Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014-06-24 Unnumbered Progress on the Boxes and a Change in Plans

I forgot to keep track of the boxes as they are emptied.  I think around 5 or 6 are gone now.

I have been scanning and tossing.

I first picked the tax returns for my parents.  My mother used to work for the IRS (I do not know what she did there, but she knew it was important to be organized.)  At first I just noticed the amounts of money on the returns and W-2s, then there were notes about events in the family too as they related to items on the returns.  I didn't know about any of the troubles, even as recently as 2004.  I found some of my returns from when I was single and can remember my thinking on some of the items.  It was interesting to remember classes I had taken and all the consulting trips I used to take.  I picked another box to go thru and discovered stories our son wrote, pictures of events.  I put the pictures in a box in the garage with other photos as I wasn't sure what we were doing with them.  So many nice times.

Today I hit a wall though when I came to folders created when my brother was ill and when my mother was first going into independent living places.  Seeing the papers has reminded me first how disorganized I am compared to my mom and then how sad it all is when they were getting ill and declining.  Notes to and from doctors and caregivers.  Being taken advantage of by caregivers, learning to make better decisions as a result.

It's too sad to go thru those papers.  Really want is needed is a yearly letter to summarize one's life and thinking - then all these papers are not necessary.

I'm switching to going thru some teaching notebooks on reading or writing.

We have ants in expected rooms, and moles or gophers outside.  I'm feeling over whelmed with trying to stick to my plan and still having the house ready for the party in August.  I really would like to have the interior painted before then.  I also want to go to Boston for a visit - there doesn't seem to be enough time to do everything.

I'm glad we have the scanner now though....  For somethings I'm not ready to let go so scanning will give me another opportunity to read and consider and learn.

There are still at least 110 boxes to process in the living room/dining room area.

I think I will just label what I can and put things away so I have more time to get ready for the party.

It will be fun to pull out the party platters and to make food with the kids and plan for the event!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Scanning progress

I've set up the scanner now in the kitchen.  It's a sunny place and nice to not be looking at the boxes that I piled in the living room.

I have scanned only three days but am getting used to how to scan and have learned things to make the sessions easier.

First, I remove paper clips and staples and straighten the pages.  Then I feed thru the scanner in very small stacks.  Most of the time so far the papers are of different sizes and types.  I have found it saves time in the end to feed the different sized paper individually.  I just found today that I can simply push the button on the scanner (rather than moving the paper I placed on the keyboard press the continue spacebar).

Then I stack the scanned paper into either financial or not.  The financial papers need to be ripped up or shredded.  The other stuff can be put in the trash.

I check every once in a while to verify the scan is correct.

At the end of a session I bring the computer to my time machine back-up hard drive so I have two copies of the files.

I name the files as consistently as I can.  And then add information to the file name if I think it might be important.

To save time, I have set it so only the first page is turned to OCR. DH has a new program that is very quick with rescanning the files so all the words are searchable so I do not need to wait around while the data is being processed.  We tested this tonight and it works great at indexing the words so things can be found.  DH doesn't think it works for printed letters, only typed ones.

I do not have a scale to weigh how much paper I have scanned but I estimate I have gone thru three reams of paper already.  At first I was tossing all folders, but now if they are reusable I am stacking in the living room and will give away using freecycle.  Each time I scan I come up with new little tricks that seems to save time and effort.

I had been estimating a month to go thru all these boxes of paper.  At the end I will still have Christmas decorations, some office supplies, toys, photos, videos and more to deal with but they were to be packaged well, labeled and replaced so easy to find.  I had dreamt of processing everything then moving on to other areas, but now only have two weeks I think to work on this, then I need to paint the downstairs (another job I was going to do with DH, but now will hire out) as we are hosting a party for our son and his fiance the middle of August and I would like the interior of the house painted and really clean for that event.

In anticipation of that I was already going to hire a gardener to help with maintaining the yard.  Unfortunately as of about 5 days ago we have mole holes in our backyard.  It's very disappointing to have this surprise.  From what I have been reading this means we may have them for many years.  I just wonder what has changed in the neighborhood to have this issue. We have lived here for 25 years and have never seen the little holes that are appearing every day.  I will have to hire out to deal with them as I just get ill thinking about them.

So I counted the boxes I brought in the living room/dining room:

I went and tried to count the boxes (most are bankers box size) now in the living room/dining room:
14 - mostly new office supplies
18 - Christmas related including decorations, trains, turkey roaster, serving plates, little stuffed animals I used to put out
7 - Lego blocks, little chairs, board and lawn games for kids (DS)

3 - blankets, afghans, bed cover

28 - my parents or DS and my stuff mainly to scan but also some pictures and photos, the little dishes I found today and photos are here too
3 - large boxes that are all mixed up that I still need to go thru

1 - stuffed and overflowing - wedding invitations, informals, and I'm not sure what else - hopefully the list of people we invited to our wedding, probably some photos

4 - DH mom
40 - DH projects, awards, files, archives, some pictures, some disks
6 - videos, film, and audio tapes
124 boxes

Tomorrow I need to call to have estimates for painting. We are going to stick with the same colors as what we have now (light beige on walls, white for trim or cabinets).  Most of the ceilings were recently painted, but two rooms need ceilings - maybe three.  I'll have to do a walk thru.

