Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Beginnings

Living room before I started
New Year's is of course about making resolutions. I'm not much for that, most of us will start off well and peter out before the end of the month. However I am taking advantage of the new year for a new beginning. There are so many things that I want to accomplish in my life over the next 5 years and to be able to do them I must be much more organized!

So here is what the living room was looking like the past week, leftovers from Christmas and things I brought home from cleaning out a store room at my moms. Yes, that is a drill press ;=0.

Living room after one 15 minute session.
So I did one 15 minute session and here is the result. Those little wall cabinets will eventually go in the studio to hold various small things. I think I will glue cork over the fronts so they can double as a bulletin board.

Living Room after a second 15 minute session

My second 15 minute session included transferring all of my seeds from a big plastic tub into the little storage table. Now I can get rid of the tub!

That space behind the storage table in this last picture is where my grow light set up will go. Since the living room is the warmest room in the house, this is where I start my seeds. When they are bigger then they go in the bedroom where it is a little cooler.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Make Do

The big crack around the back door
I have a great tendency to make do or do without. Sometimes of course I'm just procrastinating!

A long time back I got my new to me back door hung, but I never got back around to doing the rest of the work, like fixing the trim boards and putting in the doorstops and weather stripping.

I complained in my last post how cold my kitchen is, well a big part of that is the big draft from the crack around the door. So I finally decided to do something about it. I didn't really have what I needed to fix it properly so I scrounged around and thought about what i could fill up the crack with.

Big crack filled in

I just took some plastic grocery bags and stuff them in the crack around the door. That really helped stop the draft and it kept the kitchen at least 5 degrees warmer last night.

I know my younger daughter will call it "okie-fied" and it's ugly but it will do until I figure out what I need to do with it to fix it permanently. Took me less than five minutes! Why did I wait so long?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gift Guides and Winter Weather

Snow in the garden, Dec 5, 2011
Well, it snowed the first weekend of Dec and even now a week later there is still some snow on the ground and ice on my front steps.

With winter weather comes new chores, like bringing in wood, making fires and cleaning out the stove.

I've not been keeping up with the house well at all because it's so cold. My kitchen has been 38-40 degrees at night. It's warmer inside my refrigerator!

I have been writing lots of new articles over on Squidoo, especially gift guides so if you are looking for gifts you might want to check these out:

Best Gifts for the Gardener-Cook has a lot of ideas for the folks on your list that grow their own food and preserve the harvest.

All Occasion Gifts for Artists has some different ideas for what the artists in your life might like since most people don't know what to get as far as art supplies go, this concentrates on other things artists could use.

 Gifts for Organic Gardeners has a lot of different gifts for the gardener in your life, not just seeds or tools!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Working Outdoors

Well I have been working outdoors a lot, trying to get things done before the weather gets nasty. This pic is of the back side walk, from my back patio looking up towards the falling down sheds. on the left is my little back garden. This was before I started cleaning up around the sidewalk.

This one is after I'd worked awhile on it. I spent the day working on various outdoor projects so I don't really know how long I spent on each thing; I didn't set the timer at all.

I've also been writing a lot over on Squidoo and making new products over in my Zazzle shop. So of course I haven't been working on cleaning house much. Just barely able to keep a trail through the living room and some of the clutter at bay. Perhaps when it's a bit colder and the garden isn't so enticing I can make more progress here indoors. In the meantime if you want to see more of the garden, what I'm harvesting, progress on the greenhouse and a free seed giveaway, check out my Edible Garden blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The kitchen before
Well as you can see the kitchen is a big wreck. Stuff everywhere, can't hardly find a clean pot and tripping over things on the floor.

So working on it 15 minutes at a time today. And in between made some chicken and dumpling soup, yummy, just right for a cold rainy day.

kitchen after one 15 minute session

Well after one 15 minute session things are a little better, I've done some dishes and picked up some of the junk off the floor.

