Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indispensable List

In the process of organizing you are supposed to get rid of a lot of stuff. I have a lot of stuff. Sometimes I know what to do with it and sometimes I don't. Broken CD player? Martha has once again come to my rescue. Yes, we are on a first name basis. She has provided me (OK and all of you) with a list of resources for getting rid of stuff. So start simplifying.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sometimes You Need Cookies

Organizing is tough work. And I haven't really exerted myself this month because I started on the kitchen a few months ago. But just keeping the kitchen counter clean is a full time job. And yesterday we reaped the rewards. My children begged to make cookies last week and I told them we would do it on the weekend. I had every intention of following through. I don't like to lie to my children after all. But we waited until Sunday and then we went on a hike and then it was just too late. So, after much crying and lamenting over how unfair life is (that was Emma not me) I promised we would make them this week. Monday was out because I just started classes again Monday night. And you do not want my husband in charge of baking. Actually, he did make cookies with Emma one time and they were quite festive and delicious. I'm just not sure how he would fare with three. So that left Tuesday. I put COOKIES on my calendar and underlined it three times. I want my children to know they can count on me to keep my word. So we made cookies. And not just any cookies. Sugar cookies. The from scratch roll out kind. Now you may wonder why there are reindeer and Easter bunnies. That is called self expression. In the interest of time we could not ice the cookies (which caused a near meltdown) but they used enough sprinkles to power a small sugar loving village. And all thanks to my clean counters.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mission Impossible Accomplished

Some of you have seen my rants about the state of my house and specifically my kitchen counters (if you have not stopped reading yet because you are tired of rants). Saturday I decided enough was enough! I just started cleaning the kitchen counter and as a bonus I cleaned out the junk drawer! I had to step up my game since Marie has been organizing like a demon. It's more the spirit of cooperation than competition. Here's the photographic evidence (lest you think I'm just lying to make myself look better):



So cathartic. Why didn't I do this before? I've just realized though, your space has to be a complete mess in order to feel the accomplishment of getting it together. That's my excuse anyway.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Constant State

I think if I organized as much as I complain about organizing I would be the most organized person alive. This is my struggle:

And this is after I installed a plethora of organizers in the entryway:

On a side note, the framed chalkboard on the garage door was an easy little DIY project. It just involves a picture frame and metallic chalkboard paint. So easy. And convenient. But all of these don't keep me from piling stuff on the counter. I guess it comes down to changing my habits instead of buying more organizing stuff. That just might be the key to all of this. And it sounds harder than just buying out the Container Store.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Piles of Laundry

Yesterday, while watching CNN, I managed to put a dent in the huge mountain of laundry that seems to accumulate annually. I don't know why I can't stay on top of the situation and do two loads daily. I just can't. I didn't have the stomach to count all of the loads I washed, folded, and put away. Let's just say it was equivalent to this:

Yes, that was a few months ago. And it was back to that state. So I concentrated on laundry all day and meanwhile the rest of my house looked like a Wal-Mart after Black Friday. So many things seem out of balance in my life and one thing consistently tips the scales. I know, from talking to my friends, that other people struggle with this. So why do I feel so alone?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dreamy Dream Board

I did it! I started my dream board. I had been using the pictures as a bookmark for several months and I finally sat down, took out the glue stick, and glued them on. For your viewing pleasure:

Apparently I would like to live in a Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel catalog. And really, who wouldn't? Obviously there's still a lot of white space. That's so I can add on as I go. I posted the board above my desk so I can look at it several hundred times a day. One day my life will be so serene. The odd thing is there are no people in the photographs. Yes, because people mess up the serenity. How can I organize my life when my living room and kitchen look like an explosion of toys, clothing and various other things I can't categorize? How?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Running Out of Steam

