Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Blogging World! I have had a great time decorating my home and we had a great holiday! Here are some pictures of our decor this year.

Our Front Porch:

Thank you Uncle David and Aunt Cheryl for my beautiful new topiaries!

Our Tree:

Some spaces in my entry:

This is my santa hat collection

I made these ribbon trees last year

I made this tiny ribbon tree and red hot tree also last year!

I made this candy cane tree last year and my sister made the starlight and gum drop trees last year. We both seemed to have more time last year!

A few things in my kitchen:

My friend Jolyn made these ornaments for me last year

Christmas Eve Brunch:
Every year, we serve brunch to family and friends on Christmas Eve. This year was our 9th Annual Brunch! Here are a few pictures of the set up before my guests arrived!

The Food--egg casserole, hashbrown casserole, homemade waffles and cinnamon buns

Waffle Bar
Dessert in the Dining Room

Kids Drinks on the patio

Adult Drinks on the Patio

The Marshmallows rolled in peppermint that I made with my son Carter

The Coffee Bar

The reindeer food that my son James and I made, thought I forgot to hand it out!

Brunch, Christmas and time spent with my family was a blessing and I hope you had a wonderful season as well!
Happy Holidays!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My System for sorting Mail and School Work

I promised that I would write a blog about how I sort my 'stuff'. Whether I am chit chatting with friends or problem solving with clients, many topics come up that appear to be an ongoing issue and one is paperwork! Whether it is mail or school work or church and organization flyers, it is hard to manage. The number one rule is 'touch it once' and that requires strict sorting discipline! It sounds like 'work' but it is very exciting to see a stack of stuff and turn it into a few things and be done with it. I promise! So, last week I promised that when I came home from helping my sister for 3 days that I would show you my stack of stuff that arrived while I was gone and show you how I knock it out! You won't find stacks of mail and paperwork at my house but if you look around you will find several different organizing tools that help me accomplish the same things we all have to accomplish. Bills, school paperwork, filing, tax items, school art work that I want to keep, things I want to hold onto but don't need to do anything with, magazines and catalogs that I want to read and on and on and on . . . They are all here but they have a place and I am very picky about what stays and what goes.

So, here is the stack that I came home to:

-A box from the scout store

-many catalogs including walmart and Tiffany, what a contrast in my mailbox!

-Bills, a check for scouting as I am treasurer, Christmas card and lots of junk mail

-School Papers and a receipt that I paid for a fieldtrip

Okay, you must sort everything now! It's a couple seconds when it comes in the door but if you stack ALL the bills and have to sort all of it at the end of the month, the 'bill paying' chore will seem large. It only takes me a few minutes to pay bills with this system. Here's what I kept and what I tossed.

-Tossed all the envelopes from bills, all I need is the bill as I bill pay online
- kept reward check, like a gift card
-kept scout shirt
-catalogs that were boring I flipped through quickly and tossed
-magazines and catalogs that I want to really look at go in my magazine bin. Once I read it, I recycle it but until I read it, it goes in my bin!
-kept Christmas Card
-kept money for scout account
-Tossed school items that were uneventful, 1 item had a lot of writing so I wanted to keep that.
-kept a magazine from school for my 4th grader

Here's my first secret. This table is rather large and is in the center of my family room. The white bin with the ribbon is my magazine bin and I read them and look at the catalogs when I watch tv. I have parties and no one has ever even noticed one of my biggest organizing secrets sitting right here, under the table.


Bend down a bit and look under my coffee table.

Here they are in full view for you. They are actually 'containers' that I think were intended as planters from Southern Living At Home, aren't they pretty?

Well at my house, the big one is my trash can and the little one is my urgent TO DO bin. Whatever comes in that needs 'action' within the next couple days goes here. I look in it daily and do what is needed and it's small and never full. My office is not far but to make life simple, there is a pen, pencil, checkbook and pad of paper inside for me!

Nothing on my table was urgent that day. Now, I should define what I think is allowed to be put in "to do". If it takes longer than 2 minutes and you need time to do it, then it should go there but the check for cub scouts that came in the mail, I just filled out a deposit slip and that is done so it didn't need to go in there. If it had been 15 checks and cash from popcorn sales, it would have gone in there! Touching it once requires that you really use your time. If I had put that check down to handle later, I would have used up more time than to just do it now!

