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My Monday rant: I’m not merely swamped, I’m tsunami-ed. Overrun with the remnants of an at-home Super Bowl watch (no actual party but we made a mess like we had one.) At least the dishes are clean, but there’s a slew of them to put away, and bags of snack chips and crackers an cookies strewn across the island.

After my two-day stint on the couch loaded up on cold meds last week, the never-ending mound of laundry has mounded higher. The refrigerator is barely contained chaos and probably has a few science experiements growing in the dark recesses. My fount of of junk mail overrunneth. And – like that wasn’t bad enough – the contents of the attic are now stacked precariously in the bonus room. We started another project: installing new shelving. But by Saturday evening, we ran short on supplies and failed to finish. My closet floor is a land mine field of every pair of shoes I’ve worn in the past month. Empty shoeboxes yawn on the floor. Our garage is still cluttered with the remains of refinishing the kitchen table and chairs. (A project I DID finish, even if I left a mess out there.) Besides, that’s not the only mess out there I need to work on. Ugh.

Basically, my house looks like Richmond after Grant ran it through. (Actually, it would probably look BETTER in the aftermath of a battle.) I’d like to say this is a highly unusual occurrence, but since the holidays, we have been gradually sinking into this pit of despair.

Bottom line: I have too-many-to-count projects started and stalled. I pride myself on being fairly nimble and adept at multi-tasking but the current state of affairs hints that I might not be as adroit as I think. Certainly I need to get better at finishing what I start. Although new projects are always so beguiling, and I tell myself I can finish one AND start another one simultaneously.

Because every malady needs a name and an acronym, I dub mine MPTDD: Multiple Project Time Deficiency Disorder. I don’t lack attentiveness, I merely lack the necessary time to complete every project. And picking one project to focus all my efforts on just wouldn’t be fair to all the other projects, now would it?

And as wise folks have pointed out, the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. So there.  I did manage to make our bed up (with all nine million pillows and everything) while my last cup of morning coffee was brewing and my English muffin was toasting. So maybe I can multi-task – at least with the help of kitchen appliances.

Next on today’s to-do list is a quick cleaning of the downstairs bathrooms and running (literally) the vacuum. It’s embarrassing to see artificial pine needles and itty bitty fake snowflakes in little drifts in the corners. The refrigerator might get an overhaul while I fix dinner, although that will mean skipping weight lifting and running tonight. Sigh. The bonus room will have to be endured this week until we can carve out an evening to finish the shelving.  And just in case you get curious and want to come see this hot mess for yourself, be forewarned: if I answer the door and give you the tour of the crime scene, I will probably put you to work. My shame does not preclude me from asking for help.

Otherwise, I will console myself with the knowledge that it’s always darkest before the dawn. And there are still six-plus weeks until spring, and once the temperatures start to warm up a bit, I might be a bit more inclined to tidy the garage. And hey, six weeks is enough time to start at least a half-dozen more projects, right?

Happy Monday,
Terry

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And here we are, 90 days into 2012. Are you still hanging tight with your resolutions or are you struggling to recall what they were?  (We’ve all experienced that before.)  This year, I’m sticking to my guns better than most years, but as you’ll see there have been some bumps along the way this month.

1. Cultivate a daily prayer life.
My goal last month was to make prayer and Bible reading a priority first thing in the morning.  I’m 1 for 2:  prayer yes, Bible reading, no.

2. Read the Bible through in 2012.
There’s no way to gloss over the fact I’ve completely fallen behind on this.  Truth be told, I haven’t read ANYTHING in the last month – no magazines, no books, no nothing, except online stuff that is directly related to work and blogging.  And every day I fall further behind, I cringe because it means I’m two readings behind.  So instead of trying some marathon make-up reading, I’m dropping back to one reading  a day, and trying Seinfeld’s “don’t-break-the-chain” starting today.  Here’s hoping it works. Stay tuned, update in 30 days.

3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose.
A success!

  • Week one, I managed yoga, pilates and two hours of weights;
  • Week two consisted of a 3-mile run, yoga, pilates and an hour of weights;
  • Week three two four-mile runs and yoga and pilates;
  • This week, three days of running (12 miles total), plus yoga and pilates.

My goal weight is 110. I’m back to 121, which doesn’t sound like much of a stride, until I explain my weight bounced up to 125 early this month, a delayed reaction to last month’s overindulgence in sweets; it prompted an introspective look into my psyche a few days ago.  The running helps; I just need to figure out how to still squeeze in an hour or two of weights a week while maintaining the early morning runs.

