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Making A File Calendar: You NEED One

I used to have this file calendar. I don’t remember WHERE I got it from but it saved my bill paying life.

I hung it in the kitchen. It has files on each month, ones where you can rip out the file at the end of the month to store. As bills or whatnots came in, I slipped them into the folder to be gone through at the end of the week. It made life much, much easier.

When I went to go buy one for this year, there were none to be had. Even online, they were either really expensive or on backorder. Sonofabitch. So, I did what I do: I devised a plan to make my own.

First, let me tell you, this isn’t an all in one 12 month calendar. You’ll have to switch them out at the end of the month, HOWEVER, the file should be going into the filing cabinet anyway, so that’s not a big deal for me.

Here’s what I did:

I bought a pack of pretty color file folders. Actually, I sent the Texan out to do this. There were just a couple bucks.

There’s kind of a problem with these. They’ve got lines on the front. Where I planned on putting the actual calendar.

That’s ok. I’ll use the back. Crisis averted.

Now punch a hole in the top back (or in this case the front) where you are going to want to hang it from.

Now, staple the CRAP out of the sides of it. This will make sure the pocket stays closed so you can slip your bills in it.

On the blank side, take a ruler and draw in pencil the calendar. I do it in pencil and then go over it in marker, that way I can erase if I mess up.


Now, that should be the end of it. But it wasn’t.

First, I didn’t liked the way it looked.

Second, doing all that was too much of a pain in the butt to do for all twelve months.

Third, I’d put the staples on the wrong side, the sharp end was facing out. Duh.

Fourth, I realize that little hole I punched was just going to rip from the weight of everything that was going to be in there. So, take two.

This time, I printed out calendars from the internet. Printable2012calendars.com had exactly what I wanted.

I cut the edges off and the month’s name so it would fit the front of the calendar AND cover up those lines.

I then reinforced where I was going to punch the hole. I did this by putting some electrical tape where the hole would be THEN punching a hole through that. It’s not the most perfect reinforcement, but it works.

Do it to the other side too

NOW punch the hole

Now I could have glued the calendar on. But I didn’t wanna. I saw the pretty colored electrical tape, which I’d bought because they were out of black. Glad they were! I decided to use that to secure my calendar onto the folder.

Staple it up the sides again, label it with the month and you’ve got yourself a file folder calendar.

You can get REAL creative with this, using pretty paper or different tape, stamps, whatever. To me, I wanted to have a little fun but functionality was key. Here are some more I made.

Use whatever you have on hand. I just happened not to have any file folders so I had to buy some, but regular office manilla ones will do fine.

It just makes the mail clutter SO SO much easier for me. Receipts and bills don’t get lost. Yes, I know, I could do online statements, and I do for a lot of them. But I’m absent minded and sometimes they don’t send out those bill reminders via email the way they should, so this ends up SO much easier for me.

Plus, it lets you flex your creative muscles a little bit. See what you’ve got around the house. I almost tried to do this with paper plates. I’ve made mail hangers with paper plates before. But being such as I have no children living in the house, I couldn’t really pass that off as a school art project and make the paper plate wall hangings look appropriate in my otherwise pretty obviously adult centered living room.

Yep, I’m THAT Anal: Another Cheap Way To Organize Your Sh*t

Ok, so some people call me really anal. Organized. I’m really not. I thrive on chaos. Well, certain kinds of chaos.

I am the most classic believer in A place for everything and everything in it’s place. Why? Is it because I’m overly obsessed with a clean house?

No. LOL. My dusty baseboards can tell you that.

What I’m NOT a fan of is spending 809283098 minutes trying to find something and having SO much sh&t in my house that everything doesn’t have a damn place. That’s what I’m not a fan of.

In my humble opinion, life is too damn short and precious to eek out 5 minutes of my time 100 times a day going “where is this? where is that?” and fumbling through cabinets and drawers trying to find something stupid. I’d rather spend time doing something I WANT to be doing be that cooking, being outside, spending time with family, whatever. I may WANT to make that country fried steak but I don’t want to spend 20 minutes out of the hour it takes searching for the ingredients.

It’s all a matter of time murder. Every time I have to fumble to find a sheet, a towel, a battery, the salt, or a light bulb, time is being murdered from me. It may only be little minutes here and there but they add up. At the end of my life I’m not going to say “Gee, wish I would have spent MORE time trying to find the wide tooth comb.” No.

So to me, quick and easy ways to organize things and keep them that way are SO worth it. SO worth it. I AM one of those people who will make “smaller” things and store “bigger” things even though it takes extra space just so it’s easily found and reachable. Let me explain.

