Friday, September 25, 2015

Checking In

Hi friends,

Happy Friday to you all. I hope your week went well and that you have some rest or relaxation planned for the weekend.

Today I'm linking up with


I don't have a lot of exciting things to share today (I have some photos to share at the end of the post). That's because I've been busy the whole week long still trying to get my little home organized.

My organizing tasks mushroomed from doing my dresser drawers (only half way completed) and 3 closet shelves to organizing things in the entire condo.  Yes!

I've been bouncing from here to there. Doing this and then doing that. In between is a little shopping to try and find the right aids to getting things organized. I'm not obsessive about organizing or I would have already been organized. I just like to have a place for everything and everything in it's place. I also don't like clutter but have plenty of it. It is easy to end up with clutter if you don't keep up to purging on a daily or weekly basis. With my fluctuating energy levels, busy schedule and role as a caregiver  my time for taking care of more than the daily tasks is somewhat limited.  I do the best I can and every now and then, energy permitting, I am able to do more. That's why right now, my organizing and cleaning is priority. Not blogging, not taking photos, not reading or doing crafts or even socializing. I am taking advantage of the rare motivation to get some of the big tasks out of the way while I am up to it and before the cold weather arrives. Truth be told, I'm only half way through the things I want to get done and my energy levels are beginning to wane a bit.

Anyway I am happy to report that I'm making good progress.  This kind of most may not be all that interesting to many of you but it helps me to write down what I've done so I can remember later where I've spent my time!

Bedroom:  I have organized about half of my closet space and half of the dresser drawers.  There are far too many t-shirts, shoes and miscellaneous so a purge is underway. I put together 2 large bags of clothing and miscellaneous linens for giveaway.  I've also sorted through about 5 bags of mom's clothing and discarded some.  There is still a large bag of nice items for giveaway.

It was tricky to find the right size of plastic transparent containers for my closet shelves.  The photo shows one I found at Jysk. They are a bit smaller than I would like but they will do since the next size up is too large.The plastic covers will be stored under the tubs until they are needed as I'm leaving the tubs open on my closet shelves for easier access.

Out of season shoes have been stored under the bed but the fabric boxes are not the right size. I need to find an inexpensive shoe container and have been looking in the stores each time I visit them. Oddly enough I usually see a lot of this item in the stores but right now it seems they only have the ones that hang in the closet. There is no room to hang shoes or handbags in my closet.

Living Room:  I keep yarns for multiple projects in beautiful woven baskets in my living room.  I've emptied some of the yarns I've been keeping in them as they were looking a bit too full.  The overflow yarn has been placed in  rubber baskets from Dollarama and stored in the closet space formerly occupied by shoes. Some formerly too small storage containers in a storage cabinet in the living room have been replaced with larger ones that fit perfectly into the space and the space (2 interior shelves) is being reorganized for maximum storage use.  Many craft and sewing items are stored in this cabinet as well as things like heating pads and other items that are needed on a regular basis in the living area.  A large number of reusable shopping bags were also stored in there to get them out of the way but they will now be moved or given away so the best use can be made of this precious space.

Bathroom:  The main objective in the bathroom is to corral the clutter on the counter top and to have easy access to products.  If products are visible it is easier to see what is there and use it up rather than buy duplicate items because you can't see what is there.  The other objective is to find a way to store all bathroom related items, in the bathroom.

A chrome toilet paper holder, a few small, wooden spice racks from IKEA, and a towel shelf have been purchased.  These items will help free up counter space and make everything a look more tidy. It will also mean towels can come out of the master closet and be stored in the bathroom. 

The IKEA spice rack idea came from the internet.  There are many photos on the internet showing how people have creatively used these spice racks in a variety of ways.  Here is just one example. In this case, the homeowner turned the spice rack upside down and made a towel holder too.

Photo Credit: Photo from Wedding Bee

Kitchen:  I've cleared out the shelf above the microwave where the cookbooks were stored.  In it's place are all linens and dishcloths in baskets.  Half of the cookbooks have been purged and are being given away.  The ones I want to keep have been placed into magazine holders because there are a lot of small, unique cookbooks I have. Really they are more like pamphlets and they need to be contained.

