Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Embracing the ugly (Learning to live with a non-perfect world)

We moved into my house almost 2 years ago. I love my house. Mostly. But somewhere down the line, the previous owners went a little wallpaper crazy. Our upstairs has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a hallway. When we moved in, the soon-to-be office was painted two shades of pink. So we tackled that right away before my husband moved his stuff in.

The rest of the upstairs is as follows:
Nursery - was originally a green snakeskin wallpaper. We pulled that down and painted it a light blue.
CJ's room (both boys will eventually be in this room together) - a 90s verson of burgandy and hunter green striped wall paper
Main bathroom - black wall paper with bright flowers all over it
hall way - beige and white floral wall paper
master bedroom - mint green and white striped wall paper
master bathroom - yellow floral wall paper.

Are you getting the idea? Yikes! So far, the only room that we have tackled was the nursery. This is the easiest room to tackle, because there was no one in it at the time.

The master bedroom will probably be the last one we do. Because really, who sees it other than us?

So, this is what the wall paper is like:

not so terrible. But wait - it gets better. Because, if you don't love the color - then you are totally overwhelmed - check out the carpet:

 (the tan is the hallway - the green is our room)

And, to make matters worse, we had this as a comforter set in soft gold (a wedding gift from before we had the house). And it clashed. it really really clashed.

So, sometimes, you just have to embrace the ugly in your life, and make decisions that you don't love. So while I was shopping last weekend, I came across a comforter cover. A mint-green and tan comforter cover. I don't love it. I would never choose it. But it doesn't clash. So, I made peace with the decision and went for it. I wish i had a before picture so you could see how horrible the gold looked.

This is the comforter I found. (and no, this is not what it looks like in my room - this is from the package).

Did you just spit out your coffee at the price? Don't worry. I'm not that crazy.

I have the checkered underside showing, but may play around with it over time, and see about having the up-side showing. I have plans to help tone-down the stripes, because I really don't think that will get changed any time soon. And even if it does, there will still be mint-green carpet in there until we have a carpet-overhaul. Which is not going to happen until after the boys are a little bit older.

So here is my final "in progress" picture. Where I no longer cringe when I walk in the room, even if I don't love it.

The shams are left over from an old bed set. They don't match exactly, but they do the trick. Here is them up-close.

So what about you? Have you ever made a compromise on buying something you didn't like, just because it works better with your non-perfect world? 



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Get rid of old medicine!

I have a bad habit. A habit of holding on to medicine for WAY too long. Prescription medicine and over the counter medicine. So this entry on the organizational counter was MADE for me. But - first things first - how DO you get rid of medicine? Depending on the type of drug it can either be
1. Tossed in the trash
2. Flushed down the toilet
3. Given to a "take-back" program for recycling and / or safe disposal

If you are tossing them in the trash, what you should do is remove them from the original containers. You want to pour liquid medicines into some kitty litter to absorb the liquid, and you want to crush the pills and mix them with kitty litter or coffee grounds or something else to make them more undesirable.

It looks like drug take-backs are usually in October and April, so I will tuck away my unused medicine that can't be flushed into a box, and am marking it on my calendar.

Remember my picture showing the master bathroom?
 Down in the corner you can see the plastic drawers where we keep all the medicine. We need to come up with a better system eventually, but it works for now.
So, when I went through them, I found lots of expired items, lots of prescriptions that were very old. Overall I was able to pull out all this stuff to dispose of:
See that big bottle? Apparently I have a huge bottle of oxycodine from when I had my first son. wow. I'm trying to remember if I was walking around high for the first week. The bottle is still mostly full - I do remember deciding to just stop taking it and relying on the motrin alone. They did not give me anything nearly as strong with kid #2.

Have you gone through your medicine recently? How much were you able to get rid of?



Monday, February 27, 2012

To-do List: Week of February 26

Wow. Its almost spring folks! (In my mind, March is spring, even though it isn't "officially" spring until the 21st). We have only broken out the snow blowers once. All year. This is such a crazy winter!

I know updates have been slow, but we are picking up and getting back to a normal pace around here.

Oh, and remember this post about the light bulb warranty? GE sent me a coupon for $8 off a new light bulb! So organizing really does pay!