I’ll buy a big can of coffee. But I don’t want the coffee cluttering up the kitchen cabinet, or the freezer, since we don’t go through coffee THAT fast. So I will repackage SOME of that coffee into a smaller container, in the cabinet, clearly labeled, and put the big can in the pantry. Ironically, this saves me time and space. I don’t have something huge cluttering up my precious kitchen cabinets. I don’t have to fumble to drag the can out from behind 8 million other things, it keeps more MORE aware of how much I have because I have to refill it every few weeks and it’s nicely placed exactly where it’s easy to get to.

Food, especially, is not always packaged in a way that’s conducive to storage. Know that now. Many times these packages are HUGE because half of them are air. That’s wasted space and more issue to lug out. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to repackage chips for lunches in smaller baggies that you can grab and toss into the lunch box than it is to have a huge, half air bag of chips in the cabinet going stale that you’ll have to re package anyway and end up with another half the bag of broken chips. I like to do it all at once and save the grief. I also KNOW how much I’ve got then, no more “I thought I had more” BS.

So, enter lunch and the kitchen cabinet. I hate making lunches. I really do. It’s an annoying ritual. And I really do like to grab and go. I also like to be able to distinguish “snacks” for me (low carb) and “snacks” for the ones with working beta cells. It creates less temptation for me and tends to keep their paws off things that are very obviously for lunches.

All this lunch stuff is also kept in the same cabinet with my soups, my dried foods, canned stuff, crackers, dinner items, etc. So it gets a little hectic. Let me show you.

You can see my feeble attempt at having bins that can just be slid out. It didn’t work. All the stuff doesn’t fit in there. Baggies or not. I was always digging and GOD I hate digging. It’s another waste of time.

So, I got a brilliant idea.

I often use plastic containers, take out style, in my business for different items. They are all around a useful little tool. Think the containers that egg drop soup come in. They are available at most any food supply store. Try Gordon Food Service, Costco, etc. They are inexpensive, effective, easily cleaned and cute as hell too. Or I always thought so.

So that’s what I started doing. Putting things in those little containers. They come generally in 3 sizes. A squat 8oz, a taller 16oz, and a big ass 32oz. They stack wonderfully. Nothing falling over because they are all the same size diameter. It’s wonderful. They can also be easily labeled and relabeled, they are pretty air tight, they are a glorious little thing.

So I started putting my dried apples, vegetables, banana chips and the like in there. I put some “lunch snack” items in the smaller containers so I can just grab and throw them in. Hopefully they’ll bring back the containers but if not, I won’t cry about it. Candies, crackers, maybe little serving sizes of chips. The possibilites there are endless.

I also stored drink mixes, coffee, loose teas and creamers in them too and boy did THAT free up a lot of space. Drink stuff usually likes to come in fat tubs, which are impossible to stack because they have rounded tops.

My “drink” cabinet looks much better.

Halfway through the snack cabinet looked much better. I had tons more room too. Mind you even here, everything is pushed to the front, the back is nearly all empty on the second shelf.

And that’s only half done. See how much easier that’s gonna be? They are clear, easily seen, easily labeled. YAY! I’m jazzed.

Now they (me too) can just grab and go when they want something. No more guessing.

This will work for nearly anything, don’t just think snacks. Think makeup, in the fridge items like cut up fruit, under the bathroom sink, jewelry, anything.

I resent and refuse the idea that organization takes ass tons of money and a day time television show. I understand the need for aesthetics, yes, so decorate them if you have to. Draw on them with pretty marker or add paper if you really have to. Me, for the inside of a cabinet, I could care less as long as it’s functional.

And now I sleep a little better knowing I don’t have to worry about time murdering on the snack front at least. More time for me to do something I don’t hate.

So, am I really anal? Or am I just really good at prioritizing?

Cheap Ways to Organize Your S*#t

Clutter bothers me. Doesn’t mean I don’t have it, it just bothers me. I’m not completely anal when it comes to organizing or anything. More, it’s that I find when things are NOT organized, I waste SO much time. It’s a time murderer.

I hate digging through drawers to find the measuring cup, which adds 5 minutes to my already pressed schedule. I’d rather know where something is and know I can go get it at any time. It’s a glorious feeling.

I live with men whom, for as much I love them heart and soul, organizing is sort of lost. I find socks in my freezer. I’m not kidding.

I’ve started CLEARLY labeling things. I’ve gone a little apesh*t with the labelmaker you could say. This way there is no excuse. As long as you are able-bodied and you can read, you know where things go.

If you are anything like me, there are places in your house that just piss you off to no end because no matter what you do, they are chaos. I have a couple of those places. You know, the junk drawer or your bedroom closet. One of mine is my linen closet in the bathroom. It drives me insane, no matter what I do, it’s ALWAYS chaos.

