If you put your kids Christmas gifts in unmarked boxes, you can get them to wrap their own presents.
Me: “PinkGirl, you know what time it is?”
Me: “Time to lay out your clothes for school tomorrow.”
extreme, dramatic faux fainting
Me: “And pack your lunch.”
and just like that. Summer is over.
This post proves that I will do anything to distract myself while trying to get through the last half mile of a 5 mile catch-up walk on the treadmill at a 6.5 incline…
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated cleaning, so I’m once again applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen.
The recent “worms in the fridge” episode has me focused on cleaning my refrigerator. You’d think that the shelf with the worms on it would get my attention, but no. The drawer that was so stuffed it wouldn’t open gets first dibs. I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned it out.
Includes emptying out the drawer (including the loose, petrified croutons) cleaning the drawer bottom, searching for science experiments and tossing them out, combining the contents of multiple open packages of the same items and reloading the drawer – leaving out the food that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.
Here’s the photo documentary of this exciting event:
And my theory is that nobody really wants to see the science experiments that were discovered and discarded, but if I’m wrong, HERE THEY ARE.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
oh, you get to see the ugly now. My last few 5 minute posts have been in line with my goal to spring/deep clean my kitchen, but today’s post is about a DAILY struggle.
I have to believe that my kitchen counter is not the only one with magical magnetic properties. Magical in that it attracts all materials, not just metal.
We’ve got paper, plastic, wood, glass, medicine, vitamins, food items, cleaning supplies, a doorknob (don’t ask), even flat out GARBAGE. Maybe if I put the garbage can ON the counter…
But I digress.
I decided to find out if I could clear it in 5 minutes. If so, maybe it won’t seem like such a daunting task in the future. Maybe if I SEE that I can do it in 5 minutes, I’ll be more likely to do it every day.
Bwahahaha! (in our house, that would be referred to the Zack and Cody laugh. a statement, followed by a brief pause, and then a burst of mocking laughter.)
Did I make it within 5 minutes?
I’ll admit right now that this was challenging, simply due to the distance I had to travel to put some of this stuff where it actually goes. Which is probably WHY it got dumped on the counter in the first place.
Nobody wanted to go the distance.
I did cheat a little bit and put the items that were supposed to go upstairs ON the stairs to carry up the next time I go.
You watch, the next 5 minute post will start with a picture of my cluttered staircase.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
And I just want to state right now, that I am confident that I can not clear my minivan of CARbage in 5 minutes.
UPDATE @ 2:34pm: Right now, there’s only one thing on my kitchen counter. A crock pot full of Cream Cheese Chicken
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
Still applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the knife drawer.
If THAT photo doesn’t show how bad it really was, THIS one surely does:
I followed the same steps as yesterday’s 5 minute drawer cleanup: emptied the drawer, cleaned the bottom, scrubbed and dried the drawer organizers and put everything back. This time, I didn’t get rid of anything. It may have been dirty, but it’s stayed organized like this since we had the kitchen redone in November of 2000.
2000. I wonder if that’s when I last cleaned the bottom of this drawer. no . . . NO. I’ve definitely cleaned it since then. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
But that was only the knife DRAWER. My favorite knives live in my Kapoosh (Amazon link) And I know I clean THAT multiple times per year. because it’s fun. and easy. and it takes less than FIVE MINUTES to clean it.
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated spring cleaning, so I’m applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the flatware drawer. I forgot to include a clock in the picture to prove that it only took 5 minutes, so you’re just gonna have to trust me.
Includes emptying out the drawer, cleaning the drawer bottom, scrubbing and drying the drawer organizers and reloading the drawer – leaving out the flatware we don’t really use anymore.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
Me, to PinkGirl: “Hey, take a look at this silverware drawer. See anything different?”
PinkGirl, crinkling brow, silently stares at the drawer.
Me: “It’s totally clean.”
Me: “So. I have a question. Why was the bottom of this drawer full of chocolate sprinkles?
PinkGirl, grinning: “Funny story….”
(I had already gotten some of the sprinkles out before I remembered to take the photo.)
