Thursday, January 27, 2011

Desk Update...Finally

This post is seriously overdue.  Here's how it went down.  Hubby finally sold a car so I had the extra dough I needed to buy the desk. I didn't waste a single second. On New Years morning I sent Hubby on a 1 1/2 hour road trip (one way) to Ikea.  I got a call two hours later that they didn't have the whole desk in stock.  But, lucky for me they had the bookshelf half.  So he loaded up the boxed and made the trek back home.  $13.50 in toll fees later, (I got the bill in the mail a week later) he was home before noon and I got started.

With a little helper....

That's the furniture fairy in case you were wondering.  We were truckin along with the miniature tools that are included with the hardware. I was taking a break ever row because my index finger was bright red and becoming a bit calloused. 

I was this far along when Hubby decided to bring me his man tools.  He actually had a an allen bit that fit into a ratchet.  If you don't know what a ratchet is, its better than a drill when putting together furniture, fyi.

And, of course, the last bolt doesn't want to line up with the pre-drilled holes.  We wrestled with it the rest of the evening.  The bookcase won. I went to bed and in the morning, with a recharged battery, I won. 

Are you ready for the semi-final pic.  I saw "semi" because we still don't have the actual horizontal desk surface yet.  But take a look at how fantastic the bookcase turned out!

I'm still playing around with the arrangement of all my stuff.  It will all change around once the desk is attached. 

I'm so happy I finally shared the office progress with you all.  Until next time, happy cleaning.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All was well, until...

The title gives it away. I had a fantastic post to offer up and while I was just finishing my chores something horrible happened.  The telescoping wand on my vacuum stopped telescoping. And after a horrible snapping noise I found a broken plastic ring inside. After I removed the ring I could hear the low whistle of air escaping.   I'll be googling replacement parts this evening as a new vacuum is is not in our future. 

The silver lining is that this leads me to another important topic.  Its almost spring time (I know you folks up North are saying "yeah right").  But down here in the South certain grasses and trees are producing pollen ahead of spring flower blooms.  We live way out in the middle of a bunch of fields and farms and the pollen is making its way straight into our bedroom.  So, you know I clean ALL the time.  That is no shocker to all of you who read this blog. But I was shocked today when I tried something new.

The other day the kids were watching Mick Mouse Clubhouse and they were talking about how looking at the same things from different perspectives can make those objects look different.  Well I had planned to clean the ceiling fans today because of all the dust that had accumulated on the blades.  Once up on the step ladder I saw everything from a new perspective!! There was SO MUCH dust.  I spent the day on that that ladder (thus the telescoping wand injury).  It reminded me to take in a different perspective every now and then.  

I hope you all have settled into the New Year. I found myself wondering when the salutations of "Happy New Year" would end. And here we are one week away from February and I don't hear them anymore. 
There is a desk update and I will be sharing that with you all very soon. 

Happy Cleaning!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tackling the Toys

I already had another topic planned for the first week of the new year. That one is still coming. But this past week three things inspired me to also tackle kid's rooms and closets.  First there was Christmas. When all was said and done, every present unwrapped and the living room looked like it had been ambushed using wrapping paper as artillery, I was the one left to find a home for everything new. 

The second inspiration was that a very good friend of mine is having a baby.  She is FABULOUS in every sense of the word. She has big plans for her new little munchkins closet. But while looking good, things have got to be accessible, functional and versatile. The amount of "stuff" that baby's need and use still makes my head whirl and I've had two.  But what really is dumbfounding is how fast their rooms need to change and evolve into toddler, preschool and then kid rooms.

The third inspiration was another very best bud, who has a gradeschooler, is about to move into their very first home (YAHHH!) And her son needs some toy organization.

My son's room is still pretty sparse as far as decor goes, buy toys we have aplenty.

This is how I keep small toys separated.  Each bin holds specific toys. There is a bin for cars, blocks, music instruments, lovies, animals .... you get the idea.  This is the "go to" area for the kids.  We used to have a toy box when my daughter was a toddler. But toys would fall into the abyss of the bottom of the box.  With this cleaver idea, everything is visible and accessible. 

