The Simplest Filing System, Ever

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After my Mom, Ruth, was so weakened by cancer (or rather, the cancer treatment) that she couldn’t take care of herself, she had to move into a nursing home. She still had her apartment full of papers waiting to be filed in her latest, complicated, color-coded, cross-referenced filing system. We called it the Ruthie Decimal System.

Mom insisted that No.2 Sis bring boxes of papers from the apartment to the nursing home. I guess it was admirable that Mom wanted to sort her papers before she died, leaving the kids less work to do. Eventually however, her roommate, Bee, got tired of the boxes encroaching on her little space. She asked No.2 Sis to quit bringing the boxes.

A couple of months later, Mom was on her death bed. She hadn’t been responsive for days when I went in to bid her goodbye. “It’s okay to let go, Mom”, I said. “We’ve finished all your filing.” She opened her eyes, turned her head toward me, and gave me a major stink-eye! How did she know I was lying?

I guess I can’t imagine how much she was suffering. Dying a slow, lingering death, without a filing cabinet in sight.

I used to be able to relate to her filing woes, but a few years ago I invented the simplest filing system ever devised. I took two cardboard boxes (see, those empty boxes do come in handy) and hot glued pretty fabric to them. Be careful, hot glue burns. That’s a story for another time. I labeled one box “Tax” and the other “OIP” (other important papers).

filing system

Tax and OIP

When I go through the mail, I put any important papers that are unrelated to taxes into the OIP box. For example, I save insurance statements, check stubs and credit card receipts. At the end of the year, I put it all in a manila envelope with “OIP” and the year written on it. The only time I’ve had to go back and dig through the envelopes is when I’ve sold or refinanced a house.

I put anything that might be needed for taxes, like charitable receipts, bank statements and W2’s, into the Tax box. At the end of the year, I bundle it up and send it to the tax accountant. When it comes back, I put it all in a manila envelope with “Tax” and the year written on it. The only time I’ve had to dig through the “Tax” envelopes is when I got audited by the IRS. It was the very next year that I hired an accountant.

The only other things you might need are a shredder and a recycling bin. The shredder is for any mail that doesn’t need to be kept, but has any personal information on it. You don’t want a  dastardly garbage thief to take advantage of you.

The recycling bin is for all the junk mail, and if you’re like me, you get a lot of it.

Recycling bin and shredder.

Recycling bin and shredder.

The finished manila envelopes can go in a filing cabinet, or in a closet, or in a box under your bed….wherever you have room and will think to look for them if they’re needed.

After Mom died and we really did finish sorting through her papers, we each took one of her color-coded three ring binders (an essential part of the Ruthie Decimal System). I got the “Entertainment” binder. Among other things, it contained half done crossword puzzles, each in a plastic page protector. Why, I ask you, why?

*Shudder* I feel a heavenly stink-eye aimed my way.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I pay all my bills by automatic withdrawal from my bank account. I’ve saved countless amounts in late charges, and I don’t need an “Action” box in my filing system.

p.p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.

And Chic on a Shoestring.

And I Heart Organizing.

 

Focus….Ooh, Something Shiny!

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My Mom, Ruth, decided to retire in June of her 65th year. Then she invited Aunt P. to visit in June so they could attend their high school reunion together. Mom immediately informed her employer that she was retiring in January instead of June, because she needed five months to clean her apartment. One room per month. That should be perfect, right?

I have decluttered four rooms in my house, so far. They’re the same rooms Mom wanted to clean and declutter before her reunion: bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen. The fifth room is the dining room. In Mom’s house that was a corner of her eat-in kitchen. In my house it’s a full-sized clutter tornado. All of my room have grown messy again, because I’m not very good at maintenance. So today, I want to clean/declutter them again. All five rooms, today. That should be perfect, right?

We’ve talked about my lack of focus before. I found a simple check list on this website, Fabnfree, to help me focus on one room at a time instead of running all over the house and, without fail, getting distracted by something shiny.

Queen bathroom: 35 minutes

Cluttered bathroom

Cluttered bathroom

I started with smallest and easiest room, the Queen Bath. I threw away a bunch of stuff I haven’t been using since the original declutter, and I packed up a few things for Goodwill. I put the rest away. It looks even better than the first declutter, which took days, if not weeks!

Ta Da!

Ta Da!

Kitchen: 55 minutes

Buried kitchen.

Buried kitchen.

