Not much to say here today.  It’s been blissfully quiet!  We’ve kept busy — cleaning house so it’s back to our own again, getting everything back in order.  I’m starting to feel more relaxed about life and that’s a good feeling.

So, really, the only reason I’m writing is to put up a couple links.  Mostly this one right here:

You might not know this about me, but I’m a BIG fan of recycling.  I didn’t get into it much before, but now that I’m in an area where they’ll give me a green bin for me to throw things into and empty it out on a weekly basis, I’m a big fan!  I love being able to do good things for the environment!

So, if I have the opportunity to use a reusable container instead of something that’ll just get trashed, I’ll take it!  We’ve got a ton of cloth grocery bags and a handful of cloth produce bags.  We use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  I keep on trying to find new ways to live more “green.”

This isn’t exactly a green technique (though I have one of those in a second), this is a website of AWESOME.  I get a lot of questions about “where should I take my [thing]” like broken computers or electronics or batteries or whatever.  This site says where to take it!  And I find that very useful.

No more do I have to wonder what to do with old, nasty batteries!  Now I know where to take them!

On the green technique side, though, I’m trying to get a thing going at work with “mini-bins” where everybody gives up their trash can at their desk and just uses this little trash can.  And I can’t actually find the website right now, but they’re the cutest little trash cans — if they held popcorn, you could probably get about 3 cups in there.  And you put it on your desk and empty it into a trash can in another area once it’s full and recycle everything that you can!  It’s a way to help people realize how much they throw away and how much they could be recycling.  I’ve been using one at my desk for a couple days now and I think it’s very fun.  I haven’t fully introduced the idea to my coworkers yet, but I’ve seeded the idea already and we’ve got a meeting set up for next Tuesday.  I’m excited!

Anyway, that’s all that’s on my brain tonight.  Anyone have any other green-tips that I should try to work into my life?  I’d love to hear them!

Cleaning up the house

I made some great progress on the house last night!

I mowed the lawn.  Grass grows differently here in the south, I think, than it does in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  It grows FAST.  And TALL.  I know it’s time to mow the lawn when I’m standing in the kitchen and I can see the tops of grass weeds over the back of the couch and the patio furniture.  So I mowed the lawn and put everything back into the storage closet like it was supposed to be organized.  After a week of pulling things out to go to the beach, the place was a wreck.  But now the patio is back to being a place of calm serenity.

I also took care of the kitchen.  I didn’t really intend to do that one, but I went down to scrounge up some dinner and, well, I had to fill up the dishwasher so I could find the sink.  And then I had to wipe down the counters.  Which meant pulling out the flowers from the vase to add fresh water.  And when I gagged because the rotting stems smelled so badly, I had to throw them into the trash and that bag had to go out to the bin, and what’s the use of throwing out a bag if I haven’t checked to make sure that there aren’t other things that I should throw out?  So I went through the fridge to find what had gone bad, like broccoli and peaches and leftover fish and fried okra.  Which meant that I organized the fridge while I was at it; and then I had to organize the pantry a little, too, because it just wasn’t balanced with one tidy and the other not.  And by the time that was done, the kitchen was pretty much clean.  I still need to do the floor, but I’ll get those all at once.

While I was taking care of that, Justin took care of the laundry, finding all the discarded clothes from the bathroom and bedroom and sorting everything out.  He washed the sheets so we had fresh, crisp sheets to sleep on.  And a couple more loads made it through before the end of the evening, but it’s going to take a little longer before we get all the way through our laundry.

But the house feels nice.  I got up this morning and looked out at the backyard and it looks wonderful.  The grass is trimmed.  The raccoons didn’t get back into the trash can again.  (They got into it the night before to find the watermelon that was tossed out, and they spread it all around the trash can in a fly-covered mess by the time I got there.  I put on latex gloves and a face mask and picked up the whole mess, and then filled a glass jug with water and put it over the top of the bin to keep it closed.  We’ll find out tonight if it kept out the day-time trash-raiders or not.)  The umbrella is up and the table is cleared.  Everything that should be out is out where it belongs and everything that should be tucked away is tucked where it belongs—with the exception of one chair from the table that’s out in the middle of the lawn holding a solar lamp off the ground so it can get some good light.

