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.

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The Intervention

Just when I thought “interventions” were only done on rather scary reality TV shows I found myself the “victim” of a very large intervention on Sunday.  There I was, innocently drinking coffee with a good friend of mine  and relating the events of my week when she announced that we were going to deal with my clothes.  My pleas to finish the coffee and continue chatting were ignored and we were off into the bedroom to begin.

Clothes flew and were flung in all directions in the hours that followed.  Luckily she is a really good friend because comments included “No!”, “Frumpy!”, “Get rid of it”, “What were you thinking?” and “Did your mother choose this?”  I should hasten to say that I owned only one item of clothing chosen by my mother and it has now gone to a  better place.  The final tally was five small gar bags of clothes to go to charity, three small gar bags of stuff that I will fit into soon and best of all, a wardrobe which contains only items that I can wear right now.  It is the first time in my adult life that I can remember having such a wardrobe.  The aforementioned gar bags went into the back of my friend’s car so there were no chances for me to change my mind and the three bags of ambition clothes are going to be boxed up in plastic crates so that nothing nasty befalls them.  The wire coathangers were all dispatched to the garbage bin and the plastic coated wire hangers were deemed to be only good for hanging up my husband’s shirts.  I have most hangers the same the now and all facing in the same direction – revolutionary!

I still have the shoe section to go and a few drawers but they seem easy compared to the task of tackling that overstuffed wardrobe.  I am eagerly anticipating being able to pull out something to wear very easily from those places as well.

The flow on effect from this will be the ease with which I can put together outfits the night before to wear the next day.  I’m intending on having Plan A outfits for days that I am working and Plan B outfits for days that I am not.  The drawback is that I don’t have as many clothes but when I think about it I don’t really have less clothes because the ones that are not there could not be worn anyway.  So it is full of win all round really.

The saying “Knowledge is Power” could certainly be applied to my fateful Sunday afternoon too.  I was lucky enough to attend a High Tea on the previous Saturday where we met Suzy the Stylist.  Prior to that day I never would have thought that I had anything to gain from listening to a stylist given that I am overweight, the majority of my clothes are bargain buys and I usually buy things without trying them on because of time pressures.  Boy was I wrong!

I now know that I have curvy figure (somewhere under there!) and what to do about dressing for that figure.  I know exactly what to look for now in shops and which items of clothing I would like to buy when I next have the opportunity.  Because I was also able to look at things through a “knitter’s lens” as well I now know why some of my projects look good and why some of them should never have seen the light of day.  I am actually having one piece frogged, the wool washed and rewound so that I can knit something else with it!  Best of all when someone mentions a  knitting pattern on Ravelry I know immediately whether it will work for me or not.

So while it isn’t an extensive wardrobe, it is completely functional and even though I needed to sit down for quite a while and collect my thought post-intervention I am really glad that it happened.  And to my dear friend – Thank-you. I needed to be bossed around and I’m truly glad that you did so.

And now dear readers:

Have you ever been part of an intervention? Either intervening or being the “intervenee”?

How do you organise your clothes?

If you are losing weight, what are you planning to do with your clothes?


Websites I Am Always Talking About

I probably don’t frequent as many websites as most people, sticking to Facebook and Google Reader for the blogs that I enjoy.  However when I am talking to people about the things I love I often mention certain websites and am not always ina position to write them down.  The goal of writing this post is for people to refer to my blog for my favourite sites!

The Book Depository – There is a UK site as well as others in other countries.  It is a place to buy lots of different books at greatly reduced prices and there are no shipping costs.  They seem to send the books as soon as they have them available so when I made my first order a few months ago I actually received three separate parcels in the mail – good fun all in itself!  As an example of the possible savings, I bought two knitting books which sell for $45 each here and by using Book Depository I paid about $22 each.

Strawberry.net – I was put on to this site quite recently by a good friend when my skin was suffering from the cold and dryness and I was finding that my products froma rather cheap direct sales company were irritating my skin and not being very effective at all.  Back in the day, before children, mortgages and financial strife I used to use Clinique products and loved them.  I had given them up because they were simply too expensive and I was finding that I used them too sparingly to do any good.  Now I am back to using Clinique, having paid very low prices to get some items and my skin is really showing the benefits and feeling fantastic.  There is no shipping coast and extremely fast service.  Just as an aside, the same friend put me onto Blinc mascara. It is seriously the best mascara ever and lasts through absolutely everything because it actaully puts little “tubes” of mascara around each lash which stay there until rubbed gently with a wet washcloth.  When you rub them off you can actually see the little tubes on the washcloth and there is no residue smudged around the eyes.  Obviously they are very fine tubes and there is no ill-effect on the lashes. To quote Molly Meldrum, if you are a mascara wearer, “do yourself a favour” and try some of this stuff because it really is wodnerful!

CafePress – I am very happy to be the owner of two knitting t-shirts and one teaching t-shirt from this fantastic site.  There are shirts, sweaters and a range of other products with slogans and graphics for almost any occupation or hobby you could dream of.  It is worth a browse just for the entertainment value of what sayings they have on offer. My knitting shirts are “I knit so I don’t kill people” and “Keep calm and carry yarn”.  My teaching shirt is “I teach, what’s your superpower?”  There is some shipping cost but the service is faultless and they are a very good quality product.

Ravelry – Whenever I am talking to someone who is beginning to knit or crochet I invariably ask them if they have been on Ravelry.  It is a networking site for knitting, crochet and spinning and has thousands of members who share patterns, yarns and finished projects.  You can sign up for free and either browse through what’s on offer or start your own Ravelry “notebook” with pictures of your projects and links to the patterns and yarns used as well as where you obtained them.  because of all these notebooks you can search for a type of project or yarn and find almost countless results.  It is very useful for when you want ideas for a particular item like beanies or tea cosies or if you are deciding on whether to use a particular yarn or pattern.  Just make sure you have a spare 4-5 hours to spend browsing if you decide to have a look.

FlyLady – As I get back on my feet quite literally I am using and will continue to use FlyLady.  It is all about organising yourself and your house to take the best possible care of yourself and your loved ones.  I could write pages about how good her system is but it would be far better to just pay the FlyLady a visit and check her out for yourself.


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 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!