April 2009 Issue

Welcome to returning subscribers! Thank you for your continued interest and support. I appreciate your time. Welcome also to all the new subscribers this month! I hope you find this issue enjoyable and packed full of helpful information.

Contact me if there is information you would like to see in future issues. I'm here to serve you!

Happy Easter!

Easter is this weekend (April 10th). Here in North Central Texas, we've already had some beautiful weather (high's in the 80's) and things are beginning to grow! Trees are budding, bulbs are blooming and my garden is growing!

Here's hoping you and yours have a very Blessed Easter Season.

In this issue:

  • The Four P's for Your IRS Tax Return
  • Organizing Your Craft, Hobby & Art Area
  • Product Review: Fun & Functional Storage Ottomans

The Four P's of Preparing for Your IRS Tax Return

Unless you're lucky enough to be able to file a simple tax return, usually the process of preparing your IRS tax return can be a painful process. Looking for receipts and backup documents can make an already painful process even more stressful if you're not organized. It's hard for anyone to remember what they did a year ago!

However, if you're currently in the process of preparing your 2008 return, now is a good time to put some processes in place to make next year's tax return "paper hunt" a much easier process. Use these P's as your guide:

Plan - Planning ahead will always, always make any process easier. Tax time next year will go much smoother if you plan ahead now. What worked this year? What didn't work? What were your particular challenges? Couldn't find receipts? Too much paper to sort through? Make a check list of what items you need to prepare your tax return for this year and make a special place to file those documents you need to prove your return in the event of an audit.

Purge - Now is a good time to purge documents that you don't need to keep. What do you need to keep each year? Good question! Most likely, you will need to hang onto the following items: bills, bank statements, receipts for anything you are claiming as a deduction, copies of all tax returns (including this year). I recommend preserving 7 years of prior tax returns and destroying the rest (shredding or burning is the best way of getting rid of these types of documents). It's probably not necessary to keep monthly rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, etc. However, if you are claiming a portion of your home as a home office, you may need to keep these for proof with your return.

Process - If you don't have a filing system in place for your records, now is a good time to start one and put those papers away in an organized fashion. You will be able to find things easier throughout this year as well as when it comes time to prepare your return for 2009. Put your new filing process in place now!

Preserve -- Get special fire proof filing for all your important papers (tax returns included). I don't recommend placing them in a safety deposit box due to the fact that if you or your spouse should pass away, some banks will typically not allow the box to be opened without an order from a probate court (which means you have to wait until the will is probated and an executor(rix) properly appointed). It will also save you a trip to the bank (during work hours) to retrieve your tax return in the event you get audited (which hopefully won't ever happen)!

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good place to start. Check the IRS website and/or check with a local accountant/cpa for additional help with your particular situation.

Organizing Your Craft, Hobby and Art Area

I'm a life-long crafter, hobiest and artist. I'm always willing to try a new craft or start a new project. I think I've tried them all, carving, macrame, knitting, sewing, embroidery, needlepoint, scrapbooking, oil on canvas . . . even acrylics on rocks and garden edgers! My greatest joy, even as a child, was sketching, coloring or doing something creative with my heart and hands.

If, like me, you enjoy the creation process, then you know that the area dedicated to your hobbies, crafts and art can easily become cluttered and messy. I know many subscribe to the theory "a cluttered area is the sign of a creative mind," to which I say "Baloney!!" The ultimate Creator created everything in an orderly fashion. We would do well to follow His example! Why?

Clutter of any kind makes it hard to be imaginative. If mess and disorganization take over, you can find yourself tense, frustrated, without space to work, you have a lot of unfinished projects and your favorite tools become lost. You wind up wasting money buying more items to replace the ones you can't find and/or stop being creative altogether.

Be green and spring clean and organize your craft area now.

Here are helpful steps to getting your hobby, craft and art area in tip-top shape:

  • Gather up all of your craft, hobby and art supplies around the room (or around your house). Place them on a table to begin the sorting process.

  • Sort every item into piles based on the type of craft or hobby such as: scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, painting, etc.

  • Refine these piles further, one at a time. Are there crafts you no longer enjoy? Are there items that are old, expired (paint has a limited storage time)? Donate craft supplies that you no longer enjoy but are still servicable to others. Many senior centers would enjoy excess fabrics to do quilts, etc. (but ask before dumping a load on them)! Donate duplicate tools. You don't need duplicates! Throw away any broken tools, expired items or other things that have accumulated and are not necessary.

  • Look through what's left and further refine, if necessary. Continue to donate and throw away anything unuseable until you are left with what you actually need and will use.

  • Take the trash out immediately.

  • Make your next stop the charity of your choice and drop off the items to donate. Do this before proceeding further otherwise you will have a tendency to keep everything.

  • Consider whether you have the right type of desk, table, etc. for your crafting, hobby and art projects. If not, check online and in stores near you for functional furniture. There's no substitute for a good desk chair. Look for furniture items that have storage (drawers, cubbies, etc.) that suit your particular hobby, craft, art work. Purchase and assemble any new pieces.

  • Clean the area. This is the best time to dust, vacuum and mop your area since everything is vacant. Clean windows -- the natural light is better for your eyes and your work.

  • Organize your supplies. Sort by color and type. Examples: sort fabric by color and fold them neatly over pieces of cardboard for rigidity and stability. You can stack them in baskets or prop them up on bookshelves. Place scrapbooking supplies together -- paper, stickers, scissors, etc. should be with like things and stored together. Sort paint by medium -- oil, acrylic, etc. and put like colors together.

  • Place your items in containers that are easily accessible and easy to see. Clear containers are great for smaller items. Photos, etc. can be sorted and placed in boxes that are labeled (birthdays, vacations, etc.).

  • Label everything so that you can easily find them.

  • Put items you use often nearest your work area. Store items you use less often above or below your work area.

You should be able to readily see and be able to find all your tools and supplies. You could even inventory the items you have on hand so you can shop more effectively and not purchase something you already own.

Now enjoy the fruits of all that hard work and go out there and create something wonderful!

PRODUCT REVIEW -- Functional Storage Ottoman

One of the things that makes me happy is when I find something that is both fun and functional. Purchasing furniture that can be utilized for more than one function is a good design choice as well as a good organizing choice.

A furniture storage ottoman (like the one in the picture) can be used in several ways in almost any room of the house:

Den Storing blankets, quilts, DVD-CDs & Videos, LP's (those large vinyl CD's), books and magazines, writing and bill paying supplies, kid's toys, crafts.

Living Room Extra (moveable) seating, coffee table or end table, storing (see items above).

Craft or music room Books, magazines, small instruments, craft supplies, photo equipment, storing sheet music, extra seating for your music loving audience.

Kids Kids can pull them up to a desk to do homework, a place for friends and visitors to sit, storage of toys, extra clothes, books, games, etc.

Bathroom Use as a vanity seat, store curling irons, toilet paper and other supplies.

These are just some of the possible uses. Get creative and see what will work for you in your space. Storage ottomans come in many colors and may be simple wood or covered in expensive leather. You may even find one that can be covered in your own fabric. Add legs or rollers for ease of movement.

I hope you enjoyed the April 2009 issue of Messy Makeover Magazine. I consider it a privilege that you took your valuable time to subscribe and read this magazine.

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Stay tuned for the next issue!


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