Friday, June 27, 2008

Taming the Paper

I've had two clear bins of paperwork hanging around for a couple of years now. They're a mix of all sorts of stuff--old bills, investment statements, bank statements, letters. I've avoided going through them because I felt I had to properly sort everything, you know, bank statements with bank statements, phone bills with phone bills. Then, I realized, why? Why do I need to do that? I don't and I'm not.

Here's what I am doing instead. I have two bankers boxes. One is for paperwork to keep (investment statements, tax documents, banks statements, etc.). The other is for letters, cards, kid's artwork and the like. Everything I don't need is getting shredded or recycled. You don't need to keep phone bills from three years ago, and neither do I! Ditto product manuals for products we no longer own, paid bills, or newspaper articles clipped for who knows what reason.

At the end, I'll have two bankers boxes, which I may or may not put into the filing cabinet. We'll see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Little Light Entertainment

I have to share this site I came across recently. Passive Aggressive Notes is hilarious. You can submit your own, too.

I took a trunk full of donations out of the house today. They'd been building up in my basement, and I finally had a free car trunk. I sorted, bagged, and planned to drop them all at the Goodwill. But when I got there, not only did the guys working donations act like they couldn't be bothered to help me, but a woman (she was not a lady) in a minivan cut me off. Pissed, I left only a couple of bags there and took the rest to the small, volunteer run City of Hope shop. They were thrilled to get my bags of dishes and kitchen-ware, and chatted amiably.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Managing the Cookbooks

Last year, I cut way down on my cookbook collection. I sold or donated about a third of what I had. Still, I own a lot of cookbooks! As my kitchen remodel is the only one in history to result in less storage space than before, I'll need to cut down even more.

Before the makeover, I had two shelves mounted high above the refrigerator. These were there when we bought our house; simple painted board on metal bracket shelves. Nothing special. Their placement was awkward and the books got covered with grease and dust. Since we have the Vestfrost now, no shelves would work easily on that wall. And, frankly, I want to keep that wall free. I have a piece of art that I plan to hang there.

I also had a corner shelf that stood next to the range. It held mostly cookbooks. Even though there's more space now next to the range, I don't want to put anything there. Having open space is so very nice!

I've finally decided that one of the lower cabinets will serve as cookbook storage. Being in a cabinet will keep the books dust and grease-free. I'll be choosing what to keep and what to sell in the next few days, and setting up my new cookbook cabinet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Two drawers down!

Today, I reinstalled two more of the kitchen drawers. This just leaves one (the former junk drawer) and it needs another coat of paint.

In the new drawers are food storage containers and plastic cups/lids (so the kids can reach them).

Sweetie has agreed to give a microwave-free life a trial! We're going to stow the micro in the basement and see how much/whether we miss it. Hurrah for more counter space!

Sweetie helped me install more shelf liner and I re-arranged two of the smaller cupboard shelves. It's all coming together! I'm not in a rush, I want each addition to be mindful.

The Simple Life

Yesterday we watched our local annual Solstice Parade. The highlight of the event actually has its own Wikipedia entry, so you can read all about it.

Later in the day, we attended our friends W & C's annual Solstice party. It's a well-attended, fun event. The key to the party's success? Simplicity. There's no bar, no selection of beers, just a keg of one type of local microbrew. It varies year to year, but that's the choice, drink it or leave it. If you want wine, there's a couple of bottles of red and a couple of white. Want to nosh? A couple of small tables hold decorative plates and bowls with various savoury and sweet snacks, mostly from Trader Joe's. It's not a fancy party, because W & C recognize that what makes a party a success isn't the food or drink or the decorations. It's the people. They invite friends old & new, co-workers, and family. Conversations flow, kids (allowed, so those frantic parents without sitters can still get out and have some adult conversations) dash up and down stairs, R, the sweetest dog, roams searching for tidbits folks have dropped.

It's probably not a coincidence that W & C have one of the most comfortable yet uncluttered houses I've visited. Carefully selected art hangs on the walls, mostly created by C or by friends, the furniture is older but so well-cared for it looks new. Everything is bright with light and fresh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Seduction of ...

the Wii Fit!

So, yeah, I didn't get even one item done on my "5 items to do today" list (below) because my friend S. called me and said two magic words "Wii Fit". Today, I'm sore. It hurts to go down the stairs. But at least the pinched muscle-nerve in my back that hurt the day before is gone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tag I'm it!

Paisley Penguin over at Take life with a grain of chocolate has tagged me for a meme. Let's give it a try, shall we?

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? Ten years ago I was working at a law firm doing research for corporate litigation and was bored out of my skull.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? 1) help my older daughter clean (and purge) her room, 2) pay bills, 3) list a backpack baby carrier on Craigslist, 4) do some laundry, 5) re-install a drawer in my kitchen.

