30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 12

Does anyone else obsess and stress about the mess (!) between Christmas and the New Year?  During the few days I take off that week, I often go into full-on cleaning mode, clearing out the refrigerator and freezers, tackling the cabinets and pantry and organizing the drawers. Speaking to my Jewish friends, it’s similar to preparing for Passover, searching for “chametz” and “kashering” the appliances.

While I was cleaning out the freezer this year, I kept finding more and more dubious bags of…stuff. Stuff so covered over with ice that it was impossible to make out if it was meat or veggies. Or both. Heart breaking, I threw out tons of food and vowed never to let that happen again.

(Last night I pulled out what I thought was frozen eggplant and it turned out they were roasted hot peppers. SMH.)

My pantry is actually an 18″ wide closet on the side of the refrigerator. Which is great because everything is right there while I’m cooking. Not so great is the fact that it’s 24″ deep, which means stuff gets pushed to the back and forgotten until the week between Christmas and the New Year. I’ve been after MR to build me shelves that can be pulled out and the stuff in the back can be accessed. Remember, ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.

(My favorite meme. Even MR liked that one.)

I can’t do anything about the black hole in my pantry right now, but I did do something about the black hole residing in the freezers. The door on the pantry cabinet is about four foot high, so I painted a large portion of the inside of that door with black chalkboard paint and noted each shelf and the downstairs freezer and inventoried each and every item in the freezer and marked it down on the blackboard. Now I’m able to see at a glance what we have and can erase and rewrite as we use and add food.

No more wasted food. And it’s easily found when we need it.

I tried to do an inventory on the stock of food in the basement, but I haven’t come up with an efficient way like the blackboard. I tried keeping a book on top of the fridge, but if I don’t see it immediately, I tend to ignore it. The stash downstairs is mostly canned food, bags of sugar and Costco-sized boxes, larger things that won’t fit in the pantry upstairs, but there are things down there that are used pretty often. So I came up with this idea:

DAY 12 of 30:

Make a list of 20 things you use often and put them in the note section of your phone. Whenever you see a sale on any of these things, stock up. 

Here’s mine:

  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Flour
  • Rice
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Veg Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Laundry detergent
  • Mozzarella (blocks or shredded or both)
  • Cheddar cheese (blocks or shredded or both)
  • Seltzer
  • Orange juice
  • Chocolate almond milk (freezes better than regular almond milk)
  • Toothpaste
  • Tuna
  • Pasta

Mark on your phone list how many of the items you bought. If you use one, delete it from the number on your list. Keep a running tally even if it’s in the freezer and on the blackboard.  Keep an eye out for coupons for extra savings!

Do you have any other suggestions for pantry staples? What’s in YOUR freezer?

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30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 10

DAY 10 of 30:

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your self-imposed goals.

  • Whether the 30 days of a challenge happen over 40 days or 50, I shall try not to feel bad over the fact that I can’t post every day.  Shit happens, life happens, God throws curve-balls- whatever.  Accept that you’re doing the best you can and celebrate that.

As each day crept by and I didn’t post another challenge, I felt guilty-like I have THOUSANDS of readers that I have to impress, lol.  There have been a few persons liking my posts and I have gained a few followers and I know that there are a few subscribers and I felt like I was letting y’all down.

Then I realized that I DO have a few readers and I have a few subscribers that want to read what I want to say and if they get pissed off that I’m not adhering to the one-a-day challenge religiously, I can tell them, with all humor and love, to piss off!  Seriously, it’s not like this is the Weather Channel and we’re all waiting to see if we’re going to be snowed in another day (we did).  It’s not like it’s the cliff-hanger to the latest medical drama and we didn’t find out if the daughter has a dreaded disease (Zombiegirl contracted Mononucleosis and it’s not fun at our house lately).  It’s not like we’re watching the Superbowl and cheering on our”favorite” team to win (they didn’t).

I’ll survive.  And you’ll certainly survive.  And if we don’t sweat the small stuff (like posting EVERY. SINGLE. DAY on this blog) our lives will be sweeter and simpler, right?

Please agree.  Please?

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 8

Whoa, sorry, got a little sidetracked there.  Life definitely got in the way these past four days.

I needed a little time away on Friday- it was a grizzly bear of a week and I was feeling sorry for myself that I never get away.  The combination of being blue and having a migraine and having to deal with some stuff then going to the hobby job at night- yeah, it was the perfect mix for a formal day off. But, I have discovered a cure-all for depression and migraines.  SPENDING THE DAY WITH YOUR GRANDSON!

What, you didn’t know I had a grandson?  That’s because I didn’t tell you, at least not on the blog.  If you follow me on Facebook, you certainly know since I post constantly on his cuteness and make his face my profile picture whenever Beena lets me!