And I was able to make my lunch in the kitchen and feel like I knew what my options were for available food choices without running into mystery aluminum foil packages and Rubbermaid containers filled with what I think was Miracle Whip that got warm and liquefied.  (I confess, I’m a little confused why the foil-wrapped fish was left in the fridge but the watermelon was thrown away, along with, I assume, the Oreo cookies and the chocolate chip bars.  And 4 lonely M&Ms were left in the candy jar since last Tuesday.  Also, we’re missing a magnet.  Where’d that go?)

But the point is that the house is starting to feel less chaotic and it feels good.  Give us another day or two and we should have it back to normal again.

Back to life as usual

Justin’s family left yesterday.  We pretty much crashed from exhaustion, and now we’re starting to get the house sorted back out again and everything back to normal.  It was nice to see everybody.  I think good times were had by all.  (And a little frustration, too, but that happens with any family stuck in a house so small for so many days.)  And now it’s time for things to get back to normal.

For a little while anyway.

I really don’t have much to say right now.  I’m thinking about the laundry that needs to get done and the floors that need to get vacuumed and the lawn that needs to get mowed.  I’m wondering what’s white and semi-liquid in that Rubbermaid container in the fridge.  And what happened to all the watermelon and the chocolate chip bars?  And what am I going to make with all these peaches and tangerines?

Hurricane season has officially started and I’m thinking of doing a workshop with a bunch of people to get kits put together and organized for the (unlikely) possibility of an evacuation.  It’s one of those things that everybody here knows that they ought to do, but not a whole lot of people actually spend time doing.  But maybe if I thought of a way to make it more interesting . . . .  It’s something I’d like to do, anyway.

And my head hurts.

Welcome to May! Hang on to your boots!

What?  No one else finds file cabinet organizing as exciting as I do?  Impossible!

I actually have A LOT more to talk about filing, but I’m going to take it elsewhere.  I’ve got the website for my organizing business, so I’m going to post all these over on that site.  And I’ll link to it from here so you can know that I’ve written something, but I won’t post it here so you don’t have be completely excited totally bored overwhelmed by it over here.

I’m writing about it because I’m helping a client through this process right now and it’s helpful for me to write it down so I can work through the whole thing.  Paperwork can be really complicated, so it’s nice to be able to really focus on an aspect of it at a time, work through my thoughts, and get them down really clearly.  But I recognize that it’s not always terribly interesting to read.

I recognize it, but I don’t always understand it. :)  I mean, how can that not be interesting?

Anyway.  Welcome to the beginning of May, if you somehow missed that change-over.  Did April go by really quickly for anyone else?  And May looks like it’s going to be a very busy month for me.  We had plans to go to the Ren Faire in Atlanta last weekend, but stuck around the house so Justin could be sick at home instead of on the road.  He’s starting to do better, now that we’re on day 7 of him being sick.  Day 8?  MANY days. 

In other news:

  • Tuesday is my sister-in-law’s birthday, so we’re trying to figure out how to celebrate that with her when she’s busy celebrating it with all of her college friends.  Plus, she needs to do laundry, so she’s got to come visit.  Mwha-ha-ha-ha!
  • My parents are going to be within 6 driving-hours from our house all next week, so on Wednesday we’re going to go meet them half-way between for dinner. 
  • Sometime in the next couple weeks my mother-in-law, step-father-in-law, and grandma-in-law are all coming to visit and pack up my sister-in-law for the summer break.  Apparently they may or may not be bringing their adorable puppy.    I don’t know when they’re arriving or for how long they’re staying.
  • One of these weekends we’re hoping to go to Myrtle Beach to meet up with a couple friends.   I have no idea which weekend this is happening.
  • Some local friends of ours are moving and they’re going to need help moving, I believe, on the 22nd, if we’re in town.
  • And if there’s a free weekend somewhere in there, we’re still hoping to make it up to the Ren Faire.

Why does it all have to happen in May?!

