[All in the form of a “Sunday Seven,” but on Friday instead of Sunday. Apparently, my mind only works in increments of seven now.]
Two Weeks in Hell Heck
Two weeks ago—TWO WEEKS! FOURTEEN DAYS!—on January 19, I was working on my Outlander season 3 favorite episodes post. I began having difficulty saving the in-progress post as I had no internet connection. Not a big problem, I thought. My router is getting old and it sometimes “burps” offline for a few minutes. I had the backup plan to write the post offline, then copy and paste when the time was right.
When beginning to organize your home and life, The One Minute Organizer says to begin by dealing with “today’s mess,” i.e., today’s dishes, today’s laundry, and today’s mail. But what constitutes “today’s dishes” if you don’t run the dishwasher every day? I suppose it means putting today’s dirty dishes in the dishwasher and washing by hand those items that shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, like crystal and knives. Of course, this means you have to empty the dishwasher promptly.
I’m reasonably good about loading the dishwasher, and only slightly less reasonably good at emptying it. It’s the hand washing that stymies me.
When I emptied the dishwasher, the dishes were clean, but I noticed water standing in the bottom. Obviously there’s a clog somewhere in the drain. If it’s reachable by hand, I couldn’t find it. But then, I’m not really sure what I’m looking for.
So it was a good day to tackle “today’s dishes,” which included today’s dishes, yesterday’s dishes, the day before’s dishes… you get the idea. Looking on the positive side, the term “today’s dishes” is now well defined. The bonus is having clean crystal in which to drink this evening’s wine.
My short-term dilemma resolved, now I must decide what to do long-term. Do I call the repairman or bite the bullet and get new appliances? The dishwasher is several years old, but I like it. If necessary, I could just buy a new dishwasher, but since I’m planning to remodel the kitchen, I’m not sure updating just one appliance is worth it. Both the refrigerator and stove are ancient (original to the aging home) and in sore need of updating. But I’m not yet ready to do the full remodel. The one time I watched The Nate Berkus Show, he recommended (to an audience member on a budget) to buy new appliances first, then save up for the rest of the remodel.
What should I do? I’m terrible at making decisions.
Clearing things out always offers a surprise or two. Having washed the dishes and put away the laundry this morning, I decided to spend a little time clearing off the kitchen table. Here’s what I found:
The drip tray to a large, round George Forman grill (which also bakes) I no longer use. I immediately put the grill and all its accoutrements in the Goodwill box without feeling guilty that it wasn’t complete.
An upside down salt shaker. Who the hell did that? No, the holes weren’t covered with tape, so a pile of salt spilled out when I turned it over. Fortunately, it was sitting on a ceramic tray and was easy to clean up. It was nice to see the tray again. It’s very colorful and cute.
The pump to a bath and shower gel I’d been looking for. I’d thought I’d found the pump, but this one is 1) black instead of white, which coordinates goes with the decorative bottle, and 2) is shorter and more likely fits the squat, round bottle.
Krazy Glue! Two bottles! Now I could fix my resin Welcome Cat sitting outside my door. The “welcome sign broke some time ago. I was able to fix it with Krazy Glue, but when my neighbor moved out- 😥 -it got broken again. After failing several times with bottle #1, I tried bottle #2. No love there, either. So I ended up slipping the chain onto one of the cat’s wire whiskers. Actually, it doesn’t look that bad.
Hmm, I see I need to straighten Mr. Whiskers around.
(The metal black and white sculpture belongs to my Boston terrier-loving neighbor. She kindly left her Welcome Dog when she moved. Since she’s renting her place, she comes back now and then.)
While waiting for an appointment yesterday, I came upon an interesting book called One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple by Danna Smallin. Leafing through it, I found some excellent quick tips for cleaning out clutter and getting my home (and life) in order. I attempted to capture its wisdom with my tablet, first by taking pictures of the pertinent pages. When that proved horrendously cumbersome, I tried to jot down notes on my tablet, only slightly less horrendously cumbersome. I would have used the old tried-and-true pen-to-paper method, but had no paper.
After mentioning the book to my therapist (the appointment), she told me to take it with me. So I did—with the intention of returning it after I’ve reaped its beneits.
The book is much like Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and other inspirational books, with little tidbits of help on every page.
The first chapter is titled “Getting Started.” It discusses the importance of goals, consistency, accountability, and rewards. For me, one tip stands out from all the others: take care of today’s mess. Tackle those chores that need to be done regularly, such as the daily mail, dishes, and laundry. To those, I would add email and paying bills.
