Manageable Resolution

Seems like everyone by Valentine’s Day is either sick of their resolution(s) or at least we’ve moved on from talking about them or making them.  I’m slow.

I usually make a resolution.  Mine are typically general, vague, and mostly immeasurable, and that works for me.  Last year my resolution was to make more of an effort in putting myself together.  Mostly that meant to shower and get dressed for the day every morning.  Wear jewelry most days.  Very reachable and enjoyable.

I think the year before I made the goal to only eat what was delicious.  That was a fun goal.  I gave myself permission to not finish something if I didn’t like how it tasted.  I don’t think I stuck to that one.  I still like to clean my plate.

This year, my goal is simply put and hard to complete: be more content.

Contentment.  Satisfaction with where I am, what I have, and what I’m doing.  This isn’t lazy; this is hard work.  If I’m content, that means I’m going to take better care of what I have because I’m not giving myself permission to buy something new just because I want it.  So I’m washing my slipcovers so my furniture looks really nice even though it is all the cheap stuff from IKEA.  I’m going to dye my jeans that are fading, making them black again because a bottle of black dye is $2 and new jeans are… a lot more.   I’m not even going to price them out because I don’t need new jeans.  I’m not going to complain about the weather where I live, longing for anywhere but here, but I’m going to enjoy the seasons as they come.  I’m going to have more margin and not pack my day so full my peace spills out and over the edge of a glass too filled.

content mary poppins

There’s a lot of “being present” that seems to be a side-effect of striving to live content.

How about you?  What are your contentment killers?  What helps you feel a sense of contentment?


Splinter Kit

I’m sorting through the mess that is my homemade first aid kit. 

A good kit should be accessible and I’m sure there’s stuff that needs to be pitched in the depths of this bin. 

I was keeping “like” things in plastic bags. If you’ve ever put anti itch instead of anti bacterial cream on a boo boo you’ll separate things too. 

My favorite invention is our splinter kit. Truth be told, our magnifying glass is blurry and never used, so the only things we need are the tweezers and needles. It’s so nice when someone has a splinter to not hunt for tweezers in the cosmetic bag and a needle in the sewing kit. 

After dumping or relocating some things I’m left with a much neater first aid kit. 

Lots of trash…  I’m not sure about expiration dates on medicine. I’m guessing it’s a potency thing rather than a spoiling, but when one is labeled 2012, it’s time.  Well, way past time. 

Unloading vs. Loading

Loading the dishwasher is enjoyable, maybe especially for those of us who went years without one, because of the challenge to arrange things in the best way to get clean and to stuff it to the max.  I’ll rearrange it over and over as I fill it just to get it all in there.  If there’s something just won’t fit, I may leave it for the next load rather than handwash it.  I’m that person.  Lazy?  Yeah, that shoe fits.

Unloading is another matter.

It shouldn’t be.  The dishes are clean, the work has been done, but somehow I feel less enthusiastic about putting it all away.  Laundry can be like that, (love to wash; hate to fold?) but once I got efficient about my folding and putting away I do it expeditiously.  Woo!  Making word-of-the-day proud.

So, I’ve been working on a system to make unloading the dishwasher, which is a chore, less of a chore.  I amuse myself that I’ve found what goads my laziness or at least my procrastination to do something about the full-clean dishwasher.  It’s the back-tracking that bugs me.  I don’t like opening this cabinet to put this dish in, then a different cabinet to put away that dish, then lo and behold there’s another dish to go in the previous cabinet.  As exercise though, I’m sure it increases my steps.

When you move houses, it’s most efficient to load a large moving truck with everything, drive it to your location and unload it even if you’re moving down the block.  I need to pile the dishes once, in a single location, and then put them away.  Is that why loading the dishwasher is easier as most dirty dishes are in a single location, already in the sink or on the counter?  I’m making it a habit to unload the entire dishwasher in drip-efficient order onto the nearest clean counter, then moving a whole stack to their destination.  No more two plates at a time.

First, I need to unload the sink-side drain of all dishes that were drying from the previous dishwasher load and anything that had to be washed by hand.  I need the drain empty so I can air-dry this current load.


My silverware is on the door itself, not everyone’s is.  This is my step one, but if yours is on the bottom rack I would suggest making this your first unload in the bottom rack.  I try to load my silverware heads up to get clean and to be able to put them away without having to turn them.  I can do it in one trip with loaded fistfuls.   Anything else in the silverware holder that is not silverware then gets put away or put in the drying rack.

Then the bottom rack.  Why?  Because the top rack often contains plastics which retain water drops.  If you pull out the top rack, that water will drip on the bottom dry dishes.  (When this happens you can hear my disappointed “NOOOOOO!” from space.  Seriously, it’s just water, but it feels like failure.)  I have been unloading the bottom rack entirely and stacking the plates, bowls, etc into groups to be put away.  Just like unloading a laundry basket into piles by a garment’s destination.

Then I unload the top rack, which is mostly wet and goes straight into the sink-side drain to finish air drying, but the dry items join the queue on the counter.  Finally, I close the dishwasher and put everything on the counter away in the fewest trips possible.   Or sometimes I load it anew from the dirty dish piles on the counter and in the sink, and then close it and then put dishes away.  Truth.

If this seems like waaaay too much thought put in to unloading a dishwasher, you’re absolutely right.  Over-thinking it… also a shoe sized “Maria.”  Maybe simply being grateful to have clean dishes I get to put away is enough to get the job done.  Finish strong friends!!

