Category Archives: Organizing

Weekend recharge

Last week was not the best! I was just so exhausted and sick and cranky, and it all led to me having a minor breakdown. SO! I decided to spend the weekend doing low-key but productive things, and I was pretty successful. Actually, in addition to cleaning my apartment, watching a couple movies for my AFI project and buying groceries, I accomplished TWO major things. That’s a lot for one weekend!

First, I used my brand new Crock-Pot for the first time and made chicken stew. Now, if you know me, you’ve probably heard me claim to be incapable of cooking on numerous occasions. Obviously that’s not true, and anyone CAN cook; I just really dislike expending much effort, and cooking seems like effort. But lately I’ve been getting tired of eating the same three or four things all the time, and I decided the easiest way to expand my repertoire was to buy a slow cooker.

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

It turns out it was pretty easy! I just had to cut up a couple things and dump them into the slow cooker for about seven hours and then I had stew and now I will have lunch this week! It actually tastes pretty good, too. I think I cooked it a little bit too long, and I possibly filled the Crock-Pot a bit too much, but in general, I’m pretty impressed for the first time. Here is the recipe I used. I pretty much followed it, except I used chicken instead of turkey, and I basically just used less broth since I have a smaller slow cooker. That whole site is pretty great, I will probably try some of the other recipes soon.

STEW!

STEW!

The other thing I did this weekend was finish cleaning out my storage closet. I have been putting this off for sooo long. Remember back in January when I went on an organizing kick? Yeah, I kind of lost momentum for a while. This was mostly because I only have one actual closet in my apartment, and it was a total mess. Here’s what it looked like before:

Oh. My. God.

Oh. My. God.

So that’s not normal probably! First I got a shoe rack to take care of my disastrous shoe problem. I have a tiny area of free space by my front door (yay!) so I put it there.

shoerack

Shoes!

Then I threw out a whole bunch of stuff, and it turned out like this:

So much better.

So much better.

Seriously, did I mention this is my only closet? I’m pretty impressed with myself. Now I just need to fix the cords around my TV. Currently they are masking taped together, and let’s just say if I ever need to unplug my DVD player for some reason, it isn’t going to be pretty.

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Progress

I’m doing a reasonably OK job on my whole organizing/cleaning kick. I still have a ways to go, and I haven’t even started thinking about my closet of doom, but in addition to fixing up a couple areas last weekend, I managed to keep it fairly clean all week. Good for me! Here’s some of the crap I’ve dealt with.

First, my vanity area. I have a sink and with bathroom storage space right outside my actual bathroom, and normally I just keep every single product I use in a mess around the sink. Something like this:

bathroombefore

So that’s not great! As you can probably see, my drawers were a mess too, and were filled with all kinds of Crap I Don’t Need (or use). You know, because all the stuff I do use was already on the counter. So I threw out a lot, cleaned up, and now it looks like this:

bathroomafter

This is much better! The only things in the drawers are things that I use, and the only things on the counter are soap, a toothbrush and makeup brushes. This is like how I assume non-disgusting people live.

Inspired by my fresh new vanity, I decided to tackle another area with a similar problem: the top of my dresser. I have a jewelry box, but necklaces and earrings just get tangled in it, and I can’t find anything, so I ended up with all the jewelry I wear all over the damn place, something like this:

dresserbefore

So, I went to Winners and I found a jewelry tree. It has changed my dresser forever. Bask in the glory of my jewelry tree!

dresserafter

jewelrytree

I also reorganized all my kitchen cupboards, the boxes under my coffee table, my bookshelf and my wardrobe thing. I ended up with a big garbage bag full of clothes and a smaller bag of DVDs, which have since been donated to Value Village. I even cleaned out the three purses that I use on a regular basis. I have this problem where I use my purses as portable garbage cans, so here is what was inside them:

purses

Why yes, I did have a kazoo in a purse, and a piece of a destroyed car in another one, so that seems pretty regular.

I even managed to earn money out of all of this, because I found $20 in change, and $50 in foreign currency, and instead of just letting it continue to sit there, I rolled the change and brought that and the foreign money to the bank. So I feel like I was paid $70 to clean up in addition to the reward of an apartment that looks less like crap. Everything’s coming up Alex!

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Alex vs. stuff

I have come to a couple of conclusions lately: I have too much stuff, and I need to organize said stuff.

Possibly this has come to my attention thanks to my friend Molly’s posts about minimalism/simplicity. SORRY MOLLY, I’M COPYING YOU! But really, ever since moving into a pretty tiny studio apartment in July, I have been hyper-aware of my  stuff, and how much of a mess it generally is.

apartment1

This is almost my whole apartment in a much cleaner state than usual.

Before I moved, I thought I was doing well. I have approximately no closet space in my current place, so I gave away or sold probably a third of my wardrobe before I moved in. I also got rid of a whole bunch of toiletries I was never going to use, and I even threw out a whole bunch of books and notes from school and past jobs that I’m definitely never going to need again.

Still, though, I have all kinds of crap I don’t use or need or even particularly want, and I’m having a lot of trouble getting rid of it. I’m most definitely not a minimalist by nature; as anyone who has ever been my roommate could tell you, my personality is more like that of a sloppy hoarder. I live in fear that I’ll get rid of something, and then at some point in the future I will need it and this will be the worst thing that has ever happened, obviously. I’m not sure where this trait comes from, but based on my otherwise impeccable mother’s disaster of a basement (seriously, it contains all her furniture from the last 25 years) I’ve decided it’s genetic, and I’m going to have to work pretty hard to overcome it.

I’m only kept in check because I have friends over sometimes, and I recognize that it’s not socially acceptable to have clothes all over my couch or garbage-covered counters (the regular state of my apartment). So yes, I can clean up, but essentially I have a whole bunch of storage receptacles where I throw crap and then forget about it until I need it and can’t find it. Seriously, I recently had an almost breakdown when I lost my passport…fortunately I eventually found it in a purse I never use for some unknown reason.

OK, so something needs to change, but WHERE DO I START? My inclination would be to do it all in one go, and just get rid of basically everything in one giant sweep. I considered this, but it filled me with feelings of exhaustion…and then I discovered this blog: Unfuck Your Habitat. I love the before and after pictures, but I also like all the posts essentially yell at you to get it together. I need someone to yell at me to get it together! I also like the suggestion that you just spend a few minutes working on small projects rather than trying to take it all on at once. This is the kind of common sense advice I need!

So, I started a couple days ago by clearing out my food cupboard, which was filled with half-eaten, stale products I was never going to eat. I should have taken before and after pics, but it all happened in kind of a sudden flurry, so I didn’t even think of it. Before, there were bags of corn chips, a whole bunch of pasta, crackers, and other stuff that I’m just not eating anymore. Now there’s pretty much just tuna, olive oil, some herbs, ground flax, applesauce, popcorn and guacamole mix. It looks so empty and it feels so good!

cupboard

This is a very small step, and I have a lot more stuff to deal with, but don’t you worry, I will be blogging about all of it. This is because none of this will ever come naturally to me, and if I’m left to do what comes naturally, social services will eventually need to get involved, and they’ll find dead cats I didn’t remember owning under piles of 20-year-old newspapers. I don’t think any of us want that.

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