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Clutter To Calm: A New Morning Routine

I'm excited to welcome Andrea Lukas as a new guest columnist for Go West. Andrea has contributed a couple of "Mom to Mom" columns previously (memorably about navigating the confusing world of Legos), but today she'll be sharing some thoughts as the owner and founder of Clutter2Calm Inc., a professional organizing service. -- Tara

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Do you hate making lunches each morning? It’s a Monday morning and after a relaxing weekend your kids are sluggish and slow moving to school. Your daughter can’t find her homework, your son can’t find his gym shoes, lunches aren’t made and as you fly out the door barking orders at everyone you realize you can’t find your car keys.

A few simple changes in your routine can make all the difference.

Kids can’t find their homework & shoes?

Every day when they come home from school have a designated area where they drop their bags and school info. Once homework is completed it is put back into their folder, which is put back into their backpack. Lay out their clothes the night before and ask what they will need for the following day. (Example: The gym shoes would be placed in the school bag that night.)

Don’t like making lunches in the morning?

The night before, line up all the lunch bags on the counter in an assembly line and place all dry items (chips, crackers, cookies) in the bags.

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Eat at Fat Rosie's Courtesy of Trim Craft!

We’ve told you about the beautiful work our valued sponsor Trim Craft, Inc., does with crown moulding, mantels, window seats and faux wainscoting.

Owners John and Donna Brazill are now increasingly installing iron balusters to replace wooden railings in 2-story homes, and they have a special offer for Go West Young Mom readers.

If you schedule an iron baluster install by Sept. 15, 2011, you’ll receive a $100 gift certificate to Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar in St. Charles. This offer applies for jobs over $800.

For more information, please call Donna Brazill at 630-208-6905 or email trimcraft@sbcglobal.net. And to give you an idea of how great the iron balusters look, below you'll find some more photos from a recent Trim Craft job. Please remember to support Trim Craft – and all our wonderful sponsors – who help make Go West Young Mom possible.

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Tales of Transformation: Going Native

Moving day came and went. The hired movers were seamless, the contractor finished on time. We were ticking off boxes, getting things done. We both found common ground on some of the design challenges. We were both commonly broke.

Our plan for the garden areas and lawn were to wait a year to see what grows. Let nature do its thing, and we can then evaluate, germinate, propagate and other gardening terms that end in “ate” next Spring.

We came to the ‘burbs without a rake, a hose or a pair of pruners – nothing. Some of my city apartments had a deck or a back door for a few pots. In the summer, I’d have a red geranium as a nod to my grandfather who planted them in two pots at the front of the house back in Arlington, Mass. That, and catching up on the entire 5th season of Showtime’s "Weeds" while visiting my parents in Florida for a few days in February, was the extent of my green thumb.

Photos and design by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.We decided to hold off buying yard/garden tools for a bit so we could tackle some other items on or to-do list. We hired a high school kid with a John Deere and a rake to cut the grass and pull weeds on Mondays, while we focused on unpacking, setting up and getting back to work.

Spring had sprung and we were beginning to see nice purple tulips popping up along side some yellow daylilies. The yard was beginning to take shape. It was tidy and inoffensive. Even the birds found shelter by building nests and laying their eggs in the trees close to the house. They too could look past the tacky industrial grade front door and settle in.

April showers may bring on May flowers, it also brings on May and June weeds. While my husband and I were inside drawing up to-do lists and giving congratulatory high-fives for painting our toddlers bedroom, the outside had a mind of its own. We had our own "Little Shop of Horrors" on all four sides of the house. Feed me! It was becoming clear that the weeds were boss and taking over. It was time to refocus our to-do list, put the paint bushes down and pick up a 1.33 gallon of Roundup Pump N Go (with up to 5 minutes continuous spray.)

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Go West Welcomes a New Sponsor: Trim Craft

I am so pleased to announce a new sponsor, and it happens to be an authentic mom-and-pop business, my very favorite kind!

An iron baluster installed by Trim Craft.John and Donna Brazill of Geneva are the owners of Trim Craft, Inc., which installs crown moulding, mantels, faux wainscoting, iron balusters, ceiling treatments, window seats and more in homes both new and old. 

John Brazill has been a carpenter for 25 years -- he started working in the field to pay his way through college. In 1998, he opened his own business, Trim Craft, which is an incorporated and insured carpentry company. His wife Donna helps him with the business side of things, and their daughters Kylie and Camryn look forward to going out with dad on errands or to pick up materials.

John says he really enjoys how adding just a bit of trim to a room can change it so dramatically. If you’re looking to add character and beauty to your home, John says “crown moulding is the best place to start -- rooms are changed for the better by crown alone.”

But he adds that “chair rail and shadow boxes can really make foyers and staircases make a grand impression.” (Shadow boxes are also known as faux wainscoting and are typically installed below a chair rail.)

The Brazills are very proud of the quality of their work, and that John is an expert craftsman and specialist in his field. 

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Welcome to a New Sponsor: Peerless Fence

Please join me in welcoming a new sponsor to Go West Young Mom: Peerless Fence, a family-owned and operated business that offers one of the largest selection of fence types and styles in Illinois.

An example of Peerless Fence's work. Don't you wish this was your yard? Photo provided.Peerless Fence is marking a big milestone this year – celebrating 50 years in business. It was founded by brothers Robert and Art White, and Robert’s sons Dean and Marty are now two of the owners. Some members of the third generation are working at Peerless Fence, too.

Dean White says he started helping out at Peerless when he was just 12 years old.

“I was proud then of how positively people spoke about our company, and I'm proud now that we've upheld that,” he says. “We're probably 10 times as big now as we were then, so I'm proud of our growth, too."

Peerless Fence, which is based in West Chicago, serves commercial, industrial and residential customers and backs all of its fences with a written warranty. It’s become one of the largest fence companies in the Midwest and stresses its quick, efficient service.

“We have follow-up postcards that we send out after a job is completed, and it's great to see when someone is really pleased and writes to us about it,” Dean White says. “It's because of good work and putting the customer first."

If you visit the company’s showroom – located on Route 38, just east of Kirk Road – you can take a look the outdoor display area for inspiration. There, you’ll get a great idea of all the heights, styles and types of fences Peerless can install for you – from classic wood to new innovations in aluminum and vinyl to elegant wrought iron and utilitarian chain link.

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