Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 11

Today is day eleven of the 30 Day Giving Challenge and it's also Veteran's Day. I really wanted to do something that would give back to our troops and their families. At first I looked into organizations that I could send a care package through, but honestly, I needed a project that was free, or as close to free as possible! Then I came across this website and learned that US Military bases overseas will accept manufacturer's coupons up to SIX MONTHS past their expiration date at their commissaries!

Since I've been completely slack in the couponing department lately and my coupon binder was in dire need of being cleaned out and I already had stamps and envelopes.... well... this was just the perfect project! After ridding my binder of all my recently expired coupons, I separated all THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY (yes that's right!) of them into seven piles. I wrote a note on an sheet of paper thanking the recipients for their service and sacrifice and then folded the piles of coupons inside. Then I picked seven bases off of the list provided and dropped them in the mail box. I know there is no mail today, but at least they will be ready to go first thing tomorrow morning!

I have to say, that this felt SO much better than putting all those coupons in the recycling bin.. which is what would have happened whenever I finally got around to cleaning out my binder. I will always be slack in this department, and always have expired coupons, so in the future I plan to mail my coupons off to service men and women who can still use them.

Thank you to all of our men and women serving in the armed services. Thank you for your service and your sacrifices and the and never ending support of your families. It is not a sacrifice that my immediate family has ever known, but I am constantly in awe of the strength that military families possess. I'm blessed to call many of them friends and they are friends I look up to with the utmost respect!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 10

I'm really excited about this 30 Day Giving Challenge project! This week, I recruited the girls in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me make blankets for an organization called Project Linus. It's an organization that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.

I wanted to do a blanket project that could be started and finished in an evening. A few years ago I had made a simple fleece tie blanket as a baby gift and remembered that it didn't take much time at all to put together. So, each of the girls in my group, along with myself and my Mom who is visiting chipped in $10 a piece. I went over my total by $12 (oops!... this is what happens when you go to the fabric store w/ a toddler in your tiny shopping cart and have to go up to the counter to have fabric cut four different times because you can't fit it all in your cart in one trip! Ha ha... you lose count!) Anyway... I spent $82.19 including tax for 14 yards of fleece... and we were able to make NINE blankets! So, that works out to just under $10 piece. Five are larger size and four are smaller, but there weren't any requirements on size of the blankets to donate... the only requirement is that they be handmade.

It really meant a lot to me that my friends were so willing and eager to chip in their money and their time to help me with this project. It was a lot of fun. It also felt great to accomplish something from start to finish in one evening! That is certainly not the case with our crocheting projects! I really enjoyed working on this so much, I'm hoping to continue to give to this organization in the future. It was such a simple and easy project that will bring warmth and comfort to someone in need.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Days 6 ~ 9

The past few days were spent doing little things for friends that I hoped would brighten their day. I'm trying to have a good mix of ways to give during this 30 Day Giving Challenge... doing small things for friends and family, taking on some larger projects, donating financially and donating my time. So far it's been challenging, rewarding and also... FUN!

So, on Saturday I stopped at Panera and picked up a bagel pack on my way to work. It was a box full of 13 yummy bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese and left them on the break room table. I thought that it would be a nice treat for all of my co-workers on a Saturday morning.

On Sunday I mailed a nice card to a long time friend that I don't get to see very often. After going through a difficult patch for a while, I was so happy that things were really looking up for her. I found a card that conveyed the sentiment that I wanted it to and added a little note. I just wanted her to know how much I value our friendship and how happy I am that her life is moving in the direction that she wanted.

On Monday I delivered a vase full of fall flowers to a friend at her office. She was pretty surprised to see me come in! She's been having several rough weeks and I thought that maybe some flowers on a Monday would give a better start to the new week. I also filled out a little card. It was nice because I got to stay and catch up with her for a little bit. Even though she's just getting over being sick and I had to stand on the other side of the conference room and not give her a big hug! ha ha.... but it was still a nice little visit. I value our friendship a lot and I just wanted her to know that I'm always here for her.

And finally, on Saturday at work, I left two boxes of Cheez-it's in my sister-in-law's desk cabinet for her to find today when she got back to work. We work at the same place (she is full time and I am VERY part time). I had to work last Wednesday night. When I was leaving I took a handful of Cheez-its (her favorite snack) out of the box in her desk... but they were really stale! So, I bought her 2 fresh boxes to have on hand and stuck a little sticky note on the box. I think it will be a small gesture that she'll really appreciate.

Tonight I've recruited the girl's in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me work on a bigger project for my 10th day of giving. I can't wait to blog about it in the morning!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 5

I'm really excited today because after seven long weeks, my neighbors are FINALLY coming home!!! When we moved into this neighborhood we got really lucky to live by some wonderful neighbors... but my neighbor across the street and I became fast friends. She's also my only stay at home mom friend that I have here in Charleston.

Well, her hubby is a pilot in the Air Force, and for the past seven weeks they have been half way across the country for some flight training. It's been super lonely for me here on our little cul-d-sac!!! I've missed them terribly! I'm not sure exactly what time they are getting home today, but I figured that after being gone for so long they would probably enjoy a home cooked meal... that they didn't have to cook themselves!

Today I made some easy chicken and cheese enchiladas. This is my go-to dish if I need to make a meal to freeze for someone. They are really easy to make and since the chicken is already cooked, I can completely assemble the dish and all that the recipient has to do is thaw and bake for 15 minutes! Easy peasy!

For this recipe you need:
1 pkg of chicken (I like to use the chicken tenders)
1 six count pkg of flour tortillas
2 cans of Old El Paso enchilada sauce (I use mild)
1 pkg of shredded taco or Mexican blend cheese

Boil the chicken until fully cooked. Let cool. Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of your pan until it's completely coated. Next, lay a tortilla on a dinner plate and spoon some enchilada sauce onto the tortilla and coat one side. Shred some chicken in a line down the middle of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll. Place seam side down in the pan. Continue for all six tortillas. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas in the pan. Make sure all surfaces of the tortillas are fully coated. Sprinkle cheese over the top of all.

If you are freezing this dish to give to a friend, then cover & freeze! If not, bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Garnish with sour cream and enjoy!

Ready to freeze!

Include instructions and a note!

Make some extra for yourself for dinner... yummy melted cheesy goodness!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 4

Today was day four of the 30 Day Giving Challenge and this evening I participated in the Light The Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last month when I first decided that I was going participate in this 30 day challenge, I almost immediately received an e-mail from my old co-worker, Tara. She was asking if anyone else wanted to join her team and participate in the Light The Night Walk. I honestly thought it was a sign that I was making the right choice to tackle this challenge. Even though at the time I couldn't come up with 30 ways to give, I realized that I didn't have to know ahead of time all the ways I could make a difference. I knew that opportunities would present themselves... and this was a great one!

I signed up, set up my web site and put a post on my Facebook page asking for ten people to each contribute ten dollars to get me to my fundraising goal of one hundred dollars. I wasn't sure if people would want to sponsor me again after I had just fundraised my little heart out for the half marathon I completed with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training in June. But, honestly, after raising $3,100 for the race, I figured $100 would be no big deal. And I was right. Friends and family opened their hearts right away and I raised $106! It was such a great feeling to be able to donate again to an organization that has made a difference in so many people's lives.

