Friday, September 30, 2011

Decluttering Report: September

We made two trips to the dump this month. Hooray!

I came across this feature at the blog of Nony the Slob. I thought it was a wonderful idea.

My focus this month was pretty much on my laundry room and thirteen-almost-fourteen year old son's bedroom.

He was a trooper, though. (Today, he spontaneously started weeding out our dvd's. Then he wanted to start in on the cd's!)

In a whirlwind of activity, we cleared off his desk and made room for his new laptop.

We cleaned out his closet (which I didn't blog about) and made room for most of his castle pieces on one side of his closet:

and his ships on the other:

(These are sentimental keepers).

We cleared out under his bed and cleared, sorted, and tossed items from his bookcase.

My eleven year old daughter and I worked in her room a bit, too, decluttering her floor and her bookcase.

The biggest change, though, was in the basement where I decluttered the whole pantry/laundry room area and somehow created one storage spot from three.

What with all the appliance trouble we had this month, I went through our warranties and instruction manual files. They weren't easy to get at.

So, I decided to put everything into page protectors and put it all into a binder sorted by room where they are generally used. The humidifiers, for example, although stored in the linen closet are filed under "bedroom."

I started with a 2", and upgraded to a 3."

I think I need a 4"!

Then, to end the month, I did two small projects:
I reorganized and tossed a few things from the linen closet and got rid of a few cookbooks.

Here's what our donation station looks like:

I need to bag it up and drop it off.

And there we have it, the decluttering report for September. All in all, a quite satisfying month.

Fall Mantel

I finally did it.

Temperatures here have been so wonderfully warm that I haven't felt like decorating for fall at all. In fact, I'm a bit upset that fall is here already--'cause I never got my "summer" look for the living room as completely pulled together as I would have liked. I was waiting to show that off--and here it is, fall, already!

But, here was the summer mantle.

So simple, you might not even say it was "decorated"--which, strangely enough, is kind of how I wanted it.

(Please don't mind me there--in pink!)

Inspired by Layla Palmer's Fall Mantle Link-up party, I set about to create something. I took it as an opportunity to play with neutrals and texture--and spend no money. (I did break down and buy the gourds last night, though. Glad I did).

Something about this seems off. Is globe is too big?

However, there are elements I just love:

The white pumpkin. These are fabulous. I love the creamy whiteness against the rough, old, book.

Look at these faded roses. Love them. They say "fall" to me.

I like the different "golds", here.

Overall, I think it works.


(Since I got this done in time to link up, that's just what I'll do. It's a great resource!)

The Lettered Cottage

Thursday, September 29, 2011

31 Days of.....Housekeeping?

When I saw that post title pop up on my sidebar from the Nester, I eagerly clicked over to it expecting to see a post, about, you know, housekeeping.

Instead, it was a housekeeping post about a new series called "31 days of..." in which everyone is being encouraged to participate.

Apparently, one is to write about one topic for the 31 days of October and link up one's post for the world to read. It could either be a great traffic generator or an exercise in complete frustration--and time consuming to boot.

I was crushed when I realized Nester wasn't going to write about housekeeping. I'd love to read about how to keep my house. In fact, I just finished reading a two and a bit year old blog on just that by Nony the Slob. (She calls herself that.) It is a wonderful read. She's honest, insightful, funny and wise.

As I read, I thought about my house--or rather--my housekeeping. (I think about my house far too much as it is, thank-you-very-much. But cleaning? Not so much.)

I'd like to begin as she did--small--with a daily checklist of tasks that need to be done everyday. The blog will serve as my "report" and a spot for a few ruminations. I don't promise scintillating content every single day--but I do hope to have a home clean enough for the fridge guy.

As well, I'm also taking a new course from Simplify 101 called Habits and Routines These three things: blogging, keeping house and the course should all dovetail nicely.

So, that's my plan for October--to create and establish a few housekeeping routines that fit me and my family while blogging about it. I made a button (using Nester's image and this tutorial).