“We can always find all kinds of small, dead-end projects to work on, but getting a lot done is not the same as getting the most important things done. If you start work by jumping right into the hardest task for the day, you’ll get bigger and better results and feel better, too. Often things we’ve dreaded, dodged and evaded forever take less than half an hour when we finally face up to them.”
We’ve adopted a saying in our house: “eat the frog.”
What does that mean? If the hardest and worst thing on your to-do list is to eat a live frog, just get it over with. With that nagging burden gone, you’ll feel re-energized and the momentum will carry over into everything else you do. Because after eating a live frog, your day has nowhere else to go but up. (http://www.eatthatfrogmovie.com)
I need to work on invoices today. HATE doing it. But it’s my frog.
What’s your frog?
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
We’ve made a big change here at Casa Aqua (the name Casa Aqua is a long story. Suffice it to say we are no strangers to dehumidifiers and industrial carpet fans). We ditched our straight backed wooden slat chairs (as comfy as they were) and have purchased four office desk chairs for our kitchen table. Take a look:
Last year we experienced a shift in homework time-continuum as FavoriteSon tried different locations to complete his homework. Neither of my kids likes to be isolated during homework time. Neither of them want a desk in their room to do said homework. I’m sure it’s because they just can’t bear to be apart from me.
(convincing and heartfelt pause)
But seriously, this is a good thing. Because they both tend to “daydream” (code word for mild ADD) and I find myself asking “Are you distracted?” “Whatcha doing?” and “Status report, please.” when I see them doing anything BUT homework.
By the end of last year, FavoriteSon’s homework location of choice was MY reading spot:
He complained that the chairs at both our kitchen table and our dining table made his back hurt. I couldn’t disagree with him. So, we sometimes let him do his homework while sitting here. By the end of these evenings, he was sprawled across the loveseat, eyes drooping, pretty much useless. We would send him to bed and wake him up early to finish in the morning. On the days we forced him to sit at a table, the whining was frequent and escalating, extending the time he spent doing the homework in the chairs of pain. (physical pain for him, a whole NUTHER kind of pain for us.)
This year, we had a plan. We took the kids to Staples and Office Depot to pick out chairs. FavoriteSon settled right into a $90 chair. A little steep, but we agreed with the condition that he N E V E R complain about the seating for homework again. And that he MUST A L W A Y S sit at the kitchen table to do his homework.
PinkGirl kept picking out cushy velour chairs FirstHusband and I vetoed every one, envisioning a daily task of removing crusty food from an increasingly hard and stained surface. ewww.
We finally found a $70 chair for her that was COMPLETELY adjustable. The seat goes up and down and tilts forward and backward. The back goes forward and backward as well as up and down. The entire chair moves up and down. And the arms are adjustable.
Of course, it didn’t match FavoriteSon’s chair. And while I’m not opposed to the quirkiness of this “office chairs in the kitchen” idea, I DO have some sense of aesthetics (aka decorating), so we opted to get two and two. FavoriteSon and I have the same chair and FirstHusband and PinkGirl have the same chair. (So what do you think? Do I need a more contemporary table now? I can’t decide.)
Two evenings of homework and so far, so good.
And yes. I am sure I see scratches on the floor already. But I do not care. This floor has had “character” for years now. When my kids are grown and have moved out, I will have a beautiful kitchen floor. But in the words Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen): “It is not THIS day!”
And I’m okay with that. This works for me – and my family.
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
My newspaper subscription ran out. I know this because last week someone called to ask if I would like to renew it. Considering the labor intensive household task of carrying the newspaper from the driveway directly to the recycling bin has lost its appeal, I said “No thank you.”
The nice lady told me I would need to call another number and actually cancel the paper, she was just in sales.
So this week, another nice lady called to again tell me my newspaper subscription was expired. FirstHusband and I had talked a bit between these two “courtesy calls” and decided we really don’t mind getting the Sunday paper. It actually gets taken out of the bag and sifted through before laying around the house for a few days – BEFORE it goes into the recycling bin. Sometimes I even take Thursday’s paper out of the plastic bag to peruse the food section. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: We don’t really want so many papers per week. Just Sunday is good.
