When it works… it works!

2 blog posts ago I shared how I organized my life in boxes since I’m living #LifeOnTheLam.  I’ll be honest, I’m sure it was laborious to read as it DEFINITELY was laborious to write — and actually DO.

Well, I’m here to say, sometimes going that extra mile really IS worth it.

Backstory: my crap-ass Chevy Volt got semi-broken into.  How does a car get semi-broken into?  Well, when unbeknownst to you the dealer, Community Chevrolet, turns off your automatic door locks during a “recall” fix and doesn’t tell you, so that when you walk away from the car (that has been automatically locking for a year and a half!!!) and it suddenly remains unlocked, the car can get “semi-broken into.”

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The thief stole 3 thing that I have discovered thus far.  An adorable handbag that I had been putting Bernie in when sneaking him into restaurants.  Shhhh.

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Bernie’s Children’s Hospital volunteering outfit and badge as well as a zillion reusable totes.

2Who in the hell wants my reusable grocery totes???

I digress.

3As a result of the theft, I needed to sew Bernie a new CHLA neckerchief which I didn’t think was going to be a stree-free or fast experience since my sewing machine and thread were packed away deep in my storage unit.

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Well, thanks to my handy-dandy Box Legend spreadsheet, all I had to do was query “sewing machine” and “thread” — and BOOM I had my box numbers!  Then, all I had to do was locate the actual boxes in my dark storage unit which I was able to do with the flashlight that I leave in the unit!

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It works people.  It works.

Tweet me @TracyMetro something that was a pain in the arse to do, but actually works!

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Wrapping & Rapping

Here’s are 10 tips to get your move on!!

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1. Invite a friend over to help pack.  You can wrap up your stuff and rap about life

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2. Take pix of things you want to remember but don’t want to keepchair

3. Label pieces that go togetherpix

4. You’re allowed to over 25 pix and then gotta get back to packingIMG_8233

5. Have FUN for heaven’s sake.  Packing is a pain in the ass, so do your best to find the fun in itIMG_8298

6. Out with the old.  Donate it, baby!IMG_7959

7. Make lists of things you need to remember
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8. When in doubt put it in a baggie… and label itbaby sheets

9. Use oddball items such as baby changing table covers to protect furniture tools

10. Borrow the right tools… Anything is possible with the right tools

Tweet me @TracyMetro your fun packing photos.  Oh, did I actually put FUN & PACKING in the same sentence?  Er, forgive me.

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#LifeOnTheLam

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about this #LifeOnTheLam it’s that organization is KEY!!!  And, for an insanely organized gal, I’ve been anything BUT together.

To paint a picture of the insanity of just my car: I’ve been driving around the city streets of LA with 25 pounds of carpet & tile samples for a design client, 17 pounds of dirty laundry (because the boat “caught on fire” and my entire smoke stuffed wardrobe needs to be laundered!) AND an old toaster that “dings” every time I make a left hand turn!  You can’t make this shit up, people.

The one place in my life that IS spectacularly organized is my storage unit. Maybe I should be staying there instead of living out of my car?

Over the next few blogs, I will be doling out my 101 Tips (if I can muster that many) for effective moving & storing. Today we’re talking boxes! Well, I AM married to the guy who started UsedCardboardBoxes.com, so I DEFINITELY know a thing or two about boxes.

Preface: Item #2 will seem laborious! And, it IS! But, if A) you have a ton of belongs and/or, B) you’re not immediately going to unpack, you’ll never ever remember what’s in each box and thus your unpacking will be much less maddening as you search for that red, ceramic bull if you follow Aunt Tracy’s tried ‘n true packing tips.

