E for Efficiency

01 Mar 2011
Our DesignersOur Projects posted by Sara Tofanelli-Barroso

I’ve found lately that the way that I’ve been doing everything in my life is wrong.  Well, it’s not exactly wrong…just not efficient.  I am all about efficiency these days.  It used to be that I would have the time to do things and that I could do them leisurely.  My daughter is 5 and up until recently, I was still doing everything leisurely.  When shopping at the grocery store, I would leisurely look through the aisles. When paying bills at my computer, I was easily distracted and would look at different websites for fun.  Even when I swept my floors, I would take the time to get every corner.  And I wondered why I didn’t get anything done, ever!  Nowadays, I’ve learned. 

Why it took me so long to learn such an easy skill, I don’t know.  I was holding onto my old routines, my traditions.  For so long, these routines worked for me.  Before marriage, I was completely on my own schedule and could do as I pleased.  I didn’t have to make dinner because I could pick up a burrito or eat cereal, if I wanted.  Then when I got married, I adjusted a little.  I made dinner, but we ate as late as 9pm sometimes.  It didn’t matter.  And my errands…oh how I miss being able to do errands any time of the day…they were done whenever I felt like it.  Nothing was pressing, although I always got everything done very efficiently because I had the time to put towards them.  That was my life and it worked.  Now, though, after 5 years of being a mom and adjusting to someone else’s schedule, I am finally realizing that it’s not all about me anymore.  How could I have not known this before?  How in the world did I make it 5 years and still tried to keep my “before motherhood” schedule?

This whole new thought process pretty much came into play when I cleaned out my life…I mean, “house”.  I understood that things don’t need to be thought about as much as I had been thinking.  I understood that I could make a quick decision to donate something and be done with it.  Never looking back.  I used to think a lot about the things I had to do.  I would make lists, think about how they were going to get done, I would plan, research, whatever. 

This was not my list but it may have well been!

Now I just do!  Too much of my time went into doing something.  Every night I would  sit down with my next day’s list and think about when I was going to do something.  My day would be worked out to the minute.  Thinking about doing something or making a list to do is almost as much effort as doing.  Now, the list is still there, but I do things as I have time.  Do I have time to empty the dishwasher now…or would I rather spend that time uploading new photos from my camera to my computer?  Should I clean the floors…or play a game with my daughter?  My list used to rule me.  If something was on the list, it had to get done and I was stressed and overworked until everything was crossed off the list.  For example, I’ve been back from NY for over a month now and up until very recently, there was still a pile of stuff that I hadn’t finished going through.  This stuff included, but was not limited to: presents I had to wrap to give to my travel agent who helped us get home and a friend who watched our cats while we were gone, videos and pictures that needed to be uploaded, Christmas cards that people sent to me, some mail, magazine articles that I wanted to go back to, tupperware bins that needed a home now that new ones had been purchased to keep Mason’s toys tidy, expandable files that I needed to fill with 2010 receipts and paperwork. 


The old me would have never let it go very long without doing something about it!  Of course, the stuff was neatly piled on the floor of my office so it was organized.  But it was still there and it was annoying.  I wanted so badly to get it done, but I didn’t want to stress over it, as I would have before.  So I made mini goals for myself.  If I had a few minutes or an hour here and there, instead of looking at the entire pile as an overwhelming whole, I would do one little thing at a time.  I chipped away at it and eventually it was done! 


 I liked that…it was a huge breakthrough for me to know and understand that I can actually do things in my work, in my life, as a mother, a wife, a cook, the errand girl, the grocery shopper, the bill payer, the laundry doer and folder, the litter box emptier, the sheet changer, and all of the other roles that I fill…I can do things without planning!  Now the time that was spent planning and list making could now be spent playing with my daughter or internet shopping or reading a book or going on a walk or watching a TV show…who knows?...the list goes on and on!

Perfect timing for me to have read in my daily aspirations book today:  “While living at a farming community, our group planned to erect a new house.  For many months, we discussed the plans and because we did not fully agree, nothing was done.  Then one day, one man went out to the building site with a plumb line and began to hammer stakes into the ground.  It wasn’t long before the house was built.  You can think and talk about a project for a long time, but only action will manifest it.  If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never get anything done.  Don’t wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin.  Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”


P.S.  I thought you'd like this photo I found online.  I can be thankful that I don't take it to another extreme




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Our DesignersOur ProjectsOur Stories posted by Sage Bowman

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Boys & Girls Club here in Chico for a few years now.  It all started when I helped The Club decide on paint colors for their Teen Center in Chico.  They must have liked what I chose because they asked me to do the paints for the Oroville site, along with the Juvenile Hall pod (statistics show that when a juvenile is released from here, they move on to do good things, rather than convicting again).  After these personal experiences with this organization, I was beginning to get to know the people, their mission and what, exactly, they do for the kids of Butte County. 

