Tag Archives: Organizing

sunday salon: ides of march edition

The Sunday Salon

Time and Place:
Sunday evening / the couch in the living room. As per usual.

Weekend Happenings?
Not much. The Girl went to a SibShop yesterday. It’s a support group for kids who have a sibling with special needs. It took me awhile to find such a group and they’ve increased the number of sessions to three weekends per month. A bit of driving around on the weekends, but as much as I might complain about trekking around Pittsburgh, it’s worth it because The Girl loves going and the facilitators are wonderful with her. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at Panera and I came home and took a long nap.

Today’s been a lazy day. Grocery shopping was the extent of my activity. I should have done more, but I’ve had a bad headache all weekend and wasn’t up to it.

The last week or so has been a mixed bag on the bookish front, with everything from a book that will likely be on my Best Books I’ve Read in 2015 list to two DNFs.

The Paying GuestsLet’s start with what I loved. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is …well, I was unable to put this down. Set in 1922, Frances Wray and her mother live together in their large South London mansion following the deaths of Frances’ brothers in the War and then her father’s illness. Her father’s mismanagement of the family’s finances makes it necessary for Frances and her mother to rent out some of their rooms. Newlyweds Lilian and Leonard Barber join the household as “paying guests” and change the dynamic of the Wray house – not to mention each one of their lives.

The Paying Guests also is on the just-announced longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) along with 19 other contenders. I’ve read only one other nominee (Station Eleven) and if I had to choose between the two, I would definitely choose The Paying Guests.  Anyway, I’m hoping to have a full review up soon.

My DNFs were Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan – about a group of restaurant workers during their last night at a Red Lobster which is slated for closing – and Inside Madeleine, by Paula Bomer. The latter, a collection of stories, has been hyped for being evocative and daring; however, I read the first two (“Eye Socket Girls” and “Breasts”) and found both to be eh rather than edgy. It didn’t do much for me, so back to the library it goes.


Still completely addicted to and immersed in House of Cards. I’ve just started Season 2 and will hopefully have a chance to watch episode 2 and maybe 3 tonight.

ZZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was on my TBR Goodreads list, but reading West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan made me more interested in picking this up.  Z is my audiobook this week.

Remember the #1000Speak post I did as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion? (Listening to Our Better Angels) Well, now this project has become a monthly thing and on Friday March 20 we’ll be writing on the theme of “Building from Bullying.”  Join us on the 1000 Voices for Compassion group on Facebook. 



Bloggiesta - Spring 2015Bloggiesta comes back this spring and it is better than ever! You guys, it is a week this time. A week! I have a to-do list a mile long for this blog, so I definitely could use that amount of time. Not sure what Bloggiesta is or what it involves? Click on the button to be taken to the Bloggiesta page or go here.


Daffodils - 3-8-2014

Look closely … my daffodils are coming up after a very long winter! You see them? Full disclosure: this is a photo from last March, taken on 3/8/2014, but they look the same right now.

This headache that I’ve had most of the weekend. I think it’s weather-related (yesterday was rainy and miserable) and I’m being very cautious about not taking much of anything like Advil or my Maxalt because I’m scheduled for a root canal tomorrow.

I actually hate the headache more than the root canal. This is long overdue – my dentist wanted to do this back in 2012, according to my chart (I conveniently forgot about that) and now this tooth is starting to bother me. So, as much as one can look forward to a root canal, I am.

Don’t laugh, but I really want to do some spring cleaning around the house. (I know … those of you who know me are probably thinking my blog’s been hacked.)  Every room in this house is a disaster and could use some freshening up. Nothing major – we don’t have the budget for anything crazy. I’m talking about some significant decluttering and deep cleaning (I might hire someone for that), framing some photos for the walls … simple things.

Hope your weekend has been a good one!


Thanks for sharing this post!

Hoarders, Google Reader Style

Sky Blue and Black (3)

Delaware Moon in Window
September 4, 2009, Delaware
Photo Credit: Melissa Firman

As everyone who lives on the Internet knows, we’re at the 11th hour (almost) until Google Reader turns into a pumpkin and vanishes forever.

By now, hopefully you’ve transferred all your feeds elsewhere. My personal preference is Feedly, which I’ve been using since the Google Farewell Tour was announced several months ago.

Quite frankly, right after I switched over to Feedly, I didn’t look at my Google Reader again.

Not once.

Until yesterday, when I panicked and realized, I haz a whole lot of starred shit in there! 

Like, starred items that go back to 2009.

We’re talking starred reviews of books I absolutely want to read. Recipes I will make (and my family will love). Restaurants I must try when I get that elusive date night with The Husband. Writing tips that will make my novel-in-progress a guaranteed bestseller (or my posts get a gazillion more views or my future nonprofit employers attract thousands more donors – with my new savvy-ness.)

It’s all there, Melissa’s personal reference desk of life.

