Friday, September 16, 2011
During my stroll, I stumbled upon a GLORIOUS find. Real Simple hanging mail sorters:
They were just what I NEEDED.
You see, Diesel and I have had an on-going skirmish about the mail. He brings it in and he pays the bills. For this I am eternally grateful; however, he piles it on the entertainment center and it makes our living room look junky and cluttered. I have tried EVERYTHING to create a system, to no avail. I just want a nice, neat, tucked out of sight, system for dealing with the mail. and Diesel wants a super easy system. So the Real Simple hanging system is perfect because I can hang it on the inside of the pantry door and create a system that works for Diesel and keeps the piles of crap off of my entertainment center. Case in point:
Being a very restrained shopper, I said to myself "Cluttered Mama, tuck this into your memory and run it by Diesel when you get home. Do NOT purchase."
When I eventually got home and got a spare moment, I showed the system to Diesel. He was a fan. So we started mapping out what we thought we'd need. At LEAST 3 of the big folders and 3 of the divided folders. Then I did the math... 6 hanging organizers at $16 a piece=$96+tax. That is right folks, $100 for cute envelope-y things in the hopes that this system would finally be THE system. Lemme put this as Dana Carvey doing his best George H. Bush impression: "not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent."
Diesel suggested hanging an accordion file, which might work, but I thought would be too bulky. Then a light bulb went off in my head: I have a zillion manila file folders that I'm not using. I'm marginally crafty. I have tape and adhesives galore, thanks to my scrapbooking habit... I can MAKE something.
So, with a little card stock, adhesive, packing tape, letter sized file folders and a paper cutter, here is what I fashioned:
The large folders are: To File, To Shred, To Sort, Circulars/Ads and one called Little Man (he decided he NEEDED a folder of his own, which is actually brilliant because now I have somewhere to stick all his preschool art when it comes home); the small folders are: Cluttered Mama, Diesel, To Pay, and Supplies (checkbooks, stamps, etc.). We'll add more as we find we need them.
The BEST part?
When I'm sure that this system works for us, I'll pretty it up with some scrapbook paper and nice labels, but for now, we're just seeing if it'll work.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Case in point-- when I reorganized the chest freezer yesterday I discovered we had not one, not two, but THREE 5 lb bags of blueberries. Yeeeeeah.
So I was desperately looking for a way to organize the freezer. I didn't want to shell out for pricey freezer baskets and while I had seen pictures of people using plastic baskets to organize their freezers, I didn't want to do that because I know how brittle plastic gets in the deep freeze. Yesterday while I was up for a 3 am feeding, I Googled "organizing a chest freezer" which took me to a post on Living the Frugal Life. And then the heavens opened up and the angels sang and I nearly leaped from my bed to begin organizing!
Reusable shopping bags!! What a brilliant idea! I could organize the bags by type and when I needed something, I could just pull the item out and dig through the bag to find what I needed. That is MUCH easier than the full-scale archaeological dig that finding items in the freezer required previously! And this solution is cheap! Most grocery stores charge $1 for a reusable bag. My freezer can fit 4 filled bags, meaning that my freezer reorganization project cost a whopping $4!
Now I have a bag of meat, 2 bags of pre-made meals (both homemade and store bought), and a bag of dairy items. The freezer basket that came with the unit now houses Diesel's convenience dinners (for microwaving at work and eating while driving to school) and the little ledge under the basket holds my Ziploc bags of sauces (I lay them flat to freeze), breast milk and a few pints of "real egg." Our fridge freezer holds the bread products, fruits, veggies and dessert items, because they are our most frequently used items and they hold up to the open-close nature of the fridge freezer a little better.
I am so happy to have a nicely organized freezer for so little money! Huzzah!
(PS-- I'd post pics, but blogger seems to hate my laptop and doesn't play nice with photo posts. I have a large queue of blogs that I have written this summer, but haven't finished because I can't get the pictures to cooperate!)