Tonight's event was really neat. Each participant got a balloon that had a little flickering light inside. Dawn and I had red balloons to show support, and Tara had a white balloon because she is a leukemia survivor. I felt very proud to be there supporting her.

It was also great to catch up with my old co-workers as we completed the walk. I was really glad that I took the time during a very busy and over scheduled week to take part in something so important. I felt very content on my drive home. I know it's only the fourth day of this challenge, but already I feel like I'm reaping the benefits of giving more than those on the receiving end.... it just does a soul good!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 3

Today is day three of the 30 Day Giving Challenge. Originally, I had something else planned for today... but after having what I thought was going to be an hour and a half long errand yesterday turned into a FOUR HOUR adventure... I decided I wasn't going to leave the house today until I needed to leave for work at 5:00 p.m.! Ha! That errand by the way was picking up some patio furniture that I found for a steal on Craig's List...FINALLY!!!!! I've been searching for something in our budget since the spring. I'll be doing a before and after post on that later... because of course I want to change mostly everything about the set... except for the shape! ha ha

Anyway... Day Three! I decided to pack my husband's lunch today and include a little note inside. Packing his lunch is not something that I ever do. He rarely packs his lunch either. He has a cafeteria where he works and he'll generally go down there and get a salad for a few dollars for lunch, so I just don't worry about it. But... I'm sure that eating at the work cafeteria gets old.

So, last night, I packed him up a container of the cream of tomato & basil soup from Day Two, a bottle of water, some rosemary bread sticks and a few pieces of Halloween candy. I was shocked to get a call from him at 11:00 a.m.! He NEVER calls me from work! Emails, yes... phone calls, no! But he called to thank me for his lunch and let me know how thoughtful of me it was. It made me want to do this for him more often. We have been on such opposite schedules lately and haven't had much time together, so it felt good to be able to show him how much I care with a small gesture that he appreciated so much.

Of course, he actually had a work lunch out of the office today... figures... ha ha... but he'll have an enjoyable lunch tomorrow now instead!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 2

Today was day 2 of my 30 Day Giving Challenge. Since I get together every Tuesday night with a small group of girlfriends to have dinner, crochet and chat .... otherwise known as "Stitch n' Bitch"... hee hee... I thought today would be the perfect time to do something thoughtful for them! I wanted to do something that could make their lives easier and show them how much their friendships mean to me.

Since they all work full time jobs, I decided to make them something they could bring for lunch tomorrow! Since we are always out late on Tuesday night's at the hostess' house... I figured lunch might be an after thought on Wednesday mornings. This afternoon, I made a really easy crock pot soup to give to the girls. I filled a container for each one and tied on some rosemary bread sticks with a piece of ribbon. It was so easy and inexpensive to make and so fun to give them to the girls tonight! It made me sad that I don't think to do random kind things like this for the people closest to me more often! I think that everyone gets so wrapped up in their own lives, that we only give gifts when we are "supposed" to... like birthdays or holidays. I'm hoping that this 30 day challenge will change my perspective on giving and make it more of a part of my every day life!

Easy Crock Pot Cream of Tomato & Basil Soup

3 Cans of peeled tomatoes
1 32 oz. container of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder
10 Fresh basil leaves
1 Cup of cream

Pour the cans of tomatoes, chicken broth and garlic powder into the crock pot. Cook on High setting for 3 hours or Low setting for 5-6 hours. Add basil leaves to the pot for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

Use an immersion blender to blend soup thoroughly. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can pour soup in batches into a food processor or blender. Add cream and blend.
Serve with croutons, bread sticks or a grilled cheese sandwich! YUMMMMM!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thirty Day Giving Challenge

As I'm sure you've noticed (or not if you've stopped reading my blog altogether) I've kind of taken a step back from blogging lately. There have been a few reasons for that.... some I will blog about a little later... but the main reason? I just haven't been motivated to write! I've been getting things done on my list, although admittedly, at a snail's pace! But, mostly, nothing has felt that interesting that I've wanted to write about it. Like, why would anyone want to read a post about how I sent out my son's birthday thank you notes (a full month late) or how I had to call the Children's Museum for never sending our membership cards (this happens with EVERY membership we sign up for... no matter where the venue!). Eh... just seems kind of boring.

I know that the very nature of a lot of blogs (and especially this one) is writing about yourself, but after a while it starts to feel kind of self indulgent. Just very me, me, me... if you know what I mean! So, I've been struggling with that aspect of it. I've also just still been struggling with the whole soul searching thing. I've been feeling really blah about things in my life in general.

SOOOOO.... for November I've decided to shake things up. While I still trudge though all my resolutions that I'm painfully behind on (I am convinced I'm just a perpetual procrastinator to my very core!) I'm not going to blog about most things. Instead, while I'm working on them and crossing them off my list, I'm going to participate in the 30 Day Giving Challenge.

I'm hoping to accomplish a few things with this challenge:

1) Inspire others to do the same
2) Find that part of myself that I seem to have lost ... through giving to others
3) Get creative in my giving. Obviously I can't make 30 days worth of monetary donations!

This challenge has me excited about blogging again and is a great way to tackle thirty days of resolutions!!!! I'm excited to share each days way of giving through blog posts.

Once I get my giving calendar completed I will post it. For day one, I sorted through all of Andy's toys this morning. I sorted through everything in the play room and in the cabinets in the living room. First of all... all of it was A MESS and I've realized I need to add "organize toys" to my list of resolutions... and second of all, I realized we have a lot of STUFF!!! I don't even know where a lot of it came from!!! But I sure do know that it doesn't get played with and we don't need it in this house. Andy is pretty much focused on ONE thing these days as far as playing goes.... TRAINS. It's all trains, all the time. So why keep the other stuff around?? Everything was in great condition, so I brought a giant trash bag filled with toys to Goodwill this morning and I'm hoping they will make another child's holiday a little brighter!!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Perfect Wedding

photo credit Liz Duren Photography Blog

After much anticipation, my brother's wedding came and went... much too quickly! Everything was SO beautiful! The day could not have been any more perfect. Jaime had planned every last little detail, making sure that there were special touches strewn throughout the event. It was so much fun to spend time with friends and family that I don't see often enough. It was amazing to watch my brother marry my best friend... and know how truly happy they are. It was wonderful to spend time with my sister-in-law's family and get to know them all a little bit better. Thinking of that day now still makes me tear up. I feel very lucky to be blessed with such wonderful family and friends. The bride and groom are enjoying the tail end of their TWO WEEK (ummm... yes... I'm jealous!) honeymoon in Hawaii and the rest of us have gotten back to life as usual.

