organization

Someone fell off the face of the blogosphere, eh?

(Wow. Did I really just say “blogosphere”? Ick.)

For the last week I have been dying to post, but unfortunately, my life was taken over by a new house guest. An unwelcome house guest.

  

Um. Ewwww.

Recently when I was going through the kitchen drawer that contained my dry goods, I noticed that some of the bags had holes. At first, I thought they had just ripped open accidentally, but as I dug deeper, I found the above. Yep. Speedy Gonzalez had paid a visit to my apartment, and I was totally unhappy about the fact.

(Source)

That’s right, Speedy, I’m talking about YOU.

I’ve never really lived in a place where I had a rodent problem, and frankly, given the fact that I have cats, I didn’t think I ever would. As it turns out, my cats only have eyes for Fancy Feast.

Fail.

So when faced with this new problem in my life, the first thing I did was to go on Twitter and panic. Obviously. I mean, what else would one do?

After a few more creeped out tweets, I conjured up the strength to go into the kitchen and clean out the drawers in my kitchen built-in. I pretty much had to get rid of all of the food I had, which really bummed me out. I also was sad about my KitKats. I’ve always planned to make a separate post about them, but the long and the short of it is that Japan makes crazy KitKats, I love trying all of the flavors and every time Maya comes home from Japan, she brings me all of the seasonal flavors that they’ve had in her area since she last visited. The mouse only ate a few of them, but I was still pretty grossed out.

Although I threw everything out back on April 20th, I didn’t actually work myself up to finding a solution until last week. I was walking around Japantown after a dentist appointment and I noticed that they had put in a Daiso Japan at the Miyako Mall. I’ve been to the Daiso at Serramonte, but I had never been to the new locations in the city. I decided to just stop in and browse.

Daiso is a very popular Hiyaku-en chain (100 yen shop…the equivalent of a $1 store) in Japan. Here stateside, most everything you will find in a Daiso costs $1.50. There are certain items that might cost $3-$6, but they are in the minority. As far as products, they sort of sell everything. Dishware. Glasses. Aprons. Cleaning Supplies. Candy. Soap. Fabric. Cards. Organizational Supplies. Pens. Pots. Chopsticks. CD cases. Screwdrivers. Toys. You name it, there is probably a cheapish version of it being sold at Daiso.

Of course it didn’t take me long to find what I needed: Mouse-proof kitchen supplies.

I had been wanting an expensive set of tupperware to keep the dry goods in, but I am pretty broke. When I walked into Daiso, I realized I could mouse-proof my kitchen for much less. So I sort of bought $30 worth of items.

(Then I went back later in the week to the Market St. location and bought more.)

 

These guys were the main items used to sort everything out. Plastic trays and plastic locking containers. The larger plastic containers cost $3/each, but I thought it was worth it.

I also bought a cutting board. Completely unrelated, but I just wanted to share.

I was pretty zonked out from carrying all of that home on foot, so when I got home I only really had time to organize the drawers.

Cooking utensils, measuring cups, eight zillion plastic spatulas and a set of J “Wake Up! Mother F*cker” chopsticks. What? YOU don’t have a set of profane chopsticks in the same drawer as your heart-shaped measuring cups?

Spices, pea protein powder, ground chia (the mouse ate the non-ground variety I had on hand..), Biscoff spread, etc.)

Wax paper, plastic wrap, tin foil, zip lock bags, coffee filters, pot holders, magic bullet.

Seeing my drawers all organized filled me with immense pleasure. You see, for the two years I’ve been living here, I’ve just been dumping things in there. The utensil drawer also had pot holders, tin foil and all sorts of other garbage inside. I could never find anything and I just about died of embarrassment when my friend opened it when looking for a bottle opener. I yelled, “NO! NOT IN THERE!”

I didn’t want him to know what a slob I am.

The other drawers had been equally as messy. This new organization made me feel very calm….but not as calm as when I finally got this cabinet done:

Tupperware (containers in the left bin, lids on the right), toaster, mixing bowl, pots, strainers, frying pans, cheese grater, scale, etc.

This picture cannot convey to you the joy that comes with seeing this cabinet organized. You see, much like that top drawer, this cabinet had just been a nightmare of tupperware thrown EVERYWHERE. Anytime I took something out, everything fell onto the floor and I would start yelling a string of curses that would make a sailor blush. I couldn’t ever find anything either. Now, I know where everything is. So. Awesome.

Lastly, I tackled the top of the built-in unit. Just a few days before, it had been piled high with crap, but now, it looks organized and clean.

You can actually see empty space! I just may faint!

Another really helpful thing I found at Daiso were those green collapsible shelves. As you can see, I’ve used one here on the counter top as well as in my tupperware cabinet. It really helps maximize space and makes organization really easy. I’m considering going back for a few more of these to help in other storage areas of my apartment.

One last thing I found at the store that made me a happy camper:

KitKat protection!

This is a rice storage bin, which I am using to house all of the remaining KitKats. I had been a little hesitant to keep any, as the mouse had been in the bag I had kept them in and the idea kind of skeezed me out. In the end, I decided to go through all of the candy, piece by piece. Any wrappers that looked even remotely chewed or scratched were tossed, whereas the rest were stored in this Fort Knox-like security area. I still feel a little wary, but I ate a cheese KitKat the other day and I’m still alive, so I think it’s okay….