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I decided to do the kitchen next, because I’ll be picking up dirty dishes in each room. (If you link to Fabnfree’s list, you’ll see she says to pick up dirty laundry in each room. Dirty dishes are a much bigger issue for me). I want to get the dishwasher unloaded so the stray dishes don’t just pile up on the counters, which are already overflowing.

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Clean kitchen

Beautiful and Organized again!

And now I’m ready for supper, and I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to mess up my beautiful kitchen so soon after cleaning it!

I may be able to get another room done after supper, but I’ll save that for the next post. I think Fabnfree’s checklist kept me very focused, and I feel like I accomplished a lot. You should check it out if you’re easily distracted like I am.

One last thing, I waited too long (more than an hour) to take my latest bags and boxes to Goodwill. I changed my mind and retrieved the yards of beautiful blue velvet fabric fit for a Queen. I do have a use for it though. No.2 Sis is having a Mary Kay open house in a few weeks, and I’ll be presenting some of my hand-made earrings for sale. The blue velvet will be perfect for covering my display table.

And lest you think this may have altered my bag count, rest assured. I put the remainder of the bag of fabric in an uncounted, half-full box, thereby filling it up. My bag count remains exactly the same, 204.

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

Final (For Now) Patio Project Pix

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The Minnesota weather is holding really well for October, but I may as well pack the patio furniture into the garage for the year. I wanted to share the final (for now) photos first.

See the before picture here.

Patio

Patio

The pillows are from Amazon (buy here), as is the rug (buy here), while the patio set is an old one that I put MANY layers of new paint on.

Next spring I’ll get some plants potted. I’ll fix the patio door too, so I can water the plants without having to hike all the way around the house. The plants’ odds for survival increase in direct proportion to how convenient it is for me to take care of them.

Patio table

Patio table

I’m loving the cobalt blue, or as it’s sometimes called, Majorelle Blue. See the original Majorelle Blue here.

Moroccan lantern

Moroccan lantern

The lantern is from Amazon (buy here). I bought the plate in New Orleans.

Moroccan vase

Moroccan vase

The Moroccan vase was a gift from No.8 Sis. It’s a survivor of last week’s purge.

Stay tuned….

p.s. I shared this post at Cozy Little House.

And at DIY By Design.

And Chic on a Shoestring.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!

4 Simple Steps to Decluttering…204

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I’ve been going through boxes in the garage and getting rid of a lot of junk. But I still found myself bringing a boat-load of boxes of stuff back into the house. I’ve come up with 4 simple steps to further declutter.

  1. Pick a finite area you want to declutter.
  2. Pile like items with like.
  3. Pick your favorites out of each pile.
  4. Get rid of the rest.

Oh, stop with the wailing and gnashing of teeth! I’ll show you how it’s done.

1. My finite area: the boxes from the garage.

boxes of craft supplies

Can. Not. Keep.

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2. The piles. After unloading the boxes, I found I had these major categories:

Books

Books

Papers

Papers

Jewelry making supplies

Jewelry making supplies

blue velvet

Sewing supplies

Scarves

Scarves

Decor

Decor

 

3. My favorites.

  • I boxed up half the modern books, but I still have to go through Great-aunt Helen’s old books. Yes, I’m procrastinating. Yes, I said it was simple. I didn’t say it was easy.
Helen's books

Most of Helen’s books

  • I threw away and recycled some of the papers, maybe 25%? The rest is in the bin so I can put it away in the art studio. The prints are of a sketch I made of Split Rock lighthouse (say that 10 times fast), on Lake Superior.
Split Rock lighthouse

Remaining papers

  • I’m keeping all of the jewelry supplies. Don’t try to make me feel guilty.
  • I bagged half of the sewing supplies, including many yards of beautiful blue velvet, fit for a queen.
Remaining sewing supplies

Remaining sewing supplies

  • I bagged half of the scarves, partly because I’m feeling a bit guilty about not paring down the jewelry making supplies.
Remaining scarves

Remaining scarves

  • I boxed over half the decorative items, and I’ve got to admit, I almost started wailing and gnashing my teeth! I brought the pitcher and trivet all the way from Portugal. I bought the iron cross in New Orleans, the year before Katrina flooded the city. I bought the pipe from an Indian reservation way out west, decades ago. I used to collect pipes, but I gave most of them to a Native American friend years ago, and this was the last one. This was the toughest pile out of all of them.
Remaining decor...sigh

Remaining decor…sigh

4. Get rid of the rest.

  • I got 2 boxes and a bag packed, which brings my total to 204. I put it in the car (Gypsy Blue), and I’ll take it to the nearest donation center this weekend.

