Monday, February 17, 2014

Good, Good News

Life just moves by so swiftly. Sometimes, it's just hard to catch one's breath, even if it's to shout out good news.

Photo via the Novato Patch
On January 25th, Cooper's Public Market opened in Sugartown. It's a wonderful concept in local, truly farm-to-table groceries. I'm very happy for Mr. Cooper and Lil J. If you want to see all the press and love and joy behind that grand-indeed opening, just Google it. Be sure to friend the shop on Facebook or follow on Twitter because, each day, you will be inspired by what is available fresh in the shop. It's almost enough to make one hop a flight on Virgin America for a quick trip up North to snatch up some of those yummy vittles and bring them back to L.A. I know where one of my first stops will be come this July.

Photo via Rowe Publishing
Then, even more good news was shared when Mr. Cooper announced, on Valentine's Day no less, that Jenn's blog, Four Seeds, has been turned into a book. Available now, in both hard and soft cover, the book will soon be available on Amazon as well. This is something that was important to Jennifer. Even before we started this blog, I would say to her, "This has to be a book," because her journey, while harrowing at times, was so touching and she was so inspiring.

It seems wishes do come true. And I'm so glad to see these two manifest.

Life does move by quickly. Sometimes, it's just too fast. Grab a moment of it to relish.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How To Be Your Own Assistant

Oh, how busy we are today. And how quickly time flies. If only cloning were possible, because how can one person do all the things you need to get done? And how often have you shouted to the rafters, "My queendom for an assistant!" -- or something to that effect? And, now that summer is here, there is even more to do. Preparing for guests, getting ready for vacation, finding time to relax -- this is the time you really need someone to pitch in and give you a little help. But, if there's no money in the budget to hire a Gal-Friday, you may have to step in to be that someone for yourself.

Whether you long for a secretary, a maid, a bookkeeper or personal chef, there are some simple solutions, often seen as indulgences, that can help you save time, and perhaps some sanity. Most of these are free or pay for themselves over time. All you have to do is stop seeing them as frivolous and start seeing them as time-saving.

Errands
How much of your free time is spent running around fetching this or that? Probably too much. When it comes to incidentals (that stuff you dash out to the drugstore for) and office supplies, order online. You probably get the same shampoo, cleanser and cleaners. Why not have them delivered? Yes, it takes a little bit of pre-planning but, once you get into the rhythm, you'll save yourself a few trips to the shops, which saves you time, mileage and gas.

By the time you order ink for your printer, you've likely reached the $50 minimum for Staples; not only will you not have to get in the car and wait for service, you will get it all the next day. You can also order stamps online and arrange for Post Office pick-ups for packages (make a wise investment in a parcel scale and use click-and-ship from USPS). One less place to stand in line playing Candy Crush on your phone. You can use that time instead to catch a yoga class or sneak into the day spa.

Dry-cleaning & Laundry
While you stand in front of your wardrobe wondering what to wear, you are probably thinking about when you'll have time to launder what you've already worn. Many dry-cleaners offer free pick-up and delivery, even the inexpensive ones. Use it. If scheduling it around the time you'll be home during your hectic mornings is too much, why not find a cleaner who delivers near your office? You might even start a trend (or work out a group discount).

While single men and just about the whole of Manhattan have long embraced the idea of "fluff and fold", most of us California ladies have not. We are spoiled with in-unit laundry or only slightly scary laundry rooms if we aren't fortunate enough to own your own. I have long been a proponent of laundromats, which I know many eschew. It's one way to get all your laundry done in about an hour (and run some undeliverable errands while the loads are washing and/or drying). But, if you don't even have an hour to spare, how about a few minutes to drop off your goods for laundry service, also known as "fluff and fold"? (I'm repeating that because I recently had to explain the phrase to a friend; that's how foreign the concept can be here.) They charge by the pound so winter many be a little more pricey than the summer months, but it's one more thing off your list of "things to do", which can be priceless, even if you only use it once in a while.

