Sunday, November 7, 2010

Leif's Office, packed up...

Mission Accomplished: Leif's office is packed up before he gets home from Helena today. Whew!

1 room down, 12 to go in the next 11 days... 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Packing 101

We sold our house back in August, and officially closed on September 10th. God has been very good to us in that we have been able just to rent the house from the new owners until our new house is finished in January. Last night we found out that we are actually going to have to move much sooner than anticipated - in 12 days.

As it turns out, the new owners were denied insurance coverage because they're not actually living in the house yet, and the mortgage company sees not being insured as a breech of the mortgage contract they're under. Oops. So, the insurance company has given them until the 19th to be in the house, which means we have to be OUT of the house by the 18th.

So... I started packing last night, and spent all day today packing. God has also been so good to us in that my mom has been planning to come for a visit and arrives late tomorrow night - and will be here until the 16th. Have I mentioned that my mom is the master packer?? Yes, God is good!

I am happy to say that I got Leif's office all packed up today (with the exception of the computer, desk, and its contents, since he'll still need those in the next 10 days) so that he can work uninterrupted in there while mom and I pack up the rest of the house. It's weird to have bare walls and empty bookcases. We've lived here for 8+ years, so we've gotten pretty settled in. =D I am hoping that the cleaned out office will help Leif focus as he prepares to defend his Master's project in a week. That's the other reason I started with his office.

SO..... Packing 101: Label your boxes clearly.

I label all of our boxes with our name, the room the box goes in, and a general description of the box contents, like so:

(Latin and Classical Education Books)

I have done that with every move we've made, and it has served me well. Of course, the more moves you have, the more writing you have on your boxes and the more confusing it is for others who might be helping you move to figure out which writing is for this particular move. SO... with the help of, I augmented my labeling system with *gasp!* actual labels. =D I maybe wouldn't have thought to do this, except that we will have to distinguish which boxes we will need to open at the temporary housing, and which can remain packed until we move into the NEW house in January or so. Because we have to do that, each box has a label with its final destination on it:

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I'm a big fan of both words AND pictures, being a visual person myself, so I was pretty happy to find that Avery's Design and Print online had a ton of label templates with pictures on them. I just think it is easier for our brains to sort information when we get both words and pictures, so it should make the box moving process a little easier on those helping us move. Here are some of the labels I printed and put on the boxes...

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It took just seconds (literally!) to make new labels and print them out. Every box, in addition to the hand-written content labeling (which is just for my own reference, anyway) has two labels - one in the center with the final destination, and a second in the upper right corner telling which room in the new house to deliver the box to. It looks something like this:

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Not bad, huh? I'm hoping the clearly labeled boxes will make the move(s) easier. I guess we'll find out in 12 days!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Food Rules

I'm reading a book called "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan right now. It's a really short read, but full of some good stuff on how to eat well. The points that are hitting home right now are....

* Avoid food products containing ingredients no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.
* Avoid food products containing high fructose corn syrup.
* Avoid foods that have sugar or a sweetener listed in the top 3 ingredients.

I'm excited to see how the inside of our pantry changes as we implement some of these rules. Specifically, I'm thinking I'm going to try to make more of the foods I typically buy processed. I won't be canning this year, but I'm hoping that by next year I will be able to source some good whole foods and can in preparation for the winter. Home canned food is just better.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Freezer Meals

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I've been prepping up a storm with freezer meals this weekend! I've made and bagged Cilantro Lime Chicken (pictured above), blueberry muffins, Curry Sauce, Curry Chicken, Japanese Chicken, Calzones, and I'm still going! Of course, now I'm running out of room in the freezer, so I'm having to get creative. =D

I am excited about having some ready to bake / pan fry / stick in the crock pot meals for this fall! My friend Amber and I swap meals a few times a week, so I really only need to make meals 3 times a week, which is nice. I cook double twice a week to provide dinner for her family, and she cooks double twice a week to provide for mine. Wednesdays are technically date night (we swap kids on those nights so we can each have a date night twice a month!) so we're on our own that night, either to provide for ourselves, or our family plus an extra kiddo.