This will be your cue that what follows is a post in the series.
I also made a page (link at the top) so you can find all the posts, in order, starting with this one.

Linen Closet Organization

One night last week, I tried to put some sheets away in the upstairs hall closet.

(Now I have a shiny, bright, new laundry room, I finally washed all the sheets that had been waiting to be done.)

I couldn't do it. It was just full.

So, while I should have been putting my daughter to bed, I emptied the linen closet and sorted things in her room while she read our bed-time book to me.

I've known for some time that I needed to weed things out--so without even running for the camera to take a before picture--I started with the sheets and pillow cases.

Here's a photo from the last time I cleaned out the closet.

May 2010. Sixteen months ago.

See all those pillow cases and pillow case covers on that bottom shelf? See the swiffer hanging off the door to the left? Well, I bought and hung up a broom there some time ago--and the dust from the broom would rub off on the pillow cases and pillow protectors.


I know.

The solution was dead simple, but I only thought of it the other night.

Move the pillow protectors and pillow cases!

Talk about a duh moment.

So, while my eleven year old read me Harry Potter, I got rid of a few sheets and pillowcases. (I still have too many!) I also got rid of two rag rugs--one shredded--why on Earth did I still have that?

I've been looking for pretty containers for my pillowcases and stuff, but I'm finding myself reluctant to shell out cold hard cash for them.

So, this will have to do.

Not very pretty. Not full of cleverness.

But I can get the sheets put away, now!
And I'm back to reading Harry to her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Organizing with Kids--Son's Bookcase

I am declaring the organization of my son's bookcase complete!

(yes, that's the after shot.)

We worked on it in spurts since Organizing with Kids from Simplify 101 began at the beginning of the month. Here is what it looked like then:

My thirteen (yikes, almost 14!) year old did most of it himself. I would walk into his room, late in the afternoon, antsy to do something and he'd cheerfully stop whatever he was doing and start making decisions as I handed him whatever was on a shelf. Then, I'd leave him to it as I went looking for a Give-away bag and a Garbage bag.

Yesterday, I cleaned all the shelves we cleared--so relieved to have done that! There was lots of sneezing.

I would liked to have put more things under his bed--or stored them differently--at least separated the "display" items from the "stored" items (Bionicles battling in front of books, for example, while dramatic, looks messy to me!) but he didn't feel the need. So, I left it the way he likes it.

It is, after all, his room.

Decluttering, Guilt and Being Sentimental

During this final burst of beautiful weather, I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets.

Just the uppers. White.

To get at the side of my cabinets, I had to take down the messy shelves which hold my cookbooks (and cooking utensils).

oops. I was obviously in the middle of removing the cookbooks when I thought to take my before picture. Bad blogger!

This is about the cookbooks. I haven't figured out what to do about the utensils, yet.

This is the pile of cookbooks I actually use. If there were no guilt in life, this is all I would put back: less than one shelf's worth. (I just measured. Yep, I did. That stack takes up 11 linear inches of shelf space.)

This next pile is also a no-brainer:

If there's that much kitchen dust on it, it's begging me to be let go!

But I had to sort the other cookbooks into various piles before I could go on. And I had to take pictures of them--and discuss them here before I could process why it is so difficult to let these go.

I don't think this post is going to make any sense to anyone but me--but cookbooks--for some reason--are hard.

Here's the pile of cookbooks we meant to use: they're full of funky ethnic recipes or vegetarian cooking. These recipes I can find on the web, so it's OK to let them go.

This next pile is OK, too, actually. It's full of cookbooks I should look at--cookbooks I meant to use for one reason or another and never did: but I can find these recipes (or these kinds of recipes) again, should I need them, so they're OK to let go of.

Here's the next most difficult pile: It's the pile of books which people (sometimes me) spent good money on--but won't get used again.

I just asked hubby if we could get rid of The Joy. His Mom gave it to him. He said, "OK."

And here is the most difficult stack. The sentimentals.

On the bottom:
Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook
Golden Press. No publication date. It looks like about 1975, though!