That's one handsome man there.... I know it's hard not to look at that face but see the big dump truck in the corner?? I like that big toys like that can also become part of the decor. They don't need a designated space.

And here is the closet. It is so much more than just a place to hang some clothes.  Notice the three bars for clothing.  One high rail can allow you to put a larger item or even furniture below until the kids clothes get bigger.  And don't discount the idea of stacking two rails (see the right side of the closet). That makes for great shirt and shoe storage for the big kids.

This basket is where we keep bulky toys.  This basket was the largest of three nesting baskets.  The smaller ones house shoes and socks respectively. 

These cubbies in the middle of the closet were, by far, the smartest thing the previous owners built.  I love them.  We used to have a bookshelf in the kids' room that stored all these books.  And in these cubbies I had canvas bins that held everything from larger size clothing that the kids weren't in yet, to extra diapers and wipes.  I have since gotten a large dresser for my son and diapers and wipes have a home in the laundry room.  I gave the bookshelves away.  And VIOLA! new bookshelves.  The kids love to pick out bedtime stories now.

Don't feel like you need to hire a carpenter or add a line to a "honey-do" list.  In our previous home I achieved the same thing by purchasing these wire frame bins from Target.  

And below the books, front and center, we have large and frequently used toys.  While sometimes I feel like I'm going to start drooling on myself in a corner somewhere if I hear another song the toys sing, I think a worse feeling is the one I get thinking to myself how much money I spent on toys my kids don't play with.  Keeping toys minimized and highly visible allow the kids to see everything and play more easily.  Many times when kids aren't playing with their toys its because either they cant find all the pieces or they are overwhelmed with everything around them.  Simplify: you won't be the only one benefiting.

Until next time...which will be very soon.  Happy New Year Everyone! There's lots to do.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Full Swing of Things

So I'm making dinner right now - meatloaf tonight! - and as I was pulling supplies out of my pantry I wanted to write a quick post at the same time.  I want to show you a few things about my own pantry that help to keep me organized and save money at the grocery store.

Where I find many people have problems beginning the organization process is finding a starting point.  What I try to do is pair like items.  In order to show you what I'm talking about I'm going to walk you through how my pantry is separated.  First of all, what you can't see (until you see the next picture) is that there is a right side to this pantry.  This side that we're looking at now is my breakfast/lunch/snack side and the right side is dedicated to dinner/baking and supplies. Now, I've broken this down even further.  On the top left shelf I keep breakfast cereals, and on the top right boxed pasta.  I put these up top because their large boxes make them easy to see.  I'm short, so the top shelf is reserved for large, visible items. The next shelf you can sort of see that the left side has a shallow return to it; I keep snacks there.  Its visible for the kiddos and easy for me to just reach in and pull out raisins, or popcorn or whatever.  Then I have (left to right) crackers, chips, quick oats, oatmeal then we get into rices.  The next shelf is for breads, tortillas, and to the right there is peanut butter and back up jars of applesauce and pickles.  See the round thing?? Some of you may remember those as spice racks, I use/used it as a baby food holder. AMAZING! I put breakfast foods on top and dinner foods on the bottom and it worked wonders.  Now that my baby isn't really a baby any more I'm phasing it into my tortilla holder. Smart, huh? And you can see that sodas are on the bottom shelf, in that basket I keep odd powdered drinks like kool aid and lemonade.  So you can sort of see my distinction here between grains as well as items that would typically be used in association with other items. 

This side is the dinner/baking and supply side.  The top shelf is dedicated to items that are not used often.  The next shelf (from the left) has canned goods and then baking needs. The next has dry seasonings such as slow cooker packets, shake n bake, and soup mixes. Oils. And then Ziploc, cling wrap and tin foil.  The white tub on the far right houses all of our over the counter and prescription meds.  Its high enough the kids can't reach and its deep enough they can't even see whats inside.  The last shelf you can see I have two baskets of kitchen towels. The one on the left is bar towels that I use for cleaning. The basket on the right keeps the hand towels. I know you think I'm crazy now... Then I have kitchen bags that my son likes to pull out. Tucked in the corner is my stash of grocery bags (we are not that green). I like to use these for small trash cans in the bathrooms.  And the big box on the floor is our cardboard recycling but it doubles as endless fun for my toddler.

