Category Archives: Organization

Friday Fragments

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I literally spent two and a half hours organizing my stuff on Tuesday, moving books to their proper bookshelves, going through art supplies, making a new home for our board games in the dining room, even getting rid of a not-insignificant amount of books. The result? A slightly less cluttered looking shelf, a smaller stack of books that still need a new home (I had about 30 books in that stack before I started; now there are about 10, but I also added a lot of books to the pile before it started getting smaller), and that’s about it.

Ok, I am exaggerating a bit–the game shelves look good and my books are better organized–but I find this kind of organizing so frustrating. You have to do so much work in order to get to the part where it looks good. And, despite the better organized shelves, I do still have that pile of books that have been displaced by this project that do not yet have a new home. But I need to look on the bright side, right? I am making progress getting things moved to where they need to be. I will get there eventually.

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The street in front of my house is leaking. For the past few days, a seam in the middle of the street about 4 feet long has been oozing water. Today a bunch of people with trucks came and dug a hole in the sidewalk across the street. Apparently they will come back on Monday to dig a hole in front of my next door neighbor’s house, and then they will tunnel under the street to replace the supply line from the main line that is across the street. These are the perils of living in an older community. But we have really cool tall trees, too, so it evens out, right?

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I got a flu shot today, and now my arm hurts. I feel a bit whiny saying it, but it really does burn. My daughter got one at the doctor’s office, but I didn’t want to mess with getting the shot there iwthout an appointment for myself, so I said I would arrange it for later and we left. I ended up getting the shot at the pharmacy anyway, because they looked it up and said my insurance would cover it with no cost to me. As the clerk was giving me the shot, my daughter told him that she had made me hold her hand while she got her shot. I said, “That’s because I’m not a baby,” and he said “Yeah, she’s tough.” I like him, :).

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Bones has moved to Friday nights….I am so glad my mother reminded me! I love this show! I am a bit disappointed about the change, because we were watching it together on Monday nights when my mom came over for dinner, and there are so few shows that all of like to watch together. I am really looking forward to the new show Almost Human, though. There. If you didn’t already know that I am a huge nerd, it is now confirmed.

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This post will be shared at Half Past Kissin Time. How was your week?

Pinterest Inspiration

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Have I mentioned how awesome Pinterest is? I love it for ideas, but hate for sucking time away from my day. Overall, though, I find it actually does inspire me to do more. After a lot of time looking at awesome ideas and exploring fascinating blogs I find by clicking through to any one particular idea, I throw my hands up in the air and exclaim, “Gah! Must Do Something!”

I have a bad habit of dreaming big and not being able to actually choose a project to complete. I keep thinking there is another project out there that I would rather be doing, if only I knew about it, or remembered it. I become convinced that I have seen the most awesome project in the world recently, and I am just forgetting about it momentarily. This makes it hard to settle on a project. I know, it’s silly, but that’s the way I think. Having a virtual pin board to keep track of projects that I want to do is very helpful to me. I can look over all the projects and choose based on supplies I have available, or what I really want to do at any given time. Then, because I know I will still be able to see all the ideas when I choose my next project, I can stop thinking about them and focus on the project I have chosen.

So, I made a board called Crafts I Want to Do and started pinning like crazy. Then I actually started making a few things. I made a hat, and I have since made two more, increasing my crocheting confidence. Now I am making an afghan, which I have wanted to do ever since I was a little girl watching my grandmother make beautiful afghans for everyone in the family. I am only using one color and two types of stitches, but I am still very excited about it!

I have also found that I get a lot more done when I have a few quick projects to add in to the mix. It is easier to keep working at a big afghan when I take a break and make a few complete projects that take a lot less time. The past few months I have made magnets, Christmas ornaments and some cool bathroom tile coasters. Of course, I shouldn’t have left the coasters outside on a windy day to dry after putting on the sealant, but that’s ok, because they were quick. It’s a learning experience, right?

