Friday, 1 February 2013

Day 2: What I Dreaded Most/Winner for Most Procrastinated

I hope everyone's working on their junk drawers today! The weekend tasks are fridge/freezer and kitchen cupboards so in order to stay a day ahead for you guys, I'm on to Saturday's task of Fridge/Freezer. Maybe a month or two ago...and this is embarrassing...some ribs dripped in my fridge. No big thing, left one spot. Planned to wipe it up. Never did. Who knows what kind of spills are happening in there. So it's time to tackle it!

Since this weekend is fridge/freezer as well as kitchen cupboards (what was I thinking when I made that calendar?) I had to start out by catching up on some dish washing. Good to start with a clean slate! So I washed all of the dishes, cleared out all the clutter and wiped counters so that I had somewhere clean to put all of the clean dishes that were going to be coming out of my cupboards. Then it was time to get to work on that fridge.

1. Empty Fridge
I just emptied mine one shelf at a time, wiped it, and replaced the items. My fridge wasn't too cluttered as we don't buy that much stuff and we're pretty in control of what groceries are in there. If your fridge is crazier than ours though, do what you have to do. Just make sure to get rid of anything nasty hiding at the back! One thing I implemented last time I cleaned out the fridge (although I've slacked on it lately) is writing down the leftovers on thee fridge so that when I'm making Philip's lunch I know what's in there that I should use up before it goes bad.

I started on the bottom shelf, where I currently have 4 lbs of carrots and 2 lbs of parsnips...all from Christmas. I don't lie. My mom told me they can last a long time though, and they still look good, I will make it my mission to try and use them in the next week so they don't go to waste. Philip hates when I throw things out. Some things are certainly going to be thrown out in the making of this clean fridge though.

2. Wipe all shelves
3. Clear out expired/old food
The only things I really had to throw out were a 3 month old thing of guacamole (I don't even like guacomole so I'm not sure why we had this...) and some chicken leftovers from too long ago to deem okay to eat. Philip  hates throwing things out and I know he would have loved to still eat it, but sometimes for his health I have to throw things away when he's not home.

4. Put everything back in
5. Empty Freezer
6. Wipe out
7. Get rid of food we won't eat - donate, share with someone
8. Put everything back in
9. Lather, Rinse, Repeat with Deep Freeze

Mine only took a small chunk of time because we don't stock up on tons of groceries that we don't need, but in just this small amount of time my fridge  and freezer went from...

This blurry photo of our fridge adds to the terror effect of what was inside. 

And that's that! Now on to the kitchen cupboards. I'm going to start tackling them now so we'll see if I get the post up today or else I might break rules and post on the weekend. Just wait and see! Hope you're having fun exploring your junk drawer, instagram or post your pics on Facebook!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Day 1: The Start of it All/My Organization Philosophy/Junk Drawer

Click to Enlarge

I had mentioned on Monday when I kick started this series that Friday would include Friday, Saturday & Sunday's tasks...that is just way too much because this first one is a big one for me and I really want to be able to focus on it. I figured I'd share this one day in advance so that everyone participating has some time to think on it and we can all get a bit of a head start too if we want to slack on the weekend (oh no - not finding loop holes already!). After taking the before pictures for all of these, I'm realizing how personal you're about to get with my house! Feel free to judge our mess, it's very judge-able. 

Let me start with...My Organization Philosophy.

My ideas on organization run about as deep as Phil Dunphy's Phil'sosophy's, but I do have one theory that I think makes some sense. If you're really bad at purging, start with your junk drawer. I find that when purging is not something that you naturally flock to, or you're having trouble getting a good start, starting with something that's easy to get rid of can really help get the momentum going. Philip isn't the best purger, so sometimes when we have to go through things I'll go through it first, and divide things into piles.
1) I'm pretty sure this is trash
2) I'm not sure about this at all
3) I think you want to keep these things
It makes it easier, because I get him to start with the trash pile, and by the time he has easily gone through that pile and confirmed that it's all garbage he's on a roll with getting rid of things and finds way more things in the maybe pile to get rid of than he might of if he'd started there and been unsure about the whole recycling things objective. 
It works that way for me with the junk drawer philosophy as well, usually there's some stuff in your junk drawer/basket/cupboard/etc. that is easy to get rid of - some old receipts, general garbage, things that don't belong there - and once you've done that it's easier to keep going. 

