Wednesday, February 29, 2012

29 Day Organizing Challenge: Final Reveal!

Wow - I can't believe how fast this month has gone!  I've been participating in's 29 Day Organizing Challenge, and here's my final reveal.  But first, a reminder of what this room looked like on February 1st.  Cat toys and boxes everywhere.  Oh and isn't it pleasant to see the litter box as the main focus when you walk in the room?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

No real usable space as every space was covered with stuff.

Tiny desk, big computer, stuff all over the filing cabinet.

Guitar cases on the floor (and the tail of another cat toy).

The closet.  Kind of organized but just looking cluttered.

My desk.  Messy messy drawers.  Everything had a place but just so cluttered.  And now, the moment you've all (or maybe just me!) been waiting for!!!
Ta da!  Walking into the room.  Funny how a desk that cuts into the width of the room can actually make the room look bigger than it is!  It also makes the space not just look like a long hallway with stuff lining the walls.

The hutch is gone!  My much condensed music book shelf with a bin for hubby's course work and for my piano headphones, metronome, etc.  The guitars are on the wall, too.  We remounted some of the pictures to suit the new space better.

Full view of the new computer desk.  Loads of free work space!  The kitty litter is conveniently hidden under the desk - more privacy for the cat and just makes the room look nicer altogether.  We mounted my filing bin for papers on the wall beside the desk, and used a small section of dividers for our phone/address books, scrap paper/envelopes and things to finish.

View of the piano, no more guitars on the floor :)  The firepod is in close proximity to the piano and computer so we don't have to rearrange the room every time we want to record something.

The closet.  The top shelf is hubby's school material that will go with him once he has a permanent position (fingers crossed that comes soon!).  The second shelf has a bin of extra office supplies, a bin of auxiliary musical instruments, our recycle bin, and a container where hubby keeps all his pay stubs.  The third shelf has a bin of computer cords and hardware, my small memory box and then cards I've made and envelopes.  The fourth shelf has all my knitting/crocheting materials.  On the floor is our seasonal shoe bin, extra paper (computer, sticky note) bin, and all our Christmas decorations.  In the open space is my craft trolley and a bin of our wrapping paper.  The empty hanging space is where I keep hubby's shirts that I need to iron.

Quick view of the computer desk drawers.  In the bottom is a stapler, hole puncher, graphing calculator and printer paper.  The top drawer is actually for iPods/phones/etc that you can put wires through to charge them, but we used it as our stationary drawer instead.  It came with handy dividers, and since there's glass it has to look nice cuz I sure can't hide any clutter in there!  One row for scissors, a ruler, tape, glue and white-out.  One row for pencils, erasers, and the pencil sharpener.  One row for sticky notes, paper clips, and clips.  And the last row has pens and highlighters.  I'm SO happy with our new space!
Here are the final questions everyone was asked about their space:

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?

The space I organized is our home office/music room/cat room.  Oh, and storage room.  As you can see, this is a small room (14’ x 8’) that has to suit a variety of purposes.  This is the first home my husband and I have owned (our 1-year anniversary is coming up in two weeks!) and we had a lot of STUFF that needed to be sorted through.  I felt that what we had wasn’t working for our needs and we had a lot of things just sitting there never being used.

2.  What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?

I made a detailed plan of action and I stuck to it.  It was really hard as both of us work more than full time to make ends meet.  The first thing I did after deciding what the room needed was talked to my hubby about the possibility of a new desk.  To my surprise, he was more than okay with it!  These were my weekly goals:
Week 1 – Declutter the room and figure out where I was going to put everything we needed.
Week 2 – Purchase new desk, photo albums, organizing baskets, and craft tower.  Install!
Week 3 – Finish switching photos over to new albums, organize drawers and closet, and find a little basket for the cat toys so they are not strewn all over the house.
Extra 4 days – Buffer in case of unexpected events.

3.  What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?

For me, the hardest part of the challenge was making the time to do this.  What really helped me was having a detailed plan that broke the project down into small chunks, and also linking up with my weekly progress.  Knowing that there were people waiting to see what I had accomplished each week kept me going.  Plus, living in such a small space with an active cat doesn’t allow for much stuff to lay around without seriously compromising quality of life!

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

The hutch is going back to its original owner, and my desk will either be donated to the less fortunate or given away on  There is one large box with garbage that is to be thrown out, my journals will be shredded this summer at work when the shredding company comes, and two boxes of stuff will be given to the Sally Anne. 

There is also stuff that found new homes during the challenge.  The cat toys are in a bin out in the living room, my photo albums are on the bookshelf in the living room, a bin of carpentry odds n’ ends is in the storage room with the toolbox, and the guitar cases are also in our bedroom closet now that the guitars are mounted on the wall.  It wasn’t possible to store the cases in the office as the cat was using them as scratching posts.

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?