I tend to be somewhat susceptible to this sort of behavior.

When we moved two years ago, I had Oprah and Real Simple and Cooking Light magazines dating back to the Pre-Y2K Age. They were piled up in our den and our kitchen, some in boxes from a move four years prior and one four years prior to that and possibly a move or two I am forgetting. (You do the math on the number of moves a Pre-Y2K magazine needs to make.)

I procrastinated on packing boxes and instead, spent hours paging through magazines, tearing out article after article that I absolutely needed to keep. About halfway through this project, I came across a binder I created when I once did something similar – and guess what? I’d never looked at any of the articles again.

I realized that this was ridiculous and decided then and there that I was going cold turkey. All of the magazines went into the recycling bin. Gone.


Over the weekend, I found myself slipping back into the same behavior with Google Reader. I spent the majority of Saturday night adding book after book to Goodreads, seeing my “Want to Read” totals creep even closer and closer to 1,500. To put this into some sort of perspective, I tend to read an average of 50-60 books per year.

Today, I went to a volunteer meeting and when I came back, I immediately fired up my laptop and opened up Google Reader, saving posts into Evernote, printing out recipes, adding more books to Goodreads (1,472 …1,473 …1,474…)

And then, about a half hour ago, I stopped.

When are you ever going to look at this again? I thought. You did just fine without this information for however many months.

The books will find you again, if they’re meant to.

Your novel is just fine without the so-called experts’ advice. 

If you ever have a craving for some elaborate recipe, it’s probably archived on some blog somewhere. 

And speaking of elaborate recipes, it’s nice to dream about fancy restaurant date nights, but let’s wake up: your budget and your reality (with two kids and no babysitters) means that a night on the town is dining at Eat’n Park. 

(Not like there’s nothing wrong with Eat’n Park, mind you. Their salad bar and their fish sandwiches ROCK.) 

So instead of spending the night frantically saving and stressing over what doesn’t – in the end – really matter, I’m ignoring the whole thing and burying my head in a book. 

And catching up with all my blogs on Feedly.


Thanks for sharing this post!

Reduce, Recycle, Redux

Really, it is kind of unbelievable how much stuff a family can accumulate in just 8 months.  I mean, right up until the very day we moved here, I was practically a weekly visitor to our Goodwill location in Delaware. It got to the point that the guy at the donation drop off saw my car rounding the corner and knew it was going to be The Chick Who Was Moving to Pittsburgh.

Now that we’re moving into our new house in just two weeks, history’s repeating itself.

What I donated today. *

Don’t. Give. Me. The. Look. Snoopy.



I’m sorry, didn’t we just do this purging thing?

Why, yes, we apparently did.  On March 8, 2011.

Now back to the packing … and making sure all felines are accounted for before sealing up the boxes.

An “everything but the kitchen sink” (obviously) box that I packed earlier this evening.

* Donated items …. because I lost ALL MY ITEMIZED DONATION LISTS when we went to do this year’s taxes and lo and behold, I remember that I BLOGGED ALL MY DECLUTTERING SKILLZ and all of a sudden when the blog becomes the source of a POTENTIAL TAX DEDUCTION then The Husband has a newfound appreciation and love and respect for such trivial blog entries such as this. Yay me.

What I donated today:

Boys clothing:
28 shirts/t-shirts
16 tank tops
1 pair jeans
4 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of dress pants
2 dress shirts
2 winter coats
1 sweater vest
4 pairs of pants

Girls Clothing
2 dresses
1 pair of jeans
1 winter coat
1 light jacket
6 shirts/tops
2 pairs of shoes

Women’s Clothing
3 shirts
2 jackets
1 skirt
1 suit
1 cardigan set
2 pairs of boots

1 Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal
1 Snoopy stuffed animal (yep, he made it into the store after all)
1 doll

1 Baby Einstein/Baby Van Gogh

1 children’s book about Passover

Household items
1 Dora the Explorer vanity table

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

All We Have

And here, another sighting of Beth in my stacks of Real Simple magazines

In this article (from November 2004, about going back to see her childhood home) comes the gift of her words: 

“Memory is a tease and an illusion, a seducer and a liar
– and mostly all we have of who we were back then.”

So poetic and so very Beth. 

So serendipitious for me to see right now.

And so very, very true. 

(Photo taken of a house in my mother’s former neighborhood.  They were adding this newly constructed house to the old one.)

