Out of Sight… ~ by Sam

Out of sight, out of mind!  That’s the old adage, right?  When it comes to the issue of sticking to a daily routine ~ be it taking vitamins and allergy meds or putting laundry in a hamper, instead of on the floor ~ it sure rings true around here.  I hate clutter.  To look at my home on an average day, you might not believe that, but it’s true.  Over the years, I have tried system after system to organize the vast mess generated by 5 busy, creative, crafty, hardworking people.  Nuh-uh.  Not gonna happen.

The problem is, if we put it away, we forget we have it.  Put the laundry hamper inside the closet?  What a good idea!  That frees up some floor space in the a bedroom…until the occupant of said bedroom throws laundry on the floor, because the hamper is forgotten behind closed doors.  Put all of the daily vitamins/medications in a cupboard?  Daily vitamins and medications?  What are those?!  Oh…those.  Aren’t we out of them?  Put them in a decorative basket, on the counter?  What a great solution! They’re still handy, but not as untidy as they were when we just left them in the middle of the table all the time.  Anemic?  Who’s anemic?  Wait…haven’t you been taking your iron supplement?  No, it’s not gone ~ It’s in the basket!  The one right there. Right next to the table.  You know what?  Nevermind.  Back on the table they go, in a pill sorter.  And they will still be forgotten some days.  Put the litterbox inside a cupboard under the bathroom sink, and nobody every remembers to scoop it.  Why?  I don’t know.  Can’t anyone other than me smell that?  Garbage and recycling bins under the kitchen sink?  Nobody remembers to empty them, and some barely remember to use them.  We buy new coloured pencils and markers because we don;t have any, when there are at least two sets put away in the craft area ~ we actually HAVE A craft area, and it is fully stocked, most of the time, but nobody remembers to look there.

Honestly, I am at my wits’ end.  I want a tidy home, but I also want everyone to remember to wash their laundry, refill the toilet paper when it’s empty, read books, take their vitamins and medications, empty the garbage, use the vacuum cleaner, eat the food we have in the cupboards…And it’s not just the kids.  We do it, too.  I recently discovered that I have 4 separate containers of dry breadcrumbs because, every time a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, I buy them, thinking I don;t have any.  Yesterday, I discovered roughly 3 pounds of sugar in a cupboard ~ after I had recently bought sugar and refilled the canister on the pass-through counter.  When I put the bills in a basket and tucked it onto a shelf, it looked tidy, but I forgot to pay them.

We need an organization intervention.  Either that, or I need to accept that everything just needs to be left in plain sight at all times. This presents a number of problems.

While the 1,700+ sq. ft. of living space we now enjoy vastly overwhelms the <1,000 sq. ft. of our previous home, it’s still not a lot of space for 5 almost-all-fully-grown individuals and all of their stuff.  Stuff has to be put away, and not just for aesthetic reasons.  There’s just not room to leave it all out (as if I would want to).  So, I am not really comfortable with the latter option; and, let’s face it: I am a cheapskate, so I won’t be shelling out money for someone to come in to my home and do something of which I should be capable.  So, I’m going to have to stage my own intervention.

Sorta.

I am, again, down one wrist and opposable thumb.  This time, it looks like it will be a total of 8 weeks, instead of the 16+ weeks I dealt with shortly after we moved in to the new house.  Luckily, this time, it’s not my dominant hand.  That is, assuming, after 16 weeks in a cast, more time in a brace and month of rehab my right hand is still my dominant hand ~ since injuring the left, I have to say, I question whether it ever was, to be honest.  Why has being without the use of my left hand for 4 weeks seemed more difficult than being without the right for 16 did, if I am right-handed?

In the end, this is mostly talk.  I have no advice about how to make battling a chronically messy home less stressful, beyond this:
1. Drink coffee.
2. Buy flowers.
3. Enlist help (spouses, children, friends, professional ~ whatever it takes.)
4. Don’t break your arm.

If you adhere to this plan, make time to visit with friends and laugh with people you love, and do something every day that makes you smile, I think you’ll be okay, messy house notwithstanding.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

So, with that thought, I leave you, with a note to myself: chin up, keep moving, and, when it doubt, choose the brightly-coloured cast.