Housekeeping
One of the seemingly greatest indulgences we can imagine is a housekeeper. If you can afford a maid, you must be doing pretty well, right? Not necessarily. Perhaps you can't afford a housecleaner every week, but how about once or twice a month to help with the heavy lifting? I recommend this especially to those who are cohabitating. Chances are, you probably have different definitions of "clean", and different ideas of when that chore needs to be done. And I know so many working parents who are pretty much worn ragged from work and the long commute who refuse to employ one because they see it as taking money out of the college fund rather than giving themselves more quality time to be with their family. Let this serve as the excuse to at least try one. You deserve it. Really. Friends can refer you to an affordable, reliable, trustworthy person or service. Even if you only use a housekeeper a few times per year (around the holidays, before and after company, etc.), allow yourself that. It's only an indulgence if it has no lingering worth. But I think we can all agree that more free time, more energy and less stress has to be worth something, yes?

Banking & Bookkeeping
Maybe you are fortunate and have direct deposit with your job. For those of us who still need to deposit checks, driving to the bank and waiting in line can be a drag. First, if it's after 4:00 p.m., you should probably deposit it in the ATM, because a teller deposit only counts before 4:00, and an ATM deposit will go in the same day if deposited before 9:00 p.m. (check with your bank to confirm the cut-off times). If you are with a major bank (Wells Fargo, Chase, B of A, etc.), you may want to use their "mobile deposit" app. With a few clicks and a couple of snaps, you've saved yourself a trip to the bank.

Almost everyone uses some sort of bill pay or auto-pay, but I'm always surprised at those who don't. Especially for the regular bills that you know are going to be the same, like cable and cell. Auto-pay is free and makes things easier. You get the bill in advance of the payment, so you can rectify any anomalies you might find. In all the years I've been doing it, I've not had a problem. Your bank's bill pay may come with a fee, and you have to remember the money is deducted from you account when the payment is generated, not when the check clears. These automated options save time and stamps, and, even if you don't want to use them on a regular basis, it's good to have important bills entered into the system for times when you are going to be away for travel and may not be able to call it in or pay it online. Like a much deserved island vacation, or going out of town for work.

After everything is deposited and paid, you'll need to keep track of all things tax-related. Keeping your books year-round can seem like a hassel. After all, you could get it all done in January, or February or March, right? Using a program like QuickBooks, Quicken or even Mint.com makes life a whole lot easier. If you work with a CPA or accountant, chances are they will prefer you to work off QuickBooks rather than Quicken or Mint. QuickBooks is a bit more of an investment, but you can usually find it under $200 (Quicken is usually around $60, give or take, and Mint is free). I've had my version of QB since the beginning of time, so it's not something that you need to be constantly upgrading.

No matter what application you use, the set-up can take a little time. And, because it's detailed, it may feel like pulling a few teeth. But, once it's set up, you will find it to be a reliable tool. The Direct Connect option can come with a bank fee (usually about $3), but it's well worth it. My ancient version of QB doesn't allow for directly connecting with my bank, so I download the file and import it in, and that still only takes a few minutes each week (or, more honestly, each month). For those who have concerns about directly connecting with the bank, I have been doing that for my clients (and will do for myself once I get a new MacBook and am forced to upgrade my QB) for many years and never had a problem with it. I will say that you need to keep an eye on what is "matched" via direct connect, especially if you tend to go to the same places and spend the same amount (creature of habit for lunch?). It may recognize a past transaction and not load in the current so it's a good idea to double check your it against your statements, especially if you don't formally reconcile.

When you have your books in order (Quick or otherwise), chances are your accountant will end up charging you less in April, because you've already done most of the work. (Ask your accountant to share the chart of accounts they have set up for you, or what he/she prefers, to make this even more of a seamless process.) Yes, you will have to invest a little time and money in the beginning, but you'll end up saving a great deal of time and stress in the long run.

