Organizing the Filing Cabinet

Here we go!

In my house, the filing cabinet is a fairly big an usually overwhelming task. Who wants to sit down and sort paperwork and place every piece of paper in correct chronological order anyway? I know I don’t. It’s like I told my friend, “I’ll know I’ve finally become an adult when I make my bed every morning”, well… I really feels like this follows suit. In my defence, I’ve switched a lot of our bills, statements and general filing cabinet items online. Therefore, there’s a lot less work going on in this paper-filled cabinet nowadays. I made a first attempt at this about 2 or 3 years ago, when the filing cabinet was about ready to burst, and it was well in need of another good going-over. This time, I made a few changes to make it easier for me to use on a steady basis. A lot of the old tabs and organization was outdated, and no longer relevant to our household, so that needed to be updated to the raw basics, with the addition of some new labels that I wished I had had over the years. This is what I started with:

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Look, I know a lot of people laugh at me when I say, “Go buy the pretty things! If it makes you happy, you’ll be more willing to use it!” But honestly, this is no joke. You know what prompted my re-organization of the filing cabinet? These pretty new folders! I bought them at the dollar store, and I love working with them. I wanted to see these suckers every time I opened the filing cabinet instead of those old drab plain folders that everyone else has, and it was just enough motivation for me to sit down and get it done.
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Aren’t they nice? You never know where you’ll find the pretties, so keep your eyes out for something that suits your tastes!

Anyway, the very first thing I did was whip out my new label maker. Easy to use, a good amount of options, etc. etc. etc. and I broke down what labels I use, the ones I didn’t and which new ones I should add. Obviously these may differ in your household, so you should figure out what paperwork you feel you need to keep, and how you want to organize it. For me the categories were as follows:
-Bills
Power
Phone
Phone/Internet
-Accounts
Credit Cards
Bank Statements
-Income
Taxes
Pay Stubs
-Vehicle
Registrations
Insurance
-Warranties (This was an important new addition)
Electronics
Batteries
Living Room
Kitchen
Appliances
Other
-Barbara D. Photography
Contracts
Model Release Forms
Receipts

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After my labels were done, my next task was to go through the paperwork that was currently being stored in my filing cabinet. I shred pretty much anything that comes out of here for a heads up, in case you were wondering. You might feel as though you don’t need to, if you store something non-personal, don’t worry about it, but it’s a safe bet that you want to shred anything that might give someone the ability to steal your money. I tossed anything that was before 2012 unless it had a special significance, think income tax paperwork. Many things didn’t, and therefore a vast amount of my papers disappeared. Once I had finished going through that whole mess, my filing cabinet already started to feel much more manageable and I hadn’t even put any folders in there yet! So I emptied my filing cabinet and went from there.

I began by using the hanging folders in a colour-coded system, instead of just throwing them in however I wanted to. Yellow = Financial (I would’ve preferred green, but couldn’t find any!), Red = Business, Blue = Important General Paperwork. So I put my label-maker to work again, and got to work with the categories. Once they were placed in the filing cabinet, I added the sub-category folders to them as well.

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Then, all that was left was to throw in the remaining paperwork!
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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Hahaha, please disregard the idiot date-stamp, I never remember to change/get rid of it!

Isn’t that much nicer? The larger labels are easier for me to read, the simple system I put in place makes it easier for me to find everything, the addition of a “warranties” area makes my life tons easier when something breaks down, especially car batteries! I am still working on improving this, so when I get my new budget underway I’ll probably devote another spot for that, as well as one for each of my kids as they age and begin creating paperwork for me to look after. But for now, this works, and I’m using it.

If you’re reorganizing your filing cabinet, these are my biggest recommendations:
1) Go through your current paperwork. Make a list of new categories you need, and omit those that you’re not using anymore.
2) If it’s over a year (max. 2) old, toss it. EXCEPTION: Income tax paperwork.
3) Keep it simple. Go back to basics. You can add more if you find you really need to, but if you make it too complicated, you may lose track of where exactly you put that bill since it appropriately goes into three of your folders ;).
4) Put your paperwork in chronological order, either back to front or front to back, but decide now and do the same thing for all folders.
5) If you can keep it online, do it! I’ve begun saving the .pdf files to a usb drive in case I need them for future use. Much less space than all of that old paperwork!