I'm officially crossing the last two wedding related things off my list: 1) I survived the wedding weekend. This was ONLY an item on the list because of our two year old. Since my husband and I were both in the wedding and all of my family and 99% of my friends were AT the wedding, that left a great deal of worry about who was going to take care of our son in the ceremony and what we were going to do with him that night so that Matt and I could stay and enjoy the reception. My wonderful friend Katie had offered to pick him up from the reception and bring him home to our house and spend the night with him so that Matt and I could stay at the hotel downtown. God bless her, because she was a savior. She even showed up with a new Thomas the Train Engine for Andy so he didn't even notice they were driving away without his Mama. The bigger issue came when we quickly realized at the rehearsal that there was no way he could even be in the sanctuary during the ceremony, let alone walk down the isle. So, I was completely panicked the night before trying to find someone to come keep him in the nursery during the ceremony. When my friend Michelle called on Saturday morning about something unrelated and I told her how the rehearsal went, all she said was "just tell me where you need me to be and what time, and I'll be there!". I started crying because it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could finally just relax.

Although, I have to say, it was really strange not to see Andy AT ALL on Saturday until after the ceremony. It was so hard for me to just trust that my husband had everything under control, that my friend Leslie had gotten to the church early to keep Andy occupied while the groomsmen were having their pictures done, that my friend Beth had found my husband and been introduced to Leslie so she could show her where the church nursery was... so that Leslie could show Michelle where to go when she got there... and finally, that Michelle hadn't gotten stuck in traffic or had trouble finding parking and had made it there in time, gotten Andy from Leslie and gone to the nursery! I thought I was going to start crying again after the ceremony when I went into the nursery and there was Andy in his little dress pants, ivory shirt with cuff links, dress shoes and tie, playing happily with Michelle, her husband Matt and their little boy Owen. In there he also had a gift bag from Leslie with some new matchbox cars and a farm puzzle. I really am just blessed, blessed, blessed to have such awesome and amazing friends!

And number 2) I wrote my Matron of Honor speech. I had been composing this in my head for a few weeks before the wedding, but I finally sat down and wrote it all out a few hours before we had to head to the church. I felt very emotional honoring both my brother and a friend I have known for almost 12 years. I promised my brother I wouldn't embarrass him. I figured I'd leave that up to the best man, so I took the sappy route. The last time I had to give a Maid of Honor speech was nine years ago. I definitely didn't have the poise to carry that out without having something written, so I cried and spoke awkwardly through the whole thing. I was determined NOT to do that this time! It was really hard not to cry, so I just focused on reading the words on the paper and not actually feeling the words on the paper at that particular time.... otherwise I never would have made it through.

So now that it's all over... it's time to get back to real life. I finally and officially feel like I'm out of my slump. I've been more productive at home and feel ready to tackle lots of projects. I have something fun and different planned for my November resolutions, so I'm going to have to work my behind off to finish up my list by the end of October!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When It's Not All About You

Weddings are a funny thing. They can bring out the very best and the very worst in people. Lately I have seen both. I am reminded in each situation, that weddings are the one time it's not all about you, and this time, I couldn't be happier! On Saturday, my brother will marry my best friend. I am filled with emotion just thinking about it. I feel lucky and privileged to have the honor of being Jaime's Matron of Honor. Jaime is one of those hyper organized, super crafty, non-procrastinating people with an enviously clean house. In short, she is the complete opposite of me on all of those levels! Ha ha! But, on the other hand, I know that she can finish my sentences, she is almost always thinking the same things I am, she is the first person I want to hang out with for "girl time," she will drop everything to help a friend and she always puts her family first. We have been friends for over 11 years and I am thrilled to finally be able to call her my sister-in-law on Saturday.

So, being the hyper organized person that she is, Jaime has made it hard to be a bridesmaid. She has thought of everything, taken care of everything, every single little detail ... even the typical "last minute" things were done MONTHS ago! So, there isn't a whole lot left to help with! Me on the other hand??? Well, I waited until the final few weeks to take care of everything I need to before Saturday.... why? Because, no matter how hard I try... I just can't seem to change that side of me!

This past week I have ordered Jaime's wedding gift (which I had a last minute change of plans on), I have purchased undergarments for my bridesmaid dress and a back up (still looking for something better) pair of shoes and I have made my appointments for my brow wax and my hair. Yes, I'm getting my hair trimmed and blown out on Friday so that it can be straight for the rehearsal dinner. The future me will thank the present me when I see pictures!

And then there was the rehearsal dinner DRESS! After a particularly rough couple of days around here, Jaime and I headed out last Friday night in search of a rehearsal dinner dress for me. (She, of course, has had her dress for MONTHS) We started at Marshalls. I tried on 4 dresses. Liked 2 of them. Loved 1 of them. And so, I bought it! Done! Couldn't believe we didn't have to go to 800 stores. Went to the mall. Tried on undergarments at the department stores. (Ended up finding what I needed on clearance at the Maidenform outlet for $5! Whoop!) Had to exit the mall at closing time on the OPPOSITE end as our car. Hoofed it at least 5 miles around the mall. Went home. Hung dress up in my closet and about fell over laughing.

Why? Because I had the almost as close to identical dress possible hanging in my closet already... in navy blue instead of green. That's right. Me... who barely has any clothes, let alone DRESSES... forgot that I even had this dress! In a current size that fits me. With navy blue pumps to match. I have never felt so dumb! (well, okay, so that might not be true)

Bu-ut.... happy ending, right?! I could return my $40 Marshalls dress!! (would like it if that credit would hit my bank account sometime soon, but whatever...)

Okay, so on to clothing/shoe hunt #2! Black dress pants and dress shoes for my 2 year old son who is supposed to walk down the isle. We'll see how that goes! I think there's just as much of a chance of that happening as there is of him sitting quietly through the entire 45 minute service. But, we'll see....

Okay, so I went to the outlet mall... went to all the standard kid stores... no dress pants. Went to Goodwill... no dress pants or shoes. Went to Once Upon A Child... BINGO!!! Dress pants $3.50 and dress shoes $3.00!!!! I couldn't beat that unless they were free! We are renting his ivory shirt and lapis tie from Men's Warehouse. This should all be very interesting! I've already asked Jaime if it is okay to let him eat lollipops in the church during the whole service. As of right now, that is literally my only game plan. Failproof! Right? I have a friend on stand by to take him out of the sanctuary if needed. I'll be standing up with the bride and groom and my husband is a groomsman, so he can't just walk out.... could get tricky!

I also went and purchased a bridal shower gift for our friend Liz who is getting married in two months. Jaime, Liz and I used to all be roomies back in the day! She had a beautiful bridal shower on Saturday and I was so happy to be a part of it.

Tis the season around here!... For weddings that is! I think I'll wear my rehearsal dinner dress to Liz's wedding... so no need for last minute shopping there! So, this post turned out to mostly be all about me, but this weekend most assuredly will not! I am so excited to be there for Jeff and Jaime on their wedding weekend. I am excited to take care of Jaime as much as she will let us! But mostly I'm excited to spend much needed time with all my family and friends. (If I could do that little heart emoticon like on Facebook here, I would)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How To Make Custom Beverage Bins

For a wedding shower gift, I made my friend Jaime and my brother Jeff some personalized beverage bins to use at their rehearsal dinner. I had so much fun making them, that I think I'm going to make one for myself! They really were very easy, and the possibilities are endless as far as design and personalization! Here is the step by step for how I made them.

