The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2012-11-04

Saturday, November 10, 2012

But would I buy it again? November editon

I haven't done one of these purchase recaps recently and thought it was time because it's helpful to know what works over time, and what doesn't.  Sometimes I get uber-enthused after making a purchase and gush  but after the excitement wears off I'm not as jazzed...

Yesterday I swung by Staples  to get something for my son and couldn't resist visiting the Martha Stewart display (Can you blame me?) so I'll start there....

I've purchased the Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ NoteTabs several times already and will again.

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For me these are perfection, everything about them is tab nirvana.  They feel like quality, are sticky after months of moving from page to page, and I love the way they look. 

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Especially peeking out the top decorated with stickers.

I've never tried any of the paper refills so I thought I'd jump on that.  I won't be buying the  Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ Project Planner Filler Paper 5-1/2" x 8-1/2, sad to say.

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The design caught my eye.

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They are a bit narrower and a schooch taller then Filofax paper but not enough to matter.

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I put Washi Tape over the holes and repunched them.  

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Still a big mess really, more swiss cheese then to do list.  Why  don't these have universal punches like the  Planner Insert, Flourish NoteTabs® & UltraHold Sticky Notes?

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The real reason I won't get them again, and may not use at all, is the paper.  It has a definite cheap notebook vibe.  Just punching holes crinkled the paper something awful.

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I thought it would be a disaster with ink...

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 There was shadow on the back but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated,  thought ink would go through it like tissue paper.   Filofax paper is better then this and how many times have you heard that?

 At $2.99 for 50 sheets it's very overpriced (considering it feels like  kid's dime store notebook paper.)  Granted, I am biased, with a strong preference for Clairefontaine's  smoothness, but I use other paper. This product was a #Fail for me. I don't like handling the paper and it doesn't come close to the quality look of the design.  

Which I quite liked.


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I couldn't resist trying the Post-it-Super-Sticky-4-inch-x-6-inch-Grid-Notes.  They are very nice (although I wish these had a smoother hand too).  I will probably repurchase these again because I'm a graph freak and it's a very useful addition.

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Onto the dollar store stickers I found a few weeks ago...

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I kinda love these and for a few dollars I got hundreds of flags, arrows and dots.  They stick well and are bright enough to highlight things without  blinding me.  I like bright things but too much day-glo is exhausting to look at.

Not all cheap things turn into a bargain but the cost is so low it allows for mistakes...

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I got two sets of calendar stickers from here but I'd only repurchase one.  The everyday calendar stickers are more useful for me but if you have kids in school you'd probably like the mom version.  These sheets have hundreds of stickers each and for $1.99, quite a bargain.  I wish they were on multiple pages though, the large size is a bit hard to stow away without folding... And if you do that, the stickers along the fold lift.

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I've already bought a second Platinum Preppie highlighter.  I really like everything about these and at $2.50 for a refillable pen, quite a bargain.  

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Still loving my Hold that Thought! translucent arrows.  They are repositionable and have held up well over the last few months.  I've only seen these at Barnes and Nobles brick and mortar stores and will pick them up again when I'm there next.

Lord Dodo iPhone case

My Lord Dodo Phone case is great and would get one again when I change phones.  Love the apps design and that I can charge the phone WITH the case on (PS it's on sale now!) 

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I love my Noodler's pink pen ,  Jayne Mansfield.   She's my first flex pen and writes like a dream.  The piston fill isn't the easiest thing to clean but compared to losing your power for a week... It's a breeze.  The pen is small and fits in a pocket sized pen loop and the screw on cap makes me feel more secure about carrying it in my filofax.   Jayne is the smallest pen I own which makes her very portable but keep in mind it might be too small for a man's hand,  and maybe even for some women.  

If Jayne breaks I would buy another but I like her so much I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Noodler's brand pen.  

Hope you found this helpful and I love to see posts like this on other blogs.  Reading about what works once the excitement wears off keeps me from buying what doesn't work.  Definitely let me know if you do something like this!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rungs on the organizing ladder

My last post, Planning and disasters and disastrous planning, was about recovery from Hurricane Sandy and what I learned about my lack of preparedness.

I'm trying to give myself a break about it all and move on, but what to do next? I really didn't know.  If I had a clue what to do with things I'd already be doing it.  

I tried to break it down and get to  the major contributing factor in my discomfort,  finding things, so I started there.  I don't keep track of my stuff well, nothing has a real 'home' and like items aren't grouped.  Figuring out what to do about it all is a huge challenge because it's not natural (for me) to see something and know where to put it.  

That's left me with multiple spots to look for the same type of thing and sometimes there was no sense where an item turned up.   Since finding things was the biggest hurdle (and not only during the week long power outage but pretty much all the time), I started there.


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After voting on Tuesday I started overhauling my stuff but I've done this before and wanted success this time.  I decided to track this project in my Pink Pocket Rio because it's more portable and since it's my wallet I always have it with me.  

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I made (many) lists of things I needed to tackle.

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In the past when organizing I've always run out and bought bins, lots of bins, but this time I decided to see what I actually had.  Maybe I don't need bins this time.  Maybe I have enough containers.  Buying storage items before I know what I need never worked because I always end up with the wrong size bins and not enough of them or too many that don't work.

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My lists are general categories, mostly things I have multiples of.