Let me see pictures of your new filing cabinet using the hashtag #3toa10life!

Keep going, it’s the only way you’ll make it there!
Barb

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Organizational Update

So this is the first post in reference to the “Organize Now!” book that I got myself while I was up in the city. I’ve thumbed through it numerous times and finally put my foot down and basically told myself that it’s time to start doing it! So here it goes, week 1. This should be fairly easy, so I’m actually going to do what I can here on the blog since most of it is writing things down.

The vision I have for my life:
This is such a toughie, I imagine so many things. I would love to earn an income being a teacher, a counselor, a landlord, a photographer, a farmer, etc. The list really does go on. I’m so undecided and have no idea what I want to become. My days would be filled of fun, love and laughter. I’d wake up early, have some time to myself, get my kids ready for their days and we’d go on fabulous adventures around town! I would live more, and worry less.

In the next 56 weeks, I want to accomplish the complete organization of my life and my house (mostly my house!) I cannot live like this forever, I need to be able to live in a house that functions much better than this one. I need to be able to easily walk through my hallway, and be able to find those damned things I put away for future use and then turn around and buy more of. I want to sit down and make a schedule that gives me the ability to workout, eat healthy, and lose some weight. I want to spend more time bonding and loving my children than I do cleaning up everything.

I’ll start going to bed earlier. Starting tonight. We’ll be going to bed at 11, unlike our usual 1 or 2 in the mornings. My ending plan is to get my bedtime pushed back to about 10:30, that way I should be able to wake up at 6:30 and get a good start to my day. The kids only have to get up around 7:15 when we start getting them into daycare/activities so it should work out. It’ll give me enough time to do at least a few minutes of cardio and just to sit down and breathe.

I think I’m just going to count this blog as my journal. It catalogues my life events and whatnot, so I might as well. I have other journals on the go which are more focused on notes for my future generations to read, so this should suffice to get my ideas, thoughts, emotions and whatnot written down.

The rest of the things this week will focus on small steps towards making my life a little more sane. It includes scheduling a few 2 or 3 minute breaks just to take a breather, scheduling some exercise time and limiting the amount of television we watch. The last one there is of considerable importance in this household. I want my children to be more focused on childhood activities than the t.v. Now that I finally have my boyfriend’s work schedule for the rest of the week, I’m going to head off and actually plan out those days!

I’ll let you know how the rest of the week went next Monday when I move on to week 2!

For now though, I’m off!
xoxo,
Barb

You know… sometimes, life happens

Wow, I would love to be able to tell you all about how busy I’ve been, and how awesome my house, weight loss and personal lives are coming along. Although I can’t brag about my non-existent sparkling clean kitchen, or my non-existent organized cupboards, I can tell you about the small steps I’ve taken which are slowly pulling me closer to a more organized chaos. This post may be a little all over the place, mostly just updates and some previews about what’s going to be coming up, so if you’re only looking for a post that contains one subject, skip along. If not, stay for the update after my impromptu-vacation from blogging.

I might as well start by telling you guys that I was going to blog, I’ve been over at my computer every night recently. Especially at the crazy hours like this (big mistake), however, when I was cleaning up my desk area (yup, finally got around to it! I CAN ACTUALLY USE MY DESKTOP AGAIN!) I found an old copy of a book I had began writing and instead decided to work on that instead. I feel a little guilty, because, you see… I had so many ideas about what to blog about, but some of them were fueled by the emotion I felt as these things were ongoing, and therefore I’ve lost the ability to write about them as passionately and focused on my book instead. I guess I was hiding from my blog while working on my book. That’s going to change, when I become more organized since I’ll have to include weekly dates for both tasks. However, this time, I AM going to FINISH this book. It’s about time that I finally finished at least one of the damn things I started… and this is really an idea that has stuck in my head throughout the years. Although I gave up on it last time due to a lack of ideas, amazingly enough, after picking it back up again my head is filling with all sorts of new ideas and turns for my story to take… but enough about that, I’ll let you guys know if I ever manage to finish it!