Her: Well, you actually only pay for Sunday’s paper, the rest of your papers are free. It’s a really good deal. If you only get Sunday’s paper, you’ll still be paying the same amount.
Me: I realize that, but at this point, our free papers are causing us extra work on a daily basis. We have two soaking wet papers in the driveway right now.
Her: Do you have any pets in the house?
Me: You mean the kind of pets who might need shredded newspaper? . . . No.
Wait. Did the newspaper sales person just suggest that I use the newspaper for the direct purpose of letting my pet pee on it?
The newspaper industry is in serious trouble. I feel compelled to lend some assistance. If you don’t need any newspaper to soak up pet urine either, here are some more reasons to subscribe:
Maybe you could make this for your pet at Christmas. So festive!
I’ve decided to make some changes here at Pragmatic Compendium. I’m going to make it more of a compendium. Here are the changes:
1. I’m going to be republishing existing content from my other blogs into Compendium, so that this will be a one stop shop for all my posts. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I frequently can’t find my own posts because I can’t remember where I put them. Secondly, the stats from the other blogs don’t show much traffic from Compendium, so my readers are missing my posts. Compendium is only part of who I am. There’s more!
2. I’m going to keep the other blogs too and continue to publish in them. Every time I post in one of my other blogs, I will publish the exact same content in Compendium too.
Why not just put everything in Compendium and do away with the other blogs?
- The other blogs do get traffic, just not much from Compendium. Most traffic comes from subscription services/readers and search strings.
- Pragmatic Communion is JUST for devotions. By still publishing in Communion, readers who only want to read the devotions don’t have to wade through everything else to find them.
- Pragmatic Commotion is JUST for family stuff. Kid stories and quotes, photos, stuff like that. By still publishing in Commotion, friends and family who want to keep up with my family life don’t have to wade through everything else to find things only related to my family. I might not publish all the kid/family photos on Compendium. I’m not sure yet.
- Pragmatic Communication is JUST about communication: talking, writing, reading, and listening. I’m revamping my business website and will be linking to communication “articles” in Pragmatic Communication. My communication clients want to read about communication tips without wading through recipes, my favorite youtube clips and everything else unrelated to communication.
- Pragmatic Computing (my first blog, by the way) is JUST for computer tips and troubleshooting. It is also linked from my business website and my computer clients like to find computer tips without (again) wading through everything else.
3. I’ll be changing the sidebar widgets to remove the links to the last three posts on each of my other blogs. Since the content will already be within Compendium, readers don’t need to see the last three entries on those blogs. I will instead have a single link to each of the other blogs in the sidebar, in case readers want to JUST see devotions, or family stuff, or communication articles, or computer tips.
4. I think I will be removing links TO Compendium which currently appear in my other blogs. That means there will be no clear path BACK to Compendium when someone clicks over to one of the other blogs from here. However, ALL links from Compendium to the other blogs will open in a new window or tab, leaving the Compendium page open. My reasoning for this one?
- Communication and Computing? Clients don’t need to read such personal stuff about me. It makes things awkward for them. When I get to know a client better, I tell them about Compendium. I got a new client last week. A 64 year old man. He really doesn’t want to stumble upon my hysterectomy woes. Neither do I want him to. Talk about awkward.
- Communion – I haven’t decided whether to link back to Compendium yet. I think I’ll leave that two way clicking path available.
- Commotion? I will set all comments on Commotion to be approved before they appear.
5. I’m beefing up the categories and tags on all the blogs to, hopefully, make it easier for
me readers to find posts about certain topics.
6. I haven’t decided how my menu bar at the top will change, but it will. (I’m open to suggestions.)
I LOVE my template, so it will NOT change.
So here’s a call for feedback! What else should I consider? What other changes should I make? What changes should I NOT make?
Check out my recent purchase! $29.99 for both the desktop and mobile platform! And the license allows me to load the desktop software on both my laptop and desktop computer.
