I'm always searching for little scraps and pieces of time I can do the things I enjoy. Almost every abode has its home office, regardless if it's used from nine to five, or for routine Sunday bill days. We tend to keep the 8x10 typed letter snuggled in its envelope, rather than systematically slip it into its rightful folder. None of us like entering the murky swamp of house chores or climbing Sinai-like tasks without a good grasp of how we'll make it there. We plow through stacks of work only to find we're too exhausted to pick the clusters of fragrant fruits we've harvested.

There are many shortcuts in the labyrinth of home management and daily routine. Most of us find taking care of our living quarters unfulfilling compared to more glamorous leisurely activities they could be doing otherwise. I've tried to make keeping house creative, concise and calm. It is a splendid way to spend one's time, and yet still have time to spend afterwards.

I've always loved home, food and decorating magazines but wasn't interested in glitzy advertisements for break-the-bank products. Estates in small towns bedecked with 17th Century furniture or exotic recipes that have island fruit and other concoctions are not the reality most of us live in, no matter which holiday's coming up.

But having good taste is always important when it comes to your own miniature temple, and so there is good reason to explore options of doing things the best way in the least amount of time. Here are a few tidbits I've found make homemaking go from endless to Eden:

  • Freeze "starter cubes" in ice tray containers and place them into sandwich bags. Ingredients like minced garlic and onion with a little salt, pepper and oil are called for many recipes like garlic breads, meat and poultry dishes, sauces, stews and the like. Drop into a bowl of cold water ten minutes prior to preparing your dish.
  • Avoid gloppy vegetable salad by cutting the outer flesh of the tomato- attached to the skin, and save the inside for Sloppy Joe or paste.
  • Drop a few spoonfuls of powdered laundry detergent into an empty wastebasket, then insert the garbage bag. The crystals have deodorizing properties, and once the trash is empty, fill with water and wash.
  • Line a dry bucket with a pillowcase, to serve as a make-shift hamper.
  • Frame a personalized stationary card (with your initials or names on the front), as a decorative touch in your bedroom or desk area.
  • And lastly for when you are ready to get out and enjoy yourself: Keep your make-up bag and purse in pristine condition. Place a plastic bag in first, then all the contents. When switching bags, save yourself from festering around, and your clutch stays clean.