When I started my blog 5 years ago, I had visions of helping myself and others declutter but I also had a goal of making a little side money too. I spent hours getting approved as an Amazon affiliate and getting Google Adsense working. I kept checking my Google Adsense stats, but I wasn’t doing the other things I really needed to do to be successful in either of my objectives. I wasn’t providing much value to anyone and I wasn’t gaining much web traffic. I was not spending enough time decluttering or writing.
It only took me five years, but I’ve figured out I was wasting a lot of time. I doubt many people noticed, but I removed all of the Google Adsense ads a few months ago and I’m glad I did. It was a distraction to me and the reader and, embarrassingly, I’ve never made a penny doing this blog thing. That’s OK though. I hope I can start providing more help to others as I go through the process of decluttering my own house and learning the trade of organizing.
Today, I further simplified my website by removing the pop-up asking for your email address in exchange for downloading my list of websites to help you declutter. There are still plenty of places where you can become a subscriber to receive email updates and I made my decluttering list available for download directly on my Resources page. No pop-ups. No email needed. I’ve also added one to the list and verified all the links work, so if you have an old version go get the new one.
I still have a couple of ads on my website, but they are there for good reason. If you’ve ever thought of making your own website, Weebly has been great for me. I feel like I’m beginning to outgrow it but it has taken five years. If you would like to sign up for a free or paid Weebly account, please consider clicking through the link at the bottom of my website. Second, I can’t recommend Cozi enough. It’s been a lifesaver for keeping my family somewhat organized with shopping lists, packing lists, and calendars. Please consider signing up for a free Cozi account through the link on my Resources page. Finally, I will occasionally recommend a product for sale on Amazon and provide an affiliate link. When I recommend a book or product on Amazon it’s because I really have found it useful and think you might too.
That’s it. Thanks for reading and good luck.
Happy New Year!
For me, 2020 will be remembered not only the pandemic, but as the year my dad passed away just as the pandemic hit. We did our best to honor him at a time when people were afraid to gather together. While I’m as happy as everyone else to shove 2020 out the door, I see little changing in the next few months. Until enough people receive the vaccine, we will be wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart I’m afraid. Enough dwelling on the pandemic though.
My wife pointed out to me recently that I wrote very few blog posts in 2020 and that I should start writing more often. I told her I feel like a fraud writing about decluttering when I can hardly walk through our house without tripping on toys or something. The clutter drives me crazy and a lot of it is toys, but not all of it. I freely admit that I have tendencies to hold on to a lot of things “just in case”. I have a weakness for things like old furniture and books (especially old ones). In my head, those things are a connection to the past. Like a lot of people, I also have trouble resisting a great deal on something that might be nice to have.
As usual, my wife had good advice. She said it’s a journey and a process that I can share with everyone else. With that new focus, I’m going to start airing my dirty laundry (so to speak). Watch for more frequent posts this year and some horrific photos of the mess I have in my house. I’m also spending time on educating myself and had a great conversation a few months ago with a friend who is a professional organizer. I’m reading books about organizing and hoarding. I plan to share what I’ve learned with everyone.
With that, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope you’ll stay tuned for some before and after photos. Feel free to send me yours. Maybe we can help each other.
I’ll go first. Below are two photos from a few months ago of a room in my basement that was supposed to be a workshop. When we first moved in, it was great and I actually did use it as a workshop, but slowly things accumulated. It became a place to throw just about anything we didn’t know what to do with. I’ve already made some progress since these photos were taken, but I have a long way to go. I’m embarrassed by this room and it makes me angry when I can’t find something I need in there, but I’m working on it. I’ll keep you posted.
Also, here is the book I'm currently reading on compulsive hoarding. It's enlightening and if you're interested in the psychology behind hoarding, it's excellent.
I’m going to look like a complete hypocrite, but I bought four large bookshelves. Yes, I realize what my headline says at the top of my blog but something had to be done.