I’m a LONG time Palm girl, so the mobile version, on my Centro, looks like this:
There’s also a Windows mobile version.
It even has an interactive shopping list and menu planner! My favorite part? Adjustable serving sizes that modify ingredient amounts! I can edit ingredients, add photos, assign and filter by multiple food categories and search by up to three ingredients.
It comes with over 1200 recipes. Most look pretty good (and easy), but I’ve already deleted 60+ I knew I would NEVER make. Like “Potted Tongue.” This software has everything I can think of, in an intuitive and clean interface. I’m already loving it! Check out some more reviews
I get most of my PDA software from http://www.handango.com and they almost always have an active promo code. If the ones below are expired, search for “handango promotion” and you’ll probably find one.
“APPSWELIKE” expires tonight at midnight and saves you 15%
“SAVE20NOW” saves you 20%, but I’m not sure when it expires.
It’s January, time to shred 2001. At the advice of my accountant, I keep documents 7 years. As I rotate 2008 into storage, I’m reminded of a three part series I wrote entitled “Don’t File Paper at Home Anymore.”
If you are SICK of managing the paper in your house, check it out.
We’ve made one modification to the process this year.
We now throw away all the receipts we don’t need. Why were we keeping grocery store and restaurant receipts? Why were we keeping receipts for household cleaning products and stuff we weren’t going to return?
Many of the expenses we need to track are on our bank statement. We now only keep business receipts. We don’t even need to shred many of them because they don’t show our account numbers.
ahhh. I love getting rid of paper.
About three years ago, I mentioned to a few people that I needed some good kitchen knives. The next Christmas was . . . very sharp. I got knives from my dad, my in-laws and FirstHusband.
Great knives – every one. Especially my favorite – the ceramic knife FirstHusband got me. (second from the left). The problem was that they didn’t match.
Then, walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond one day, FirstHusband found THIS:
Looks like a plain old knife block. Look closer.
It’s called a “Kapoosh ” (amazon product link) and it holds any knife, no matter the size.
To clean it, you just remove all the knives, turn it upside down and the plastic part comes completely out. I just wipe it down, fan it out and pop it back in. Kapoosh!
You’ve heard it. Older people (older than ME, of course), talking about how undisciplined kids are today.
In case you don’t feel like zooming in on the first photo, the 1953 library book plate reads:
“PUPILS MUST NOT WRITE ON OR MARK ANY PAGE OF THIS TEXTBOOK.“
And THIS is why it takes me so long to purge excess stuff from my house. I get a little distracted.
Years ago, I bought old books for decorating purposes. I didn’t really care about the title or author, I just wanted vintage books on the shelf. I’m over it. I’m purging. I kept the titles and authors which interest me, but this is one that didn’t. Well, it doesn’t NOW. I’m finished looking at it, so I’ll pass it on to someone else now. Along with all this stuff:
Except the cat. I’m keeping the cat.
I read, therefore I quote. It’s what I do.
I’ve been quoting books, but this gem from Memarie Lane was just too good to pass over just because it didn’t come bound or with an ISBN number:
“A day for me is like a Rubix Cube. Several patterns in several dimensions that have to be solved in tandem. Lining up one pattern may discombobulate another, so I have to keep it all in balance. Hopefully, by the end of the day I’ll have it all sorted out, though the next morning all that work will be undone again.”
Marie Du Jour
by Memarie Lane
Thinking about my main job these days – not my consulting, but my main job as a Family Manager, I have Kathy Peel to thank for the way I view it and the consistent awareness that what I do has value. My quote today is the crux of Kathy’s (and subsequently my) philosophy on the role of Family Manager.
Although there are days when I miserably fail to meet my goals (and I mean MISERABLY), I start over again the next day with a clean slate. Every little change adds up. It was much more difficult to consistently pair my goals with action when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers. There’s so much “reaction” parenting sometimes. You have to react to something you didn’t expect, like a golf ball through the fish tank. (That’s another post.) Now that my kids are taking more ownership of their own lives, washing their own hair and wiping their own . . . It’s easier.