Jackson Jon was born July 10th at 3:30pm.  He was 7lbs, 13 oz, 20 inches of adorableness.   He had some problems in the beginning (jaundice, no BF) but he is the type of kid to smile through it all.  Beena and John are great parents and let his grandma (I don’t have an official name yet) take him when she needs her baby fix.

The hobby job called me and informed me I didn’t have to come in because there are too many employee hours and not enough sales.  Okay.  So I got to watch him for a few hours and after he left, I took a long nap.  Not that he is actively walking or talking or anything, I’m just not used to having someone rely on me 100% of the time.  It is so magical being his grandma that even when he sleeps, I don’t put him down.  I can’t help it, he’s my GRANDSON!  Lol!

Saturday saw me in a better mood because we went upstate for a soccer tournament.  Getting out of the house!   Seeing my soccer peeps!  Even though we lost the tourney and Zombiegirl came back bruised, sprained and bleeding it was a good time hanging out and going out to eat with the girls and their parents.

Sunday Zombiegirl and I had all good intentions of giving platelets (me) and blood (her first time) but that went disastrously wrong.  It seems my platelets are low (187) and after donating platelets for years, it was not recommended that I give because apparently, I have enough for myself but not enough to give.  I honestly think they just didn’t want me there for two hours since they were busy.  And the asshat that interviewed Z-girl was just plain rude.  She brought her debit card (with picture) in as ID, but for first time, under-age donors, they wanted something with her birthdate.  This jerk said, “That’s not going to work” and left without another work.  Zombiegirl left with a bad taste for donating and I’m furious that they sent the moron to do the interview on a nervous, somewhat scared kid.

I ended up donating blood, but all day I worried about my platelets being low.  Oh, and the stress of trying to print out Book of Mormon tickets I bought for Utah and KevKev for Christmas (and dealing with three different people on the phone at Ticketmaster) by the time they had to leave- this had me moping around the house all day.

Yesterday was a Work-In-NJ day.  And although the “trash” was taken out and our little CAFM group is happier for it, it still takes a lot out of me to travel there and back and deal with the crap we (I) have to deal with.

So here we are at today, and I’m in a better mood and ready to continue this journey to simplicity…

 DAY 8 of 30:

Find one thing in the house that needs fixing and fix it.

This one thing can be big or little.  For me, it’s the phone holder for the car- I took it out one day and all the springy things popped out and it wouldn’t stay upright.  It’s been sitting on my dresser in pieces and I keep moving it from one place to another.  Before I lose any of the pieces, I’m fixing it and putting it back in the car because I really need to use my phone for GPS and hands-free driving.

Don’t try to rewire the house’s electrical system or replace the washer or dryer.  Find something that has been hanging around and that you can do something about quickly.  Plaster that hole in the wall.  Tighten the leaky faucet.  Glue the sole of your boot so it doesn’t flop around when you walk.  Sew that hole up in the seam of your pants.  Replace that burnt out light bulb.  Take the pants that need hemming to the tailor.  And if you really, really like that broken vase, glue it back together.  If you don’t, then toss it!

(yeah, those are all things I can also do, but I chose the phone holder because seriously, I need that shit to work.)

So to prevent being sidetracked again, I will prepare a few challenges in advance and hopefully we can continue uninterrupted!  Hopefully.

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 7

And on the seventh day, she rested.

If only that could be true.

I need a vacation.  It doesn’t have to be a big one, a little one would do.  Just someplace different, someplace warm, someplace where I don’t have to think or deal with stupid shit.  Someplace I don’t have to clean up and where my dinner is cooked for me.

Sigh.

Since a vacation is nowhere in my immediate future, I’m continuing to try to make our bedroom as much as a retreat as I can, by following the KonMarie method.  So far I’ve done my underwear drawer, my sock drawer (minus all the mismatches in the laundry room), the tank top drawer, my sweatshirt/sweater drawer, the pants shelves and my closet.  All I have left in my dresser is the t-shirt/shirt drawer and I’m done with the insides and all my clothing.  Then i can tackle all the crap accumulated on the dresser itself and my side of the room is serene.

Don’t look at MR’s side of the room.  Eyes over here, please.

Incorporating the Art of Tidying Up into my life got me thinking about my clothing purchases and gained tons of space in my clothing storage areas.  All my drawers are half-full due to the purging of the old and folding of the remaining.  I feel like I have space to breath, at least when I go to put on a pair of panties.  It makes me want to tidy everything all at once, but I know I have to go slow.  It’s the only way not to rebound and get messy again.