So Where Did The Rest Go?

Here are a few spots in my office. They seem pretty and are decorative items but they have high function! The green bin has all my bills. When it's bill time, I grab the bin, pay my bills and that's it! NOTHING goes in the bin except the bill--envelopes, flyers, promo junk has all been tossed while sorting the day the bill came into the house. I literally take out 8 or so pieces of paper.

The black basket is my Pending To Do. Meaning, it isn't urgent but I need to do something with it soon or I am waiting for someone else to do something. For an example, right now, here is what is in this bin--notebook with measurements because tomorrow I need to finalize a kitchen design, stack of documents I need to hold onto until I confirm that our old insurance is completely cancelled, a school project for my son that is due Friday and I am holding onto the rules, a scouting assignment that we need to work on and info I need for a reunion I am the treasurer for. Notice that anything Pending requires action at some point. If you just want something (article, catalog, school work) those items are a reference or memory item and need a different place.

Here is where I display the kids' work that I or they love. In the black cabinet is a drawer where this year's school work is that I want to hold on to. It is not a large drawer but I do not need to keep a lot either! Their report cards and 'official' items go in a school file folder in a file cabinet but their work and art are considered memories. I have a system for memories that I wrote a while ago and you can read in detail about my school work suggestions here.

The writing assignment that I wanted to keep went on this wall and the school magazine that my son needs to read went to his desk in his room. In a week, I will find it and toss it! He is still a kid!

Sometimes newsletters come home from school and some keep them or post them. I suggest you read it and immediately put dates in your calendar and anything you need to take action on (send and item in, talk to a teacher about something) should go on your To Do list. Then toss the newsletter.

This catalog bin is by my back door and it hold catalogs that I want to hold onto. Most catalogs you can view online but unique ones like Southern Living at Home, Tastefully Simple and many many other home show sales items aren't available online so I hold onto those.

Attached to this are 2 clips. The one on the left holds things that I need to take somewhere with me. Bank deposits are almost always on there and sometimes a document I need to drop off somewhere. The one on the right holds gift cards and coupons.

The reward check that I recieved went onto the right clip and the scout deposit went on the left clip.

I have a display area for Christmas Cards so that is where that went!

The bins in my mudroom have all our scouting stuff. I am NOT a fan of letting these uniforms along with sport uniforms end up in my kids rooms as inevitably, they can't find them when you need them! Makes me CRAZY! So I control these items and they go in 2 of these bins! I toss them in the dryer to get the wrinkles out in case you wonder how I store shirts in there--it's a sacrifice I make to not have to search for them every week!

So the new shirt went straight into the bin!

The garbage went out the door! Stack is done! Writing this, it seems like a lot of info and may seem like I did a lot but the work is in setting up the system! The sorting of this stack took me 4 minutes and I was done! I told you Rule #1--Touch it Once. But Rule #2 really made this work in 4 minutes. Rule #2--A Place or everything and everything in its place! It is not a cliche, it really makes life easy!

I mentioned that I am made fun of for being organized and I am a dork in that I love systems and finding solutions and really have a passion for making life easier on myself and others! So I'm teased a bit, whatever. I was shopping in a cute boutique this weekend and saw a cute saying that I thought those of you that like to make fun of me would like. It seems that you can find a way to make fun of anyone so here you go:

Organized People
Are Just To Lazy
To Look For
Their Stuff!

Happy Sorting! And remember, TOUCH IT ONCE!

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Monday, December 8, 2008

House Tour-Home Office

This part of my House Tour is my Home Office. Though I have to tell you, it is NOT just a home office. It is a home office, craft room, tv room, mudroom, pantry and main family entry. Oh, and it gets better--it's only 7' wide. One 'issue' with a farmhouse, at least the way we made it, is that is has to be symetrical. Our house has a center and then even sides and 2 stories so 4 'boxes' exactly the same size where all the rooms fit. So if I wanted one room to be bigger, I had to widen all 4 sections. Basically, to finish this long explanation, this 'room' ended up crammed! I was rather distraught with this space as I dreamed of a huge workroom with a work island in the center but knew that it was the only 'make sense' option when I finalized the plans. I spent a lot of time while designing this space to keep it open while maximizing the storage and ensuring that every inch was used wisely. I don't think you will feel like this space has too much in it but you will notice that every inch of these walls has something built into it or something on it!