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Goodwill

My Decluttering 2011 project has gone into overdrive, now that we’re moving. 
(I didn’t know we would be moving when I vowed to get rid of 2,011 things this year.)
Pictured above in the back of my Chevy HHR, is a significant portion of the walk-in closet in our master bedroom.  Four years ago, we moved all of these clothes to this house.  Now, some of them actually did fit us then … but many, many, many of them did not.  We were holding onto them because “maybe someday we would fit into them again.”  (You understand how that game goes, right?)
Instead, they damn near barely fit into my car.  As you can see, I needed the front seat, too. A lot of them still have the dry cleaning tags on them.   (If you’re in the market for an HHR and are wondering how much the back can hold, now you know.) Here’s what was donated to Goodwill yesterday:
9 men’s suits
22 men’s dress pants
29 men’s dress shirts
3 men’s blazers
3 women’s suits
5 women’s blouses
1 knit dress
4 women’s blazers
3 women’s dress pants
Pretty much all of these items are professional work clothes, so I hope they will help someone out. There were two completely full trash bags of the kids clothes underneath this load, too, but I didn’t itemize them. I just grabbed them in order to get them out of the house.
copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
Thanks for sharing this post!

More Decluttering 2011

When last we left Project Decluttering 2011, the number of items tossed, recycled, or donated stood at 33 with another 1,978 to go.

Here are some more things added to the list:

34. A slew of receipts, coupons, grocery lists, etc.
35. An old can of dried out Play-Doh (I can’t remember the last time my kids played with Play-Doh)
36. Owner’s Manual for the Dora the Explorer Sing-Along CD Player
37. A stack of business cards from one of my former jobs
38. Another 2008 calendar
39. A Christmas card from 2008 (maybe earlier)
40. Tickets to an event that was cancelled and refunded … yet I still have the tickets.
41-46. Five Magic Markers that don’t work.
47. Hospital bracelet from Boo’s ear tubes/adenoid surgery in 2008
48. Brochure from Longwood Gardens (I can find out the information online if I need it)
49-50. Two order forms for kids to pre-order their school supplies for the following year (was due in May)
51-61. Ten more worksheets from school.

To Be Donated
62-68. Five children’s books.
69. A mini Etch-a-Sketch type of toy. 

All of this crap was on my bedroom bureau, staring at me every morning when I woke up and again when I went to bed.  (Except for the mini Etch-a-Sketch.  That’s been on the stairs.)

I’m off from work today, and one of my to-do’s is to go through some of the piles of magazines and work on the den (the most clutter-filled room in the house.)

One of these days I will get brave enough to post photos.  Maybe.  I’m not quite there yet. Baby steps, folks.  Baby steps.

And might I add … I am loving the comments and support on my original post about this endeavor of mine, and the fact that some of you are playing along with your own Decluttering 2011 Projects.  Now if I only had a button (which I am inept at doing … hint, hint), we’d have ourselves an Official Challenge sort of thing happening.

copyright 2011, by Melissa. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Decluttering 2011

So I got this crazy, half-assed idea in my head the other day. 

You know how I’ve been yammering on and on about my clutter issues, that I really need to get my act together and deal with the den, the bedroom bureau, the guest room, the dining room … ?  You know that old song and dance?  Well, it tends to get worse around the beginning of New Years, because every year I tell myself that this is the year I am going to get serious about my clutter problem.  And every year, I start January 1 with even more increasing piles of crap.

So on Monday, I went into the den (where the printer is) to retrieve something from the printer for work, looked around at all the crap and thought:

“What if I resolve promise TRY to get rid of 2,011 things in 2011?”  

2,011 things.  It sounds like a lot of stuff. 

But here’s the thing.  We have a lot of stuff.

I need to be held accountable, so I am going to start listing, as motivation, what I throw out, recycle, or donate as part of this project.  (Which is not (I repeat, NOT) anything resembling a New Year’s Resolution.  This is … how shall we say?  Something Else.)  If I wind up with 2,011 things gone by the end of the year, great.  If I end up getting rid of 2,012 things, even better.  If I don’t hit 2,011 things … well, at least I’ve gotten rid of SOME things, right? Some is better than none, right?

And regular household everyday stuff (like soda bottles and cans and stuff that I know I should be more environmentally-conscientious about …. I am trying, really, I am … doesn’t count).

So here’s what I threw away, recycled, or set aside to donate on Monday.  All this was in piles in the den.

– a coupon for a local deli that expired in June 2009
– an Amazon receipt for a purchase made in January 2009
– 3 cards for the kids’ 7th birthdays (they just turned 9)
– one Happy 6th Birthday card
– a note from a school fundraiser, circa Fall 2008
– a book that apparently got ruined somehow (All the pages are stuck together. As in, YOU CAN’T EVEN OPEN THE BOOK.)
– a 2008 calendar, completely blank
– one “Fly Away with Big Bird” activity tablet
– Disney “Little Mermaid” nightlight/storybook set (the pages are ripped and the nightlight is MIA)
– 10 practice worksheets from school, dated September 2009

– 4 toy catalogs, all from Fall 2008
– 6 bags of newspapers

– Disney’s Lion King book
– Dora the Explorer “Dance to the Rescue” book

33 things. 

Only 1,978 more to go. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!