4. Get my desk organized and keep it that way.
A qualified success.  I’m still wrestling with the way I deal with incoming mail, but I have a basket to hold it now until I cull out the bills and toss the junk, pretty much once every week to ten days.  My blotter has stayed visible all month.  Woot!

5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life.
This remains the hardest goal to measure progress against, but I find myself dwelling more on my daily walk with God and looking for ways to encourage others.  I’m thinking that counts as progress. 🙂

So how are your resolutions doing? I came across this photo not too long ago, and it rang true: stop giving up

If you need to start over in April, that’s okay – just commit to making it the last time to start over.

Happy resolving,

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I am blessed with many friends.  A few of them really love to shop.  Among them, a few are less likely than me to shop until they drop; others put me to shame. Some like to scour for vintage finds; others are more into the latest trends and styles.  Variety is the spice of life, and I love all my shopping girl pals.

Here is a recent find that makes me smile every time I see it:over-the-door hanger

And I owe it all to a good friend who went on a spur-of-the-moment shopping spree with me recently. While we were out, she pointed to some over-the-door hangers and mentioned she was looking for one herself.  A few stores later, I happened to spy the one you see here, and I immediately saw its usefulness in my kitchen.  (She got one, too – slightly different style.)

Even though I didn’t know before that moment, this was the answer to my mental debates with myself about this pantry door:  do I take it off and replace it with a windowed French-style door, like Thrifty Decor Chick did?

I could do that, but then where would I put all the spices that are conveniently located on the inside of the door?

Not to mention, my pantry is a true workhouse larder for our canned goods and dry goods.  My little warehouse is efficient, but not necessarily beautiful to behold, even if I blurred the view with some seeded glass.  But this idea was a stroke of luck and genius:  It keeps my aprons handy, and adds a little color to an otherwise stark white door.

So thanks to my dear friend for putting the notion in my head, and being ready to hit the stores – any stores – at the drop of a hat.

Happy shopping,

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March Madness

THERE you are!  Where did the last ten days go?

Well, lemme tell you, March madness has struck hard around here.

If you know my family, you know that we love basketball.  Not as much as we love football, but hey, it’s a good distraction while we wait for the calendar to roll back around to spring training and recruiting news. Mr. Official is watching NCAA games today, and my next pedicure will be BLAZING orange to show my love for Cuonzo and the boys, no matter how they do in the NIT.

But.

This March Madness is not just THAT March Madness.

This March madness of which I speak is the perfect storm kind of madness, when you triangulate certain cataclysmic events.  In this case, it is madness to the second power (MM-squared) because the cataclysmic events came in pairs:

  • early spring necessitated a flurry of spring chores;
  • the arrival of DST coincided with an accidental caffeine withdrawal;
  • the urge to clean and change the decor occurred at precisely the same time my Dyson’s beater bar decided to quit.

The fallout from the madness has taken a huge toll on my organizational skills and blogging schedule.  Even last week’s menu was a no-show.  But in the balance, our fence row has been cleared and the scruff and brush all burned off.   I’ve successfully navigated the annual DST gauntlet and my caffeine intake is back to normal.  We ARE eating, even if my menu is still stuck in time.  The mantel, entry way and dining room are decked out for Easter.

And my tomatoes and peppers are sprouting and growing, (and until I fix the beater bar, we’re going to have to ignore that dirt crumbs beneath the plant stand and the pesky pet hair on the rugs.)  It won’t be long before brushing against the plants  releases that scent that is intoxicating and unmistakably summer.  And that’s when the madness really sets in.

To make matters even more mad, there’s a third moon this month.

Happy springing,

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January flew by!  How ’bout those resolutions? I think the first few days are the easiest, but then the next few weeks are the hardest.  For better or worse, here’s where I am:

1. Cultivate a daily prayer life.

New journal has many names and sermon notes. Even so, getting into a daily routine is an area for improvement.

2. Read the Bible through in 2012.

On track – I’m even doubling up on my readings (more later.)

If you’re an attention-challenged Bible reader like me, try the One Year Bible (you can even get it online for free.)  Each day you get a little Old, a little New, a few Psalms and Proverbs.   I spent most of January dazed and confused in Chronicles, but the familiarity of Acts and Romans kept me going.

3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose. 

  • Week one,  I managed five workouts:  elliptical, weights and yoga.
  • Weeks two and three were a bust: a pinched nerve in my back kept me incapacitated.
  • Week four  success!  Elliptical, Pilates, yoga and a 5K walk/run.