So... meals underway! Hooray!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Clean Kitchen

Here's what my kitchen looked like last night before I went to bed. I cleared off the clutter from the counters, and tried to deal in a small way with some of the problems. I moved our recharger station so that I could use it to hide cords and tidy up the phone / sound mess. I got rid of one of the hand soap dispensers. I cleaned out and watered the plants. I still have a ways to go with the kitchen, but this was step 1. Right now I'm going through and trying to clear out the clutter from the cabinets and drawers. And I'm hopefully doing it in a way that means I'll still be able to have a clean kitchen when Leif comes home. =D

Evaluating the Evidence: Kitchen Back View

Ewww... this is the other hot spot in our kitchen. The shelf you can't see from the front door, so it's where I hide things. It's actually pretty good in this picture, which is NOT good! Here's what I see:

* Stale glass of tea - I reheated it a couple times, but never got around to drinking the rest of it, so it just sat because I thought I'd reheat and drink it.
* Rice on the far counter - It doesn't have a resealable bag and I didn't want it to dump over in the pantry, but there was too much to fit in a container, so I never did anything with it (despite the fact that Leif repeatedly asked me to.)
* Bento boxes - they don't easily fit in the drawer now because the drawer isn't organized, so they are just waiting to be put away.
* Pumpkin - I thought I would get around to processing it, and I haven't yet. I just need to do it.
* Flylady Control Journal - I tossed it out of the way when I was cleaning, but I don't look at it if it's over there and hidden. Out of sight, out of mind.
* Bananas - I stacked things too high and didn't have room to hang the bananas, so I just put them on top the pile.
* Butter wrapper on the floor - No idea.
* Lunch box - I've never found a good home for it.

Evaluating the Evidence: Kitchen Sink View

I'm continuing with the THOROUGH evaluation of my kitchen mess, and moving on to the sink view. Here's what I see:

* Banana peel on the counter - it never made it to the compost bin just outside our door.
* Open door under the sink and items scattered in front of it - Ellie was looking for a cup and dragged out a few other things when she couldn't find one.
* Ellie's dishes under the sink - some are organized so she can get to them, but others are not. I get lazy when putting away the dishes and sometimes just toss them under the sink instead of putting them in there neatly.
* Loose tea on the counter - I didn't put the bag away after I got myself a cup of tea.
* Clean dishes on the counter - Amber returned my dish and instead of putting it away I just moved it to the kitchen but didn't take the extra step to put it away.
* Bowls of flower seeds on the counter - I dried the flower seeds in the fall and they've been there ever since, waiting to be planted in the spring.
* Packets of curry on the counter - I got them out to remind me what I was making for dinner, and left them there until I was ready to cook.

Evaluating the Evidence: Kitchen Side View

Here's another view of the kitchen and what I notice that's different from the previous view...

* Trash can is overflowing - it fills up so quickly, and I don't take the time to empty it into the big can in the garage.
* Ellie's magnets are on the fridge AND the back door - she didn't put them away when she was done playing with them and I didn't ask her to.
* Various art work, schedules, and multiple meal planning / grocery lists are cluttering up the fridge - once things get put on the fridge, they don't quickly come down.
* Ellie's responsibility chart on the wall - it seems an eye sore to me, but we actually use it there.
* Bagels and oranges on top the fridge - it seems like an easy place to store them.
* Window to door is bright, but has no window dressing - I have a magnetic curtain rod, but never got around to making the curtain / valance, so I used the rod for the fridge, where I hang towels.
* Old towels hung on the front of the fridge - I don't notice them here, so I just grab new ones when I need a towel and I forget to toss these into the wash.
* Ellie has two stools in the kitchen - sometimes she and Josie use them together, and then I forget to put the dark stool back in our closet.