First I purchased two 15 gallon galvanized metal tubs from Lowes for $15 a piece.

Next, I used painters tape to tape off any parts of the bin that I wanted to keep the original galvanized finish. I chose to do that for the handles and the insides of the bin, including the upper lip. I wrapped tape around the handles, and then I cut two trash bags open and used painters tape over the top lip of the bins to secure the plastic.

Then, I sprayed each bin with two coats of a metal primer. I used the Rustoleum Professional Primer that specified it was for use on bare metal.

After the primer dried, I used a brush to paint each bin with two coats of my base color. I chose to use a white semi-gloss interior latex paint. After letting it dry for 24 hours, I used painter's tape to tape along the ridges on the bins where I wanted my stripes to be. I brushed on my stripes using turquoise and coral colored interior latex semi-gloss. After after two coats of paint, I removed the painters tape and used an artist's brush to touch up any areas of imperfection where the paint leaked behind the tape.

After letting the paint dry for 24 hours, I sprayed both bins with two good coats of a crystal clear varnish.

After letting the clear coat dry thoroughly overnight, I again used the painters tape to mask off a rectangle on each bin. I then applied two coats of chalkboard paint... and voila!

Each bin can be labeled however they want! I think it makes for a fun way to customize their beverage bins. All in all, this was a relatively inexpensive way to customize large beverage tubs for the bride and groom.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Soul Searching

I'm sure that many of you reading this had begun to think I had given up on my blog and finishing my resolutions.... I don't blame you... I did too. I have been procrastinating writing this post because I wasn't really sure what I was going to say. I've just been doing some soul searching for a little while. You know when you know you have something simmering just under the surface, but you're not really sure what it is? Well, this was going on for me ... for weeks. I couldn't put my finger on it and I had my suspicions that maybe it wasn't just one thing. I felt like I couldn't focus on anything. I didn't log on to my blog for quite a while. I didn't want to look at my list until I could decide why I was feeling the way I was feeling. My husband and I seemed to be on COMPLETELY opposite schedules for several weeks in a row and our relationship was suffering from the lack of time spent together. When everything finally came to a head in basically one big explosion of emotions, I realized that I needed to do what I could do to clear my schedule and make time to spend with my husband. If it wasn't necessary (like work) I wasn't doing it. Including my blog.

I deleted my blog's Facebook page (so, sorry if you were a Facebook fan) ... and then went to delete my blog... and found that I wasn't ready to do that yet. My husband pointed out that my blog was a positive and effective tool for me when I was actually doing what I set out to do.... which was one thing every day. What I had gotten in the bad habit of doing was leaving several things to the end of the month and then cramming them all in. I was also seriously neglecting my daily chores in favor of one time projects around the house. Our house was constantly cluttered... to the point where it was starting to have a negative effect on Matt and on me. Matt felt like I was creating an illusion on here that I was very productive and on the ball because I was neglecting to point out that while I was accomplishing all of these things every month, I wasn't keeping up with anything around the house. So, I'm sorry if that is the impression I was giving, because that is not the case around here... IN THE LEAST!

I have a hard time balancing because we literally have 5+ years of un-started or un-finished projects.... bins of stuff that need to be sorted through and dealt with.... a house that we want to paint walls in, and add character to, and furnish .... with second hand furniture that I am usually re-finishing.... so, I feel like sometimes I use all of my energy trying to take care of those projects and I always think I'll clean later... or I'll do laundry later... or I don't have time to put this stuff away now.... I'll do it later... and of course, you can guess what happens next... I'm too TIRED later to take care of all the other stuff.

So, I've taken some down time while I've been re-evaluating. Here is what I have decided:

1) I am going to keep up with my blog again. I'm also going to be ambitious and combine my unfinished list from August and add it to my September list and get back on track. BUT...

2) My monthly resolution for September is to do 30 minutes of cleaning per day. Here's the thing... when my house was a completely cluttered mess, I didn't feel like I had time to clean because it would take FOREVER to get things cleaned, so I just kept putting it off. I should have realized that if I just tackled a little bit at a time it would get done. So, now, the downstairs of our house is clean (thanks to major help from Matt) and the upstairs is mostly clean. I'm intending to keep it that way with 30 minutes of cleaning a day. It doesn't even have to be continuous. I think just 15 minutes after lunch and 15 minutes in the evening would do wonders!

3) I'm going to be more aware of my schedule. I'm going to try to be hyper aware of not letting too many things get scheduled for several days in a row. Matt and I need that time together throughout the week to stay connected. I don't want any members of my family to feel that I'm not putting my family first. I am truly working on NOT feeling like I need to meet other people's expectations. I need to do what is best for my family and myself.

Deep breath...

So, there it is. I'm so glad I didn't delete my blog. I think I'm going to need a place to get my thoughts out in the coming months! I'm going to get my September list together tonight and get it posted tomorrow. Thanks for sticking around through my lapse in posting. I'm glad I took a step back though, and worked through all the things that were bothering me. I felt paralyzed from doing any blog posts when I couldn't get my head straight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Instant Streaming Netflix is Evil

I don't really have any good excuse for why I haven't been blogging. I have gotten things done off my list and I did start my new job and I have been really busy. But, truth be told... I've been spending all of my free time and a good chunk of time that should have been spent taking care of things around the house... watching all three seasons of Veronica Mars on instant streaming Netflix. That's right... the UPN channel's hit show about a teenage detective. I'd say I'm ashamed to admit it, but really, I'm not. I thought it was a great show! The problem? I have ZERO willpower when it comes to turning off the television if the next episode is readily available for me to watch! I mean, if every single show ends in a cliff hanger, and all I have to do is select to 'watch next episode' to see how it turns out, then how can I NOT watch just one more? (and then one more... and then one more) It's a vicious cycle! I have the same exact problem with books... which is why I hardly ever read. I LOVE reading, but if it's a really good book (or God forbid... a SERIES...) then I can't do anything BUT finish reading. I forget that anything else exists in my life. It's bad. I'm pretty sure I get this personality trait from my Mom. Actually, I know I do.

Ah... so... thankfully I've made it through all three seasons and can finally take my life back! No joke! My house is cleaner since I wrapped up that series, I've stayed more on task and I've spent more time with my husband. I've also instructed him NOT to get me hooked on any more series of shows on Netflix. I am a person who NEEDS to stay within the confines of normal television ... where I can watch a show one week, and (gasp!) have to wait a whole week to watch the next episode! ha ha!

Moving on.... I decided not to have a daily resolution for the month of August. Why set myself up to fail? There was just no way I could take on anything daily this month. So instead, this month is going to focus on my future sister-in laws' wedding shower tasks, yard work, and debt. I'm moving right along on the shower projects. I have to... considering the shower is next weekend! I'm going to do a post when it's over about all the little projects on my list (including making the favors, which I did tonight... check!)

The other day I weeded the yard... so that is one yard work item down! Yaye! Tomorrow I'm going to work on cleaning up the back yard. We have had some CRAZY thunderstorms this summer! Like... almost every other day! Our yard is a mess with small tree limbs down everywhere, camping chairs blown over and half way across the yard, etc. Not to mention the whole yard is like a swamp with all the rain we've been getting! But, we have family and friends coming in to town several weekends in a row and we're hosting a little cook out here at the house for Andy's second birthday. I definitely want the yard cleaned up before all that, so I figure I'd better start soon.