My initial weight was (gulp)  almost 125 pounds.  I should weigh 105-118 pounds and I’m determined to get back to somewhere around 110 and maintain it. Currently I’m hovering at 120-121.

4. Get my desk organized and keep it that way. 

During the first week, I cleared my desk off;  today my  2012 desk calendar is still visible! My desk is the catch-all for mail and miscellany.  Any suggestions on dealing with the daily deluge?  Please share – my desk and I could use all the help we can get 🙂

5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life.

How do you measure the love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your life?  Something tells me this fruit is a really slow grower.

What would you like to change this year? The perfect time to start is (always!) now – share your resolutions so we can encourage each other!

Happy Monday,

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Just like the old Blood Sweat & Tears song and Newton’s law of gravity, the Christmas decorations that go up must eventually come down.

When do you take yours down?  I have friends who have them down in the twinkling of an eye, pretty much as soon as Christmas dinner is finished. 

As for me, I let mine linger a bit.  We start our decorating later than most, and I’m just not ready to put it all away on December 26.  But I do make sure it’s down shortly after we’ve ushered in the new year.

Every year for several years, I have vowed to go through all the Christmas bins and straighten them out.  This year, I made good on that promise.  No excuses – the walk-in attic is adjacent to our bonus room, so I had the perfect staging area to spread out all my tubs and really organize them.  I also did a little “Santa’s Workshop” repair on a few items that needed re-gluing.

Today marks the 12th day of Christmas (see note), and I’m happy to say my decorations are down and tucked away, and I’ve even made a little headway on decorating the dining room for the winter months.  Den and foyer are next.

There were two distinct approaches I could take to stowing away my Christmas decorations:

1. Room-by-room (kitchen, dining room, UT stuff for the bonus room….)
2. Like-goes-with-like (garlands, ornaments, lights, nutcrackers, Christmas village…)

I chose…both.

For example, the kitchen tub contains everything I need to set up my kitchen for Christmas:  tree decorations, Christmas mugs and linens, even my party paper goods (of which I have enough to last the next 30 years.  Okay, maybe just the next two or three, but it seems like a lot.)  Next to it is the box with next year’s gift mugs for my 3rd graders.  I picked them up on clearance, and it’s one less thing to worry about.

Yes, the caroler’s book is upside down

On the other hand, my nutcracker collection stays together (albeit in one large tub and two wine boxes – they are the perfect size for storing them.)  I store them as a group even though some go to the sunroom, some to the kitchen, some to the den and some to the foyer.  I always shuffle them up, so each year I can pull them out and decide who-goes-where.  Ditto for the garlands and wreaths.  But the light strands and ornaments are separated in tubs for specific trees: dining room, big tree, UT tree.

I also tucked in some reminders for next year to make decorating easier – you know, those things you tell yourself, “next year, I’ll do it this way instead” and next year, you remember it too late?  Yeah, me too.  Maybe my notes will help next year – we’ll see.)

Of the stuff I didn’t use this year, I designated one tub for Santa Claus decorations, and another for snowmen and the cream/gold ornaments. When I get the urge to switch from silver to gold, or do a Santa or snowman theme, I can “shop” from my own inventory first.

After everything was in tubs and I had tossed all the irreparable, melted, discolored or otherwise unusable stuff, there remained two large bags of “haven’t-used-in-forever” (or maybe never) stuff.  I’ll take pity on the Goodwill folks who are dealing with the year-end glut, and keep them until early next fall to drop off. They’re set aside in one corner, visibly marked for their final destination.

The only remaining to-do is to get some shelving up in the attic so when I need the tub on the bottom of the stack (isn’t that always the one you need?) I don’t have to offload all the other tubs to fetch it. But that’s a task that can wait for a warm Saturday so we don’t get frostbite in the process.

Even though Christmas is officially over and the decorations are down, I think I’m going to be vacuuming up glitter and pine needles for a very long time….

Happy cleaning,

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P.S.   A big thank-you to Mr. Kurek for setting me straight on how to count the twelve days of Christmas. I’m just glad I was a day ahead, instead of a day behind!

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The following is a true story.  I haven’t changed any names or details to protect the innocent. It happened earlier this week when I decided I would knock out two trouble spots before fall break.

The first hot mess was this plasticware storage cabinet in the kitchen.  It started out fairly neat when we moved in, but every time we pulled something out or put something away, it got a little messier.

Fetching a plastic tub for leftovers was a form of torture.

The second wreck was this under-sink cabinet area on my side of the bathroom.  Like the other one, it started out neater when we moved in but daily use took its toll.

This is the mess I faced each morning and night.