Like me, you may feel torn. You may feel sad, or angry. That’s normal.  Over time, the pain will ease and the memories will fade.

One last bit of advice. Some people suggest taking a picture of a beloved item before getting rid of it. Don’t do it. It will be a constant reminder of what you no longer have. Make a clean break, and don’t look back. You’ll be okay, girl, you’ll be okay.

Stay tuned….

p.s. I shared this at:

Chic on a Shoestring

Classy Clutter

Cozy Little House

I Heart Organizing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Work If You Can Get It

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No.8 Sis called me at work late yesterday afternoon. She said if I could meet her at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul, she had an extra theater ticket I could use. How lovely! A friend had given her two tickets for “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, a touring Broadway show. She was going to take The Mister out for a date night, but he had some sort of bug. Bad for him, good for me.

I grabbed a bite to eat and drove downtown, right to the big River Centre parking ramp. I asked the attendant on the way in where the Ordway was. He waved vaguely at the River Centre Auditorium and said, “On the other side of the River Centre”. By the way, I know I’m spelling it centre instead of center. Apparently it was named by a Canadian.

I took a left and started around the auditorium. That was my first mistake. It was blocks before I could cross the street to make the next turn. I passed by the soup kitchen, with 30 or so shaggy men waiting outside, some fighting, some mumbling, some just rocking. Um, getting a little nervous here.

I saw a sign for Rice Park, 3 blocks to the right. I thought the Ordway was on Rice Park. Well that can’t be right, because I see Landmark Center (thank you for the proper spelling) straight ahead, and I KNOW the Ordway is right next to Landmark Center.

So I kept walking and walking, but there was no park, and nothing at all familiar. Oh crap, that wasn’t Landmark Center I was approaching, that was a church.

Maybe the sign for Rice Park was right after all. I turned right, tangled myself up in some sidewalk construction, and moved into the street. I passed a woman pushing someone in a wheelchair, right before I realized I was at the back of the Landmark Center. So close!

I came around the front of the building, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? The Ordway Center for Performing Arts a block ahead! And the woman pushing the wheelchair just going into the door! How the hell did she get so far ahead of me, so fast?

No matter. I got to the theater lobby, found No.8 Sis right away, and thoroughly enjoyed the play. It’s a musical comedy set in the Roaring Twenties. All the tunes are Gershwin, the acting is a slapstick hoot, and the singing is fantastic! If you’re in the neighborhood, go see “Nice Work If You Can Get It”.

Don’t ask the parking attendant for directions.

Stay tuned…

 

201

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I’ve been on my low-carb program for 6 weeks and I’m completely off my 2 oral diabetes meds, and completely off of insulin! My blood sugar readings are great! I’m doing my happy dance, la, la, la….oh my knees! My knees!

Also, I’ve gotten rid 201 bags, boxes, and pieces of furniture since January! I’m doing my happy dance, la,la,la….safely from my chair.

I brought in these boxes from the garage to go through them again. Obviously, it’s too much to keep.

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boxes of craft supplies

Can. Not. Keep.

I haven’t gotten very far. I’ve only gotten one more box of donations packed up. However, I went back into the garage and filled up the recycling bin to overflowing. More broken down cardboard boxes. I counted that as 4 bags. I would normally count the recycling bin as 6 bags, but there’s some of last week’s cardboard jammed in the bottom. I’ll have to crawl in and fish it out if it doesn’t come out during the next pick-up.

You may or may not be wondering where all the cardboard came from if I haven’t gone through very many boxes this week. Well, I’m a Hoarder, Third Class.

A First Class Hoarder has piles of junk (paper, clothes, boxes, who knows?), garbage, like food waste, and possibly human waste. A First Class Hoarder is the kind of person who wonders what happened to Fluffy, and years later finds Fluffy’s dessicated corpse under a pile of crap.

A Second Class Hoarder has piles of junk and garbage (food wrappers, etc) around the house. The plumbing still works, so there’s no human waste, and they haven’t had any pets mysteriously disappear.

A Third Class Hoarder has piles of junk everywhere. It isn’t pretty, but it’s not life threatening. My Mom was a Hoarder, Third Class, as well. When she divorced her second husband (Step-Wienie), my siblings helped her move her things out of their little home (trailer). She was packing the rental van full of box after box after box. No.4 Sis went to rearrange them and found they were all EMPTY. Mom was packing empty boxes, because she “might need them someday”.