And last, but certainly not least.... I called Shark about my stick vacuum battery. Let me start by saying that I have hardwood floors throughout the whole downstairs of my house and I am in love with my Shark steam mop. I used to use a Swiffer Wet Jet, but it always left a film on the floors, not to mention the EXPENSE of buying the pads and the solution. I eventually bought a steam mop and never looked back. Then I bought a Shark cordless stick vacuum. It had enough power to get through the whole downstairs and I didn't have to mess with a cord. I really truly did heart Shark. Then my re-chargeable battery started to last shorter and shorter and shorter amounts of time, until most recently I only get about 30 seconds of good power out of it. I've only had my stick vac for about six months, so I called Shark. Guess what? It turns out that the battery is the only part NOT under warranty! Huh! Imagine that! But, wait, what's that you say?! I can BUY a replacement battery?! Awesome! How much? Oh, FORTY DOLLARS???!!! Really? FORTY DOLLARS???!!! Hmmmm.... let me think that over... the whole vacuum costs $60 and if I buy it at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon, it's only $52... but you want me to pay FORTY DOLLARS for a battery???!!! That's okay, I'll look around and find the battery from somewhere else. Oh, wait, what's that?? YOU are the only ones that sell it? FANTASTIC! Then, instead of buying a FORTY DOLLAR battery, I will now be buying a $30 Dirt Devil stick vac that plugs in ... because, honestly, is moving the plug THAT big of a deal??!! It just so happens that it's NOT! This new stick vac also has a gazillion times more suction and guess what... I don't have to charge it. So, thanks, Shark for making such a quality product. I still heart my steam mop, but I'm super disappointed in the $52 I wasted for 6 months of use from your vacuum.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

July Wrap Up... Five Days Late

Well, this is officially the most behind I've been at the start of a month. I feel like I'm going to do much better keeping up with things in August than I did in July. I think I'm over my half way through the year hump. I'm getting back on track. Although, I have to say, I can waste time like nobody's business! I have to get better about that. Here's the thing... and I know you are going to read this and think...uhhh DUH!!!!... but the more disorganized I am, the more time I waste. That seems SOOOOO simple, right? So, if I was actually let's say... more organized then it would take me less time to get things done and then I would ACTUALLY HAVE more time to "waste" online or watching TV or reading a magazine... big sigh... if I could only get my act together...

Seriously though, I'm going to put more of an effort into the organizational thing this month. (my husband is totally reading this and thinking ya RIGHT! right about now... aren't you honey!) But really, I am. I need to be. In addition to taking care of Andy all day (which becomes increasingly more FUN and FRUSTRATING everyday as we approach the big TWO YEARS OLD), my Thirty~One business is starting to take off... AND... I got a job! Yeah! BIG YEAH!! Remember at the beginning of July when it was on my list to apply to five jobs? Well, it paid off... and the best part??!!! I didn't have to settle for something I didn't want to do. I got the exact job I wanted... the job I was waiting to open... and on Saturday I start work back at the same place I landed my very first job out of college... ten years ago! Yes... my life is already coming full circle and I'm only 32. Ha ha! Seriously though, it's the perfect schedule for me, it's the perfect mix of job duties, and since several of my old co-workers still work there, and many new friends, I already know I'll fit right in. It's the place I met my husband ten years ago... so it will always be special. And now I'll have one to two shifts per week... only nights and weekends, so I can still stay home with Andy, but not have EVERY night or weekend away from Matt. I'm really excited to start. Tonight I finished filling out the 10 pages of pre-employment paperwork to take to my orientation tomorrow.... so that is getting crossed off the list.... although what I should have put on the list was keeping Andy entertained for 45 minutes in the waiting room while waiting for my drug test a few days ago... THAT was an accomplishment! Ha!

Okay, what else did I do? I set up an appointment for a tree removal company to go give me a quote on removing some branches that are overhanging the roof of our rental house in North Carolina. I actually already did do this about a month ago. I called three companies... no one ever called back with a quote. So, this time I got a recommendation from a friend of a friend and I think these guys will actually show up... let's hope... in the mean time I'm knocking on wood that branches don't crash down on our roof in a storm... because that would totally be something that would happen to that house!

I also returned two Netflix movies that we have had out for almost two months. The only problem? I forgot to update our cue, so two new movies we didn't really want are headed our way. I'll have to get a quick turn around on those so that we can get the ones we really want in.

I also finally framed a 12x12 picture of Andy and me from his six month photo shoot.... yes... as in a YEAR AND A HALF ago. It turns out that 12x12 frames (or frames matted to 12x12) are hard to come by. Couldn't find any at the big box retailers... not going to pay for custom framing... looked at ordering online but didn't want to pay the high price plus shipping... Enter a very ill advised stop at Ikea on our way back from camping last weekend... You know when you know a decision is a really bad idea, but you do it anyway? Like when your kid hasn't napped in three days, has spent some part of three days in a row strapped in the car seat of his car and is SUPER over tired and has TONS of pent up energy... and it's a rainy Saturday... and it's IKEA... but you think, Sure! Let's stop! He'll be FINE for like 45 minutes in a cart! Ummmmm.... try ZERO minutes! So, we tried opening a package of $2 stacking cups for him to play with, he wanted no part of it. After 10 minutes, we realized that yes, we were those parents, and cut our losses. Matt took Andy to the back of the building to run around in the empty parking lot in the rain while I walked approximately 2 miles through the ENTIRE store to get to the check out line to pay for the stupid $2 stacking cups... when something stopped me in my tracks!

Ah ha!!!!!!!!!!! All is not lost after all!!!!! A frame. Matted to 12x12. For only $19!!!!! Whoo hoo! Who cares that it's black/brown and not black! Not me! Yaye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But seriously, with the black and white photo, the frame really looked brown... so, no biggie, I spray painted it black... and... viola!

Now my biggest issue with this picture is deciding where to hang it! Hmmmmm..... And LAST... but not LEAST... uggghhhh this month felt like it would never ever end... I made a chore chart. I think we'll eventually upgrade to a bigger dry erase board, but we already had this one... who knows for what... but we did. So, I used it.

Chores are on the left separated by day and by "C" and "M" (for Colleen and Matt) and then basic stuff is plugged in on the calendar to the right. We'll see if we can make any sort of effort to stick to it. If we do it 70% of the time, that would still be an improvement over how often things get done now, so I like our odds.

Goodbye July! Welcome August! Month of my future sister in-law's shower AND bachelorette party weekend... my FIVE YEAR wedding anniversary... and my not-a-baby-anymore's TWO year birthday! It will be a good month... I can feel it. If I could only get organized!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planning Sessions

This past month I tried out something new. Every week, on either Sunday or Monday, I spent some time planning my week. I clipped coupons, planned grocery lists and meals and thought about errands that needed to be run. I felt a little more centered and a little more organized doing this. I think that I'm going to try and make it a habit.

