Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Cupboards

You may recall from my post on my books that we have three sets of nice cupboards under our bookshelves.

They look nice on the outside, but on the inside...



This cupboard actually wasn't too bad, once I took the photo albums out and got them on the bookshelf.

As always, I took everything out of the cupboards and piled them up in the living room. I also included the three-drawer cart that was 2/3 of the way dealt with on paper day, because it had a lot of things like paper clips and tape that I knew I'd be moving into the cupboards.


I also included this box that lives on top of our fridge that holds batteries and A LOT of random crap.

 I wanted to get office supplies into this cupboard, because I can never find tape or batteries or paper clips when I want them. Pulling the heavy box down from on top of the fridge is also a pain. So after another trip to the dollar store, I had some handy bins for my office supplies.

This cupboard has tape, batteries, the stapler, envelopes, and light bulbs. I had five rolls of scotch tape because I could never remember if I had any in the random box, so I kept buying more. Now it's easy to see what I have!

The other two cupboards mostly held our games. I love board games, but no one else in our family does except Amelia. So I was really honest with myself about what games we would actually play in the future, and got rid of the rest. I even got rid of some of the Clue games in my collection (but not all of them, I'm not a monster).

Kids' games. The green bin is for games without a box, like Slamwich, and decks of cards.

"Grown-up" games. Stacking the games on their sides instead of on top of each other is AWESOME. So much easier to get out what you want without messing everything up.

This was a smaller project, as they go, but one that I felt really helped me get organized and stop resigning myself to clutter. It also directly addressed things that were frustrating me: the random box on top of the fridge, and never knowing when I was running low on office supplies.

My little helper fell asleep while I was cleaning up.

Next time: It's Spring Break next Tuesday, which means the boys will be home all day and can help do their room! It's going to be a nightmare, I will tell you that right now. It'll be an all day project, and at least one of us will cry (probably me).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: The Bonus Room

When we bought our house, it had an unfinished storage room off the living room that we used as a catch-all room for stuff we wanted to keep but didn't really use. When Ryan re-did our living room, he finished off the bonus room, but kept it as a slightly distinct room from the living room with a pair of barn doors. We still used it as a catch-all room.

Remy's litter box, and a bunch of other random stuff

The kids' craft table, always a disaster

As I mentioned last week, as I did the sheets and towels I had Ryan move the black shelf into Amelia's room. That opened the space under the loft bed, so he moved the craft table into that space.


The stuff of nightmares

Remy's litter box is now on the opposite side of the room. Lucky we have a tolerant cat.

I straightened up our living room, and started moving things out of the bonus room into that space. I immediately made a pile for recycling, which was mostly Benjy's hundreds of discarded drawings. The kid goes through paper quickly.

Remy was excited that the top of the freezer was cleared off

So... many... crayons...

The craft table is the biggest issue in the bonus room, and the biggest issue with the craft table is that the kids leave their markers, crayons, papers, and everything else out instead of putting them away. But to be fair, a lot of the drawers of the craft table still had my stuff in them. It was time to clear everything out, sort it, and designate a final resting place for everything.


Crayons, markers, and colored pencils now have a labeled box (hooray for washi tape!). Honestly, when it came to sorting through all of those I was so tempted to just throw them all away and buy new art supplies. But instead I sharpened all the colored pencils and sorted through the dead markers. It took FOREVER because we don't have an electric pencil sharpener. We will as soon as I can get to Walmart, though.

The drawers are now labeled, too.

The finished space under the loft bed.

Amelia enjoying the fruits of my labors.

The only thing left to do is buy a small recycling bin for this room so Benjy can put his used papers directly in there. I think that will help him clean up after himself so the space never gets cluttered up again.

Next week: the living room cupboards

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Sheets and Towels

While sheets and towels are not stored together at my house, I wish they were. Such is the rationale behind my decision to tidying these two categories together. 

Our house doesn't have a linen closet, or anything that might do as one, so for now our towels are in a dresser in the hallway.
I took this photo before organizing the papers; it doesn't look like this anymore!

Our sheets are in two places: the kids sheets are in a set of plastic drawers in Amelia's closet, and everything else is in a cardboard box left over from our move. Which was three and a half years ago. Time for the sheets to find a permanent home.

The cardboard box gets moved around a lot; it's currently in our bonus room.

I pulled everything out and brought it to the living room. The dresser I left in place, obviously, because I wasn't going to move it by myself! Plus, it works well where it is.


Sorting through sheets. Turns out we have a ridiculous number of pillowcases, 90% of which did not have a sheet set to match.

