) to tidy up after
themselves, and to help with meal-planning and household organization. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, it's
usually because I've tried to take too much on, and need a bit of a break. Sending the kids to a neighbor
for a while, or sending my husband to the store helps big time. I like delegation.
As for coming up with organizing solutions, nothing I've come up with is really ground-breaking. I like
shortcuts, and I like getting things done and over with as soon as possible so I can move on to bigger and
better things (or a nap. :-) ). If something works for me and my family, we do it. If it's too much work or
a bother, we chuck it out and brainstorm how to better accomplish the task at hand.
3. How has your life changed since you decided to write about organization?
I don't think it has. The slow cooker site and book has been more life-altering, because now I spend the
good majority of my day answering emails from readers.
4. I especially like your bathroom wipe down idea for keeping your house clean (enough) day by day. What
is your favorite time-saving (or sanity-saving) tip?
I like the bathroom wipe-down, too. I also try to use "found time" to quickly tackle a chore while waiting
for the coffee pot to brew, the microwave to beep, or while on a phone call. I'll flip the laundry, wipe
down the table/countertop with a cleaning wipe, or return stray shoes to their rightful spot. I also tend
to look around a room each time I leave it to gather up what doesn't belong. Usually it's my "missing" coffee
5. I notice that your meal plan even includes snacks. How much do you actually stick to your plans? Do
your children ever complain about what you have planned for a particular meal or snack?
If I post the meal plan on the fridge, we stick to it, down to the snacks. Sometimes we'll swap a snack
here or there, especially if we're running low on something, or if I didn't make a fresh batch of edamame.
During the slow cooker challenge, it was very tough to stick to our scheduled meal plan, and things kind of
fell apart. During this past pregnancy, things fell apart, too. I look forward to a bit more consistency in
this new year.
My children don't complain about the snacks or lunches, since they help prepare our meal plans, and we tend
to stick to tried-and-true favorites. They are a bit more hesitant to try new food for dinner, but are
getting much, much better.
6. With all your other responsibilities, how much time do you spend each week working on your blogs?
I work full-time answering email and writing, both on the blogs and for freelance opportunities. I'm never
too far away from the computer. If I go a few days without answering email, it piles up and I am
uncomfortable not responding to questions as soon as I can.
7. What is the status of your book, Totally Together? I followed a link to Amazon.com and it gives the
option to sign up to be notified when it becomes available. Are you going ahead with publication?
I am actively seeking publication, either in a journal/planner format or in a traditional book.
8. Thanks again for the interview, Stephanie! Are there any last words of advice that you would like
to share with our readers?
Thanks to you! I don't really have any sage advice----I'm learning as I go along. I do seem to do better
when I take a step back and realize that life is short, the kids are only little once, and nothing ever
really is the end of the world. I really like cliches. :-)
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