So I asked myself, just how hard could it be to bring some organization to bear?  I mean, reality TV shows can make over entire rooms in half an hour.  Surely this wouldn’t take more than a few minutes, maybe an hour of my time, right?

(Insert hysterical laughter here.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…….)

A little background:  when we bought the house, someone had installed a wire two-tier pull-out thing in my bathroom cabinet, seen in the picture above.  (Curses to the builder who skimped on drawer space in the master bath to begin with. I know a base cabinet with only two tiny drawers is cheaper than one with a tower of drawers, but really?  You couldn’t figure out how to squeeze a few more bucks out of the budget and upgrade the cabinetry to a reasonable amount of drawer space when the bathroom is bigger than most bedrooms and some apartments we’ve lived in?)

Ahem. Deep, cleansing breath.  In case you didn’t pick up on it, a lack of drawers is a pet peeve of mine.  Well, really it’s the disorganized chaos that stems from lack of drawer space that is the thorn in my side.

But anyhoo.  This cheesy little wire thing just wasn’t cutting it – my jewelry was a slippery tangled hodgepodge, the hair dryer cord was always flopping over the edge and preventing the cabinet drawer from shutting.  And it looked a mess, no matter how neatly I arranged the bottles and containers of stuff.  Painfully messy.

For several months, I searched the stores and the internet for some decent shelving or drawer unit to insert in there, to no avail.

I finally resigned myself to plastic stacking drawers and tubs.  Gritting my teeth the whole time because I really, really dislike the plastic stuff:  it’s flimsy, wobbly and otherwise prone to rapid failure.

But the wire pull-out thing would work great to corral the kitchen mess, and I needed to find something to organize my bathroom mess in order to free up the pull outs for the kitchen – it’s a process.  Here is what I mentally sketched out beforehand:

1. Take all the stuff out of the wire unit, dump it in a laundry basket to temporarily hold it
2.  Move everything back in, using the plastic drawers and a bin or two.
3. Install the wire pull-out drawers and organize the plastic-ware.

1,2,3, easy as do-rey-me, right?  Errrm, not really.  I quickly realized why these two items had gone undone for so long.  For starters, the laundry basket was full of unfolded clothes.  For shame. No problem – dump them on the bed and fold them when I was done, right? Sure. Except the bed wasn’t made either.  (WHERE are the laundry and cleaning fairies in my hour of need????)  This is how it really went:

Day 1:
1. Make the bed and dump the clothes out of the laundry basket.
2. Fill the basket with bathroom stuff and remove the wire pull-out unit.
3. Install the plastic containers.
4. Cringe and groan because I still hated how it looks – see what I mean?

This was the “after” picture.  Ugh.

5. Move on to the kitchen and install the wire drawers and organize the plastic ware.
6. Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket for the night.

Day 2:
1. Make the bed, dump the clothes back on the bed.
2. March into the bathroom in the cold light of day and take measurements.
3. Visit Target and find a shelf unit that could be cut down and re-tooled to work, plus baskets to optimize the storage space.
4. Pull out the plastic drawers and bins, and fit the new shelf unit around the plumbing (this involved screwing, unscrewing, sawing, re-screwing and installing. And a little glue.)
5. Return to Target to exchange the original baskets for others, because “optimize” does not always mean “biggest size they make.”
6. Move everything from the plastic drawers to the new baskets.
7.  Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket.

Day 3:
1. Make the bed.
2. Fold the now seriously wrinkled clothes and put them away.
3. Return the plastic drawers to the store for a refund.

So instead of a few minutes, this became a project that spanned three days.   All of that, just to organize the contents of two cabinets. But on the bright side, I can now say:

The plastic ware is now neatly organized and accessible.

The bathroom cabinet is organized and functional – I make a happy sigh every time I open the cabinet doors now.  
My makeup and jewelry are in the shallow larger basket on top, easily accessible.  And my everyday jewelry is no longer in imminent danger of dangling or tangling.
The hair dryer has its own bin that is deep enough for the cord to stay neatly inside; cotton balls and swabs and other items have their own little cubby, too.  The other two cubbies hold everything else – lotion, contact lens solution, sunblock, razors, jewelry cleaner, and on and on – it’s a lot of stuff stowed out of sight but within reach.

The clothes are folded and put away.

The bed is made.

An investment of about four hours over three days, including two trips to town, one $10 shelf and five $15 baskets equals peace of mind.  Which is priceless.

The end.

Happy organizing,

P.S. Please tell me…do your home improvement efforts go the same way mine do? Even if they don’t, just tell me they do.
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