Now that Christmas is finally over (yes, finally since it started in September this year), you probably want to get all that holiday cheer out of your house. I know I do! Sure, I can be a little Scroogey. I mean, I like watching the Grinch, (but only the first half, when all the Christmas stuff has been cleaned up) but sometimes there’s only so much joy you can grind out of me.
Christmas is great and all, but I like to start the new year with a clean house, not one covered in decorations that need to be put away, and gifts that never found a home, and leftover fruit cake. So here’s the post-Christmas clean up list:
1) Throw out wrapping and packaging – make sure any gift cards or cash are accounted for first! – trash is easy to get rid of because it’s obviously trash. Doing this first will give you more room to manuever and won’t take much brain power.
2) Put away Christmas decorations – throw out any light strands that didn’t work, or ornaments a fat cat stole off the tree and broke behind the table. This happened twice this year at our house. But our cat is a jackass; you might have good cats. Christmas decorations presumably have a home already so you know right where to put them, so again, no-brainer.
3) Find a home for all your fancy new gadgets and gizmos – don’t forget to get rid of an old version if your gift was an upgrade, or if you follow the ultimate uncluttering rule: if one thing enters your house, one must leave. It’s like the Thunderdome, but for your stuff.
4) Put anything you need to return (wrong size or completely wrong for you, whatever the reason) somewhere you won’t forget them along with their gift receipts, if they have them. Your car might be a good place, if you won’t forget about them. Returns often have a time limit, so make sure to get after it!
5) Christmas cards – If someone has written a touching message, or made a card themselves, or it’s particularly funny I usually keep it. However, some are just generic, like “Happy Holidays, from your dentist”. Well these apparently have a home, other than the recycle bin! St. Jude’s recycles old cards into new ones. I just found out about this thanks to Unclutterer! They actually take cards year-round, for all occassions, so I’m going to keep this in mind as I unclutter my scrapbooking box.
Here’s to a clean and organized New Year!
After my confession about the depths of my laziness, I decided to actually do something useful. Did I do the dishes or laundry, or any of those menial tasks that will just need to be done again tomorrow? Nope. I reorganized our files for the new year. Exciting? Not in the slightest. Useful? Definitely.
I had a stack of papers about four or five inches high that I had been ignoring. I wanted to go through that stack and get rid of what I could and then file the rest. Our files are set up divided by the year, so now that it’s technically 2012 (my brain still thinks it’s 2010), I needed to move the 2011 files out, and create new folders for the 2012 stuff. I even created a few new categories which should help to keep us more organized.
For any filing system, you need to create files that make sense to you. If you want one called “Electronics” for info on your computer, cell phone, toaster, etc, or an individual one for each of those items, it’s up to you. Organize these things so that you can find them again easily. If you are using someone else’s filing system, you’ll never know where things need to go or can be found. Think to yourself “Where would I logically look for this if I needed it?”, then put it there. If you want to keep all the info on your kitchen appliances in the kitchen, do so, then you’ll always know where it is if you need it.
I keep all of our paper junk in a small filing cabinet in one drawer. I have a file for paid bills, pets, me medical, Hubby medical, pay stubs, and so on. For items that I probably won’t need to look at again, like the bills that have been paid, I just stuff them all in one folder. For things I may need to reference, like the maintenance records for each of our cars, I keep them separate so I can get to the correct info quickly.
In general, you should keep financial information for 7 years: that is how far back the IRS can ask you for records. You should keep health info forever, and I plan on keeping the information for big purchases, like our new stove, as long as we have the item. Do you actually need access to most of this? Probably not. I keep the current year’s info easily available, then store the rest (clearly labeled, of course) under a bunch of crap in a closet. It’s heavy, and I doubt I’ll need it, but you never know. Before I store everything, I try to minimize what is being stored.
As I pulled out each 2011 file, I sorted through it to see if there were things that could be shredded. I eventually recycled about 5 inches of paper, with just a tiny bit of stuff that needs to be shredded. The file folders for 2011 were blue, and the 2012 ones are orange (that seems to be my color this year). I pull and store the entire file, rather than letting everything mix together.
To originally get everything as organized as it is took probably 2-3 hours last year. This year? Maybe 30 minutes at the most, plus another 10 to deal with the stack of crap I’d been ignoring. One piece of advice I have is to make an “Info” or “Other” file. Everyone has little bits of things, like a list of the AFI top 100 movies, that they want to keep, but don’t really fit into another category. At the end of the year decide if you still want this stuff. I removed more than half the stuff in mine, but kept the important things, like the chinese food menu. Having a place for all those random bits of paper keeps them from stacking up around the house.