Because it is a long alley of a room, it is very hard to photograph so I will do my best!

Here is my desk which is what you see from the entry while looking through the dining room. These cabinets hold TONS! The upper cabinets are deep in order to fit drawer systems and the open display helps prevent this area from looking like a big wall of cabinets. I am a big binder girl so I love my binders being out and available at any moment. I had a plug planned for this cabinet and in the basket by my binder is all our chargers--just put in your ipod or phone and it's not out on a counter!

This area is to the right of the desk. I had fun designing this wall because it was a big challenge--the window and small area had me stumped for a while! The window seat is something I drew with my carpenter and then had him cut it and nail it and I did the rest. It has storage underneath and holds things that I don't need often but want available. The craft cabinet has lots of scrapbooking items as well as a drawer that holds this year's school work that the kids bring home that I want to keep.

Here is a view of this area from the other end of the room. You can see that across from the cabinets is a built in area that keeps ALL my craft items!
The skirt hides boring storage and hides glue sticks and other functional craft tools, scrapbook work in progress, page supplies and pending scrapbook work. Above the cabinet is my jar heaven. I blogged about this before but to keep this together for the House Tour, I'll repeat a bit! The jars don't need much explanation--any craft item I have is here. I use my ribbon weekly and love that jar! The magazine bins at the very top hold things that I call 'resources'--things that I want just in case like scrapbook magazines or catalogs for future inspiration, catalogs that I don't plan to shop from right now but want for possible future shopping, kids yearbooks, volunteer reference items that I have to hold onto, every packet of school pictures where you use 5 of them and don't know what to do with the rest, etc.
Sitting to the left of the cabinets in a fun spinning system that holds all my scrapbook embellishments and above that is where I keep my often looked at catalogs along with things I need by the door--coupons, gift cards and items I need to take somewhere such as deposits.

The pantry is pretty simple--great storage. I had an outlet put inside so my roomba is always charging and my pencil sharpener is always plugged in too, but I don't have to see it.

Here is a view from the pantry and mudroom end. The door, which is our side entrance, is in between the craft/office space and the pantry/mudroom space. At the end of this long room is our half bathroom. You can see that the side of the pantry is where I keep my calendar system. I use Outlook and print my calendar every few weeks for my family to view. That way my husband can't say he didn't know because I can then point out that the calendar is right by the door!

This mudroom area is right across from the pantry. Shoes go under the bench, and the left basket has my younger son's sports items and the right basket has things that need to go out of the house like umbrellas, sports glasses and anything that we need to take somewhere or that just belongs in our cars! The bins above have storage for things we need randomly like scouting items, cooler bag for long games, sports items, etc. The boxes above hold photos from my pre-digital days.

This space is maxed out in storage even though it is not a big room. I hope it shows you that you can get function out of any space with the right planning!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My system

I get teased. It's a problem but also an amusement. I am an organizer. I love to be organized. My brain requires I be organized. Friends recently commented that they wanted to know where 'my stuff' was. Where is 'my stash' and 'my piles'. I have systems, not stashes! I answered questions which got them going on teasing me more about how their brain hurt from all the info. It made me realize that I should probably show you instead of tell you because it is NOT that complicated. I think it is really simple. Cut and Dry. Black and White. If you have systems, there's only a few places where you need to put things.
So, Follow me through a day!
Here's my plan. I am going to be out of town all weekend. I leave Friday morning. So I will come home to several days of mail, paperwork from school, magazines, sales flyers, etc. I will show you my "process". I will photograph and list what I had to work through on Monday and publish this sometime on Tuesday! And you will see that it is not only SIMPLE but also PRETTY and NEAT! I promise, no headaches . . .

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