Secondly, I went up to the city and we went to the large Chapters store up there. All I can say is, wow! I’m not usually a bookworm, and I tend to stay away. Recently, however, I’ve found myself in them all the time. Ours is quite small, and I’m sad that I’m going to have to start ordering in online but they really don’t have much in the way of organization or decorating. I actually added a book to my cart a couple of weeks ago and decided to put it on hold until I was 100% sure about the purchase… and then found it at this place! I was so excited! The book is called, “Organize Now!” (the updated & expanded version) and it’s written by Jennifer Ford Berry. It’s a good handy tool to use for self-motivation, although not a really detailed book and I find it lacks slightly in ideas about how to accomplish everything on your weekly list. That being said, the only thing I actually have a problem with about this book is the fact that she recommends that 80% of your weekly groceries be pantry items, while only 20% be fresh. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that drives me crazy! I believe that an organized life, should be a healthier life. 80% pantry items does not a healthier life make /endrant. Really though, if you’re looking for a way to figure out everything you need to do, and a timeline on how to get it done, go have a look at the book at least. I’ll be making weekly posts about my progress from the book, or how I’ve changed things around.

So I was looking online at those books, right? And came across the most beautiful planner I think I’ve ever seen! It’s got a shiny peacock pattern on it, and it’s slightly larger than my usual planners. It began in July 2013, so I took that as a sign that I just needed to have it in my life! Currently everyone is colour-coded, yeah… I know that will never last! Still worth a shot though, makes it look prettier… which, in turn is actually helping me to use it a little more. The only problem I seem to be having is the fact that I’m too shy to make the phone calls I write down that I need to make… for no reason other than the fact that I usually sound like a total idiot whenever I get on the phone. I really believe this little planner will help me with the kids this upcoming year now that they’re old enough to get into activities and the like. My oldest daughter will be starting preschool and dance lessons for sure, as well as speech therapy if her preschool teacher refers her. Not too much going on with the little one, there’s still a little over a year left before she’s old enough to join these programs.

In other news, I hate grocery shopping… like, really. This is probably the biggest reason I’m not eating a healthier diet. I think the prep work for the grocery trip is probably the biggest factor keeping me away from the store, although I will fully admit that I’ve skipped on it for a day or two when I had the list in my hand. This is something new… it’s been a fair amount of weeks since I actually went to the grocery store and picked up enough food to last my family for the week. I try telling myself that if I could work it down to just having to go bi-weekly, I would make time for it. But personally, I know that’s still a lie I tell to comfort myself. As soon as I get one child into preschool, I’m going to start going every Thursday. This way, even if my boyfriend is at work, it’s not a big deal for me to take the little one with me.

On that note, it brings me around to my second weekly update which will be going in effect starting now. Every Thursday I’m going to be doing a weekly weigh-in… or at least a make-shift one. I am fat, fact. So fat, that I am not comfortable posting my weight online right now. So I’m going to be weighing myself once a week, letting you guys know how I’m doing, but it’s going to be in a +2 lbs or -2 lbs format until I hit a personal goal. Then I’ll convert to actually telling you guys how much I weigh.

Anyway, since it’s almost two in the morning, even though I didn’t manage to write everything… I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!

P.S. Happy birthday to me!

Thanks for reading,
Much love to you all!

Barb

Vacation gone wrong

Well, after writing nothing for a little over a week, I thought I would put up a quick post to let you know that I am still around.
How did the vacation turn out? You ask. Terrible, hahaha. We managed to clean about 1/3 of the basement, and my father’s room. We never touched the attic, or cubby, or hell… even the living room and the kitchen! Those two areas caught the crap and now I’m going to spend today getting them back in line for our daily living. Also, our dryer is currently oit of commission. Usually at this time of year, I don’t care. I prefer line-drying my clothes anyway. However, our weather hasn’t felt like cooperating up until today, so I have this mountain of laundry to go through! I think laundry is one of the more frustrating things in this house. I get all caught up, and then BAM something happens… something ALWAYS happens when it comes to laundry.

