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Back to the Basics

As I stated in a previous post, I’m coming off a season of slacking a bit in the organization area. So this week, to get myself back in gear, I’m getting back to my to-do lists.  I don’t really like to-do lists; I don’t like feeling beholden to a little piece of paper. Yet, much as I hate to admit it, I really do stay focused on and actually remember what I need to do when I write things down. It has to stay. This week I’ve been making mine on a little yellow note pad and plopping it down on the first flat surface (my little “easy-going” rebellion – I may have to use a list, but I don’t always have to know where it is).  As I studied other’s use of the to-do lists, hyper-organized types suggest listing items in the order in which they should be completed. Some even insist on listing the hours at which items should be completed. But since I am a reluctant to-do list-er, I just list things quickly the night before, review it in the morning to add or delete, then do things in any order I wish – my “easy-going” compromise. See my rules for the to-do list here.

Another item I’ve revisited this week is the Master Schedule. This is a little on the hyper-organized side, but it really is helpful for me, and of course, I add my “easy-going” touch.  The idea of the “Master Schedule” comes to me from Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Life, Get Organized and Stay That Way. The idea behind it is to have clearly laid out your weekly routine – schedules and things that need to get done at the same time or the same day each week. I started out by taking my trusty yellow notepad and simply listing everything my family and I  have scheduled and everything that must be accomplish week after week. Next I borrowed a cute little print-out from iheartOrganizing and started plugging things into the calendar.

Master Schedule

I started with the things that have definite times. Then I added the things that had to get done on a particular day. My easy-going twist is that I didn’t assign this second group of items a particular time. I like knowing what I have to do each day while having the freedom to get it done in my own time. I’m feeling more organized already.

 

 

Another Week, Another Goal

This week I’m getting back to the basics of organizing.  I’m going to be working on my schedule.  I will be revisiting my to-do list, re-working my master schedule, and getting myself back into a (flexible) routine that will help our household run more efficiently.

A Lesson in Completion

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Well, I did it.  I found a place for my flower-y china, and it doesn’t look half-bad.  I kept a couple of my existing teapots to balance out the flower-power, and I must admit that it is a vast improvement over the previous arrangement on these shelves.  I had attempted to make this area look cute, but it wound up being the catch-all for things we just didn’t want to deal with (next week’s project – dealing with those thing I just don’t want to deal with – haha).  Most importantly, that spot on my bedroom floor where the dishes had taken up residence is now empty.

Image Ta-da!

I learned a lesson here. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, which unfortunately, often translates into me just not completing anything. That may seem a bit oxymoronic, but allow me to explain. Whenever I have a project I want to complete I start by thinking about it.  It may take a day, maybe a week, maybe two months . . . then I finally have a perfect vision in my head.  Unfortunately, it is often a little unrealistic.  For example, while trying to decide where to place these dishes I looked at pictures and planned and came up with a glorious vision of the perfect mix between modern, country and antique. However, to realize this look required repainting and wall-papering, sanding down the kitchen cabinets to paint and add pulls, and hey, I might as well re-do the counter-tops, fixtures and floors while I’m at it. I’m only half-exagerating; I really do get carried away. Then reality hits and the perfectionist in me wants to just keep it in that corner until I can “do it right”. Strangely, perfectionists can be quite disorganized for this very reason.

My organizing lesson is: just do it. Just organize those shoes in your closet with or without the perfect California Closets organizer, put those dishes on a shelf even if it isn’t painted the perfect color, place your important documents in the filing cabinet even if you haven’t got that ideal filing system created. I have my life to re-decorate and work out the kinks. If I just do it, I can have order now.

Goals and China

Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything.  I don’t feel like changing or pushing or improving or organizing. In such times I just do what I need to in order to keep us all together – keeping the house clean, keeping us fed, keeping our schedules moving . . . It works; things don’t fall apart, but they don’t improve either.  That is where I have been for the past year or so – just doing what I need to keep us together. It’s not laziness. I’ve been plenty busy homeschooling, feeding, and scheduling four kids as well as attempting to be a wife, but I’m ready to step it up again.  I’m ready to start improving and get us functioning once more at our best.