I keep the change of bed sheets in there. So every time I go to change the sheets it’s a strange dance of me trying to find the fitted sheets and everything falling out of the closet when I finally grab one (which is inevitably at the bottom of the pile somehow). Then trying to find a pillow case and the same thing happens. It frustrates me. It makes me angry. I’M JUST TRYING TO CHANGE THE SHEETS!

I’ve tried nearly everything: Creative ways to fold them, rolling them, stacking them all nicely. One little blurb I read somewhere said something about tying your sheet sets together with “pretty” ribbon. Really? F*@k that. So that I can watch my beautiful sheet art that I so carefully wrapped end up on the floor of the closet, ribbon a-fray, because someone else wanted to just one pillowcase? NO WAY.

I needed something that would be functional and easy. And cheap. I’d RATHER it look pretty too, just cause I like aesthetics to a point, but it wasn’t a requirement.  I refuse to go to these “organize your home” sites because it’s a bunch of people with way too much money preaching nonsense most of the time, or trying to sell you something. I let it stew in my head for awhile and figured the answer would hit me. I knew baskets wouldn’t work, they were usually too wide for my shelves, not tall enough or not stable enough. Ditto on the plastic bins. And I really didn’t want to run to the damn store and buy more crap to store the crap I already had. I’m not a fan of consumerism.

It did hit me finally. It did.

It’s the holidays, so I have 8 million trillion boxes I got in the mail. You know the ones that you get your mail order stuff in. Brown ones, priority ones, all kinds of ones. I generally put them all in one place until recycle day, then they go to the curb. Or I use them as kindling in the fire. Then I had a little epiphany: I can use those.

They can be used just on their own, but I wanted to decorate mine. For a couple of reasons:

1. I had scrapbook paper I needed to get rid of

2. I needed a reason to take a break from baking cookies

3. I like the idea of my organization being home-made, and nice looking.

So, if you are the kind of person that’s ok with just having boxes there as storage, go for it. But I didn’t want mine to look like used Christmas boxes. Just follow me, you’ll see.

First I took a used mailing box, I do believe I got Mr. Super’s present in this one:

I then had a bunch of scrapbook paper, 12×12 size, that was just sitting in one of my drawers.

And then I cut them into strips and different sizes with a paper cutter, because I totally suck at cutting in a straight line.

Then I grabbed glue. I like this kind of glue

And I grabbed a strip of paper and put glue all over the back of it. I started with the corners of the box, because I figured those would be the biggest pain in the ass. They were.

The good thing about this glue was that it dried clear. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to be neat about it. I just kept putting strips of paper on the corners and worked my way in.

To fill up the sides of the boxes I used scraps, or cut the long strips in half. It really didn’t take long at all, maybe 5-10 minutes per box.

I then decided how many boxes I would need, and what they would be for. So I cut a little strip of paper, turned it over to the white side, wrote the name of what was to be in the box on it in black marker and glue that to the front. So it turned out something like this:

And about an hour later, I had boxes for all the stuff in my closet

That’s so much better! Much more organized, though by no means perfect. And totally free.

Except…do you see that on the top shelf? Do you see that? Next to the humidifier? The black and silver thing. You know what that is, dear readers? DO YOU KNOW!?

IT’S A COMPUTER MOUSE! AND ITS NOT MINE! Why the HELL is a computer mouse in the bathroom closet? Your guess is as good as mine. And THAT is part of the reason why I did this. Not that pretty labeled boxes are going to stop somebody from putting some DUMB shit where it doesn’t belong, but one can always hope!

Have A Chuck Fest & Other Nonsense

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a very strange reaction to any drama in my life. Some people drink. Other people cry. Even some other people shop. I have what I call “chuck fests.” I start throwing shit out, donating it, all together getting rid of it. It’s a reaction. It’s an odd one.

I could be in the middle of an argument, in the middle of some emotional or financial drama, and all I can think about is all the crap in my house I could get rid of. My BFF has told me that makes sense to her: A sudden need to eliminate things out of my house as a metaphor for eliminating things out of my life, including the current drama. Ok. I’ll buy that for a dollar. I also have random chuck fest itches when nothing is going on. Just…out of the blue.

I do hate clutter. It breeds. It also means shopping. No one gets clutter without shopping. Shopping in this country, consumerism as a whole, has gotten WAY out of hand. WAY out of hand. Let’s go buy some cheap (or expensive crap) that we “need” because we don’t know what “need” means and because it will somehow fulfill my life (it won’t). I’m not judging, I’ve done the same thing myself.