What got done
1. All caught up on Laundry!!! (This may just top the list every week)
2. Clear off the dresser tops in master bedroom
3. "embraced the ugly" via a new duvet cover
4. De-cluttered candles, and put some in my give-away box.
5. made a valiant effort with the office - I didn't get a before picture (you don't want to see it anyway, trust me) but we should be ready for next weekend.

What didn't get done:
1. The donation station.
2. Clear off dresser tops in Kids bedrooms

To-do List for next week:
1. Dresser tops in Kid's bedrooms
2. Clear desk in office
3. Clear / clean "filing" area in kitchen

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meal Planning/Grocery List Challenge

This week's challenge at the Organized Home Challenge is to work on healthy meal planning and creating a grocery list.  On the blog, she has a link to a printable weekly dinner menu and shopping list for some sample's great!  She also has a super printable grocery list that looks like it would make meal planning and shopping much easier! 

I really like for planning and creating my shopping list.  There are TONS of quick & easy meal ideas on that site.  You can search for whatever you are in the mood for, then save the recipes to your recipe box, and add ingredients to your shopping list.  I have the shopping list app on my iPhone, so all I have to do is sync the list with the app on my phone, and I'm good to go at the grocery store!  I love it!  You can also create other lists on the app, so if there are specific things I need to get at specific places (Costco, for example), then I can create a list just for that. 

What are your meal planning and shopping list ideas?  I'd love to hear what everyone else finds helpful and useful! :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly Roundup & To-Do list - Week of Feb. 19

Everyone is well in my house! So much nicer than the bunch of sickos from the previous two weeks. So - full steam ahead people! A lot of posts aren't written yet, but stuff is actually getting completed which is huge!

What got done
1. Get rid of old medicine
2. Clean under the bed
3. Go through 2 storage shelves (sort of - I went through some boxes instead)
5. Laundry. Close to being done & put away!
6. The Fridge - started, but not completed. Should be done by mid-week with a post!

Additional Items not on last week's list:
1. Returned some items to stores
2.  Sent back my coach purse for repair
3. Put out a box of give-aways for Volunteers of America to pick up today
4. Organized the shelf above the front-entryway coat closet.
5. Began sorting clothes for future give-aways
6. New duvet for my bedroom (more on this later)

What didn't get done:
 1. The donation station.
2. Declutter Candles
3. Finish the fridge

Some notes on the donation station - I know it has taken me a while to tackle this, but I am planning on having something permanent / pretty to encourage use. I don't have a huge front entry area, so this can't be easily tucked away.

Next week's list:

1. Clear off dresser tops in master bedroom
2. Clear off dresser tops in Kids bedrooms
3. Start office area*

*Office area - yikes. My mother-in-law is coming to visit in 2 weeks, and we do not have a guest bedroom anymore. We have to whip the office into shape so that we have a somewhat private area for her to sleep. Nothing like a deadline to get you moving!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Warranty Tracking - sending in my purse

Back when I was childless and single and spent money on things like purses, I bought an amazing black coach purse. It was my present to myself after a work bonus. It was more money that I had spent on a purse in ever. But I have used it lots and lots and lots. I have to say I was very impressed with the quality. The fabric is super thick (more like luggage than a purse). But after 5 years of lots of use, its looking more than a little sad.

The fabric is a little worn at the folds, and the piping is worn through in some areas. So, I'm sending it in for repair. A simple google found me a form to fill out, so I filled it out, paid the $20, and am mailing it off today.

I am not sure quite what to expect - its normal wear and tear to tell the truth, but I would love it if they were able to do something to repair it.

I will post on the results when I hear back.

Depending on how things work out, this could be a great example of how organization can pay off! It really doesn't take long to put something together and send it out for repair. Meanwhile, I don't have a purse cluttering my closet that is in disrepair, and hopefully some good will come of it!

How do you organize your warranties? Do you have anything that could be a quick fix, but instead is cluttering up a closet?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekly Roundup & To-Do list - Week of Feb. 12

We are finally getting over being sick, but now both kiddos have a barking cough. Is there anything worse than an infant with a cough? So, once again, not much got done. But lets review what we did get done:

What got done

1. Organized the Junk Drawer
2. Keep only good sharp knives
3. Go through one kitchen drawer - clean & organize
4.  Go through plastic wrap drawer

hahaha - another week of not completing the list. go figure.

