Decluttering, Budgeting and Organizing On a Rainy Day

...These are all things that I would like to be doing but somehow, it's not working out that way!  I could've also called this post: things you really shouldn't even try doing on a rainy day but, I thought that might sound a little negative and then you wouldn't read it. Explain to me again why exactly was I out in the middle of this torrential rain? And at Walmart nonetheless? Ah yes! Because I fed the dog some old deli meat this morning to stave off hunger while I grabbed some real food for him.  And for the rest of us.

I grabbed my E-Mealz shopping list intent on making all the meals for one week so that I can see how it works and report back to you.  I added a few more items on the list (alas, E-Mealz doesn't have a "lunch" menu so I have to improvise), threw on my jeans and flip flops and headed out.  I found a space close to the entrance (SCORE!) and when I strolled in there was a dry cart waiting for me along with a Walmart employee with an umbrella bag open and ready for use.  The shopping gods were with me today, I could feel it.

Then it all went to hell.  How, you ask?  I went into the home goods section.  See, the thing about decluttering and organizing is that you (well, at least I) need to purchase some things in order to facilitate said declutering.  Plastic bins, little shelves for the kitchen, etc. I didn't do too bad (although the general thinking is that I can get the plastic bins cheaper at Big Lots!). I grabbed a couple of shelves, a curtain rod and a scarf for my window and went off to the grocery section.  As I walked in, I felt myself focus and get tunnel vision.  Tunnel vision makes me tired.  I look down at my list which is compartmentalized by category (these people are after my own heart!).  But, it's not easy to shop because even if you're only looking in the dried foods/canned section, you'll probably have to hit 3 isles to get it all.  Let's not mention the fact that this particular Walmart has reorganized their entire store and I'm still getting used to the floor plan.

I kept forgetting one thing from a section and then had to double back.  The whole experience made me weary.  It was more the thought of everything I had to do at home and the anxiety rising as the pile in my shopping cart grew. I won't tell you what I spent (you won't like it and it's best this way so that you can continue thinking I'm cute AND smart).  I will say I purchased more than just food.  Were all the items necessary? I'd like to think so but as I type this I can think of at least 2 things I could've done without.  And now, wracked with guilt, I may have to return them.  Well, after the damn rain stops.

I had a little sticker shock at a few things.  Primarily the ground beef.  I'm used to buying the 1lb pack but since I was making several things this day, my shopping list called for 2.5-3 lb pack.  I cannot believe that there's almost $3 difference between the 80/20 beef and the 97/3. Sheesh!  Then they wonder why people don't eat healthier!

In the produce section I thought: what do zucchinis look like again?  Don't judge me.  This was my last stop and I was hungry, tired and not looking forward to leaving the store since I could still hear the rain coming down (PS: the hunger is what made me buy cheese sticks from the frozen food section. Yeah, I did!).  After several loop-de-loops in the store I make a run for  cashier and find one that is finishing up with a customer. LUCKY! I start unpacking the cart (or is it dismounting? I'm not really sure but should really look that up).  That's when I notice it.  Blood.

It had dripped, ironically, on the paper towels.  And it made its way to the umbrella bag that was on the bottom shelf of the cart. As I took it out I told the checkout girl (we'll call her Nancy) and she immediately came by with a plastic bag.  Suddenly, there were 2 other people cleaning up the blood from the floor which before then I had not noticed.  I imagine a blood trail ala Criminal Minds and I'm slightly horrified.  I'm not with the frog princess today so can't blame the kid for me being distracted and not noticing this.  I continually apologize as if somehow, I'd stabbed myself while shopping and was now dirtying up the store unnecessarily. I asked for paper towels to clean off my, um, paper towels.  Nancy then proceeded to check me out but, I could tell the relationship wasn't going anywhere. She didn't make small talk, she didn't really smile or make comments about what was in my cart. Oh well! I have enough friends anyway, Nancy so there!

I'm not entirely sure where this post is going.  I went to sit at my desk and realized that there was water leaking from the back door into the office and nearly electrocuted myself trying to dry it all up.  Ah yes, electrocution!  That reminds me.  That great parking space I was bragging about? I rolled my cart out with difficulty, what with the 89 items I purchased weighing it down and a big umbrella in one hand. As I neared my truck I saw it.  I immediately knew that things weren't as they seemed.  I had to unpack (or is it decart?) my groceries while standing in about 4 inches of water.  If FEMA was around, they'd have deemed that particular parking space a definite flood zone.  With my flip flops in the water and the first 2 inches of my jeans soaking wet, I did the job and then got in my truck and drove away.  Don't ask about my hair, you really don't want to know.

I'm sure there are many lessons to learn from my outing and interactions today but, after finally settling the frog princess down for a late nap, I just had enough time to put fingers to keyboard in order to write this up.  Who has time to ponder the lessons anyway? Not me! I have to go put together the little shelves and sort the spices before working on my very first E-Mealz dinner.

If you've learned any lessons from my day, please post here. I'd love to gain a little knowledge from this rainy day.