I'm excited to have the party, but wish it could be in the fall so I didn't have to stop the processing of the boxes and going thru things.  I wanted to have things fixed and updated in the house next year after going thru things.  But now we decided to cut back on changes we were thinking of doing and just do maintaining. Since I want the interior to be painted, it would be silly to pay for the kitchen cabinets to be painted and then to have them all replaced the following year.  So I will keep what we have.  There is one change I can make that will add a nice bit of adjustable shelving.  The old microwave and wall oven can be pulled out and then a door made to cover the hole (and the brackets installed for the adjustable shelves).

So before the party hope to have interior painted, a few faucets replaced, carpets cleaned, old oven removed and door installed with brackets for moveable shelves inside.  Oh I'll have to make a list later.  Going out for breakfast with an old friend today - couldn't sleep thinking about those moles in the yard.  I'd better try to sleep again now for a while...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lose 50 Pounds in One Day!

My DH and I went to NYC for our honeymoon.  Maybe I'll write more about that later, but one of the places we went to was a bookstore where I saw and purchased The Happiness File.  It seemed a perfect book to start a marriage with!  The ideas were sound, but to put the system in place involved copying information on different colored index cards and having to move them to different sections as jobs were completed.  I was already using databases so wanted to put everything to it could be in the computer and printed, but then it was expensive to get paper to run through the printer that would end up as index cards.  The Flylady was genius as she made the system pretty much paperless, using Yahoo groups and the calendar to send reminders of what should be done.  (she does recommend a physical control journal).

See original article by Pam Young below
Any how, I subscribe to the Flylady list and receive the (many) emails.  Every once in a while one of the original authors of the system, Pam Young writes a column that is shared that way.  I can't find that she has also posted the emailed article on her site, so have copied and pasted the email below.  So this is here to remind myself and to share with you! The article talks about how she cleaned out her clothes closet for Goodwill (and so lost 50-pounds in one day).

My husband and I are doing a major house redo that is starting with finally opening boxes and seeing what's in side of them.  Some of these boxes have been in the garage in our first house, then moved here in 1994!  Now we have scanners so we are going to scan or take photos and save things digitally.  He (last month) has already pretty much done his office in this way so has a system for filing naming set up.

I'm using painters tape to label each box after I open it, and stacking them in the dining room/living room slightly arranged by topic.  (Christmas, Office Supplies, Florida, Pictures/Audio/electronics/disks, son, wedding, DH, me, teaching)  We have three rooms in the garage, so far I have only looked at the boxes in one of the rooms.  I had ten boxes that were clearly a mix of topics so I'm going thru those boxes first.

I started yesterday with three boxes, tossing duplicates and things I didn't need (I mean recipes from magazines dated 1984 and 1985!!!) and ended up with one box.  I felt badly just stacking things back in the box.  Last night I thought about it and realized I need to have boxes ready to receive things we want to keep so things are categorized when we go to scan them.  The trick will be thinking ahead on the categories so the items are only handled one last time when the scanning is done.

I could drive myself crazy trying to come up with the perfect set of categories!  I think I will start making them up based on what I find in the boxes.  I was so organized when I was teaching, but that was because I had everything organized by the instructional goals and objectives - even using numbers. But this is life and things are not as clear cut... I know the goal is to handle each paper as few times as possible, but also for things we are scanning if they named clearly then it won't matter as much if they are not on the same topic.  The reason to categorize is to see how much of one category we have.  For example: If I can see all the Christmas stuff in one place, then it's easier to find the proper boxes to store things and to see what duplicates can be given away or sold.

I have been going thru the rooms in the house following the Flylady suggestions and have made great progress with decluttering those rooms. I do the weekly vacuum, clean bathrooms and kitchen pretty much all the time so I'm set there.

The garage is a major project that will take a few weeks I think to have done.  Our garage is fitted with walls so a car can not be stored in there, instead we have boxes and boxes on portable plastic shelf units.  When my mom moved to assisted living I put up her shelves and put her boxes and boxes from my husband's mom in the garage too.  DH and I had cleaned out the garage, then my mom fell and it was clear she wasn't going to need her furniture so the furniture was put in our newly cleaned out space.  Too much stuff.

So this is the project I'm working on now.  Going thru boxes.

I started by picked the sewing/guest bedroom and going thru everything in that room.  If it was not sewing it was taken out.  I took supplies and clothes to my mom's assisted living place, supplies were put in the bathroom or garage.  But I knew in the garage I would find lots of fabric and the projects I put away to make more room for my friend who stayed here while we were in Boston last year - my clearing out the room I had room to put the items without a lot of fuss.  I started labeling the boxes after I had already put things in the closet, so there are some boxes not labeled.

Then I went thru the bathrooms and got rid of duplicates or old things so there are just a few cleaning supplies under the cupboard (still probably too much there).

