Monday, April 30th, 2012

52 Weeks to an Organized Home

I’m participating in 52 weeks to an Organized Home at Home Storage Solutions 101. Check it out for tips on organizing every area of your home.

Week 17 – Organize Cleaning Schedules and Supplies

You have to determine what chores need done daily and what doesn’t need to be done as often and then create a habit that follows that. For example: I *try to* clean the kitchen and living room everyday, but I only vacuum every other day, and I do laundry on Wednesday and Saturday. Keeping the kitchen clean at all times is a must since both my husband and I love to cook and we can make a mess there pretty quickly. But the kitchen is also one of the quicker chores when I keep up on it – load the dishwasher, wash what’s left and wipe down the counters. The laundry, on the other hand, takes a little longer, because I have to wait on the washer and dryer, so it’s easiest to do when I’m not going to work. (I try to wash at least one load Wednesday morning before work, just to make a little less for Saturday.) Vacuuming is a middle-of-the-road chore. This guy makes it necessary to vacuum a few times a week:

As for organizing cleaning supplies, let me tell what makes this really easy. I use vinegar and/or baking soda for almost everything. I have a big jug of white vinegar in the cupboard along with some diluted in a spray bottle, plus a big box of baking soda and some sponges and scrubbers. Aside from that there’s not much else in there. If you want to find out some of the things you can clean with just vinegar and/or baking soda, check out these links:


These both have a list of lots of cleaning tips:


And here are a couple of other weeks I missed:

Week 15 – Organize Passwords, Warranties and Manuals

I keep all of our manuals and warranty information in a large, rectangular tin on top of the fridge. Everything is *supposed to be* in there, so I always know where to look.  I take care of the bill paying in our house, so I know how to log in, but if for some reason Matt would need to get in, he wouldn’t have the info. So, I’ve been gradually writing them down as I use them.

Week 16 – Organized Home Office

This one is about as good as it’s going to get for now. Our home office area is fairly organized, but often messy. It gets routine cleanups, but because it is used for many things, it will probably always get out of control. (Though, I do plan to have a separate office space in the new house.)

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Assateague Island

Warning: Picture-heavy Post

We took a long weekend last and went with a couple friends to Assateague Island National Seashore. Matt and I had been there last year on our vacation and wanted to go back, so we recruited another couple and headed down to camp a couple nights on the beach. Since it was the end of March, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves, save for a few fishermen.

The cooler weather meant the bugs weren’t out yet, but also, the ocean was too cold for swimming – unless, apparently, you’re a man.

In spite of the weather (we also had terrible wind Saturday evening) I think we all had a pretty good time. After checking in at the ranger station (which moved, by the way) and getting our backcountry permit, we had a quick lunch and set off on the hike, down the beach, to our campsite.

The National Seashore has six backcountry camping areas on the Maryland side, two on the ocean side and four on the bay side of the island. Each area has picnic tables and a chemical toilet and bayside sites also have a fire ring. It’s pretty nice for “backcountry.” We camped on the ocean side, but took a day trip to the bay side to do a little exploring.

We headed out Saturday morning to hike back up the beach a little way to the trail to the bay. Earlier, Matt had claimed to see dolphins, but nobody else saw them. Now, we all saw them. And guess what? The photographer on the trip had grabbed all the accessories for her camera and packed them in the backpack, but left the actual camera sitting in the tent. Thankfully, we were just yards away from the campsite and not all the way down the trail. So, Matt ran back and grabbed the camera, and I managed to get ONE shot of the dolphins before they moved further away from shore.

We did get to see the horses a little closer than last time. Much closer, actually.

The horses were the main reason that I wanted to go the first time, and after only being able to see them from across the island, I left a little disappointed. Not this time, though.

I still haven’t seen them on the beach and near the ocean, though there was a small group in the dunes when we got back to the beach.

There’s always next time!

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Monday, April 2nd, 2012

52 Weeks to an Organized Home

I’m participating in 52 weeks to an Organized Home at Home Storage Solutions 101. Check it out for tips on organizing every area of your home.

Week 13 – Organize Your Files: This challenge was pretty much putting together all of the challenges from the last few weeks, organizing further, and determining where you’ll keep all those files.

Here’s a little factoid about me: When I was a child, I asked for a filing cabinet for my birthday.

I know, what child asks for a filing cabinet, right? Well, I always loved paper – notepads, scrapbook  paper, stationary, all of it. I always had piles of paper stuff lying around, and I like to be organized, so that’s what I asked for. And that’s where I store my files except some more important things like birth certificates, passports, savings bonds, etc. that I store in a locked fire-resistant box.