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While craft items / art supplies weren't things I needed last week they are a continual thorn in my side.  Not only do these things live in multiple rooms but  mixed up together.  I have this kind of stuff crammed everywhere; bins, drawers, shelves, vintage suitcases....

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I wasn't overly specific in each list and I kept making them, adding anything I needed to think about, until I felt done.

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I used whatever paper I had and whatever pen was around.  I didn't want to get  bogged down with a specific format this time.  Sometimes I obsess so much about the plan itself, I burn out before I get to the doing part.

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As an aside:  The paper on the left came with the Olympic Limited Edition Planner, the paper on the right is regular lined Filofax paper.   One of the nice things about the Olympic paper is the lines are spaced better for writing.  I wish Filofax would make more paper like this; sizing down pages doesn't really work well.

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You can size down inserts but once you shrink paper down to pocket size the lines are impractically small.

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That's why cutting down larger paper works better.

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PS - All these pens fit in my pocket pen loop which is pretty small.

Today I'm going to tackle the craft stuff even though it wasn't something that tweaked me during the storm.  I have a very small house but can think of at least eight places where I keep crafty stuff.

And that doesn't include the stuff I can never find, no idea where that  is. 

Since craft things are all over and  not where I use them, tackling it first made sense.  There is a piece of furniture by my front door stuffed with tiny craft  items (Think: buttons and beads) that would be better suited for  flashlights, batteries, dog leashes, a lint roller, and anything else I always look for on my way out the door.

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 Starting there seems odd to me, after all there are areas that need dealing with more, but it's a small manageable place to begin.  Perhaps tackling everything at once is what made all my grand plans fail in the past.  Starting with one drawer (or something else small) and moving to the next small thing might be a good way to cope with an enormous project.

As each thing is finished I'll move up the rungs on my organizing ladder, hopefully getting to the top before I lose power the next time and need the flashlights.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Planning and disasters and disastrous planning

What a week.   Hurricane Sandy blew in last Monday and my power held out about two hours max.  I've lost power before but never more then a few hours so I was totally unprepared for unending cold during daylight and freezing all night in the dark for days on end.

As surprising as that was... I was physically ill to find I'd lost the use of my iPhone (And seriously guys,  try and call 911 to report hearing a smoke alarm in the empty house next door at 5 a.m. without coverage.  And yes, that happened).  If I needed to use my phone I had to drive several miles for a signal....  Not entirely unpleasant, I spent a lot of the week in my car.

God bless seat heaters....

For all my Filofaxes and obsessive life planning after the power went off my days turned into a multiple deck version of 52 cards pick-up.  

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I wrote in my Filofax everyday to keep some sense of normalcy.  Since I had no idea how each day would go I mostly jotted down milestones on my Dodo  week on two pages insert.   

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Mostly things like the number of days without power and when I threw out the food in my fridge... And ultimately all the stuff in the freezer too.

But after five days of it my family (and Ginger) were at their breaking point and we went to stay with generator-owning friends in Pennsylvania.   Oddly, Ventura was nonplussed by the cold.  Most greyhounds are very sensitive to the cold, some even wear pajamas at night but Ventura wants nothing to do with a coat in the winter much less pajamas in the house.

Ginger on the other hand at twenty years old has very little vision or hearing and never liked the cold.  When she wasn't shaking, she was pacing and peeing everywhere.

Getting away was very welcome by Friday.  Only two stores were open at that point (one without power for dry goods only), we didn't have any food left, and if I had to stay in this dark house  the night of the time change (where you add one hour) I would seriously have lost my mind.

My a5 Malden #filofax enjoying the hearth, warm and toasty at last

Here is Mr. Malden warming his rings in front of a roaring fire on arriving at our destination.

Dawn is a beautiful thing after a warm cozy night. #sandy #nothankstoPSEandG

After sleeping my first warm night everything looked beautiful again.  I took this picture at dawn on Saturday.

A beautiful lace covered window

And this warm, sunny one through a lace curtain.  We left Sunday afternoon and didn't know if we had power or not.  As we got closer to home the traffic signals were up and running again (they'd all been knocked out) and while we knew that was encouraging everyone was still worried.

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  Thankfully the power was on.

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I realized several things after a few days and at the top of the list was dealing with this disaster. Everything was harder then it had to be because of the way I organize my life.  Nature disasters are difficult as best to deal with but the whole process would have been smoother if I didn't have so much stuff and kept 'like things' together. 

The above list was something  I worked on during my 168 hours without power.  It's the beginning of a plan, things that would have made finding what I needed so much easier.

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I realized after I made the emergency list, I hadn't a clue where most of this was and it freaked me out a lot.  

My current plan is to tackle my major problem first.  Getting all related things together so I know where things are because knowing you have four flashlights and a battery operated radio is useless if you can't find them.  

I plan to do posts on the specifics as I tackle them and I hope you will benefit in some way from them, perhaps even giving some thought to preparing an emergency bag.  

Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes and offered to do things / send things to me.  Your kindness was just overwhelming, I'll forever be grateful.   

While things still feel unsettled and life isn't quite back to normal (Ben's college is still closed, my father has yet to get his power back, many gas stations don't have gas... Etc. more bad things) and we still have an empty fridge....We are doing fine now.

Ben and #ventura have a great big belly laugh

Everyone is back to smiling...


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