Isn't it funny how little it takes to derail all of our plans. My youngest was sick last week and had two traumatic doctor's visits. I didn't feel like doing much beyond curling up in a fetal position. But today is Monday. The day of starting things. Evidently I was a little premature last week in my tasks and I realized I should have been working on routines and not actually starting the cleaning process. Always trying to get ahead of myself. So this week I have to work on routines and start the cleaning process. And I think we'll just keep working on that multi-vitamin and water thing. I need to get those down before moving on to the next thing. Simple Steps HA! I cannot seem to remember to take my vitamin. Any tips on that one? And now Kate has to take pill every day for a year. And Odie is on medication twice a week. Maybe I should consider a career in the pharmaceutical arts. This week I will complete my dream board and post a picture. That is my goal. That and totally wipe out the pile of laundry in my closet. Ready, set, go.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Occasionally I like to Google myself or my blog. It's tough keeping your blog posts on the first page of Google search results. You can only imagine my struggle with "broken bananas." Actually, I'm always number one and two on that one. Because who does random searches for broken bananas? Apparently lots of people. So the other day I Googled the books I'm using to see if anyone else had my million dollar idea. And surprise, someone did. But I like her blog so I'll refrain from taking any steps to "reduce the competition." Plus, she did a blog post about me. No one (as far as I know) has done that. And if they have it probably wasn't pleasant. Her name is Marie and she writes One Year to an Organized Life AND Every Day is a Miracle. See, I'm not the only one with multiple blogs! And she is an Obama supporter living in a blue state. Must be nice. It's a lonely existence here. She is also organizing her house using Regina Leeds' book. So we are supporting each other through this fragile time (because she also has three children she is struggling to get involved in the organizing). I'm so excited to find a blog friend I don't know in real life. Because I'll let you in on a little secret, all the links on my other blog to "Moms I Actually Like" are moms I actually know (except for Dooce unfortunately). We really could just call each other to discuss our lives but we write it in blog form instead. At least we always have someone to comment on our blogs. But now I'm not alone in this undertaking. And I promise Marie, if I am invited to the Today Show I will take you with me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Week

This week I'm supposed to continue the tasks from last week and add a new one from Simple Steps. I'm having a hard enough time just drinking the water. But I know that's an important one. Especially when it's 4:00 and I realize I haven't had anything to drink but coffee and soda. Add caffeine to my list of addictions. And no, I will not be detoxing from it. Everyone needs at least one vice. So this week I should:

  • Continue to unload and load dishwasher (brilliant when I make myself unload in the morning)
  • Wipe counters (my kitchen counter is the bane of my existence but I do manage to wipe the one square foot I cook on)
  • Drink at least 48 ounces water
  • Take a multi-vitamin every day
I think the real task this week was walking 20 minutes a day but since I just went back to South Beach Phase 1 I thought that might be impossible. At least that's what I tell myself. I'm also supposed to work on my Dream Board (an idea from One Year to an Organized Life). It's basically an inspiration board and I can't seem to find the inspiration to be inspired. It always feels like too much work to drag out the pictures, glue and boards. Maybe I'm just resistant. I figured I would let my kids cut and glue too so it would be a family project. I also need to do a quick toss of unnecessary things. I think I've mentioned that my pantry and cabinets are in order already but my storage closet off the kitchen is a little bit of a nightmare. If I get that under control I will high five myself and buy me a drink.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday Dinner

When I think of all the things I suck at, such as proper grammar, I have to admit there are a few things I've mastered and can be proud of. One of those things is meals at the dining room table. We always eat at the table, whether we have fast food or I actually cook. December was a stressful time so we probably ate out more than we should but now I'm back to cooking. I know Sunday dinner is a big thing for some families and in our family I usually like to cook something a little special. Last night I made walnut-crusted pork chops from Cooking Light. I love, love, love Cooking Light. I get the magazine AND buy the year end book at Costco. It has all of the recipes from the magazine for the past year arranged by month. I probably should just stop getting the magazine but I love looking at the pictures. I didn't actually make the rice from scratch. I just used boxed long grain and wild rice and added the bacon and salt mix. Our family is a pork loving family and to prove it, my children (and husband) ate almost all the rice just because there was bacon. In the past I've heard, "What's this black stuff? I don't like this. Do I have to eat it?" Last night, not a peep. I also used boneless center cut pork chops instead of bone-in. I was ambivalent about them but after everyone in the family ate everything on their plate and asked for seconds, I decided I would definitely make this again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Totally Cool

