Saturday, January 31, 2009

work in progress

Laura at Organizing Junkie inspired me to finally take care of this:
And I work/play/plan/relax here?

Her January round-up was for the filing cabinet. I want to start by saying that I love, love, love that all the round ups for 2009 are small projects. This I can do. Or at least try.
So... what would any self respecting woman do to conquer the above mess? #1 Join a round-up. =) #2 Buy a new computer!
Something as sweet (and fast and functional and affordable of course) as this needed a clear space. I also needed a printer that actually worked. It has a copy machine too, that will be useful for the classes I teach.
To the actual round-up:
I've used the same filing system for eight years. The box in the front has clippings and things to save in ABC order. The back box is bills, teaching, insurance, etc. - what I need to open each month. I have a separate, small expanding folder for financial statements. I did this so I could grab something compact in case of an emergency like flood, fire or hurricane. Since I did not want to mess with a system that works for me, there is no "before" photo. The organizing I did here was putting papers in and taking many, many papers out to recycle or burn. (We do not own a shredder. We use the fire pit and roast some marshmallows.)

Now I get to work here:
There is a small desktop tray on the shelf that holds papers to file, bills, things for me to do, notepads. My ideal is to go through it each week. In reality I do it once a month. A goal for this year is to get more bills paperless, then I'll have less to sort.

My paper organizing spilled over to the stationary drawers.
These were both just stuffed and shuffled. (Sorry, no before pictures.) I kept what I like and gave the rest to my sisters. I know where cards' envelopes are. I know what pretty papers I have to write on. And I know to not buy my husband a Father's Day card for three years or an anniversary card for four years. Now I can write more notes and send more cards. I can actually find them.

Once I get some other projects done around the house, I hope to organize these papers.
That's three kids' home school projects for the last 18 months.

And I did not get to the desk drawer yet.

Thank you Laura for your ideas and motivation. It is so freeing to have a desk I can see, less paper clutter and things in their place.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday's Favorite picture from the summer

David shot this one. Sarah is showing me a rope invention in the tree. Leah was on the other side of the yard inspecting the garden. I'm eight days pregnant.

Perhaps this is why I struggle to find a larger house. I fell in love with my clothes line this summer. It gets great sun, great breeze and when you go in the side door, the washer's right there. Larger houses usually have smaller yards. (You only see about 1/3 of ours here.) Silly, but I'd miss my rope and little wooden clips.


things decluttered and out of this house!

I stayed up late last night and went through my files and cleared my desk. My goal for 2008 was to declutter 2008 things. Since I did not start until May, I thought I could go a bit into the new year, and wanted to see how long it took me to get to 3000. Now I'll start counting again for 2009. I found that keeping track of the numbers kept me motivated.

The house still feels cramped and small. I'm not sure where I found everything to pass on, recycle or pitch. Goodness knows there is more! It must creep in while we're sleeping. =)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


We have Girl Scouts in our family, past, present and future. It is Cookie season. (Feel free to read that with a sigh and slight tone of dread.) Sarah could not wait! (Leah cannot either. She made her own cookie chart and practiced selling tonight. Did I want a banana cookie? And what was Daddy's favorite color? She'd make him that kind of cookie. Too cute.) Today was a cookie day, and dance for Leah and school for David and Leah, but Sarah sold cookies, over 150 boxes on her first day.

The goal she set for herself is 400, but I'm guessing with a babe on the way she'll get to 200 and call it a year. But she may surprise me. She does insist that she speak with each person. No sending a chart to work with Daddy. No Mommy calling friends. She does it all. The only catch is that she needs an adult with her, and Jess and I are a bit occupied with grant proposals and babies and such.

But what a great start! Keep it up Sarah! You're the best little Brownie I know!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

To a King or not to a King

That is the most pressing question for me right now, ever since we stayed with my brother over the holidays. They let us sleep in their king size bed. Our children were on air mattresses. By the end of the second night, they were all snuggling with us. They fit!

On the one hand, our Queen works. Sarah only comes to cuddle a few times a year. David might pop in once a month for an early morning snuggle. Leah is still there numerous times each week, but she starts out on her trundle and still sleeps better next to me. Over the next six months, I expect to see her less and less. This morning, everyone is there except me. After an hour of shifting, searching for space, and knowing there was no way I could fit a newborn into the mix, I think I've made my decision.