One thing I can’t stand to look at anymore is my nail polish box.  Originally it was shoved under my bed, but since I gained a shelf in my dresser (the middle part of the dresser my dad made me opens out to two shelves instead of drawers) I’ve been keeping the box on the bottom shelf.

I  very rarely wear nail polish.  When I’m in a funky mood, I’ll wear a funky color but I haven’t really worn much since before college.  Since I work with large paper prints, I found the nail polish was constantly streaking on anything I worked with so I stopped wearing it for all but special occasions.  So why do I have 42 bottles of nail polish?  Because I have three girls, I inherited a lot from my mom and I never threw anything away.

Not anymore.  It’s time to toss.

DAY 7 of 30:

Go through your nail polish (or eyeshadow or lipstick, etc.) and toss anything you don’t feel strongly about.  If you think that color is just not right, get rid of it.

  • Just how many shades of “nude” does one person need?  I had five.
  • That gross bottle of top coat that cost over $12? Ew, it has to go.
  • I know I’m not savvy enough to know what colors are “in” and what are “so three years ago…” but I am pretty sure I don’t need four frosty lilac colors.
  • The the bottom of the shoe box is full of dog hair.  Wash it out.
  • I have too many bottles of blue nail polish but they’re all different colors and left over from the baby shower favors.  I’ll keep them for now.
  • Don’t force the ones you don’t want on your children.  I’ll ask if anyone wants them and if not, they’re going into the Savers bag.

There, I’m down to 26 bottles.  And 1/3 of the box free to buy one or two colors more if the mood strikes!  Or I could get a prettier box and utilize this box somewhere else.  Maybe.

And that hot orange color? I’m doing my toes right now and then pretending I’m on a beach somewhere.  That’ll be the closest I get to vacay…

 

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 6

Lord, this has been a day so far.  Everyone has fires they have to put out, and of course it’s all my fault the fires were ignited so late in the game.  By 10 o’clock, I was ready to hit the bar downstairs for a drink.

No, those fires are not my fault (you waited until the last minute).  Yes, I will help you resolve (I always do, don’t get your panties in a twirl).  Yes, I agree we need to figure out why these fires always happen (because you are idiots).  No, I will not spearhead that task (I don’t get paid enough to do your job as well).

Thankfully, I have a detailed filing system and every work related email- and some juicy personal ones I may use to burn some butts some day- is placed in a file.  All I have to do is search and I can bring up an email from 2002 or yesterday.  I had to develop this system- because I’m constantly covering my ass from those who just. Don’t. Get. It.

The one place that’s a little messy is My Desktop.  I tend to throw a lot of crap there when I need to get at it quickly.  I love my desktop theme, it’s very pretty and it calms me, but now it’s got all these folders and files all over it and that won’t do. So for today’s challenge…

DAY 6 of 30:

Go through your desktop on your work PC or your personal PC and delete or file those ugly files/folders.  If you don’t already have one, find a nice wallpaper that makes you feel good and upload it.

  • delete all the folders containing emails that you send out weekly.  You can always find them in your SENT file.
  • file the spreadsheets.  There is no need to keep them on your desktop.  Put them in My Documents if you need to keep them.
  • Recycle Bin is your friend.  Toss it away.
  • Line up your icons so that it’s neat and it doesn’t get in the way of your wallpaper.

Thankfully (well, not really) I am borrowing Beena’s laptop to use when I work from home so I don’t keep anything on that Desktop or on her PC.  Maybe someday I’ll get my own laptop (pfft!) but in the meantime, I’m not messing anything up on the home front.

Did you have to put out any fires today?  Deal with any stoopid peoples? Make me feel better then let’s go get a drink!

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Isn’t this pretty?  The colors are more vibrant than my bleak iPhone picture.

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 4

As predicted, MR and I are hobbling around like two 90-year old persons.  Our backs are aching, our wrists (and my tennis elbow) are sore and our necks don’t bend.  Where were the young people in our house, you may ask?  Why didn’t they help out with the shoveling?  Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.  Utah did come home after staying with her boyfriend all weekend to shovel out her car (the one on the lawn) but Zombiegirl made a token effort to help the ladies next door and then came in complaining about her asthma.  When I was her age I was making money going door-to-door shoveling people out.  Pfft.  Go back upstairs, young ‘un and put your nose back into your phone…

Speaking of phones, today’s challenge will be a physically easy one.  If I actually had a way into work today I would totally do this on my commute in or on the way home.  As it turns out, five lines of the LIRR, two of which I could use, are suspended so I’m working from home, no New Jersey commute for me today!

DAY 4 of 30:

Go through your smart phone and delete any app you haven’t used in a few months.  Then go through your pictures and upload them to a photo-sharing site (I use Flickr- look for me there!) This will not only make finding your apps easier but it will cut down on your storage and data usage.

