Changing It Up

Managing the Paper Flow

I have a very nice 4-drawer lateral file cabinet (oak) in my home office.

It's been totally useless for at least 4 years.



Because every drawer is packed with paper.

Useless paper.  Paper that I don't need any more.  (For the most part.)  Really.  (I'm pretty sure, for example, you don't need to maintain insurance records for cars you haven't owned since 2003.  Or bank statements from 1999.  Or high school information for a kid that now has a Masters degree.)


It's not like you can just . . . toss . . . the files into the recycling bin.

No.  You need to shred them first.  And that's been a huge barrier for me.  Shredding is kind of satisfying . . . for about the first 100 sheets or so.  Then. . . it's a drag!  Who has time for entire drawers full of shredding?

Not this gal.

But this weekend, I decided to bite the bullet; to finally manage the paper flow -- and take back my file space.

My weekend was a whole lot of this. . .


and too much of this . . .


but I ended up with this. . .


Two empty drawers!

Let the filing begin.

Closing a Chapter

The summer before Erin started high school, we made a sudden and unexpected move (thanks to a large pharmaceutical company who will remain nameless. . . ) from our comfortable home in a Grand Rapids suburb . . . to (then unknown) Kalamazoo.

What do you do . . . for your 14-year-old kid who is looking forward to starting high school . . . with her friends. . . in a familiar place. . . with her friends . . . where she wants to be . . . with her friends?

Why, you tell her she can decorate her new room ANY WAY SHE WANTS!

And, then. . . you don't bat an eye when she chooses THIS:


Yeah.  It was pretty hideous.  Bright yellow walls, sponge painted with neon purple and bright teal (which, I seem to remember may have been called "Lagoon Blue").

But, heck.  We had fun together, sponge painting those bright splotches all over the wall.  We both have happy memories of creating this . . . masterpiece. . . together.  (Even though it looked like, well, clown-barf.)

And, as it turned out, our new life in Kalamazoo was pretty darn good.  Erin had a great high school experience.  She made new friends, did some pretty amazing things, and made it through her high school years in fine form.

Erin with ducks
One of Erin's senior picture proofs; the photographer, Jeff Mitchell, took several shots in her room. Great idea; great way to remember her space! Because. . . things change.

And the walls in her room didn't look so bad, either.  Erin's personal style (at that time) was to cover the walls with pictures and posters and mementoes and do-dads.  You could hardly even SEE the  loud walls for all the . . . stuff. . . she had tacked on top of them!

But, then. . . she was gone.

Those walls, once they were empty of the do-dads and photos and posters; once they were bare . . . just screamed!


UGLY!  We are UGLY!  (Hideous, some would say.) We look like CLOWN-BARF!!!!

And yet . . .

I couldn't quite bring myself to cover them.  It wasn't so much that I didn't want to tackle the project (although, well, there was that). . . but I just wasn't quite ready to let go of that last piece of . . . Erin!

And so, I used the room as a storage "place."  I closed the door.  And walked away.

Until this summer.  I got itchy  to create a space for me to do my work.  I was feeling a strong need to separate my "home office" from my "work office."  I knew I could be more efficient if I could keep my two computers* on different desks. 

It was time.  I needed to tackle the walls in Erin's old room.  (Because, really.  The clown-barf walls just don't work for me.)

It's been a long time coming.  There was the Thinking About It; there was the Finding Time For It; there was the Deciding On The Color; there was the Wall Preparation (and, trust me, it takes a long, long time to locate, and then fill, hundreds upon hundreds of nail and tack holes in clown-barf colored walls); and, finally, there was the Actually Doing It. 



Now that it's done,


it's been totally worth it!  I'm pleased.

(Jenny is Not Pleased because I made her get off the bed for the photos.  She is quite thrilled with her new available sleeping options, and didn't like having to move.)

I even painted the closets (biggest pain in the ass ever).


And here's that bookcase. . .


I still have some finishing to do. . . pictures on the walls, a valance over the window blind, that kind of thing.  (The fun parts, actually.)  It feels good to have a pretty, functional, "new" space in my house.  And, it feels good to let the old walls go. 


Although I must admit that when I came to the last square foot of clown-barf wall, I paused for a few moments with my paint roller in hand.  I took a minute to remember sponge painting the walls with my 14-year-old daughter; how we giggled and gossiped together, how wonderful it was to share that experience.  Happy memories.

And then. . . I painted right over it!

The memories remain.  The clown-barf does not.


* My personal computer is an iMac; my work computer is an HP Windows laptop.  It gets complicated.



Out, Damned Spot! . . . or. . . The Trouble with Red

I've been doing some redecorating up at our cottage this summer.

When we first built the cottage (back in 1996-1997), we painted all the rooms the same color:  Navajo White.  It was just easier that way.  But I've always intended to re-paint . . . in living color.

I started with the hallway.

Then, last month, I moved on to our bedroom.  I wanted to give it some "cottage charm" -- a little bit rustic, comfortable-looking, yet sort of . . . woodsy.  I chose paint colors from the Martha Stewart collection (one wall in "Barn,"  and three walls in "Monk's Cloth" ), had them mixed at Home Depot, and hauled it all up north to paint.

Before. . .


During. . .


After. . .



The  "Monk's Cloth" (an olivey-taupey color) was a dream to work with!  It covered beautifully in one coat -- with a second touch-up coat.  The "Barn" was another story altogether.  One wall . . . four coats*:

  1. First coat -- murder scene. . .
  2. Second coat -- bordello boudoir. . .
  3. Third coat -- started to look like maybe I hadn't made a huge mistake after all . . .
  4. Fourth coat -- would do Martha proud!

I'm really excited to go up next week with new curtains (I have yet to make. . .) and lamps.  I love the way it's turning out.


For several days, though, I had to deal with this. . .


Out, damned spot!


*  I'm rather lucky that Tom is color blind and couldn't really "see" what I was doing with the walls.