So, although I don’t always meet them, these words have been the cornerstone for my goals for many, many years:
“I wrote down all of my chores and responsibilities – whether they had to do with our house, clothing, children, relatives, bank accounts, pantry, schools, vacations, furniture, holidays, etc., (the list was very long) – and studied them. Then I tried to place each item on the list into a general department, similar to those of a business. I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. The did. As a matter of fact, seven distinct departments emerged that made a lot of sense to me as a Family Manager.
Time – managing time and schedules – getting the right people to the right places at the right time – so that our household can run smoothly. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: with the right equipment.)
- Goals: To see each day, each hour, each minute as a gift, not to be irresponsibly “spent,” but “used” in a purposeful way. Learn to use small blocks of time to accomplish big tasks. To stop wasting time with meaningless activities. To think and plan ahead so as to eliminate as much chaos and stress as possible from our daily life.
Food: efficiently, economically and creatively meeting the daily food and nutritional needs of my family.
- Goals: To provide tasty, nutritious meals for our family. And even if the food isn’t gourmet, to make mealtimes especially enjoyable times when we share laughter, tears, dreams, ideas – our worlds, as a family.
Home & Property: overseeing the maintenance and care of all our tangible assets, including personal belongings, the house, and its surroundings.
- Goals: To appreciate and take care of all of our belongings in such a way that we can enjoy them as much as possible and they will last as long as possible. To create, through the decor and furnishings of our home, a warm and welcoming atmosphere for family and friends.
Finances – managing budgets, bill-paying and a host of other money issues.
- Goals: To be alert for practical ways every day to live by the motto “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.” To live within our budget and spend less than we make.
Special Projects – coordinating large and small projects—birthdays, holidays, vacations, garage sales, family reunions—that fall outside the normal family routine.
- Goals: To plan occasions and events to celebrate the special moments of life, and create and carry on family traditions. To put making memories high on our priority list. To make sure I (and others) aren’t so overwhelmed with trying to do it right we don’t have any fun.
Family Members and Friends – dealing with family life and relationships, and acting as a teacher, nurse, counselor, mediator, and social chairman. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: child rearing, education, marriage, friends, neighbors, and aging parents.)
- Goals: To always remember that relationships are the most important thing in life, that people are more important than projects. To help those closest to me develop their full potential by providing opportunities for their growth and valuing them as individuals. To be, to the best of my ability, a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, relative, friend, and neighbor.
Personal Management – growing and caring for myself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. (I figured that if I’m going to manage everything else, I’ve got to manage myself.)
- Goals: To strive to develop my full potential as a woman. To be an avid reader and a lifelong learner, to exercise regularly and eat wisely, to schedule times for personal recreation and refreshment, to grow in my knowledge of God. To take good care of myself and remind myself regularly of my value as a human being.”
The Family Manager
by Kathy Peel
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
Need help making your link look pretty in the comment? Copy and use this code.
Shannon, over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday. Today is all about kitchen organization! Since it’s Whale of a Sale time and I’m sorting hundreds of books and alphabetizing by author until I literally can’t remember how to spell, I’m maximizing my time (cheating) and highlighting previous posts about my kitchen.
My favorites are:
the good, the bad and the ugly (kitchen cabinets)
veggie box (our key to 5 minute meal preps)
five minute sink (two of my biggest strategies for getting things DONE.)
lunchbox flatware (no more missing place settings)
Way back in May, in a post entitled “5 minute Panera Wannabe Salad,” I mentioned that I stored veggies pre-prepped and that I would post more on it someday. It is someday.
This idea was an accident. It was January of 2008. Mexican night. The table was covered with lots and lots of small bowls with “fixins” like diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped onions, diced red bell pepper and of course shredded cheese, salsa, queso and more. At cleanup time, we put everything into individual Rubbermaid containers and piled them in the fridge.
The next night, we had salad with dinner and pulled out all the little containers to add the fixins to our salad. At cleanup time, the lids went back on and everything went back into the fridge. THAT was easy! We liked the convenience so much we decided to add some other pre-prepped veggies into the mix for future salad building. Soon we had individual containers of (raw) broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red, yellow and green diced bell peppers, scallions, carrots, mushrooms – we went all out.