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I'm slowly, but surely, getting the house back in order. For the last month, we've either had family members at our house or been out of town visiting family. As a result, the house has gotten a little bit neglected/out of control. My plan for this week has been to get the house back in basic order so I can start tackling some decluttering (and re-decluttering) projects. So far, thanks to my mother-in-law volunteering to watch Little Man on Tuesday, I've been able to get Little Man's room and our main living/dining area picked up. Of course, with a three year old living here, trying to keep the house picked up sometimes makes me feel like I'm trying to dust in a sandstorm.
Diesel and I still need to get our budget in order, but have just not had enough time to sit down together. He's busier than a one-armed coat hanger these days, with overtime at his 'real' job, and several woodworking and handyman jobs in the pipeline-- plus, his school starts week after next. We really need to just set aside a specific time to do it, as it should be a priority.
I have started working out and wearing my pedometer again. It felt good to get some exercise, but I have to say I was really saddened when I saw the numbers on the scale & measuring tape. I know I just had a baby, everyone keeps telling me this, but it is still tough to not feel like "me" right now. Like I've said over and over again, I'm not trying to fit in a bikini, I'm trying to fit in my clothes! Slow and steady will be the name of the game because I'm nursing Duckie, so I won't be doing any "dieting" other than trying to eat more healthfully.
AAAND, on that note, Duckie is fussing and needing attention! I'll be back with more quality posts soon!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
- Revising our budget in an effort to get back on track (we're WAAAAAAAAY off our budget). Our focus is on paying off our debt and making it so that I will be able to go down to part-time work within the year.
- Creating a daily/weekly/monthly schedule for our family so that we're able to make better use of our time. I'm currently looking at magnetic white boards that I can customize so we can have a big visual reminder of what we're up to.
- Making a Monday through Friday chore schedule so we can have weekends free to do the activities we would like to do (like hiking, camping, etc.), instead of trying to pack all our chores and errands into Saturday and Sunday. We will also be making Little Man his own chore chart, as he is old enough to start helping with the care of the house a little.
- Formulating a schedule for exercising. Diesel and I are both plumper than we would like (yes, I know I'm only 2 months post-partum, but none of my clothes fit. I'm not looking to squeeze into a bikini, but I would like to have a few more choices in my wardrobe!). With an infant and a preschooler, we need to really set aside specific times for exercising. As much as we'd like to be able to workout together, until Duckie is a little older and able to be put on a sleep schedule, we're looking at his & hers workout times.
So that is what we're up to this week. Well, that and getting everything ready for Duckie's baptism & reception on Sunday, entertaining out of town family & friends, working extra jobs (Diesel, not me), and juggling the demands of a 3 year old and a 2 month old. Oh, and we were out of town for half the week, so really we just have Thurs-Sun to do all this. Good times! :)
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
But today, as I was spackling our walls as part of our linen closet install, I began to muse about memories and moments and came to realize that something as simple as spackling a wall can make you feel connected to someone you miss.
When I was 12 years old, I lost my mom to cancer. Some 20-odd years later I still miss her in a very real, very deep way. Yet at the same time, I know she's often with me and we're able to connect in the oddest of moments. One of those moments came to me today as I was spackling.
You see, my mother LOVED home improvement projects. Aubuchon Hardware store in Essex Jct., VT was just about her favorite place in the world (that was where she requested to be taken after learning her cancer was, in fact, terminal). She truly enjoyed things that most of us do not, like hanging drywall and spackling. So whenever I'm working with tools, I always feel a bond with her. It is as though we're hanging out together in that moment. I spackle a wall, and suddenly she is there with me.
Which brings me to my point. We tend to hang on to what amounts to junk and clutter, because we're afraid of losing that connection, yet that connection will ALWAYS be there, whether the stuff is or not. The moments when I most clearly remember my mom are not when I pick up something that was hers (I actually don't have that many items, aside from photos), but when I do something that she would've enjoyed, or that was her "thing." Sometimes you have to just separate the person from the object and think "does having this TRULY enhance my life?" I think even sentimental objects must be put to the "is this beautiful? is this useful" test, just like the rest of our stuff. If they aren't, then they should go. If they are, they should stay.