I also set up a 3 tiered in-box for myself. The sections are “New Mail” (anything I haven’t looked at yet), “Bills to Pay”, and “To Do”. This is right next to the file drawer, so when I sort through the new mail I can file directly anything that needs to be put away. I’m hoping to minimize our incoming paper this year, but that’s not really up to me that much. Now, on my wave of self-congratulations, I’m going to have a snack and maybe play a video game.
I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that lately I’ve been slacking off. This is not exclusive to the blog, either. I’ve been successfully ignoring chores, work, maintenance, and pretty much anything that requires more than two brain cells. Whether this is due to the cold, lack of sleep, or a bunch of hilday video game releases we may never know. Basically, I’m being lazy and I don’t care.
Part of my laziness had led me to browsing through DIY ideas on pinterest waaay too much. I found a few ideas that I decided to try.
First up, hold your chargers in place with these binder clips. That seems like a great idea. I put this one in place on the book shelf I use as a bedside table. Unfortunately, my phone charger is pretty thin, and slips out of the clip a lot.
It also has to be on the front of the shelf, but would be more convenient in the back. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this arrangement in place. I might instead run the wire though the black part of a smaller binder clip, and then tack it to the wall. Or I might take a nap. Who can tell?
If you have a larger chord, like for an iPhone, this is how you would set this up. Clip the binder clip in place, then squeeze the base of the wire part like so:
It will pop out so you can thread the wire through, and the end of the chord should keep it in place.
Since mine is so small, I added this tiny binder clip to keep it from falling back though. Again, I’m not sure how great this is.
There is one other semi-clever thing I’ve been able to manage in my hibernating-brain state. We were at Home Depot and I wanted a coil cleaner for my fridge. As you know, we have a tiny herd of animals in my house constantly parading around and dropping hair everywhere. The fridge, Horatio, sucks all this crap up underneath himself where it’s impossible to clean. Well Home Depot didn’t have a coil cleaner, but they had this:
It’s a lint trap cleaner! At one point I have attempted to clean my lint trap out with chopsticks (and I did a fairly good job), but I was disproportionately excited to know this thing exists. It was about $5. This is what happened when I cleaned out the lint trap:
I won’t even show you what I pulled out from under the fridge. I don’t want to leave you burdened with the image of my dryer lint, so here’s something both adorable, and descriptive of my mental faculties (and also from pinterest. They should really be paying me for all this).
A few months ago, I conceived of a project to organize many areas of my house with one simple method: hang stuff up. Using only one board and some nails, I can create more organization for my jewelry, my closet, Hubby’s closet, AND the coat closet. Seem to good to be true? It’s not. I’m just a procrastinator. With my necklaces displayed and organzied I was fine, until it got cold here and I couldn’t find my scarves. All the pieces I needed had been cut and drilled. All that was left was final touches.
I painted all three the same color. I need to use this paint up, which was my main reasoning.
Nail placement is very important to this project. This one is for Hubby’s ties, scarves, and belts, so it’s ok for the nails to be closer together. (I smashed my thumb twice doing this, and I’m sure none of you are shocked. If you are, it’s probably because you don’t believe I only hit myself with a hammer two times. They don’t call me That Coordinated Chick!)
The top one has a few longer nails, and they’re spaced out to accomodate my think winter scarves in the hall closet. The middle one is for my closet, and will be holding bandanas, and whatever else I can cram onto it.
Here’s the hall closet one, all stocked for winter.
Yes, Hubby has a plastic samurai sword on his. At least it’s not on the floor anymore! (“That Clever Chick: Advice for all your weapon-storing needs”).
Look how cute mine is! I mean, everything of mine is cute, so this just enhances the cuteness. I love that even when I’m not wearing them, my cute accessories are looking cute and dressing up my boring closet.
Why keep things that are meant to be seen locked up in drawers or boxes?
I am a huge fan of Netflix. I know they’ve had issues recently with changing the name, price hikes, etc, but so far I still love them. There are a ridiculous amount of movies I want to watch that they have, and it makes checking the mail fun again. Unfortunately, those red envelopes are always getting buried under junk mail on the coffee table, so I wanted them to have their own special place where they won’t get lost.