This is the very first cookbook I ever had--my Mom saved it to pass on to my daughter which she has now done (in addition to buying her a new, better, updated version of a kids' cookbook for her very own. That kind of dented its impact--and certainly made it useless to us).

Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres
Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1984.
Did I get this second hand? I must have. I was married in 1997--and I poured over this book planning out all the finger food--which I made--for our wedding reception.

Peasant's Choice by James Barber.
Urban Peasant Productions, 1984.

This is the husband's. I was quite impressed that he was making the effort to learn to cook. It was just one of those things which brought us together.

The notebook. Ah, the notebook. It's chock full of recipes from the family of a guy I lived with for a couple of years. Most of the recipes I actually use from this book have been transferred into my binders. So, I really don't need it. And, come to think of it, there's a heckuva lot of useless emotion attached to it, too. I really don't need it.

So, obviously, it's really just these last four books which are causing all the angst. Hmm. Interesting. Just four. Out of all these.

I still don't know what to do with them.

Well, not the Notebook. I know what I'm doing with that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Fridge Guy Came Today....

and lay down on my filthy floor and vacuumed my fridge coils.

He was kind. He praised my vacuum cleaner for being the right size and shape to get at the bit that needed to be vacuumed. He said something about not having as much mold as he would expect--or something? I'm not entirely sure. His Chinese (or maybe it was Vietnamese?) accent was a bit thick.

But, though he was cheerful, quick and thorough (and he put Vaseline on the sides of the vegetable drawers so they will slide more easily) I could see that he was a fastidious person who did not like getting down on my floor at all. (Without thinking, he turned the vacuum from the coils to me floor in front of the fridge and started in on it!)

And you know what?

I knew he was coming. I've known for days. And I got ready. I washed out the fridge. Those veggie drawers were clean, thank goodness! I'd scrubbed the shelves (all but one).

I did dishes, endlessly, yesterday--and did two rack fulls today before he came at noon. I wiped the counters.

I even swept the floor. (I should have taken a picture of that big pile!)

But I hadn't had time to wash it.

I've been cleaning the kitchen for three days in preparation for his visit--and there just wasn't time.

For me, this is a clean kitchen.


So what if I'm in the midst of painting my kitchen cabinets?

So what the oven conked out and we've had it torn apart in the middle of the floor to check the wiring a few times?

A strange man still lay down on my dirty kitchen floor and vacuumed my filthy refrigerator coils.

I need to fix my "problem" with housekeeping, whatever it is.

Well, OK, it's no big mystery. My problem is with the drudgery of consistency.

That's all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I have made up my menu plan for dinner for the month, as usual, but there have to be some last minute adjustments.

Our oven isn't working.

Add to that the fact that I've been wanting to plan our breakfast and lunches, too--especially before I head off to Safeway for the weekly "fresh food" shop!

Plus, our weather continues to be unseasonably warm this week (hooray!) which is really throwing me for a loop!

So, I need to sit down and write it all out. It will seem odd, but I'm at home with my son during the day (he's homeschooled) my daughter packs her own lunch for school and my husband always takes something he can heat in the microwave at work.

Weekly soup (for Hubby's lunches)

Brody's Lentil Soup.

Monday: (Today's high: 18C)
cottage cheese, cantaloupe, toast (mine)
cereal (kids)
eggs, bacon and fried mashed potatoes. (hubby)

Ham & Cheese sandwiches/wraps
Poached salmon
cucumber and tomato salad

Hamburgers on the grill with Basil Mayonnaise
Purple cabbage and carrot salad.

Tuesday: (Today's high: 18C)
cottage cheese, cantaloupe, toast (me)

Ham and cheese sandwiches/wraps
left over cabbage and carrot salad

Dinner: (at 5pm)
Pork & Squash
(use fresh tomatoes from the garden instead of canned!)
mashed potatoes

Activity: Guides. Leave at 6:15

Wednesday: (14C)
Boiled egg, toast, cantaloupe

Swedish meatballs and rice (son)
Ham and cheese sandwich (daughter)
Lentil soup (me)

Chicken fried rice, spinach.
Egg rolls (if oven is working).