Before I go to the grocery store I plan the whole weeks dinners.  I write at the top of the page the dinners then I make a list of ingredients needed.  I go to the pantry and the refrigerator and cross off all the items I already have.  Then I have my list and I go shopping. Having my pantry organized so I can see what I have saves so much money because I'm not buying something I already have.  For working wives and moms, this will save you so much time! Make your dinner list the night before, check your supplies and get your shopping done quick the next day.

The other reason I wanted to write about this topic ( I know I've hit on it before) is because next week there will be a lot of places in our communities planning on making Christmas dinners for people who need a place to go or a free meal.  You can do a very small thing by cleaning out your pantry and in turn be someone else's Christmas miracle.  If you don't know where to donate, look up your local Catholic parish, many have a St. Vincent De Paul pantry. 

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Until next time...


P.S. oh, btw, the desk is coming. we didn't get it last weekend but my hopes are still high!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Office: the update

I can hardly contain myself. You think by this age I'd learn not to get my hopes up but I feel like a seven year old. I'm wondering if Christmas is coming early for me today!!

I told you in the last post that Hubby changes cars like he does socks. Well a deal might be going down today! And that means my we will go pick up my new desk this weekend!

If I sit and think about this too much I begin to examine what I am really getting excited about...the hours of frustration that will occur putting this huge desk together. Not to mention the countless interruptions from the little people.  Oh. Last but not least, putting all the junk up and realizing I need to spend even more money to get it to look just the way I want. I LIVE FOR THIS! Its progress people.  I've figured out that nothing in life is ever complete, it's all just progress.

I heard an amazing thing last night from Betty White of all people and I think everyone needs to meditate on this idea, "Don't look back and say 'that was great. I wish I would have appreciated it then as much as I do now.'" She said, "realize its great and appreciate it now."  We all turn into horses in December. You know how horses were those blinders on their eyes so all they can see is what is in front of them and nothing distracts them? Well, come December we all put on the blinders, where all we can see is Christmas and we ignore everything going on around us and just try to make it to the finish line.  Is this you? Are you just now realizing it's you?

I really hope you all are enjoying the little things going on around you. That you appreciate the little things you have and remember those that have not. 

Until next time....slow down and smell the pine trees!


P.S. I'll let you know if we get the desk! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Office Project: End of the Year

So, first I need you all to understand that since February of this year my family and I have been living out of boxes. Did you know that? Yep. And for a few months this summer in the midst of my hubby's work transfer we were shacking with family. Thank the good Lord that only lasted two and a half months because any longer and we might not be on speaking terms.  I might be exaggerating but I certainly didn't want to overstay our welcome and I was eager to get back to our family routines. Anyway, So we have been in our new house now for 5 months this week (where has the time gone!) and the last room still to be unpacked and settled is my home office. 

This weekend I began getting the room ready for the desk's mid-December arrival. (hoping!) This task quickly turned into something much greater than just making space for a desk. Something that had completely escaped me until this moment and then inspired this very post. It's the End of the Year. It is time to get our paperwork in order for the next 12 months. To set aside important tax documents. To make sure policies are current and placed in a safe location.  This is HUGE! And easy - or at least I hope I can show you how to make it easy. 

So I'm going to start by showing you some pictures of the office. Note that these are actually after shots. I have a lot of work ahead of me but this is what I live for.  I also hope that this dispels any illusions you have of my home as being a perfect clutter free environment. That is so false. But I try and this room is the black sheep of the house.

Are you shocked?? 

I picked up these bookshelves at Target for 30 bucks. It's functional, not gorgeous. But my hope is when its all said and done the bookshelves are simply a blank canvas to all of my treasures.  You also get a glimpse into my foyer though that door. 

