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Tag Archives: organization

Such as it Is

Decorating has never been my strong suit. I will never have a home featured in a magazine layout. My home decor style can be described as “Stuff I Like and Stuff People Have Given Me that I Don’t Hate”.  It’s very eclectic, which is fancy for (shout out to all those Fancy Nancy fans), “completely random, serving no cohesive purpose”.  So, here goes.  I have completed (mostly) my decorating goals.  Don’t judge.

Area one: The kitchen corner shelf, aka, “the place I shove stuff I don’t know what to do with” (Yes, I know, don’t end with a preposition, but “stuff with which I don’t know what to do” sounded a bit pretentious).

I tried to keep it clean and simple with a few pieces I like.  The big yellow bowl just makes me happy (Thanks Eunie!), and the “Gentle” tile always needs to be on display where I can see it as a constant reminder for how I need to interact with my children.

Area two: The shelf, aka, “the hand-me-down from my sister I love, but haven’t decided what I should use it for”

Not only are my decorating skills lacking, but so are my photography skills. My apologies for the poor photos. Here I merely added a few things I like, framed pictures with sentimental value, and a basket at the bottom for function (I’ll probably look for a taller one, but this works for now).

Area three: The bathroom wall, aka, “the bathroom wall”.

Before – blank, after – not blank.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Area four: Another blank wall, aka, “yup, it’s empty”.

I’ve always wanted a photo collage wall, so I did one.  It’s not Pinterest worthy, but I like it. My favorite people star here along with a few pieces that just seem right.

I have one more room to go, so I didn’t quite get it all done. This next week (and I mean “week” quite loosely), my project is to complete that one final room, our living room. It is the one room in our house that has a fresh coat of paint, so I would like to spend some time getting it right.

 

Unofficial Projects

I haven’t posted for a couple weeks, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. Since I haven’t officially been doing any organizing projects, I thought I would give a quick re-cap of some of what I have been doing and share my very limited knowledge or the resources I’ve used.

Project #1 – I started my garden. Well, the seedlings for my garden. Though our sunny weather has been tempting me to get out and plant in the ground, I’m resisting because March in Idaho still freezes pretty hard at night. We are starting to see a little bit of green popping up!

Plants

I’m not even close to being a gardening expert, but this is what I do to get my seedlings started:

First, I determine what to start and when to start it.  Most plants shouldn’t be planted outside until the danger of frost has passed, which is around the beginning of May in my area. A quick look at the back of your seed packets will determine when and where you should start your seeds.  Many seeds will instruct direct sowing, which means planting them directly into your outside soil.  I wait on most of these until May. I might plant some cooler weather plants (peas, broccoli, lettuce, beats . . .) a bit earlier. Other packets suggest beginning indoors 6 – 8 weeks prior to planting.  Typically, I stick with my tomatoes, my peppers, and sometimes my cucumbers to begin indoors. This year I also started a few grasses and flowers for fun. My friend over at Kate’s Kitchen Garden begins a lot more than I do a lot earlier because she likes to get a jump on her garden (for serious gardening advice check out her blog). It all depends upon how much work you want to put into it. If you start indoors early, you will have to do a lot more transplanting into larger pots before taking them outside.  I will transplant, especially the tomatoes because in my experience they really need to be larger than the planter allows in order to have a better chance of survival in the garden. But I don’t mind a later harvest, so I don’t plant but what is absolutely necessary indoors.

Next, I find what I will plant in.  This year I bought a seedling planter.  It’s convenient and easy to use and not terribly expensive.  In the past I have used egg cartons as starters. I also buy a bag of planting soil. I will dump it in a bowl, then slowly add water until the soil is damp but not saturated. Then I put the soil into the planters and make a small depression in each partition for seeds.  I will place 3 of 4 seeds in each partition just for a better chance, then thin each down to one sturdy plant later.  Finally, I cover the seeds with a little more soil and add just a little more water.  It is important to keep the soil damp at this stage, so if I have the store-bought planter I will use the lid on top as a sort of green-house and to keep in moisture while the seedlings are getting started.  I find a nice sunny place (usually by my kitchen window) and check daily to ensure the soil stays damp.