What didn't get done:
 1. The donation station.
2. Declutter Candles
3. Clean under bed
4. Get rid of old medicine (1/2 done - its a start!)
5. Tackle the clean laundry pile
6. Go through 2 storage shelves

New Items:
1. Empty and clean fridge.

I'm making that the ONLY item this week for two reasons: 1) Its time to catch up on all those carry-over items, and 2) its a BIG item. really. 

Inspirational Links:

Fridge - Example 1
Fridge - Example 2
Fridge - Example 3
Savvy Ways to Store Food (Am I the only one who thinks of Johny Depp when I hear someone say "Savvy"?)
Fridge Diagram

Other Items of Note from this week:
Free Financial Tools for Kids
4 tips for family computing
Modify a Cabinet Drawer to hide a printer
Gift Wrap Organization

Is anyone else tackling the fridge this week?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

52 Week Organized Home Challenge

I stumbled upon this challenge and thought it was a little more reasonable for me than the daily calendar Sarah posted when we started this blog.  My weeks are so busy and I just don't have time to catch up on the weekend, so I'm thinking this one might be more do-able for me.  We'll see! :)

52 Week Organized Home Challenge

This week's challenge is to Create a Home Recycling Center, which we desperately need here.  We kinda live in the boonies and our recycling program is pretty much nil.  I try to take things to work and recycle, but sometimes I don't know where to store it all.  So, today I'm going to try to come up with a solution.  Here's a link to the .pdf version of the challenge and here's all the nitty-gritty details!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Organize the Junk Drawer!

Fair Warning - this is not an exciting post. It's essentially a before / after with a perk.

So, here is the before:

A little scary, no? Well, they don't call it a junk drawer for nothing. Truth be told, its not that bad - there is a layer of organization covered up by a layer of "throw-it-in-and-close-the-drawer", so really I just had to sort through what was on top.

Here is the after:

Like my use of the silverware tray? Our house has an amazing built-in silverware tray, so when we moved in, the one we had became a junk-drawer organizer. Its actually very useful, although I wish the compartments were full compartments, without openings between them. But it works for now. Behind the silverware tray is a stack of manuals for appliances, and a phonebook on top.

So what's the bonus? When going through the appliance manuals, I found this:

Closer inspection for why I kept this:

I know. Who keeps receipts for light bulb warranties? But, it just so happens that I also have this:

Now, I'm pretty sure I may have an issue with the wiring in this can. We have replaced this bulb 2 times since we moved in, and not for any other areas at all. BUT - who am I to argue with a 5 year warranty, original receipt, and the packaging? I knew I was a packrat for a reason.

So, I mailed it off, and we'll see if I get a response! Overall time to organize the junk drawer? 5 minutes. Tops. Cost of a replacement bulb? $5.98 + tax. Cost of a stamp: $0.45. Dollars saved by checking something off of my list: $5.53. Extrapolated hourly salary: $110.60/hour baby!!!! Livin' large over here!!!! If only I could make that much money for longer than a 5 minute period! HA.

edit: linking to

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Master Bedroom Re-organization

Guess it's time for me to check in! Sarah has been on the, not so much! My family has been sick, life is crazy, blah, blah, blah. I think it's the excuses that are the reason I'm in this disorganized and cluttered mess in the first place! So, this past weekend I decided to do some reorganization in our master bedroom. Part of the motivation is that we got a king-sized bed just before Christmas. My parents got us all new bedding and it looks so nice, but there were piles of clothes and other random junk that has been collected around the room.

This was the view of the problem area before:

I really disliked where the treadmill was, but I wasn't sure what else to do with it! I want it in my room so I can use it often, but it ends up becoming a junk trap! (How did it get so bad?!) I was sick of seeing all the piles and using my treadmill for a storage area. I need to be able to use the machine for it's purpose...not to store all the junk! So I started to sort...and sort...and sort!

