Monday, August 25, 2008

Project 5: The Workout Drawer

My task for this evening was figuring out what the heck was going on with my workout clothes drawer. Seriously, there are things in there from middle-school (which was over 10 years ago, ps). Well, anyway, you can't organize something if you don't know the extent of the problem, right? Well, above is the scariness that ensued when I lined it all up on my bedroom floor! That's right, you're looking at 7 pairs of basketball shorts. A like, 6 pairs of running shorts, 5 pairs of spandex, 2 running skirts, and 14 t-shirts. Yeah.

Haven't decided what I'm keeping yet and what needs to go... but I think I'm going to purge everything that's been in that drawer since high-school (which is less than half of it, so not that bad). I mean, all I really need is one workout outfit per day, right? :D

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Project 4: The Books - Part One

I spent most of my weekend doing laundry and other things that don't necessarily require new organization (and really don't photograph well -- sorry, but no one's getting before and after shots of my mopped floor). This is mostly because Matt and I will be taking a trip for over a week, beginning next Saturday, and need to have things cleaned and in order because we'll be having a house guest immediately upon getting back!

So anyway, we've had three huge tubs of books cluttering up our "guest room" that I've been wanting to sort through and figure out. So, long and short of it was this: I made three piles - the first was an "I'm going to read this in the next year" pile, the second was "I either loved this book or it has super important sentimental value", and the third was for donation/reselling. Pile 2 is on the right, and Pile 3 is on the left (along with a ton of my DVDs that I really haven't watched since college).

And finally, Pile 1 went into the bottom of the nightstands that I put together last week. Since I do most of my reading in bed, I thought it'd be the best place.

Now I just need to figure out a place for Pile 2, and get the books from Pile 3 to Auntie's to resell.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Project 3: The Make-Up Drawer

Pretty heinous, isn't it? There was all kinds of stuff in here, which of course makes it seriously difficult to find anything of course (especially when you're half asleep and running late!). A half hour of sorting and an $8 pack of drawer organizers later, this is what it turned in to:

All the old stuff go thrown out, and everything is sorted into containers based on frequency of use, and items likely to be paired together. Hopefully this will make my morning routine go much faster!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Preparing to tackle my financial paperwork

This is a picture of the counter top that serves as our dumping ground for every important piece of paper or mail that comes through our front door. It's a good thing it's so big! This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult parts of the condo to keep organized, and it's actually a miracle that it looks this good in the picture I took earlier this week. :)

The bane of my existence for the last several years has been developing a small, concise system that I can use to keep track of my bills, bank statements, tax returns, paycheck stubs, and all the other variosu pieces of important financial information that seem to flood into my condo. I realized this January as I was searching for important tax information that I still had in my possession every single pay check stub I'd ever received - since my first job nearly 10 years ago - and that they were in NO WAY organized.

I did some google searching (and blog reading) today about what kinds of documents are really important to keep for an extended period of time, and which ones can really be disposed of after awhile without risking any potential damage. I thought that this document provided the most realistic and helpful guidelines about time frames for particular types of documents.

So tonight, I think I'll go invest in a paper shredder! I have two accordian folders that I've been utilizing for a year or so, but they need a drastic overhaul. This will be a weekend-long project I feel, but it'll be so nice to have it done and out of the way!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Organization Update!

Well, my organizing, cleaning, and decluttering has been sidetracked for a few days! We had a house-guest on Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight we're going to a fantastic concert tonight, so no improvements from me!

I did, however, make a tragic mistake. :( While putting together our new dresser from CostPlus that will match the new nightstands, I managed to basically bore holes in the front of the top piece of wood by putting in on backwards! Oops! I was wondering why the screws weren't going in so easily... I'm going to try and salvage it tomorrow, and it doesn't look too bad to keep it on there backwards, but I'm just hoping I didn't permanently ruin it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Project 2: The Nightstands

One of the things that I've known for a while needed to be changed is the bedroom furniture, or lack thereof, that is currently in the condo. Our nightstands especially left something to be desired. Mine is the set of three plastic drawers ($15 at Target my first year of college!) that I've been using for over 5 years now - notice how everything is precariously stacked and falling off! Matt's is the black thing... I don't even know how to describe it.