But now in my 30’s, I’ve grown to HATE shopping. I HATE IT HATE HATE IT! Truth be told I never really “liked” it, but now I despise it. The only time I really like shopping is if I’m at a farmer’s market or a natural food place because I’m a foodie. It’s also depressing cause who the hell can afford $21 a pound steak.

Yet people continue to buy and buy and buy. Then they complain about their debt, their clutter, their mess, their unhappiness.  When you are surrounded by crap, packed into your own house like a rat, you aren’t going to be a happy person. Everything is going to take longer to do and it eventually takes a toll on the psyche. We are animals, make no mistake, and most likely meant to live most of our lives outdoors in the open, not surrounded by dollar store junk from Ikea.

The toll it takes on the pocketbook, on the environment, on the psyche, on the workers who have to produce this stuff has all but made me not go shopping unless I have to and always check thrift stores before I head to a mass retailer. That’s not the only reason. I too have a lot of clutter.

I went through a “I could use that” phase several years back. Tag that on with all the stuff I inherited from my mother when she passed, a love of all things crafting and cooking and a weekly trip to the thrift store, a coupon addiction AND a business at home…well, you get the idea. Not pretty.

I started giving in to my chucking instinct. Give this away, toss that, get rid of that. I don’t need it. And I don’t miss it either. Feels good to have the negative space, the room in the cabinets and drawers. It’s easy to clean and organize. I’ve still got chucking to do. I will always have chucking to do.

Mr. B thinks I’m insane when I do this. He keeps telling me that the house does NOT have clutter. The Texan tries to explain over and over that the less stuff in the house, the easier it is to take care of. BINGO! There it is. I’ll admit, the holidays are NOT the best time to have a chuck fest itch with everything else going on. But I’ve learned chuck fests need not take long.

The following tips are just that, tips. Maybe they will help you. Maybe not. What I WON’T do is push some sun shiny happy slappy self help bubble gum psychology you’re ok I’m ok rainbows up your ass. That stuff never helps, all is does is sell books and make people feel bad for not being a shiny happy person. I live in reality. I am not a shiny happy person. I am not a miserable person. I am pretty damn happy, actually. I don’t need to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m beautiful and that I’m “worth it.” Worth what?! I know I’m awesome. And you should know you are awesome too (provided that you are…just kidding). Screw all the shit in between. I don’t think giving someone tips on decluttering their house has anything to do with teaching them how to have confidence. SO many organizing sites I’ve been to have the M.O.  “Throw it out cause you are worth it!” WORTH WHAT?! WHAT THE &#(@ ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME HAVING TOO MANY #*$&@* BATH TOWELS?

I have faith in humanity enough to say that I don’t think MOST people need someone to take them by the hand and whisper sweet ego boosting bullshit in their ear to get them to throw away a fallen apart make up case they’ve had since 1989. I don’t know, guess it just doesn’t jive in my head or something. If someone is a hoarder and truly has a psychological issue (which I think happens more than we think) ok, I can see getting some real help in there. But blowing sunshine up someone’s butt isn’t helping, it’s just being cheesy. Most likely for a buck.

There is a SERIOUS lack of sites out there for what I call “people like me.” I can’t stand Oprah. I have nothing against the woman as a person, but ok really. “Aha moment?” I kept hearing that every time her show got flipped on. She had an “AHA” moment. So?! It’s called an epiphany, which I’m guessing the networks think is too long a word to use for us stupid Americans? But one cannot POSSIBLY have a GRAND life changing epiphany every 5 seconds like this woman. Even if you did, would they stick? I’ve gotten those before, and they are all grand and beautiful in the moment, and then 2 days later you’ve forgotten cause either it wasn’t as important as you thought or it was too damn hard to keep up with.

How about just telling it like it is. I’m going to give you tips on how to declutter your living space. Period. That’s it. I’m NOT going to tell you while you do this you are going to lose tons of weight, be more attractive, be absolutely happy, and it will get you on the road to the life you want. Maybe you have the damn life you want, have they ever thought of that? Or maybe you don’t want somebody giving you stupid ass promises they can’t keep and you just want some real life tips on HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR DAMN LIVING SPACE. Really? When did pop psychology become so pervasive. ANYWAY.

I shall teach you, dear reader, how to have a chuck fest that doesn’t take up all your time.

Rules for a chuck fest

1. You don’t HAVE to be in the mood. If you have things that need chucked, get to chuckin’, it won’t take long.

2. Decide on a time frame. Do you have ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? Grab your cell phone and set an alarm because you aren’t doing it for longer than that alarm. If you do you will get tired, eventually burn yourself out and not want to do it ever again. Trust me on this.