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Short and Shorter ~ by Sam

Today was the first day since Hallie and Kaia started school last Tuesday that I have actually been home while they were at school.  Shane has been working his regular job, plus 3 side jobs, so he has not been home much, either; and, when he was home, he was working.  Justice’s first day of college was this Monday.  I planned to pick her up after her classes and treat her to lunch, but, alas, it was not to be.  I had to make a delivery to Shane at his office, then drop off a forgotten notebook at school…I am not sure what else happened, but, as has happened every single day since school began, something came up.  Last week, it was an ant infestation in the dining room and bar. That was followed by an injured bird in need of help (I spent a day driving a bird to Compton).  It seems like there has just been one thing after another.

So, I get home with the kids, make dinner while they do homework, make sure everyone gets homework, laundry, dishes, etc. done, and, before I know it, it’s time to head to bed, so we can start all over again bright and early the next day.  To have a whole day with no real demands on my time was something of a luxury.  Naturally, I decided to use indulge by cleaning the house, mopping the floors, washing the slipcovers and baking snack cake.  In my defense, the house REALLY needed to be cleaned.  I did take the afternoon to have my hair done, which really was a luxury.  I usually dye my own hair, but I have been so overwhelmed by the messy house and my busy days that the thought of having to clean up after dyeing my hair was intolerable.  Also, we are going to a Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and I wanted to look okay, and didn’t have time to screw it up and have to fix it.  So, off to Floyd’s 99 Barbershop where, for $74, Ada cut and dyed my hair.  She insisted on the cut, and she was right ~ it is so much better.  I didn’t even mind having to pay for it, and you all know how much I hate spending money.

Now, I am home for a few minutes, so I will keep chipping away at the messy house.  It’s much better, but not great.  I want it to be great.  One little corner of it is pretty great.  See?

TidyPassThrough

That’s the pass-through from the dining room to the kitchen.  It’s too high to really function as a pass through on the dining room side, so it’s just this awkward window into the kitchen.  Shane seems to really like piling stuff on it.  (Sorry, honey, I have made other plans.)  Trust me, for us, this is tidy.

But, you know that feeling you get when you work really hard cleaning one room, and you are feeling super-accomplished….until you walk into the next room, where stuff is just everywhere.  So, you walk into the next room…and the cat has peed on the laundry hamper.  Yeah.  It was like that.  (Really, Cat?  The LAUNDRY HAMPER??)

I guess you could say today has been a mixed bag.  Somehow, I remembered to put on my shorts today.  For those who don;t know, I am in the midst of an experiment.  Having struggled with body image, low self-esteem and eating disorders, I have challenged myself to post pictures every day for about 9 days of myself in shorts.  If you want to read a little bit more about that, read my previous two posts.  Right now, I feel like I have been talking for a long time, so, without further ado, I give you:

Me, in shorts.  Day 3:

photo 2

This picture was taken right after I had my hair done.  The shorts are simple knit shorts with an elastic waistband.  I bought them some time ago, thinking I would wear them, but…well…sometimes I sleep in them.

Kaia snapped the picture for me, having met me at the salon, which is right down the street from her school.  Here we are being silly together, me and my favourite 7th grader:

Me&MyGirl

That’s all for now!

I didn’t choose the Slob Life… ~ by Sam

…the Slob Life chose me.

Really.  It started when I was young.  My dad finally gave up on trying to get me to put my clothes in drawers, and built me a giant cedar chest to throw them all in, instead.  I smelled like a hamster for years.

I can’t help being a little preoccupied with trying to understand how I got to be so sloppy in the first place, at the moment.  You see, I am cleaning. For the record, I clean every single day.  For real.  It just doesn’t seem to stick.  I feel like Pigpen, from the Peanuts.

Right now, for instance, I have just finished mopping all of my tile floors.  Twice.  I still don;t feel they are clean enough.  I don;t feel they will EVER be clean enough.  Other people lived here before me, and I have absolutely no idea how great their personal hygiene, health and housekeeping habits were.  There could be so much filth and so many germs here!  So I have to keep scrubbing.  But, I have to keep scrubbing with things like vinegar, tea tree oil, baking soda and my steam mop (best investment I have ever made, BTW), because we don;t want a bunch of nasty chemicals in our home.  And I just don’t feel like it ever looks clean.  I really do wonder if it sat un-mopped for decades, and some of the dirt has turned to rock and permanently bonded with the floor.

