Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness

I will be honest for a moment.  You will NEVER find me with a pristine home, everything in it's place, passing any kind of white glove test.  Ain't happening.

However, I do like to think I can get reasonably close.  Part of the problem is (1) there are other people in the house, (2) there are animals in the house, and (3) I love crafting and books.  So clutter and mess are a way of life.  But I do despair at times that I can't walk from the front of the house to the back without killing myself.

So when this little book (it's only 3.5 x 5.5 inches) popped up at the library, I had to sit down with it.

How could I not like it, it's a cute little thing.  Fits nicely into your purse or the palm of your hand.  And it's filled with tons of little one-liner advice/tips on how to same your sanity declutter and clean.  

There really isn't anything all that new or earth-shattering in the book by Donna Smallin.  Most of it I have read before, but it did point out those things I need to bring back to the front of my head to save myself from going postal over the condition of the house.  

Now in all honesty, I am currently in a tiny 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment which is maybe 900 square feet (maybe).  There are 4 adults, 1 toddler, 2 large dogs, 3 cats and 2 tanks of fish in the house.  We breathe and create clutter, dirty dishes and laundry.  What I was mainly reading this book for was focus to start in the new house on the right foot so people could actually drop in without major cleaning needed before they come.

A few of the tidbits gleaned from the book:

"Take five minutes every night to pick up and put away items, fluff pillows and generally tidy up."

This is especially true of the kitchen.  I HAVE to get dirty dishes in the dishwasher so when I fix my coffee first thing in the morning, I'm not seeing a kitchen full of dirty dishes.  And to be able to walk from my bedroom (where the dogs sleep with me) to the door to let them out to go pee without killing myself on toys and shoes.  Nothing like starting the day pissed off just because 'things' are in your way in the morning.

"Start acting more organized and you will become more organized."

Which is funny because I hit up Christine for a 'planning session' for our goals for the next few months.  Hopefully, we can get together this week and do some planning and organizing.  But I have found if my calendar is up to date and I know "what's for dinner", and I have a clearer idea of what I want to accomplish in the next day/week/month, I relax more and get more accomplished.  The major reason I need to feel organized in my mind is I am dealing with 3 people working, 1 person who will be in school full time, projects I want to get done, meals needing to be planned to make food shopping easier (and cheaper), and housework that needs to get done.

We are moving in two weeks, but there is painting that needs to be done at the new place first.  Then in about 4 weeks Texter starts school full time.  Meaning I will be the baby sitter one full day while she is on campus all day.  Plus watching Lady K so she can study.  Texter is in a competitive field of study at this school, so high grades will definitely make a difference to her acceptance into the program.  So having a 'plan' makes all the difference to me.  Tuesday will be my day with Lady K from about 8am to 6pm.  So it will be cleaning day.  I can get things cleaned and still be able to interact and play with her.  

In line with the whole planning and organizing I have up my sleeve, was a couple of little gems of advise from Donna Smallin - 

"Every Sunday night, pick one project or area to the be focus of your cleaning efforts in the coming week."

"Don't overwhelm yourself by thinking about all the work you have to do.  Focus more on what you have accomplished rather than what remains undone."

Sunday is my 'week in review' day anyway, where I look back over the past week and see what I accomplished.  And in my mind I am looking forward on what projects I want to work on in the coming week.  So I am in a way already doing these two things, but now I want to get more concrete about those plans.

One of the biggest things to come out of this tiny book for me was the inspiration and the other ideas which formed.  For example, she talks about rewarding yourself when you accomplish a big task.  We have a move coming up in mid-August.  Because of other vacations at work, I'm not actually taking off any time until the first week in September.  We should be in the house and starting to get 'settled'.  It is also right before my birthday.  I think a nice hour-long massage will be in order that week.

Another idea I have with the new house concerns laundry.  The house has a basement, where the washer/dryer is housed.  Then there are two floors above it.  Savvy and CJ will have the top floor and Texter, Lady K and I will be on the main floor.  I don't relish all the up and down necessary for doing laundry and want to make it as efficient as possible.  We also have a lot of room in the basement to use.  Therefore, I want everyone to have 2 baskets (labeled with their name).  One basket for clean, one basket for dirty laundry.  That way I can take the dirty laundry down on Monday night/Tuesday morning and do laundry, taking from the dirty basket and returning to the clean basket.  Then everyone can come get their basket and take it back upstairs at the end of the day.  Sounds like a reasonable plan to me.

Another plan I have is since there are two bathrooms on two floors, to have specific colors for each bathroom.  This way I can pile the towels which go upstairs on the stairs for CJ and Savvy to take to their bathroom and Texter can take the ones for our bathroom and put them up.

So I have plans and have been inspired by this tiny book. (Of course, I still subscribe to the Erma Bombeck method - spray cleaner around so it will smell like you have been cleaning!)  Read it with a pen and paper in hand so you can make notes.  It's well worth the couple of hours of reading you will have to do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Red Notebook

The title alone intrigued me, given I keep a journal.  So I was curious to see what this book was about.  It came into my hands yesterday and I finished it last night and am throughly enchanted with it.

By Antoine Laurain, and translated from French, this slim, 159 page novel, makes for a quick read.  And a very enjoyable read because you want to see what happens when Laurent and Laure finally meet.  It all starts with a stolen purse...

Laure is mugged for her purse and winds up in the hospital.  Laurent discovers the bag and tries to find the owner.  As with most stolen items, there is no billfold with ID, nothing with an address, only bits and pieces of her life and the red moleskin notebook.  Laurent slowly pieces the bits together to find out who this woman is and to get her purse back to her.  Any more, and there would be major spoilers involved.

I now have to get a red moleskin journal.  I have had black ones in the past, but now I want a red one.  And to write in it in Paris.  Sipping a drink at a sidewalk cafe.  I think it's only right.