I've also reorganized the kitchen counter space. My kitchen is very small and storage is very limited. I have no pantry and it is always a challenge to keep the counter functioning as it should. That means I reorganize my kitchen counter tops at least once or twice a year. Since I now have a powerful Vitamix Blender, the blender I used before will be given away. It is still a good blender but I know it will give out long before the Vitamix does. It also doesn't grind grains into flour.

Paperwork:  All old mail has been opened and excess paper recycled.  I always get behind in this task though the bill payments are automated to ensure timely payments are made. I am a visual and tactile person so I like to handle the papers as opposed to have everything on line.  I just find it easier to review information in a paper format and to have it handy when I need to follow up on items by phone. I also make notes directly on the bills when I need too so I can keep track of who I spoke to and what was agreed upon.  This week I also caught up to organizing the bills by bill type (Hydro power, telephone, credit cards, etc.) in reverse chronological order. I like to keep them this way until I'm ready to discard them. I save discarding for when I have a lot of time because each paper needs to be shredded or burned to ensure no personal information is mislaid.  I also save all paper  receipts until I've had a chance to compare them with bank and credit card statements. This week I got rid of numerous receipts but have a few more to go through. Any receipts that are needed for warranty purposes are kept in a special file folder in the file cabinet.

Dining Room:  My dining room table is usually where all the sewing and organizing of things takes place. I have no other place to do the sewing but it is easy to get in the habit of leaving the sewing machine and other items out on the table.  I don't like all the visual clutter so I found a trolley that I will use to store everything but have it all to hand.  The trolley is from IKEA and I purchased 2 of them in black though they also come in turquoise and beige.

One trolley will be for my sewing machine and current projects.  The other trolley will be used to store books and office supplies near my desk, canned goods in the kitchen or possibly will be loaned to my mom so she can store her CD player and music on it.  The trolley is very compact so doesn't take much space.  Again, there are countless photos on the internet as to how creative people have used these trolleys. It will be so nice to have my dining room table back.  The only downside is that if you live in the USA these trolleys only cost $29.99, whereas in Canada they are $69.99 each. That is a huge difference and much more than the difference in currency exchange would rationalize. (If you are a Canadian and would like these trolleys but don't mind them in black/gray, you can buy them at Home Depot for $39.99. That is a much better price than IKEA).

Other:  In addition to all my shopping, cleaning and organizing I've been turning my mind to Christmas which will be here soon enough. While I was out shopping for my needs, I was also looking for what I could find for gift ideas for family and friends. I've purchased some small items like tea towels, calendars and different items specific to each friend or family member. So I've got a good start on what I need for Christmas though of course there is more to be done to be thoroughly ready.

After all my hard work, I realize I am only really half way through this project. I thought I was farther along but each time I do something I think of another thing to do.

Some of these  organizing ideas and tasks have been on my mind for years so I am glad to finally be doing them.

It should take another week or two to get the household in good order and as organized as I am likely to get it before Christmas.  Eliminating all excess paperwork and paring my books back to bare essentials will be another major project which will take more time. I likely won't be posting about much of this for various reasons.

I only wanted to capture some of my organizing efforts here on the blog so I can look back and have something to reference later.  It is also for those of you who are used to reading a post from me on a regular basis.  That way you will know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth and I haven't forgotten about blogging.  I've just been occupied.

In a few weeks I should have more interesting things to post about.

I already feel so much better after clearing out  bags of giveaways and more bags of trash.

Tomorrow the utility carts can be put together.  After that the bathroom items will be put up on the wall and things can be nicely put away. It will be wonderful when things are contained.

 I leave you now with some pretty photos.

Poppy Macro

Sky watch in Vancouver

Vase of  long stemmed blooms

Rocky Mountains, Alberta Canada

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Bit of This and That

Hi folks,

I hope you are all doing fine.

I've been doing a little of this and that over the past 5 days or so.

First, I've been busy "window shopping" for various home decor accents, mainly throw cushions. Covers for throw cushions to be exact. I couldn't find what I want and certainly not at the prices I want to pay. Most cushion covers are priced at anywhere from $7.99 for a small lumber pillow to about $89 or so for a nicely patterned cover with cushion inside.   