I try to do the right things.  I make my own laundry detergent, soften our clothes with white vinegar and essential oils, use a microfiber cloth to dust, bake homemade bread, cook whole foods, grow as much of our own food as possible, vacuum with my special pet attachments to get up as much fur and dander as possible, freshen rugs with baking soda…and my kids just keep getting sick.  I know this is, in part, because we live in the world, instead of in our own little home.  I know that other people carry germs, and we come in contact with them, and there we are all sick again.  I get it.  No amount of cleaning will help.

Germs aside, here’s the thing I really don’t get: How is it possible that i spend so much time, and put so much effort into, cleaning my home, and I absolutely never feel like it’s clean?  NEVER.  There are always things out of place.  There are always dirty socks all over the house, a skateboard in the living room, 19 pairs of shoes strewn from one end of the house to the other, backpacks, lunchboxes, box projects, project boards, headphones, sweaters, 487,000 pens and pencils (but I can never find one when I need one!!), clean laundry waiting to be folded, folded laundry waiting to be put away, dirty laundry waiting to be washed ~ SO! MUCH!! LAUNDRY!!!  And dishes.  Always dishes.  Dishes waiting to be put away.  Dishes soaking in the sink.  Dishes waiting to be rinsed.  Dishes that have not been cleared.

So, I spend another good chunk of my time following people around and saying things like, “Put away your laundry.”  “Clear your dishes.” “Pick up your (socks, shoes, sweaters, headphones, backpack, box project…)” and they do.  It gets done.  And then, I turn around and see it.  My stuff.  All of my stuff.  All piled up, waiting for me to deal with it.  My magazines.  The bills.  My laundry.  The stuff I took out of one purse that won’t fit in to the new purse, but I still need to put away.  That project I’m working on.  That other project I’m working on.  That OTHER project I’m working on, and…HOLY CRAP!  WHY AM I WORKING ON SO MANY PROJECTS?!?!!  I don’t have time for this!!

And then I get a call.  A friend is coming over.  A client of Shane’s will be swinging by to pick up/drop off whatever. My kid is sick, and I need to pick her up. Someone has a flat tire, forgot her glasses, inhaler, or something else without which she actually can’t function.  And so, my pile of stuff gets set aside.  Piled on top of another pile of my stuff.  Shoved in my bedroom.  The laundry I was going to put away, the dishes I was going to do, that project ~ or other project…or OTHER project ~ is set aside.  Again.  It just keeps piling up.  Sure, I chip away at it here and there, but there is always something new to add to the pile. The bills always get paid, but more bills come.  Often, I am tempted to just throw out everything else, and start over; but, to be honest, I have tried this, and, invariably, as soon as the garbage was picked up, we needed something that was in that pile, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen it for three years.

In my mind, I am organized.  In my dreams, I am organized.  I have an uncanny ability to make myself appear to be organized when company arrives (unless they really know me, or have seen my bedroom); but, in practice, I fall short.  It’s not my fault, I was born short, and I kinda stayed that way.  🙂

I know they kids get irritated when they see that my room is not all that neat, and that I have a pile of stuff lying around the house, because they can’t understand why it is so important to me that they pick up their stuff.  What they might not understand is that it is also important to me that I pick up my stuff…I just can’t seem to ever get it done.  I mean, I do it, but then I turn around, and more has spontaneously generated somewhere else, and I have to start all over again.

I will keep trying.  I will keep trying because, if I don’t, we will be drowning in a sea of clutter.  I don’t know if I will every actually get it done.  I think, in my mind, I keep aiming for that moment when the house is clean, when, in fact, all I can do is keep trying to manage the clutter on a daily basis, keep scrubbing and cleaning and folding, and putting things away, and just hope I am doing a better than half-assed job of keeping the house reasonably neat.

Well, at least now, if you visit my house, you’ll know, it’s not messy because I like it that way.  It’s not messy because I don;t care that it’s messy, or because I don’t try.  It’s messy because there’s only one of me, and I just can’t seem to ever get it all done.  It’s messy because the mess just follows me everywhere I go.  Maybe, if I wasn’t busy with all those projects, I could get it pristinely clean.  If I never baked, or rescued a sick kid, or tended the garden, or ran someone’s glasses or inhaler to school.  Maybe, if I never went to lunch with a girlfriend, or went for a walk, or played my banjo, or blogged about what a mess my house was… Maybe, then, my house would be better organized.  Maybe then, everything would be in the way it is supposed to be.

