Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area


Souvenirs

I know that this is over a week late, but HAPPY CANADA DAY!!! The reason for my tardiness for my blog post is that my hubby took me to Ottawa (the capital of Canada) for the Canada Day festivities. We had a wonderful time, and even got to eat poutine and a beaver tail on Parliament Hill.

Being first time in Ottawa, so we tried to see as much as we could. After watching the Changing of the Guard, we learned about the history of the War of 1812 (200th anniversary this year), and enjoyed a concert. We then proceeded to get free samples, and visit Rideau Hall. We tried to get into the Royal Canadian Mint, however we got there too late, so we went later on in the week. Our Canada Day finished off with a fun concert, and an impressive fireworks display (some were in the shape of a maple leaf!).

I would like to share a fun Canadian fact with you, which has left me proud since I heard about it. As some of you may know, we hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (remember? The one with no snow? 😛 ). All of the medals were designed and made at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa (we have a second in Winnipeg, Manitoba where our currency is made). The medals were quite unique, and had a wavy texture (not easily visible in the photo, sorry):

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Medals – Source: Canadian Olympic Committee

What I didn’t know was that the medals were all unique, and when placed together, would create an image of an Orca (for the Olympics) and a Raven (for the Paralympics). The orca is a strong animal, one that lives in a community. The raven signifies overcoming obstacles, which I am certain many of the Paralymians can identify with. Also, this was the first time in the history of the Olympics that the size of the medals for the Olympics were the same size as those for the Paralympics (Go Canada!).

Now that I’ve expanded your Canadian history, let me ask you a question: Do you buy souvenirs when you go on vacation? We’ve bought a couple of things here and there, but we have never been into the kitschy souvenirs. You know the ones. I live in Toronto, and near Niagara Falls – if you can put an image on it, they’ll sell it. You can get t-shirts, magnets, shot glasses, surf boards, statues, postcards – you name it! Apparently, there’s even a book dedicated to it called Crap Souvenirs!

So, let me speak on behalf of your loved ones: Please refrain from buying tacky souvenirs that will fall apart in the not-near-enough future. Some are tasteful, I can agree to that. But more often than not, they’re just plain ugly. Let’s not encourage clutter, eh? 😀 (You had to see that one being worked in here somewhere, right?)

What’s the worst souvenir you’ve either seen, or received?


Clutter Free Christmas

This year, the youth group at our church is putting on the Charlie Brown Christmas play. 

In this classic, Charlie Brown goes around lamenting that Christmas has become “too commercial”. Lucy comments that it is being run by “a big eastern syndicate” – can you tell we’ve gone through these lines quite a few times? In the end, Linus points out the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. I’m not trying to be all “religious”, however, I think  you’d agree that we, as a society, have certainly strayed from those classic traditions – spending time with family, enjoying a nice meal together, and being thankful for what we have.

Christmas has become a time of rushing around, long lists of “wants” and “to do’s”, buying the “I LOVE IT” presents (thank you Best Buy), and generally feeling stressed out. Then we have the aftermath – the mounds of once used wrapping paper, the gifts that were well intentioned but will sit around until they can be (safely) regifted or donated, and the swift realization that we “went a little overboard” this year, having to really cut back in January to make it balance out.

Now, I’m not trying to be a Scrooge. I love Christmas. It just so happens that Christmas is my husband’s birthday (and the day we got engaged), we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and all that that means, and I love the time we get to spend together as a family, snuggled up with tea, playing a board game together (Jeanette, if you’re reading this, please bring Ticket to Ride again – I love that game!). What I am saying is this: we typically don’t need the stuff we receive for Christmas (most of it, at least), but there are many others out there who go without. We often believe that we’re thinking of others at Christmas, and this is true, however, let’s think of those less fortunate. Here are a few gift ideas that won’t clutter up your home (nor someone else’s), but will certainly be a blessing to those in need:

1. Toy Mountain – there are many different organizations who have a means to hand out new toys to those less fortunate at Christmas. Take your child shopping, and have them pick out a great toy that another child will receive – perhaps you could volunteer to help hand those toys out. (Toy Mountain)

2. Gift of Compassion/Gifts of Hope – Compassion Canada and The Salvation Army are just 2 organizations that offer opportunities to purchase animals, clean water, mosquito nets, or education for those in developing countries. A couple of years ago, I did this for 3 of my closest friends. For Christina (who’s a teacher), we bought school books, for Sharon (who collects water bottles from all over the world), we bought clean water, and for Diana (who was in med school at the time), we bought a pig (emphasizing the need of good nutrition for health). My friends were really impressed by the thoughtfulness of those gifts, and they felt good that they had helped, too. We also gave them each little token gifts to remember the donation made in their honour. (Gifts of Compassion/Gifts of Hope)

3. Microfinancing – Personally, I feel that this is the best use of donated money for developing countries. Nationwares (there are other organizations who do this as well) is an organization that provides small, low-interest, business loans to individuals and small groups in developing countries. This allows the entrepreneurs to start up a business, and essentially become self-sustaining. They sell their products and pay back the loan, which is then put back into the system to aid another entrepreneur. These people may also hire others from their village, and the benefits are magnified. My father-in-law always said “A hand up, not a hand out”. (Nationwares)

So, this Christmas, consider cutting out the clutter, and helping others at the same time. Turn the focus around, and avoid getting caught up in all that commercialism. I promise you, your spirit will feel lighter.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!