Open Sesame!

Every now and then I come across a great organizing product that makes me slightly mad because it’s an idea I’d had at some point but never had the wherewithall to create it.  The Open Sesame Password Reminder book is one of these frustrating things.

About three and a half years ago we bought our house and I also started going to school at night for my MBA.  For some reason these two events added like 8 more usernames and passwords for different sites that I now had to remember.  It was also a particularly busy summer at work and I can recall one specific day when I couldn’t remember my username or password for the online portal that managed my employer’s MBA tuition reimbursements.  I had until the end of the day to submit my class and textbook expenses for reimbursement and I couldn’t get on.  After three failed attempts I was locked out.  I hit lift off.

If you’re wondering how this story ends, I did in fact get it all resolved and my poor bank account was happily filled later that week.  But if you’re wondering why I’m telling you all this, it’s because I created my own Open Sesame document that day, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of how clever the idea is for a marketable product.

I will admit my version is fairly JV, and the Open Sesame book is way cooler. I have a document on my work computer where I store all usernames and password hints (I do not store actual passwords, just a quick phrase to remind me what it is) for sites where I have a user account.  I created it in Word which was probably a mistake since now I have to manually alphabetize it when I add a new entry.  Excel would have been much better.  I’m a complete Excel junkie so I’m actually not quite sure why I didn’t start it there.  Perhaps I was just too frazzled that day.  But I do update and refer to this document all the time and am really glad that I have it.  If you like splurging on fun office supplies, this book a great idea for you.  If not, I still think keeping your usernames and password hints in one safe spot is a necessity in this day and age.  Starting a list on your computer or in a favorite notebook is more than sufficient.  Just make sure it’s some place that is safe, and that your hints aren’t too far fetched.  Remember, the goal of this idea is to help you remember your passwords, not curse yourself for being so damn forgetful…and cryptic.

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Closet Kipple.

Wow.  Our full week off for Christmas, which we intended to spend relaxing at home together, somehow turned into just a few hours.  Literally.  If I add up the time we’ve been in our house since last Friday I think it’s less than 24 hours.  The week kicked off with a few days out in the ‘burbs with B’s family for a wonderful (and chaotic!) Christmas celebration.  Eleven of us in one house with 4 kids under 3 and one dog = mayhem.  We also attended two big birthday bashes: a 3rd birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and an 80th in New York.  The 80th was at a swanky spot with good food, drink, and family, but Chuck E’s had pizza, birthday cake, and Skee ball.  Yours truly had the group’s highest Skee ball score of the day with a whopping 37,000.  And if that didn’t impress your socks off, I got it without hitting the 10,000.

So the time I had planned to be at home working on Project Bad Kipple this week didn’t quite pan out as I would have liked.  Before my more permanent return to work next week (as opposed to my quasi-pretend 2-day return before Christmas), I need to get a few major areas in order.  My real return to work coincides with the New Year, which is extra motivation to get these things done.  I always like starting the year with a clean and organized home; it makes me feel like I’m starting the year with a clean slate.

The first thing I’d like to do is go through my Closet Kipple.  This is one of my worst areas.  I’m sure many other female readers will sympathize.  We buy too many clothes, and we hang on to them way longer than we should.  Reality is that even if we do lose the “just 5-10 pounds” we think we need to fit into those old jeans, we’ll still probably find something wrong with them.  To keep my closets and attic space under control I have a system.   First, I go through all of my clothing and accessories 2-4 times a year, usually in between seasons when I flip my closet over.  If I haven’t worn something in multiple years, I try to put it in a goodwill pile.  Key word is try.  Some things I just can’t let go.  If I haven’t worn an item in about a year I usually give it one more chance in my wardrobe.   Next, I organize the keepers.  Off-season items are stored in a spare closet or the attic, and current items get to live the high life in my bedroom closet.  For the attic-goers, I group similarly sized hanging items (skirts/pants/shirts, dresses & jackets) into these bags, and I put sweaters, jeans, and foldable shirts into these storage bins.  I also use the bins for shoes, bags, and scarves.  A good closet space saver I’ve discovered are slimline hangers.  They are awesome.  I use them for the items staying in my closet and for those going in the attic; they allow you to literally double your hanging contents.  After I’ve sorted and sifted through everything, I like to spend time re-folding and re-hanging the items that will be staying with me for the next few months, and arrange them nicely in my closet and dresser.   Then, after I’ve stared admiringly at my work for a few minutes, I close the dresser drawers, shut the closet door, and spend the rest of the evening reassuring B that I haven’t lost my mind.

While we’re home today I think I’ll start to tackle my closet project.  Next on the list? My end of year kitchen clean-up, going through receipts & papers, and organizing A’s room and closet.  She got loads of toys and clothes for Christmas, and she’s just starting to grow out of her 0-3mo sized clothes.  I have an entire box of gifted and hand me down 3-6mo clothes that can now go in there.  Lucky for me that someone decided to make slimline hangers for babies!

Kipple.