Filing & Other Administrative Fun
Perhaps you are going paperless with something like the Neat scanner. Good for you. I haven't quite gotten there yet. I'm a little too tactile and can't let go of my paper copies. If you're like me, you should learn to RAFT. RAFT is a system to help you get through your mail and/or filing in a few simple steps: Refer, Act, File, Toss (recycle). Do it each day when you sort the mail (it will take less than five minutes) and you'll find your weekends opening up with even more free time.

If you aren't home for the deliveries you'll soon be receiving, or travel quite a bit, I highly recommend getting a mail service. A PMB (private mailbox) accepts all deliveries (USPS, UPS, FedEx and hand-deliveries; P.O. boxes only accept US Mail) and can forward your mail if you're away for a spell to wherever you're staying.

And, if you aren't using alerts and reminders on your computer and/or phone, now's the time. While I use a paper calendar (that tactile thing again), I'll still set certain appointments to chime on my computer. If you tend to be forgetful (yes, I'm raising my hand), figure out what kind of tricks you need to make sure everything gets done and makes it out the door. I put Post-Its on the door to help me remember, and place everything I need to take with me in front of the door so I would literally have to trip over it if I didn't take it with me. Other little tricks I employ: I keep stamps in my checkbook, Wet Ones packets in my purse and car (great for cleaning hands and removing accidental stains from clothes), a safety pin in my wallet (you'd be surprised how handy that can be), and blank notecards in my car (for the times when I still leave that birthday card at home). Friends think I'm prepared for anything, but I just like to have my bases covered.

Personal Chef
Because I served as an assistant for so long, I will probably always be my own. My dream is to have a personal chef instead. Someone to cook delicious, healthy meals for me on a daily basis is my idea of heaven on Earth (not that I'm not a pretty good cook, but somehow it always tastes better when a culinary school graduate makes it for you). While there are plenty of pricey-but-healthy delivery services out there, most are out of the average budget's reach. This is where the service deli comes into play.

I'm fortunate to have one of the world's largest Whole Foods. Really. It's scary big. There, you can get your veggies grilled, your meat cooked, a gluten-free, vegan pizza made, and just about anything else you can imagine. So, if you aren't one to cook, this place can really help you out. Chances are, even if you don't have a Whole Foods like mine, you might have a mom-and-pop shop that offers much of the same. I can't wait for Fridays so I can go to my Rainbow Acres for some of their delicious turkey meatloaf and regularly rely on them for a great, pre-made sandwich to take on long days out working at a client's. A rotisserie chicken is wonderful to have on hand for a quick dinner option or lunch fixin' (salads and sandwiches). Whatever you get is only going to stay fresh for a few days, so timing and planning makes it most cost-effective. Still, a visit to the service deli once or twice a week is a better bet than going out or ordering in. Those $15 delivery minimums add up quick.

But, with all the time you've saved on errands, laundry and accounting, you'll probably find that you have the time, energy and maybe even the desire to make a few more meals yourself. Pick a night (mine is Sunday) to prepare what you'll need for the next few days (make rice and/or steel-cut oatmeal, wash and cut fruits and veggies, hard-boil eggs, etc.). That hour spent prepping some staple items will make those related meals feel like almost effortless.


Now, none of these suggestions are revolutionary ideas or even "best kept secrets". These are the little things we all know about but may be hesitant to employ. Perhaps you figure it's more work than it's worth. Maybe you are so busy it's just easier to keep doing what you're doing than starting something new. Perhaps you don't want to spend a little more money now, even if it does save you time down the road. If that's the case, just think about how much you make or charge per hour. Of course, your time is much more valuable than that, but isn't a little effort to set up some of these systems worth it to give you more free time and a few less things to do? After all, when you get home from work, you should be able to put your feet up.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Mountains

"My Mountains" Photo credit: KLB
June 6th marked a melancholy day for us. One year has passed since Jenn made her transition. In that year, which seems to have gone by so fast, new friendships were made and solidified. Kandi is one of those friends.