Everything, that is, except me.

Back to the grindstone.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll pick up my banjo for just a few minutes first…

When “The Best We Can” is Good Enough ~ by Sam

Yesterday, I found myself (again) lying around on the sofa with my foot propped up, and I happened to look around the house (again) and find myself feeling very discouraged ~ almost defeated, in fact.  The house was a mess.  It was dusty, furniture wasn’t where I wanted it to be, paperwork was piling up ~ mail I needed to sort through, finished homework for which we had not yet created a file, magazines, fundraising information ~ laundry needed to be folded, laundry needed to be washed, the rugs and the furniture all needed to be vacuumed, the hard floors all needed to be swept and mopped, the bathrooms needed to be cleaned and organized, so many half-finished (or not yet started) projects ~ painting, putting up shelves, hanging pictures…And here I sat, with my foot propped up on a stack of pillows, doing absolutely nothing.  Again.

Let me make one thing abundantly clear: Shane and the kids help a lot with the housework, even when I am not injured.  Its just…well, let’s face it: I’m the one who is home all the time.  I used to feel like I was somehow failing my kids if I did the lion’s share of the housework.  I want them to have life skills, to be responsible.  Nevertheless, if they are home for only a few hours each day ~ during which time they are required to complete homework assignments, practice their music, dance, lines for a play, etc. ~ well, it makes sense that, since I am here for many more hours each day, I can do a little more work around the house.  So, I have struggled to strike a balance.  The kids are expected to keep their rooms clean, clear their dishes, and pick up after themselves, and they do about as well as any kids, I think.  They also help with things like washing dishes, cleaning the litterbox, taking out the garbage, doing laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting.  However, since school started, everyone has been exceedingly busy, and I really am the only one home.  The fact is, there are some jobs no one but me thinks to do. So those things tend to go undone.  And, most likely, no one but me notices.  But I do notice, and it bothers me.  As a result, I was feeling like a bit of a failure.  I mean, I know I can’t do much right now, but it was starting to feel like I am NEVER able to do much.  It seems there is always something that gets in the way of my ability to complete home improvement projects, or even just keep up with the housework.  I thought, “Geez.  Why is this so hard?  Other people manage to do this all the time, right?”

It’s true.  Other people do manage to keep up with the housework, and complete home improvement projects.  In fact, I have always managed to do those things fairly well.  So, what was the problem?  Because, really, it seemed like, since we moved in to the new house in mid-December of 2012, I just could not manage to keep up.  Was it because we were doing more projects than we had in the past?  Well, that might be part of it.  The thing was, it seemed like I had been doing so well.  We had painted at least 6 room, built shelves, done extensive work in the garden…I had helped with all of that.  I’d done some of it all by myself.  So…what was going on?  Why couldn’t I just manage to keep up?

Well, I got kind of frustrated, and sort of lost it here at the house all by myself yesterday.  Shane was work, kids were at school, and I was looking at everything that needed to be done.  I got up off the sofa, washed slipcovers, vacuumed all of the floors (rugs and hard floors alike), cleaned bathrooms, washed all of the mirrors, put away a bunch of the clutter… And then, when I was taping a plastic bag over my cast so I could bathe, it occurred to me.  I did some math, and, lo an behold, I found the answer:  For at least 6 of the past 18 months, I have been in a cast or brace of some sort that has dramatically limited my mobility and, therefor, my ability to complete even the most basic household tasks.  So, for the remaining 12 months, I have been in recovery mode.  I have spent some time recovering physically from my time in the cast ~ regaining strength and dexterity, so I could once again function at a relatively normal level ~ as well as time “recovering” simply in the sense of getting back in to my normal routine of household maintenance.  Or, perhaps more accurately, trying to establish a new routine, since I feel like I never really got in to the swing of things at the new house before that first injury, just 2 months after we moved.

