Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bad Habits

Well, so much for my goal of being able to share a newly-organized living room this week!

I managed to accomplish three of my goals, though, which is better than nothing:
  1. I cleaned out and reorganized the inside of my desk. I kid you not, I had 8 years worth of old check registers piled up in there!  
  2. I moved the modem and router to inside the desk.  Now all those awful wires in the corner by the filing cabinet are hidden.  Not only does that area look nicer, it's less of a safety hazard.
  3. I cleaned the piles of mail and books off the console table.  Now it's just the candle holder.  In theory I'd love to add a vase, but with a toddler in the house I don't see that ending well.

Since I don't have a finished product to share just yet, I thought I'd talk about some of the bad habits I have when it comes to cleaning and organizing.  Since my mission to streamline my house and my life is clearly a long-term one (seriously, if I finish this whole thing by Christmas, I will consider it a massive victory!), I'm going to have to break some bad habits so that the areas I de-clutter and organize at the beginning of this project remain as such by the time I make it through the whole house.

This article from Apartment Therapy is what got me thinking about the topic. 

I'm definitely guilty of #1.  I have a bad habit of letting junk mail and coupons I'm unlikely to ever use pile up.  They clutter up the console table, my desk, the kitchen table... 

#2 is a struggle for me as well.  I have a terrible time getting rid of things that were gifts or that are connected to a happy memory, even if I don't need or use them anymore.

The other items on Apartment Therapy's list, I'm not too bad about.  But related to #2, I'm often afraid to get rid of things I "might need some day."  It's not quite hoarder-level, but I do veer a bit into packrat territory, and my storage spaces are so messy and full that things are starting to spill into more visible areas of the house.  That crosses a line for me. ;-)

My other, biggest bad habit is a lack of follow-through.  All of Amelia's old clothes are sealed up in space bags, but I haven't transferred those bags to containers and put them in the attic yet, so they're still taking up space downstairs.  Space that would be better-utilized for things we will actually use again in the immediate future.  Likewise, I have clothing I have intended to donate or bring to a consignment store for upwards of a year that is still hanging in the hall closet and/or sitting in a pile next to the hamper in the master bedroom.  Oops?  De-cluttering doesn't count if you're just moving the mess from one place to another, does it?

Hopefully within the next week I'll have some photos of the completed living room to share.  In the meantime, what are your biggest organizational pitfalls?  Do you have any helpful tips for staying organized?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Farmers Market Haul

Well, I haven't made progress on the living room yet, but I had a darn good time at the farmers market this morning!

I really love the huge variety of produce that's available this time of year:

I spent about $30 and got a half pound of crimini mushrooms (in the paper bag on the left), a bag of green beans, a cantaloup, two tomatoes, a bell pepper, 7 plums, a half pint each of peppadews and blueberries, an eggplant, a zucchini, a yellow squash, a bag of potatoes, and a bag of carrots. 

I already used the mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash.  I roasted them and served them over pasta for dinner tonight.  The cantaloupe, pepper, plums, and blueberries (and some of the carrots) will be used as snacks throughout the week.  Tomorrow night I'll be making this vegetarian lentil "meat"loaf for dinner.  It will use some of the carrots, and I'll roast the potatoes and saute the green beans to serve along with it. 

The peppadews... those are getting stuffed with mozzarella and being served over bruschettini at a family reunion tomorrow, and I am so excited.  That's one of my favorite snacks, but I very rarely have it.

I just realized that I have absolutely no solid plans for the tomatoes, but I'm sure I can think of something.  Perhaps CLT sandwiches (like a BLT sandwich, but with fried provolone cheese instead of bacon, since we're a vegetarian household). 

Now that I've wasted nearly 1/2 hour writing this blog post instead of cleaning the living room, I suppose it's time to start working on the messy desk that is currently staring me in the face.  ;-)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Unstaged Living Room

Last night, I decided to take a couple of quick iPhone photos of the living room, exactly as it was at the end of the day.  No cleaning, no staging, just how it looks in a daily basis:

Considering my husband works from home 3 days a week, and we have a toddler, it's really not too bad, since this room is very much lived-in.  Fortunately, I have a child who, at 18 months, will typically put her toys away without prompting.  I really, really hope that lasts!

Most of the major clutter is hidden.  Such as all the random dog stuff, half of which is probably garbage, in the console table behind the loveseat:


Also, that nice pile of books and junk mail sitting on top of the table.  This should be fairly quick and easy to weed through and organize.  Things like the nail clipper, the Thundershirt, and the nice green sweater are keepers.  Empty box of poopy bags and stinky old bandanas he never wears?  Not so much.  I'm also thinking I'd like to get some sort of wall-mounted mail organizer/key holder to hang next to the front door, to cut down on the piles of mail on the console table. 

Figuring out the book situation is going to be a bit trickier:

The top four shelves of the living room bookcase (there are many, many bookcases in our house) is home to my collection of classic fiction.  Also, some CDs that aren't where they belong for no good reason, some misplaced contemporary fiction, and... a roll of packing tape?  Those things will be easy enough to put back in their proper homes.  We can get rid of that Wii balance board, and either toss or store that plastic critter cage on the floor.  But now that Amelia's books and puzzles have taken over the bottom shelf, I'm not sure that the classic fiction overflow (the stack of books on the right side of the second-to-bottom shelf) will have a home.  I'll either have to weed that collection or get creative with how I arrange it. 

