With 93 Days until Christmas…

I thought I’d share this poem by Pam Young because it gave me a giggle.

Magazine Christmas

I want a magazine Christmas
With a tree in every room
I’ll hire a choir to sing on my porch
With a thousand poinsettias in bloom

I’ll carefully cast a Nativity Scene
From the folks in my neighborhood
I’m close to a farm so I’ll borrow
A cow and a lamb would be good

They’ll stand in my yard in a spotlight
From dusk until ten o’clock
My kids’ll be thrilled with the spectacle
Hope it snows, if it doesn’t, I’ll flock

My gingerbread house will need blue prints
The Sistine Chapel no less
I’ll bake cookies and pies and make candy
And I won’t leave the kitchen a mess

I’ll make all the presents and Christmas cards
The bows and the Christmas wrap too
I’ll deck all the halls with the holly I’ll cut
From a tree that I found near the zoo

My car will resemble the jolly old sleigh
I’ll paint it a Christmas red
The only thing missing on Christmas day
Will be me, because I will be dead


Little Steps in Organizing

I have been sick this week. After the boys both had gastro for a week followed by another couple of weeks with asthma, croup, runny noses and the rest, their germs were shared with me in great enough numbers for me to go downhill as well. So the greater part of the last week has been spent in or around the bed, I’ve been confined to base this week- until yesterday and I was feeling pretty miserable for a while before I had to give up some things and stay home.
However life goes on and I’ve found the best way to get some sorely needed organising done is in very small chunks. I had joined in with the Organising Junkie’s 52 weeks of Organising at the beginning of 2011 and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with that but these small sessions are going to get our house back on track. My biggest challenges right now are the sheer volume of things in our house that need to be more organised so that we can all function with less stress. Even though I’m getting around quite happily now on my previously dodgy ankles I still don’t have the stamina to do huge amounts of organising/tidying/cleaning at once. We are using the timer and doing 10-15 minute sessions with me organising something, the boys clearing out something to help me organise (The bottom of my wardrobe) or the boys problem-solving for one of our big issues.
SHOES. There. That is one of the biggest issues we face. I’ve said it. When it is time to leave for school or go to the park or go anywhere there is always someone who can’t find shoes. They could be in any room of the house, often in the living room, in the backyard beside the trampoline, in my car or A’s car and very occasionally in the plastic crate we had designated for shoes in their bedroom. It clearly wasn’t working and it was causing great angst for everyone, especially when we were rushed.
So, with the help of Eric, I organised a Shoe Docking Station on the back veranda. I thought it was just going to be a place where the shoes were all kept together but being boys, we had to have a docking station and I’m pretty pleased with it.
It isn’t fancy. I’ve just used home made laminated computer labels and stuck them down on an old TV stand we had and there are now designated “parking spots for the important sets of shoes. So school shoes, sports shoes, sandals and thongs have their own spaces with one changeable parking spot to be used for tags for hockey in Winter and runners for Little Athletics in summer.
A has raised the issue of spiders so we are going to practice precautionary shoe thumping. What I really like already is that I can pop outside and know straight away what is missing so they can hunt for exactly what they need. I’ve put some photos in but be warned. It isn’t “pretty” but the boys like it and it is functional and that’s what counts for my family right now.

Sorting my Surroundings

One of the Weight Watcher’s catch-cries is to “Sort Your Surroundings”.  And I have been doing that in more ways than one in the last week or so.  I’ve certainly sorted more than just the food surroundings but more on that later.

Last week Mum and I attacked my kitchen.  Dh actually helped in the initial stages so there was a frenzy of pulling stuff from cupboards and throwing stuff out.  One of the plans that has come de-railed since January was the one about the boys taking charge of dishes.  Dh complained that they couldn’t reach the cupboard to put them away. So, Mum and I cleared out and cleaned the top shelf of our pantry and the dishes are now happily living there – not all our dishes but a good supply of what we need for everyday use.  Our pantry is a very annoying cupboard, under the microwave shelf in our kitchen and so deep that it reaches back to the wall – so deep that things can be lost in its murky depths for like – years!  I can almost swear some things had been breeding in there.  If anyone has need of creamed corn or chick peas, I’m your girl!