This is all a very long way to say that I was able to refill the recycling bin because a large part of the garage is covered in EMPTY BOXES! Because I thought I might need them for something, someday. And filling the bin two weeks ago, and filling the bin this week, is not going to finish off the empty box hoard. It will take at least one more pick-up just to get rid of the empty boxes. That’s even if I don’t go through any more packed boxes.

Oh my Goddess, when did I turn into Mom? How depressing! But, but, but….I’m off of my diabetes meds!!! And I’ve gotten rid of 201 boxes/bags!!! Happy dance, la, la, la!!!

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Card Hack

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I was kind of slouched down in bed, reading, when Bella the cat climbed into my lap, as she often did. But this time, she used my soft belly as a trampoline and vaulted herself to the end of the bed. The force of her hind feet pushed the air out of me with a big “Oof”! Not cool, Bella. She came back and I thought she’d lie down now, but no, she vaulted again, trying to improve her distance. Then she came back again! No, no, no. Well, one more time and that’s it!

It’s a good thing I don’t read while laying on my stomach. If she had vaulted off of my full and generous bottom, she might have hit the wall and concussed herself.

I brought the “keeper” boxes, the things I thought I couldn’t live without, in from the garage. I’m going through them again with the goal of paring them down by half.

I found some little gift cards from many, many Christmases ago. I figured I’d donate them, since my family, friends and I don’t exchange gifts anymore. We’re all trying to live more simply and get rid of our clutter. But then No.2 Sis came up with a brilliant idea. Why not cut the backs off the little cards and mount them on a standard size card? Voila, easy peasy Christmas cards!

snowflake emboss Christmas cards GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I made a Stampin’ Up Very Vanilla base card. Then I embossed some Real Red card stock with a snowflake pattern and glued that onto the base card.  I mounted the little gift cards on the red card stock with SU dimensionals. I love how they turned out. I wish I was a better photographer, so you could love them too!

I’ll keep practicing 🙂

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.

p.p.s. I also linked this to Tiny Sidekick.

p.p.s. I also linked this to Chic on a Shoestring.

p.p.p.s. I also linked this to Summer Scraps.

 

 

196

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Mission Accomplished! Well, if  you understand mission to mean the kitchen cabinet reorganization, not the garage cleanup (the garage keeps hurting my back). And if you understand accomplished to mean pretty nearly done (or as Dad would have said “purtner done”), then…Mission Accomplished!

I created a food prep station to the left of the fridge.

Before

Before

Food prep / cutting station.

Food prep / cutting station.

Upper cabinets...food storage containers, salad spinner, measuring cups, and grater.

Upper cabinets…food storage containers, salad spinner, measuring cups, and grater.

Lower cabinet...mixer, immersion blender, new food processor.

Lower cabinet…mixer, immersion blender, new food processor.

I keep wanting to call that food processor (buy here) a word processor.

I left the cups in the food prep cupboard because the tea cabinet is just to the left. I put the hot pot (buy here) just under the tea cabinet so it could have its very own outlet. No more mixing up cords!

Tea cabinet and hot pot.

Tea cabinet and hot pot.

To the right of the stove is the cooking station, naturally. The upper cabinet houses spices and oils, etc. You’ve seen that before. You haven’t seen the lower cabinet.

Before

Before

Cooking / grilling station.

Cooking / grilling station.

pots and pans

Lower cabinet, below cooking station.

To the left of the stove is…the everything that’s left station? Um, the plating and planning station. There, that sounds much better.

serving dishes and cookbooks

Upper cabinet, before.

messy pots and pans

Lower cabinet, before.

Here’s the planning part, with the cookbooks. I got rid of a bunch of them.

cookbooks

Plating and planning station.

Upper cabinet, every day dishes and serving dishes.

Upper cabinet…every day dishes and serving dishes.

Lower cabinet...coffee maker and accoutrements, and mini and maxi crocks.

Lower cabinet…coffee maker and accoutrements, and mini and maxi crocks.

I love that mini crock for dips (buy here).

During all this rearranging I packed up 5 more boxes to donate. That brings my count to 196. I feel like I have a brand new kitchen!!!

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.

p.p.s. I linked this to Chic on a Shoestring Decorating.

p.p.p.s. I linked this to I Heart Organizing.

p.p.p.p.s. I linked this to Home Stories A to Z.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!