I had felt pretty scatter brained by not planning out my weeks. I felt like I was running errands almost every day (I still do feel this way... although I'm improving). Errands that could definitely be combined with just the smallest amount of planning. I know I'm wasting gas, and wasting time. The other issue that this causes is that I'm dragging Andy with me to run errands. He usually does fine, but what two year old wants to spend 3-4 mornings a week running errands? It was just so easy when he was a baby to take him with me while he napped in his infant car seat. I guess that two years later I just haven't gotten out of that habit.

Well, I'm working on it now. Better late than never I guess... right? One of the other problems I seem to have is thinking of things to do with him during the day. It was a little easier in the spring, because we just played outside a lot, but now... it's SOOOOOOOOOOO SO SO SO hot and humid out. He doesn't even want to be outside! So, a lot of the time, when I can't think of something to do, it's easier to think of an errand I need to run. Sigh. I know that's not really good, but I suspect I'm not the only person out there like this. So, I spent some time finding fun activities to do with a two year old online and I printed them all out. I'm going to put them in a binder and flip through it when I have my weekly planning sessions. As long as I am better planning my shopping and running errands, I need to start planning activities to do with Andy in the mornings.

I know it will get a little easier in the fall when the weather cools down, but since we aren't ready to send him to any kind of pre-school yet, I want to make sure I'm providing a good environment for learning AND having fun! :-)

How To Organize Earrings

I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time keeping my earrings organized. I have little square compartments in my jewelry box for earrings, but they are all taken up with the studs. Any long earrings seem to be ALL over the place! So, the other day, I worked on a little solution to this problem. Actually putting this together took all of 10 minutes... if that! It took me more time to collect the things I would need for this project!

First, I purchased this old picture at Goodwill for $1.80. I picked it because I liked the look of the frame and didn't feel like I had to alter it in any way.

Then I stopped at Lowe's and picked up a roll of window screen for around $4. When I got home, I took the glass and the picture and mat out of the frame. Then I cut a piece of screen to fit the back of the frame and I used a staple gun to secure it to the back. I hung it up in my closet above my jewelry box, and hung all of my earrings on it!

I love the way it turned out!!!! The rest of my jewelry was also a mess....

So, I straightened everything up and now it looks much nicer. I use two velor covered neck tie hangers that I found at Walmart to hang my necklaces from. It works out well for me.

Now, all that I have left to add is a small mirror on the adjacent wall so that I don't have to carry various necklaces and earrings into the bathroom to try on with an outfit. They usually get left in the bathroom and not put away, so it would be nice to be able to try things on right in my closet!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Getting Out Of A Slump

So, it's probably been pretty obvious by my lack of blogging lately that I've been in a little bit of a slump. I know I blogged a little bit about it during July, but honestly, I feel like I'm just now starting to come out of it. Going on a little one night camping trip to the mountains with Matt and Andy definitely helped. I'm hoping we can do that more often! I still can't really pin point what has been causing me to feel this way, so that makes me think that maybe it's just a whole bunch of different things. I kind of just took a mental break for most of the month of July. I stopped letting things stress me out and I stopped keeping up with things I normally take care of. I had absolutely no motivation. For anything. Well, now, the not keeping up with things is starting to stress me out. I'm feeling ready to get back to my normal pace. I probably won't get my August list up until Wednesday, but that's okay.

I've realized over the past month that I actually feel worse when I don't hold myself accountable for getting things done, and then that makes me feel less motivated, and then I feel worse... and it's just a vicious cycle. I've been starting to remember why I started this list in the first place. It's to make me feel LESS stressed by actually getting things done. Although it's been nice to lay on the couch with my husband at night watching back to back episodes of old shows on Netflix... I'm realizing that I can't do that every night! I think I'm starting to find a balance between getting things done on my list, and keeping up with the day to day... or at least I hope so!

Okay... SOOOOO... what have I accomplished during my little blogging hiatus? Well, let's see... (and PLEASE ignore the really terrible photos... I left my camera on vacation and had to take all of these with my cell phone!!! Uggggghhhhh!)

First of all, I got the hall closet finished up. Back in April, my husband created a little storage area under the stairs in our house. It's where I am keeping all of our Christmas containers. We haven't done anything to the closet since. It's a pretty deep closet, and the coat rack used to be at the back of the closet. We had to take it down when we put in the door to the storage area, but also, it just wasn't that practical. We decided to install a coat rod closer to the front of the closet instead. This puts our coats within reach, and still leaves storage space behind them. I'm using that space to store our vacuum and carpet cleaner.

I also put an old hanging shoe holder that I had previously thought was destined to go to Goodwill, on the inside of the closet door. This way we can keep our "everyday" shoes neatly organized instead of piled in a heap on the closet floor.

All in all, I'm much happier with this closet now!!!! Okay, project number 2... touch up painting Andy's room. Andy decided to nap one day with two painted wooden blocks from this shape sorting box that was my husband's when he was a toddler. I didn't think anything of it until I went to get him up from his nap and saw that he'd used the red and green blocks to "color" his wall!!!! And of course his room is still the flat paint that our whole house was painted, so.... I couldn't wipe it off.

It stayed like this for a few months.

Finally, yesterday I bought a mini roller and paint tray and took some of the wall paint and got the whole thing touched up... then I spent a good 30 minutes going around the rest of the house and touching up the walls that still have that beige flat paint. I am beginning to think that I should really do that every couple of months!

I also refinished two bedside table lamps that I have had for five years. They were perfectly nice looking brushed nickle lamps.... but I wanted them to be more of an oil rubbed bronze finish so that I could use them in our master bedroom.

Nothing that a can of spray paint won't fix!

I haven't decided yet what to do for lamp shades because I haven't found any bedding for our bedroom that 1) I like and 2) can afford... sigh... so that is on hold!

Also in our master bedroom we FINALLY installed a ceiling fan!!!!! This is also our overhead light... our ONLY light. Yes, we lived in our house for THIRTEEN MONTHS with no light in our master bedroom. So, finally, yesterday I splurged and bought the ceiling fan that I had my eye on at Lowe's. After some mild frustration, Matt got it installed! Hooray! And the best part??!! Tonight when I was back at Lowe's for some black spray paint, I noticed the SAME FAN was on clearance for $30 less! So I brought my receipt to customer service, and now have $38.30 (with tax) back in my wallet! Whoo hoo!

Over the course of the month I've been stock piling things to get rid of. Yesterday I removed thirty items from our house. Taking a cue from 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge, I decided that it would be pretty easy to get rid of thirty things. The following have left (or are leaving) my house:

Pair of curtains
Thermal lunch box
Package of underwear (the wrong size)
One pair of men's dress pants
Eleven men's t-shirts
Tea pot
Bathroom light fixture
Four glass canisters
Outdoor baby swing
Baby gate
Cardboard guitar box
One men's dress shirt
Five tools

Other than the tools (which are going to my brother) and the cardboard box (which is going in the trash), and one of the glass canisters (which I dropped and smashed on the front porch) everything went to Goodwill.

