Welcome to March. Let’s prepare…

When March 1st hits us we suddenly realize it’s time to get ready for spring, even if spring here in Canada means those two warm weeks before summer. Here at the Messengers International, we are big fans of donating our goods to people who could make good use of them. Just one of many reasons to start your spring cleaning.

If you’re anything like me, you like to clear out all of your winter blues by physically decluttering your space and starting spring (or mid-winter as it seems) with a nice organized space.

Here are some ideas to get your decluttering started and to help organize all your belongings…

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The first step to getting rid of clutter is sorting. Sort everything by order of usefulness and sentimental value. A great rule to follow would be, anything you haven’t used in the past two years, get rid of it. And for sentimental pieces, is this something that you’d like passed down to the next generation? If it is then of course you would keep it.

So back to sorting…

The first step will be to create three piles. Pile 1: Keep. Pile 2: Not sure. Pile 3: Donate. Once you’ve got enough in your pile 3 you can get that pile sent off to the charity of your choice. The Canadian Diabetes Society also makes house calls so you can get it all packed up, leave it on your doorstep and they will collect it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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The second step would be to sub-sort your not sure pile. From those items, we can then make two more separate piles of either yes (keep) or no (donate). Ask yourself, will you use this next winter? would I miss this sweater if it wasn’t in my closet? Will someone else make more use of this than I will? If you answered no, no and yes – then that item can go in the donation pile.

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Once your donations are sorted and delivered to the charity of your choice – it’s time to organize all the stuff you’ve decided to keep, and lets face it, it’s probably still a huge pile of stuff. That’s why organization is key.

One of my favourite tools for keeping odds and ends organized are cute storage boxes. They can be purchased at any dollar store, and they normally have large and small sizes. The great thing about these is that they are nice to look at (as opposed to the usual cardboard box) and you can colour coordinate them with your furniture if you choose to leave them exposed.

For those smaller knick knacks, throw them (sorted by type) into corresponding boxes. For instance, one box for documents, one box for miscellaneous items, one box for screws and bolts, one box for office supplies, etc. etc. You can purchase shelves at any hardware store and store your knick knack boxes on them and they don’t look too shabby, or if you want to stick them in a cupboard or closet, that’s okay too.

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Continuing with organization, it’s time to tackle the larger items (ie. clothes, shoes, furniture, pillows, blankets, seasonal decorations, etc etc)

When it comes to your clothes and accessories – for such items that you don’t wear all year long (like winter clothes) vacuum seal bags are the way to go. You can fit so much more into a vacuum seal storage bag than you can into a garbage bag. Also, under the bed storage bags are great for items like shoes or decorations that are bulkier and won’t vacuum seal that well.

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For any other items that don’t fit into any category or can’t be easily vacuum sealed and tucked away, you can either look at them again and decide if you really truly need them, or you can make your own DIY organizers. Check out Buzzfeed’s 50 clever DIY hacks for organization for some great ideas on DIY organization for everything you can think of: http://www.buzzfeed.com/pippa/50-clever-diy-ways-to-organize-your-entire-life-5ocb#.egpwzKAYq

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And now that you’re all organized and you’ve donated your used items to a great charity, it’s time to just sit back and wait for spring to arrive…whenever that may be..

By Nerissa Mohamed

Top 10 Things to Do for March Break

March Break 2015 is quickly approaching. Doesn’t it feel like it was just New Years day? This year is definitely flying by. If you haven’t already booked a trip or planned your itinerary for this March Break, let us help you with some ideas. Whether you are looking to stick to some familiar activities or you’re looking to venture out of your comfort zone, here are our top 10 ideas for this year’s March Break fun:

1. Take a class, any class!

It pays to learn. Whether its salsa dancing, painting or yoga, whether you’re young or old it never hurts to learn something new. This March Break, why not take a break from your usual everyday routine and learn something outside of what you would normally gravitate to. For your kids, it will be a great opportunity for them to learn something new and to see you doing the same. A healthy living activity like yoga, kick boxing or meditation is great for all ages and keeps your mind and body in a healthy state.

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2.See one of the wonders of the world in your own backyard

If you’re taking your kids on this trip then leave out the winery tour, but Niagara Falls offers something for all ages. If you’ve lived in Ontario long enough then you’ve probably already visited Niagara, but it never really gets old. The beauty of the falls in the midst of icicles and frozen scenery is something everyone should brave the cold to witness. For the kids, Clifton Hill and the Skywheel are always a good time, and for the adults Niagara on the lake is a romantic gem. A winery tour, whether winter or summer, is a good idea for all seasons!

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3. Get creative at the Art Gallery of Ontario

For March Break,  the AGO has a week long art camp that your kids will love. Every Sunday is family day at the AGO as well, which features art making for the kids at the gallery school. Or if you’re just looking for a cheap and fun day to spend with or without your kids, the AGO always has cool new exhibits and artist features.

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4. Embrace the cold!

If you’re looking to try something new and embrace the freezing temperatures then why not head to Barrie and do some ice fishing. In fact, why not check out any lake right now and you’re bound to find some ice. But your best bet is to have a look on Groupon for your local city, because they always have great ice fishing deals to offer.

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5. Get locked in a room and try to find your way out.

Puzzle & Escape rooms are the new kid on the block if you’re looking for a fun day with the kids or even just with a group of friends. If you like a good brain challenge this is definitely a fun way to get those brain muscles working. These escape rooms offer brain teasers and puzzles that you must solve before being able to leave the room. The challenges are timed too, so you gotta be quick! Pictured below is Decode Adventures, located in Mississauga.

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6.  Take in a live performance of a classic story

Live theatre is always a great day or night out. There are wonderful family friendly plays taking place in Toronto for the March Break such as Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Pinnochio. Disney on Ice is another fun live show with a cool (excuse the pun) twist on classic theatre.

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7. Embrace your Canadian-ness!

Maple syrup festivals are happening all throughout March, all over Ontario. You can take the kids and enjoy pancakes, the how-to’s of making maple syrup or just get them hyped up on sugar for the rest of their March Break – and might we say, good luck to you.

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8. Do triple axels and double toe loops or just… fall down

Take some time to visit a local skating rink this March break. There are outdoor rinks as well as arenas if you’re thinking it may be too cold for a day outside. Many arenas offer family skate or public skate during the week as well as during the March Break. Again, another idea for an active day out. It may be freezing cold outside but  don’t let that stop you from getting yourself moving.

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9. Do summer stuff in the winter!

There are a lot of indoor soccer domes and arenas that offer multi-sport day camps during the March break. It’s a great way for the kids to stay active, enjoying the sports they love to play in the summer. Let’s face it – we all need our soccer fix all year long.

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10. If you’re stuck indoors..make a mess!

This is a money saving option for all of us, because craft supplies can be found at any local dollar store. Pick up a bunch of fun craft supplies and have a craft day at home. If you’re kid-free, try knitting or crochet for a nice quiet day in on (what will likely be) a cold March day. If the kids are involved, there are tons of craft ideas online and these will make great keepsakes for when they grow up (“Remember that time you super glued your hands together?”) They will appreciate it later in life, I promise.

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By Nerissa Mohamed