I met Kandi last year at the Relay for Life. We stayed in touch via Facebook and our friendship has blossomed. Thank you, Jenn.

On the 6th, I received an email from Kandi, who was in Hawaii, one of Jenn's favorite places. She wrote:
I needed to share this with you... I am not sure where it came from today... it's something I have not personally done (writing that is, at least of this kind)  for 25+ years... But today I was compelled to write this before I went down to the beach to pass a lei full of flowers into the ocean at sunset as a memorial...  That, in itself, was quite an 'experience'....
I asked Kandi if she wouldn't mind if I shared it with those we know on Project Elegance. She kindly agreed.


I opened myself today,
Staring at the shadows of the clouds as
They undulated across the Iao Mountains.
The Movements of Light and Darkness and Mass melting together,
Ever Changing the view of the landscape with each second.
I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is what all our lives look like to God?”
We move along so fast
Through the periods of darkness and light in our own lives;
Racing towards what?
All of these events change our shape as it is visible to others,
But how often do we actually really change deep within,
Not just as an undulation on the surface?
Large, Significant Moments in time formed those mountains.
Heat, Change, and great, upheaval events had to occur to
Form the beauty I was able to bear witness to:
The true strength of the ‘Aina,’ or Land.
Again I thought, “Is this what God sees happen when
Strength is created inside of us?”
When life changes us through moments of great difficulty and change?
Do we learn to stand so that no matter what blows over us; 
that no matter what storms race through our lives, we remain in our core,
Anchored in Love, Strength, and Standing tall?
I offered a prayer of thanks for the world, and those who
Bring strength to my ‘mana’, or spirit
To make my foundation of life one of these mountains...
Standing tall, anchored in Love,
Ready for whatever the winds blow...
KLB 06/06/13

Kandi said, "The rock was literally sitting next to me on
this root berm when I plopped myself down to watch sunset...
(and there was the rainbow, and a whole bunch of other stuff)." Love.
Photo credit: KLB

Thank you, Kandi. xo

We will be walking again in the Novato Relay for Life. Your support of the Sugartown team means a lot. Here's a link to the team. Any donation to any member is greatly appreciated. Thank you, friends. xo

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Upside of Downsizing, Part 5

I've passed the three-month mark in my new mint-tin of a home and, I must say, I am deeply in love with it. Is it perfect? No. Not even close. There are things I would still love to change and/or improve, and if I expected this to be a more long-term residence, perhaps I would. Instead, I simply accept what isn't exactly practical to change, and embrace this new way of living.

Life in the mint tin is exquisitely simple. I have everything I need (except a proper freezer), and everything has its places (even is some of that is displaced in my storage unit). There's not a morning that I wake without a sense of serenity. My routine remains the same. The alarm goes off at the same time, and I head off to the gym. Before I go, the "bed" is turned back into a "sofa". When I come back, I fix myself up for the day, then make make breakfast. It's a routine that I adore. It's "my time", and I slow down to enjoy it.

Every time I walk into my kitchen, I smile. The mini-fridge makes certain things a challenge, but I love the rest. Because breakfast is the only meal I'm consistent with (work schedule usually means lunch is on the run, and dinners tend to be somewhat social), I leave my breakfast makings out. I have my "coffee station" organized and ready to go on my little kitchen cart. Since I am sans freezer, I now walk a block west from my Whole Foods to Groundwork for coffee, where I grind organic beans perfectly for my French press. I take only two scoops of beans, less than a half-pound of Black Gold, which will last me about two weeks. That makes more sense than a can of organic French Roast sitting in my cupboard going stale for a month. These are the little changes I'm embracing. This one, I enjoy. On the other hand, I desperately miss my salad spinner and tearing up hearts of romaine. Bag lettuce lacks any semblance of romance, but it fits in my mini-fridge. I'm looking into other options. This is on my wish list. Buying a pint of rice milk "ice cream" means turning it into a meal because there's no saving it for later. My little "freezer" shelf doesn't even keep ice, let alone a froze dessert. But it does chill my vodka. Civilization still exists.

