Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Scourge of my Living Room

I don't pretend that I have a super pretty living room.  Everything is still in a relative state of disarray since we moved two months ago, and I'm almost constantly shuttling things between our (itty-bitty) apartment and the storage unit down the street.  So, in true me fashion, today I decided to completely ignore the stack of stuff to go to storage and the pile of sentimental clutter that needs purging, and instead tackle something that has been driving me nuts for quite a while...

the hubby's enormous DVD collection!

When we first started dating, he had about 3 DVDs - the remnants of a sizeable collection that was lost to a series of unfortunate events.  He warned me that he was going to work on building his collection back up.  It's grown exponentially.  About the time we got married (4 years ago), he bought this really adorable shelf at a random office supply store to hold the collection.  At the time, there was room to grow.  As you can see above, it's overgrown the shelf - and it's looked like it does above for almost a year now.  

I saw some really cute DVD storage solutions at The Container Store several weeks ago.  They got me thinking, and I've been dying to do something about storing the collection ever since.
elfa media storage from The Container Store
However, the hubby doesn't want to install an elfa system onto the apartment wall.  Then I suggested these adorable lidded boxes - which he squashed because he wants to be able to pick out a movie without opening a billion boxes.  Then I suggested a disc retrieval unit where we'd be able to discard the cases that they came in that take up SO much room - he wants the cases, he likes the cover art, a list won't give him the synopses, etc.

So, pretty much any organizing system that I suggested that would be both functional and decent to look at were all shot down.  Therefore, we're proceeding with Plan K... use the current shelf we've been using, inventory everything, sort, and give him a way to put items back where they came from so that they stay sorted.  Eventually, I'm hoping to get a cabinet with doors to hide them behind (I find them so unsightly).

I downloaded a free DVD inventory application onto my Droid so that I could just scan in the bar codes and then have a list available in CVS format that I could then import into Excel to make pretty lists.

A little over half way through scanning bar codes
I (finally!) finished scanning all the bar codes and manually entering the few that wouldn't scan right, and the grand total is... we have 206 DVDs, not including home movies and the ilk.

At this point, I've spent almost 2 hours on this project - between finding the app I was going to use, and all that scanning.  And of course, it would be at this point that my plan starts falling apart...

The whole point of scanning everything in was that the app would then give me a list of all our movies that could be exported to Excel in a CSV format.  And this is what happens...
Really?  If I'd had the money to pay for this, I would have downloaded the full app to start with - I totally recognize that devs need to make money.  If I'd realized that I wouldn't be able to do what I thought I could with the app, I would have just sat down with pen and paper and then typed it up.  Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why type it up? Isn't that a lot of extra work for nothing?"  Well, you'll see the main reason why a bit later.

So, I headed over to CNET and searched for DVD inventory software.  I absolutely love CNET - their editors do a really great job with reviews, and I can be sure that I'm not downloading shareware that has a virus embedded in it.  I found this great piece of freeware called Filmotech.  It took a little while to set up, and I did end up typing most everything into Excel and importing it into the program.  However, I'm thrilled that I'll have a comprehensive database of the hubby's collection on a piece of software that will be really easy to teach him to use when he buys new movies.  This great piece of software can automatically search movie databases to include a bunch of information, and it has options for lending out movies.

I admit, I got a bit sidetracked playing with the new software.  It just had so many bells and whistles, I had to.  Yet, I managed to pry myself away long enough to finish the project...

The kiddo and I played a lovely round of Monopoly Junior with no rules (lost them ages ago, and games for 5 year olds are more fun with no rules when your kiddo is 13) while I worked on alphabetizing everything on the shelves.

After kiddo went to bed, I broke out the craft supplies.  Lists of every DVD that's in a back row were printed onto translucent paper and  cut out with scallop scissors.  I originally was going to put eyelets in and run ribbon through them, but the hole punch didn't want to work and it was late.  So out comes my dear friend, the glue stick.  Translucent paper onto a wide strip of dandelion yellow cardstock, and then onto a full sheet of beige cardstock...

which then were leaned on the empty spaces on the shelves...

Voila! Gorgeous!