Kitchen after two 15 minute sessions

And here it is after another 15 minute session, beginning to look a lot better. Most of the dishes are done, most of the junk off the floor and two counters have had a lot of stuff removed from them, thrown or put away. I took out the trash too. Still aways to go before I can say it's finished, but definitely an improvement!


Bedroom before I did anything
Well since I have been concentrating so hard on the outdoor work of course the house is a train wreck. But today is grey and rainy and I happen to have a day off, so I'm working indoors 15 minutes at a time.

Here's the bedroom before I did anything. Two weeks ago when the weather turned cooler I pulled out the boxes of winter clothes and there they are, still sitting there....

Now here it is after just one 15 minute session; looking a LOT better, don't you think?

bedroom after one 15 minute session
bedroom after one 15 minute session
bedroom after one 15 minute session

I learned about the magic of 15 minutes from Marla Cilly, aka The Fly Lady. Her book Sink Reflections chronicles her journey out of CHAOS and gives you loads of help so you can do the same.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Have Been Working Hard....

Stone Walls, down stream, right side
Wow I didn't realize how long it has been since I've posted here! Sorry about that! I have been so caught up in so many different things. Right now most other projects have come to a screeching halt while I try and finish up some of these rock walls before it starts freezing up at night. I took this picture Oct 18 and have made more progress since then, but I need to get a lot more done.

I've also been working hard in the garden, trying to get things cleaned up, compost and manure spread and things planted. I've been harvesting a few things, baby beets, baby carrots, some shelly beans and baby lettuce. I've been planting peas of all sorts every spot I can. I just love peas and winter-spring is the only time they grow here, so I plant tons and gorge during the season.

Harvest, 10-18-11 shelly beans, lettuce, beets
So of course the house is  a train wreck! My daughter and her girls stopped by the other day. When the weather got cool I pulled out the boxes of winter clothes to find something to wear to work. They are still sitting in the bedroom and the 8 year old wanted to know if I was moving!

I have decided though that I am not going to sweat it if the house isn't even decent. You know why? Some things just have to come in their own time! Right now I have to get the outdoor work done ASAP because when it starts freezing I won't be able to do it. When the weather gets yucky will be plenty of time to concentrate on the inside of the house. Oh, another thing I've been doing is writing tons of new articles;

All Occasion Gifts for Artists
Gifts for Organic Gardeners
Create Custom Christmas Cards
Italian Potato Soup, Tastes Just Like Olive Garden's!

So that is most of what I have been doing lately besides working the regular day job, which I have to get ready for now!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time Management

Four 'o Clock or Marvel of Peru
I'm trying hard to get back into my routines and get my house at least as good as it was before I went on vacation. I tend to be a horrible procrastinator about a lot of things, especially when it comes to cleaning up. I have gotten better about picking up after myself, especially when I'm working in the kitchen, putting things away as soon as I've measured out what I need.  I just need to work on doing the same thing everywhere else!

It is very easy for me to sit down in front of the computer and get sucked in for hours. I have every intention of getting up and doing something else "in a minute" or "when I finish this" but sometimes the minute stretches out to an hour and sometimes when the project is finished it's waaaaay past my bedtime. A lot of this comes from what I am doing here. I don't play games, actually I'm mostly working. I have 3 other blogs besides this one, ( there are links to these over on the right) I belong to 3 forums, I write articles on Squidoo and I make products over on Zazzle, all in addition to my own website, Face Book and now Google+. whew, no wonder I need more hours in a day! Oh and not to mention taking photos of everything which then have to be edited before I can post them anywhere.

So what I am trying out is that every time I sit down at the computer I set my timer; usually for 15 minutes. When it goes off I get up and do another task from my list. This way I am not sitting for such long periods at once, I'm still getting things done online and I am also getting things done around the house. So here are a few things I have accomplished the last couple of days.

planting daffodil & tulip bulbs
planted purple pansies along the edge

Star Jasmine storm damage

Star Jasmine after clean up
a cleaner desk

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another 15 Minutes in the Kitchen

Kitchen after a second 15 minute session
Alright, I know I'm not done in here, but there is a vast improvement! I did that first 15 minute session in my last post a couple of days ago and of course since then more stuff accumulated on the counter.