Putting the Pieces Together

A few months ago I started talking about decluttering.  I'm afraid I didn't get very far. Which is just as well because I had to move (but maybe not just as well because it would've been nice to not have to carry the clutter with me).  But that blog did say I was doing it from the inside out so, I'd like to think I just hadn't gotten around to much of the outside. I began my move last week and I am afraid I am not yet done.  Tons to do at the old house.  Thankfully, my unemployment leaves me with time to take care of these things.  This morning, I found myself on a cleaning spree at the new place (mami's old house).  I realized that it would be best if I unpacked, decorated and cleaned so that when I brought the remaining of my things, I could minimize the clutter and the anxiety.

It is now almost midnight and I am tired.  Looking around, I can't really see my work. But, as with decluttering on the inside, I know it's there and that's what matters.  The biggest thing today? Moving stuff around in the Frog Princess's room and putting up decorations in my own.  I found this cool duvet cover that made me feel peace and calm.  I then decided to set the entire decor around it and I'm glad I did.

I am not done.  What you can't see (as I was explaining to my good friend Not Blessed Mama) are the piles of clothes not yet in their proper place and the stack of laundry that hasn't made it to the washing machine.  But, it's progress.  I'm still missing the cool black chaise, I have to put up the awesome girlie decal up on the corner and the side window is still "undressed".

But, with every little piece that I set in place, I feel that the pieces of my life are being put back together.  That makes me happy.  The thought of peace in my life is soothing.  The whisper of no more clutter in all aspects of my life (inside and out) is promising.  And, though things haven't exactly worked out the way I thought they would I know that they've worked out exactly as they should and there's a level of contentment in that feeling that makes everything alright.

Tomorrow is another day. More things to move, more stuff to put away (and get rid of).  But tonight? I bask in the calm of my space and thank God for the peace that surpasses all understanding.  How was your Sunday?

Diary of a Book Worm

I am clearing out my books! Why you ask? Well, it's part of my decluttering my home, my heart and my mind. Also, I have too many and I've realized I need to part with a few. But it hasn't been easy. Culling through my books this weekend was nostalgic, sad, happy and new. It was the first time that the frog princess saw the mass of books all in one place. The best part about it? As I was going through a pile she walks up to me in her diaper, reaches for a picture book, turns around and slowly backs onto my lap! If I didn't know any better, I'd say she knows the proper position you should take when in the presence of books.

I started reading to her, probably in my 6th month of pregnancy. I would get ready for bed and as I read, she would summersault and twist inside of me. The one word I could think to describe it? Magic! I adore books. I fell in love with them as a child. It was the one thing that I could always ask for. I remember bringing home my Scholastic Book Clubs flyer and being able to order books. Mami used to also take me to the library on 145th between Broadway and Amsterdam. I loved that place. Although my parents did not have a higher education and I rarely saw them with a book (possibly because so much was going on), they had a love of books and an understanding about where those books could take me (both figuratively and literally). I am sad for people who do not understand this very basic thought.

At 4 months, the frog princess was turning pages. It didn't hurt that I worked at Scholastic Book Fairs as a buyer at one point. My fellow book lovers made sure that, by the time she was born, her bookcase was filled. At 20 months, books are part of her play. There are books everywhere and it brings me unending joy to see her handling the books even when she is standing on them.

It has been a process deciding to get rid of a good portion of my books (check out the list here and email me if you're interested, I'm willing to ship them to you. I'm thinking $3 for paperbacks and $5 for hardcovers). But I think it's necessary. Although I have a deep love for them, I know that they are meant to be cracked open and read. Most of these I've read in advanced reader copies and so, the hardcover books sit on my shelf in beautiful condition. That's not to say I am not keeping some. I think I will still be able to fill up 3-4 bookcases. But, I might clear out some more. To make room for new ones and to remind my baby girl that, although books are very important in our lives, they are still just things. And besides, the memory of the books that we read, live on inside of us as long as our imagination allows.

What was the last great book you read? The one that you wanted to tell everyone about? The one that still makes you smile? For me, I'd have to say it's How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? which I read to the frog princess on the dining room floor with about 500 books surrounding us.

Electronic Clutter

As I think about decluttering, I realize that it extends to iHottie (the Mac).  I have all kinds of files to organize and categorize but, I think a quick win would be to start with emails.  Why you ask? Well, it seems that my emails are out of control. Why do I have over 6 email accounts? Is all that necessary? I always have good explanations too!  But ultimately, do I need them all? I can't even keep up!  So, let's start deleting!  I've also decided to start unsubscribing from all the things that I don't read/look at.  It's like the boxes in your closet/garage.  If you haven't used it in the last couple of months and it's not a seasonal thing, are you really ever going to make use of it?  I'm trimming the fat and trying to simplify more than just my physical space.

I'm finding that, all the clutter (electronic or otherwise) ends up taking space in my day that could be used for something else.  It also takes a level of energy away from you that you can't really get back.  Slowly but surely, I'm honing in to the things that take my attention but don't necessarily deserve my focus.

What do you find yourself being sucked into day in and day out that causes you to be busy but doesn't necessarily equate to you being productive?  What holds your attention that you can do without?  What can you do today to change that?