Lately I have started eyeing more and more complicated projects. There are complicated afghans and pillows to make, canvases to paint, and furniture to refinish. I have actually become somewhat fixated on this last item–I want to repaint some furniture, but I am nervous. I have been thinking I should scrounge up some furniture elsewhere before I attack my own furniture. What if I mess it up? I had a thought though–I can start with the old dresser in my son’s room. My mom bought it for me at a garage sale when I was young, and it has definitely seen better days. It needs a bit of repair to make the drawers slide better, then it is ready for a makeover. My son is on board with the idea, and he even wants to help, AND has color suggestions! He thinks we should paint it orange, than then paint on “lines and dots” in red, black and blue. What a creative guy! Plus, this dresser really can’t get much worse, so it is relatively low risk.

I want to do more ambitious carpentry, too. I would love to put a board and batten treatment on the bottom of the walls in my dining room, but I am nervous about installing it on the plaster walls. I would also like to do some built-in shelving and storage space in my family room to add “Office” and “Craft Room” to the official uses of the room (along with “Wii Space” and “For the Love of God, Will You Kids Please Go in the Other Room So the Grownups Can Talk Space”). These tasks are way beyond my current skill level, but it is so inspiring to see other people doing them!

In the meantime, if my efforts with my son’s dresser work out, we can paint the shelving units I currently have in the family room. I got them at an estate sale, and they look outdated, but a nice paint job would do wonders. I am envisioning apple green and lavender, but I don’t know that will go well in my yellow and cranberry family room. Hmm, more painting may be in order. See what I mean about ambitious?

How do you settle on a project when there are so many choices demanding your attention?

Setting up a Budget Part One: Getting Started

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Lately, I am all about living intentionally. A few years ago I had fallen in a rut of work, dinner, tv during the week, and going with the flow on the weekends. This was not working for me in so many ways. Practically, I was always unprepared for everything. No water bottles at the soccer game, nothing to bring for lunch, so I was spending extra money at work, a messy house when people stopped by. Personally, I was wasting so much time on things that didn’t really matter to me. I actually spent time channel surfing and settling on shows I didn’t really care about, and in that same time frame, I didn’t do crafts or writing because I was convinced I just didn’t have time for that. Professionally, I was finding that I wasn’t as organized or proactive as I used to be, which is disastrous for a project manager. My life was a mess.

Over the last year or so, I have been trying to change all that. The first thing I did was go to the doctor to get a prescription for my Attention Deficit issues. The problems I was having with completing tasks or organizing my life were beyond normal, and I could remember having them all my life. I actually had a wide range of coping skills that helped some, but not all the way. I could master one or two areas of my life for a while, but when I would try to add something else, one of the original balls would fall. See the brilliant chart at the beginning of this Hyerbole and a Half post (heck, read the whole thing! It’s all brilliant!) for a completely accurate portrayal of the first 20 or so years of my adulthood. It is a really funny story (at least in Allie’s hands), but an exhausting way to live life. Other people manage to do things. So, I went off to the doctor, and she totally agreed that medication might help me. I was excited, my life would be in order!

That night, I broke my hand, :(.

No matter, after surgery and physical therapy, I got on board with my life organizing path. I started menu planning. I do laundry regularly now. I started recording the TV shows that I wanted to watch. If I skipped over them too many times when choosing what to watch, I erased them. Now that I don’t watch as much tv, I am much more picky about what I watch. I am caught up on most tasks at work. I crochet. I am able to take the kids to special events they are interested in, or do other fun things with them. I started writing for Gaming Angels. Life still isn’t perfect, but it is more manageable. I do more of the things that I want to do, the things that are important to me.

Now that I am starting to feel that I have some basic organization under control, I am feeling the need to do something about my finances. They are not in terrible shape–I am contributing to my 401K to get the company match, I don’t carry credit card debt–but they are not in good shape exactly, either. My savings account is so anemic I almost might not even bother to keep it. I am constantly coming to the end of my fiscal month with barely enough money to limp along to the next paycheck. Then, when I get paid, I have built up shopping needs, so I go out and spend just a bit too much money.