We love books in this family and I realized we had them in nearly every room of the house. There was a bookshelf in the office, another in the basement, and shelves in each kid’s bedrooms. My daughter also has those cool floating shelves I wrote about last year.
For books, we have everything from board books to graduate level math and engineering textbooks. Then of course, there are the antique books I rescued from my grandparent’s farm. I wanted them all in one place. I wanted a library.
Since I’m an engineer, I used the same tactic in bookshelf shopping that I used to reduce the amount of coffee I drink. In other words, I made a spreadsheet.
How does a spreadsheet help you shop for bookshelves? If you’ve shopped online for bookshelves lately, you will find the choices are overwhelming. I had to narrow it down somehow based on my space and budget. I didn’t want to start putting books on my shelves only to find out I didn’t have room for all of them.
I grabbed my tape measure and went all over the house measuring the shelves we have and tracking it all in a spreadsheet. I even measured the stacks of books in my daughter’s room. Then I added it all up to find that I needed about 650 inches or 54 feet of shelf space. I assumed that the kids would keep some books in their rooms and that I would also donate at least some books in the process so I could go with a little less if needed. Below is the table I used to estimate how much shelf space I needed.
The location I chose gave me a wall ten feet wide with a ceiling height of about 8 ft. Looking at my spreadsheet, I knew that if I had just six shelves that were nine feet across, I should have enough space. This helped me narrow down the search.
I looked at several bookshelves that could meet my needs but I needed a good way to compare them. I used my spreadsheet to calculate the number of inches of shelf space and divided that by the total cost. This gave me a $/inch value to compare each with. When I found the right combination of width and number of shelves to get close to my 650 inches of shelf space, and found the right price I had a winner.
Here is my table sorted by $/inch. If you’re curious, I settled on the Hemnes from IKEA. This is actually four bookshelves, two are 33 ½” and two are about 17” wide. Each has six shelves. I decided it gave me the closest to my 650 inches and still kept the cost reasonable.
Granted, a simple cost comparison doesn’t take into account the quality difference between these. I tried to find ones that were fairly comparable. If your budget allows you to get custom shelves made or you have the time and skill to build them yourself then more power to you.
Actually getting the shelves from IKEA in the middle of a pandemic proved much more difficult than expected but ultimately we got them and I’m happy.. My oldest son did a good job putting the shelves together. To keep them from falling on anyone, we attached them to the wall with safety straps screwed into the studs. These also helped line all four shelves up so that it looks like one large bookcase.
Before I filled the shelves up though, I wanted a way to help organize the books. Come back to read part 2 for my review of library apps to organize your book collection.
Three years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I wrote a post called The Stuff I Didn’t Buy. In that post, I talked about wanting to buy a camper or RV and how I had these grand visions of traveling with my family. Last year we bought a camper when we got a good deal on an old one that we could pull behind our Ford Flex. Naturally, it had some issues and I’ve made a couple repairs, but I have to admit we’ve had a great time with it. So much so, that I’m now casually shopping for a bigger one.
With the pandemic this year, sales of RVs and campers are crazy. People aren’t vacationing at the crowded beach, a major theme park, a cruise, or major resort. Instead, people are taking their campers on vacation and getting outdoors where they feel a little safer. Aside from that, here are five reasons to go camping.
True, it’s not all fun and games. The kids stay up way too late when we’re camping, especially the youngest. Since our camper is crowded, they always fight a little and whoever is sleeping on the dinette has to tear apart their bed so we can eat breakfast.
All the work is absolutely worth it though. I enjoy sitting by the campfire and playing Connect-Four with my daughter even though she usually wins. I love that she makes s’mores for her little sister and helps her eat them. Plus, I can send messages to my family like this: “We’re camping in Ohio. It’s 10:30 at night. The 2-year old had like three s’mores and is dancing to Five Finger Death Punch by the campfire”. I may not win parent of the year for it, but that’s making memories right there.