Plus, of course, there’s the usual craziness with work.  We’re completing one or two projects each week this month.  Compare that to next month, when we’re planning to complete three in the entire month.  Who creates this schedule?!  Drunken baboons?

 But whatever.  Life is good!  It’s pouring down rain today and even that is good because it’s better than the 85% humidity and burning hot sunshine that we had yesterday.  And I remembered my umbrella.  And I got to talk with both of my parents last night and that was fantastic!  And there was a new Castle when we weren’t expecting one.

So life is busy, but life is good, and I’m feeling happy!  I think I’ll go for a walk.  ;)

Organizing your filing – part 1

A lot of people, it seems, have a hard time knowing how to organize their filing systems at home.  A big problem is that there are different theories about what you should toss and what you should keep and for how long.  Some people recommend one thing and other people recommend another and it’s nearly impossible to really know which one is the One To Follow.  So people tend to either toss it all or keep it all or find some place on the spectrum in between.  And probably always feel like they’re doing it wrong.

I’m not an accountant and I’m not incredibly knowledgeable about all the different financial problems and circumstances that can happen with home finances and paperwork, but let me tell you about some of the things that I found to be useful and how I’ve organized it to work for me.  This is going to be a multi-post series because it’s a big, complicated concept.  But, hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it from being too boring and maybe even share some ideas that you’ll be able to use in your own home.

Now, let me say this first:  Everybody faces their finances differently and handles their organizing differently.  The system I’m going to describe works well for me, but it might need some major tweaking to work for you.  I’ll try to include options as I go through this so you can see other options that might work better for you.  But keep in mind that this is just an option and you can take from it what you like and leave the rest.  (And I did warn you ahead of time, so don’t get upset at me if you decide later on that you wish you hadn’t thrown away that thingamabob.)

In my opinion, after knowing what to keep and what to toss, the biggest problem with establishing and maintaining a filing system is that filing is boring.  It’s dull.  No one likes to file.  Some of us like to have a wonderful filing system, but no one likes to sit there and put papers into folders.  It’s DULL.  So it’s important to find a way to make it so you’ll actually sit down and file the papers that you need to keep.  For me, this means having a beautiful filing cabinet that’s organized in a way that works well for me and is located right in my office next to a comfortable chair.  Once I get a pile of things to file, I’ll sit on my comfortable chair, work my way through it, and be done.  But if I had to stand there and file things in a place that doesn’t make me as happy as my office, I doubt I’d ever do it.  I had to find a place that was comfortable and peaceful for me to keep my filing cabinet so I’d actually sit down and take care of things.

Next, for the most part, there are three different expiration dates for papers – 1 year, 7 years, and lifetime.  Things like bills, if you decide to keep them (and I’ll get to that soon-ish), you should keep for a year.  If the Auditors ever come a-calling, to my understanding, they’re interested in your finances back as far as 5-7 years, but, generally, not any further than that.  And then things like birth certificates, social security cards, and those things you should keep for the lifetime of whoever they’re for, and things like car titles and house deeds and major electronics receipts and paperwork, you should keep for the lifetime of the item.

And, of course, if there are items of significant sentimental value, you should feel comfortable to keep those as well – just so long as you understand the line between keeping sentimental items and hoarding everything.  There’s a huge line there and it crosses into mental illness so if you think you might have a hoarding problem, please seek psychological help.

Okay, I want to keep these from getting too long so that’s where I’m going to end it for today.  But let’s recap quickly:

  • There are different theories about how to handle filing systems, but I’m going to try to sort through them and give you a straight-forward way to handle the whole thing.
  • You should try to find a place to keep your filing that is comfortable and where you will actually sit (or stand) and take care of it.
  • Generally, you should keep papers for 1 year, 7 years, or a lifetime.  We’ll get into what falls into what category in the following posts.

Your homework for today is to think about where you keep your current files (if you have any) or where you’d like to establish your filing and decide if that’s actually a place where you will go to take care of this.  If it isn’t, then try to brainstorm places where you’d feel more comfortable.  Don’t worry if the answer is “In front of the TV” because I can work with that!  Just hang onto your boots!  We’re going to get filing!