Project #2 – I started Dante Alighieri’s Inferno with my homeschool co-op literature class.

Inferno2

It was the class request (homeschool kids – sheesh), but we are having so much fun with this one.  I’m not sure if there is much of a market for resources for this text, but if needed, here is a link to one I have found particularly helpful (and free!) as I prepare.

Project #3 – We (and by we, I mean me – the hubby was on-board long ago) finally broke down and got the kids a puppy.  They have been wanting a dog for years. So after a little research and a lot of looking on Craigslist and in the paper we found a little labradoodle we’ve name Daisy.

Daisy

She’s awfully cute, but puppies really are a lot of work. We’ve been reading every article we can find and wading through all kinds of opposing views on how to and how not to train your puppy. We are new to puppies, so it can be confusing.  I’m still not sure if we are doing it right (check back with me in about a year or so), but click here for a link to an article on puppy training that seemed to present the least confusing method.

Project #4 – This is not really a project, but something to check off the to-do list.  We finally took the kids to the zoo!

 Kids at Zoo

There you have it . . . a sampling of what has kept me busy the past couple weeks.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

My sister-in-law over at Winged Wisdom (homeschool mom extraordinaire – someday she will be on a speaking tour and publishing her own curriculum), made a comment on my previous post that made me think. She asked whether anyone used an old fashioned desk for their “command center” anymore. I don’t have a desk, but I had to admit that maybe I was getting a little carried away with my plans (again).  Why not just keep it simple? So, rather than going with my somewhat elaborate ideas (see previous post), I kept a lot of what I already had with a few added touches.

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The wall above this little piece was already complete with the shelf for keys and magnet boards. I simply added the blue desk organizer, then cleaned out the top drawer to make it my new “junk drawer”. It previously held bibs and wash-rags for sticky little faces and fingers. My kids have outgrown both so it was time for the clean-out.

I did have two little moments of creativity (or complete cheapskate – you decide). First, I wanted pretty file folders, but I already had a big box of regular file folders and just couldn’t justify the purchase. So I made my own. I took wall paper samples from a discontinued wall paper book I was given, all in the same color scheme, and pasted them onto the front of the files. Boom – pretty file folders!

Plain files     Wallpaper books     Pretty Files

Second, I wanted some drawer organizers for my “junk drawer”. Rather than buy fancy organizers I decided to use something I already had. I found these unused plastic pencil boxes in my school room.

Plastic

Open them, place them in the drawer, add some labels. . . Boom – drawer organizers!

Drawer

Thanks for the inspiration, Julie!

Commanding Inspiration

I have been slowly working out my updated command center. I have, once again, gone searching to see what others have done that might suit my new space more effectively.  Here are some that I am drawing inspiration from.

Image

This from Clean and Scentsible is just plain clean and sensible. I plan to incorporate a wall file holder as she has done.

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Here is another straightforward, clean and simple command center from Simple As That.  My take from this is that I will be downsizing the visible command center components and incorporating a chalk or white-board for menus and grocery lists (that part of the project will probably be added next week).

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Finally, this command center from Organizing Homelife has inspired me to make use of the ample cabinet space I have in my new kitchen, so my paper trail is not always visible. I will be busy this weekend.

Back in Command

This week I am revisiting my “command center“.  The “command center” is the latest word for that place in our homes from which we keep track of and manage what is important – schedules, homework, budgets, bills, etc.  This is what I came up originally:

DSCF2332 DSCF2036 DSCF1921

After living with mine for well over a year, I have a few issues I need to deal with. First, in our move from one house to another, the spaces just didn’t transfer well. What was in reach and functioning well in our previous house is not compatible with our go-to space in this house.  Second, there are some things I simply don’t like about the way I set up my home-management system. For example, I don’t like having everything in a home-management binder, especially bills. It may sound terribly lazy, but when I get a bill in the mail I want someplace to just quickly toss it until bill-paying day rather then getting out my binder, finding the right tab for bills, then filing it. Some aspects I will keep, but this week I will be fine-tuning and changing things up a bit.

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.

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. 🙂

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.