Well that sucks, you might say, but was I able to keep a healthy lifestyle? Get running and all that jazz? No. I never did. I think we ate out probably 80% of the time, which of course wreaked havoc on our finances and our health. I put on 4 of the pounds I had already worked so hard to lose!!!

Well, with that all said, I’ll go get back to fixing up my house so that I can at least have a clean living room to sit in tonight while I work on…. something. Or don’t. I might just play video games or read, lol.

Sometimes, it’s not about beating yourself up over the things you did or didn’t do, it’s about how you pick yourself up afterwards and carry on. I’m choosing to go get some stuff done, and then enjoy this beautiful day with my family. Because the one thing we did accomplish, was spending more time together, and at the end of the day, I think that’s what my daughters enjoy the most.

Talk to you soon,
Barb

Party and Vacation

Well, all in all we had seven people over, and I’m pretty sure we all had a good time. The party was supposed to start around 9, with the exception of two friends showing up around 7:30 instead. Any guesses on when the first guest popped in? 6:30. We were still washing dishes! Hahah, the next guests showed up at about 7:30, and another shortly afterwards. So we told the last guy that he might as well come.

The night was fun in general, even though I never did have any time to really get ready! We all had a blast, we played the game of things, and one of the girls had to leave. So afterwards we all moved into the living room and played some Taboo. Of course this all happened while we ate and drank. The evening ended around 2 in the morning, and everyone made it home safe, sound and legally since we had designated drivers.

So, what did this mean for day one of the boyfriend’s week off? It was pretty much wrote off. I went to a boudoir shoot with two of the girls from the party, we had a lovely model! Spectacular to work with. I also got to take a few pictures of a local musician, he has an amazing voice. I actually got picked up and brought to the location of the shoot by a girl who I know, but not well. Remember, it’s tough for me to make friends! Haha, but she’s really sweet and nice. After the shoot, she brought me back and we just sat in her car and talked for a while. It was nice, and she said that next time she came to a party, she would probably spend the night so that she could drink a little more with us. Also, she said she wanted to hang out again sometime. Good news! We did this before, but we never ended up talking until our mutual friend brought us together again, so I guess we’ll see what happens. I really would enjoy a female friend to have around (closer than the three hour drive that I currently have between myself and my only female friend!).

Then I came home and slept! I never ended up sick or anything, just tired. Really, really tired. This meant that there was no cleaning today. I do feel a little guilty, but I guess I’ll have to make up for that tomorrow. I may actually go over and organize the desk/office area tonight if I get ambitious. Luckily, we tidied the whole place up pre-party, so it’s not like there’s a lot to make up in the living quarters.

Off I go! Time to do… something at least.
Barb

The Binge Jar

I have finally taken the time to sit down and create a binge jar (a.k.a. the Anti-Binge Jar, or Instead of Binging Jar)! It really took me forever to get around to, since I had a specific idea for how it should look in my head, and I didn’t have the time to sit down and do it (or so I thought, honestly it didn’t take too long at all).

So, what IS an “Instead of Binging Jar”? For me, it’s a jar that has ideas about what to do instead of stuff my face out of sheer boredom or because of┬ánegative things happening in my life. I am a really emotional eater. I eat because I get nervous, I eat if someone gets mad at me, I eat because I’m lonely, whatever. If I could get over being so awkwardly shy around people, I would probably naturally eat less… but, that’s another matter entirely. My binge jar contains 27 different ideas of things for me to do INSTEAD of pig out. It’s just that simple.

As an added twist, to further my attempts to not eat massive amounts of food, I added a rule. If I do binge, ever… I owe my jar $5. Every single time. The money will be saved and used to purchase sports or health equipment, so it is a good cause, but I think actually losing the money temporarily will help. (So far it has!). #27 is also a play on this, it’s always a risk putting your hand into the binge jar, because I only want to use it if I really can’t fend off the urge to eat by myself, I can pull a tag that means I automatically owe the jar $2, and still have to pick another activity. Just a little additional motivation :).

Some good ideas for your binge jar would basically be anything that involves using your hands, therefore making you unable to use them to eat, anything that takes you out of your house (but not in the area of take-out), something that occupies your mind so that you’ll forget about the popcorn you thought you were craving. Things that usually aren’t good ideas are sedentary activities where your hands are free to get that food into your mouth.