So I put away all the clean dishes in the drainer and then set my timer. In 15 minutes I had all the dirty dishes done up, one counter and the stove wiped down, some bags of groceries put away and lots of trash gone.

And I made a dent in another counter. So now there are few dishes in the sink from over there. But that's ok, I'll get to them this evening when I wash up after dinner. I might even make inroads on the counter to the left of the sink!

I've Been Such a Slacker!

kitchen, before I did 15 minutes
Oh boy! I have been such a slacker! Since I came home from Italy and jumped right back into full time work, along with trying to get some painting done, writing over at Squidoo and making new things for my Zazzle shop, I have sorely neglected my routines and my house!

But all is not lost! With my trusty timer I can do anything for 15 minutes! See what that short amount of time did for my kitchen.

Kitchen, after the first 15 minute session

Yes, I have a ways to go to get back to where I was before I left on vacation, but I know I can do it 15 minutes at a time. I also know that if I stick with it, I can get everything done that needs doing, I just need to keep my eye on the prize and persevere!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Back in the Groove...

sunflower field
It's really been hard getting back in the groove! Next time I'll take an extra few days at the end of vacation to unpack and get caught up before returning to work. In the meantime my timer has become my best friend. I have to set it for 15 minutes every time I sit down at my desk, otherwise I would never get up off the computer and get anything done!

I am still editing photos and trying to finish up blog posts about my trip. I'm also selecting photos to add to products in my Zazzle shop and to use for paintings. Hopefully I'll get back to our daily decluttering sessions over the weekend!

In the meantime the folks over at Get Organized are having a 20% off Everything Sale!
20% Off Any Order at ShopGetOrganized.com. Use Promo Code AG090811, now through 9/12

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Home Again!

fresh fruit outside a village shop
Well it is certainly nice to be home again, although I could easily live in Italy! It is so lush and green. All along the country roads there is food going to waste, figs, blackberries, apples, plums, pears, nuts, even an occasional grape vine. In some spots even a little wild thyme, chamomile and other herbs and of course in the woods are tons of mushrooms and truffles. Mmmmm. But it was good to come home and sleep in my own bed. It was also nice to discover that I actually lost 5 pounds while gone on vacation, eating so much fresh fruit and salad!

I arrived home on Sunday morning and after looking around and doing a few things like unpacking my suitcase and starting a load of laundry I took a nap all afternoon! The jet lag was catching up with me. I did a little more on Monday, working outside in my garden while it was cool and catching up on email and things when it warmed up. Today I had to go to work. After being gone for 3 weeks it was about the last thing I wanted to do. I am really looking forward to the day I can stay home all the time!

So of course now I still have photos to edit and a few more Italian adventures to relate over on my art blog, The Artist's Way. While I did empty the suitcase I haven't put everything away yet, I imagine it will take me a few days to get everything sorted out and get back in the swing of things.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Have arrived in Italy and all is well; trying to catch up my posts. I will probably put all the details over on my Art Blog if you want to get the details!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Packing For Italy!

Well, packing for my vacation to Italy. Whenever I'm getting ready for a long trip I  make a list of every single thing I can think of that I might need. Then I begin gathering the things up and checking them.

I used to make long trips to sell things at events. For those I actually had two lists. Everything personal that I needed including my menu and food lists and then another one of all the things I would need for my booth. As I collected the items up I would make a check mark next to them. Then after I actually packed them into the van or trailer I drew a line threw them. That way I knew if the things had actually made it into the vehicle or not.

As I collect things on my list I make another list of things I need to buy. After I come home from shopping and actually pack them, I cross them off my first list.  My mother traveled so much and stayed in various places when my dad was in the hospitals with his cancer and heart problems she made a printed list on her computer of all her personal items that they needed, especially their medications. Then she could revise it and print it out when she needed it.

