Tag Archives: organizing

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song

Ever notice how Pandora internet radio plays the same 10 songs by Sting over and over or how Maroon 5 eventually appears on every playlist?

You might not get irritated by Pandora’s lack of variety if you’re an infrequent listener, but this lowest-common-denominator approach to deejaying becomes apparent on a long road trip.

That’s when you’re grateful for having had to clean out your entire house and rid yourself of a decade’s worth of detritus. Or at least consolidate like items together and make neat piles. I know exactly where to find every single fingernail clipper I own, for example. And every single music CD.

Whatever cassette tapes I might have accumulated in the ’80s are long gone, but my Beloved and I invested in a couple hundred CDs in the 2000s that we couldn’t bear to shed when digital music came along. There were a few in my car, a whole bunch in my office, a stack in Tyler’s office and a couple more stashed in various cupboards and drawers around the house. They’re all in one place now — the pickup truck cab, and we’re working our way through the pile during long days of driving.

After enduring an earworm of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” I was sadly disappointed to find the jewel case with her smiling mug empty. Her CD was not stashed in someone else’s case either, so that means it’s gone and the earworm’s two lines of lyrics continue to ring. But they also make a great title for a blog post.

Today’s treasure trove of music CDs purchased and loved a decade or more ago offered up an eclectric music mix: Sonya Kitchell, Marvin Gaye, Five For Fighting, Train, Stone Temple Pilots and The Who. Oh, and the soundtrack for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” I skipped over a custom-burned CD lettered with my Beloved’s distinctive script as “Trip 1.” There’s also a “Trip 2” and “Trip 3.” Some other day.

But I popped in a sparsely labeled disc with what I believed was code for something even he had surely forgotten: “S.R.V. In the Beginning.”

Before the first note even played, he smiled at the road ahead and said, “Stevie Ray Vaughan.” He hadn’t forgotten. One of his favorites. An hour’s worth of incomprehensible guitar proceeded to fill the cab of the truck while we drove past mile after mile of small mountain ranges and semiarid climate.

Not my first choice. But better than Maroon 5.

The first step towards getting somewhere is deciding you’re not going to stay where you are


Minnesota Transplant is bustin’ a move.

With a few swings of a rubber mallet, the house went on the market today.

Oh, wait. There was quite a bit more involved than just erecting the “for sale” sign.

Like going through every room, closet and drawer to clear clutter and once again put the emphasis on the house again instead of our stuff.

Since we no longer need four bedrooms, we’re downsizing. A lot. And that meant not just packing things up (though I did a lot of that), it meant getting rid of stuff.

I said hello to Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of sparking joy and goodbye to seven carloads of stuff which I joyfully carted to Goodwill and uncounted bags of garbage. I no longer needed seven boxes of books, 18 belts, and more dog toys than the weight of my dog (and you should have seen the paper files I brought to the industrial shredder — oh my!). It feels good to be lighter.

But that sort of life-changing magic takes time. Lots of time. Which is why you haven’t heard much from Minnesota Transplant in that past six weeks.

But I have done a little writing, and if you’re interested in seeing how a real estate agent would describe the house I called a home for the past nine years, check out the website I created to inspire some interest: www.318whiteoak.com. (Oh, any hey, if you know anyone looking to put down roots in northern Illinois, please pass this link along!).

Eventually, the house will sell and Minnesota Transplant will transplant herself again. But my roots might not be so deep. Stay tuned.

For before-and-after addicts only

I’m addicted to before-and-after transformations. Lately, my guilty pleasure is “Chopped,” the Food Network TV show that features chefs turning strange baskets of ingredients into gourmet meals. Deep-fried shrimp heads as a garnish on a fresh mango-and-beet-greens salad? Bring it on! Let’s see how it’s done.

On the theory that other people find before-and-after photos interesting, I’m sharing a few today.

For the past two months, my Beloved and I have been powering through closets (as opposed to shrimp heads). I’ve been to Goodwill at least three times, dropping off all manner of unworn clothes and boom boxes (really? we had three stereos we weren’t using? what has this digital device universe come to?).

Most of those closet transformations haven’t warranted a picture but I sleep better at night knowing the basement furnace room now has labeled plastic bins for all the remotes and USB cords we’ve collected over the years and the bedroom closet in my Adored stepson’s room now has enough room for a mattress (to be retrieved by the Adored stepson again at some future date).

The drive to streamline began with the kitchen pantry, which my mother helped me tackle during a visit in April:

pantry before

Pantry: Before

Pantry: After

Pantry: After

Other pain points in the kitchen included the junk drawer. Everyone has a junk drawer, right? Filled with weird gadgets, bits of garbage and loose screws? Well, my junk drawer had enough batteries to power the lighting on the Eiffel Tower for a week and enough hooks to hang King Henry’s harem. So I found boxes for them and labeled them (love my label maker!):

Junk drawer: After

Junk drawer: After

It helped that I threw away an ocean of rubber bands, used twist ties and all those loose screws (why did we keep old screws?). But organizing similar stuff in containers helps a lot. With that in mind, I tackled the cupboard above my kitchen desk, which was more like a junk cupboard than a cookbook case:

Kitchen desk cupboard: After

Kitchen desk cupboard: After

Meanwhile, my Beloved tackled the water filtration system under the kitchen sink. Thanks to a slow leak that softened the particle board base, the water tank crushed it:

Under-the-kitchen-sink: Before

Under-the-kitchen-sink: Before

Reminds me of quick sand. Yuck.

After diagnosing more than one weak, leaky point requiring several visits to Home Depot, my Beloved invested in a new system altogether. He also removed the cupboard floor and put in a new kick-plate. Ta, da! The new system filters delicious water:

Under-the-kitchen-sink: After

Under-the-kitchen-sink: After

As the weather improves (marginally), we are tackling outdoor projects. I would show you my awesome diagonally mowed lawn, but only a Californian on water restrictions can appreciate it. So instead, I’ll show you the deck steps I painted over Memorial Day weekend:

Deck steps: Before

Deck steps: Before

Deck steps: After

Deck steps: After

Paint cures a lot of ills. Meanwhile, my Beloved has taken on a project for which the only power I’m providing is cheerleading. He’s replacing the disintegrating railroad tie steps on the side of the house:

steps before

Landscape steps: Before

Unfortunately, I don’t have an after for you yet (but I have a guaranteed post when my Beloved and his crack team of manual laborers complete the task).