This big, empty wall is where the desk will go. I know it doesn't look very big but with all the stuff in the way i couldn't get a good angle to take the picture. That miniature french door leads to the kitchen - cute huh?

And here (with the mini french door to the left) is my secretary.  I adore this piece of furniture. ahh.

Now I'm going to show you the central nervous system of our family's filing system.

Tidy, huh? This milk crate thing that the files are sitting in is my temporary travel container. But all the files are still relevant.  Here is a breakdown of subjects for the files. In front, the first one is titled work. this is where Hubby sticks all of his pay stubs. There are several times when your asked to show prior months pay stubs. A recent example for us is purchasing our new home. But I like to keep these things to keep track of vacation available and other pertinent information provided on these things.  Next is labeled 'Kids.'  Here I keep the kiddos shot records and school handbooks.  Next file is 'Dogs,' in which I keep vaccination records and AKC information.  Now a big one, 'House Invoices.'  I am not talking about bills here. I'm referring to things at our home which require quarterly or annual renewals such as our septic system maintenance or pest control contracts.  When the new one comes these get replaced.  Next file is for 'car titles.'  Those of you that know my Hubby know that he changes cars as frequently as he does socks.  So we keep these handy for the next sale/trade/barter.  And finally I have a file for items that I want to put in scrapbooks.  
Now for the next shocking photo:

This is all the junk I pulled out of it to shred.  All of this paperwork had been accumulated over the past 12 months and by simply going through it and purging the items that were outdated or obsolete I reduced the amount of paperwork we have by at least 80%. 

I mentioned bills earlier and this is how I keep bills organized...

I plan on getting an accordion folder that is a bit more attractive but this does the job. I keep each months bills in this folder and that way if i ever question paying a bill its here.  I never put a bill in here unless it has been paid. At the end of the year I put all of the year's bills into a zip lock bag and keep them for one more year.  Unlike taxes that you must keep for 7 years - if there is going to be a discrepancy in paying a bill it will usually be in the next 4-6 months.

Some of you may be thinking about the more important paperwork such as homeowners insurance, auto and life insurance, wills, tax information, birth/death/marriage paperwork and home valuables receipts and warranties. I keep all of that in their own folders inside of our fireproof safe.  Obviously, I'm not going to share that in the www for all to see. 

I hope that these labels though help you shuffle though what to keep and what not to keep. And I like the motto that if I haven't needed, seen or used it in the last six months - it needs to go. Now is a great time to start your new year off on an organized foot. If you have any questions about how to adapt filing to your personal needs post your questions. Until next time, Happy Cleaning!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project: Home Office

That's right! We're going to start our first project together, my home office!

The delay in starting this project until now has been finding (and being able to afford) the right desk for my needs.  I have an existing secretary that must stay in this room. If your eyebrow just raised, a secretary is a type of hutch and base where the center area folds down into a small writing surface.  I bought this gorgeous unit several years ago when I first moved to Atlanta. I love it! Anyway, finding something compatible is priority.

As far as function, I need a place not only to store items that don't need to be seen I also want a space to display a lot of my nick-knacks and chatchkis. I want something that will be able to store books, baskets and boxes. My electronic needs are not extensive. I have a desktop that I want to hook up as well as a printer, that's it. 

After MONTHS of looking this is what I have settled on:

It's Ikea. I have bought several pieces from them over the years and have always been impressed with how well they hold up considering the price.  I know its not exactly fine furniture, but I figure with two little ones I don't need to spend a whole lot of money on something that will probably have a princess sticker on it within 24 hours.

This office is going to be MY room. No kids allowed. I know Husband won't come in if that's where the bills are.  Bills are like his kryptonite.  This room is going to reflect all the books, pictures, artwork and other artsy, feminine things I have collected over the years.  This will be a place I can go to read, work and get inspired.  I can't wait to start this project and I am so happy you all are coming along. Your comments are always welcome. And there are two incredible designers that have always been my sounding board that I will particularly be interesting in hearing input from. ;)

Until next time, when I show you some scary pictures of what we're working with, Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Ooo. Also I'll be posting pictures from Christmas decorating here shortly after turkeyday!