Everything in it’s Place

One thing I have always loved about my master bathroom, besides the fact that it is very spacious, is that I have my own space.  My own sink, my own cabinets and my own drawers.  I have never been one to share very well.

MasterBath

I remember thinking when we built this house seventeen years ago that I would never run out of space.  How naive I was, I have since come to understand this age-old law of organization:

Organizational-Law

That has certainly happened around here so I have decided to start a dejunking/spring cleaning party at this house.  The first stop is the drawers on my side of the master bathroom.  Several years ago the MR. installed these kitchen drawer dividers after seeing similar dividers that my sister had at her house.  I love them.

Drawer1

drawer2

drawer3

On multiple occasions I have mentioned to the hubby that these same dividers would be great in my bathroom drawer but he never took the hint. Last week when I read on Simply Organized about some DIY drawer dividers from the Container Store, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I ordered two sets.

Drawer-Dividers

They arrived just in time for me to take advantage of a snow day and be productive.  I emptied my bathroom drawer, installed some pretty new liner paper and laid out the items from the drawer in groupings that I thought would work.

Groupings

The installation for the dividers is pretty easy.  You measure the length of divider you need (less 1/4″ for the mounting brackets), score the plastic strip and snap it.  Then you slide the strip into the self-adhesive mounts into whatever configuration you want.

finished-drawer

It took me about an hour to complete this project and I am SOOOOO happy with it.  Every time I walk by that drawer I open it and gaze inside.  There is just something about these divided areas with like items having their own space that takes this structured person to her happy place!

It only took one package ($17.99) to complete this project which means I have one left to tackle another drawer in this house, be still my heart :).

2014 Version – Menu Planner and Grocery List to Download

One of my most popular posts since starting this blog has been the menu planner and grocery list downloads.  You can read that post here.  Because I love playing with photoshop and new fonts, and because I love to change things up a bit, I have created a new version for you to download.  You might be able to tell that I am a little smitten with polka-dots since they appear in both versions.  I am also totally loving this seafoam blue-green color and have plans this year to use it in updating my living room and dining room.  Here is the 2014 grocery list.

seafoam dots grocery list

For the menu planner I decided to go with a two week version since that is typically how I plan our meals anyway.

menuplanner

If you would like to download these, just click on the pdf file below and print it out.  Hope you enjoy!

seafoam dots grocery list

seafoam dots menu planner

Linking to Metamorphosis Monday

2013 Planner with Calendar Printable

Every year at this time I start organizing my life through a calendar planner.  I have experimented with many types including Franklin planners, Day-Timers, electronic calendars on my pc and phone and last year I even created my own planner in a bound leather journal.

2012-Planner

One thing I have learned over the years is that I like to write things down.  I do enjoy the convenience of an electronic calendar and a to-do list on my phone but found I would often write it all down on my paper calendar as well.  On Jan 1st, one of my favorite organization bloggers, Jen from Iheart Organizing, wrote about a planner she created for herself.  I was totally smitten with it.  You can see and read all about it by clicking here.  She is also selling her planner on her ETSY site which you can access here.

Since I have been playing with design projects in photoshop lately I thought I would attempt to create my own version that fits my lifestyle.  I started by creating a monthly calendar.

Monthly-Calendar

Then I created week-at-a-glance pages.

weekly-pages

After I finished the calendar section of the planner I decided to add a few other pages for some of the other lists I keep.

TO-DO-ListRecipes-to-Try

I also added the menu planner and grocery list pages I wrote about earlier.  You can see those by clicking here.  I really wanted to put them all in this gorgeous Martha Stewart binder but they are all currently out of stock so until I can find one I just bought an inexpensive  3-ringbinder.  I added a few labels from from trusty ten year old Brother P-Touch label maker and viola I have a new planner.

Tabs

monthly-tabs

I am enjoying it so far!

If you can use a 2013 calendar for your fridge or bulletin board, or even to put in a binder, feel free to download this printable I have attached below.  Just click on the link and print it.  Have a great day!

2013 Calendar

Menu Planner and Grocery List Templates for you to Download

I have talked many times about my obsession love of lists.  See one of those posts here Over the years I have created a few templates that I use over and over such as a grocery list and menu planner.  As part of my self-education in Photoshop, I decided to tackle some of the design features and see if I could create something a little more fun and colorful than the standard utilitarian documents I have used for years.

I have had a love-hate relationship with Photoshop for the eleven months I have been using it.  I mostly love it because of the totally cool things you can do with it, but the complexity and “non-user” friendly aspects of it can be frustrating.  It is not a package you can sit down and master in just a few hours.  For me, the best way to tackle it has been to attempt new projects so I am always looking for opportunities to use some of the features I have not used in the past.

For this project I wanted to play with the design aspects a little more versus the photo editing functionality.  In the design world, I would say my project was on the pre-school level, but I definitely learned something new which is always my goal.  To top it off I came out with fun new lists to use.  Here is my new menu planner.

And my new grocery list.