At the beginning of the year it is common to reflect upon the past year and make goals for the upcoming one. 2013 was a good year – we moved into a new home, I had an amazing garden that kept me incredibly busy all summer, boys #1 and #2 started piano, boy #3 learned to read, little girl became “mama” (her words) to a guinea pig name Claw (yup, she’s a girl with 3 older brothers), and I started drinking coffee (that’s good, right?). But as I look around my home, I still haven’t achieved that level of best-function I had in our previous house. I pretty much unloaded the boxes last January, threw things on the shelves, and that is where things have stayed whether or not it works. Other things aren’t functioning to the level I desire either and for better or worse, as mom, it’s all on me – I set the tone, the order/chaos level at home, the schedules. . . This brings me to my goals for this year, 2014 (yes, I realize it’s late January, but whatever). They are:

1) Get my house organized, not just unpacked.

2) Do a little decorating (the boxes with decor, I’m ashamed to say, have sat unpacked for a year in the stairwell closet).

3) Organize and prioritize our family schedule.

3) Feed my family “cleaner” this year (more whole foods and grains, less refined sugars and flours).

4) Run another marathon (I’ve got my sights set on August).

5) Make an effort to connect more with my husband as my “buddy” and love, not just the co-parent.

6) Really enjoy my kids and all the chaos that they bring.

7) Push myself to grow spiritually (memorizing more scripture, becoming intentional about my prayer-life)

Hey, that’s not lofty is it?

So, back to the ole’ blog to chronicle my organizing progress and keep myself accountable and moving forward.  Here’s this week’s project (it’s going to make my husband so happy):

There’s a little backstory here, so hang on folks. My mother-in-“love” (as she likes to say) has three sons. She’s also a dish-lover and inherited three sets of china from her mother. Sons aren’t so interested in china so before her boys left home she determined that set A would go to the wife of the first married, set B to the second, and set C to the third. I’m lucky wife number one, even though I married the middle son. Shortly after our marriage she showed me “my” dishes and informed me that when Paul and I had been married 25 years they would be mine. Well, we celebrated are 15th anniversary last May, and this year my mother-in-love gifted me those dishes 10 years early. Here’s a sample:

Dishes 2

And, here they have sat, on my bedroom floor for the past month.

Dishes 1

Now I have to admit that I’m really not a flowery-pink girl, but I love what they represent; a woman I’ve grown to love dearly and a treasure I will be able to pass on to my daughter to remember her grandmother by (yeah, yeah, I ended with a preposition – so what?). This week, it’s time to get this set off the floor and find it a permanent home in my kitchen. I’ll keep you posted.

Thrifty-Tip Thursday: It’s Yard Sale Season!

The sun is out and the days are (sometimes) warm. It’s yard sale season. For the “Thrifty-Tip Thursday” revival, here are my yard-sale shopping tips:

1 – Make a List:  I have started a list of things I need/want for the house, yard or children.  These are all things I don’t mind buying used. I’m not going to add “underwear for the boys” to the list.  This helps me think through what I would like to look for when I’m out, and even if I impulsively follow a yard sale sign when I’m without my list, I have it in my mind because I took the time to write it down.

2 – Timing: I have two favorite times to hit yard sales: Friday morning and Saturday afternoon. On Friday morning the atmosphere is casual and pleasant. Those who run the yard sales are usually still in a good mood and are likely to budge some on their prices with those who are friendly.  The selection is also at its peak on Friday morning. On Saturday afternoon the sellers are done and generally just want to get rid of things. This is when you can get the best bargains. The draw-back is most of the “good stuff” is already gone.

