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!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Give a Little Love

Have you been bitten with the Holiday Bug yet?  Well maybe after reading this post about giving (and clearing out space doing so) you'll be more inclined to find the holiday station on the radio.

I know the next few weeks can be the craziest time of year for many of us. Especially those of you that actually host the holidays at your home, God bless your hearts.  But this is also the perfect time of year to clean out a few places in your home and make room for the goodies coming your way next month.

The Pantry -

If you look around you will find many places that are in need of food this time of year. Several churches collect food for food banks and soup kitchens. But one of my favorite places to donate canned and dry good to is the local senior center or retirement homes.  Our elderly are often forgotten when it comes to donations and food donations are a huge blessing.  Also, If you're feeling extra giving go sit with them and enjoy a cup of coffee. I promise you won't regret it and you'll probably hear a good story. If you have little ones, have them make a card or ornament. Maybe you teach them about giving through a Bible verse. Have them take it to the seniors. Your little people will warm their hearts and you'll teach the kids a great lesson too.

Closets -

Just open the door and take a look. I'll tell you what is in my hall closet: my vacuum, a couple of pictures I have no place for in the new house, a space heater, and board games. Does that sound familiar?? How about blankets and towels?? Clothes that you'll never wear again? As long as these things are gently used you can donate what you will not be using anymore.  Ask for a new set of towels for Christmas. Get new, age appropriate board games for the kids.  And that brings us to ...

Toys -

Get older kids involved or send little ones to Granny's for the afternoon. Grab a big box and dig in. There are several ways to recycle toys. Do you have a family friend you can pass them down to? a church that is taking toy donations? Goodwill?  How about a children's hospital?? or what about consignment sales?  Consigning takes a lot of time and dedication but at least you see a monetary return. But since this post is about giving I digress.  If your considering donating to a hospital be discerning. Toys with several loose parts and pieces probably won't be practical. But discovery tables, walkers and other self contained toys will be put to good use. If its your church ask the coordinator what might be needed and see if you have something useful.  Its important to remember that even though you are benefiting by clearing out some space in your own homes you don't want to burden the charities by giving them stuff they can't use.

I hope you all are inspired to give a little back this season. Its good deeds and giving that make heartwarming moments.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Whole Lot-a Holiday

Okay, first of all, I feel like I'm being slung-shot into the holidays this year. I want to scream at the TV and radio and say "stop it." I need a break. A week to catch my breath after Halloween. But that is not going to happen so, here we go.

So ultimately one of my major "to-do" projects is a full garage makeover complete with a top to bottom organization system.  That's not going to happen until we will the lotto, or at least not this year (all 8 weeks that are left). But in order to keep the chaos to a minimum I store out holiday decorations in color coded bins. Since we just took down decorations for Halloween they get put away in an orange bin with a black lid. The Thanksgiving decor is making its way out of the orange bin with the brown lid. Christmas is a different story - everything is kept in clear bins with red tops. In order to keep down on too much stuff I limit every holiday to one bin. The exception in Christmas - there we keep three. One and a half are dedicated to ornaments and the other one and a half to the larger items.  Putting storage limits on your seasonal decor forces you to really evaluate what you have each year and purge to make room for the new stuff. If you're looking for a place to donate your gently used decor contact your church, local police department and soup kitchens.  All of which collect these items for families not able to pay for a for such things.   

If you're the entertaining type and have your holiday themed wares such as chargers, napkin holders, candle sticks and similar smaller objects store these in their own fabric bin that fits in the shelves of your lower cabinets. Push them all the way to the back and store the things you use year around in front for easy access. Your items will be tucked away and if you color code these bins as well they will be easy located before your next party.

I really hope these tips help keep down the clutter and make for worry free entertaining. If you have a tip please share by commenting to the link on facebook.

Until next time, happy cleaning (and organizing!)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keeping Dry

Hello all! So the topic today is going to be a quickie. Tonight is our anniversary and I have 4 minutes before dinner comes out of the oven.

Dryer vents are intended to circulate air through the damp closes. The dryer itself only provides heat and tumble action. It is incredibly important to keep the vent clear of debris for two main reasons:

1. Its a fire hazard peeps! Seriously. I don't understand the science of it all but it is on the list of common causes for household fires.

2. Money, boo! The harder your dryer works the more energy it uses and the higher your bill is. That right there is enough of a reason for me to get in there and clean it.

So to begin your going to unplug the dryer and pull it out. Its not heavy, you don't need help. Next you'll need a flathead screwdriver to loosen the strapy deal that holds the vent to the wall. remove that and wipe out what you can reach with your cleaning rag.  Here is the real issue. For those of you in newer construction (I would say 90's and newer) your dryer vent most likely goes up the wall and out through the roof. If I ever meet the idiot that came up with this design I'd like to smack him and make him get up on my roof next time - idiot!  Anyway, if you clean this vent out once a year you'll save yourself having to get on the roof. The serviceman I had to have come out said he uses a leaf blower once a year. This is the best way I have found.

Now my case was a bit more severe. The previous homeowner obviously had no idea either, so 9 years of lint had built up! Lint was literally an inch thick all the way around the vent. There were clogged all the way up the wall. Brian had to get up on the roof and use a screwdriver to pry out a clog at the roof of cement hard lint that had gotten wet and compacted.  I spent 3 hours with a 20' drain snake snaking out the vent. 

This was only half way through the process. I pulled out twice this amount.

 Now, it is important to go ahead and do this the next nice day you have before the weather gets too nasty.

I hope you all had a great Halloween. Only 8 weeks left to the year! Can you believe that???