Week 14 – Organizing Magazines, Newspapers and Catalogs

We don’t get the newspaper, but we get a small free paper in the mail every week. I usually go through it with the rest of the mail and decide if there is anything worth saving. Once your done reading it, newspaper has many uses, here are a few:

Gardening – It works great for minimizing weeds in the garden and you can use it to make your own biodegradable seedling pots.
Fires – We have a chiminea on our patio and it’s nice to have a stack of newspapers ready.
Pets – Not only can you use it to line a pet’s cage, but many animal shelter will accept stacks of newspapers to use as well.
Packaging – Whether you’re moving or shipping items from a home store, newspaper is a great (and cheap) way to pack items.
Crafts and Home – Use it as a drop cloth when you’re painting the house or cover the table where children create.

I keep ours in a stack in the mudroom, ready for whatever need we have.

While we don’t have a lot of catalogs floating around the house, magazines are something that I have to make a conscious effort to read and then get rid of. My mom used to save magazines until she had boxes just taking up space. So, now as she reads a magazine, she tears off the pages she has finished and throws them away. They get smaller and small until she’s done with the last page. I do the same thing with magazines that I read, but for any magazines that both my husband and I read, I read them and let them sit for a while and then throw them out. I actually let most of my subscriptions run out this year, because I ended up with a stack of magazines that I never had the time to read. I’m slowly working through the pile.

I also have two file folders on my desk at home for ideas and things I want to save. One has gardening information and ideas, the other things for the house. As I’m tearing out pages, I file interesting pages away for later.

Next week, we’re organizing a few more paper/home office things, including internet passwords, user manuals and warranties.

Monday, March 19th, 2012

52 Weeks to an Organized Home

I’m participating in 52 weeks to an Organized Home at Home Storage Solutions 101. Check it out for tips on organizing every area of your home.

Week 12 – Organize Tax Information and Receipts: This is another one that I feel is already handled pretty well in our home. All receipts for large purchases (appliances, electronics, etc.) are stored in a file in our filing cabinet, along with warranty information and anything else that I might need to have something fixed/replaced. Most of our everyday receipts are for things like groceries and gas and I look over them to see if anything was purchased that I may need to return and then toss what is unneeded. If there is an item that I may need to return, I file it with the rest of the receipts.

I do not file these things by month. To be honest, they aren’t even filed by year. For as often as we make purchases like this, it would be ridiculous to have a folder for each one. If there is a lot of paperwork for a specific item, then it will get its own folder. For example, all the receipts from vehicle work is kept together.

For the tax information, as we receive it, I put it in a folder, and then I can just turn over the folder to the tax preparer. When we get it back, it comes in a nice big envelope and I can store them away for future reference.

Next week we’ll be working on a home filing system.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Oh dear.

Yep, I’ve been neglecting my blog.

I’ve been spending some of my Saturdays working down in our lot, clearing out the brush. We’re hoping to get started with the house soon, and I’ve been itching to do something, anything, to help the process along. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a little exercise via manual labor.

I have about three hundred ten projects in my head that I’d like to work on, but I haven’t found the time. Or I’ve found the time, but at that point my motivation was gone, and all I wanted to do was veg out.

And my current time-suck is this puppy who was found late last week by one of my bosses at work:

Yes, I know that window is disgusting, but since Ajay’s nose is on it EVERY time someone is outside, it doesn’t stay clean for very long.

We contacted the Humane Society and learned that a “found” ad has to run in the paper for 5 days before anyone can adopt her. So, I volunteered to take her for a week while we try to find the owners. A puppy means lots of attention going toward avoiding messes on the floor and away from getting other things done.

At least Ajay is having fun with another dog in the house and he’s already teaching her the ropes.

Also ignore the crazy patterns we have going on – we’re renting and we’re very thankful for the deal we got.

We have managed to start some seeds for the up-coming growing season: some tomatoes and peppers, loufa gourds, basil, celery, and a some flowers. And by start, I mean they’re in some dirt – whether or not they’ll grow is totally up in the air. We probably wont do much else this year with everything we’ll have going on. Some broccoli and lettuce will probably be added in, and hopefully some potatoes.

We’re also preparing for our trip later this month. We will be heading back to Assateague Island for a couple nights of camping on the beach, waking up to the sunrise over the ocean and hopefully catching a few glimpses of the horses. I’ve been trying out some dehydrated meal recipes and we took a hike with our packs a couple weekends ago to get a feel for them again. Ajay came along, sporting his own pack and probably walking twice the distance we did.

Yep, that’s snow. One weekend it’s snowing like mad, and the next I get to bust out the flip flops and tank tops. Crazy weather.