Okay, I'm almost done... on Tuesday night I started crocheting a baby blanket for my friend Heather. She's due with her second child, a little girl, in September. I'm DETERMINED to a) finish this and b) not screw it up. Even though I go to our weekly Stitch n' Bitch group, I'm not what you would call, good at crocheting! I tried to make a baby blanket once before, but it ended up looking like a trapezoid... no kidding. Then another time, we were making "friendship scarfs"... each person adds a section to everyones scarf in their own yarn and pattern.... well, I added my section in the wrong direction to my friend Amy's scarf. We decided it could be made into a pocket.... because seriously... how practical is a pocket on a scarf?? Right??!!

The only thing I've made successfully is a dish cloth. I've actually made three. So, my friend Megan, who is an uhhhhh-mazing knitter and crocheter is teaching me a pattern for a blanket that she swears I can do... we shall seeeeeee-eeeeee.....

And last, but not least (for this post anyway), I mailed the bridal shower invitations for my future sister-in-law's shower in (yikes!) THREE weeks!!! This was a challenge in and of itself because for the past three times that I've gone to the post office, my wonderful, sweet, loving, adorable child has pitched some kind of fit... for no apparent reason. THIS TIME, I was prepared! I'm totally not above bribing. I went to Walmart and bought a package of Goldfish (his favorite... but he hasn't had them in about a month) and I let him eat right out of the package (gasp!) while he was in the stroller. THEN... I gave him a juice box. Forget the sippy cup! Straight juice ... not watered down... out of a REAL straw!!!! That kept him quiet long enough for me to buy 3 books of stamps and stamp all the envelopes... and get the heck out of there!

Whew! Are you still reading? Probably not! This was ridiculously long! I promise to get better about posting! I am, after all, coming out of my slump!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Easy" Project

Two months ago, I added a shelf over our back door. I spent some time trying to figure out what to put on it, and eventually settled on getting some letters to spell out GIVE THANKS. The shelf is right over our kitchen table, so it seemed appropriate. Last month I saw the cutest metal stars at Target! I thought that one would be perfect to put on the shelf in between the two words. The only reason I didn't buy one right then, was because I couldn't decide between navy blue or red. So, yesterday, I went back to Target to buy one... couldn't find them anywhere. So, I also looked at Michael's and Ross. Today I looked at A.C. Moore, Hancock Fabrics, Bed Bath & Beyond, another Ross and Pier One (the stores are all right near each other). Couldn't find anything. I also finally picked up the letters and a can of spray paint.

I ended up having a hard time getting letters because they were all out of some of the letters I needed in the size and style I wanted at Michael's and A.C. Moore, so I ended up having to get larger letters than I originally planned. Oh well. So, when I got home, I lined them up on the shelf... the larger letters did look better than the smaller ones would have, but there was definitely NO room for that metal star, had I been able to find one. Ugggghhhh! What a waste of time looking for one!!!

So, I lined all the letters up on a tarp outside and started spray painting them navy blue...then... it started to rain. Seriously?????? So I dragged the tarp inside, some of the letters were already messed up with rain spots, and others were messed up from bumping into each other when I dragged them in. Sigh. Oh well! I just spray painted over them all and you can't even notice now that it's up on the shelf. I also grabbed a starfish from the head board in our guest bedroom and put it between the two words. I think I need a little bit bigger starfish, but I know they have those at the craft store.

I love the way it turned out!!!

Our curtains are navy blue and cream, so they look really nice next to the navy blue letters. It's bothering me a little that I can't center the starfish above the center of the two doors, but I can't space the phrase right to get it like that. Overall, I think it looks really cute. It took more time and frustration than I anticipated, but I love the final look. It adds a little character to our kitchen!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Procrastination Pays Off

Sometimes procrastination works in my favor. This tends to be a rare occasion, but it does happen every so often. Last night I finally ordered my bridesmaid dress for my brother's wedding. Jaime decided that we could all pick our own style of dress from David's Bridal as long as it was long and the color Lapis, which is a really pretty shade of dark purple. Most of the other bridesmaids were able to pick a dress that they liked right away and ordered their dresses back in January and February. Me, on the other hand, took until the end of April and going to a David's Bridal out of state before I found the dress I liked best...

It was really pretty, and I did really like it, but it still took me almost three more months to call and order it. So, yesterday I logged on to David's Bridal's website to look up the style number of the dress before I called to order it... and I saw THIS dress pop up on the first page as a new style....

Swoon! I LOVED it!!!! I had no idea if I would love it on me, but it was worth trying on first for sure! They had one in my size in stock, so Jaime and I went to David's last night to try both dresses on. The first one was pretty, but I totally fell in love with this one! Plus, it was soooo comfortable and I loved the detailing on the one strap! So, I ordered it last night and I can't wait for it to arrive! Had I ordered my dress a month ago, this one wouldn't have been available. Last night, I was glad I am a procrastinator.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Creating The Look For Less

For the first time in our home owning lives, we have an office. In the past, our guest bedroom doubled as an office. Although it's really nice to have a separate room to set up... the downside is that it's a separate room to set up! In May, I painted the office this really pretty navy blue color. I love the way it turned out, but it's just been sitting there painted for two months now waiting to be put together.

So, it turns out that office furniture can be expensive! It further complicates things when you have Pottery Barn tastes on a Craig's List budget! I love the look of this corner desk from Pottery Barn...

And I love the look of this desk with hutch... also from Pottery Barn.

And if I were to order all of the pieces of both to fit the wall and corner of my office, I would be spending $3,750 ... not including tax & shipping! Okay, so I don't like it that much! Geesh! I'm running through the list of things I would rather spend $3,750 on (if I had it) other than office furniture... I think the front runner is some kind of RV... but moving on...

Like I said before... Craig's List budget! About three months ago I bought this desk and hutch combo from someone on Craig's List for $60. This is the picture from the Craig's List listing...

It has a cabinet (cleverly disguised as drawers), drawers, a sliding keyboard tray and a few other customizations. It was in REALLY good condition! I couldn't believe they were selling it for $60. Even though it looks like knobs were missing, they had just been taken off and were in a drawer. But, alas... this was not the look I was going for. So, I have spent the better part of this past week PAINTING this entire thing. My husband and I also removed the back panel of the hutch and installed a bead board panel instead. I also removed the cabinet doors on the hutch in favor of a more open look.

Now, since I want to have a corner section similar to the desk from Pottery Barn that I like so much, I removed the desk top, and removed the molding on the bottom side of the desk base. My husband is building me some modular base sections to "add on" to the existing desk and we'll put a new desk top across the whole thing. So, I'm not going to show you what the desk looks like just yet...because I want to put it all together before I reveal my "after" picture. So, sorry to keep you waiting, but I'm so excited to finally cross painting this sucker off my list that it deserved its own post! We are thinking that between the $60 for the desk, the $20 for the bead board, another $100 in wood for the additional pieces and the hardware, we are going to come in right around $200 total. Not bad for a totally customized piece of furniture that will fit our office and craft storage and work space needs!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Organize a Lazy Susan Cabinet

I really dislike my lazy susan corner cabinet. I can't figure out what its best use is. It's hard to keep organized. Until today, it has looked like this...

