Sunday T&A

Today’s Thifting and Adventure post comes late in the day because – I just got done. LOL

Yesterday, we had my In-laws over to the house for dinner and spent our Saturday doing some projects around the house to sort of finish up the moving-in.  The Fiance and I engineered 2 new nightstands for the bedroom, and we finally started putting up pictures.

So, today we headed out to one of the Thrift Stores we found last weekend.  They have customer appreciation day on Sundays and there’s a coupon for 50% off everything in the store.  So, it’s likely to become a Sunday tradition.  With that as our sole intention for the day, we ended up going to 4 more Thrift stores, one that was new to us and 3 others that we hit last weekend.. just because.

Here’s the haul from this week:

That’s it for the week – it was a pretty great afternoon.

Have you had any amazing finds you want to brag about?  Use the comments to tell me about them!

The best laid plans…

I put off writing a lot because I feel like it isn’t good enough.

Not the writing, mind you – I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my writing style or abilities.  I know that my audience understands me and that my points come across, so I don’t fret over every silly word.  I mean the content.  I read all the homemaking, DIY, crafting, parenting, etc. blogs.  I have a Pinterest account.  I see the wonder that seems to be everyone else’s creativity and resources and while I absolutely LOVE the project-sharing and inspiration that comes from these blogs, sometimes I think they come with a side of inferiority complex.

When The Fiance and I moved in last week, everything just kind of got placed into the pantry in the most haphazard way, just to get it out of boxes/grocery bags, and get it on the shelves.  To say that it needed organizing is an understatement.   Of course, as we prepared to make this move, I’ve pinned every beautiful pantry in the blogosphere to my Pinterest, planning and scheming in my mind’s eye how I would arrange ours.  I have a few things in mind, and this morning I was itching to attack the disorganization.   So, I went into the kitchen and started pulling all of the things off the shelves and putting them on the countertops, ready to clean, beautify and containerize my heart out.

Once everything was out of the pantry, I turned my Pinterest-trained eyes to the pantry itself.  Hmmmm… it could use a paint job.  What color do I want to paint it?  Am I going to start painting now, when I have 2 boxes waiting to be unpacked in the Master Bedroom?  Hmmm… I have a fair amount of jars and baskets, but they don’t all match, color or style.  Could I spray paint them to bring cohesiveness?  What about the mismatched styles?  Hmmm.. Canned goods are supposed to be on a lazy susan, right?  Didn’t I see that pinned?  But I don’t HAVE a lazy susan.  How could I possibly organize the cans?  Hmmm.. I asked The Fiance for a Silouette machine for Christmas, but it’s not Christmas yet.  What will I do about beautiful labels?

Talk about FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.  Oh no, I have so much food all over the counters.  However will I make it beautiful?!

Snap out of it, lady.  Patience has never been a virtue of mine, but it’s one that I need to learn.  Yes, yes – One day I will have accumulated all of the things I have in my head that will make my pantry a place that makes angels sing whenever it’s opened.  But to do that, I’ll need planning.  And time.  And to be cost efficient – it has to be over TIME.  What on earth will I have accomplished by running out, buying hand-made artisan paper to line the walls, 45,195 of the exact same shape container, and painstakingly making the same number of matching labels for all of those containers in a single day?  Will I join the ranks of the Pinterest greats?  Will you, dear reader, canonize me and share, link, pin, tweet, and bookmark my post?  Probably not.

I will have a pantry that still feels like it could be tweaked, an empty wallet, and I’ll be too tired to make dinner tonight, so I’ll have a cranky family who has Chinese for dinner.  Over time, those things are all doable – accumulating the containers at the Thrift store and Flea market will be a much better option than running to Target today.  Stumbling upon the perfect pattern for the walls will be a delight and a joy, when it happens.

As I stood there in the kitchen, The Fiance walked in and I frowned at the pantry and said “This isn’t going to be blog worthy.”

He looked at my pout and said, “Okay, so it’s not blog-worthy.  You can still put it all back in a more organized way so that the pantry is more functional for you.”  Ahhhh, my voice of reason.  There’s a reason why not very many men have Pinterest accounts, ladies.  If an organized pantry was my goal, I’ve met it today.  If having the most awesomest pantry in all of blogland was my goal – I need new goals.