That tip was a light-bulb moment. My to-do lists have always been about “keeping up” and never about “moving forward.” Just that one sentence has changed my thinking. Now I can separate those things I need to do every day from those things that will help me reach my goals.
I’ve addressed today’s mess, having cleaned and put away the dishes, folded and put away the laundry, and dealt with the mail. Tomorrow, the goals!
Happy (almost) New Year! The new year brings with it the chance to reboot ourselves, however mundane or all-encompassing that might be. It’s filled with hope, a time to start afresh, to look at our lives and figure out what needs improving. It’s not just the standard “eat less, exercise more” routine. It encompasses all aspects of our lives.
I stopped making resolutions years ago, but it hasn’t prevented me from trying to establish or reestablish good habits. It’s an on-going process which lasts throughout the year. That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I don’t backslide, but it’s a constant attempt to improve my life. And it avoids that dreadful “all or nothing” thinking.
Perhaps the look of my new kitchen. [Photo credit unknown]
This year I’m hoping to remodel my kitchen. It’s an intimidating task because I have a massive amount of preparation to do. I started a blog called Ms Pack Brat about five years ago to chronicle my attempts to get my home and life in order, but it was more “miss” than “hit.” Perhaps it was one blog too many. Hell, it may have been two blogs too many, what with SciFi Chicks (where I spent most of last year).
This new year presents itself with an opportunity to renew and revitalize The New Stream of Conscience. I certainly have plenty to write about. Why not make this daunting kitchen remodel (and its prerequisite cleaning and clearing) a focus? Why not write about how I adapt FlyLady’s principles to my own life? And let’s not forget about exploring cookbooks in an effort to eat better.
How am I doing with the plan to get my home in order? I’ve made some progress, but hit a plateau in the last couple weeks. The home appraisal came back (it rose slightly in value, which is nice; but also means higher taxes) and closed on the mortgage refinance. Now that I’m not distracted by all the paperwork a refinance entails, I can get back on track.
My new vacuum, which I got for free with credit card points*
Like most people, I do much better when I have a plan. So let’s take the time to plan things to do for the upcoming week, and let’s do it in the form of a Sunday Seven (since I don’t have anything else to write about).
Seven Tasks for the Week
Reschedule the couple to help remove heavy items from my living room. A plethora of problems prevented them from coming when originally scheduled.
The couple will remove the items, but they won’t haul them to the junk yard. So I need to make arrangements with our trash disposal company to make a special pick up—if they do such a thing. If not, I need to find a junk hauling company.
The vacuum I wanted, which would have cost real money.
Our property manager mentioned his cousin started hauling metal items. The televisions aren’t metal, but I do have a few things that are. And he doesn’t charge! (Apparently there’s good money to be had in scrap metal.)
Finish sorting through the extraneous items in the living room. If I take one section of the room at a time, it’s not so overwhelming.
Wash my bed’s quilt at the laundromat. It’s not really part of the decluttering plan, but it takes time and I have to do it. My own washer and dryer, although they claim to be “heavy duty,” don’t do such a great job. A bonus: the laundromat is near my favorite pizza place. (They also make delicious gyros and baked spaghetti.)
*The credit card is from Navy Federal Credit Union, one of the perks of being a Navy vet—now open to all military services and Department of Defense employees. Their redemption program also had a Bose iPod sound dock I coveted, but it’s no longer available. Damn my procrastination!
I survived the home appraisal! To celebrate, I took a break from the decluttering schedule for most of the week. But I did make a date for a couple to help me remove some of the larger, heavy items from my living room.
Yesterday I jumped back into my schedule of cleaning two rooms for 15 minutes each twice a week. You know what that means? More found surprises!
Seven More Items Found While Decluttering
A pasta bowl set from Crate and Barrel, the kind that consists of a serving bowl and four pasta dishes. I don’t remember buying it and I’m not sure why I would. I already have a pasta set I love which I bought in Italy. Maybe I bought it for a wedding gift?
More old Mary Kay cosmetics. I think I’ve now thrown out all of them. It only took five or six large trash bags!
A package of scrapbooking paper. Since I’ve decided to create some memory books of my parents, I’m going to see if anything might be useable. If not, out it goes.