  1. Keep a concise legend of what is in each box. HOW? WARNING: this is going to be BORING, so unless you really want to be hyper organized, skip #7 where the fun stuff begins)
  2. Label each box per room, i.e.
    • K for kitchen,
    • L for living room,
    • G for garage.
    • But, when you get to the bedrooms, of which there could be many (such as Johnny & Sally Sue each have their own), begin to letter & number, i.e.
      • B1 for Johnny’s room,
      • B2 for Sally Sue’s room
    • Within each room, number the boxes and note on your legend what’s in each box, i.e.
      • K1 = glass serving pieces,
      • K2 = dinner & salad plates.
      • You can get super fancy if you like when you get to the bedrooms where more than one person sleeps (such as Marty & I). Here’s the trick to keeping it organized:
        • BM1 (Bedroom, Marty) = shoes,
        • BM2 (Bedroom, Marty) = undershirts,
        • BT1 (Bedroom, Tracy) jeans,
        • BT2 (Bedroom, Tracy) = sweaters.
  3. This sounds crazy confusing but once you begin you’ll realize how easy it is especially if you keep a piece of paper (onto which you write down everything ) taped to the wall in each room.
  4. Keep the legend in each person’s car who might go to the storage unit.
  5. Keep a legend IN the actual unit… you never know when you might be with a friend and need to stop by the unit to pick up that thingamathingthing.
  6. Each person who may visit the storage unit should keep a storage unit key on their key ring. Nothing worse than showing up and not having the key.tape
  7. Tape it! Do NOT, I repeat do NOT “who-ji-whats-it” the bottom of the box flaps. Tape the flaps together. Shit WILL fall out if you don’t tape the bottom well.salt n pepper
  8. Don’t be a cheap ass with your bubble wrap. Protect Grandma’s honey jar by going around that extra time! The extra $25 in bubble wrap you’ll spend to protect your precious pieces is worth the peace of mind. Put it this way, if you’re actually going to spend the time wrapping things, may as well make sure they make it there in one piece.
  9. If you have enough space in your storage facility, stack boxes around the perimeter, then create walkable rows between the stacks of boxes in the middle. This way you can get to everything without having to move a bunch of boxes… because you KNOW the one item you need will inevitably be in the bottom box that’s tucked into the furthest corner.
  10. Keep a flashlight in your storage unit. Some units have lights, some don’t. For the ones that don’t, and for finding stuff deep in a box, a flashlight is a bright idea.

SIDEBAR: You know you’re visiting your storage unit too often when the folks working there know the floor you’re on and YOU DON’T.  That’s the truth, ya’ll!

Tweet me @tracymetro pix of your storage units and I’ll show you mine!

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Tiny house(boat) “living begins”… with a rant.

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There’s so much to tell you, so I’m going to data point this blog post, so that in my next post I can begin sharing my new tiny life:

  • We rented out our house (furnished) to the loveliest family ever… the Dad was in the band Menudo (!!!) and the Mom is a face you may recognize from TV.
  • Why’d we do it?  Because we can!  Oh, and we want to buy an industrial building and do a live/work kinda thing.  And, not a loft.  Lofts are for people who can’t imagine what to do with a wide open space and I’ve got a vivid imagination.
  • We packed up the house in approximately 10 day and tossed our life in storage?!  WHAT?  Yes, it’s possible (read: overwhelming) to weed through the crap collected in 15 years of living in a spacious home.  It’s the ‘ol goldfish/fish bowl thing.  I had become a koi fish which LOOKS like a goldfish, but is decidedly NOT… as, it’s MUCH bigger.
  • Learned a lesson:  Change is hard.  Change is good. Change is freeing.  Getting to the actual change part SUCKS.
  • Vow: Never live in a place for more than 5 years.  It’s too easy to get attached to silly things.  Must continuously clear out stuff.
  • Confession: I have too many pairs of scissors.
  • We crammed as much of our un-stored stuff as possible into our little houseboat, the Retro Metro, as that’s going to be home base  this summer (between our many trips out of town, our guesthouse surfing and driving across this great country of ours)… while, until we find a new place.  And by crammed I mean hoardanized (hoard + organize = hoardanize) life’s necessities into >400 sq ft.  What are life’s necessities?  You’d be surprised to learn what it really comes down to.  For me: my night guard, hair conditioner & mousse, outfit accessories, sneakers, paper clips, stapler and a good chef’s knife.
  • Our houseboat became a chapter in the book My Cool Houseboat which has just been published.  As a designer, I know I’ve made it when my design is in a book, and the book is sitting on the coffee table of the place that’s been written about!
  • Sprinkle in a little packing up of my childhood home in DC which my parents lived for 48 years, & stage the goodies I want to bring home to LA.  Yes, I am homeless and I am bringing more crap into my life, er storage facility.  How can I turn down an original Tulip Table?  I grew up with it and love it!
  • Uh, we bought a literal MACK truck to drive said childhood crap across country via the 127 Corridor Sale AKA the World’s Longest Yard Sale… whereupon I will be purchasing more crap (that I don’t need).  I’ve already begun making a list & taking orders (from friends & clients) for pieces of furniture that I might find at the yard sale.
  • Confession:  We’re not going to be MACK truck owners forever (dear God, I hope NOT!), just long enough to drive across country and then sell it shortly thereafter for close to the same amount we bought it for.
  • Vow: Not to buy too much bric-a-brac at the 127 Sale, but focus on the big pieces of furniture that aren’t as easy to find in LA as they may be in the midwest.
  • I’ve practically been living in my shitty car, the Chevy Volt, as I’m driving up to LA from LB virtually everyday (actually, today is the first day I HAVEN’T driven up there. YAY!).  See, I leased the ride (actually 2 of them!  One for me and one for Marty) because were living in LA and mostly driving to clients and jobs in town so my solar panel-y charged car was a cool choice (even though I’ve not been a fan of the car since the actual day I drove it home from the dealership).  Well, now that I’ve been driving this gas guzzling car which sounds like I’m driving a MACK truck, I’m peeved.  Oh, and there aren’t any charging stations nearby where I’m staying except for a person’s PlugShare that I can’t really use on a daily basis as it belongs to a person!  Uh, Long Beach/Belmont Shore, get with the program!
  • Confession: My clients are getting a frazzled Tracy Metro whose world of electronics is working against her.  Is Facebook not working for anybody else, or is it just me?!?  Put that all together and this tiny life led to a not so tiny melt down yesterday that had me sitting on the side of the road next to SciArc (avoiding hideous traffic getting from DTLA to LB), sobbing whilst cleaning off my computer’s overstuffed desktop.