Evaluating the Evidence: Kitchen

This is what happens to my kitchen if I don't clean for a day. It falls apart pretty quickly. It's also the most important room to keep clean, as far as Leif is concerned, so this is a pretty unacceptable mess!

My first assignment was to take a picture, then analyze what I see in the photo. Here's the picture, and here's what I see...

* Every flat surface is cluttered - I am a barnacler.
* Pizza stones and microwave cover are on the stove top - I forgot to return them to their homes when I was finished using the oven and microwave.
* Water bottles collecting on the counter - some need to be washed, some need to be put away. I take them to the kitchen, but don't take the time to finish the step.
* Ellie's stool is in the middle of the floor - she uses it and it just stays where she last was.
* Dirty dishes are strewn from one end of the counter to the other - I take them to the kitchen, but don't bother to go the extra step to put them in the sink or in the dishwasher.
* Empty boxes and bags are on the counter - I didn't throw them away when I was done with the food inside.
* Papers and movies and other miscellany gathered by the plant - this is the "catch-all" spot.
* Brita pitcher on the counter - I never refilled it and put it back in the fridge, so it just got moved around on the counter.
* Kitchen Aid attachments on the counter - I used the bowl where they are normally stored and it's in the sink, so I didn't have a place to store the extra attachments.
* Various dish cloths are on the counter, mixed in with the mess - I couldn't easily see a cloth, so I'd get out a new one, then lose that, etc.
* Plants are pretty scraggly looking - I don't take the time to properly water or prune them.
* Can of spray paint and sunblock on the far counter by the door - I used them outside, then just brought them back in and put them close to the door. I like storing the sunblock by the door so it's easy to use.
* Items from the cupboards are on the counter - Didn't put them back when I was done using them, or I pulled them out because I needed to get something from behind them and I never replaced them.
* Recipes from magazines are gathered in the cookbook holder - I thought I would get around to sorting through them, but I didn't and they just pile up there.
* Carbonater is pulled to the front of the counter - I pulled it forward to fizz some water, then didn't move it back when I was done.
* Josie and Ellie's leftover lunch on plates on the counter - I thought they might want to eat the leftovers later as a snack, so I left them out.
* Jumble of cords for the speakers, phones, and coffee percolator - I don't even see the cords any more.
* Empty spice jars stored with the full ones - I washed them out and then just placed them back on the shelf when they were empty.
* Hot pads on the counter where I last used them - once I pulled something out of the oven I didn't bother to replace the hot pads, then I pulled out another pair for the next batch of muffins.
* Window is bright, but has no window dressing - I never got around to making or hanging a valance when we did the rest of the curtains.
* Hand soap containers on both sides of the sink - I don't know why we have so many or how they got to the other side of the sink, and I've never noticed it before.
* Overflowing scrubber holder - I have accumulated too many scrubbers to fit in the little container I have for them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The House That Cleans Itself

I picked up this book at the Christian bookstore for $5 a little while ago and started reading it this week. It's interesting. One of the first things you do in the book is create a flow plan for all the areas of your house. I'm not sure exactly what we'll do with it just yet, but I did it. Well, I did it for the upstairs. I need to do it for the downstairs still. After you create the flow plan, you wait a few days and don't clean and just watch what sort of chaos your house falls into naturally. For me, all it took was one day. I took my pictures today, because my house seems pretty disastrous to me. I'm in the process of uploading them to the computer now, and then I will go through each picture and figure out what is out of place and WHY. That's a big part of figuring out how to get the house to clean itself - why does it fall apart now?

I will probably blog my findings and progress here, as well as do a book review when I'm finished. I've always been a Flylady gal myself, but I see some merits to this way of thinking, and it's not in direct opposition to Flylady, just more about the home organization than the behavior modification. I'm actually excited about the prospect and looking forward to seeing some improvement in my home. Especially if my house starts "cleaning" itself!