This corner is a total mess:

The bouncy seat and folded up play mat (between the wall and desk) need to go into storage.  The folded up swing needs to go back to the cousin who loaned it to me.  My desk has... issues.  I need to go through the big pile of paperwork under my laptop and on the top right shelf.  I need to get rid of the years-old check registers.  I need to consolidate the boxes greeting cards and note cards.  I need to find a better home for our camera bag on top of the desk.  Glen's pile o' stuff on the fireplace needs to start living in his office, where it belongs.  I have absolutely no explanation for the Adipose plus next to the vase, except that one of its eyes came out and it was a choking hazard, so we had to keep it out of Amelia's reach.  There's got to be a better place for it, though.

Finally, there's this corner:

I need to get rid of the pile of papers on top of the filing cabinet.  Ditch the fake flowers.  Do SOMETHING about those exposed wires.  I'd like to move the router and modem to the inside of my desk, so that the wires run behind the fireplace, out of reach of tiny hands.  And I'd like swap Elvis's bed and the filing cabinet, and put a lamp on it, so it can be a cozy little reading corner. 

Also, not visible in this photo, but I have YEARS worth of bills that need to be shredded.  It's bad.  Really bad.  I refuse to go paperless, because I clip my bills together in the order they're due, and without them I'd never pay anything on time.  It's a good strategy for not destroying my credit score.  Not so much for avoiding clutter.

Now that I've put this out there, my goal for next week is to be able to share a newly de-cluttered and organized living room!

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm Ba-aaaack!!

Nothing like an accidental year-long blogging hiatus... Life got overwhelming for awhile after I returned to work full-time last July.  Forty hours a week at my day job, plus another four to twelve at the library, plus a house, a baby, and a dog to take care of left little time for anything else.

And speaking of the baby... She's a toddler now!

It's hard to believe it's been a year and a half since she was born!

Anyway, a huge motivation for me to start blogging again is my mission to de-clutter and organize my house.  We've been pretty good about not accumulating too much unnecessary baby stuff, and by most standards our house isn't too bad.  But our storage spaces are a mess, because I have a tendency to just stuff things into closets and drawers when I can't deal with the visual clutter.  But hiding clutter isn't the same as getting rid of clutter, and our storage spaces are a mess.  Now it's starting to overflow into actual living areas and I want to nip this in the bud!

So much like my "Before and After" series for the room remodels/redesigns, I'm going to do a before and after series for my de-clutter and organize mission.  I don't know that I'll have that many readers after such a long break, but documenting the process here seems like a good way to motivate myself and stay accountable.  My plan is to attack one area per week and post the results here. 

Conveniently enough, mere days after I decided to do this, I saw a post on Apartment Therapy announcing that August is Back to Basics month, so I plan to incorporate some ideas from there.  Wish me luck!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband has gone totally vegetarian.  I'm not quite there yet, but I'm darn close, usually only eating meat once a week, and at this point it's only at a restaurant or at my parents' house. 

One area where I have pretty much committed is eating local as much as possible.  Yup, I'm a locavore.

Here's this past weekend's farmer's market haul:

I wound up roasting a lot of those veggies for dinner on Tuesday and served them with some gnocchi.  There were basically no leftovers.  I think I need to make more time for those kinds of meals, because they are easy to prepare (I was able to quickly clean and chop up the veggies while Amelia amused herself in her high chair), and they are actually quite inexpensive. 

That's the neat thing about shopping at the farmer's market:  When you're buying produce, it's often both fresher and cheaper than the grocery store stuff, and quite frequently it's organically grown as well. 

The budget busters at the farmers market tend to be the pre-made foods.  $6 for jam, $4 for black bean hummus... I could certainly get those things cheaper at the grocery store, but the truth is that the local stuff truly tastes better.  Those are our splurges, which we justify because overall we're still saving money.  And when I get the chance, I make my own hummus, which is even cheaper than buying it at the grocery store.

Have you seen the USDA Food Plan charts?  They're updated monthly.  For June, the "thrifty plan" for 2 adults aged 19-50 is $378.90/month.  I'm pretty sure we did go over that a bit this month, but most of the time our food budget is in the $350-ish range.  That includes non-food groceries and my extra 500 calories a day.  As long as you don't live in a food desert, it's definitely possible to eat well on a budget.  And for the record, we found ourselves relying on convenience foods more than usual this month, in part because I went back to work full-time and was working off-site a bunch.  We went over budget by something like $100.  Time to start menu planning!

So, which plan do you fall under on the USDA charts?  Is it just me or do those numbers seem kind of high?  Or do I just have our farmers market and mostly cooking from scratch to thank for our comparatively low budget? 

And here's some fun stuff that's been going on with Amelia lately:

Not even 6 months old and the kid can already stand while supporting herself on furniture!  Time to start baby-proofing??

Elvis was kind of wary of this new little person at first, but yesterday he jumped up on our bed and laid down next to her.  He was letting her hold his paws and touch his face, and it was adorable.

Here's a picture Glen took of the two of them:

Amelia's face in that picture is pretty much the greatest thing I've ever seen!  
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