Because I don't have a convenient central place to store sheets, I decided to split them up by the room they'd be used in. I bought under-the-bed sized plastic tubs for our room and the boys' room. Amelia has a loft bed, so I bought a taller tub that would fit on her closet shelf for her sheets. I also used a container I already had for guest sheets.

We have two sheet sets that fit our hide-a-bed. I also saved some of our pillowcases that were in good shape. The rest of the pillowcases went to Goodwill or the trash can.

The boys' sheets, ready to be hidden under their bed.

The towels are doing well in their dresser, so I decided to keep them there. I did rearrange them, however. I also got rid of a lot of the towels in our "dirty towels" drawer because there were so many of them. Those went to Ryan to use in his workshop. 

So much nicer!

This project had a domino effect: I got the plastic drawer set out of Amelia's room, which meant I had  room to move the cube shelf that was in the bonus room into her room (I'm going to use it to organize her toys). The plastic drawers went in the space where the cube shelf was, because I'm using it now to hold our extra couch cushion covers. All the stuff that was on the cube shelf is now strewn across our living room. Ryan moved the kids' craft table into the space where the cube shelf was, so... you get the picture. The tl;dr version: The bonus room is now next on my list.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

In the Middle of Your Story

As it happens, I do think about things besides tidying my house. 😂 My husband and I just got back from a three-day work conference. At the conference, one of the discussions we had was about hard times, and how we get through them. It used a book analogy, which of course resonated with me.

The people presenting talked about how inspiring it is to read stories of people who go through something really difficult and have amazing things happen to them as a result. They referred to that as the "turn the page" moment: we as readers get to turn the page and see the fabulous ending to their story. But what is it like for the people who are still in the middle of their story, when the page hasn't turned yet? How do you deal when you are still in the hard times, and you don't know if the happy ending will ever come?

I feel like that with my publication story. One day (I hope), you'll turn the page on my story to read that I signed with a new agent, who sold my book, which is now in bookstores everywhere. But for now, I'm in the middle part, where things look bleak and I'm left wondering if I'll ever turn that final page. It's not a fun place to be, in all honesty. I'm sure many of you have felt that way during a trial, or maybe even feel that way right now about something you're going through.

I don't have any answers about how to get through the middle of your story with your head up and your heart full. I wish I did. Everyone has to get through that part in their own way. I wrote a post at Operation Awesome a few years ago about "fighting the good fight of faith," and the attitude behind it that helped me. I reread it today. It was a good reminder to keep going. I don't know if I'll achieve my dreams if I keep going, but I do know that I never will if I stop.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: The Bathroom

My mom is in town, and she's been following my Tidying Up progress, so she offered to help me with a project while she was here. We decided to do the bathroom. Our home has two bathrooms, but one is being renovated, so we did the main bathroom. Fortunately, that's the one that's going to store all our things anyway.

Here are some before photos:
We usually have stuff all over the counter, and on top of the shelf over the sink. 

Ryan hangs his pajamas from this extra towel rack

I keep my cleaning supplies on top of the cabinet

The medicine cabinet on the wall opposite the sink skeeves me out every time I open it. One of my goals was to not need the storage there anymore, so we can tear it down and hang a mirror in its place.


We pulled everything out. I kept forgetting about places we had things. This bathroom really does have a lot of storage space, unlike the rest of our house.



 My mom cleaned up every drawer as it was emptied, and helped me put contact paper down in the drawers and shelves that didn't have it yet.

She wouldn't let me take a proper photo of her, but here she is cleaning out the space under the sink


 Our cat was excited about the empty cupboards. I had to drag him out so I could put the contact paper down in his favorite hiding spot.


We had several paint cans and other miscellaneous things under our sink, so those went out to Ryan's workshop. The cleaning supplies are now under the sink, including the toilet scrub brush and plunger! Not having them out next to the toilet makes a huge difference.


I was able to get the medicine out of the creepy cabinet, with the help of several plastic bins from the dollar store. Our kids are old enough now to stay out of stuff like that, which is why I felt comfortable moving the cleaning supplies and the medicine from their former high-up homes.



 Our travel bags and supplies are no longer strewn all over the drawer.


Even our toothpaste is off the counter and in a handy holder. The boys remembered to put it away without being told when they got ready for school this morning. They are doing a great job of staying on the tidy train.