And because I know a few of you out there are list lovers like me, here is a download you can use for your own meal planning and grocery shopping.  Just open the link below, save, and then print them out each week when you are planning meals and your grocery shopping trip.

MENU PLANNER

GROCERY LIST

Hope you enjoy!

#11 Organize your life with a list APP

I have written about my list making obsession enthusiasm before.  Click here for that post.  Lately I have been looking for an electronic tool that would handle all of my list making requirements.  I have tried keeping lists in excel, in word, on paper and using the Outlook Task Manager.  I have also tested several blackberry and kindle fire apps such as Better List and Out of Milk.  Although several of those solutions were adequate, nothing has swayed my opinion enough to be my sole list making tool until now.

Last week when reading the blog SIMPLY ORGANIZED I was introduced to this FREE app called Wunderlist written by some software engineers in Berlin, Germany.  It is incredibility simple to use and has some awesome features, the best being its synch capability.  I installed it on my laptop and also my blackberry.  The list automatically synchs up (linked together by my e-mail address) each time I open it on one of the devices.  This feature alone sold me so all the rest are just icing on the cake.  Here are a few of the other features:

You can create multiple lists.

You can put a date on your item, or star it as important or just say Today, Tomorrow or Within 7 days.

My second favorite feature is the ability to create notes about your list item.  For instance, I have a list called Recipes to Try.  I can select the note icon to the right of the task and actually type in the recipe.  Then when I am at the store I can just check my blackberry for the ingredients for this new recipe.  When I am ready to prepare it I do not need to search around my office or on my computer for the recipe instructions, I will know exactly where it is.

You can also share the list with anyone by sending them an invitation, or if they are already using  Wunderlist they can just synch on their devise.  This will come in very handy when I create  my list of tasks for Dave to do.  I am sure he will be so happy about that!!  You can also send tasks by e-mail and even print out your lists.

I am just getting started using Wunderlist but I can honestly say I have not seen another product that is this easy to use and has all these great features, not to mention that is is absolutely free!!   If you are looking for something to keep you organized I would highly recommend this product.  It supports multiple platforms including mac, windows, iphone, ipad, android and blackberry.  If you do decide to try it, let me know what you think.

#2 – Organize a Pantry

Every year when spring arrives I get in the mood to clean out and re-organize drawers and closets.  I have several areas on my list this year to tackle but due to an annoying pinched nerve have not been able to move very quickly on this task.  Last weekend with some major help from Dave, I was able to finish up the first of these projects.

I am lucky to have two separate pantries in my kitchen where we store all of our food supplies with the exception of spices and oils.  We call one the “brown” pantry and the other one,  the “white” pantry.  We are just clever like that!

The brown pantry houses our canned goods, cereal boxes, crackers and chips.  It has fairly narrow shelves so besides minor arranging when I am putting away groceries, it stays fairly organized.

The white pantry is another story.  This cabinet has very deep shelves and no matter how many arrangements I come up with, tall things in back, like items together, etc, it always ends up being a mess.  I have been known to review the contents prior to a trip to the grocery store and come home with purchases that were duplicates to items hiding behind other items on the shelves.  I hate that!!!

So, for a while I have been looking for ideas to help me get this pantry organized.  My first brilliant idea was to transform our laundry room into a walk in pantry and move our washer and dryer up to our master bedroom closet.  It makes perfect sense to me to have your washer and dryer where your clothes are, and believe it or not, our closet is actually large enough to accommodate that idea.  Dave would not even consider it, citing some lame excuses about plumbing and door openings not being wide enough to get the appliances through.  Let’s just say his remodeling sense of adventure is not equal to his motorcycling sense of adventure.   I have such a hard time understanding that!

I finally settled on reworking the shelves to make them narrow so that most items placed on them are only one item deep.  Dave purchased and cut the shelves to fit.  We then painted them and also gave the inside of the pantry a new coat of paint.  I absolutely love the results.

Now I can see everything in the pantry at a glance and everything has it’s own place.   Life is good!!!

Controlling the Chaos

  • Shop for Christmas presents
  • Wrap Christmas presents
  • Finish painting the guest bedroom
  • Make an upholstered headboard
  • Plan menus/groceries for multiple family holiday parties
  • Plan my part of the progressive dinner menu with friends
  • Make cookies for the food pantry where we volunteer
  • Make Christmas cookies for the family
  • Plan for a non-holiday celebration party the week after Christmas
  • Take a business trip to Omaha

I am sure you all have similar tasks to accomplish over the next couple of weeks.  Most of the time I would tell you that I prefer having many things on my to-do list than nothing at all, but this time of year the “have-to-do’s” seem to outnumber the “nice-to-do’s”.  It also does not help the situation when you start a guest room makeover two and a half weeks before Christmas.

Since my youngest left for college the pace of my life has definitely slowed.  The twenty years prior to that I was in constant motion,  working full time, traveling (one year I went to Europe nine times) and raising three  girls who participated in many activities including soccer, competitive swimming, band, orchestra, high school swimming, dance, theatre, competitive dance, cheerleading and other things I am sure I have left out.  Somehow my husband and I even both found time to get our masters degrees.