The materials I used are a light bulb box, because it was made of really sturdy cardboard, left over paint, and a post card. I found the original idea that inspired this on pinterest using a cereal box.
First, trim the top of your box to look like this:
I used a nail to punch two holes at the top to hang it from.
I painted it blue, and let it dry overnight. I wanted to use this postcard to decorate the box, but I don’t necessarily want it on there permanently. I have these tiny plastic picture mounters that I used.
You can barely see it, but they are little plastic triangles that fit over the corner of your photo or postcard, and are sticky on the back. I put one each on the upper right and lower left corners, lined up the post card, and stuck it to the box. I then added the mounters to the other two corners.
I tacked it to the wall near the TV so my movies are always visible, and conveniently located for enjoyment.
My new Netflix box is hanging next to this set of framed movie monster postcards, and they look great together.
This is a continuation of what I was calling Deep Clean Week, but has turned into Deep Clean Eternity. Our bathroom has been shamefully disorganized since the day we moved in. We just gradually tossed things into the cabinets as we unpacked them. The other day I got thoroughly sick of it, and pulled everything out of the cabinets. Here’s a before picture:
This is a picture, without the flash, to show how dark the cabinets are on the inside. This drives me nuts, and makes it much harder to find things. I had some extra Killz paint laying around, so I decided to paint the inside of the cabinets white. I took everything out of all the cabinets, wiped them down with a dry cloth, then with a damp cloth. Once the surfaces were dry, I coated everything with white.
Here’s the after for this cabinet. It makes quite a difference light-wise, and looks so much cleaner.
So pretty! (If you ignore the dirty carpet. I vacuumed immediately after this).
The cabinets weren’t really the only issue. Of course, once I pulled everything out of the cabinets there was clutter everywhere, but the counter was already pretty cluttered:
It’s frightening, I know. I even opened all the drawers, emptied them, and vacuumed them out. There was unidentifiable dirt from the previous home owners in there I had to get rid of. It’s bad enough they chose to carpet the bathroom, I don’t need their spilled baby powder and what-not getting my stuff dirty.
Once everything was organized and put away, I cleaned the mirror and counter, and even the toilet! I won’t show you a picture of that, even though it was pretty spectacular.
I took everything that was in our bathroom and sorted it into groups: dental, lotions, bath stuff (like body wash and bath crystals), medical (everything from first aid to cold medicine), sun (sun screen and aloe gel), hair care, face stuff (scrubs and peels and other girlie things), make up, eye stuff (contacts and glasses), vitamins, and travel stuff (travel size things).
I decided what went in each cabinet by deciding who would need it more; hair spray goes on my side, hair clippers go on Hubby’s. For things like lotion and bath salts, where there were multiples, I put the one with the least in it in front so I can use it up first. And just so everyone knows, I have plenty of lotion, body wash, and bath crystals, for probably the next 6 years. Please don’t buy me any more. Just give me cash.
Here’s the final result! I got a couple cute pink bins at Goodwill for a buck each. If I need something I can just pull the whole bin out instead of having to dig around in the cabinet and knock things over. I’m glad I finally tackled this project. I’ve already finished off one of the containers of bath salts! But still, do not buy any for me.
I keep a grocery list on my fridge so that the minute I run out of something, I can just write it down. I have a goldfish brain, so if I don’t write it down I forget immediately. Spending too much time hunting for a pen has the same effect; by the time I’ve found the pen, I’ve forgotten why I needed it, and then I see something shiny and get distracted.
In order to accomodate my growing senility, I wanted to have a pen on the fridge. There are probably simpler ways to do this, but who cares? My way is cooler. This project requires a small container, such as the tic tac box pictured below, a magnet strong enough to hold up said container, glue (I should probably switch to some kind of non-toxic, this maybe the key to my loss in brain function. Oooh! KEYS! So pretty!), and some kind of magazine or other decorative paper.
First, I ate all the tic tacs, then removed the paper label, and the plastic top. At this stage, make sure a pen will actually fit into your container. I pre-measured my paper (you can see the green piece below, already folded to fit the plastic), then slathered glue on the plastic, and stuck the paper to it.
I used more of the same glue to attach the magnet to the back.
Last thing, I glued on this lovely portrait of H.P. Lovecraft. Let me tell you, MANY people are jealous when they see this on my fridge. Pair it up with those 2 cool magnets I made at the same time (that’s David Bowie on the right), and you can bet people are trying to pocket this stuff when I’m not looking. Just because I can’t remember things for more than ten seconds doesn’t mean I won’t notice.