One more thing that I believe is important when organizing, and that I've tried to stress whenever I'm nagging Philip (he can vouch for this)...I hate to pick something up and then put it back down...only to deal with it again later. If you can choose a place for something right when you start going through it, it will save you a lot of time later. One example of this is Philip was cleaning out his top dresser drawer when he first moved was his "junk drawer" which contained a lot of memorobilia that piled up throughout his youth, and just other random things. As we were going through it all he was telling me about each thing, and I thought he was putting it all into piles that were going to be of later use. Turned out, he was just putting everything down again arbitrarily, and so when he was done explaining each item to me, he had to start back over and actually do something with the items. If you can, take care of the item right when you're holding it, or at least put it in a pile that makes reason to have to go through everything twice, three times, or a dreadful four. 

This is why day one is the junk drawer.

Here are some instructions to follow if you aren't sure exactly what your objective should be (if you know exactly your end goal, feel free to follow your heart on this one, but each day I'll try to provide some instructions if that makes it easier). 

1. Identify the area of your house that is "the junk drawer" - for us we have a drawer in our kitchen, as well as a small basket in the cupboard above (we could probably do with just the basket like we did at the condo, but in the layout of our kitchen right now that drawer isn't really useful as anything else).

Our Junk Drawer.
The shelf above, which also collects random items.
The cupboard above holds our junk basket, which is just a miscellaneous items collector,
it also houses cookbooks and vases.  
Junk Basket items.

2. Empty it completely.

Empty shelf, basket, and drawer! Ready to be refilled!
Okay so I'll admit, after I emptied this all on to my kitchen table - see below - I gave up and wallowed and really didn't want to put it all back in...this is going to be a long month. However, I'm buckling down and continuing (this post has been written very sporadically - so at this point I'm sitting at the table with all the contents of the drawer/basket/shelf and avoiding doing more work). 

3. Wipe it out with a damp cloth - maybe some vinegar if it really needs freshening up. 

Back to business, I wiped out my cupboard with a damp paper towel, as well as the shelf and drawer. At this point I started hating this basket as a junk collector - does anyone think I can paint it? Not sure how that would work...but I wouldn't mind if it was white. I think when I put everything back I'll switch baskets to something I like more. Stay like 2 items down because by then I have to figure this out. One thing that puzzled me in this stage was how many of those plastic price tag thingers were in the bottom of this drawer...I didn't find any price tags...just those little plastic things...does anyone know what I'm talking about? The little T-shaped plastics that hold the tag to the product?

Apparently Google didn't understand me either.

4. Go through everything you took out. This is arguably the most imporant (and maybe most fun in my mind) step. Do you need 35 pens in your kitchen drawer? Probably not, move some to your home office. Those old receipts? Make sure you file them in whatever way appropriate whether that's getting rid of them or entering them in some kind of expense worksheet

Some examples of things I found that didn't belong:

  • A piece of hubba bubba gum - put this in my purse so that it will get eaten one day. Decided to eat it right now...mmm.
  • Huge bag of change - no idea where this came from...took out the silver coins and left all the pennies in the bag because my mom registered for a We Create Change bag and is collecting pennies! I'd highly recommend registering for one of these! It's free, a good way to donate money, and pretty easy to do!
  • 4 scotch tape dispensers - kept one for the junk drawer and moved the rest to the office supplies box.
  • Some Bomber TBD Playoff tickets from last season...if only we'd made the playoffs - recycling!
5. Implement new organizational systems. Before you put everything back, look at what you have and if there are containers or dividers you can use to make things easier to get at.

I don't really have any extra containers handy right now - so I'm going to put a pin in this item, and save it for the "Repurpose Storage" day when we're almost done and I can see if there are extra containers around. One new organizational system involved getting rid of an old organizational more basket! Everything fits in the drawer with room to spare.

6. Refill the drawer with the items you deemed "belong here". 

My drawer is almost empty, I moved all the office supplies out which made a big difference. All that is left in that department is one roll of scotch tape, some scissors, a calculator, pen and notepad. The other things in the drawer are stamps which I find handy there, a lighter because I have no idea where else it could go that would make sense, some coupons, matches, extra shoe laces, Halls, and a shoe shine sponge kit. Oh and some keys that I don't know what they belong to, I'll have to ask Philip and see if they are things we need or what we should do with them.