Now, even though I am still work full time, my evenings tend to be a bit more quiet and relaxed. I have defiantly grown fond of this new lifestyle which is why the frenzy of the holiday season is making me feel totally out of control.  Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that being “out of control” is not a pretty place for me.  I get anxious, cranky and a little crazy.  My solution to this madness is to resort to what always makes me feel better……list making!!!  I have talked about my list making obsession before (click here to see a prior post) so this should not come as a surprise to you.  For me, it is the only way to get through the holidays.  There is nothing like a good project plan to raise my spirits!

OK, I am not a total geek, I do not build my workplan in Microsoft Project (at least not for my personal lists), a good formatted Excel file or Word table works just fine for me.   I start with four basic columns:

Due Date         Task                 Description/Comment                        Status

After filling up the rows with all the tasks on my plate over the next thirty dates, I then sort them by Due Date.  Although you cannot see it here, I highlighted the header column green and  used a cute font with red lettering for the title just to make it look festive.   Here is a peek at the first few days, the actual list goes well into January.

Christmas Countdown

 

Due Date Task Description/Comment Status
12/8/11 Work late Month end close Complete
12/9/11 Paint basement bedroom In progress
12/9/11 Purchase comforter for new bed in basement Complete
12/9/11 Attend retirement happy hour for Cindy Bob’s VIP Room(near 75th&Wornall)
12/10/11 Purchase fabric for upholstered headboard White micro fiber
12/10/11 Make headboard
12/10/11 Bake cookies for food pantry
12/10/11 Finish Christmas shopping
12/10/11 Wrap presents

I have organized and controlled my work life and personal life for so long using this method that I am pretty sure I would not know where to start without it.  The presents I wrap may not all have fancy bows on them and I may not get 10 different variety of cookies made but I can guarantee you that everything that actually gets on my list will get done.  It’s just the way I work!

I would love to hear your secrets for getting through this time of year…..

Lists and more Lists

Besides my other profession of “worrier,”  I am also a “list maker.”  I make lists for everything.  I make list on my computer in both excel and word (cannot decide which is better), I make list in the journal I carry around, I make list in my blackberry memo app and I make list on those little yellow post it notes.  I make list for myself and often for my loved ones, although not sure how appreciated those are.   I use lists to bring control and order to my life.

Here are some of the on-going lists I keep:

  • To-Do – usually items needed to do on a daily basis
  • Dave’s To-Do –  I frequently provide Dave with a copy which he quietly takes from me with a smile.  I have no idea what he does with those lists but I am pretty sure he never looks at them again.
  • Menus
  • Recipes to Try
  • Books to Read
  • Movies to Watch – this list has moved to my recently opened Netflix que.
  • Bucket List – sort of like my to-do list but with a broader horizon – currently contains many places I would like to visit and activities I would like to do.
  • Décor – contains ideas I want to incorporate into my house
  • Quotes  –  I frequently jot down items  I hear or come across in my reading

Here is one of my favorites by Ellen DeGeneres,

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She is ninety-seven now and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

I also have seasonal lists which include:

  • Spring Cleaning Tasks – When all the girls lived at home I would assign each of them tasks along with a box for them to check off when complete.  I know they just LOVED this one.
  • Christmas Presents to Buy – of course this included a sub-list of Christmas presents bought.
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinner Plans – incorporating menus, shopping lists and hour by hour execution plans.

No doubt the highlight of my list life to date was the planning of my two daughters weddings. We had list for about everything you can imagine.   One of those daughters may be just a bit more obsessive about this than I am (if that is possible) and I think we actually had some conflict over who was keeping the list for what.

Wow, I just realized I now have a list of my lists………cool.

ANYWAY, what I started this post about, before I became a little giddy talking about all my lists, were all the things I want to do in my life.  I am a much better planner and strategic thinker than I am an actual doer or executer.  Many times I blame that on my limited mobility.  For instance, I would love to participate in the Arthritis Foundation walk at Zona Rosa on May 22.  It is on my bucket list and I really hope I can do this someday.  Unfortunately, right now I would have a hard time making it to the starting line from the car, let alone walking the 5K.

Another item on my bucket list is to stay at a bed and breakfast.  I have often thought that owning and operating a bed and breakfast would be a great profession.  I love the idea of living in a grand old house, entertaining guests and serving savory breakfasts each morning.  There was an interesting article in the Kansas City Star today about a B&B on the Plaza, the Southmoreland.  The article was actually talking about grilling breakfast outside, an idea that Dave and I thought sounded really fun.  Guess what, I added a new entry to my TO-DO list after reading this, “Host a grilled breakfast party.”

I often use my list, especially my bucket list, to help with my increasing level of frustration and depression over not being able to participate in certain activities.  I read the list, add items to it and look forward to the day I actually may be able to partake.  I search for hope and thoughts of better days wherever I can.

Are any of you out there list makers?  I would love to hear from you (and maybe start a therapy group)! Thirteen days to go……..