This is ridiculous, because I make pretty good money. Not wealthy money, but more than enough to get by, save some money and have a few extras. It is true that my mortgage payment is high, but there is no doubt in my mind that my paycheck-to-paycheck living is solely due to the fact that I am just not paying attention to where my money goes. I am coasting along, not doing what I want to do with my money because I am not being intentional. I am committing now to working up a real budget. I wrote out all of my recurring bills, and I am looking at what I can do to reduce those. I don’t think we actually need 400 Uverse channels for instance, and it is past time to cancel the Consumer Reports account I got when I was researching a car purchase nearly three years ago. There are a few other changes I can make, too.

Once I am done with that, I am going to work on setting up a monthly amount to budget for other categories, like groceries, eating out/going out with friends, kids allowance, books, household items, gas, and whatever else we need to get. I want to start saving as much as possible. My first goal will be a much bigger emergency fund. I also want to start a vacation fund, so that we can go on a vacation that doesn’t necessarily involve camping. Not that we are going to stop camping; I just want to do something else, too.

This will be a work in progress, but I feel better about at least starting to focus on this. All of my organization up to this point has put me in a position to be more successful here, too. I have good habits for bringing my lunch to work, and cooking at home, for instance. I am building on what I already have done to make my life even more what I want it to be.

Decorating Projects: Living Room

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I have decided to start my decorating project list in my living room for two reasons:

  1. It is the first room people see when they come into the house, and the room where we spend a lot of our time.
  2. It needs the smallest amount of work (because, see reason number 1).
I already got a head start on this one. I have a couch set up in the room in such a way that there is in empty space behind it. When you put things back there, you can’t see them when you are sitting and relaxing in the room, but it is practically the first thing you see when you walk into the house. This is a spot that tends to collect stuff. The reusable grocery bags waiting to go back to the car and the kids shoes, while not strictly great looking, are not a huge problem, but the stuff I am decluttering out of the rest of the house does contribute to a mess back there. I go through other rooms in the house, bagging up extra clothes, books, old toys, whatever, and it all goes behind the couch. In theory, I am supposed to take this stuff out to the car the next time I go, but in practice, it piles up until it drives me crazy. Then, it seems to collect granola bar wrappers and dirty socks, which make me crazy every time I make any attempt at cleaning it up. So, a couple of weeks ago, I cleared it all out one more time. It is beautiful back there!
Now, for the rest of the room.
  1. Wash the couch. The dog likes to sit on the couch, and it doesn’t really look very nice anymore. I need to figure out what to do–I think I can take the slip covers off and throw them in the washer, but I am not sure.
  2. Declutter–end table, storage cube, bookshelves. There is not a huge amount of clutter in these areas, but they aren’t clear and peaceful, either.
  3. Hang picture. I have a picture that hung on my wall using 3M’s velcro picture hangers for two and a half years with no problem. Then suddenly, it fell down, scaring the heck out of me. I figured the velcro was just old, so I got new hangers, but apparently the picture has gotten heavier over the years, because it fell again within a week. Time for some serious picture hanging, I think. Also, maybe I should dust more. Ahem.
  4. Get some sort of shelving unit for behind the couch to hold our stuff. Or table. Something. One idea is this set of shelves I saw at Office Depot. I could get some canvas baskets to hide the clutter, and the kids could put their shoes and school stuff on the shelves, so it would look like an organizational system rather than a big pile of junk.
  5. Get new cords for the wall sconces so that they actually work.
  6. Consider a coffee table. On the one hand, I like the openness in the middle of the room. On the other hand, we have no place to set drinks down.
  7. Fix handle on the outside door. The kids have let this door bang shut behind them so many times that it doesn’t work correctly anymore. Pushing on the handle from the inside or turning it from the outside doesn’t pull in the stopper so that the door opens. The only way to open it is to carefully push the little lever in and gently push it past the door jamb, so we have to prop it open using the lock when we leave the house so that we can get back in.
  8. Re-cover the chair cushion in which the dog has torn a hole.
  9. Think about painting. I like the wall color in there, actually. When I first looked at the house, I thought it was a strange color, but once I moved my furniture in, I liked the color a lot better. I am okay with leaving the wall color alone for awhile, but I would like to do something about the ceiling. It is painted white now, which is nice because the ceiling in the living room, which was a late addition to the house, is a bit lower than the other ceilings on the first floor. However, there are nice beams that I think would benefit from some kind of contrasting color to make them stand out. I actually have a few different ideas for what to do with the ceiling:
    1. Paint the beams a dark brown, possibly with some kind of wood grain effect.
    2. Leave the beams white, and paint the insets navy blue, with some kind of star effect. GloNation has glow-in-the-dark paints and powders, plus a tutorial on how to create various effects on their site. I think this could be very fun, but I don’t want it to look too cheesy. The zodiac stenciling kits lmight be a cool way to do this, but I wonder about using a stencil on a textured ceiling. How hard is it to keep the paint from bleeding out when the stencil cannot get flush to the entire surface?
    3. Leave the beams white, paint the insets silver.
  10. Replace the ugly ceiling fan. I like having a fan in the room, but I really hate the way that this one looks, plus, I couldn’t fit the globe over the light once I replaced the incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb. So, I need a nicer looking fan with a light, but it still needs to not hang down too far, because of the low ceiling in there.
  11. Get some plants. Plants make a room healthy, by creating more oxygen, but also by removing toxins from the air.
  12. Organize coat closet.