And for me, I just need to open up a bucket of spackle and I'm golden! :)
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Right now, I'd make Lady O stay on my front porch.
My house is a wreck and I'm just too tired to deal with it. In case you guys are envisioning that I live in a perfectly organized and neat house, I do not. Right now my house looks like a bomb went off in it. Tomorrow is my last day of work-- my maternity leave starts Monday-- so I'm seriously putting off cleaning & organizing until then. I tried to do some cleaning this weekend, but with Little Man hanging around, it is two steps forward, three steps back in the cleaning process. Plus, it doesn't help that I get winded easily these days, so I have to sit and rest in the middle of a lot of my cleaning tasks. I'm hoping that I can send Little Man over to his grandma's house one day next week and get the house back in mint, "people are going to be coming over to see my house because of the new baby" shape!
Let's just hope Maverick doesn't decide to come early!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I love them for the storage they provide and that they're fairly easy on the eyes. It is actually pretty amazing the amount of crap you can store in a 10x10 cube! Currently, they're acting as storage for Maverick's clothing and all the other accoutrement of babyhood.
So if I love them so much, why have they been the thorn in my side for the better part of 3 years? Because they were virtually unlabel-able! I made this horrifying discovery the day we brought them home. I loaded them up, pulled out my trusty P-Touch label maker and made my labels. When I affixed them to the front of the storage cubes, they merely curled up and fell to the table. I eventually came up with a fix by adding Scotch tape, but even still, it was not uncommon to find that a label had launched itself, Kamikaze style, off of the bins to the floor below.
Finally, I gave up and pulled all the labels off. Worked fine for me, because I knew where everything was, however Diesel was not nearly as adept at navigating the bins.
Then, like a beacon of hope in my darkest hour (as I was preparing to fill said bins with Maverick's clothes and imagining the chaos that would ensue as Diesel attempted to put away the laundry), I stumbled upon this post on That Mommy Blog during Project Simplify. That Mommy had come up with at BRILLIANT solution to my problem: chalk board tags and ribbon. HUZZAH!!!
So mad props to That Mommy for solving my problem The storage cubes and I are now BFFs!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Cloth napkins and washcloths!
This was a novel concept to me, because I grew up in a household where cloth napkins were reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. Every day napkins were paper. When Diesel and I set up house, we registered for cloth napkins-- y'know for all those fancy sit-down dinners we were going to have in our placial manor. Said Crate & Barrel napkins sat on a self in our linen closet for a good 4 years, all the while we were purchasing and using paper napkins. About a year ago, as I started trying to find ways to be more "green," one night we ran out of paper napkins; right then and there it dawned on me: USE CLOTH NAPKINS!!! Of course, our 4 Crate & Barrel napkins only went so far, so eventually I had to run out to Target and pick up 8 more. Then I remembered that someone had given me a set of cloth napkins in a picnic basket a few years ago and I dug those out. Now we have 16 napkins tucked away in the drawer of our dining table.
Interestingly enough, my cheapy Target napkins have retained their color better than my expensive C&B napkins. Oh, and to save on the cost of laundering, we reuse our napkins through a couple meals (unless they get really messy-- like on the rare occasion that we eat crab legs for dinner!).
My next easy-peasy money and earth saving tip is buying lots and lots of washcloths and using those in the place of paper towels. I own roughly 2 bazillion of them. I like to buy the multi-pack of bathroom washcloths at Target. They're something like $7 for a package of 7, whereas the kitchen washcloths tend to be more pricey. I use them for just about everything.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
- my birthday
- Mother's Day
- Little Man's Birthday
- Diesel's Birthday
- Father's Day
- our anniversary
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Saturday I spent the day at my sister-in-law's yard sale. It was roughly the temperature of the sun all day, which is super fun when you're GREAT with child, but the sale itself went well. None of the "big ticket" items that I brought with me sold, so they got schlepped home to be listed on Craigslist. That being said, I made enough to buy this week's groceries completely in cash AND I got to leave my "to donate" stuff at my sister-in-law's house for THEM to take to the donation site! (I think Ready.Set.Simplify would agree this was the best part of the whole deal!). I did discover that the way people check out yard sales makes you feel rather like you're back in the Jr. High cafeteria. They cruise by slowly, surveying what you have and THEN decide whether your sale is worthy of them stopping. I started feeling very judged!