(Yes, you read that correctly. I had cheese flavored KitKats, but those were not the ones that got eaten….)

I am also keeping my cats’ dry food in a rice container.

I have learned several things from this mouse experience.

1) Mice will eat whatever they can. Don’t leave ANYTHING outside of a plastic container.

Remember that picture of my spice drawer? I hadn’t finished washing the plastic ware when I organized that drawer, so I left the turbinado sugar package that the mouse had missed out on before in the drawer, thinking I would put it in a plastic container the next day. The next day, I found the mouse had been back and he still had a sweet tooth.

2) A clean kitchen makes me feel significantly more calm and happy

Often times I wouldn’t want to cook because everything was so jumbled and messy that I would feel overwhelmed. Now, I find it is the opposite. I enjoy going into the kitchen to make something as I know that all of my tools are right at my finger tips. It also makes me want to wash my dishes more often, so that the whole room will feel as clean and organized as my built-in unit. I am feeling encouraged to clean the fridge and the sink area in the near future. Although my kitchen was never really filthy, it was cluttered and certainly hasn’t had a really good scrub down since I moved in.

3) I shouldn’t worry so much about telling my landlord when there is a problem:

I had been really afraid to tell my landlord, as I thought it would reflect poorly on me. I thought it meant I was dirty and they would want to evict me or something. I know that sounds crazy, but after living most of my life in a rent controlled apartment in the Mission district, where the landlord really was trying to get us out, I’m sort of wired like this. In my old apartment, we routinely kept things like plumbing and heating problems, broken windows and pest issues to ourselves.

I did end up telling my building manager, however. All is cool. He told me that other tenants throughout the years have had similar problems. If I wanted regular snap traps, he would be happy to give me some, but he recommended I try out a sonic device that is designed to repel the rodents from the unit.

I decided to pick up a 2-pack from my local hardware store and I have one plugged into a socket in the kitchen and another in my studio’s main room. The sound is at a different frequency than what humans or cats hear, so the felines are good with it. I can hear a slight buzzing sound from the things, but it isn’t a big deal. I don’t know if they actually work, but as the alternative involves seeing dead mice, I am all for this approach.

So far, I haven’t seen evidence of another visit….and I hope it stays that way!

Have you ever dealt with a pest problem in your home?

After I got my new haircut, I had to sit down and start thinking about what I needed to do to feel more in control of my life. It’s not that I have horrible things dropping on me left and right. It’s more that everything feels jumbled. I’m always late, I never know where anything is and I never feel like there is enough time to get the things I really want to do accomplished.

So the next step in my plan of action is to attempt (for the gazillionth time) to be better organized.

The problem:

I have never, ever been organized. Even in elementary school, I was that kid who had the backpack full of crap with the cubbie slot and desk that was oozing papers out onto the floor. This isn’t something that has just happened to me lately and given me the blahs…this is who I am.

I think it’s a genetic thing, as no one in my family has the ability to be organized. All of us have drawers, cabinets and closets piled high with belongings that are mismatched. Despite this, my mother and I share the deepest desire to be put together. We make plans, buy plastic bins, filing cabinets and spend tons of money at The Container Store. Yet, we never quite succeed. Both of us know how much better we feel when things are clean and neat, yet we wind up living knee-high in junk without a clue as to where anything is.

It’s great to share attributes with your family, and all, but this is one I really wish I hadn’t picked up!

I decided the best place to start would be with my electronic life. I spend a lot of time on my computer, on my work laptop and on my iPhone. I’m sure some people would think that it would be better to start with organizing my apartment, but you would be wrong. Try waking up to the following screen every morning, and then tell me you don’t feel crazed:

While I’m still working on the desktop situation, I have made strides on the Google front. First of all, I finally enabled multiple inboxes and keyboard short cuts in gmail. I also made labels and filters. My inbox has been making me feel just as anxious as my desktop.

While I didn’t take a before picture of my inbox, here it is after. It’s so nice and calming to see everything in its place and my inbox empty every time I leave it.

I don’t know if the labels I have picked will be what I keep. They were just the first ones that came to my head. I also am trying to get used to the multiple inbox thing. Currently, I’m starring things that I just want to keep in the front of my brain…such as a note from the landlord telling me that my water is going to be shut off today. In the past, that e-mail would’ve been buried in my inbox somewhere and I might’ve forgotten about it completely. Today, however, I woke up, looked at my inbox and remembered: Oh yeah! Water is going to be cut…better get up and make some coffee!

Awesome.

I have more to say on the subject of Google organization, but for now, I need to get up so I can get to the gym on time. It is what an organized person would do!

If you are interested in cleaning up your gmail box, but you aren’t really sure where to start, you should check out Kath’s gmail tutorials. While I am fairly computer savvy, I did watch her videos to make sure I was utilizing all of the features that would best suit my needs. A biggie that I picked up from Kath was turning on the keyboard shortcuts…I love them!

Are you an organized person? Have any tips?