  • All the games on my cell phone are going except for Jelly Splash, Sudoku, Flappy Bird and 1010.  I gave up on the Candy Crush games even though they’re on my iPad.
  • Those money management apps (Mint, Spendbook, etc) have been deleted.  I use an Excel Spreadsheet for my budget and I access it through my laptop.  Therefore I don’t need the Excel app either.
  • Deleting the Michael’s app and the Joann’s app. Trust me, you’re better off going directly to the website for coupons.  The apps are going to send you there anyway.
  • I have five “layout” apps on my phone for all those times I need to post multiple pictures on Instagram .  I’m keeping Pic Stitch, since I’ve been using that one forever.
  • The Yoga Studio app is coming off my cell phone.  I have it on my Ipad.  The cell phone is too small to see which pose they’re doing.
  • Uploading my photos to Flickr.  Deleting the ones I’ve posted to Facebook and Instagram.

If anyone is following along, what apps are you deleting?  What apps are you keeping that you absolutely love?

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 3

Okay, my heart is in the right place but my body is screaming “NO!” I had all the good intentions of sewing and decluttering all day but the aftermath of a blizzard got in the way.  After more than two hours of shoveling our walks and our neighbors walks, my joints decided that they would rather curl up in bed and then on the couch for the remainder of the day.

I didn’t even feel that winded or overworked while I was shoveling.  It wasn’t until I got in the house that I realized I had soaked through a t-shirt and a flannel, both dripping with sweat.  After a hot shower, bed looked so inviting that I took a nice long nap.  That’s what days off are for, right?

It would have been nice to be able to jump out of bed, refreshed and ready to get to work but I’m old.  Creeping out of bed, barely able to stand and shuffling out of the bedroom is more the norm these days.  Add the extra work out I did today and the shuffling was a hell of a lot slower.

So I’m doing the simplify challenge a little late.  If you’re following, don’t wait for me, do it the next day.  We have to be in an almost zen-like mood to be able to tackle these tasks so we don’t feel overwhelmed and angry.  Maintain a positive attitude while simplifying life and we will be able to maintain simplicity.  At least I hope so.

I’ll try to post a little earlier in the day anyways.

DAY 3 of 30:

Take everything out from under your sink, wipe it down and discard anything you don’t use.

I’m specifically targeting cleaning supplies, here.  I do have stuff under my sink (many, many bottles of dish detergent as well as my recycling can and the garbage can.  I also have a cabinet next to the dishwasher where I keep my cleaning supplies, such as they are.  As I type this, I’m wondering if maybe this cabinet is the best place to keep the supplies- what else could go there?  It’s about a foot wide, maybe it would better serve something else?

See? This is all a part of the simplifying process.  I’m constantly asking myself “How can I better utilize my space?”

We’ll revisit this thought since I’m not in any shape to start moving everything around.  For right now:

  • Discard anything you haven’t used in the last year.
  • Condense.  Combine those two bottles of dish detergent into one.
  • Take out anything that doesn’t belong.  Put it where it belongs immediately.
  • Consider simplifying your cleaning supplies- I use one bottle of vinegar and water to clean EVERYTHING.  Since it’s vinegar, I can use it around food, around babies and around puppies.  It’s perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows without streaking.  And I’ve gotten used to the smell- it dissipates almost immediately after wiping.  My bottle of V&W costs pennies compared to the two or three bottles of cleaners you would need to equal its strength and effectiveness.
  • Remove all toxic sprays and cleaners- the bug spray goes downstairs under the laundry room sink. (Which will definitely be a declutter zone sometime soon)
  • We have a self-cleaning oven.  Put the oven cleaner downstairs as well (it’s good for really bad BBQ racks).
  • Put the damn contact paper down on the shelf instead of moving it around every time you take out the trash!  Stop procrastinating!

I now have 12 sponges, one stainless steel scrubby, a box of garbage bag liners, three bottles of Dawn, the garbage pail and the recycle pail under the sink!  That’s it!  The cleaning supply closet holds dishwasher detergent. a large bottle of vinegar, V&W spray, orange oil for wood surfaces, Goo Gone, a really old bottle of Soft Scrub (I started using baking soda instead) and a rinse aid for the dishwasher.  Simple!  That took me all of a half an hour to clean out, including scrubbing the shelf under the sink and putting down the contact paper.

Easy-peasy.  Loads easier than shoveling this crap…img_2020

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Yes, there is a car under there.  Yes, it’s on the lawn.

Tomorrow is another day.  I’m sure my muscles will be screaming for mercy tomorrow.