So, my offering today is a simple one.   I spent 20 minutes reorganizing my pantry today.  It’s functional and organized and for my family, it’s GOOD ENOUGH.

How about you?  Do you find yourself Paralyzed by Pinterest?  Tell me what you’ve done (or are planning to do) so we can celebrate, no matter how big or small the victory is!

How to start fresh with organization when you move (part 1)

This is going to be in 2 parts.  The first part is here, in Florida – as I am packing on this end.   The second part will be from The Atlanta House when I am setting up a new household.  

So, the countdown to The Atlanta House is in full swing. The Fiancé is holding it down in Atlanta, painting and prepping for our arrival, and Monkey and I are in Florida, packing our things in preparation for moving day.

I’ve taken this opportunity to reevaluate our organization, what has been working for us, what hasn’t been working for us, and how things will change with a different living arrangement. I’m going to share some of these tips with you today.

1. Purge as you pack.. This seems like advice we hear a lot, but the implementation is usually not as easy. Well, let’s make it easy. There are no other scenarios other than moving where you are literally faced with every single thing you own, so now is the time to make some decisions.

Next to each box that I pack, I place a second box — the goodwill box. As I empty each drawer, cabinet, and closet, I envision The Atlanta House and how those objects will fit in to the house in my mind, as well as their use when I get there. The Fiancé and I have some duplicate items, so we’ve previously discussed who’s toaster, microwave, etc. stays. Therefore, these are a no-brainer. Other things such as sheets… I’ve been keeping three sets of sheets in each bed size, and either donating additional sets, or evaluating their usefulness as fabric for other projects.

For my closet, I sat on the bed as the decision maker and clothes folder, while The Fiancé and my Monkey took care of all the things that involved moving. Monkey pulled all of my dresses, one by one, out of the closet, and I evaluated them from the bed, either having her hand it to me, to be folded and packed, or having her hand it to The Fiancé, to be folded and donated. Once we’d been through all of the clothes in the house, The Fiancé had many bags of clothes to donate, which he took up to Goodwill the next morning and brought me back a receipt.

2. Reevaluate where you want to store your belongings.. This has been crucial for me here in Florida. I have had to be very creative with the storage space available to us in our small little home, and thus – some items are stored in rooms where I might not necessarily store them if I had more room available to me. There are also those little things that stray from their like items, such as the lotion that manages to make a home next to the bed, or the DVDs that meander to a tv in a room that isn’t where they belong, etc.

To address this, I’ve started 4 different boxes, labeled for the rooms where I ultimately want things stored in The Atlanta House. For my purposes, I have Bathroom, Family Room, Master Bedroom, and Dining Room.  Bathroom – because that’s where items tend to migrate away from in my household.  Family Room because in The Atlanta House, we will be combining the Office(s) with a living space, which is different than either of our set ups at the moment.  The Master Bedroom because in my current set up, I do not have a dressing area/make up area in my bedroom, but in Atlanta I will.  And Dining Room because my teeny tiny little Florida House does not have a Dining Room.  My Dining Room furniture is currently in storage and all of the things I would typically keep in the Dining Room are sporadically stored throughout the house as I have found space for them.

With this set up, I will avoid the unpacking of items in a room I do not ultimately intend for it to wind up.  That way, as I am packing my bedroom closet, instead of packing my tablecloths from the top shelf into my bedroom boxes, they can go straight into the Dining Room box, to facilitate easier unpacking when we get to our destination.

And finally..

3. I have packed all of my baskets, storage bins, containers separately on their own.  Why?  Well, I have many different baskets, bins, jars, totes, boxes, etc… And they are being utilized in a way that makes the most sense for the space that I have here in Florida.  The spaces in The Atlanta House are much different, so I figure when I unpack – having all of the storage containers in a central location will allow me to assess each space and shop from my own collection as I go about organizing our things.

I love starting fresh and having an opportunity to fine-tune the organization in my home..

How about you?  How do you handle moves?

Desk made for 2..