Sunday was my usual Farmer's Market/Whole Foods run, which leads me to my current dilemma. My town has a little farmer's market on Sundays. Usually, I drive to the farmer's market in a neighboring town because it is AWESOME! This week, in an effort to "keep it local" and to save time, Little Man and I went to our town's farmer's market. It had been a while since I had been there and I was saddened to see that our market now consists of mostly craft booths. There were literally 3 produce vendors, none of whom were advertising organic produce. Bummer. We bought a couple items, but then high-tailed it to Whole Foods for the rest of our shopping.
At Whole Foods, I am not to proud to admit that I gave an audible squeal of delight when I saw this:
The next HOORAY moment for me came when I went by to water our garden plot and spotted this little beauty:
A tiny little tomato! Granted, something has been gnawing the life out of the leaves on our pepper and melon plants and the lettuce seems to have lost its will to be green, but we have a tiny little tomato starting. Soon we'll be reaping what we sowed!
My final HIP, HIP, HOORAY for the week is that for the past few months, Diesel has been doing some side work on the boat belonging to a friend's grandfather (and I have been complaining incessantly about him never being home). He finally finished the big project on Sunday and brought home his pay. Per an earlier agreement, x-percent of his profit on side projects goes directly towards paying off debt. I am happy to say that we will be paying an additional $1000 on the truck loan this month! HUZZAH!!!
In other news, I've decided that while I love Miranda Kerr for her public pro-breastfeeding stance and her line of organic (and way out of my price range) beauty products, I'm pretty sure I hate her! Why? This (well, there is also the whole married to Orlando Bloom thing!) I breastfed for a year and was definitely NOT bikini ready as a result (though I did lose a ton of weight, thanks to Little Man's dairy & soy allergy).
Thursday, April 14, 2011
If you are the prayerful type please keep this family in your prayers as they struggle to come to grips with this terrible loss.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Then we went through a spate of winter-related illness and other such things which kept us away from our little 10'x10' veggie farm.
On Wednesday night I received a phone call from Dave, the Community Garden chief, wondering it everything was alright and whether we intended to ever cultivate our land. He also pointed out-- very kindly-- that our plot was overgrown with weeds and that we needed to take care of them post haste! I told him I was 8 months pregnant and THAT played a huge roll in why we hadn't been out there, but I assured him I would come out and get it all taken care of. He had a genuine concern at HOW I was going to clear the land in my delicate state, but I assured him that I could handle it (I have a secret weapon, his name is Diesel).
So this morning the Cluttered Family loaded up into the Cluttered Truck and picked up some organic gardening supplies, some seedlings and seed, and made our way to our plot. A mere 6 hours later, the Cluttered Garden had transformed from THIS:
|This is not our actual plot, but what ours looked like at the outset |
(I forgot to take a before shot)
|Isn't it lovely???|
|The Cluttered boys clearing our plot|
|Sweet Alyssum in memory of my Mom|
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
|All the crap pulled out|
|Dyson in its home. We've decided the A/C unit will spent the not hot months in the garage|
|No more "misc crap" shelf!|
|Nice neat towels and sheets, paper goods moved down to the floor (alongside the baby bath)|
|I put Diesel in charge of neatening up these baskets...|
So I'm picking our linen closet. It is the thorn in my organizational side! 6 years ago when we bought the house, we framed out the closet with the intention of making it a wizbang cracker jack of a linen closet (our condo had 1 closet and minimal storage when we bought it). For a year or so it sat empty of shelves, but crammed full of crap. One day I got fed up and begged Diesel to put up SOME kind of temporary shelving, as SURELY we were going to get to this project soon.