Thursday: (15C)
Boiled egg, cantaloupe, toast (me)

Swedish meatballs and rice (son)
Hot lunch at school (daughter)
Tuna salad on crackers
cucumber and red pepper strips

Apricot Dijon Pork chops
carrots, green & yellow beans,

Friday: (15C)
Yogurt, fruit, toast
fried egg

Tuna and cucumber sandwich (me)
Ham and cheese sandwich (daughter)
Swedish meatballs and rice (son)

(if oven is not fixed: Rotisserie Chicken from Safeway) If it is fixed, then we'll have oven fried chicken nuggets.
Potato salad
Spinach and tomato salad

Saturday: (13C)
I never plan Saturday but I think I'd like to make Chicken corn chowder (in the crockpot) and finish up the buns with it.

Man, that was exhausting!

Linking to Menu Plan Mondays at Org. Junkie.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Laundry Room Reveal.

(If you're rushed, just scroll to the bottom for pics!)

I am blessed to have a large room for doing my laundry. It is in the basement and it takes up a full quarter of the main floor above. That makes it sound much larger than it is: I have a small house! The room is actually more like 12' x 15'. The freezer and pantry are here too.

We have been working on the room for a month.

We took down the old wall board and found the insulation was falling off the wall.

The actual work didn't take that long: but we had two crises which we had to deal with down there.

The first involved the bath tub. It stopped draining. My husband determined that the last piece of cast iron pipe needed to come out and be replaced with plastic. He did that. It took almost a full evening to saw through that cast iron, though!

The second problem involved the washing machine. I know this is going to sound bizarre, but I let the machine flood the floor several times without telling my husband we had a problem. Yes, even after we put up the new wallboard.

It occurred to me --after the wall board suffered a bit of damage-- that normal people don't curse and walk through or around water all over their laundry room floors to sort, wash, dry and fold the laundry. For days. But it wasn't until the washing machine wouldn't go through the wash cycle properly that I sat down with my best friend Google and tried to figure out what was wrong.

After we replaced the water sensor control switch (a $30.00 part!), my husband decided to cut a half inch off the bottom of the wallboard and prime and paint it again. That took days, too.

Meanwhile, I found a new solution for the extra bed-linens. I prettified my folding table/donation station.

And, I kept decluttering. I went through things and let things go. We made two trips to the dump during this--and loaded up the Jeep for a third. I filled the Jeep up with donations. True, a lot came from other parts of the house, but somehow my beautiful, bright new laundry room inspired a Big Purge.

So, are you ready?

Here we are.

Come down the stairs and turn to your left. This is what you used to see:

and this is cleaned up!

Now, I see this:

That newly trimmed window faces East. It's pretty down there in the morning right now.

And yes, I painted the rafters, thank you very much.

Here's what it used to look like as I approached the laundry "area."

All that stuff there made it kind of hard to pull out those plastic rolling laundry sorters!

Here's the view, now:

I found these wire shelves outside in the playhouse. When winter comes, these boots will move upstairs and I'll put the "summer sports" things here. At least, that's the plan.

The new hampers are under the table by the machines. Hopefully, we'll insulate and put up new bead board paneling on this wall next month!

I still need to hang a few hooks and figure out what I'm going to do about my clothes line, but for now, I'm finding excuses to do laundry!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Donation Station/Folding Table Makeover

This is one of those things where making a couple of small changes creates a Big Impact.

I love projects like this!

In my basement laundry room, I'm lucky enough to have room for a folding table.

I made it by placing a piece of (good) plywood on top of an old 2x4 frame we got out of my mother's garage years ago. (I've had that piece of plywood since I was eighteen. I used it as a desk top.)

To the left of the table goes laundry straight out of the dryer: to the right goes the folded laundry right into a basket to be taken upstairs.