I didn’t realize it at the time but they are really making our city better!  By allowing a safe, welcoming place for the kids to go, they are reducing crime and making children happier.  Kids come to The Club after school, they do their homework, have snacks, play with other kids, do art, play music and enjoy their time.  The same applies to the Teen Center.  It’s a wonderful organization that is truly dedicated to kids. 

And as all the data shows, the kids thrive on adult interaction; making them feel loved and special. In turn, the kids do better in school and don’t get involved in bad situations.  Sadly, many of these children don’t have a loving and safe home to go home to.  The Club is where they feel at home.  Unfortunately, some of the children don’t have a home at all and the snack that they get at the Club is the only food that they will have all day.  It’s so hard to think that this is happening in Chico.  It’s not that we are bad for not noticing, but we are all so sheltered and busy with our lives that we really don’t know what is happening right here under our noses. 

About a year and a half ago, the people of The Club asked me to be on the Board of Directors.  Wow, it sounded fun…sounded responsible…sounded great to do something to help the kids of Chico.  After a few meetings, I was asked to be on the committee for their Annual Valentine’s Day Gala.  Soon, I was promoted to “Chair”.  Last February was my first time attending and it was not only fun but a huge success!  The Gala is the biggest fundraiser of the year and it really was a great event.  As with many things these days, the State had to pull back on funding for the Club... meaning this amazing organiziation is under more financial stress than ever.

This year, I was asked again to be on the board and we’ve been busy planning since August.  We’ve been collecting donations, sending out invites, organizing the caterer (yummy Bacio), finding the venue, planning the lighting…everything that goes into an event for 350 people.  It’s a lot of work and it’s truly rewarding when the success of the night shows on the smiles of the faces of the kids.  And we'll see many of them at the Gala as the kids will be helping seat and assist throughout the evening.  We'll also get the opportunity first-hand to listen to inspiring personal stories told by the "Youth of the Year" and perhaps a few other members.  This year’s Gala is this coming Saturday and we are all busy with last minute details, setting up…and of course, finding our dresses and shoes for the night! 

I couldn't be happier donating my time and energy helping The Boys and Girls Club.  It's been incredibly rewarding, I couldn't possibly put it into words. 


If you are interested in attending this years Valentines Gala, here’s the information you'll need to know:

12th Annual Valentine's Gala

benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the North Valley


Saturday, February 5th, 2011

6 o'clock in the evening

Manzanita Place, 1705 Manzanita Avenue 

$85 per person


Live & Silent Auctions

Music provided by the Kings of Swing

Full Service Plated Dinner by Bacio Catering


Black tie optional

Reservations will be made on a first come, first served basis

This will be a sold out event ~ Call 530.899.0335 today!

 Auction Highlights Include:

  • Day at the Races at A Main Hobbies
  • Autographed Aaron Rodgers Greenbay Packers Jersey
  • San Francisco Getaway Package - including sailing on San Francisoc Bay and Giants game tickets
  • In-Home Sushi Dinner for six from Japanese Blossoms
  • Alaska Fishing Trip
  • Leather Sofa and Rug Ottoman
  • Tickets to Real-Time with Bill Maher
  • Upstate New York Getaway
  • Fine Wine
  • Health, Wellness and Day Spa Packages
  • ...and much more!


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January…Week Four

01 Feb 2011
Our DesignersOur Projects posted by Nan Tofanelli

I have decided to try something that I saw on one of my favorite blogs, Chez Larsson ...to capture the year in a series of photographs that are taken on each day of the year. Since I really enjoy taking photos I thought this might be a nice exercise to hone up my skills. I started on January 1st but rather than bore you with 31 photos for the month, I'm only going to show you the last week of this month. Maybe, with some prompting I will show the other 24 days, or I just might wait until the end of the year, if my fortitude lasts that long! So without further ado...January 25th thru 31st.







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