October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), which is an annual international campaign to increase the awareness and to raise research funds for the cause, early prevention, diagnosis, treatment & cure of the disease.
Whether you're in Chicago or elsewhere in the world, you'll most likely see prominence in the color pink. This year in the Windy City alone, the Willis Tower, John Hancock Building, Merchandise Mart, Soldier Field Stadium along with 200+ other buildings are illuminating their spires & windows in the color pink or donning banners & flags in support of BCAM.
While the cause is notably supported on a large scale, it is not without the support of smaller organizations & individuals alike. It is important to do you part, and with that notion in mind, Kensington is donating 10% of October profits to Bright Pink, a Chicago-based non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast & ovarian cancer.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This year alone, it is expected that 200,000 women will be diagnosed & ultimately 40,000 will lose their fight to the disease. With numbers like these, it is vital that everyone be proactive in one way or another; choose to wear pink or pin a pink ribbon to your clothing, make a donation, start an office-wide fundraising competition, and most importantly, be self aware (click here for self-awareness tools).
There never seems to be enough hours in the day (hence Kensington's creation), right?! When you're feeling frustrated & concerned with the inability to check-off your entire checklist, you don't always have to call in reinforcements (Kensington = Reinforcements). While it may seem like the last thing you have time to do, make time to clean your workspace. Often, research has shown, a clean workspace will make for fewer distractions & allow for your projects to get completed in a timelier manner.
Follow these steps to achieve a workable workspace
1. De-clutter the Computer: This step is a two-parter. Part One means to actually clean off the physical computer (remove sticky notes, wipe the key board & screen, etc.) Removing the visual distractions on your hardware will, over-time, add to your time spent on what's most important when working - work! Part Two of this step is to clean up your computer's desktop. In an effort to save time, don't spend too long on this step. Start by creating a computer file labeled "Desktop" and fill it with everything that is currently on your desktop (docs & applications alike). Remove all other items from your desktop visibility so you've got a clean workspace. *I personally like to add a solid, minimally distracting, background and/or screensaver (think solid white, light grey or light blue) so my screen is clean & serene looking. This helps me to embody these emotions, even on the most stressful of days.
2. Create 2 Piles for Organizing: The 2 piles you'll be creating are called "NOW" & "LATER". . .
- Lets start with your "LATER" pile: Begin to collect all the items from your desk which are associated with completed tasks and/or tasks without a deadline. Stack these items together & pop them into a file cabinet, box or bag nearby (see picture on right for example).
- Now, to the "NOW" pile: Collect anything that pertains to projects with an upcoming deadline, and/or projects you're currently working on. When collecting these items, place them with like papers/documents and file, or stack them accordingly. Next, place your most urgent items at the top of these documents so you have a grouping of items with most urgent to least urgent (this will help to guide you throughout the day). *If you'd like to go a step further, create labeled project file folders which hold all of said documents.
3. Reduction: Take a look at the personal items in your space and begin to eliminate what you can. Invest in 1 picture frame which holds multiple pictures, or a cork board above your desk to hold your pictures nicely & neatly in one place, so you're desk is minimally cluttered with photographs. Also, do you have pens located in your desk drawer & laid amongst desktop? If so, reduce these down to one location. Choose one space & commit to keep to it (I recommend keeping all writing utensils in a nice jar/cup located atop your desk for the ease of quick grabbing). Do you have 3+ pads of paper floating on top of your desk or within your top drawer? If so, lose two (preferably to a file cabinet or storage drawer nearby), and keep one handy. You'll never lose important notes if they're all stored within one pad of paper.
4. Keep it Up: When a project ends, although you feel the pressure to move immediately onto the next, cycle through these methods (if you keep it up, this step will take mere minutes). Move your completed projects papers to the LATER pile and do a once-over on your desk to make sure its in perfect un-cluttered order.
5. Got a Second?: Whenever you've found yourself with a second to spare (whether the boss is M.I.A. or you're on an annoying overseas 40 minute phone-call hold), tend to your "LATER" pile or your computer's "Desktop" folder. Begin sorting through this mess of items. When cleaning up your "LATER" pile, create an organizational filing system (either physical or digital) for completed tasks & TBAT's (To Be Accomplished Tasks). If you're sifting through your digital docs, be sure to start slow & tackle one project at a time. For instance, start with pictures, and slowly sift through each item making sure to label & store it in its proper digital place. Continue this technique for all the documents in your "Desktop" file. You'll be surprised, time will pop up randomly & organization will find its way into your life (generally, before you could ever force-feed yourself with it on a TTD list).
I'm a firm believer in surrounding yourself with serenity in order to feel serenity. Its common practice to choose friends wisely because of their possible effect in your life - so why not carry this same methodology into the spaces where we spend an abundance of time? While we may not have the opportunity to decorate the entire corporate office, take control of what you can - your cube, your desktop, your laptop, etc.
If you'd like assistance with your organizing endeavors, please contact Kensington at (312) 204-7332. Please add questions to the comments section below - we'll be sure to answer quickly!
A Fall-ish Summer Salad
Fall is upon us, yet a few summer-like days have been sprinkled in for our continued enjoyment. Personally I love to indulge in Summer salads on warm evenings, so why not embrace the new season & the summer-salad in one healthy dish. . .
This Greek Spaghetti Squash Salad is one of my personal favorites. I adore spaghetti squash because its so easy, healthy & a great alternative to starchy pasta. While spaghetti squash is often eaten warm, this particular recipe calls for it to be cooked & chilled prior to indulging. This salad, mixed together on one plate & served during this transitional time of year, is the perfect meeting of seasons!
Before I share, I must give credit where credit is due. Thank you Liz (my step-mom) for passing this ahhmazing recipe down to me, and thus giving me the opportunity to share it with my awesome readers. ENJOY!