So, now I get it.  Now, I won’t be quite so hard on myself.  I did pay for getting up and doing all of that stuff.  My foot swelled up to about twice its normal size, which is not at all comfortable in a cast.  And, so, today, here I sit, again on the sofa, with my foot propped up on a pillow mountain.  Today, however, scented candles are lit, the slipcovers are fresh, rugs and furniture are not covered with cat fur, and, if I felt like getting up and walking over to one, I could see my reflection in any mirror in the house.  Next time, I will try to pace myself, and not do it all in one day.  Next time, I will remember to let myself take the time I need to recover, and not feel guilty about it.  Will I still be frustrated by my lack of progress on those unfinished projects (like the 1/6 of that one room that is not yet painted!!!)?  Oh, you better believe I will.   But at least now I know WHY.  I can cut myself a little slack, just like I cut the kids a little slack because I know they are busy and doing the best the can.  Because that’s what it comes down to, really: I’m doing the best I can.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all we should expect from anyone?  I am always so eager to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Why not myself?

Today, I will rest.  And maybe I will throw in one load of laundry.  And then, I will rest.  And then, maybe I will clear up the clutter on the sideboard.  And then, I will rest.  And it will be okay.

Of Mice and Men ~ by Sam

You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men, right?  For the record, they “gang aft agley.”  No, really.  That’s it.  Did you know that?  For years, I said this phrase without knowing how it ended, ‘though I did have a general sense of the meaning.  Don’t believe me?  Read this: 

http://www.robertburns.org/works/75.shtml  

See?  If that didn’t help much, try this:  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_a_Mouse

Anyway, my plans (i.e., “The Master Plan) gang aft agley, to be sure.  I had such grand plans, too!  SDespite my struggles, I stand by the idea of making plans, no matter how agley they are prone to gang (yes, I realize I have probably mangled the grammar here.  Sorry, I don’t speak fluent 1785).  Things, you might say, are not going exactly as planned.  Below, you will see the original outline of the “Master Plan” to get our home organized.  It’s going…well…it’s going, that’s for sure (or is it “gang?”  I am certain it is somewhat “agley,” to say the least.  I think.)

Here is the original plan, as I posted it, way back in January:

January:  paper, mail, household files, etc.
February: closets
March:  bathrooms
April: kitchen 
May: laundry room
June: bar
July: craft/school supplies
August: party room
September: sewing supplies/fabric
October: garage (maybe…if we feel like tackling this)
November: photographs/scrapbooks
December: we’ll be too busy partying 

(Ambitious, non?)

Now, let’s review what has actually happened:

* January:  paper, mail, household files, etc. – YES!  I actually did this…or…well, I did a LOT of if.  The kids and Shane did some, too, and, while it isn’t what I would call “finished” (is this job EVER finished), there have been vast improvements in both the volume of paper mess in our home, and how we manage it.  So that’s good.

*February: closets – Pretty much done.  Shane remodeled our bedroom closet and Justice’s.  I whipped the linen closet and game cupboard into shape, and helped Kaia and Hallie organize their closets and do a little more unpacking.  I am going to call this one a success.  (Yay!)

*March:  bathrooms – Ha.  That’s funny.  See, in March, I don’t know what happened.  That’s not entirely true.  I do know what happened.  Many, many things happened, in fact.  Hallie turned 14, and we went to a carnival one weekend.  Another weekend, we had out of town guests (MIL and FIL in town to celebrate MIL’s birthday), which was great fun.  Kaia was Girl Scout Cookie boothing and working super hard to try to get enough donations to send 100 boxes of cookies to troops overseas (she is currently up to 90, and has until the end of the month to get the rest!).  Justice was…um… Justice?  What were you doing in March?  Ah, yes. SATs, composing music, taking an online health course and an online driver’s ed course…oh, and this weekend, she goes on retreat with her orchestra.  Oh, and the church youth band that Hallie and Justice’ play with performed one weekend.  And Kaia won a scholarship for private music instruction.  

You know what?  March has been busy.  Then, on the heels of some torrential rain, the weather was PERFECT, so I did some work in the yard.  Then, one day, I organized the cupboards in the bar, because their lack of organization was driving me mad.  This week, I started painting the party room, and planning ways to rearrange it, so it will better suit our needs. It wasn’t on the list for March, but someone painted the entire interior of our house the world’s most depressing shade of flat beige before we moved in, and I simply cannot live that way.  Basically, I am a couple of steps ahead of the Plan (see, because Party Room is listed as our August project, and bar was supposed to happen in June)…I mean, except for that part where I didn’t even touch the bathrooms, so I am also behind.  (Another lie.  I TOUCHED them.  I do clean my bathrooms.  I just didn’t paint and organize, like I thought I would.)