So after looking around at bedroom sets a little while we shopped for couches in late April/May, and constantly keeping my eye out for deals online, I managed to find these
on sale at Cost Plus World Market
, complete with a free shipping offer. I'm a sucker for free shipping, lets be honest, and I oggle the dark wood stuff at World Market every time I'm there, so it was a no brainer!


Everything fits, and they look so much nicer too! I couldn't be happier.

Donation Time!

I'm a big believer in donating things to those in need. This goes especially for thrift stores that tend to employ people that would otherwise be out of a job, and use parts of their proceeds to support programs for the needy and impoverished. Collecting items from around the house to donate also serves as a wake-up call to myself by putting me in my place about my own materialism, and reminding me that I need to use my hard-earned money for better things than a fashionable pair of boots (from 6 years ago), etc.

So last night, I took the two bags pictured above to Value Village. They contained... about 1/3 of my wardrobe - just about everything in my closet that was purchased in or before 2004. I brought Matt with me, and he also donated 2 bags of stuff that he's had in the trunk of his car since we moved 4 months ago.

And then, as our reward for our good deed, we got delicious take-out Thai food and went o home to watch the Olympics and thunderstorm for the rest of the night. Hooray!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nesting Tables: They're finally finished!

One of the reasons I created this blog is that the majority of blogs regarding household organization, de-cluttering, and decorating are made by and for stay-at-home wives and mothers. It's not that there's anything wrong with this - I think being a stay-at-home-mom with lots of kids is way out of my league - it's just that it's a different situation than the one I'm in. I don't have children, I work full-time (and more some weeks!), and I've spent at least 2 nights a week and one full weekend a quarter in a classroom. That's a lot of time outside the home! Basically, it means that I have to make sure the time I do spend at home is restfull while still being productive. It's a hard combo!

Case in point: I bought these nesting tables nearly 3 full months ago from American Unfinished Furniture, a (you guessed it!) unfinished furniture store in Spokane that came highly recommended from several friends. I'm a big fan of really dark finishes on wood, so I bought some finish to do it myself. It was really easy, and only took about a weekend - although, I did manage to mess up one of the legs on the smallest table, even though you can't really tell in the pictures. The worst part, though, is that the corner pieces required to oh, actually attach the legs to the tables, were left out of the packages.

So imagine my surprise when, upon arriving home today, there they were in the mail! Hooray! So I now present to you my new nesting end tables, that will serve our needs much better and classier than the stools we've been setting things on instead of sitting on. :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Project 1 - Keeping Papers in the Kitchen

One of the first things that I knew I had to do something about when we moved into this place was the crappy old bulletin board that the previous tenant had put up on the kitchen wall. It was literally in pieces, with little fragments still attached to the heavy duty tape he had used to keep it on the wall. And, try as though I might (with my bare hands and soap and water, that is), I could not get the remnants of that tape off the wall!

So, on my last trip to Target, I perused the school supplies section for locker materials (I know, I know, so junior high). I got a package of 4 pieces of cork board for $10, and a $5 magnetic dry erase board. Both of these items were originally intended for lockers, so they fit perfectly in the oddly shaped space on my kitchen wall. To avoid making the mistake of the former tenant, I used some extra ribbon from a previous craft project to hang the left-side bulletin board instead of the super sticky wall tape in the package (I used the wall tape for the white board and bulletin board on the right side, because I figured a couple extra spots on the wall wouldn't be markedly different than what was already there).

I figure the left side will be used for important mail items like bills to be paid, important letters and invitations, and other items not to forget. The right side will be used for kitchen related papers, namely recipes I receive from people (I get a lot, surprisingly), coupons, grocery receipts, etc.

And of course, any chance I get to leave Matt a little note is welcome in my book!