I’m not saying everyone should run out and buy a camper. Check out sites like Outdoorsy.com, RVShare.com, or CruiseAmerica.com to rent one first. Many RV dealerships rent them as well. And if you do own one, you can turn it around and rent it out through one of those websites to make a little extra money. Alternatively, many campgrounds have furnished cabins you can rent for far less than a hotel at a resort, and you wouldn’t believe the amenities of some campgrounds.
Even if all you have is a tent and sleeping bags, get outside with your family and check out one of the thousands of campgrounds in America.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s my first one without my Dad.
Next week I will join my sisters and bury his ashes next to my Mom. He’s been gone for 3 months now and there have been so many times lately that I would like to call him up on the phone. I would love to hear what he thinks of current events around the country.
But I can’t call him so this will be a Father’s Day both happy and sad. I have four great kids of my own that I can spend the day with but I know sometime during the day, I’ll pause for a second and think “I need to call my dad”. Then it will hit me again.
Instead of depressing you though, I’d like to talk a little about him.
Born on a farm in North Dakota, he was the only son of five kids. In case you forgot, I’m the only son of seven kids so we had something in common there. Dad enlisted in the US Army right after high school. He served 2 years in the Ordnance Corps. This was the late 1950s during the pioneering age of rocketry. Much of the information he learned was classified at the time and he even met Wernher von Braun once.
My dad was never much for taking orders from anyone so I think that’s one of the main reasons he only served 2 years. That, and meeting my mother while stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I’m not sure how long they dated but they were only engaged for about a week. They married and moved up to North Dakota not far from where he grew up. He farmed for over 30 years, having a tough time those last few years after mom died.
When I think of my dad, I think of all the things he liked to do. He liked woodworking, hunting, fishing, and reading. I remember trying to help him on the farm when I was a kid. It didn’t matter what he was doing, I wanted to help. It usually resulted in me either breaking something or banging my head on something. He always put up with me being in the way though and tried to teach me. I wasn’t the best protege though.
I wasn’t much of a farmer.
One time, I was digging a field and hooked the fence at one end. I didn’t notice until I was almost halfway back to the other end. I got to spend time fixing it after I finished digging. I also dug up some CRP (formerly farmland that the government pays to be seeded back to grassland) because I didn’t see the markers he had next to the field.
I was never a mechanic either.
He asked me to put a new carburetor on one of our grain trucks and I forgot to connect the fuel line. Everything was in place, but I forgot to tighten the nut connecting them. When I started the engine, the fuel ignited as it sprayed everywhere. Flames were shooting out of the engine compartment and there was no water or fire extinguisher in sight.
I was not a hunter or fisherman.
Fishing typically resulted in me jabbing a hook through my finger at some point and even if I caught something I wasn’t going to eat it. I went deer hunting with him every year. I think I wounded one once but never actually managed to get my own deer. Some of the best memories I have are related though. For a couple years while I was in high school, we were on a pistol shooting league together. I was no sharpshooter but he brought me anyway.
I’d like to wrap up with one of my favorite stories about my dad.
On the farm, we didn’t have cable TV and couldn’t afford a satellite dish. We had a plain old antenna on top of the house. One time, we just couldn’t seem to get any channels for some reason. We went outside on the front porch and looked up to see that somehow one of the bars on the antenna had bent or turned and was laying across a couple others. Apparently that’s all it took to mess up your television viewing back then. I loved to climb and had no fear of heights so I was going to grab the ladder and go take care of it. Dad said, “No. I’m going to shoot it off!”
This I had to see. He grabbed his bolt action rifle and lined up from the front porch. I told him there was no way he was going to hit it and offered again to get the ladder but no, he was going to shoot it off. I remember he didn’t get it with the first shot and maybe not with the second either. But I know it was no less than the third when that one bar went flying off the antenna to land in the backyard. He was very proud of himself and I was impressed.
And that was my dad.
He was determined and stubborn. He was a great shot with a rifle. Much more than any of the things he bought me, I remember the time we spent together. And I miss him.
Happy Father's Day Dad.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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