There is still an "office" in my tiny home. A laptop stand slides over to the futon for work, connecting or creating. I couldn't find a way to hide my printer, but it's not so bad to have it out. Friends comment on the coziness of the place and feel welcomed. And that's what matters most.
The office lives behind the chair and below my
Twin Peaks print, which makes me smile wide.
I quite enjoy not living directly on the boulevard. While I still hear some of the street sounds, it's so much more quiet here, much more peaceful. And, because it's so peaceful here, my home is always clean. Since I'm removed from the chaos outside, there's less chaos inside. Dishes are done before I walk out the door, mainly because the sink is right by the door. To clean everything, from top to bottom, takes all of 30 minutes. Everything is put away before bedtime or leaving for the day. This is a big difference from my old one-bedroom, where 15 years of living cluttered up the space, and cleaning the entire place in one go seemed like a monumental task. That's something I don't miss.

I do miss being near the ocean and canals, and walking distance to all of my favorite caf├ęs and restaurants. However, being a resourceful girl, I am able to make it out to happy hour with my partner in crime, and do so responsibly. We used to walk. Now, she either picks me up and we stroll over to one of our favorite haunts, or I take the bus to her place, with a stop conveniently located at the end of her street. Yes, the bus. For only $1.50, and less than a 15-minute ride, it makes perfect sense. A cab might seem a more elegant form of transport, but at $10 a pop, I'll save that for a more special occasion.

There are plenty of fine places for me to stroll in my new neighborhood. A few blocks east is my post office and a fantastic coffee shop. A few blocks south is Pit Fire Pizza, where I can get a pie with vegan Daiya cheese as well as a Duvel. Civilized, indeed. And for the nights when I'm too tired to cook, there is a Mexican, a Thai and an Indian restaurant to choose from, each just steps away. They spoil me. And when I'm finally in for the evening, it does feel like home. Everything in here makes me smile. And while I wish this was my sofabed, my futon serves me fine for now.

More than one friend has said, "You are taking this very well." I'm sure downsizing can seem like a step back. And, yes, while I wish this was me getting a little mint tin in the West Village of Manhattan, I'm quite content with my tiny place in Mar Vista. This isn't a setback, but a step toward a simpler, happier, easy life. And that is worth giving up square footage for. If you don't think you could part with some of your possessions, let me tell you: You can. If you are considering trading less space for more money in your bank, do it. Less really is more. The upside of downsizing really happens on one's lips, as the corners of the mouth curve into a smile.

{The rest of the "home tour" is below and is dedicated to the friends who have repeatedly asked for photos. xo}

It's refreshing to have a nice welcome mat that isn't stolen.
Even my not nice ones got lifted at my old place.
You enter my abode into my kitchen.
This $29.99 cart from Ikea provides storage and my kitchen's only drawer.
Beloved red kettle and convection toaster oven.
Sad mini fridge (in the space above it is my flatware "drawer").
The painted-shut window serves as spice rack.
My "breakfast center".
The collapsable dish rack is genius.
It doesn't look so snazzy, but I have little storage in my kitchen.
This former closet organizer now serves as supply pantry/water crock holder.
Baskets serve as makeshift drawers for towels and aprons.
Tupperware fits on the cart's second shelf.
And I really do make my toast a few inches off the floor.
My tea collection resides in a Tupperware container.
The boxes were much too bulky.
Glasses have to be staggered in order to fit.
Please note, champagne flutes, martini glasses and wine goblets made it in.
Everything has to be stacked. Everything.
Much needed "blackboard" to make notes.
Easy to check because it's next to the door.
The shelves hold the necessities. Two Ikea chairs stacked for extra seating.
And the ironically large heater for my teeny-tiny duplex.
Butsudan for chanting. Stool to the left of it for sitting/extra seating.
A few frames yet to be hung.
Official office space.
What's behind the curtain. I had to fake a storage closet.
Drying racks, Swiffer (in place of a broom or mop), compact Shark vac and files.
My "sofa". Because of the termostat placement,
choosing the right art became a challenge.
So I chose an Audrey quote decal from WallsNeedLove.
It's written in "stone".
I made sure the Four Seasons robe fit.
Just the basics.
And a vanity I wish I could replace.
The "bedroom".
The closet. The door is only two feet wide.
My dresser/entertainment center.
And what it looks like to be home. xo