Having my mom to help me was awesome. Tidying is much more fun with someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Paper

I've been so excited to get to the papers stage of tidying up, mainly because this is how our papers are currently stored:


There are files in the long box with the hanging folders (the one with the apple sticker), two out of three of the plastic drawers, and papers in the accordion files stacked on top. I wanted to consolidate all the papers and get them off the dresser! 



I pulled everything into the living room to start. Our safe has important papers, with a hanging folder for everyone, except Amelia because the safe only came with four folders. So I added one for her papers. Only took me four years.

I started with the accordion folders, and did mine first. My folder for some reason became the storage place for the receipts for our flex spending account. I threw all of those from before 2018 away. Pretty much everything else from that folder got recycled. Ryan's accordion folder was stuffed with informational handouts from the insurance we had from his previous job. In 2011. Into the recycling they went.

As I found papers I knew I'd want to keep, I made piles on the floor and labeled them.


In the plastic drawers I found just about every single piece of sheet music I've ever sung. Most got recycled. I used the Genius Scan app to save the keepers. My sister did her papers last week, and she suggested I use Genius Scan. The app allowed me to take a photo of each page of music and batch the whole song together in a PDF. Amazing! So much easier than scanning each individual sheet, plus the added bonus of batching the sheets together. If you're organizing papers soon, I highly recommend this app.

Then I went through the plastic tub with the hanging folders. I got rid of old tax documents, manuals, and receipts that were so faded I couldn't read them anymore. The tub went from this:


to this:


Turns out we don't need such a large container for our hanging file folders. Once we decide where we're going to keep this, I may downgrade to a smaller one.

Finally, I decided on a new way to organize my "pending papers," or the ones I need to deal with instead of just save for when needed. Normally I keep them on my bedside table until they start falling off, at which point I remember that I need to deal with them. I bought a paper holder at the dollar store in my favorite color, and put it in the drawer of the bedside table.


I know, I know; the rest of the drawer is a mess. I'll deal with it when I do bedroom komono!

Next up: I'll be out of town next Tuesday. My mom is coming to visit, and she said she'd help with the komono, so I guess it'll be Mom's Choice. She'll have a lot of options to choose from....

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Kids' Books

First, as I promised last week, here is the finished photo of the bookshelves after Ryan added the ones he wanted to keep.

You can see the photo albums in the bottom left corner. I'm so happy those are out of the cupboard! Ryan's collection of Cottage Living magazines are on the bookshelves now, too, which freed up a lot of space on our kitchen island. I'm looking forward to filling that space when I do kitchen komono in a few weeks.

Also, highlight of my day: my sister texted me this afternoon as I was tidying up to tell me that she was going all KonMari on her clothes. She also did her books today. Two categories in one day! I was so impressed.

On to the kids' bookshelves!

I forgot to take a before photo of Amelia's bookshelf, probably because hers wasn't terribly messy. But here's a shot of the boys' shelves.


Sam uses the top of the bookshelf as a depository for all his random stuff. Actually, he uses ALL the shelves for his random stuff, as you can see from the photo. I took all of that off and piled it up for him to deal with when he got home from school.

Benjy stayed home from school today because he woke up with a fever, but it was one of those kid sicknesses where you give them an ibuprofen and thirty minutes later it's like nothing was ever wrong. So I decided Benjy was up to helping with the sorting.

My little helpers

I did the kids' books all together because I figured it was time to move a lot of the picture books over to Amelia's shelves. Unsurprisingly, Benjy and Amelia wanted to keep pretty much every single book. When they weren't looking, I pulled some of the more battered board books out of the keep pile. Amelia is outgrowing them, anyway. Benjy also identified some books he didn't want that I knew Sam would, so those went in their own pile for Sam to look through. He kept all but one or two of those (again, not a surprise).


Amelia's bookshelf: a lot more picture books, fewer board books (but still some)

The boys' bookshelf: No longer encumbered by non-book items! They even had room at the bottom for their composition notebooks full of their own comics.

Just like with the drawers, the kids were given a talking-to about expectations for how their bookshelves are to stay. Sam in particular was warned that the bookshelf is no longer a dumping ground for random things he wants to keep.

I think that having the kids help choose their books gives them some ownership over the project. I felt the same way about the drawers. Making Ben and Sam fold their own clothes and decide which clothes went where was really good for them. They are keeping their drawers neat. Hopefully they can do the same with their bookshelves.

Side note: I keep wanting to call them bookcases. I think that's a regional thing, because my grandma (who lives on the East Coast) referred to them as bookcases on the phone the other day. But no one out here ever says bookcases.

Next week: Paper. I am seriously so excited for this one.