We moved on from the pantry to the dreaded “corner cupboard”.  You know those ones with folding doors that look so convenient but then you find that they stretch back further than any normal human arm can reach so stuff get lost in there almost forever?  Well, we nearly climbed into the cupboard tog et everything out, only to find that there were many things we didn’t want to put back – more space.  I now have a Breville Kitchen Wizz and a large Tupperware strainer that are looking for good homes.  E-bay – here I come!

Another thing I was very happy about was the Tupperware situation.  I bought several containers a while back and never got around to actually putting the stuff in them that was meant to go into them.  They had gradually crept to all corner of the house to store things like receipts and toys!  This was not ok!  I am happy to report that almost every Tupperware item I own has been re-purposed to its intended purpose, labelled and stacked.  The label maker almost had a nervous breakdown from all the work it did that day.

But the best thing of the day was finding two items which I thought had gone forever.  I was absurdly excited which means I probably need to “get a life” but I found the two seals that go with my Tupperware sifter (and Tupperware sifters are the BEST in the world!) and I also found the metal bits that go into my double cake plate.  This is the double cake plate that has NEVER been used as I had lost the metal bits to put it together.  Now I need to have a posh morning/afternoon tea to use my beautiful plate.

Photos are coming but I thought I’d publish this now as it has been a LONG time between blog entries and I’ve really enjoyed writing this one.

I is about 7:00am Saturday morning.  I’ve sat quietly at the computer for long enough to let the rest of the family sleep in a bit so now I’m off to put the kettle on which will cause Vera to go into a frenzy of excitement because some is awake.  Roll on Saturday!

52 Weeks of Organising – Recipes – Part 2

I began my great mealing/recipe project a few weeks ago and it is travelling along nicely.  Yesterday I took the next step of organising my new Recipe Binder.  It isn’t flash because there’s no spare money for flash binder and dividers around here.  I bought a lever arch file, some flouro plastic dividers with an index page at the front and a box of 100 plastic sleeves.  I LOVE plastic sleeves – just needed to say that!

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I simply wrote out my categories on the index page, slipped some recipes into plastic sleeves and I was done.  The recipes are either from Mum which means they arrived by e-mail or I’ve typed them out.  If it came by e-mail I’ve just printed the e-mail – not time to muck around!  For all the others, because I’m doing Weight Watchers, I either get them from the Weight Watchers website or I type them into the Recipe Builder in E-Tools which then works out the points for the recipe and enables the recipe to be put into my Pro Points Tracker.  This gives them some uniformity as they all have the same sort of formatting on the site.

They are all in individual plastic sleeves so they can go to kitchen and back again easily and I’m adding recipes as I do them and they are “successful”.  Two new ones are being added tonight from this weekend – Sweet and Sour Braised Steak (Slow Cooker) and Banana and  Malteaser Muffins.

I’m getting back into the good routine I used to have of planning the meals for the upcoming week on the Saturday, making a shopping list and doing the weekly shop by Sunday.  I’ve also baked today to school lunches (so I’m feeling particularly accomplished!)

Now for Laura’s questions this week:

Questions to ponder:
1.  Let’s talk stuff!  What have you tossed out this week?

I have tossed coffee cups, lots of paper and quite a few odds and ends from back deck (when I was preparing the Valentine’s Night Dinner).  This included our hermit crab gear – the last hermit crab died over 2 years ago!
2.  Have you ever regretted something you’ve gotten rid of?  Why?

The only things I regret getting rid of are the books I had as a child because I would have dearly loved to pass them on to my boys and my niece (she would probably appreciate the “Little House” series and possibly “Nancy Drew” more than the boys would!).  I’ve got one large volume of Frances Hodgson Burnett with three of her books in it that Eric has read from cover to cover and loved.  It may be time for my niece to borrow it!
3.  How tempted are you to rush out and pick up pretty organizing containers first?