I probably won't need the little suitcase in the picture as it looks like everything is going to fit into the big one. I'm just hoping I won't be over weight when I get to the airport as that is very costly.

Mom has an organizer like this and it is very handy when you are traveling, to have your make up and toiletries all together in one place. However, do not put it into your carry on luggage. They have very specific rules about bottles and tubes of creams and liquids in your carry on. It should be fine in your checked baggage, but the rules are always changing so it is a good idea to check with your airline before hand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Hard Rock Labor

Well this week I have worked hard to finish off the four bags of cement I bought, because I really didn't want to bring them in the house and don't have any dry storage outdoors at the moment. So early and late I have worked on the stone retaining walls in the creek bottom. I've finally mixed up the last batch of cement before I go on vacation and now I can concentrate on other things, like decluttering and housekeeping!

When I come home from vacation I will continue on the wall work. I need to bring the wall above the culvert up about 12 inches above the road bed. Then I will continue the wall at that height for a distance up the creek bottom to prevent wash outs. In the area just to the right of the wall in the picture I will put in an overflow area to direct any water to the other side of the crossing and down into the creek in the event that the water ever tops the walls.  When my son first proposed the scheme I don't think he realized how high maintenance these culverts would be. We will have to clean out the debris from in front of them every time there are heavy rains, to keep things moving.

In the meantime I am becoming more and more excited about building my own house of stone. But I think I will begin with something smaller, like a chicken coop combined with a green house. Lots of ideas rolling around in my head! I've written an article about owner built alternative homes, which you can read here.

I just love looking at stone walls of all sorts, here is a closeup of mine.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Decluttering in the Kitchen, again!

Well, I had this counter cleaned off awhile back, but as you can see the clutter has crept up and accumulated again.

So I just set my timer for 15 minutes and look what happened!

I even had time to go dump and rinse the compost bucket and water the worm bed while I was there. Mmmm, thinking I should probably tackle that window space soon!

My compost bucket is my old milk pail, from when I kept dairy goats when I lived in Texas. (mmm about 25 years ago!) Beat up and dented it's still going strong, being made of stainless steel. But if I needed to buy one I would probably look for one like this.

If you have a big family though, you might need to get a bigger one.

I don't go for the filters and bags things myself, I mean, whats the point? Although I can understand if you live where you can recycle your food waste through your garbage collection system and you don't have a garden, they'd be great. However, even if you live in a really small space, like an apartment you can keep a worm box and compost your food scraps. See my Edible Garden Blog for more ideas for gardening.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Declutter the Desk

So how is your desk looking today? Here's mine. Actually it's not in bad shape because a couple of months ago I really worked hard to get the big piles of stuff off of it. But this past week it's been accumulating a lot of bits and pieces so I thought it would be a good idea to spend 15 minutes on it today and it least get the work surface cleared off.

It actually only took 10 minutes to get to this stage. After that I reset my timer for 15 minutes and worked on paying some bills and catching up my check book and YNAB. (You Need A Budget)

I have a hard time keeping my desk at home tidy. I don't have a pencil draw to stash things in and haven't yet found really convenient desk top items for keeping all the small bits organized.

Since things get so dusty I like things to be covered but most containers with lids are inconvenient. What I'm really thinking about is something like these stack able drawers. I could put dividers or open containers in the drawers to hold paperclips and the like. I could use a drawer to hold my hole punch and stapler. Gosh I can think of a lot of things I could put in drawers like these to help corral all the stuff on my desk.

Then again I'm thinking about buying a small parts bin like this one to organize paper clips, rubberbands, thumb tacks and all those other little bitty things. They come in different sizes, with a variety of drawer sizes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hard Rock Labor

I have not been doing so much in the house the last few days. I have been concentrating on getting this wall done before I go on vacation, or at least as much as I can.

Besides this time I bought 4 bags of portland cement, not realizing how much farther each bag would go, compared to ready mix. I still have 2 1/3 bags sitting in the car, so trying to get them used up ASAP.