Just the feeling of surveying the changes and the sense of freedom that organizing this space and letting go of clutter has brought me makes me proud.  There is a bin in our closet that used to be my memory box, and now holds all our Christmas decorations.  My special memories that I kept fit in less than a shoebox.  I got rid of dozens of journals.  We participated in Coldest Night of the Year last weekend and in my newfound sense of freedom I was able to refuse bringing in more free stuff that I would never use!  Yay!

6.  Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?

The only thing we purchased that created additional space was the craft trolley.  Previously I had been lugging each of the separate bins to the kitchen table every time I wanted to make one card.  With this new trolley, I can wheel all my supplies over to our new computer desk and save time and effort.  It comes with 3 shelves and a divided space on top so I labeled each drawer appropriately and kept only what would fit in those small drawers.  I used the old bins to store other things we needed.  If I want new stuff I have make more cards to free up space.  Same with my bin for my yarn.  I’m not allowed to buy more yarn until I use what I currently own as there isn’t room for any more.  Personally, I like challenges like that!  We only have one drawer in the computer desk that will hold paper, so I recycled a PILE of scrap paper that was collecting.   Like really, it was all just taking up valuable space that I don’t have!  Having a shoebox sized memory box didn’t allow me to keep my dozens of journals so I limited myself to keeping my first one, and letting go of the others.  There IS freedom in limits!

7.  What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?

Have a plan.  Know what you want the space to look like before you start.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a bunch of handy stuff that doesn’t really work together, and you’ll get discouraged along the way because it isn’t turning out the way you thought it would.  Knowing what you want things to look like really helps because every choice you make will reflect the end result.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

29 Days of Organizing: Week 3

Week 3 is complete and there are only 4 more days until the Organizing Challenge is complete!  Here are a few of the massive changes we made this week.  Thursday night we mounted our guitars on the wall.  Hubby's guitar was in a Styrofoam case and the cat kept scratching it, so we knew we needed another method of storage.  Plus our floor space is valuable so we decided to go with the wall.  I think it looks great!  We accidently mounted the triangle base upside down on the first one, so we've got a wall anchor hole to patch this weekend!

The much condensed music shelf.  Not entirely happy with this yet.  My hubby is taking a course and he needs his books out and available but I just don't like the way this looks yet.  Any suggestions?  Bins on the top??

The new (and already kitty-printed) computer/work desk.  This is AWESOME!  We have so much work space and it actually makes the room look wider!  We are still waiting on the company to send us 3 screws, however.  We were short and so we can't put the handle on the 2nd drawer at the moment.  Of course they are a custom size you can't get at Canadian Tire :s

The closet.  Top shelf is hubby's school books, which will eventually go with him when he gets a permanent teaching position.  The rest has been super downsized.  Take a look at our purge piles below!

Two boxes of stuff to give away and one full of trash.  How did I even get that much stuff???

My custom decorated desk is out as well.  It was too small for what we needed and the color wasn't so great in the room.

And the hutch is going back to its original owner.  When you get married you have all this stuff and when it's combined sometimes it just doesn't work so well in the space.  See you soon for the final "reveal"! JEM

Friday, February 24, 2012

Belated Birthday Card

Ok, so technically this card isn't late.  I just hadn't seen my friend since before her birthday... and I gave it to her in person. :)  Anyway, this picture is from a belated card I got about 6 years ago.  The blue cardstock is from my Capernwray Harbour student manual.  The lettering is from my MIL (some spice jar labels!).

"I missed the celebration" had to happen because I ran out of the letter Y.  The silver balloons are metal accents from my Mom, and the flower stickers are from my old sticker collection.  The flower and brad are from a friend's stash.   I'm feeling a bit uncreative right now.  Maybe it's because I'm on a deadline?  Or maybe I'm just really tired.

This is the envelope I made for the card.  She really liked it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Needles, Hooks, and Cords

One of my many projects this weekend was creating holders for my knitting needles, crochet hooks, and circular needles.  Previously they had been in a bag with all my patterns, but it was so messy, and with our office getting overhauled, I knew it was time to organize the needles.  This is what the knitting needle holder looks like tied up.

This is the knitting needle holder opened.  The leopard print fabric is actually from a sheet set I used for years until I got married and didn't need a twin bed anymore.  As you can see, I don't actually have very many needles.  I had a TON from my Oma, but when my tendonitis became chronic I gave up knitting and got rid of all I had.  Maybe not the greatest idea, in hindsight.  So anyway, I have kept the left side of the pouch unsewn so that as I add needles to my collection, I can make appropriate sized slots for them.  This pattern was one I modified slightly from

Here is the crochet hook holder.  It is similar to the one for the knitting needles.

Man, I sure don't have very many crochet hooks, do I?

This is the pouch I made for the circular needles and other extras, such as my cable needle.  It's a drawstring bag, lined with the leopard print sheets to make it all a set.

I made the bag big enough to keep the circular needles in their packages, as I need to know the size and length and obviously I can't remember everything!  Hope you like them :)  JEM

Saturday, February 18, 2012

29 Days of Organizing: Week 2

Week 2 of Org Junkie's Organizing Challenge is complete!  And the house is a MESS! lol.  This is our living room, where I am busy condensing my 5000 randomly sized photo albums into a set.  This picture was from last night - thankfully I finished the job and have cleaned up this area!  Hi Sunny!