I read an interesting article in the New York Times this week, in which the writer, Mr. Jonathon Ames, author and creator of the recent HBO comedy “Bored to Death”, introduced me to a fascinating new term: kipple.  Coined by another author, Mr. Phillip Dick, in his novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep”, kipple can be defined as: the sinister type of rubbish which simply builds up without any human intervention (courtesy of UrbanDictionary.com).  As quoted in Mr. Ames’ article, the main character of this novel further clarifies kipple as: useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers. … When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. …The entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.

When I first read this article I laughed and thought about how much I loved this new term, ‘kipple’; it is the best new word I’ve learned in a long time.  But I also realized that I loathed it.  The nature of this whole kippleization thing that inherently happens to all of us defines one of my very worst nightmares!  If Facebook were to ask me how I felt about kipple, I’d have to respond, “it’s complicated.” On the one hand, I think that each person’s own kipple helps to define who they are – it makes us, our appearances, and our personal spaces unique.  But on the other hand, too much kipple in your life is a nuisance, and can put you in a state of complete disorder and chaos.  So I resolved to try and think of kipple in a different way: as good kipple vs. bad kipple.  Kind of like that whole good fat/bad fat thing, which I still don’t really understand, but I do enjoy eating copious amounts of avocado without feeling guilty so I roll with it.  Each of us has to find our good/bad kipple equilibrium, and find a system that works to maintain it.

As the New Year approaches, this will be at the top of my list of goals.  I will post some common bad kipple remedies next week to help you combat the bad and be able to celebrate the good.  And in case you were wondering, a transfer of bad kipple, like what M does when she comes to visit us (“Surprise!  I brought you guys a pizza stone!”; “Surprise!  I had 3 extra bottles of this weird random liquor from a party and thought you guys might want it!”), does not really count, and will not be on my list of tips…

Happy Holidays & Stay Tuned!

Getting Personal.

Today was my day of re-entry back into the working world after being home on maternity leave for 3 months.  The day was, of course, filled with mixed emotions, but overall I would say it was a success.  Aside from catching up with some old friends and showing off pictures of my beautiful girl, one of the best parts of my day was getting reacquainted with my wonderful personal organizer!   I vowed to tuck it away the night before A was born, and amazingly I stuck to it.  I didn’t pull it out until last night when I was getting my bag(s) together to return to work.  As if I wasn’t a bag lady before (being ill-prepared for any possible situation is my biggest fear), I am way worse now.  I looked like I was going backpacking through Europe while I waited for the bus this morning.

I have been using the same personal organizer since 2004 and before I took my organizer-vacation this fall, I could barely live a day without it.  When an earthquake hit the East coast this past August, I evacuated down 36 flights of stairs (8+ months pregnant no less!) and realized halfway down that I had left my organizer on my desk in my office.  My good friend and co-worker D had to physically restrain me and force me down the remaining flights so I wouldn’t double back to get it.  I think she thought I was joking at first with how upset I was, but then she realized I am just crazy.  Thanks D!

At home, at work, and on the go I like to have one central place to keep important information.  Wow that sounds like a sappy commercial for some product you don’t really need.  But all kidding aside, it is how I keep myself organized and sane.  My personal organizer is my portable place for things.  A few years ago I discovered Kate Spade’s paper refills that fit any standard ‘personal’ and ‘pocket’ sized organizers.  I love them.  They are a little pricier than other refills out there but they just make me smile.  The amount of space allotted for each day in the weekly view is just perfect, with one extra lined space per week for general notes and to-do’s.  There is always a blank page before each month and I use this to write down general goals for that month.  This idea really came in handy over the past few years as we bought a house, planned a wedding, and prepared for A’s arrival.  Kate also makes packets of very cute “To-Do” list refills, “Notes” refills, and “Project” list refills.  The refills are available for sale on the Kate Spade website (link above) and many nice stationery or invitation stores carry them as well.  I try stock up on these refills at the end of each year, and they are perfect to put on your Christmas wish list for the approaching New Year.

It’s a Wrap!

As promised, here are some before and after pictures of our Christmas 2011 wrapping mayhem.  The first picture shows all of our gifts in their naked state, sitting in our “staging” room, AKA the guest room.  I hope my 3 year old nephews C & J aren’t reading this or they’ll see the awesome new slam dunk basketball hoop we got them.  They drink iced coffee and know how to operate an iPhone, but I do not think they read blogs yet.  We should be safe.  The second picture shows the end result.  Much better.  The gifts would have been placed under our tree, but you never know what KP will decide to snack on while we’re out these days, so they ended up on a table instead.  What started out as a massive pile of gifts in all shapes and sizes ended up looking pretty good in the end.

Unless you strictly buy clothes or books, gifts in different shapes can be tricky to wrap.  Every Christmas I try to save as many gift boxes from the trash pile as I can to potentially use the following year for wrapping my oddly packaged loot.  Storage shouldn’t be an issue since most boxes break down and fold flat.  And it’s worth it – gifts just look so much better when they are wrapped nice and tight!  I’m also a huge fan of the wrapping paper with dotted gridlines on the inside to use as a guide when cutting.  I got mine at Target this year – look for paper with a label that says “Easy Cut Gridlines on Back”.

And that’s a wrap for Christmas 2011!  I still have to add pretty bows and curling ribbon, but I will do that Christmas Eve so it doesn’t get smushed in the car on the way out to the ‘burbs.  I know, I’m nuts.