I seem to have a fixation with decorating my fridge. Or with finding excuses to use lots of glue…
So I’ve attempted to clean up my craft room before, but there has never been enough of a work surface in there. Crap just gets stacked everywhere! My Gram happened to have an extra table for me when I visited her, so I set it up in the craft room.
That’s right, I got a VINTAGE table for my craft room! It’s red formica, from the 1950’s. You can see I’ve moved my doll houses and sewing machine onto the left hand table, giving me an actual surface to work on. There are still boxes of crap under the table, but that will take time to deal with.
I finally set up the shelf for my Batman collection. Hubby got me the poster when he was working for a video game store. I love Batman!!!!
I created a pet net out of a Care Bears sheet I got at the thrift store to hold my stuffed animals. A couple in there are ones I made myself, that I may blog about later. This keeps them out of the way, but still visible.
I’m hoping that having this crap out of the way, and having a more comfortable work surface will encourage me to do crafts in there, but we’ll see. Something is wrong with my sewing machine, so everything has to be done by hand at the moment. Stay tuned!
Road trips are a tradition in my family and across the nation. As I was slogging through the first 15 minutes of my 6 hour road trip this weekend, I thought about all the preparations that go into it, and the cleverest way to get ready.
1) Check your vehicle. Got a crappy vehicle? Consider renting something for the weekend, rather than risk getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Weekend rentals are much cheaper than I would have thought, and can be a viable alternative. Taking your own vehicle? Make sure to check the following: get your oil changed if you’re anywhere close to the 3,000 mile mark, fill up the gas tank, and check out your tires. You need to make sure they have enough air, and look good, meaning have enough tread and no nails or bald spots.
2) Think about where you’re going. Will you possibly encounter snow, salt water, sand, hurricanes, deserts? What type of emergency stuff do you need in the car? A box of baking soda is always good, because you can use it for everything from putting out fires, to brushing your teeth, and even throw it on your engine if your battery explodes acid everywhere. In case of snow bring kitty litter. You can put it under the tires to get traction if you get stuck. In case of sand, bring a small shovel to dig yourself out, and possibly a board or rocks for traction (or just don’t drive in loose soil. I’m looking at you, MOM). In case of salt water or deserts bring a gallon or 2 of water. Rinse the salt water off your car before it damages anything, and use it in case your engine overheats or to stave off dehydration.
3) Know where you’re going. Even if you have some kind of GPS, do not trust it! Mine took me through the back of beyond this weekend, adding an extra 30 minutes of butt-numbness to my trip. Have a map with you in case of emergencies (yes, a paper map), and check out your route on Mapquest or something before you go.
4) De-clutter. Get as much extra crap out of your car as possible. The more you’re hauling around the more gas you’ll use. Packing light also fits in this category. Keep in mind that there may be laundry facilities, if you’re going to stay with friends or family for example, so maybe you can live with only 2 pairs of pants, instead of 17.
5) Stock up. Make sure you have cash (just in case), your insurance info, snacks, drinks, your emergency supplies, and CDs or books on tape, or whatever entertainment you plan for yourself. Always bring more than you think you’ll need, in case one CD is busted, or one of the books on tape is boring. I usually keep a stack of napkins or paper towels in the car also. You never know when you’ll sneeze, spill coffee in your lap, or have nowhere to pee but a bush. I also keep hand sanitizer in my car for various events. I’ve used it for deodorant in an emergency.
6) Things I do to prepare: I make sure the washer fluid is full, and I have a mini-squeegee in the car. Nothing is sadder than driving with a dead butterfly flapping on the windshield for 800 miles. I go to the grocery store and buy a variety of snacks and drinks so I won’t be tempted to buy bad and expensive stuff at gas stations along the way. I keep a sweater in the car all the time, because I get cold easily. I have prepaid roadside assistance on my insurance (only $5 per month) so that I don’t have to worry if my car breaks down. I also make sure my cell is fully charged so I don’t have to walk to find a phone.
7) Organize. Set everything up in the car so that you know where it is. Put snacks and entertainment where you can easily reach them, and pillows and things far away where you don’t need them and they won’t get in your way.
I know there are some people that have never taken a road trip, and I think it is absolutely something everyone should do once. It is so much fun, and a great time to practice for your karaoke. Yay, bucket list!