That’s pretty much where I am to date.

 

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By the way, things are looking up!  I’ve spent the day working at a public library.  Not a bad office, huh?  I’ve been sitting still long enough to write this blog post which I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks now.  Maybe this tiny life won’t be so crazy now that it has started in earnest.

Tweet me @TracyMetro what led to your latest melt down.

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What do hibernating bears & hair clogs have in common?

That would be spring cleaning!

denWith the craziness of the winter that MOST of the country experienced, many homes became little hibernation dens that collected all manner of dust, dirt & debris. The 3Ds!

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Here’s what you can do to clean up the mayhem!  First rid your house of the 3Ds by opening up your windows, sweeping, and wiping down all surfaces. Everybody knows that, but what product should you use?

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Make your very own orange cleaner by placing orange, lemon & grapefruit peels in a large mason jar and covering them with white table vinegar.  Let it sit for a few weeks, shaking everyday.

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Give it the sniff test and once it stops reeking of vinegar, it’s ready to get the job done.  If you want it to smell super yummy, you can always add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender (I actually gave up the oil a few years ago and have come to LOVE the smell of vinegar as a cleaner!).  Next, simply strain and pour it into a spray bottle… then, you’re ready to go to town cleaning counters, floors and windows.

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During the process you may as well make sure your drains are running clean so you don’t find yourself knee deep in sludge caused by the always GROTESQUE hair clog.  drano

Drano Max Gel to the max rescue!   Just pour it down the drain, wait 15 minutes and then run hot water down the drain and poof anything that WAS in there is gone. If you have a major clog, you may need to wait 30 minutes, but seriously ANYTHING is better than pulling that soap-scummed hair from the drain!

color 2If you read my blog, you know that I love doing inexpensive tweaks that have big impact like changing out the pillows on your couch.  I’m always preaching to my clients to embrace COLOR! Color has been proven to positively enhance moods!

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As well, don’t be afraid to change out the faucets & doorknobs with a different finish (satin brass, chrome, nickel).  This is such an easy way to update your home. I’m crushing on the satin brass look that is coming into view, right now!  Schlage has a new series of doorknob styles coming out this Spring that will prove that “finish” completely changes the vibe of a space.

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Swapping out a doorknob or faucet is something that YOU can do.  I know you can.  If you get stuck, tweet me your questions @tracymetro

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