The hallway is full of boxes.  Three of them are giveaway stuff, and one is garbage items.  I've managed to recycle a lot of paper too!  The biggest project is going to be shredding all my journals.  I don't want to just throw them out for fear of someone exploiting my life :D.  I kept my very first one - it's just precious.  I managed to condense my TUB (the large plastic bin in this picture) of "memories" into a small shoebox.  Really, why was I holding onto pop cans from my Grade 8 exchange to Japan?  I know.  The purge pile keeps growing as I organize things, too.  I figure if I haven't done a certain art/craft in 10 years, I'm probably not going to pick it up again soon.  I've decided to stick with knitting/crocheting, card making, and music.

This is one of the major purchases for the week - my card making supply cart.  I'm so excited about this thing!  It has wheels and holds pretty much everything I use for making cards.  I do wish I was about 2 shelves higher but we searched all over town and this was the biggest so it will have to do.  I labeled every drawer with an appropriate heading.

I also organized my portfolio this week, which left me with an empty bin.  I discovered that this empty bin holds my entire stash of yarn - yay!  We also bought a 3 piece sectional desk, which arrived yesterday.  Today we will finish setting it up and see what else we have to do.  Unfortunately we are not able to rotate it the way we thought we would, so we're going to have to decide how to change the room around so it doesn't look crowded.  I wish the room wasn't so awkwardly designed sometimes.  The outside wall has a large window, the living room wall has three large windows, the door side of the wall has a closet, which leaves us with the bedroom wall untainted.  I don't think this room was planned out very well.  But we will make it work!  Anyway, I'm off to go to the spa with my sister!  Happy Saturday everyone :)  JEM

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

This is the card I made for my husband while he was out playing hockey Sunday afternoon.  I really love this card.  The background paper is from a Fossil bag that I got when I purchased a wallet there last weekend.  The brown and blue paper are from our wedding picture display, and the heart with button is one I received from a dear friend at Bible School back in 2010.  The stamp is mine.

Inside the card I used a stamp from a wedding set, some more of the Fossil bag and cardstock.  I also used some ribbon from a friend and threaded it through the holes from the handles in the Fossil bag.  NEAT!

Man, I wish I was getting this card for myself - so giving it to my husband is the next best thing!  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  <3 JEM

Monday, February 13, 2012

One of a Kind

So I had this idea to make a card with a bunch of little flowers I got from a friend.  So I made it, and used just one really bright yellow flower as well.

I cleverly captioned it with, "Baby, you're one of a kind!"  Since there were so many brads on the back of the first page, I used a second layer of brown cardstock (from the wedding photo display) to cover it up, and hole punched the pages so I could thread orange ribbon through to tie it together.  The orange ribbon is from a friend, the light beige cardstock from a friend's wedding invitation, and the blue cardstock from that same wedding photo display.  The stamps are courtesy of my Mom.

Here's the back of the card.  The ribbon along with the flowers reminds me of a maypole.  JEM

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Opa's 86th Birthday Card

Friday was my Opa's 86th birthday so we went to visit him and had birthday cake together!  I don't remember where I got the front of this card from, but I thought it was cute.  I used some brown cardstock from our wedding photo display, and my edger punch for decoration.  Isn't that gold pretty?

As you can see, I've *artfully* placed gold paper behind where the edger punch shows though, so that the flowers are gold on the front of the card.  The gold paper is from my Mom.  The white card is some blank business card paper we found in our filing cabinet while doing some junk purging for Org Junkie's Organizing Challenge. The stamps and bronze pen are mine.

As always, an original JEM creation.

Here's the envelope I gave Opa the card in - some crocuses peeking up through the snow.   He liked it!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

29 Days of Organizing: Week 1

Well, week 1 of Organizing Junkie's Challenge is complete!  I'm actually more pumped about this project than I thought.  I didn't really find it hard at all to sort through my piles of stuff in my memory box, or anything else for that matter.  Since I don't have much time to put into this project, I made a detailed plan to make it manageable.  For me, week 1 was all about purging my stuff for junk so I could see what we actually had.  I have only one more bin to get through - the portfolio bin where I had shoved years of programs, etc., with the intention of displaying them one day.  I'm gonna need my hubby's help on that one!  Here's my purge pile for the week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Org Junkie’s 29 Day Organizational Challenge

So here I am, trying something new.  I've been addicted to I'm an Organizing Junkie's blog for a while now, and she's had some really good tips that I've been able to use in my very first home.  I'd highly recommend checking out her blog!

I have decided to spend my free time in the month of February organizing our office/music room/cat room.  We live in a very small condo, so we have to take advantage of every bit of space,  hence the combination of function.

Here are my before pictures!!

Here is my first purging pile.. I'm considering including the cat ;)