How I made my binge jar:

I wanted something pretty to look at, since this isn’t an entirely pleasant idea in general. No one wants to clean instead of stuffing their faces, BUT, cheering me up and having something pretty should help with this.

Step 1:

I chose a paper from one of my scrapbooking kits that I loved and decided to use it for all of my tags.

Image

I wrote the following things on the paper:

1. Paint my nails.

2. Drink lots of water (16 oz.)

3. Clean the kitchen

4. Clean the bedroom.

5. Go for a calming walk or jog.

6. Apply make-up.

7. Talk to someone.

8. Knit

9. Drink some tea.

10. Read a book.

11. Send a note to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

12. Work in my smashbooks.

13. Sing Karaoke.

14. Play the guitar.

15. Write some positive things on sticky notes and post them around town.

16. Purge the house!

17. Clean the bathroom.

18. 100 jumping jacks!

19. Do 50 squats.

20. 100 High knees.

21. Do some budgeting work.

22. Read a magazine.

23. Vacuum.

24. Brush & Floss.

25. Go online window shopping.

26. Write a blog post.

27. Add an additional $2 to the money jar, AND choose another idea.

Then I cut them using a cute pattern, and then glued them onto a larger sheet of scrapbooking paper to make them a little more sturdy.

I fully understand that not all of these ideas are good for everyone, not every idea was good for me. The one that I read everywhere, but opted out on for personal reasons was “Going for a drive”. It might be a good idea for you, but if I go for a drive, I can almost guarantee I will go through a drive-thru and pick up some crap. But if you’re looking for some other options, I suggest you check out some of these sites:
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/binge+jar
http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2011/02/02/101-things-to-do-instead-of-binge-eating/
http://www.bubblews.com/news/656686-the-instead-of-binging-jar

Step 2:

While waiting for my glue to dry, I worked on the actual jar itself. I had some Martha Stewart adhesive stencils I’ve been dying to use for months now, so I thought it would be a good time. I started by doing the decorative stencils, waited for them to dry, and then used the letter stencils to write “Binge Jar”. Then it looked like this:
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Step 3:

Cut up the ideas, fold them up, and place them into the binge jar.

You’re done! It is just that easy, I swear! You’ll end up with something like this:
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The only additional thing that I’m going to so is put a little fabric on top instead of the normal mason jar seal as my lid, to fancy it up a little more.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!
Got any suggestions for things for me to write about? Let me know. Drop me a line and I’ll do my best.

Thanks for reading,
Barb.

Two Week HEALTHY Meal Plan (Includes Grocery List)

My life can get hectic, just like anyone else’s can too. Believe me, I will be the first to sympathize with those of you who end up going through a drive-thru because you realized that you didn’t take that roast out of the freezer last night, or the fact that it’s already 6 p.m. and you haven’t got anything cooking yet.
SO, do you know what I’ve done for you? (And… you know… myself!) I sat down and made a two week meal plan. It includes a breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and supper. The general rule is to simply skip the mid-morning snack if you aren’t hungry. I took the meat out of the freezer three days in advance to make sure it was thawed, and did whatever prep I could the night I bought the food (cut up a chef salad, made a spinach salad, boiled some eggs, etc.) I’m not 100% paleo, but this meal plan was inspired by the two week paleo plan you can find here: http://cavemanstrong.com/mealplans/CavemanStrong-2WeekPaleo-MealPlan.pdf If you’re really looking into going paleo right off the bat, I recommend it. However, I’m not willing to make that commitment yet. I prefer eating more fruits than I do beef jerky, and so do my children. If you don’t like something, feel free to sub it, I promise, I won’t get mad! The only thing I ask is that you don’t crop out my mark. If this inspired your new list, please let others know :). I really need the extra traffic on the site, hahaha!

This is what I came up with: (P.S. Really sorry for spelling Pomello wrong on the weekly lists.)

Meal Plan Template

Meal Plan Template2

Grocery List Template

Let me know what you guys think. Like it? Hate it? How did it work out for you and your family?

Hope this helps get you guys on track!
Barb