How you like them apples. That is a lot less stuff.

7. Close up that drawer and feel happy with the work you completed!

Loving this new less cluttered look. I don't even need to show the above cupboard because it looks the exact same, only doesn't have a junk basket anymore!

I decided to add was a piece of art in between the two yellow flower bowls, it should help us from piling things up there, and remind us to keep the space looking as beautiful as possible. I don't have anything there yet, but I'm going to make it my goal to get something before the "Repurpose Storage" day, which I set aside as a day to make sure I get all my supplies I need to make my storage systems better. 

Also just ignore the muffins on my microwave. Just made them this week and took them out to defrost! I pinned the recipe, so if you are interested in Almond Muffins filled with Jam take a gander on my Pinterest page!

8. Brag about your progress! Take a photo and share it on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest so that the world can see it (make sure to tag me so I can check it out too!) Also in the comments, share the funniest thing that you found in your junk drawer - maybe you had an experience like I did with unpacking boxes a couple months ago. I'd probably say one of the weirdest things I found was the huge bag of pennies...not because pennies are strange...but because I literally had no idea they were in there. How could they have been missed? The drawer isn't THAT big. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Saving Money Erryday

While the goal of this blog is to share home improvement projects and diy, most of you will know from the About Us page that I stay at home...which means that we can use every dollar we can find on the sidewalk.

I thought that it would be helpful to share some of the ways that we earn a bit of extra cash. 

Time is something that I do have, so I can fill out surveys like a champ. The site I've been a member of longest is and through it I've earned already a couple of Starbucks gift cards. There are also Ipsos surveys, Cash Crate, Inbox Dollars, and countless other sites where you can fill out surveys to earn money or gift cards (some of these I only discovered this week - so don't hold me accountable if they aren't the best! I have been part of e-rewards for probably 5 years or more though and have received gift cards from them in the mail so I can definitely vouch for it). 

Another great thing that I discovered last week (my mom saw it on a local morning show), is Checkout51. It's an iPhone app (soon to come out for Android) which provides coupon offers each week. If you buy the products, you just have to take a picture of your receipt and your account gets credited. Once you've earned $20 you can request a cheque! I've been a member for one week, and already earned $2.50. 

Does anyone else have some great money saving tips? You've already learned about our budget, and so this is another little thing that I can do to earn us some free date nights - I do prefer gift cards because it seems less complicated (not as easily confused with income for tax purposes) and it gives us some date nights that don't hurt our wallet. 

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the first day of February - Junk Drawer - a day early so that's something to look forward to. Before starting the challenge, look over the calendar and make sure to make any changes you want, as well as get an idea of some of the improvements you'd like to make to the areas listed. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Resolution Progress

This poll wasn't well publicized as I've been running out of steam on poll ideas! However, we'll still use this opportunity to share how well we're doing on our resolutions (or not so well). 


1. Get two rejection notices.

This deals with my desire to move my dreams of being a writer forward. While I didn't send anything off to a publisher, I did keep working hard on two fronts: directing our church's Valentine's Dinner Theatre that I wrote, and outlining the plot of the books I want to write. (Yes, books. I never like to make it easy on myself.)

2. Watch this year's Best Picture nominees before next year's ceremony.

Let's have a look at the scorecard:
Amour: No.
Argo: Not yet.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Nuh-uh.
Django Unchained: More like Django Unwatched at this point.
Les Misérables: Cass saw it without me.
Life of Pi: Want to read the book first.
Lincoln: Not yet.
Silver Linings Playbook: No.
Zero Dark Thirty: Not this one either.
What's Your Number: Oh heck yeah!
Wait, that last one wasn't nominated? And it was released a couple years ago? And wasn't even close to getting nominated? Darn.
That said, I did watch Winter's Bone. And like I told Cass, the folks adapting Mockingjay for the screen better try to find something great in that mediocre source material or else perhaps the greatest actress in a long time will be wasted on that movei. (Cass: When editing it I could have changed this to *movie* but I chose to stick with the way more cool movei "mov-eye" is how I pronounce it.)

3. Get everything upstairs that's not related to the kitchen done.

The bathroom has remained stalled for these last couple weeks, but that's going to change this weekend (I hope). We've put in an order for some bathtub hardware and are intending to do some final demolition and reinsulation/vapour barrier work this weekend.