The problem was that when we tried to get something from the fridge, these little individual containers would fall over and out onto the floor. (Is this the underwear principle at work or what?)
Here were the pros:
- We liked that we didn’t have to prep veggies every time we wanted to eat them. Sure veggie prep took longer, but that’s because we were prepping about a week’s worth at a time! Far less than the cumulative time it took before – and we didn’t have to wash the Chop Wizard so often!
- We were eating more fresh veggies because it was so flippin EASY.
- The individual containers took up less room than un-prepped veggies because we were no longer storing the veggie parts we don’t eat.
- Unlike shrink wrapped broccoli or a bag of bell peppers, the containers were STACKABLE.
- With small, individual containers, we only grabbed the veggies we wanted. (I had originally considered a multi compartment veggie tray with a lid – but we would have to take the entire thing out even if we only wanted one thing. Besides. They were all round.)
- The veggies were staying fresh longer because we were lining and layering the containers with dry paper towels. (Amazing discovery! Works great with mushrooms, lettuce and fresh spinach!)
- We were no longer sacrificing still packaged but rotten veggies to the mold gods every week.
- No more dry heaves while cleaning out the fridge. (The “what was this?” fridge cleaning game is rarely played in our house anymore.)
Now the cons:
- We had to prep veggies. (Unfortunately, since we don’t want to pay for pre-prepped veggies, we weren’t going to get around this one.)
- The individual containers were getting knocked over and falling out of the fridge way too easily.
There was a problem with our “system.”
So, as I mentioned, I shopped/researched what container solutions were available. I finally settled on an unused rectangular plastic box I happened to have. It was the perfect height and depth. I packed it with all the individual containers. Again. Perfect. It’s been working for nearly a year. We can either remove one or two containers or we can slide the box all the way out of the fridge like a drawer. The actual veggies and individual containers change all the time, but the are always stored in the veggie box. And yes. Those are actually oblong containers not square or rectangle, but they work in the veggie box, so they may stay.
We’ve also added two large rectangular containers to sit alongside the veggie box. One with a romaine mix and one with fresh spinach. The photos below only show one – we were out of romaine.
UPDATE: (Inspired by Endless Freebies comment below.)
The photos may be misleading. They only show one configuration of the box. We usually use the smallest containers we can and when space is needed for more veggies, we size down as we use the contents. And we have multiple sizes and shapes!
With regard to the box size – that was a process. (Like I said, The Underwear Principle at work!) We tried a smaller veggie box size, but we had a few problems:
1. When the depth of the box didn’t equal the depth of the fridge we had wasted space behind or in front of it. (Wasted space? Not on my watch.) We tried pushing the box to the back and using the extra space in front for other things, but we HATED moving the stuff to get to the box. Storing anything behind the box? We would forget about it and have to play the “What WAS that?” fridge game later.
2. We tried a shorter box and storing it on an adjustable shelf, but we had too many veggies and needed to stack. When we did, stuff fell out because the sides of the box were too short.
3. The day the above photo was taken, the veggie box wasn’t full. We didn’t have any onions or scallions and only one color bell pepper. Sometimes we have shredded carrots, asparagus, avocado, diced or sliced tomatoes, sliced zucchini or squash – LOTS of choices. So while a smaller box would have worked THAT day, it doesn’t work every day.
I eat a fair amount of salad and we use LOTS of spinach, so the big rectangular containers along the side work out the best for us. (We put fresh spinach in LOTS of things – especially omelets!)
I’m charging the camera battery right now, but later I’ll take another photo of TODAY’s configuration as a comparison.
FavoriteSon was camping with friends last weekend, so it was just me, PinkGirl and her dad. What to do? What to do?
We ended up in PinkGirl’s room. We were pretty sure it was her room. It was pink. After three play dates, one followed by a sleepover – each with a different pair of sisters, this is what it looked like on Sunday afternoon.