I went thru the under the stairs closet first, emptied it and put things in boxes so they go together (table clothes in one box, paper plates and cups in one box, etc.).  But I did not label the boxes so will need to go back and redo that later.

So now I have pretty much emptied one of the garage rooms and put the boxes in the dining/living area.  I'm going to go thru the mixed up boxes and categorize them, then will probably start scanning to clean things out the dining/living room before starting the next two garage rooms.

So I know this is really boring stuff, but posting here to challenge myself to keep going and to finish it up this summer!

5 Decluttering Questions to Ask Yourself
Yesterday I crammed my big suitcase (the one that always weighs more than 50 pounds when I check it at the airport) with all the fall and winter clothes I hadn't worn in the last year. Actually many of the garments hadn't been worn in several years. If you haven't worn a garment in the last year, what makes you think a year from now you will?

Yes, I lost 50 pounds of clothing that was clogging my closet, and when I dropped the contents of my suitcase off at Goodwill, I felt 50 pounds lighter spiritually! Whew! I always say that clutter is the biggest destroyer of peace, and decluttering closets, cupboards and drawers brings a peace that money can't buy!

About half the stuff I'd packed in that suitcase, was just not me anymore. Like the linen, Kasper suit, that has beautiful classic lines that don't go out of style, but it just didn't fit my style anymore. (I was tickled it still fit my body!) I bought it at least 20 years ago as a speech suit and I probably spoke in it 25 times. Today when I speak, I wear casual clothes.

One dress that went in the suitcase, I'd bought to wear to a big deal occasion several years back. My good friend Marla Cilley, the FlyLady, had invited me to speak at an event put on by Yahoo to celebrate FlyLady's reaching 500,000 Flybabies through email. I think I got too excited about the affair, because the dress was more like something you'd wear if you were a queen at your coronation.

As I was packing that suitcase, knowing all this was going to Goodwill, I asked some great questions of myself and I thought it might help you if I shared the questions and my answers.

1. Has my lifestyle changed since I wore this?

In the case of the linen suit, my answer was "yes." I have a basic black dress in a polished-cotton that I can scarf up or down, (sparkly scarves for evening, pastels for spring and summer, red for winter and orange for fall).
I also quit wearing 4" heels when I speak (I always ended up kicking them off mid speech anyway).

2. How long has it been since I last wore this?

A good test of this is to put the garment on and go show your husband. As you model it for him, if he gets a confused look on his face and asks, "Is that new?" you'll know it's been too long since you've worn it and probably means you never really liked it in the first place.

3. Why have I kept this so long when I never wear it?

I had to ask this one a lot as I handled each garment that ultimately ended up in the suitcase. The answer that kept surfacing was: 'It was on sale and for that price I couldn't pass it up even if it was too small. And besides I always wanted to be a size six like Molly Cutter (a high school cheerleader who was so cute and petite). And even though I never have been (and never will be) a size six, I'm an eternal optimist.' When I heard myself use that cockamamie excuse, I knew I'd reach that point that it was time to admit, I'm a size eight and that's just fine with me.

4. What if I regret giving this up?

This question came directly from Nelly, my inner child.

"Hi Nelly, you mean what if I become a size six like Molly Cutter and I want the dress back?"

"Yeah, and it'll be gone and we'll be sad."

"Nelly if I somehow become a size six, it'll probably be because I'm very sick and all I'll need are size six pajamas."

As we grow older, we can still carry dreams or remnants of dreams we had when we were young. But thank goodness, our dreams can change and as they do, there is a peace that comes when we let go of dreams we've outgrown. Looking at that size six dress I'd never worn, I saw what power that garment had in holding me to a dream I'd outgrown. So ultimately my answer to the question, "What if I regret giving this up?" was, I won't.

5. How will streamlining my closet help me be happier?

Clutter causes stress and stress saps energy. I'm a living breathing believer that the less stuff I have the more peace I have. By streamlining my closet, I have given myself the gift of happy dressing every morning.

I feel like I have a new closet and a new wardrobe. I read somewhere that women wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. I've just allowed myself to wear 100% of my clothes 100% of the time!

Thank you for reading my blog! I hope I've inspired you to lose at least 50 pounds today and I hope you brag to your friends that you did. I believe clutter is one of the biggest sources of stress in our society. It saps our energy and raids our hearts of the natural peace we are meant to have.


For more of Pam's essays and videos please visit her website here!

  • Link to Flylady's article: Wardrobe Slimdown
  • FLYing Lesson: FlyLady’s Moving Tips  (She suggests using different color markers to indicate what room the box should be moved to. In another email someone shared the idea of getting different color tape to mark the boxes and the doors of the new house.  Orange = office, Blue = bedrooms, Pink = kitchen [sink], Green = great room.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Received: I'm a winner: Modern Quilt Perspectives by Thomas Knauer from Kelly at Stitchy Quilt Stuff

I am remiss with posting that I received this book -

Life has been very distracting lately, but it will be so nice to have this book to read and refer to for ideas for projects.  Looks like it will be good inspiration.  Thank you Kelly!

Friday, June 6, 2014