· 1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash
· 5 cups chopped plum tomato
· 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
· 1 cup chopped seeded cucumber
· 1 cup green bell pepper strips
· 1/4 cup vertically sliced red onion
· 1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
· 3 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
· 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 1 garlic clove, minced
*This recipe makes about 10 cups; it stores well in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, and is even better the second day. Here the squash is cooked in the microwave to save time but can also be cooked in the oven, if you prefer.
Pierce squash with a fork; place on paper towels in microwave. Microwave at high 15 minutes or until tender. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands.
Combine cooked squash, tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, bell peppers, onion, and olives in a large bowl; toss well. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a separate dish, stirring with a whisk. Add to squash mixture, tossing to coat. Cover and chill. Serve & enjoy cold!
Servings: Approx. 8
I am OBSESSED with Coconut Oil. I've got bottles tucked in various nooks & crannies throughout my home. It's in the bedroom, bathroom, pantry & sitting out in the family room. Seriously, its everywhere . . . AS IT SHOULD BE!
If you're unaware of the awesome-ness that is Coconut Oil, please take a gander at the list below. I've collected my favorite uses for this miracle product & wanted to share them with you. If I had to choose, I'd say my favorite use is as a hair mask & daily de-frizzer. After spending a near fortune on every "premier" hair product, this $4.99 (at Trader's) bottled gem beats our all the rest.
You can find Coconut Oil at almost any grocery store locally. Whole Foods has a nice selection of brands & Trader Joe's sells it in both spray & jarred form (which is great for enthusiasts like me).
+ Use when cooking - Coconut Oil is a great oil with a very high smoke point. Its great for baking, stir-frys or as a dairy free replacement to butter or other cooking oils
+ Use as a replacement to Cream & Sugar in your coffee or tea
+ Slap a little Coconut Oil on your toast or bagel as a replacement to butter
+ Mix a tablespoon of Coconut Oil with a tablespoon of Chia Seeds for an all-day energy boost (there is evidence that coconut oil helps digestion & may kill intestinal parasites or yeast) *Note: Do not take this at night!
+ Apply a thin layer of room temperature Coconut Oil to the exterior of an egg by brushing it on or dipping the uncooked egg in a bowl of the oil - it is reported that this will preserve the egg's shelf life up to 9-12 MONTHS!
+ Rub on your lips as a natural chap-stick (great for children's lips too)
+ Add 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil to your morning smoothie for added flavor and an extra energy boost - Note: The Coconut Oil is not stored as fat
+ Coat your skillet with Coconut Oil (The Trader Joe's Spray works great in this application) to create a non-stick surface
+ Replace Coconut Oil for butter when making a grilled cheese or topping popcorn - yummy!
+ Use as a metabolism booster - its reported that 2 tablespoons daily will increase your metabolic rate
+ Blend a tablespoon into hot tea to help speed recovery from cold or flu
+ A tablespoon melted into a cup of warm tea can help sooth a sore throat
+ Rub coconut oil on the inside of your nose to help alleviate allergy symptoms
+ There is some evidence that regular ingestion of coconut oil can help prevent or reverse Alzheimers
+ Nursing moms can take 3-4 tablespoons a day (and Vitamin D) to increase milk supply and nutrients
+ Can be taken in warm ginger tea to sooth heartburn or nausea
+ Apply to a mosquito bite, poison ivy or chicken pox - it will alleviate the annoying itchy feeling
+ As a replacement to Neosporin
+ Use as a shaving lotion - It allows for a close shave while moisturizing the skin
+ Combine Coconut Oil & Sugar for a lovely D.I.Y. Body Scrub
+ Use as a makeup remover - Caution: Wash-off very well when used on eye-makeup
+ Use as a diaper rash cream on babies
+ Use as a sexual lubricant
+ While pregnant, apply a small layer to your stretched skin - it will help to prevent stretch marks and reduce the visibility of those already present
+ Use as a massage oil
+ Use as an all-over body moisturizer
+ Melt approx. 1/4 cup and pour into a full bath - it will soften & moisturize your skin (great for kid's baths too!)
+ Put in a spray bottle and bring to the beach - its a great tanning oil! - Note: Coconut Oil has a natural SPF 4
+ Use as a Hair Mask (rub a small amount throughout your hair, with the majority placed at the ends; wash after 20 minutes)
+ Use in place of expensive Moroccan Oil to soften and protect clean hair (use a very small amount . . .a lot goes a long way)
+ Use as a static reducer in your hair (apply very liberally to the top layer only)
+ Use as a facial night cream
+ Rub onto dry and brittle cuticles and watch them instantly soften - the oil will aid in nail growth too!
+ Apply to sunburnt skin, it will help speed-up the healing process
+ Oil Pulling: Swish Coconut Oil around in your mouth for 10 minutes - There are claims that it whitens teeth! Next time try the addition of Oregano (just a drop/pinch), it will aid in gum health
+ When used daily, it can help decrease the appearance of cellulite (some say it actually reduces cellulite)
+ Mix with salt to remove dry skin on feet
+ Can be rubbed into scalp daily to stimulate hair growth
+ Rub into elbows daily to help alleviate dry, flaky elbows
For Pets (daily oral recommendation is 1/4 teaspoon for every 10lbs. of weight):
+ Put it on your cats paw to keep their coat shiny and cut down on hairballs
+ Clears up Canine Skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis,and itchy skin
+ Improves Digestion in both cats and dogs
+ Aids in the elimination of bad breath in dogs
+ Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
+ Helps to prevent or control canine diabetes
+ Helps to reduce weight & increase energy
+ Rub a small amount into worn leather to help condition and smooth out the appearance
+ Use as a lubricant in place of WD40
Penned by Kensington Staff