Instead I decided to make cushion covers using some of my Japanese indigo fabric purchased over the summer at a sale price of $12. Canadian.  The remaining cushion covers will be made using some inexpensive solid burgundy pillow cases and burgundy/beige/white pillow cases with elephant pattern.  Both sets were purchased earlier in the week at $1.99 (+ tax) Canadian for each set.  Now I just need to find some deep gold coloured fabric (cost unknown) to make a few lumbar support cushions.  For closures, I will use buttons I have on hand instead of zippers. All cushions are for a friend who doesn't read this blog.  Grand total cost for 8 cushion covers will be around $20 (including tax) Canadian.  The cushion inserts will cost extra.

An idea of what the cushion covers will look like when done. I need to find fabric in gold/mustard colour.

This is the Persian inspired carpet in the living area. Current sofa and chair are a mustard colour.

At home I've started on another major decluttering exercise which usually gets combined with home organization.  Each time I get rid of a lot of things, I also end up moving things,  storing them in different locations and sometimes buying more storage containers.  Those of you who purge and organize on a regular basis know that the task is never really done.  I try to implement a major declutter once or twice each year.  But it has probably been a bit longer than that since I last tackled this task.  In this go around, I've decided one of my key tasks will be to organize my dresser drawers (and closet shelves) better so clothing is visible to the wearer.  I also plan to empty all the bags I've been storing under my dining table. Bags of fabric and clothing that need to find a home, go to the thrift or get thrown out.  I also have bags in my bedroom that need sorting. I am still trying to pare down what I inherited from my sister and my mother (mostly my mother). The storage room is filled to capacity so whatever I have in my home needs to be pared down. The kitchen will also be given a once over. I have at least one appliance to give away and a lot of cookbooks I need to pare down. Ideally I'd like to get rid of al cookbooks since I basically only use online recipes. But that is a pipe dream. I love books too much.

So to help with getting my dresser organized, I stopped at a Japanese variety store earlier this week.  The store is sort of like a dollar store though most goods cost at least $2.00 and go marginally upward in price.  I was looking for drawer dividers.  Not the basket or container type, but the kind that partitions the drawers.

I found two types of dividers to try and have since organized the small dresser drawers where socks and undergarments are kept.  The total cost was $10. but I need to buy one more sock container at another $2. for a grand total of $12. Canadian. Perhaps I will upload a photo or two when done with this project.

I also need to purchase some inexpensive fabric or plastic boxes suitable for larger clothing items.  These are for the larger dresser drawers and for the open grid shelves in my closets. For the moment, I've used several shoe boxes and a cardboard box in one large drawer. I've rolled up the t-shirts and put them side by side so they are clearly identifiable when the drawer is opened. If I had more boxes I would simply use them instead.

There are fabric boxes and various kinds of plastic storage containers widely available in my city and in a very wide range of prices.  I live in a large city but if you live in a smaller city or town, the best place to check for organizational items would be the local dollar store. If you don't have one of these, then Amazon is a good place to buy them and Wal-Mart also has these kinds of items.  Personally, I prefer to buy these types of items in a brick and mortar store so I can examine them and buy them on the spot if they will suit the purpose.

Dollarama and the Dollar Tree are the next stores I will check out.  I never get to the latter but will make a point of going there soon to check out what they have since all items are priced at no more than $1.25 Canadian whereas items at Dollarama can go up to $3.00 and the Japanese variety store prices are also $2. or more.

None of these prices sound so expensive.  But when you are purchasing a lot of items it is best to spend the least amount possible on each item.  The total can really add up even at small prices per item.  For example, to separate socks and undergarments the spend is a  grand total of $12 (+ tax ) Canadian.  But there are still 3 large dresser drawers (estimated cost to organize each drawer is at least 3 times more for each drawer ($36 each or subtotal $108  + tax).  There are also up to 8 closet shelves to organize.  Depending on what kind of containers one buys it can be anywhere from $6 to $20 per shelf (estimated subtotal $ 48 to - $160 total for the shelves). That means I potentially have another $158 to $268  (+ tax) total Canadian to spend on organizers dresser drawers and closet shelves.  This is still a high cost when you consider that all items are going to be purchased in dollar stores or inexpensive variety stores rather than the high end container stores.