I found that most of the stuff piled on there were maternity clothes. My daughter is 10 months old and our last baby, so I started to document the items using It's Deductible Online, which I love! It keeps track of your donations throughout the year, then imports directly into Turbo Tax when you're doing your taxes. It's great! I boxed them up and they're ready for Purple Heart to pick them up. Junk gone...check! In the process I found some "treasures" that were not donation worthy and ended up filling a huge black garbage bag!

I also wanted to figure out how to get our new TV higher, without mounting it on the wall. We had a TV stand in our room before that held our old box TV. It's not the fanciest piece of furniture, but it is tall! So I decided to haul out the old TV (which my husband reluctantly carried to the garage by was heavy!) and I decided to find a new purpose for this piece of furniture.
I moved the treadmill parallel to the wall by the windows, which left a space just the right size for the TV stand. I found two shelves inside the stand which I plan to use as shelves for some of my sweaters and sweatshirts that are too bulky for drawers. I just need to get the little pegs to hold up the shelves. Here is the view of the finished furniture placement.
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I like being able to turn the TV towards the treadmill for when I'm walking. And for some reason our room feels so much bigger! Maybe it's because you are not walking into that TV stand when you enter our room or maybe it's because there is a lot less junk all over! So I am counting this as a success!

My next project...finish the TV stand and post pictures! Stay tuned...! :)

Edit: Linking to

Simple Tax Organizing for Small Businesses

As I noted on Monday, last week the ONLY thing I got done on my to-do list was gathering tax stuff. And truth be told, that is only because I had a meeting set up with my accountant on Thursday, and so it HAD to be done.

Let me start off by saying - I am not a tax expert in any way shape or form. I have these forms set up to help out my accountant who is the one who actually handles the taxes. BUT I do find that these 4 simple forms help tremendously to "keep the books" - and I can make a blank of them if anyone would like a copy.

And much like my home financial organizing system, I use google docs. (I have the form in excel though, so I can email it to anyone who wants it, and it can be opened up in google docs).

The four forms are:

1. Payments & Deductions (running tally)
2. Home Office Deductions
3. Bank Balance
4. Invoice Tracker

Working from home provides many challenges - uh - so I've heard. (My husband is the one who works from home, not me). Not the least of which is how to get any work done when there are two kids to take care of as well. But, for non personal challenges - how to keep the books when love of accounting is probably not the reason you set up a home business. (Unless you have a home accounting business. In which case, carry on - I'm sure your spreadsheets are much more complicated than mine!)

Using my tried & true method of to keep track of general expenses helps. We have a small business checking account and a specific credit card that is only used for business purposes. So when something hits one of these two accounts, I automatically update my sheet to include the expense. You wouldn't believe how much easier this is then tracking down a $12 ebay purchase 10 months later and trying to remember what it is.

When a payment comes through on either of these I note it in the "Payments & Deductions" sheet, and keep a running tally of the business that way.

The second sheet - the home office sheet - is for when you have a home office that is only for the use of your business. (The IRS has strict rules on what counts). Here I keep track of any monthly utilities, and the percentage used (square feet of office / square feet of house). Depending on your type of business, you may be able to deduct more. I also include some items like phone bills and internet, which I count at a higher usage (based on estimated percentage of usage for business / not business). Finally, it also has a miles tracker for you to input how many miles you drive each month, as well as an input for any tolls you pay. This automatically spits out a number as to what can be deducted at the end of the year. I usually just print off this sheet to hand directly to my accountant. If you have a business where you drive a lot, you may want to add an additional sheet with dates, locations, and miles to calculate for each month in case you get audited. We don't drive that much for the business, so its easy for us to remember.

The third sheet is just a basic bank balance. (Note - this is different than the deductions / payments tally because with the deductions & payments I count each individual item and what it was, whereas the bank balance will just show "credit card payment"). This one is pretty self explanatory, but works great as a double check when comparing with the actual bank balance.

Finally, I have an invoice tracker. Now, we have a much more sophisticated system for the invoices that allows for credit card payments, electronic billing, etc., however I keep a running tally just for my own purposes in this same sheet.

I hope this helps anyone who is running a small home business! How do you keep track of any of your business tax write-offs? Do you do a mad-dash at the end of the year, or have a system set up?

Edit: Linking to