I’m tempted but money is an issue so I’m forcing myself to wait.  I’ve saved the link to this bookcase type thing from Ikea which I would like to use in our entry way horizontally as part of a launch pad but I have to work out where to put the cupboard that is there presently as well as save up for it.  Simply having more clear spaces is helping me to be more organised!

52 Weeks of Organising – Linen Cupboard

Tis is an area which can be a life saver if it is under control and a big blockage to getting things done when it is out of control.  Mine had been out of control since well before Christmas so I am pleased to have “tamed the beast” and got it working well again.  The labels are there to make things REALLY OBVIOUS so that if anyone else helps to put things away they will know exactly where to put them!

Laura’s Questions this week:

1.  What did you accomplish this week on your 52 weeks list?

Organising and labelling contents of linen cupboard
2.  Have you had a negative conversation check with yourself lately?

There are days when I am having negative conversations with myself all day but I am steadily working on changing that.  Any accomplishment no matter how small is cause for celebration!
3.  Are you beginning to see new habits developing yet?

I’m TRYING to maintain the areas I have already organised by picking up after myself more and this is beginning to become more regular.  One area I really have to keep on top of is my desk area but it is easier to tidy up now that the initial clean-up has been done.

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Organizing the Mail

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It isn’t a very exciting are to organize but one that is very necessary – the mail.  Previously we had a very random system where dh kept the bills in a range of different places and the rest of the mail was dumped on my desk so that it didn’t get lost (ahem!).  I knew that wasn’t working when I was opening Christmas cards in late January!  And since I’ve established the new “homework zone” for the boys I wanted to keep my desk area very tidy and ready for action to facilitate “ease of homework”.  I had this metal file stand from another failed organizing attempt of years gone by so I’ve put it in the kitchen in what was formerly a common mail dumping ground so that letters, bills and messages for or concerning each member of our family can be easily located.  Dh has got on board with this one as he has all the bills in their folder arranged in the order that they need to be paid.  It is a shame that there are so many of them but that’s another issue entirely.

So I had fun with some coloured folders and my label maker and this was the result.

The Organising Junkie asks a few questions this week (or at the end of last week so I will respond here:

Number ONE reason for getting organized – so life will run more smoothly.  We will send less time looking for things and more time doing things!

Something I organized last week – the mail

Any breakthroughs? Yes!  The desk has be be tidied up every. single. day or the homework will be hindered!

Organizing for Homework

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I was MORTIFIED last year when both boys came home with report cards that had unfavourable comments about homework and personal organization.

Things had really fallen apart with routines and homework to the extent that it was all too hard for all of us.  So I resolved to start this year with better routines and habits and needed a dedicated space for homework.  In our small, overcrowded house that was a big ask.  Until the end of last year the boys did their homework at the dining table and if they weren’t finished by dinnertime it got shoved aside into what was already a blazing hot spot (to use FlyLady terminology).  Then things got lost and homework wasn’t done and we slipped right out of our good routines.

When I looked at this year realistically, I could see that we were likely to repeat the same patterns if something didn’t change.  We would still have irregular hours at times until I am back in full time work and this meant that the boys would be getting home and starting homework right on dinner time.  They needed to be able to get up and leave it and then come back and find things as they had left them.

So I’ve surrendered the use of the two desks in the main bedroom to the boys for that part of the day that they need to do homework.  This has multiple benefits.  It forces me to keep my desk reasonably clear.  The room is air-conditioned.  There is easy access to a computer if I allow it.  I can be in there dealing with laundry and/or ironing at the same time and there are far fewer distractions.

The boys thought the homework space looked great and Eric has put it to good use this week.  We’re still waiting for the big Year 2 boy to come home with homework and then it will really be put to the test!