Recently, I looked back at the plan, and thought, “Oh, crud.  Bathrooms.  Forgot about them.”  A glance at future months revealed that April is supposed to be my kitchen organization month.  Yeah, right!  We will be spending about 10 days in Maryland during April, right on the heels of Shane’s gig at NAB in Vegas.  In short, Shane and I will not be home at the same time for about half of April.  Now, because the kitchen organization is going to involve installation of shelves and hardware, I do not foresee this happening while we are not both here to do the work.  I think it’s more work than one person can do.  We’ll see.  

So, I was feeling rather defeated, until I realized several important facts:

1. None of this is set in stone
2. We are looking at a repipe for much of the house, so it would be silly to paint, hang shelves, etc., in bathrooms before that is done.  So, it really makes sense to push that project.  We can probably take care of our bathroom, since I don’t think it is part of the repipe.  We’ll see.
3. We have gotten a jump on some projects that were scheduled for later, and our yard is looking lovely.
4. It’s not just us ~ “the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley.”  It’s been happening since 1785, at least.    

You know what?  Maybe I’ll organize the sewing area in April.  Maybe, I’ll remove the months, and just keep this as a list I can check off as we get things accomplished.  

Well, however we decide to handle it, at least I managed to do this:Image

And, one day, maybe, we’ll paint the rest of the room.  And put up shelves.  And finish unpacking.  

No matter what, the plan for December remains the same: 

December: we’ll be too busy partying.

So, there.  

 

Well Begun is Half Done! ~ by Sam

Maybe Mary Poppins wasn’t referring to my linen closet when she said that, but I like to think that she would be here, cheerfully spurring me to action, if she could.

It seems our monthly projects are each going to take about a month and a half.  Okay, actually, they only seem to take about a month, but we don’t seem to start on them until about halfway through the month, so we are just slightly off schedule.  I figure, as long as we keep working our way through our list, it will all get done…or, at least, we will manage to make a dent in every problem area, and that’s worth something, right?

Last month’s challenge was closets.  We got all of the kids’ closets and ours pretty much done, and, today, I reached a stopping point on the linen closet.  Yes, I reached a stopping point.  I know, Mary Poppins would want me to finish.  I would, but I am fighting what many who know me probably think is a losing battle.  Like Jane, after all, I am “rather inclined to giggle, doesn’t put things away.”  (For the record, like Michael, I am also “extremely stubborn and suspicious,” but that doesn’t really apply to this particular situation).  When I started working on the linen closet last week, I had grand plans, and every intention of realizing them.  I thought I would line it with contact paper, paint, and organize; but, after getting just one shelf lined, I decided it was more important to get the closet organized and get all of the linens out of the parlour, where they lay stacked in heaps for days while I struggled to figure out how to negotiate the closet.  I will revisit the decorating aspect of it later, but, for now, at least we have a workable system in place.  I think we need to install one more shelf for it to be perfect (you’ll see where I have the swim tote piled on top of the basket of bath toys), but it is definitely a vast improvement. Because…
well…I am really terribly embarrassed to share this picture, but…*sigh*…

THIS is what our closet looked like before I started working:Image

I know, I ought to be ashamed, and I am.  We just never got it under control, and it ended up being the place where everything we didn’t know where to put got stashed.  This made it nearly impossible to find matching sets of sheets, as well as small items like wash rags.  It was really awful.

The first thing I did was remove everything, and clean the inside of the closet.  Next, I made a plan.  We decided to keep our bed linens, which are a different size than the children’s, in the cedar chest in our bedroom, so that freed up some space.  I also decided to store curtains and draperies there, since it is a nice, big chest.

Then, I started folding.  A strategy that helped me tremendously with this task is something I saw online (here is a link that might be helpful).  It is so simple, and yet so brilliant, that it has forever changed the way I deal with my bed linens.  Here it is: when you fold your sheets, fold the flat sheet and fitted sheet together, so they are just the right size to fit inside one pillowcase (I fold mine so they are are wide and half as long as the pillowcase).  If your set has a second pillowcase, fold that in with the sheets.  Now, slide the folded sheets inside the first pillowcase.  Tuck any extra pillowcase that overhangs back in to itself (stuff it inside the pillowcase) or fold under.  Voila!  Your matched set of sheets is not only stored together, but it looks neater, and takes up less space on your shelf (or in your cedar chest).  AWESOME.