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Upside of Downsizing, Part 4

Never did I think this move would take me so long. Never had a move taken me so long! But this was different. This involved downsizing. And, while one would think that would be a simple thing, making everything "less" takes so much more work.

It took me two weeks, and second yard sale, to complete the move. Every morning, I would return the empty boxes and those filled with things to sell or go into storage, and bring over six more on my way home from work. My place is so tiny, there wasn't much room to bring over any more, and expect the futon to lie flat. So, everything needed to be unpacked and/or reboxed before bed so it would be ready to go in the morning. There was still a lot to bring over. It was hard to decide where to begin.

But, let's start with the closet, shall we? I did. It was what I was most concerned about. What if everything didn't fit? Even with all that I set aside to sell and/or donate, I still had one coat closet and one full double closet to shrink into that itty-bitty space. The rod is only 25 inches long. Feel free to take out your measuring tape to put that into perspective. I know, right? Thankfully, I found the Real Simple Slimline Hangers, which live up to their name and have a hook with which you can "cascade" other hangers to pack more into the space. While I see they have disappointing reviews, I love them. I purchased the shirt, pants and skirt hangers, and they work beautifully. Not only did everything fit (including 3 coats and 4 jackets), I still have room.

My next worry was shoes. There was no way a floor rack would work, so I got a 24-pair over-the-door shoe rack. I did a lot of downsizing on my shoe collection and, even with having to take the rods to the hardware store to get two inches taken off so the rack would fit and let my 22-inch door close, all my shoes fit! Three pairs of boots and two sets of platform sandals sit on the floor, but my flats, heels and sneakers all fit on the rack wonderfully. I followed some of the comments (which gave me the tip of cutting the rods), so I could understand better the pros and cons of these systems. I let the adhesive tape sit all afternoon, secured with blue tape (which became my best friend during this move), and kept the tape on for two more days, even after the shoes were in place. So far, so good. The only problem is, with the shoes on the door, I have to step into my closet sideways. It's pretty comical.

In the back of the closet, I was able to fit my carry-on rollie, so I can leave for an adventure at a moment's notice. Inside the carry-on is all of my travel bags and TSA-approved containers. What they say is true: In a small space, everything needs to have more than one function.

I was also able to fit a pop-up "hamper" inside the closet, too. There was still room on the floor for my gym bag, and my gym shoes, since those go on every day.

On the outside of the closet door, I put an over-the-door mirror, so I'm able to avoid any fashion mishaps. I was pleased my little "dressing center" was complete and fully functional. Not quite the dreamy walk-in closet most would fantasize about but, for right now, it's perfect.

My next concern was "the office". I still needed to have one, but I also needed it not to take over the aesthetic of the entire room. Well, for a bit, it did.

