January is always a good time to declutter and work on organization in one's home. It's also a good time to finish (or start) projects that have been put off for far too long.
In no particular order these are some of the projects that I have started and finished (or almost finished) this month.
#1. Photo storage.
The last time I copied pictures on to thumb drives I got up to November 2011. That means that none of Elliott's life was saved anywhere but on the hard drive. Well, and 1.7 billion pictures on the blog, but I'm not counting that.
It took a couple of non-sequential hours but I have made it through August 2014. Now I just need to buy more thumb drives and I can get totally caught up to this month. It is such a relief to be almost done with this project.
#2. Receipt organization.
I'm always throwing receipts into a pile on the island. I wait until the payment processes to make sure there are no errors before shredding them. But the pile is messy and unattractive.
Enter this adorable pig box.
Now they go into the box and once a week I can purge. Simple. Effective.
#3. Hats and gloves.
I bought a $4 box at Target for a centralized storage area for all the kids' "winter gear".
I really liked how the Christmas runner looked on these bookshelves that sit behind the couch, so I bought a festive "non-holiday" one for the rest of the year. Now we don't have to worry about coasters and it hides the ugly scratches on top.
#5. Wine glasses
Nick got all new stemware for Christmas so he got rid of all his old stuff and we returned from Tucson with ten new wine glasses . Four of them are large etched goblets with stems and four of them are stemless. I reorganized all our wine glasses to make room for the new additions.
And lest you be concerned that I said we brought ten glasses home and then only discussed eight of them, these are the final two. They are too tall to fit into any cabinet. That's why Nick got rid of them. And that's why the person that gave them to Nick got rid of them. Vicious cycle.
Anyone want two really ridiculously tall wine glasses?
#6. Elliott's room.
We went to IKEA the first week of January and bought some new bins. We put his stuffed animals in the closet and his birthday/Christmas presents in the bins under his desk.
#7. Portrait albums.
When I was pregnant with Spencer Michael gave me a scrapbook kit for Mother's Day. Not being a huge scrapbooker I decided to use it just for portrait pictures because that seemed like a manageable task. Then when Elliott came along I bought another one for him.
Until yesterday there was no picture for the front cover though.
I also finally put his name on the first page. I mean, he's four. It's about time.
I wasn't actually behind on adding pictures at all because I couldn't place his three year old pictures until we got his four year old pictures to add to frames.
I added his preschool picture too.
I used to keep all the extra prints in this bag with all of the order forms for all of the pictures we've ever ordered. Yesterday I had the brilliant idea to add the extra prints to the actual albums behind the pages. I told Michael too so that if something happens to me someday and I'm no longer around and the kids need a picture of themselves from infancy or kindergarten for say their wedding or their law school graduation, he'll know where to look for them.
I had two years of Spencer's pictures to add. I also went back and added the dates that all the pictures were taken. Those order forms that I've saved for all these years actually did come in handy. They all had the session dates on the first page.
#8. Toys, shoes and clothes.
We finally sorted through the pile of toys in the hallway. We boxed and bagged them and gave most of them to our neighbor's son. The rest, along with all the clothes and shoes we're getting rid of will be picked up by Salvation Army next week. Except I might take that Thomas pillow to work.
#9. White board.
Quite soon after we moved into this house in 2012 I bought this weekly planner chalkboard. It looked like this.
It always drove me crazy how Monday was at the top and Sunday at the bottom (last time I checked the week starts with Sunday), but I lived with it.
After using it for about two years the surface got really bumpy and hard to write on. I would periodically sand it down and it would be smooth again and easier to write. But after a year of doing that there was hardly any chalkboard surface left. My solution was to buy chalkboard paint and last summer I repainted the whole board. I painted over the pre-painted days of the week and instead added stickers to the side to indicate each day of the week.
Then one day, last fall, I was at Hobby Lobby and saw these fun clothes pins with the days of the week. The whole package was $2. I glued them to the side.
Also, in case you are wondering, I take a picture of the board every Sunday before I erase it and write the new week. It's actually a very handy way of being able to look back and see what we were up to each week. And it was incredibly convenient for this part of this post.
The new painted surface worked for a while, but by last fall it was getting hard to write on again. Last week I reached my limit with chalk and the chalkboard and said, enough.
I went to Walmart and bought a $7 white board. Target had black sparkly washi tape for $2 and letter stickers for $3. And Hobby Lobby had paper flowers for $2.
And 10 minutes later. Done.
This white board is a dream come true. It is so easy to write on and so easy to erase. I only regret that I didn't do it years ago.
My mom gave me this basket the last time we were in Tucson. I got new tin buckets for the kids to keep their sunglasses and other random stuff and put the markers/eraser for the white board in the old buckets. It was a 45 second project, but one with so much impact. The chalk in the middle is for our "Days Until" chalkboard.
#11. Memory books.
I have a Christmas memories book and an Anniversary memories book. Each one has one page to put a picture and one page to write memories for that year. Pretty simple.
I filled out the 2014 page last year, but had never added a picture.
I also completed 2015.
The Anniversary book was another story.
I got it out last January to fill it out for 2014. It sat out until about June before I put it away. So I had to do 2014 AND 2015. It ended up being quite simple. I made a grid on legal paper for two years and off the top of my head added events for each month I could remember. Then I used the blog to fill in the months I couldn't remember. I like to add at least one thing for each month.
This is the page for 2016.
And then something awful will happen. The book skips from the 15th Anniversary to the 20th. As if I don't want to remember those five years????
It gets worse. From 20 we go to 25.
From 25 to 30.
And then from 30 to 40. My god, we're just going to skip an entire DECADE of memories? What in the hell is wrong with these people?
Another decade skipped and we arrive at 50.
So, in order to remedy this huge problem I ordered two more anniversary books from Amazon. With a few strategic edits of the pages we can have a page for each year until our 60th anniversary. And then we'll have to get divorced.
The books were both used, but they are in perfect condition with nothing written in them and no rips on the pages, although one is brighter than the other. One was $8 and the other was $12 and when purchased new this book is $32, so I have no complaints.
I was actually proactive enough to order two of the Christmas books when I originally bought it, which is good because it is out of print and going for $300 on amazon. We can record our Christmas memories for 40 years.
#12. Monthly pictures
I hadn't ordered monthly picture prints for the kids since, like, 2014.
#13. Picture folders.
I went through all of the group portrait prints we have, separated them and put each set in an individual folder. Someday when I have time and money (mostly money because it doesn't take long) I will buy a scrapbook and add all of these to it.
They go back to 1998. But after 1998 it skips about a decade.
I have wanted these sheets since they were first revealed in Target in September. Michael vetoed them and said he was not sleeping on bunny sheets. They were on major sale after Christmas so I overrode his veto.
Not an organizational event, but cute and worthy of ending this post.