4. Rediscover my At-Work Mojo

A bit boring to talk about, but my energy and motivation levels have grown significantly. I'm responsible for a lot of the content marketing and social media for our company, and on both counts we've been making headway. And just recently I wrote some well-received ad copy for an interesting new campaign we'll be running this year.

5. Run a marathon.

On Saturday, I was outside shovelling snow for two hours. Twice last week I caught an earlier bus home that drops me off at a stop further afield, so I got a pair of brisk 15-minute walks in both of those days. And that catches you up on my exercise for the last week. Not exactly carving a chiseled six-pack, but I haven't lost hope yet.


1. God Related: Do a great job with Sunday School & Care Group, start a new daily devotional and get back to daily Bible reading.

The first two are a bit hard to measure, but we have started a great devotion book I'd recommend! It's the Experiencing God daily devotional, I believe we got it from our church at our bridal shower. I like it because it's very practical, it's a very small page to read which is nice before bed and actually gives us more time to discuss what we read instead of one of us slowly dozing off as we read it, very easy to relate to and read. 

2. Philip Related: 2 dates a month.

We mostly failed at this this month, as far as intentional dates (although we're hoping to have one Wednesday - we'll see). However, I'd say that we did have lots of good quality time and were close as a couple this month which was a great thing to see. Definitely recognizing lately how important it is to put time and effort into being a better spouse and having a strong and healthy marriage. 

3. Health Related: Get outside and exercise more.

This month I helped Philip shovel way more often than normal, so definitely got outside - but not every day. The exercising is going to come too, I did a couple of times this month even with our fish bowl window, and our blinds are coming in a couple of weeks which will mean no more excuses!

4. Blog Related: Write more posts ahead of time, learn Photoshop, line up some house tours and guest posts.

I did pretty good at this this month! I planned all the posts out at the beginning of the month, and it only started to fall apart a few posts ago. This post was written yesterday, and at the same time I wrote some posts for the end of the week and next week so that's not too shabby! Also the series for next month should help with this because it will give me a month to get ahead on writing house update posts. 

5. House Related: Get the main floor to a place we're content with.

We're still working away on our bathroom and extra bedroom this month, so we're getting there! Also the February organizing series will help to get my butt in gear with getting settled into some of the already occupied rooms.

6. Finance Related: Enter receipts regularly.

I did pretty good on this too! I have a few receipts from this weekend I haven't gotten to yet, but I did catch up on receipts and entered them pretty regularly this month. On our way to being even more in control of our finances!

This made me laugh out loud,
even though it might offend some I thought it was worth sharing.

How are you doing on your resolutions? Should we share more monthly updates on these? Also, not sure how we'll do on sharing our quarterly t0-do list at the end of February because of the series I've mentioned...might have to postpone that until the end of March - but don't worry, we'll still be working away at that list! Also make sure to enter this week's poll as we think ahead to Valentine's day!

Monday, 28 January 2013

February Kick Off

January is ending this week and many of you like me are probably thinking, wow that happened fast, we're already 1/12th through a year that just started! February is a short month, and so before we start feeling like time is going by and we aren't getting anything done, I thought that together we could be motivated to tackle some major projects. I've come up with 28 tasks to complete in this upcoming month, one a day, and I hope you'll join me in getting them done. Whether you want to follow my list (the items are pretty generic), or come up with your own 28 things, I think this February could be just what's needed to keep the resolutions on track and not let the year get away from us too quickly.

Here's a calendar (click to enlarge) outlining what I'm planning to tackle around my house, and I'll share a bit about it each day as I hopefully accomplish the items. If sharing this publicly can't motivate me I don't know what can. If you also participate, let me know in the comments or email me! I'd love to hear the stories of what you did to transform your space during the month of February.

I thought I'd give a heads up about this early in the week so you can consider participating and sign up by Friday when February 1st begins! If the calendar is hard to see let me know and I can email you a copy of the document, or you can just follow along each day as the posts go up.

The weekend posts will just be combined across Friday/Monday - so this Friday I'll talk about the Day 1, 2, 3 items, and so on. Each day I'll share instructions and insights into the tasks, as well as a look at how I accomplished them and before/after photos when possible.

Thanks for following along and hope that we can work together to conquer 2013 one motivating month at a time!