There is no way I am going to spend this amount to organize clothing.  

I simply cannot fathom spending that kind of money when there are so many needs in Kenya and here at home.

  Now you see why I haven't already organized these spaces. 

In the past I've just folded everything nicely and tried to keep it organized as best I can by colour and garment type.  But my system just hasn't been working too well.  It is also  too much work to keep clothing from getting all jumbled and messy because my closet shelves are open grid.  I need an economical way to organize the clothing.

Perhaps the solution is to make my own out of foam board. Here is a good YouTube tutorial if any of you are also interested. You could even cover cardboard pieces with Mac Tac contact paper or wrapping paper. Personally this is too much work for me.  But it might work for you if you have time and especially if you already have all the required items around your home. Foam boards are available at Staples for about $14. (+ tax) for 3 sheets. I will need at least 9 sheets for a total of $42 (+ tax). I already have the cutter. Wal-mart Canada also sells the foam board in store at 2 sheets for about $6 (+ tax) so this is a better deal. Perhaps they also sell it at the dollar stores for even less. I also like the idea of just using boxes so you can use different size boxes that will fit into your space. If you don't like the look of boxes you can cover them with wall paper, Mac Tac, wrapping paper or colourful tape from the dollar store.  I'm not 100 percent sure yet what solution I will use but I will do what is quickest and cheapest for me to get the job done soon.

While I was out looking for organizing aids I was also finally able to find a suitable phone for my mother.  My brother and I have both been looking for a set for over a month both on line and in store.  He was even going to go across the border to buy the phone we need.  But on Thursday evening I found a suitable phone on a sale price of $69.99 (+ tax) marked down from $99.99 (+ tax).  I was happy.

Some time ago I started reading a biography on Charles Dickens and while I have been enjoying it I simply haven't had too much time for reading. I've renewed the book several times already and it can't be renewed any more so I've decided I'm prepared to pay a small over due find of about $1.50 for one week so I can finish the book.  After posting about this, I called the library and was able to get an extension to the loan period for one additional week. That's great and a savings of $1.50.

Besides shopping and organizing, I've been knitting a stash of dishcloths for home use and for small gifts. I've also been giving some thought to what to get for Christmas gifts this year and have a lot of ideas for economical and sentimental gifts that will be suitable for my family members.

In progress
This is a beautiful buck from the land of Kenya.

And here are two beautiful exotic birds living at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver.

Pied Imperial Pigeon

An Electus Parrot. I think his name is Kiwi.

I hope your week has been a good one.

Joining with our host Eileen at Saturday's Critters.

Enjoy the weekend and the week ahead!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Waning Days of Summer

Summer of 2015 has gone by in a whirl. I don't feel that I had time to sit and breathe. 

I reflected the other day on what I really accomplished in summer of 2015. 

My conclusion is that the summer was devoted to family celebrations so this is a good thing.

In late May, my nephew graduated with his first degree (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology) so there were several events (graduation, reception and dinner) devoted to that. There were also new clothes to buy and gifts to think about.   As most of you know, all this takes time beyond the actual days of specific celebrations.

It was all fun and since then he went on his much anticipated trip to Europe.  He is now back to university in a Master's Program and will focus on Behavioral Neuroscience. Basically he is studying what happens to our brains as we age and has already been doing laboratory research for the past several years while doing his undergraduate work.

In June I paid a visit to my mom and there is always a lot of preparation involved in getting her the different things she needs between visits.

In July I prepared for my niece's visit for a week and we celebrated her birthday with her brother and other family members while she was here.

In mid to late August I was busy preparing for another trip to see mom. This included shopping and making a few items of clothing.
My brother and I travelled together as it was mom's birthday and we all celebrated together.
Other family members like my nephew had celebrated with her a few days earlier.
It was nice that mom had multiple visits and celebrations.

Now that it is getting to be the middle of September I am catching up on some of my own needs.

