New Year, New Look: What I did in January

Into its third year, my blog is finally looking the way I want it to! I’m really excited about the new theme and the header image. (The theme is “Skeptical,” and the photo is one I took of Edinburgh harbor from the Royal Yacht Britannia.)

January is one of my favorite months. I love the clean slate after the holiday clutter. This year I vowed to do a once-every-five-years de-cluttering and cleaning, including reorganizing the kitchen cupboards, cleaning closets and bathrooms cabinets, tidying up my studio, finishing with a grand sweep of the garage last Wednesday. It was fun to visit with neighbors who stopped by, asking us to do theirs next. We put out a full trash can and two full recycling containers; my husband took a huge carload to a junk drive and I took some items to hazardous waste disposal. (Sadly, a birthday gift of a hand-knit hat and scarf accidentally went to the junk drive, but I told the intended recipient we’d laugh about it someday. In the meantime I’m knitting new ones for her.)

I also emptied, dusted and reorganized bookshelves, intending to give some books away. I eliminated only one, but I did establish a whole shelf of books, about 40, I haven’t read, ranging from great classics (War and Peace) to fluff (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), and lots in between, including several dark and nihilistic books from a college philosophy class (Doctor Faustus, The Sleepwalkers). It’s not likely I’ll read them all but I know where to go when I’m looking for the next book to read (in addition to the pile next to my chair that includes Bill Bryson, Barbara Kingsolver and Abraham Verghese).

One thing I learned is we have too much stuff. Even though we’re pretty thrifty, it’s amazing how much we accumulate and then get rid of. 

I also learned that we should never buy an over-the-counter drug or toiletry item without first checking to see if we already have it. I found nine bottles of eye drops, of which eight were expired. We have stim-u-dents, nasal strips, dental floss and hair and foot products out the wazoo. And why does a couple who never plays cards have six decks, including Elvis, Santa-shaped, and round? I even weeded out the toy bins so Chloe can find things without digging through dead markers and ratty stuffed animals.

One thing that helps me get-‘er done is my new to-do list system. I have two clipboards, one for everyday tasks and one for creative ideas for writing or art projects. On each is a stack of notebook paper, with a week’s list on top. Each day gets its own items, and anything else I want to get done that week goes on the right. It gets messy and scribbled and marked out, and then it’s discarded (although I probably should keep them as some sort of weird historical record). Even when I have several projects going at once it helps me stay on track with priorities, and also pick up the little items that might be forgotten. Of all the organizing systems I’ve tried through the years this has been the most successful for me.

List week of 1-27

When I did the kitchen re-org, I decided to hang the stemware to free up shelf space. Although he griped throughout the process, my husband now takes credit for how nice it looks. It’s so pretty it’s like decorating the kitchen with bubbles.

Hanging stemware, installed by proud handyman Gary Payne

Hanging stemware, installed by proud handyman Gary Payne

Update on New Year’s Eve: We told Chloe she could stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square, which is 11 our time, but she wanted to stick it out till midnight. She snuggled in bed with her new tablet and gave me time updates every five minutes. We turned everything off at 12:05 and went to sleep, but maybe she’ll remember New Year’s 2014 as I remember 1954.

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  1. Ezra, Ernest and a Valentine’s Do-Over | Wiggins Words and Images - February 14, 2014

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