Now, I know these 6 other girls don’t have a clue what the Underwear Principle is, but PinkGirl totally gets the concept. And the organization of her room was NOT working for her. The two air mattresses aside, her toys, books, and costumes weren’t stored well. We could have just helped her clean everything up and put everything away, but the fact is, it would have turned out this way again. (I know this from experience.) Let me explain:
Let’s start with books. PinkGirl is her mother’s daughter. She loves books. If you see the pile of books over to the right side of the photo, you can see some cubbies at the head of her bed. (Click the photo to see a larger image.) They went all the way up to the ceiling. The lower cubbies faced outward, the upper cubbies were reversed to provide easy access when she was in bed. Not working for two reasons. See that pink box sticking out of the lower cubbie? We tried to store books in those bins, inside the cubbies. She would take books out (that would be plural) to get to the one she wanted and NEVER put them back. Also, she would bring books (that would be plural) from the lower cubbies into bed with her and NEVER put them back. Not working. She needed access to her books from her favorite place to read. Her bed. She also needed to be able to pull the exact book she wanted without sifting through lots of others. So. Book storage in Pinkgirl’s Room? Not working.
Next, the toys. Little toys. Kid meal size toys. Lots of them. Everywhere. FavoriteSon had a box for each. Tarzan toys? In the box with a picture of Tarzan on it. Toy Story toys? In a box with Buzz and Woody on it. Bugs Life toys? You get the idea. FavoriteSon liked everything separated because he played in a very structured world. PinkGirl, on the other hand, can have Buzz Lightyear marrying Cinderella with Tarzan as the best man, fighting off Zurg while the entire cast of every Disney movie ever made attends the wedding. So. PinkGirl does not store her toys by “like kind.” She likes to dump a box, pick today’s cast of characters, shove everyone else out of the way and play. When she’s done, she like to dump everyone a box. Any box. It doesn’t matter. (Kinda freaks FavoriteSon out a little, but he’ll be okay.)
In addition, PinkGirl has an elevated bed and she LOVES to hang her comforter over the side and make a tent to play in. Santa brought her a Barbie Hotel last Christmas (she calls it “The Tipton“) and she has it tucked under there. (It’s pretty cool, I saw one just like it a few years ago at a garage sale for $25.00. That would have been a great deal! ) Anyway, she needs a place for Barbie storage too.
So. We bought 4 more cubbie units. One 3 x 3 unit and three 2 x 4 units. Each unit was $39.99 at Target. Each cubbie is 1 square foot. In all, we added 33 cubic feet of additional storage space to PinkGirl’s room. FirstHusband is a MASTER at putting these babies together these days, but this time he had some help.
AMAZING difference. We lined the wall with them, floor to ceiling. Somehow the height of the bed was just perfect. It didn’t block ANY cubbies completely. Check it out four days later. Still straight. (hey. four days is major in this house.)
PinkGirl’s entire library is right within reach when she is in bed. She’s got all her books completely organized. Chapter books together, one cubby for paperback storybooks and another for hardback, one cubby for large Christian books and another for small. Dr. Seuss has his own cubby, Disney has two and “learning” books are all grouped together. She put nearly every one of the books on her new shelves all by herself.
Under the bed, she’s got all her toys in bins, Barbies in the top cubbies, everything within easy reach. And again – SHE put everything in the cubbie bins.
Just a note here, the white, plastic bins were from Walmart. At a $1.83, they are a great option for these cubbies. Target does sell canvas boxes in different colors but I HATE them. They are thin and cheap and they don’t hold their shape. I got the dark pink canvas bins (shown below) at Big Lots for less than half the price -and they are heavy, strong and hold their shape. They don’t go all the way up to the top of the cubbie, but we like that because we can see inside without pulling them out. I would have gotten more instead of using the white plastic bins, but Big Lots didn’t have the colors we wanted right now. Maybe later. For now, all but one these bins (in the photo below) are EMPTY!!! So we have the flexibility to rearrange some things as we figure out what works and doesn’t work about our latest organization of PinkGirl’s stuff. Most of the stuff in the photo below is for playing school and for creating art (With everything except paint. No painting in the bedroom.)