Outfit Options or Lack Thereof

I stock my daughters drawers the same way I do everyone’s in our home, newly folded clothes to the back of the drawer to rotate them.  So it should be easy enough to just grab the first item in the drawer and put it on.  But, she likes some choices, and I learned she likes to see an outfit laid out, not separate pieces.  Plus, some tops just go better with specific bottoms.img_6722

So, I check my weather app for the week’s forecast and create 5 outfits on Sunday and hang them on hangers.  I try to use one hanger for each day, but tutus are simply hung beside a day’s hanger.

Jeans and shorts I hang on a hanger with a shirt using a belt loop…img_6720

or a tag if there isn’t a loop…img_6721

I fold leggings directly on the hanger. img_6719

Now there’s 5 outfits for 5 days and she has some choice (I often hold up two hangers, “This one or this one”), but not so many choices that it will keep her from getting ready and getting out the door in time for school.  I’m a big advocate for a lack of options.

How about you?  Do you lay out clothes for the next day or do you do it for someone in your family?

Managing the Mess in the Toddler Boy’s Room

I walk in to my son’s room and I’m often momentarily overwhelmed by… 

So tempted to get rid of all of it. But, no. It just needs tidying. It won’t take long if I break it up. 



No floor space. 

That didn’t help. Now it’s just more. 

Okay. Bed first and throw all of the stuffed animals to the back. It’s where they’re kept for now. 😦

Make the bed…

Stick the weapons in a bag on his chair. Someday I’ll do those awesome peg board walls with all of them on display, but not today. 

Using my dustpan (great for lego bricks and small toys) I scoop the dinos back into the fancy box. Ha!  It’s going in the closet. No one sees it. 

His favorite toys on the window seat. He loves things at chest level. 

That’s better. 

Then later we bought 50 cent brackets and hung shelves using boards from a broken down book case that we saved from being trashed. 

Now he has more chest level play surfaces and the floor is so much less cluttered!

I’m currently reading The Inspired Room (the book) by Melissa Michaels and she calls this “everyday on display.” 


I attended an efficiency workshop in college with the office staff I worked with. One of the tips the leader gave was to do something like listen to your voicemail while you’re waiting for computer to turn on. People were nodding and taking notes as I sat there thinking, “Duh.”  

I was the youngest in the room by at least 15 years, so maybe that accounted for it. My generation seems incapable of doing one thing at a time. 

Multitasking is second-nature to me. 

Then I read A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel. It’s all about a tragic car accident caused by texting while driving, but also gets neuroscientists to chime in about what happens when you multitask. Multitasking makes each job you’re doing less efficient. My phone stays on “do not disturb” now and this book will be required reading for my kids before they get their licenses. 

More on the issues of multitasking in this article… 

But there’s a difference between doing more than one thing at a time and doing something in the dead time that you would usually spend waiting on something, i.e. checking voicemail while your computer turns on. (Anyone remember the term cold booting?) 

So, I call some of my home efficiencies “simul-tasking.” Doing things at the same time where all but one requires no attention. 

You do these things already, but I find greater appreciation for the work now that I have a term for it. 

My favorite simultasker is definitely my dishwasher. Doing anything while it’s running fills me with joy. Unloading it is not my favorite thing ever, so I now brew my coffee while I unload and I have a reward waiting for me as soon as I’ve finished. Sweet simul-tasking. 

My washer and dryer are great for simultasking too. 

Chopping vegetables while you’re boiling water for pasta… simultask. 
We have ridiculously low pressure in our kitchen sink (we will fix it sometime); if I have to fill a pot, it sits in the sink while I gather the rest of my ingredients. I almost like my snail-slow faucet.  

Yep, I totally timed it just to see and it takes more than two minutes to fill it to pasta depth. 

How about you? What are your simultasks?

Fold Smarter, Faster, Better

Have you ever heard “trying to fold laundry around a toddler is like trying to stack papers on a desk with a fan blowing on it” ?  It’s a great exercise in futility. It’s like a row of lined up dominoes or a stack of blocks. Something in them just has to knock it down. (Result of The Fall?)

Like I warned an older child who wanted to play blocks when my daughter was less than 1, “Don’t get too attached, she will wreck your masterpiece;” if I fold it they will come.

I needed to find a better way.

A smarter, faster, better way.

The task-et, the basket…


Set the scene…


I now fold standing up not sitting down, making me fold faster already.

How great is this couch?!  Had it for years and never used its fine flat edges as a perfect folding platform until recently. IMG_5302

My mental map of where the piles go by destination…couch

Remove every item and place in piles by owner/destination. It’s like setting a table. (Actually, folding on a table, around a taller bed, or right on on the kitchen counter would all make a good alternative if you can’t stand behind a couch.)

They don’t mess with the piles, oddly enough. It’s only the folded stacks that make them go all Hulk Smash.

Now the basket is already empty. This may be a placebo effect, but I feel accomplished just by seeing the bottom, even before folding.

I carry away the kitchen pile and fold the items right on the counter and put them away. Everything in drawers is stacked vertically now since Marie Kondo’s book.

Actually, just read this and get the basics…


In order to rotate wear I stock my newly laundered items in the back and pull from the front.



Beautiful right?!


Back to the couch and I fold each pile and put it away one destination at a time.

By using the couch I can fold vertically and stack right up against the backrest.




I still rubberband the pjs!


And stock them from the back. IMG_5341



When I sat and folded it took a lot of motivation to stand back up and put it all away. It also made my back ache. Now when I’m done folding I’m basically finished putting it all away and a body in motion stays in motion.

I love my new folding system. As my kids get older I’m already planning on having them fold their own pile.

How about you?  Does folding and putting away clothes get lost in your home?  Are my kids the only ones that enjoy throwing folded clothes?