When you come to visit and we have a guest room, you can enjoy my queen size bed. I will be sleeping soundly, surrounded by those I love the most, on a King.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

arugh! a month

So a whole month went by and I didn't post. I randomly realized today that I think it's been a year since I read a book. At this time in my life, my priorities for free time are sleeping, knitting, getting out and blogging. Reading will come back, later. You can now see how much sleeping, knitting, and getting out I've done these last few weeks. I'll be honest. I've mostly slept.

In the last month I:
finished our first energy challenge
lost all my responses to your great comments

finally left on vacation
had a weekend away with Jesse
had my van make "formula"
celebrated Chanukah
celebrated Christmas
had my entire family together (no small feat)
visited with my sister
finished Sister Scarf #7
started Sister Scarf #8, for the 29th time
visited with my Grandma
experienced winter
began nesting
felt quite isolated and lonely

If there is a link to follow in my list, there should be a back entry to go with it. That's the easiest way I could think of to get my thoughts out - baby steps.

Now I'm off to sleep - some more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

challenge results & responses

I was delighted to see our electric bill when we got home - 420 kWh! This is much nicer compared to the 505 kWh from last year. Also, our statement runs from the 19th, so our two week absence should help keep January's numbers low. In our two week challenge (from Dec. 1-15) we used 188 kWh of electricity and recycled 42 pounds of stuff.

A great big thank you to those who counted numbers with us. Yes, we planned to do another challenge in January, but the month is running away from me. Maybe I'll be up for it in February, maybe February 2010.

Also, I responded to everyone's comments, only to have the computer delete it. Sorry. So they do not get buried, I thought I'd post them here.
Tina ~ Sarah wants to do January, but I do not. I did not like the weighing aspect either. However, I used it as a math lesson for Sarah. If she weighs 45 lbs without the recycle tub in her hands and 54 lbs when holding the tub, how much does the recycling weigh? Don't forget to subtract the weight of the tub. As long as she kept tract of the numbers, it was not one more thing for me to process. We did not count compost, only metal, glass, #1 & #2 plastic, paper and cardboard.
Maya ~ No worries on having a spacey day. Most of mine are. =) Sarah does "energy checks" throughout the day and especially before we leave the house. She runs through the house and unplugs the appliances. I've seen a small difference, and every little bit helps. It sounds like you guys are doing great with your kWh usage! I don't have any tips for spending less on groceries. I'm trying to get that lower myself, but everyone keeps growing and eating more. I know that menu planning helps. When we move and are away from the menu, our grocery bill soars. I hope to tweak our menu this month and get more soups in. Jesse or I cook every night. We always have leftovers, but the amount is diminishing. (See above: little people keep eating more.)
Melina ~ You are the one who inspired me to get our usage lower. Thank you! I forgot about the dryer. I'm trying the clothes line more this winter. It's working well. It takes about two days for a load to dry, rather than two hours, but nothing is stiff, thanks to the almost constant breeze we have coming off the river. Granted, sometimes this is the result, but I do not mind.

(Our first snowfall on Nov. 21st only stuck to the few things I had left on the line.)

Heating and water heater are gas. Everything else is electric. I'd love to have a solar water heater, heat with mostly wood and cook with gas - some day...

Claire ~ If you participate, none of us stand a chance. =) You are too good! I'd love to borrow your Kill-a-Watt. thanks! The computer is almost always on standby, day and night. I plan to purchase a new one soon - a desktop with the energy use of a laptop.

Friday, January 2, 2009

winter weather

In Pennsylvania...

it is cold, bitter cold. The high was 10*. The windchill was below zero. We couldn't go out. And there was no snow. We were greeted with this today, our last morning at the farm. It was perfect for sledding, but is now gone. (Jess said he had to give them a starting push, then race down to get the picture. What a hubby to capture it for me.)
In Michigan...

everything was a sheet of ice when we arrived. A warm wind blew in on our first day, so the kids could play. They made their snowman "of the year" in the small courtyard at the convent. After visiting with Sr. Theresa Paul, they played some more. The next day it was cold again, with no more snow.
In Virginia...
everything was bright and sunny and warm. At least it was a few days before we left. We spent the entire day outside without coats or shoes. I miss these "gem" days and cannot wait to get back.