We also have some completely empty cubbies at the head of the bed. (she was eating a snack at her table – we don’t usually store ketchup in her room)
So. In less than a day, for less than $200, this room went from a pink explosion to pinkalicious. So far. So good.
We even manage to box up over 50 books, lots of toys, outgrown costumes and an old, giant Fisher Price doll house for charity donation. I’ve already entered it into It’s Deductible! Now if I can just get it all moved from the hallway to my van. And then to the charity drop off. Baby steps. Baby steps.
I have three cabinets over the bar in my kitchen. The middle cabinet stays pretty straight. FavoriteSon unloads the dishwasher in this house, so if he’s putting items in this cabinet away in the same place every time, its organized in a way that he finds to be easy to maintain. Which means, according to the Underwear Principle, that the organization of the middle cabinet is working. So that’s the good.
The cabinet to the left stays in somewhat of the same configuration most of the time. That means that for the most part, I find the items in the same place whenever I open the cabinet, but realistically, the items in there make it difficult to fit everything without moving other items around. That’s annoying. It’s annoying to move one item in order to put away another. It doesn’t always happen. So, following step 6 of “underwear, step by step,” it’s time for an adjustment to the current configuration. Here’s the “bad” cabinet before the adjustment:
So what needed adjustment? Not really the left side. The left side stays pretty much like this all the time, just with more containers (we have a lot in the fridge right now). The square containers here are all the same – in only two sizes, which nest easily. But the right side is always a jumble. At first glance, I need to ditch some more round containers. (I HATE round containers, they waste space.) Also, the cardboard “shelves” I created to hold lids aren’t holding up anymore.
So, I came up with two alternatives for the cabinet configuration. In both alternatives, I’m using an old rectangular container for round lids. (That container never sealed tightly and everything I ever tried to store in it went stale.) I’ll try out the one WITH the left sided shelf first and if the left side stays this way, I’ll leave it. If FavoriteSon says it’s easier to just stack all the containers on the left, instead of one size on the top shelf and another size on the bottom shelf, then I’ll ditch the left sided, top shelf. Either way, there’s enough room on the left side to store square lids.
Now for the ugly. This cabinet rarely, if ever, looked the same when I opened the doors. NOT working. Too much stuff we never use. Two scales, Popsicle makers we never use, too many measuring cups, shakers we never use, salad dressing bottle I can never reach. Just a mess. All the time. This cabinet doesn’t need an adjustment, it needs an overhaul.
The ice bin was supposed to hold the lids to all the containers in the middle cabinet. Within days of organizing it, it always looked like this:
Again, with the NOT working. So here’s the overhaul:
Top row, left to right – My handy, dandy Chop Wizard, a new “lid” container replacing the ice bin, rarely used but sometimes needed measuring cups, shaker and salad dressing bottle (I can reach it here!). Bottom row, left to right – ONE scale with its bowl, often used measuring cups, white ice bin holding tiny containers (for dressings and such), two divided meal containers.
Notice that one KEY component of this entire storage configuration is that I only have a few different TYPES of containers. Over the years, I’ve purchased three of the same 40 piece Rubbermaid set and discarded the larger round containers. (We use the small round containers for lunch boxes, because I don’t care if they get lost along with the lunchbox flatware). So, when they are nested, all the containers in the stack are exactly the same. I don’t have to dig through an entire stack to find the size I need buried underneath smaller containers. And when we put one away, we don’t have to wade through the stack to find the perfect nesting spot. We just pop it on top or bottom of the stack. Done. Fast. Easy. Rubbermaid doesn’t make this particular set anymore, and I don’t want add new types and sizes to our storage system. So, I just bought a “new in box” set on eBay a few months ago. I had to get rid of some because they were just shot (stains, cracks).
Checking the dates of these photos, this cabinet overhaul was done on April 12, 2008. As of today, all three cabinets are still working. By “working,” I mean that when I open them, they still look like the “after” photos above. That’s not to say they will work in the future.
But they’re working now.