This is about where I left off last night. I have to get the wall built up abound and above the culverts so that flash floods will not wash them out.

And this is where I left off this morning. I got up really early and mixed a batch of cement and laid wall with the thunder grumbling. The storm never materialized, for which I'm thankful. While curing cement should be kept damp, it shouldn't get rained on.

The culverts are about 24 inches across, to give you an idea of size. To protect the crossing I'll have to bring the wall up above it. I might not get that far this week, but whatever I get done will help.

When I come home from vacation the weather should be cooler so I'll be able to get more done. Right now I can only work early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

I rather enjoy playing in cement and building walls. I have been building stone walls since I was about 10 years old, usually without mortar, just to help hold back the dirt in places. I used to just mix cement in a wheelbarrow but for this job borrowed an electric mixer, it's a bit cranky but getting the job done.

Working on this project has renewed my desire for a stone house. I love the looks of solid stone buildings and have been really thinking about how to go about such a project. I'm also researching passive solar design for a house that would heat and cool itself, just think, no utility bills!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Declutter the Refrigerator

refrigerator before
Today I spent 15 minutes cleaning out my refrigerator. I did a good clean out a couple of months ago so it wasn't too bad today. Always start at the top, toss anything old and move the stuff you are keeping around so you can wash the shelf. Then go onto the next shelf.

That way you are not taking everything out at one time and leaving it laying all over the counters and tables. If the shelf is really dirty then just clear it and soak it in the sink awhile. Go do something else, then come back and finish just that shelf. If you are really short of time you can do one shelf a day until you finish.
Refrigerator after just 15 minutes

I still need to clean the bottom part of the door and wash two door shelves that are soaking. But other wise I am done. Nice clean frig.

There is one thing I do not like about this refrigerator and that is the way the door shelves just sit on pegs that are molded into the door liner. Over time, especially if you put heavy stuff on the shelves, the liner spreads, so the pegs do not hold the shelves securely and they fall off if they get bumped. When I need to buy a new frig I will look for one that has the door shelves fastened in a different way. I would love it if they would be supported by shelf brackets the way the glass shelves on the inside are.

If you have a big family and have a lot of stuff in your frig you might find some nice organizer racks. I know The Get Organized store has some for your cabinets to organize your canned goods and spices. They also have some for holding cans and bottles of soda and water in your refrigerator. And Amazon has some handy extra shelves too.

Find everything you need to organize you life

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Declutter the Patio, Part II

patio before
So today I worked for 15 minutes decluttering the patio again. I pulled up some trees, picked up some trash and emptied some pots of their dirt. I'm putting the potting soil in one of the beds in my garden. The potting soil was a mix of commercial potting soil and good compost so I'm not going to waste all that good organic matter.

patio after, view one

So I've made a little bit of progress here. What  you can't see in the pics is that behind that old bookcase is a fire pit. I'm not fond of the way it is made, great for a big bonfire, but not too hot for actually cooking over it. I've given consideration over the years about what to do with this. I've thought of having a metal insert made, so I can control the draft better as well as having a better grill added in.

I've also given a lot of thought to closing off the bottom part and building a mud oven. I am intrigued by the idea of cooking in something so ancient as a mud oven. And of course I have lots of mud!  My favorite Urban Homesteaders added a cob oven to their homestead a few years ago. You can see the beginning of it at this post on their blog. Cobb is another term for building with mud.

A large portion of the earth's population live in buildings made of earth. Mud is a practical and plastic building material. All sorts of fanciful decoration is possible with it. Besides that if properly sited and designed a mud building will be cool in summer and warm in winter with much less utility use than conventional wood frame construction. It is very handy also in areas where there are not a lot of trees available.

patio after, 2nd view
But I digress; back to the patio. There is still a lot of dirt on the patio from the July 4th flooding. Along with a lot of pots and just plain junk that has accumulated.

patio, more to do
Then there is the strip of patio down the southwest side of the house, parallel to the kitchen. Lots of work left to do here.