Here is what it looked like for ...well, ever.

Underneath the table top I placed a few sturdy boxes. Beneath them is a plastic under-the-bed- box. I couldn't use it upstairs because the plastic would have scratched up our wood floors terribly. And since the frame doesn't have a bottom shelf, this serves the purpose. Plus, it's waterproof! (But can you believe it sat empty for ten years?) This was the best place to put out grown clothing when the kids were younger. Out of the wash and into the boxes they would go! Now, it's a great catch-all for everything leaving the house.

The makeover was too simple. I painted the frame and covered the plywood top with a plastic tablecloth I picked up at the dollar store. I stapled it down.

I replaced the hodge podge of boxes underneath with two white laundry baskets I already had on hand.

And, I filled that under-the-bed box with my husbands hunting clothing--that freed up an astonishing amount of space in another container for other things. I placed white "newsprint" paper on top of the clothing to camouflage the Camouflage.

With the baskets on top of it (instead of boxes) the container is much more accessible!

And another view: (if you were standing and talking to me from the other side of the table while I folded, this is what you would see. Well, hopefully you'd see me, too. After all, that's who folded all that laundry yesterday!)

I have no idea why I took a picture of it covered in laundry. Maybe I was trying to demonstrate how it works? I don't know. Think of it as an action shot.

Boom da da boom.

Not sure this really qualifies as a "Wow" but I'm linking to Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style.

Check out all the other, more credible, "wows".

How Three Become One

No, this isn't a theological post.

When working on the laundry room project, (which started out simply as the desire to paint the below brown wall white), I decided to come up with a better storage solution for my extra linens--you know, the extra mattress pads, towels, blankets and (huge) pillows kicking around.

The solution, as you know, was a painted GORM.

However, before I could put the Painted GORM in his new home, I had to make room for him. In other words, all of this had to be evicted:

This is Area 1

Before I'd decided on a Painted GORM, however, I faced the very real possibility of having to purchase something 36" wide for this spot--which would have meant moving all of this to the left about 5 inches (12 cm).

Yes. The Tansu Pantry.

And that meant I had to tackle this.

Of course, this needed to be sorted, anyway. It was long overdue. There was a lot of Christmas stuff--and, even though we're less than 100 days away-- it needed to be put in its proper home under the stairs.

This is Area 2

As we rebuilt the wall at the end of the laundry room, it became clear we were going to need this area clear eventually--like, hopefully in a few weeks when we insulate and enclose this wall in luscious bead board wall paneling. The laundry tub was just a HUGE dust and clutter catcher. (There's no way to attach a drain to it without running a pipe I would trip right over, so I have no use for the behemoth.)

This is area 3.

It is now gone. Mostly.

So, Area 3 is decluttered and Area 1 has been repurposed.

That leaves us with Area 2.

I'm not entirely sure where everything went.

Perhaps this is a theological post, after all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Hampers

I had two three bag sorters: the kind made out of plastic tubes and fabric. They were probably close to ten years old.

sort of like this, only one was navy blue and the other had blue and white stripes. Neither had that fabric "stretcher" on the bottom, either. Mine had custom applied stringing .

They sat underneath a giant table next to the washer and drier. Every time laundry came into the laundry room to be sorted, I'd pull these out and begin. The constant pulling was hard on them, I think.

When we started the laundry room project, the fabric was torn on one of them. The plastic corners holding the tubes had cracked --many times.

As part of our laundry room makeover, I was just going to repair them.

Yet again.

I did fix it. I sewed the fabric back together. I used duct tape to fix the plastic corner on the top.

It was just depressing.

I do wish I had got a picture of them before I put them out to the curb: I liked the way I strung the string on the bottom to keep them together.

But we went to Home Despot one evening to price wallboard--and lo and behold what did we see? Metal and canvas three bag laundry sorters on sale for the price of new plastic ones.

My sweetie brought two home as a surprise for me the very next day.

Isn't it buff?

No problems pulling that baby out from under the table!

I'm just thrilled.
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