However, I want the hubby to be able to maintain the neat and orderly thing that I have going on here.  So, I made him so "Checkout Markers".  I got the idea from my church's library - we have these long plastic strips that people put in when ever they check out a book so that it's really easy for the librarian to put them away when they're returned.  Since the standard DVD box is about 7.5" tall, I made a set of markers by resizing some clipart and printing it with the borderless printing feature on my printer...

The hubby got home while I was working on the last bit of the project.  He's thrilled with how it turned out - he can find his movies, he can keep them straightened, and he's really excited about the new software that I found for him.  The project took the better part of a day, since I kept getting sidetracked and running into problems, but I do believe that the first major organizing overhaul in our apartment was a huge success!

So, how do you organize your movie collection and keep it tidy?  Let me know in the comments!

The hubby is thoroughly enjoying his new software.  I'm frustrated that I found yet another movie after I was done, but at least there's room to grow with the new set-up.  And finally, I'm including this post in link parties at two of my favorite organizing-related websites - check out these fabulous women's websites and the great ideas included by everyone in the link parties!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The journey has just begun

This year, I took a huge risk.  A terrifying step. I quit my full time job to be a stay at home mom.  I don't have small children - just a loving hubby, a 13 year old son and a cat.

So, why in the world would I want to leave the "working" world and be home full time?  Really, it was a variety of reasons. 

I hated commuting.  Yes, many people commute for a hour to a hour and a half each way.  Yet, this was the longest commute I've ever had, and I would almost always walk in the door in a lot of pain brought on by my arthritic knees operating a stick-shift through that awful traffic. 

I didn't particularly care for my job, and it wasn't serving the purpose it was intended to serve.  I quit school to go back to work in order to make ends meet.  Between commuting costs, convenience foods at home, eating out and the tax bracket that my income put us in, we were basically breaking even for me to come home stressed and in pain.

My son wasn't doing too hot in school - despite being a gifted child, he's never really excelled in school.  His lack of organization, self-discipline and my lack of energy left for parenting at the end of the day were not really a recipe for success. 

A couple of hours on Sundays in January spent with coupons and sale ads resulted in us restocking the grocery stockpile with over $1,000 worth of food for around $300.

When the hubby and I sat down and added all of this up, we figured that by me staying home, the family could benefit greatly:
  • I'd be a lot happier
  • I'd be a lot less stressed
  • I'd have time for my art
  • I'd have time to volunteer more
  • The family would see significant savings in the grocery expenditures every month
  • The kiddo would have an involved parent who could help him learn to keep on track with school
  • The kiddo would be able to participate in extracurricular activities
  • The family would reap health benefits associated with a well-planned menu
June Cleaver by toledo clubber via Flickr
Since quitting my job in April, we've had a lot of changes in our life. It's been a rough and challenging road.  I'm certainly not seeing all of those benefits that we thought we'd see. We moved from a rented 3/2/2 house in a suburb into a 2/2 apartment in the city.  We've struggled financially after a large unexpected expense in June.  I had a not-so-lovely bout with severe depression for the two months before the move.  After we learned that the kiddo has high cholesterol, significant changes to our eating habits were implemented.  I'm having trouble with my personal schedule, and so I'm not volunteering at all right now.  There's no space for an art studio in a 2 bedroom apartment, and most of my supplies are in a storage locker down the street.  And I'd imagined this glorious life of coffee klatches, PTA meetings and homemade cookies.  HA!

I don't know why I thought I'd be June Cleaver within a week of being home full-time - but then again, I've spent most of my life setting unrealistic goals and standards, and beating myself up for not meeting them. 

So, here I am - five months into being at home - still trying to get organized (because an unorganized move wreaks havoc upon existing organization), cooking, cleaning, planning, researching.  Praying for more little feet in the house.  Learning to mentor a young teen in how to succeed at goals.  Discovering my flaws and imperfections, my triggers for depression.  Learning how to navigate relationships with friends and family - because frankly, I've spent years neglecting them.  Figuring out the middle ground between being ridiculously perfectionist and being an ostrich with her head in the sand.  Realizing that I'll never be June Cleaver, and that I really am just fine with that.