Fast forward 5 years and I still have my temporary shelves and lofty plans for the linen closet, but you know the old addage "the cobbler's children have no shoes?" Well, the running joke in our home is that the woodworker's wife has no doors (or moulding, or wizbang linen closets). When it is finished, it will be AWESOME, because when given the time and opportunity, Diesel turns out some amazing pieces for our home (those pesky paying clients take priority, can you believe it???) and from what I've been told, it should be done before Maverick arrives.
The linen closet as it is has two MAJOR flaws. #1--more than 1 foot of storage space is virtually inaccessible because of the wall which we built in order to accomodate the closet doors and have to have shelves that are half the depth of the others in order for us to get anything in or out. #2-- the doors are too wide so you get access to less than half the closet when you open either door. It is a pain. (I'd say there is a third flaw in that a member of my household can't seem to read the nicely labelled shelves and stuffs things higgledy-piggledy wherever he so desires, but that would be snarky, so I won't say it...)
The linen is also a catch-all for any items that don't seem to have a home.
Anyways, here are the before shots:
|It appears so unassuming... cue Psycho music|
|This photo illustrates the two main flaws: drop wall and too large doors.|
|That big space is where our vacuum (to left) is supposed to go, but instead a fan and our portable A/C unit have taken up residence there, rendering my poor Dyson homeless!|
|Don't you keep your RC trucks in with your cleaning supplies? No? Oh...|
|Proliferation of towels and sheets. I actually purged the linen closet a few months ago, so it really just needs neatening.|
|I go through those baskets every couple months, but they end up looking like this because you can't see into them very easily... and it is too much effort to take them off the shelf!|
|My cleaning supplies bucket teeters precariously on this half shelf. It falls at LEAST once a month. Apparently someone in my house thinks TP is a cleaning supply. In theory I suppose it is...|
|You KNOW your linen closet is in bad shape when you actually have a shelf called "Misc crap"|
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
People following my blog!
You guys make me happy and I get so excited when a new person starts following my blog. Add to my delight when a person I don't know adds my blog and/or says they found me randomly. HOORAY!!!
Today I gained two new followers! I'm ecstatic! YAY!
Thank you for the support and the comments and the following! It really does fill me with joy!!!
(and yes, my title is redundant, but I'm just that dang happy about it!)
Monday, April 4, 2011
|Little Man enjoying the bounty of our trip to the Farmer's Market, located in the marina|
Think outside the (cereal) box for breakfast
|I ain't bluffin' with these muffins!|
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
For over a year, my family was on a pretty good diet of organic, natural and raw products. I cooked from scratch almost every night. I was very, very proud of this fact. Of course, it was predicated by the fact that when Little Man was about 6 weeks old, we discovered that he was not only allergic to dairy, but also to soy. As I was his sole source of food, that meant I couldn't eat dairy or soy either. Interestingly enough, it was the SOY allergy that really made us have to cut out a lot of foods. Sadly the food industry puts soy in a lot of foods where it doesn't necessarily belong. In an effort to be able to eat ANYTHING, we started shopping religiously at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and our local farmers markets. And I had to start cooking, something I didn't really do prior to this (not that I was incapable, I just chose not to).
Then Little Man grew out of his allergy (and weaned!), Diesel's company cut him back to part time at about 75% of his hourly rate and I went back to work full time after more than year at 1/2 and 3/4 time. Oh and Diesel decided to go back to school. As we got busier, the paychecks got smaller and Little Man's diet opened up more, the pre-packaged convenience foods crept back into our lives & our pantry. I thought I was still doing pretty well about making healthy and earth-friendly choices, photographing my pantry and refrigerator was very eye opening.
I'm mortified at the amount of Hamburger Helper, Rice-A-Roni, Pop Tarts and soda that we own.
Starting with this weekend's trip to the grocers, I'm getting back on the wagon. I'm going to work very hard to make eating QUALITY foods that are good for our bodies and good for the planet fit within our budget. It will be difficult, but I think we can do it!
Oh and I've started listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver on my commute.
Anywho... to get to the before and after of it all... here is my pantry and fridge:
I was happy to discover THIS little gem waiting to reward me for my hard work:
Oh and I call this shelf in our fridge the "yes, in fact we ARE Asian" shelf :