As I went through the room deciding on every little thing I could do to make the room nicer, I found a lot more to do than I thought I would! This is one of the nicer rooms in my house, one that I have spent more time decorating than most others, and there are still a lot of things to do. Honestly, I could have come up with even more tasks, but I want to create a list that I might finish in some reasonable period of time. It makes the room sound like a disaster, but I actually think it is a pretty nice room. I like the furniture, I kind of love the copper colored insulated curtains, and I found the perfect metal sculpture for above the TV right after we moved in.

My plan for now is to start with the cheap and easy items: declutter, hang the picture, wash the couch somehow, organize the coat closet. It will be nice to knock a few items off the list, and it will give me some time to make some decisions on things like what to do with the ceiling and whether or not to buy a coffee table.

Also, I think I need to change this project name–it started out looking at decorating, but as I started making lists, I realized that this is also a maintenance list. Things like replacing a door handle or getting new cords for my wall sconces will make the room look nicer, true, but they are not strictly speaking decorating. This is a great place to keep track of them, though.

Home Decorating Projects

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When I bought my house three years ago, there were many things I was excited about. It is bigger than the apartments we had been living in, it has storage in the basement, I have my own washer and drier, it has a yard (a bit of a mixed blessing actually–yard work is not really my thing), and we don’t share any walls with another apartment. The biggest thing I was excited about, though, the thing that came up in nearly every conversation about the new house, was that once I took possession, I could paint the walls any color I wanted. No landlord could require stark white or boring beige; it would all be up to me.

I did start painting almost as soon as I had possession. The night before the movers brought the furniture, I painted the one room that had a color I could not stand, June Day, to a prettier yellow that I loved, Lemon Butter. The walls in the family room are plaster, and the texture was incredibly hard to paint. I painted for 4 hours. Some friends stopped by and even helped for a while, but I was still exhausted when I finished. So, when I saw that I would need a second coat, I decided it would have to wait. I had the big move the next day, so I needed to rest. I had big painting plans, anyway, I would get back to it.

You can guess how much painting I have done since then, I am sure. I did paint a nice abstract canvas for the big wall in my living room, but none of the walls have seen a brushstroke of paint. I have plans, though! Well, sort of. I have ideas that occur to me every once in a while. I have vague color ideas, and somewhat ambitious decorating schemes to go with my new painting. But, I am not making much progress.

Who am I kidding? I am not making any progress.

Enter this blog, which I use almost exclusively to shame myself into actually doing the things I set out to do, and a new feature, where I will start making plans and holding myself accountable for them. The plan is to take a room at a time, make a list of what I want to do t0 redecorate, and then come back and report on my progress. I am not promising that I will work on one room to completion before starting another room, because that is a little too straightforward for me. But, having a master plan for each room should help me to keep making progress. I am going to try to pick projects that I can do myself pretty cheaply, because my kids insist on eating every day and then growing out of their clothes, which gets very expensive, but I know there a few things I will need to hire someone for, mostly electrical work.

I’ll be coming back soon with a plan for the master bedroom, or maybe the kitchen, but does anyone have any general tips for me?