A nearly full box of high-quality paper for resumes and cover letters. I’ve had the paper, and the matching envelopes, for over 20 years at least, possibly as long as 33 years—that’s ⅓ of a century! They’re going out for recycling pickup.
The board game Clue. I think I tried giving it to Goodwill once, but they wouldn’t take open board games. Since Clue is my favorite game, I’ve decided to keep it. (For now.)
A bag of yarn with a partially knit sweater on a broken needle, along with a book of sweater patterns. Sorry, organization gurus, it’s staying. I’ll reuse the yarn. And I love knitting patterns—something I have in common with Albus Dumbledore. 😉
A picture of me watching the sun set on a beach in Carmel, CA. My best friend took another picture with me facing the camera. It was a lovely photo, especially since I’m not particularly photogenic. I gave it to my parents who kept it by their telephone for many years. After their deaths, I retrieved it and eventually gave it to a guy I thought might be “The One.” Turns out he wasn’t, and the creep didn’t return the photo.
And the list doesn’t include the several large cardboard boxes I broke down for recycling. I thought about keeping them to us for for hauling things to Goodwill. But I’d prefer to just get them out of the house.
I love that song by The Fixx. I have the CD… somewhere. You see, sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for because I have too much stuff. Among other problems, this creates…
CHAOS. That’s FlyLady‘s “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.” I’m not a hoarder, per se. In general I don’t have trouble letting go of things. The problem is it’s physically demanding to get rid of the junk. I live on the top floor of a walk-up condo; we have trash pick up only 2 days a week; we’re not allowed dumpsters in front of the buildings. All this makes trash day very taxing, what with numerous trips carrying heavy trash up and down three plus flights of stairs. Plus, where do I store the trash while waiting for trash day?
It’s reached critical mass because…
I’m refinancing my mortgage. And unfortunately, I need to have an appraisal. At last fear of the inevitable has spurred me to…
Tackle my two worst rooms. The guest room has been used as general storage for far too many years. It’s become impassable with Christmas decorations, old Mary Kay cosmetics (I was a “personal use consultant” with with thoughts of selling that never panned out), unused area rugs (rolled up), old clothes, a very old bicycle, and plenty of other unknown stuff. The room I use as my office is chock-a-block (but passable) with papers, photos and photo albums, sewing material, extra furniture, more. old clothes, games, and… Do you really need me to go on?
I’d like to say I’m devoting 15 minutes a day to each room. But the truth is, those 15 minutes generate enough trash to fill up my staging area and create at least 5 trash-day trips. So for now it’s 15 minutes twice a week. But it’s progress.
[P.S. The photo is not of my home. It’s from GoDDess GrOOve, with modifications, of course. 😉 ]
One of the problems of people with messy homes is we get overwhelmed. Where do we start? What should we work on? That’s one reason FlyLady is so helpful. She tells you where to start. (It’s the kitchen sink.)
For the past several weeks I’ve been very sluggish in body and complacent in mind. It’s a vicious cycle. Physical clutter leads to mental clutter.
Once in awhile I’ll get motivated in the kitchen to load and run the dishwasher. But I tend not to empty it right away. Dishes pile up in the sink, spill over onto the counters.
The world’s sweetest cat, but messiest eater
Combine that with an elderly, hyper-thyroid cat who’s a messy eater. The vet said “Give her anything she wants to eat.” She’s always hungry, but routinely turns up her nose at whatever I give her. Exceptionally frustrating is the fact that she sometimes refuses food she’s liked in the past. I end up with two or three opened cans, several bowls of unfinished food, and a very messy eating area. (The picture was taken a few years ago, but she’s now 19 years old—that’s 93 in people years.)
I finally had enough! I spent today cleaning the kitchen. I emptied the dishwasher, filled it up and ran it again (and emptied it shortly thereafter), washed the pots and pans by hand, cleaned the counters and floor, and finished the day by cleaning out the kitty water fountain. There’s still clutter to clear out, but that wasn’t on today’s agenda.
In looking over the not quite spotless kitchen (FlyLady says housework done imperfectly still blesses me), I wondered how to keep the kitchen manageable so I can focus on other areas of the house. I had a moment of clarity, stimulated, I’m sure, by the orderly kitchen—a new morning routine. Every morning I shall empty the dishwasher (if it’s been run, since I don’t need to run it every day); fill the pets’ dry food bowls, and give them fresh water. I know it sounds minimal, but when you’ve been doing nothing for weeks, minimal is an improvement.