So, The Fiance and I both work from home.  We’re also both video game dorks.  With that comes a need for 2 work spaces and various gamer-intricacies.  For example – my monitor is 32″…  and The Fiance rolls with 2 monitors that are 27″ each.

Small desks won’t cut it here.  Also, we don’t really want to be segregated from the rest of the family (read: kiddo(s)) if we are on our computers, because we both spend a greater-than-average amount of time sitting at the computer.. For either work or pleasure.

Beautiful, but this won’t work for us. (Photo Source: Young House Love)

And finally – I didn’t want a side-by-side-looking-at-a-wall-or-out-a-window linear configuration for a number of reasons.

  1. I’d really prefer not to have my back to Monkey or the rest of the family when I am working.. it’s not very conducive to conversations.  It also encourages little eyes over my shoulder when I’m on the internet and I’m not a huge fan of that.
  2. I didn’t want my family room to be the background when I am using Skype to connect with a client.  It takes away from the professionalism a bit when  you see my child hopping around in the background, playing Wii.
  3. I’d really rather see The Fiance’s face when we’re both at the computer, as opposed to his back or the side of his head, etc.

So, I went internet hunting for a possible set up that would could DIY.  We originally saw this in IKEA:

GALANT series from IKEA, set up as a 2-person workstation.

This had a couple of problems.  First, it was $610 for that set up.  That’s a bit steep.  Also, I don’t really like the legs at all.  And finally – it has ZERO storage.  I’d be paying $610 for a funny-shaped table.  No drawers, no shelves, nothing.  So, we continued to hunt and brainstorm.

Then I came across a post on IKEA Hackers.  The guy who posted it turned some IKEA Expedit units into the support for a desk and used Vika Amon Tabletops to build a super big workstation for two!  There are many things to love about this.

Isn’t this great?! Look at all that space! And the storage! (Photo Source: IKEA Hackers)

First, I already own those exact IKEA Expedit pieces.  In my bedroom, I’m sporting (2) 2×4 and (1) 2×2 units.  We talked about it, and The Fiance would also like a 2×2 on his side, so we’ll need to buy one more, in addition to the table tops, but that brings us from $610.00 down to about $112.  Considerable savings!  Plus, it just looks so much better and HOLY COW, the storage!

I’m most definitely excited to bring this together.

Do any of you have to balance two workstations?  How have you solved this?

Clutter buster: Digital Storage Part 1 (Paper)

Last year, Monkey and I made a move to a tiny little beach house in Florida.  While the location was great, it most definitely required us to simplify our lifestyle and learn some valuable lessons about space.

When going from a 2500 square foot home to a 900 square foot home, even if temporary, I have been hard pressed to find storage space in every available nook and cranny, so that we don’t find ourselves reported to the Hoarders show by a well-meaning friend.

We also decided to overhaul our consumption habits and be a little greener than we previously had been.  In marrying these two ideals, I began to think about digital storage.

Digital storage enables me to not have to make hard decisions about what’s valuable and what isn’t, and instead enjoy a huge collection of things in a teeny-tiny footprint.  While we’ve shifted into the digital age for music and sometimes even movies, there are so many other ways to utilize technology to store a massive amount of information.  Today I’m going to talk about paper.


Hoarders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paper. Oh, paper – how I loathe thee.   I can’t seem to ever find myself on top of the paper monster.  Paper flows into my house at an alarming rate – between Monkey bringing home 3-15 pieces of paper each week from school (with her schoolwork, annoucements, projects, etc. on them), mail coming in daily, magazines, catalogs, books, notepads, etc..  There is a LOT of paper in my house.  But slowly I am working to move it all into the digital era.

For Kiddos – A flatbed scanner is a great tool for those of you with kiddos.  One of the kind that has the pages feed through a scanner is fine for the most part, but sometimes Monkey brings me home a project that she has glued things to and they don’t fare very well in a feed-style scanner.  So, a flatbed scanner would be the best bet here.