I have 5 weeks of freedom...

So, here's the deal. I just finished my first year of grad school, and have exactly 5 weeks until my second year begins. So what am I going to do with all my free time? I'm one of those people that thrives on lists, goals, and being busy, so I think this is the best way to keep myself from going insane...

The thing that's been most neglected between my work schedule and class schedule/homework is without a doubt the 1200 square-foot condo that I moved into in mid April (I know, 4 months later and I'm still not moved in and settled? Aaaaaack). There have been several issues centered around moving into this condo. First, this is by far the biggest living space that I've had... ever. It's more than double the size of my last apartment, and needless to say much roomier than the rooms I rented out of college houses as an under-graduate.

Second, being a recent graduate of college (and a current grad student), I've never really gotten out of that undergraduate mode of whatever's-cheapest-never-throw-anything-out-it's-still-usable-with-giant-holes. Basically, all of my "furniture" is plastic or hand-me-downs from family members, and don't even get me STARTED on the majority of clothing in my wardrobe or things in my kitchen. Not all of this is problematic (everyone needs a set of 3 plastic drawers from Target... just maybe not 5 like I have in lieu of tables), so it'll be a mix of keeping and finding new items to more effectively and elegantly use.

And third, I'm sharing my condo with my boyfriend of almost 3 years (it's still crazy that it's been that long!). As anyone that's moved in wiht a significant other knows, there's this weird melding of stuff that has to happen - and it becomes much more evident if the two of you have too much crap. I don't necessarily think that we have too much stuff, but there's definitely stuff in here that I've never seen used before that we don't NEED.

Over the next 5 weeks, I plan to undertake various projects to organize, clean, and decorate my condo to make it more livable and presentable and just all around nicer. This should be a fun adventure! :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meet the Organizer

Hello everyone -- I'm Becca, a 23-year-old college graduate trying to make her way in the adult world. I live in Spokane, Washington, with the love of my life and our new family member, Mojo da Betta Fish. We live in an apartment close to downtown, and love taking advantage of what this city has to offer. I work full time, but I'm also going to school for a Masters degree at night and on weekends - and boy does that make my social life suck! :D My interests include running (5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons... I post about them occasionally), reality tv, drinking wine, reading books, and taking long naps. And I still sleep with my childhood bear every night. Basically, I'm the coolest person ever.

This blog is about my quest to organize my "house", both literally and figuratively. My apartment is obviously the literal part - it's a mess, which is unsurprising since I'm disorganized and busy. But I'm also on a mission to get my life in order. This means everything - my finances, my 5 and 10 year plans, my mind, my body, and my soul. I'm trying to incorporate new things (like menu planning and budgets) to keep me on track with beginning a responsible adult life, while continuing to have fun and enjoy being young!

There are a few things about me that you should know when reading my entries.
  1. I am a vegetarian. When I post recipes (or link to them), you can assume that any non-vegetarian ingredients are being substituted for vegetarian ingredients. Especially if they involve chicken stock. Ew. The only exception to this rule is when I specify that I'm cooking something for Matt - I do cook him meat every once in a while, because he's the best boyfriend ever.
  2. I am (at least close to) the messiest person on the planet. I qualify this by saying that I'm "messy", but not "dirty" - there is no rotting food in my apartment, but there are tons of stacks of papers and stuff. I've been messy all of my life (my parents have some crazy stories), and this is the major thing that needs to change in my life.
  3. This is (for the most part) not a personal blog. I have made the conscious choice not to post about my love life, my work life, my family, etc. Obviously I'll address major events that occur, but there won't be any posts about sensitive personal issues. I also prefer to keep information like my net-worth, weight, etc. private - so this isn't going to turn into a personal finance blog or weight-issues blog. I'm not explicitly trying to be anonymous - I'm just trying not to air my dirty laundry to the world! :D
Thanks for reading and joining me on my quest to dominate life - please feel free to send me a note if you have any questions, or just want to say hello!