3. Don’t pick a project that’s going to take longer than your time limit. If you set your time for ten minutes it’s probably NOT a good idea to go through your closet. Maybe part of your closet.Pick something small like a shelf or a drawer. Don’t start just pulling shit out willy nilly because you’ll just overstimulate yourself. You can even go room to room with trash bag and pick stuff up randomly without ever having to “take something apart.”

4. Do not be afraid to chuck. Donate. Throw away. Whatever. No excuses. No, no one on ebay is going to want your mustard green hair dryer from 1981. You are having a psychological response to reason with yourself as to why you would keep such a thing and then giving yourself desperate excuses to keep it, because we all know you’ll never sell it on ebay. Even if you did, you wouldn’t get anything for it by the time they take out their seller’s fees, paypal fees, listing fees and shipping. Get rid of it. You’ll like the empty space it creates. If it is not truly beautiful or useful, toss it. You don’t need it.

5. You don’t owe your stuff anything. So you bought 5 bottles of conditioner on sale and you realized half way through the first one that you don’t like it. Get rid of it. I would tell you to give it to a friend but it’s too easy to leave it sit there until the friend comes to pick it up (a friend who probably doesn’t want your crap anyway), so just toss it. Either throw it out or give it to a thrift shop (they will take personal care items). You don’t owe your conditioner anything. You made a mistake. You wasted money, ok, granted, but now you know now to do it again. The “I can use this” mentality is dangerous because you also never DO use it, no matter how much you promise yourself. You can’t USE everything you claim to be able to use. Deal with it.

6. Do not attempt to organize anything right now. “Organize” is a fancy excuse for most people to go buy more shit they don’t need like dollar store plastic bins and BS like that. Just put things back neatly for now. Wipe a shelf or two. Then once you get that whole area properly chucked (NOT IN ONE DAY!) you can go back and decide if there is something you can do to make it a little more palatable to you, if it needs it.

7. Go take all the crap you just got rid of and either put it in your car to donate or put it in the trash. Do it. Now. Because you won’t do it later.

8. Be satisfied in the knowledge that you really didn’t get rid of anything you are going to cry over and absolutely need one day. You have more sense than that. You aren’t going to get rid of your mother’s wedding ring or your kids first pair of shoes or your fridge or anything. I wager that you are smarter than that.

That’s it. That’s the start at least. Do this a little everyday. Every other day. When you can fit it in. It’ll get done, just pace yourself.

Please, for the love of god and everything holy, don’t use this as an excuse to go buy or download organizers and worksheets and nonsense of the like. I mean, if you do need an organizer, yay for you. You can get one on your phone. If you need an organizer and actually USE one, you likely already have one and are using it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have one but would like to be one of those people who DOES use one.

I’ve always been in love with the idea of having an organizer for everything. I’ve even tried that. Scheduling and organizing everything from my business to my home life to my cleaning to my crafts. Quite a bit of money and a lot of guilt later I figured out: I am so not that type of person and I was using creating that little organizer as a way to procrastinate thinking about the house I had to clean, the work I had to do and the thought that maybe I didn’t WANT everything in my life scheduled that way. I kinda like doing what I feel, and as long as my house isn’t trashed, my closets aren’t brimming over, my finances are in order, I’m healthy and happy, well, that’s good enough for me. My life really isn’t in chaos. My life is pretty normal and has a natural organization to it actually. But MAN will those life organizing sites make you feel like you are living in total chaos! Like you’re a dirty, dirty person if you don’t have everything from your dishes to your daily shower gripped by the balls and written on the dotted line. What if life throws you a curve ball? Where’s your damn organizer now? What if you LIKE the curveball? Are you gonna feel guilty because you didn’t check off everything on your list or are you going to exhaust yourself doing it instead of taking that extra half hour to lay in bed and veg out to Mythbusters?

GEEZ Whatever happened to helpful tips, not complete Nazi style overhauls of other people’s lives. I’m not appealing to hoarders here, and I doubt those sites are either. Those people need real help. They live in a dangerous situation. But how about some friendly, down to earth, reality based tips that makes reading these things fun and informative, not overloads of guilt inducing information?

Maybe after reading all those sites you find this particular post boring. It’s possible. Hell, it’s likely. But I’m sincerely trying to keep it simple. I don’t want a window into your life. I don’t want to tell you how to be, what to think, what to create, or how many times a day you should schedule cleaning your toilet.

Just a simple post (well NOW it’s not, thank you very much. NOW it’s a rant!) with a couple tips. Hope you can enjoy the simplicity of that.

If not…well, who the #&$( asked your anyway :P