There are always a host of things to do: blood work, diabetes workshops, foot care, eye care, etc.

I've been busy going for my annual eye check and eye specialist check. Actually this year I went to two separate eye specialists.  One of them repaired a retinal tear I had last year.  Now I go for follow up check ups. I don't have to go so often. Now it will be once a year.
The other one monitors the general health of my eyes to catch any diabetes related issues.

Thankfully everything is fine on the eye front. 
The retinal tear is fully healed and I have no diabetes related eye issues.
When I went to the optometrist in June, she said my prescription has not changed much.  This meant  I didn't bother with any new glasses this year.
Instead I bought a year's supply of contact lenses as it is much cheaper to buy for a year rather than 3 months at a time.
Today's eye specialist said the contacts sit very well on my eyes.  That is a good thing since glasses cause problems for me like eye strain and headaches.

My blood glucose reading (A1C) has significantly improved since my last blood work done 3 months ago.
 In fact, it is better than it has been in at least 15 months.
My blood pressure is normal too.

All this was very good news.  It gives me the motivation and encouragement I need to stay on track and to even ramp up my efforts wherever I can.
It is so important that my blood glucose gets normalized so I can lose the weight I've gained since being diagnosed with diabetes.
It has been a frustratingly long and slow process to get healthier.  Now I realize that my efforts didn't work so well without the right medication.  Every bit of good news is welcome and my doctors know that my aim is to get off the medications completely.  They believe it can be done.

I heard on the weather report that today and tomorrow will be some of our last, warmer summer days.
So after my appointments today, I had a nice walk home and captured these sky shots
and this flowering bush. 

I'm not sure what this plant is.
It looks like a hydrangea but the blooms are rather long for a hydrangea.
The odd shaped blossoms might have to do with the very hot weather and lack of rain we've had this summer.
Update: Georgene, one of my readers correctly identified the bush as a Crepe Myrtle. Thank you, Georgene!

I hope you've enjoyed your summer whatever you've done.
I wish you a beautiful Fall/Autumn.

If you are on the other side of the globe, I wish you
a beautiful Spring and Summer.
Thanks for stopping by.

Joining up with Skywatch Friday and Good Fences.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On the Road Again

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
"On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson

Another whirl wind trip has been completed.
I got home very late on Wednesday and was quite tired but had some missions business to attend to in Kenya.

That done, I tried to do a number of things: call my mom to let her know I arrived safely home, partially knit a new dishcloth, view & cull  trip photos and prepare this post.
I thought it would be nice to share a lot more photos this time of the road trip especially since the weather was quite variable throughout.

I'm not sure what happened but it took several tries before the mosaics were successfully saved.

Starting out in Vancouver it was raining. I didn't start taking photos until almost in Chilliwack. Here is a map just to help situate you if you are not so familiar with the Province of British Columbia.

 A map is always nice to situate oneself. We travelled from Vancouver through Burnaby, Surrey, Chilliwack, Hope, Merritt and Kamloops (Merritt is located just south of where it says Logan Lake).
Clicking on the collages/mosaics will enlarge them a bit.
Highway & weather between Vancouver and Hope

The weather conditions in both directions was much the same each way; raining in the Lower Mainland and 
scattered cloud in the Interior. 

The gusts of wind were quite chilly. Most definitely not like the past few months.

Highway and weather between Merritt and Kamloops

A small group of 5 enjoyed a combination of Chinese cuisine topped off with sodas and white cake as per my mother's favourite cake. It was all quite the starch overload today. 

I compensated by having water and a chicken Caesar Salad for dinner as well as the requisite road beverage, coffee!

The tops, skirt and care package here were all gratefully received but the telephone has to be exchanged since the new set didn't have clips to attach to clothing.

As always I managed to tidy the dresser drawers and closet, cull the clothing and put away all food snacks.
It is always a quick journey requiring days of preparation to make sure everything is done just right.
This trip went very smoothly and enjoyably.

I hope your week is going well.

Skywatch Friday

Mosaic Monday

Tuesday 4 ~ Books

Welcome back to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 . Books are such a big part of many people's lives. Maybe we should talk about that. 1. Do y...