I had to take this one on the fly, in between moves, so I took a quick picture of it with my camera. This is one of the few that I kept the original – and framed it to put in the house, so it was okay that there’s a shadow from my arm. 🙂

I started with folders named “Kindergarten”, “Vacation Bible School”, “First Grade”, “Second Grade” “Third Grade” etc.  Inside each of these folders, I’ve got “Math” “Science” “English” “Art” etc.  As she brings home papers each day, they go into an in-box on my desk, and once a week or so, I go through, scan them into my computer, plunk them into their designated folders, and then toss the paper itself.  Now I have everything she’s done in school and it takes up no space in the house at all!

Tip:  For projects that are larger (Posters, dioramas, etc.) that will not work very well with a scanner, take a picture (or many!) of the project, and even better – of your child WITH the project.  Then you have a record of their beautiful creation(s), a photograph capturing how sweet and small they were when they created it, and you can then either toss the project, or pawn it off on a grandparent.   Either way – it’s not clutter anymore.

For Bills – Virtually all of my bills are no longer mailed to me, and instead emailed to me from the respective company.  My electricity bill, water bill, cell phone bill, etc. – They are all sent to me electronically and paid electronically as well.   You can check with your companies and see about opting into that service.  However, there are a couple of places that do not offer electronic billing statements, and for them – to the scanner they go, too!

For these, to store, I have a folder labeled “Finances” and then yearly, monthly folders inside.  In each folder, I keep a copy of the electronic statement (usually downloadable via the email that is sent to you, or from the website of each company), as well as the scanned copies of the bills I cannot get electronically.   Inside each monthly folder, I also keep a word file where I track the payments that I made that month.  For this there are simply lines that look like this:

Cable Company |  8/02/12 |  $29.95 | Confirmation:  318468384 

Electricity Company |  8/02/12 |  $132.18 | Verification Number: 646872

When each months’ bills come in, I simply start a new folder for that month and begin the process again.  If I ever have a problem and have to make a phone call, I have all of the information available to me and ready to give to the customer service representative.  Inside the Financial Folder, I also keep a file that lists all of my account numbers, passwords, etc. so that I can readily access that information and not have to dig to find something on the fly.

For Books – I know there’s an ongoing debate on Digital books vs. real books, and some very strong opinions on both sides of the fence.   I’m not going to attempt to argue for one over another, I’m just going to give you a run-down of how we do it in Minx World.

I love my devices.  Between  my Kindle and my iPad (with both the iBooks and Kindle apps), I love how much technology is stored at my fingertips at any given moment.  (I even have the apps on my iPod touch, so it can literally be in my pocket!)  I store a lot of books on these devices.  However, I also love books in general, and I like having them about.  They’re beautiful, they’re fun to decorate with, and sometimes there’s just nothing better than flipping through the pages of an actual book.  So, we do both.

For reference books, like The Breastfeeding Book, I like to have a digital copy.  I am a Breastfeeding educator, and within my circle of friend and associates, I often field Breastfeeding questions.  When helping a mother, I like to have this book (as well as many others) around to reference if I need additional information not off the top of my head, and it makes far more sense (to me) to have it in my purse, than to have to return a phone call when I’m back at home and can pull out a book that I need to reference.

For fiction, fun-to-read books, I’ve moved into digital format, because I typically would buy those books in paperback form, knowing that they were a once-or-twice read, and I didn’t want to spend the money on the hardback versions.  Now that I have access to digital books – these are also on my list of digital information, because paperback books just become clutter in my household, so once I am done reading a digital book, it just disappears into the cloud of archived books.  I can still pull it back onto my devices if I want to read it again, and I’m not shuffling paperback books off to charity or the library every few months.

For Magazines – I’ve gone digital, hehe.  Magazines are an indulgence that have contributed to a massive amount of paper in and out of my house for years.  I read a few per month.  Most of the magazines that I read have digital subscriptions available, and are simply downloaded to my devices each month when a new issue is out, but there are a few holdouts.  For these, I treat them the same as I do catalogs.

As I’m flipping through a magazine or catalog, looking at pictures for inspiration or reading articles, if I stumble upon pictures that I love, I slip it into my scanner and plunk it into a folder that fits its theme.

This got a bit lengthy, so I’ll cut it off here, but hopefully that helps plant some ideas in your head that can help you conquer the Paper Monster.  Later this week, I’ll talk about other digital information storage.

How about you?  What are some of your solutions to paper?

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