3) Snacks I enjoy: nuts I'm not allergic to (cashews & almonds, roasted), fruit I'm not allergic to (berries, melon, tropical mango, banana, pineapple), chocolate-covered versions of the above.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: 1) finance my dream of helping folks with few resources declutter & organize, 2) travel-live in Europe part of the year, 3) totally Rice out my Acura Integra, 4) donate a million to La Leche League, 5) move three blocks south

5) Places I have lived: San Anselmo, CA; Portland, OR; Taipei, Taiwan; Seattle, WA.

OK, so let's see....tag you're it: A Call to Simplicity, Musings, Ramblings & Gripings, and A Quiver of Blessings. Go ye forth and meme!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I love my iPod

I do, I really do. I can load it up with a couple of unabridged audio books and some music and enjoy it in the car, on a walk, or inline skating. It's tiny and clever and cute.

And best of all, it was free.

About a year and a half ago, when I first started visiting personal finance blogs, I found My Money Blog. It's a general focus PF blog, but at the time, there were a zillion bank deals going on. Free this or that, $$ bonuses, you name it. The iPod promotion was one of these--free iPod Nano for opening a new account. Easy peasy. There haven't been many of those deals lately, but I still keep an eye on My Money Blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

...and even more go!

I took the rest of the books to the other branch of that local used/new bookstore, where, as I suspected, they bought more of what I had. Their stock is just different enough that what one store disdains the other may purchase. When you bring in books to sell, they give you a coupon for 10% off your purchase.

Today, I bought the latest issue of Brain, Child magazine (which features an opinion piece by a writer friend of mine) and The Best Food Writing 2007. I of course used my coupon and my trade credit so no money out of pocket for my new reading material.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

...and out the door they go!

I took those books (one box, one large bag) straight to the local used/new bookstore. They pay half again as much for trade as for cash, so I took the trade for the books they could use. The rest will go to the second best buying used/new bookstore. Then, the good condition paperbacks will be listed on paperback swap; the rest of them will be donated. There's a book exchange at a local library and at a couple of local coffee shops, I might try that this time instead of the thrift store.

What shall I choose for my store credit?

Book Purging!

After talking about books with my LJ friend Frabjouslinz, I decided to do some purging. I pulled books I've read that I have no interest in reading again. I pulled books I've owned for years and yet not read. I grabbed back issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. Books for subjects I'm no longer interested in.

And what do you know? When I was done, and it was time for bed, I felt so great! As if a weight I didn't know I'd been carrying had fallen off my back.

Before going to sleep, I paged through the latest O magazine. Found a great little article by Julie Morgenstern, an except from her latest book, When Organizing Isn't Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life. She writes about how, when she changed professions from theater to professional organizer, she kept boxes of her theater books, storing them under her dining room table. Her business had plateaued and she was frustrated. One evening, she decided to sort through one box of her theater stuff. She ended up tossing all but a couple of her old scripts. Soon after, her business blossomed. All that old stuff, from another life, had been holding her back.

Nice empty spots on the shelves (which had been double and triple stacked)

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's all too much

I've been feeling off the past few days. Turns out it might be partly because I skipped a couple of days of my thyroid meds ('cause I ran out). Yes, I had called in a prescription, I just didn't get around to picking it up. Feeling a touch better today, but not by much.

It's all too much. Too much stuff, too many tasks, too many emotions. And yet, it's not enough. I know that doesn't make sense. It'll just have to do for now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another book I love

Against the Grain by Richard Manning is a quicker read than Good Calories, Bad Calories but it tackles the same subject matter, this time from a sociological angle rather than a health one. There's a good article at The Atlantic about his book.

Why I love to travel

Sure, I love to see new places, try new foods and meet new people. But the real reason I love to travel? Because there's so little stuff. I'm a light packer, as you know, so I never have a huge, heavy suitcase to haul. I love an empty, fresh hotel room. I love having all my stuff in one spot, just a few small bags.

There's a testimonial that the Flylady emails out on a regular basis. A woman writes about visiting a comfortable B&B--clean, fresh sheets & towels, a tidy bedroom, a welcoming entryway. Of course, it turns out that it's her own home, after she's become Flywashed! I love that testimonial, but it always feels out of reach. That the claim of the stuff on me is too strong.

As you all mentioned in the comments on my last post, the destination of what I'm letting go of is so important. I want these things to go to someone who will value them, treasure them, tend them. Isn't that crazy? They're just things, bits of plastic and fabric and paper and metal. But it lingers...

Can I just get on a plane already??