January Cure Re-cap, Week 4

Okay, okay. I’m a little behind. My progress on Apartment Therapy’s January Cure was slowed by our mid-winter escape to Colorado. But that’s okay. Let me show you what has happened in the interim.

Assignment 14: Organize papers and files

It feels weird to take a photo of our bills and files and post it on the interwebs, so I didn’t. Incidentally, I had already started re-organizing our files before the January Cure started. I adapted an outline system that I read about in You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, of all places. I took everything out of the folders they were already in and sorted them into piles of like items. Then, using Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters, and whatever the official hierarchy is for making an outline, I assigned each folder a spot on the outline. The master list shows me everything at a glance. There are a couple advantages to this system: 1) the master list keeps track of each folder’s contents – sort of like a table of contents for our file folders. 2) hassle-free folder/tab labeling: If I no longer need a file, I can re-use the folder without worrying about crossing out the label because I will just change the title of the folder on the master list. 3) new folders can be added quickly and easily: Thanks to the outline system, a folder can be added within a category, or to create a new category. All I have to do is label it with the next available set of numbers in the outline hierarchy, and update the master list to indicate its addition. Huzzah!

And in case that made no sense whatsoever, here’s an excerpt from the master list:

I. House
     A. Mortgage statements
          1. 2010
          2. 2011
          3. 2012
     B. Real estate taxes
     C. Water bills

As such, the folder labeled “I.A.2.” can be expected to contain home mortgage statements from 2011. Neat, right?

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be grown up and have oodles of file folders in my desk that I could thumb through and push aside to access contents. I thought it would be so official and business-like. Now that I do have files, I’m struggling to find that blissful naive childhood vision, primarily thanks to the option of online payments. Are paper statements things of the past? It seems redundant to print an online statement and squirrel it away. So, as it stands, the filing system I described above goes for anything we receive in the mail and feel compelled to keep – you know, the important stuff (Apartment Therapy has a useful list of how long you should hang onto these things). Let me know if you have any ideas for reconciling the digital/paper statement divide.

Assignment 15: Wrangle cords

I haven’t done this yet.

Assignment 16: Clean out bathroom medicine cabinet

This was a humbling task. I was so sure that because our bathroom is so small to begin with, we couldn’t possibly have accumulated stuff that needed to be tossed, much less re-organized. I was quite happy with our system and was confident that I knew exactly what products were where.

One trash can-ful of expired, empty, or unused product containers, trash, and broken objects later…

Seriously! I did toss a lot of things that we don’t use anymore or were hanging onto for who knows what reason. I outboxed my hair dryer because it was taking up space and I haven’t used it in at least 3 years (I’ve probably only used it 20 times total since purchasing it back in high school!).

This afforded me time to clean everything out, vacuum the hair out of drawers and baskets, wipe down the closet shelves, and re-organize everything into their most useful and accessible positions.

Newly organized bathroom sink drawer

Newly reorganized bathroom closet

Assignment 17: Re-evaluate living room lighting

This was on my original list of projects, and one that I am still in-process with. As luck would have it, I did find a lamp in the past month–one that my mom and I loved in the store but whose price didn’t exactly have us jumping for joy. A week later, I was still thinking about it, so I went out and purchased it as an investment piece in our room. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have another warm light source in our living room. Especially because there was only one previous light source: the pendant lamp in the foyer. I am still searching for the perfect lamps to flank or top the piano…

Spot the new alabaster lamp on the second shelf...

Spot the new alabaster lamp on the second shelf…



Assignment 18: Get fresh flowers, deep-clean the living room, empty the outbox

Believe it or not, the flowers I have been getting for these assignments have had an average life span of 2.5 weeks! This meant that before vacation, I had 4 arrangements of flowers on display throughout the house! Cheery! But because I wasn’t here to freshen up their water for a few days, they’re all now looking a little deflated, so it’s time to pick up some new ones this weekend. I’m also mentally preparing to tackle the emptying of the outbox…wish me luck.

And here are some updates from previous assignments


 1. Large appliances, canning/processing tools, and liquor hide out in the cabinet under the island. 2. Cake pans, pie pans, and other ovenware live under the watchful owls’ gazes above the stove. 3. Frying pans and saucepots in the lower cabinet to the right of the oven. 4. This drawer is conveniently situated between the stove and island for easy access to peelers and graters, spatulas and pastry brushes, thermometers, and scoopers. 5. The like-with-like theme continues with whisks, tongs, and knives above the stove. 6. This cabinet is between the stove and island and holds mixing bowls, cooling racks, and oversized frying pans. 7. I even had time to get a little crafty and hot glue two years’ worth of wine corks into a little heart wreath to adorn a corner cabinet! 8. This cabinet, to the left of the sink holds colanders, the salad spinner, the crockpot (because I usually put it on the counter above this cabinet when in use), and cutting boards. 9. Behold the functional counter space to the right of the stove with the food processor, kitchen scale, and other utensils. 10. The swivel corner cabinet holds glass storage containers, vintage casserole dishes, the rice cooker, and measuring cups.

I went a little crazy and totally re-organized our kitchen cabinets and shelving. My method? Proximity and efficiency. I wanted to keep things spatially close to where I am most likely to use them, with like items together. Frying pans and saucepots are nestled together by the stove. Colanders are near the sink. Measuring cups of all varieties are now neighbors. And so on. Further, I had deluded myself into thinking that Alex and I are the type of people who enjoy a cocktail when we get home from work (we’re really not), so this clean-out helped me realize that my scant collection of liquor on the countertop was just taking up space and gathering dust. I stowed the bottles in a different cabinet and set up the food processor and kitchen scale in their place, where they will be much easier to access and use. Perhaps the biggest change though was moving the microwave to the counter. (Where was it previously? On the floor in a corner near the dining room table…) Since acquiring our mini toaster/convection oven, I had resisted putting the microwave on the counter because I thought it looked cramped to have two boxy-appliances in such close proximity, and I had convinced myself that we didn’t actually need the microwave. We use it to…reheat leftovers quickly, melt butter for grilled cheese or soften it for baking, sterilize the kitchen sponge, reheat a mug of tea…and, well, that’s about it. But thanks to the re-organization tune I was humming, I realized we do have the space for it – the counter wasn’t being used for anything else, after all. And I can get used to having two boxy things next to each other. But most of all, I am relieved to have it off the floor where it was cluttering the already tight-quartered dining area. Phew!

Kitchen counterspace

The January Cure has officially ended, but I’ve got a couple assignments yet to finish. I’ll catch you up next week!

Read previous re-caps here:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3


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