The utter chaos that was unpacking.
At the end of the day, I was able to downsize even that. All of those labels and sleeves, extra paper and extra supplies were set for the second yard sale. What I really needed was my printer/scanner/fax machine, current files and functional daily supplies (envelopes, paper, stapler, tape dispense, etc.) Ages ago, I found a wood hanging file rack at Ikea that I used to set my turntable on. I had set it out for the first yard sale, but it had no takers. I even left it out on the curb as a freebie. No takers. Then, I realized I would need a file system and rescued it. Thank goodness. It fits perfectly in the corner. What I still needed was drawers to contain those daily supplies. I found a great deal at Ikea that would be functional and blend in, so I got two. Of course, one was defective, so that meant another trip to Ikea.

And when I wasn't unpacking, organizing for the second yard sale, setting aside what would be going into storage, I was driving to Ikea, Home Depot or Bed, Bath and Beyond, which became a home away from both homes. Their coupons helped keep my growing budget less scary. One of the returns was the laptop table I got from Ikea. I traded that in for a snack table from BBB -- much like the one I used before and sold for $5 at my yard sale. I thought I could fold the table and put it behind my "armoire". There wasn't enough space for that and my ironing board. Once I came to terms with the fact the laptop's table would need to be a more permanent piece of furniture, I took back the snack table and splurged on this from Cost Plus World Market with a 10% off coupon and money brought in from some of my returns.

The kitchen almost took care of itself. I worried that I would not be able to fit in my Tupperware, but the middle shelf on my kitchen cart came to the rescue. Yes, I make my toast about 5 inches off the ground (the toaster goes on the bottom shelf), but it's working out well. The kitchen itself has no drawers. The cart has one, which is used for all of those "utility" utensils (microplane grater, collapsible funnel, clips, church keys, etc.). Forks, spoons and dinner knives are in my old drawer organizer and sits in the space between the mini-fridge and the counter, fitting perfectly. It's coating makes it slide easily without scuffing the top of the refrigerator.

A former closet organizer now serves as the stand for the water dispenser. It's three cubbies house my dishtowels and cloth napkins, aluminum foil and cling wrap, and a square basket at the bottom serves as a "drawer" for my aprons. At least the ones I have left.

The bathroom needed the most work. I'll spare you the photos of the faucet. That, I replaced on my own. The shower is aluminum, as are the towel racks. So why the landlord decided to get a vanity with brass hardware is a little confusing. Instead of going with brass for the faucet, I went with nickel. I added crystal nobs to the cupboards high over the commode. Eventually, I will sort out what to do with the gold. What I have to keep in mind is that I only have a year lease. I want to make my home beautiful, but not break the bank or my back doing it.

I took some of the silver spray paint to a two-tier corner shelf that I've had for nearly twenty years. It breathed new life into the fading piece. A visit to the "as is" shelf at BBB saved me $10 on a shower caddy. I don't like them hanging under my shower head, so a $5 over-the-door hook solved that problem. Then, I treated myself to an Aquis microfiber hair towel, which takes up less space to do its job.

The last issue to tackle was cabinet organization, and those cute little shelves and drawers cost a pretty penny. So, I re-purposed my pantry shelves for this. Under the bathroom sink, I added my former office organizer on top of a pantry shelf, and underneath it, created a "drawer" with a wooden box. The clear office organizer is perfect. It houses my hairdryer, brushes, contacts, makeup, and some first aid supplies on its three tiers. A wood set of drawers went under my kitchen sink to hold additional kitchen supplies. All of that cost me zero dollars. And thank goodness for that. I still needed more organizing for the bathroom, and something that could fit in a narrow space. For BBB to the rescue again with this.

Fourteen days after I moved in, I was completely moved out of the old place. The Vietnam Veterans of America came over to pick up my very large donation. The old place was cleaned, and the last trip to the storage unit was made. There only remains one box unpacked in my new home, and that holds all my tax prep. Yes, that still needs to be done. But the move was complete and my new home really was becoming one, especially after I hung the print my Irish faerie godmother gave me.

I smile every time I look at this.
There was only one thing left to do: Entertain. And that would come in the form of a Thank You party (called The World's Smallest Cocktail Party) for those who helped with the two yard sales. Once my taxes were done.