On one shelf, I used two of those little wire extra shelf things that just sit on your shelf.  It was a good solution for us, because I wanted a higher space on one side of my shelf, and then I wanted to break up the other side of the shelf in to two levels (it will make sense when you see it.  It think).  Also, I owned them, so it didn’t cost me a cent to add an extra shelf.  Next, I repurposed a little basket that was just collecting odds and ends in my bedroom to corral the wash rags, which tend to get lost in the great abyss of our linen closet.  I also lined one shelf, using leftover contact paper from Hallie’s locker (the inside was covered with inappropriate graffiti, so she lined it with pretty paper to make her school days a little more pleasant).

A priority for me was to keep like items ~ items that might be used in the same venue or context, like, say, towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. ~ together, instead of storing towels, games, moon sand, and polyfill in the linen cabinet, toothpaste and toilet paper in the laundry room (WHAT???!!) and epsom salts and bath toys in a separate cupboard underneath the linen closet.  Truly, I have no idea what we were thinking when we moved in and started putting things in this closet.  I think it was something like, “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  MUST UNPACK!!!!  SO MUCH STUFF!!!  SO MUCH HOUSE!!!!!  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

Well, anyway, I am done.  For now.  It is much better.  I took some after pictures, so you can witness the vast improvement.  Someday, when I pretty it up more, I will post pictures of the finished product, but I think it’s okay as it is.

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As you can see, the top shelf still has some sort of odd, out-of-place stuff.  For now, that’s working, because, let’s face it, that stuff has to go somewhere; and it’s not like I want to keep anything I have to reach every day up there ~ I’m 5’1″ tall.  Speaking of which, that was also something I thought about while organizing.  Kaia and I are not tall.  I wanted to keep things we would need on a regular basis within easy reach.  So, towels, rags, etc., which we need everyday are on a mid-height self, with bed linens, which we need only once a week or so, are on the shelf above.  Beach towels, sunblock, swimsuits, cover-ups, my dive boots and gloves, and the tote in which we carry it is on the shelf below, because, let’s face it, we live in SoCal ~ we’re going to need that stuff.  I moved the games to the separate little cupboard underneath because it is easy to reach, and I just thought beach towels made more sense with the linens than board games did.

So, as you can see, it’s okay.  Not perfect, but much better, and I decided that, this time, for now, that’s good enough.  It wasn’t worth stressing out over, and, now that I am done, I have plenty of time to devote to getting the bathrooms in order.  However, someday, I will revisit this closet.  Here is the one shelf I lined, and it looks awfully cheery and cute.

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I am thinking of painting the whole inside of the closet a nice blue, to pick up the blue in contact paper, then lining the rest of the shelves just like this, and making cute labels (like the one on the basket) to post on the inside of the door, listing what items belong on each shelf.  Wouldn’t that be cute?  Ah…someday…

A smidge of an update ~ by Sam

Just a quick check-in.  It’s been a bit crazy around here, but, hey, what’s new?  

We plugged away on the closets during the month of February, while I continued to try to keep the paper mess around the house in check.  Its…well…it’s going okay, I guess.  One kid’s room still needs MAJOR organizing help, and another kid’s closet is still very disorganized, but we got most of what we had hoped to accomplish done this month.  Shane will have to come back and post pics of our closet makeover ~ so much better!  I am working on the last couple of closets this week (we seem to be running consistently about a week behind schedule), so I decided to look back at my “Master Plan” to see what’s in store for us next.  

Bathrooms.  

Ugh.

I am so not looking forward to organizing bathrooms.  I am looking forward to them being organized; and I am looking forward to decorating them, but actually taking the time to organize?  Did I say, “Ugh” yet?  Yeah, well… UGH!!!

At least, thanks to sales at our local Fresh & Easy, I was able to score about $69 worth of wine for $27.50 last night.  So, tonight, I can have a nice glass of wine with dinner to celebrate my accomplishments.  Because I WILL accomplish things today.  

Now, back to work on those closets, a quick evaluation of the bathrooms and what we need to get them in shape, and then to tackle more of the paper mess.  It just keeps growing!