3 – Engage the Sellers: First, making conversation with the sellers is just more fun.  But also, to reveal an ulterior motive, when I have been pleasantly engaging the seller while I browse, they are a lot more likely to negotiate on prices.

4 – Know Your Prices:  When I look at my list of items created in step 1, I always have in mind a price I am willing to pay for a used item. I will not pay for a used item within even a few dollars of what I can get it for new on a good sale.  For example, I will not spend more than $2 on clothing for the kids, and it needs to be in pretty good condition if I’m going to pay that (I usually try to stay under a dollar).  I am a bargain shopper and I know I can find new clothing on the sales rack at Old Navy, Target or Children’s Place under $5, so I won’t pay much for a used article of clothing.

5 – Know What You’ll Use it For:  Don‘t buy anything at a yard sale unless you know exactly what you are going to do with it.  If I buy something because I think it is cute and might be able to find a place for it, chances are it is going to wind up in my yard sale next spring.

6 – Ask for a Lower Price: Most sellers expect to negotiate, so I almost always make a reasonable offer. The worst that can happen is he or she will say no and then I’ll decide whether it’s worthwhile to pay the sticker price. The important thing is to be friendly about it. A pushy offer will almost always be rejected.

If you have your own yard sales tips, let me know!  I’d love to hone my skill. 🙂

Maybe This Time . . .

My husband said to me the other day, “You know, I kind of liked it when you were working on your blog.”  Code:  “You’ve really let things slide, lady.”  🙂 So I spent a few minutes looking at my past posts (way past, I know!) and I think I’m inspired again. I also felt a little nostalgia for our old home where I had things pretty well under control.  Boy, it’s hard to move!  Yes, things are put away, but I just don’t feel like we’re functioning at our best.  I’ve been WAY to easy-going lately. It’s time I got moving and organizing (and blogging) again.

So you don’t think I’ve just been lazing around, I’ll let you in on what I have accomplished over the past month or so.  The weather here is finally getting nice (kind of – Idaho is pretty unpredictable in the Spring – one day will be 75 and the next we’ll get snow).  As soon as there is sun and some warmth to go with it I can hardly stand it and just have to be outside. Our new home has a HUGE yard that had been neglected, so my husband and I have been doing all kinds of trimming and weeding.  But this is my baby:

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If you look carefully in the far right corner you’ll see something that made me jump for joy – RASPBERRIES! In my previous garden I tried several times to plant raspberries with no success, so I was ecstatic to discover these well-established raspberry vines. The only problem is they too had been neglected.  Here’s an up-close look at what I had to work with.

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A little on-line search yielded this very helpful video on trimming raspberries.

Then, donned with garden gloves and armed with trimmers I got to work. Several raspberry-prickle slivers later (along with some serious hand-cramping), this is the result:

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The garden area needed some serious care, so every free minute I spent weeding and digging up grass (which I actually enjoy – I just love dirt!), and even managed to get a little help from the kids. When the weeds were out, I harpooned my wonderful father into bringing over his rototill to work his magic.  Isn’t it purrrty?

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I have planted some frost-tolerant vegetables (peas, swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage), but I’m waiting until May 11, one day after our last recorded frost, in order to plant the rest.  I’m so excited! I’m particularly excited about this:

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Fruit trees!  I have a little orchard!  Can you blame me for not wanting to being inside?

School Room Finished

I admit, I’ve lost steam on blogging.  But I am trying to keep going because having the accountability really pushes me to keep going on all these house projects.  I completed the school room a couple weeks ago, but was negligent in posting.  Here is the completed, and much better product:

ImageTo help me, I used what I learned from organizing my pantry and created zones for the school room shelves and cabinets.  I have a few dream projects to add:  a chalkboard, a floor-pad to keep our tables and chairs from sliding all over, labels. . . but that will be for another day.  For now, we are completely functional, and more importantly, I can find what I need.

Next up: my bathroom.  Details later.