I am such a child of the 80s. I can't stop using: totally, awesome, totally awesome, and cool. But yesterday I had a totally awesomely cool experience. Remember the books I showed you? Come on, it was only one day ago. Anyway. Regina Leeds, author of One Year to An Organized Life, commented on my blog. If my brief description of her book (which is much more than I have described so far) didn't convince you to buy it, the fact that she would take the time to comment on a random person's blog should. It makes me feel like she really does back up what she advocates. She "walks the walk" if you will. So thanks Regina, I'll give out a shout out to you every chance I get. I'll make you proud. OK now I've just gone too far. The whole point of this experiment (if it does have a point) is to show people that they are not alone in living in constant chaos and it can be tamed. I will die trying to tame it. And I know this is extremely overused but, "If I can do it..." If it would help one person to see pictures of my exploding closet then it's worth it. Because one day my closet will be neat and organized and my life will be perfect. OK maybe not that last part. But it will certainly be easier.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Phase One of My Super Plan

I have these two books and a plan to take over the world:

The Simple Steps book is from a few years ago and I don't even think their website is up anymore. But is has useful tips (apart from the kitchen dancing) and I've always stopped about a quarter of the way through. You're supposed to add four new steps a week but my life is such that one step a week is sufficient. The One Year to an Organized Life book was a gift. And no she wasn't trying to tell me something. I started it last year but only finished half of the kitchen. I wish I had pictures of my pantry before the cleaning. I promise pictures of my closet, which will disturb and amaze you. The premise of this book is organizing one space per month and doing tasks each week. She also has suggestions for starting habits that will keep your space organized. So this week my tasks from both books are:
  • Load and unload dishwasher daily
  • Wipe counters in kitchen after dinner
  • Drink at least 48 ounces water daily
Apart from the constant peeing, these tips are very useful. I routinely load the dishwasher but it's days before I unload it. Having it empty throughout the day really helps. And I've assigned Emma the task of loading it after dinner. I did have to show her my special way to load (which really is the only way). One week and already my children have some recurring chores. Maybe this organizing thing isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I originally wrote this post last September but it is as true today as it was then. I guess I didn't get very far on my organizational road map. But hey, it's a new year. Funny how that happens. So in the spirit of kicking a dead horse I thought I would unearth this insightful (and devastatingly funny) blog. Let's see how long it takes before I quit again. Because I'm an optimist.

I need another blog like I need another kid. Is that mean? I get these ideas (they just come to me) and I have to start another blog. One of the many challenges of my life is feeling so inadequate about getting everything done. I see people who make it seem so effortless and I wonder how they do it all. I want to be a better mother, housekeeper, student, daughter, wife, friend, volunteer, activist, fashionista and woman. But I just don't have the time. The consequence is I very often look at the state of my house or the state of my life and go take a nap because I am so overwhelmed. So yesterday I was thinking about organization and what it takes to be an efficient person. Phyllis Schafly was spouting her opinions on how easy it was to raise six kids if you were, "..a hard-working, well-organized C.E.O. type.” And I only have half as many kids. Now I don't usually take advice from the likes of Phyllis but maybe I do need to start approaching my life as the take charge CEO I know I can be. Unfortunately no huge bonuses for me if say, my kids complete college without becoming meth addicts or my husband and I save just enough for retirement that we don't have to eat cat food. The point is, I need some intervention. So I decided to take the step of mapping out a big portion of my day. I will have tasks and times to do them in. And I will include interacting with my family in these tasks. Because it is so easy to just let them watch Dora while you're scrubbing the toilet, or let's be honest, surfing the net. I'm hoping this little social experiment will lead me to a place of greater productivity and happiness. I will do a little research along the way. I will probably have a lot of trial and error. But I will make a change dammit! Only 365 days to go.