It was just kind of a wasted space, junk cabinet. I finally decided to put things in perspective and learn to love my not-so-functional corner cabinet. I was thinking about five years ago when Matt and I bought our first house. It was a 2,800 square foot TOTAL fixer upper that was built in 1920. It had the worst kitchen... EVER... and we lived with the kitchen like that for a LONG time while we worked on other parts of the house. Unfortunately we moved out of state and ended up renovating the house to be a rental and never got to live in there with a nice kitchen. This is what it looked like the day we closed....

Pretty, huh?

Uh... ya... so, those windows above the stove used to be exterior windows that looked out onto a porch. The porch was eventually enclosed. What you see on the other side of those windows is tile board. That's right, folks... cheap, ugly tile board. Why, you ask? WELL... apparently the previous owners moved out of the country and then sent a check up to someone to install a full bath in that space. Probably not the smartest move... you know... no quality control or anything like that. I don't think you'd ever expect someone to install something this bad though! I know you are just dying to see what it looked like...

This picture doesn't even do it justice!!!! But I'm sure you can see the additional piece of tile board placed, oh, so craftily on the end of that tub. Not to mention the kitchen sink faucet they installed on the tub! The far end of the picture shows the accordion door they installed... that led to this...

I mean, seriously! I have no clue why we didn't end up in a bidding war over this house! OR, why all our friends and family thought we were crazy!!! So, why this trip down memory lane? To remind myself how blessed we are to live in a year old house, with a beautiful kitchen... lazy susan cabinet and all! I have to admit, I love that first house more than seems reasonably possible, and I'm glad we still have it. I think I love it because I'm so PROUD of what it looks like now, compared to what it looked like when we bought it. There is a lot of satisfaction to be gained by doing a lot of the work yourself. It was a big project to take on three months into our marriage, but I think it just made us work better together as a couple.

But... I digress. So... organizing a lazy susan cabinet.... here is what I decided would work best:

1) Keep it simple. The more stuff you try to cram in, the messier it will become and the more frustrated you will get.

2) Containerize. Everything.

3) Pick a theme. Don't shove every miscellaneous item you own in a container and stick it in there. Pick a group of items - for me it was baking supplies - and go with it.

My first task was to find a solution for all the plastic sippy cups, snack and travel mugs and toddler bowls. We use these constantly. They barely have time to sit on a shelf between coming out of the dishwasher clean and getting used again. So, I decided not to shove them all in a cabinet. There was just no way to do it neatly. I got a cute basket, put it on the counter, and dumped everything in. Plus, as my Husband said if we don't want people looking at it on the counter when we have guests, we can shove it in the closet. Excellent point!

I actually really like that basket there. I might by another matching one to collect other stuff that migrates around our kitchen! Alrighty... so... I moved my baking supplies out of the pantry (which freed up some much needed space) and into the lazy susan. The other cabinets in that corner of my kitchen have my baking dishes, pans, measuring cups, whisks, spatulas, etc. It's also the area of counter top I do most food prep and baking. I figured it would be nice to have all my baking ingredients handy.

I picked up some cheap plastic containers at Target (using a gift card I had rediscovered... thanks Svenja!) and used them to corral extra bags of flour and other baking ingredients. I also moved my flour and sugar containers out of the pantry and into the cabinet.

I used an extra container I had lying around from going strawberry picking to store my canning utensils on the bottom shelf.

All in all, I'm much happier with this new set up! I also think it will be pretty easy to keep organized. I'm sure it helps that I don't bake much :-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All Things Wedding

This week I've been working a lot on fun things for my brother's wedding. He just happens to be marrying one of my very best friends, so it's a win-win for me! The wedding is at the end of September... which seems to be coming up very quickly! I can't wait to blog about the fun projects I've started working on. I'll have to do a post AFTER the wedding with pictures of the projects and crafts. I know that both my brother and Jaime read this blog, so I can't give anything away.

Aside from my personal projects for the wedding that I've gotten started on (and crossing off my list... yaye!), I've been working a lot this week on planning Jaime's bridal shower. I know that sometimes this can be a stressful process for bridesmaids to all plan together, but so far I'm having a really fun time! I'm glad that all of her bridesmaids are good friends with each other. I think that all of these wedding related events are going to make for some great memories.

It has been nice to have wedding stuff to work on this week, because at least I feel like I'm still accomplishing something. I've been having SERIOUS motivation issues lately. I don't know what my problem is. It's like I have to force myself to do anything around the house. I'm just in some kind of a slump. I had to change one of the things on my list from do 30 minutes of exercise everyday to take my Metformin everyday because I've been feeling sick and sluggish on my Metformin and it's a struggle to force myself to take the pills, let alone work out. I can tell that my body is adjusting though, so next month I'd like to add in the exercising.

I have had a lot of days lately where I just feel kind of bored. I'm struggling to find things to do with Andy (it doesn't help that it's always over 100 degrees out with the heat index) and I'm struggling with wanting to take care of anything around the house. I can find endless ways to procrastinate in the afternoons while Andy is napping and then before I know it, nap time is over, I haven't gotten anything done, and then Matt's home from work and I am left feeling guilty for not accomplishing the most basic of tasks! Sigh.

So, today I set a goal of just catching up with laundry (which I'm painfully behind on). If I get that done, I'll feel like I accomplished something. And if I happen to vacuum my floors too... well... that will just be a bonus!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birthday Gifts

I have a problem with sending birthday gifts or cards on time. It's repeatedly a problem... year after year. I'm not really sure how to fix it! I mean, I know how to fix it, but I can't seem to fix it... ever. Sigh. This month I finally took care of the past due birthday gifts that I've been accumulating since the end of February... yes, February.

So, I had a birthday gift to buy my Dad, who is the most difficult person for me to shop for. Originally, I was going to get him a webcam so that we could Skype. However, I procrastinated long enough that I found out he was shopping around for a new laptop and it would have a built-in camera. Okay, scratch that idea. It took me another two months to finally decide to get him a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble after I found out that my Dad has become an avid reader! Good to know! I gave it to him at the beginning of the month and he's already used it to buy two books!

Next up were my two best friends' little boys. Both turned one. We don't usually buy birthday gifts for each other's kids, except for their first birthday. Anyway, I finally got around tonight to ordering their birthday gifts. My friend Kevin wrote this great book called A Day In The Salt Marsh. It's a SUPER cute book that follows the changes in the salt marsh as the tide changes throughout the day... and it rhymes. Andy absolutely loves it. He loves naming all the animals. He even recognizes and tells me Salt Marsh! whenever we pass the marsh around here! Anyway, it's really cute and I know my friends will love that it was written by someone we know!

And last but not least, my Grandmother's birthday was at the beginning of July. I actually wasn't too late on her gift (only a few days... is that even really considered late?) but only because they were here to visit. I highly doubt I would have gotten it in the mail yet otherwise! Anyway, she's another tough one to shop for... but my Mom gave me a good suggestion this year, and I picked her up some stationary.

I have a few more family birthdays left this year, and I honestly am going to try my hardest to get gifts in the mail ahead of time. I hate being that person who is always late on giving gifts. I also hate how it hangs over my head all the time as something I need to take care of. We'll see how I do the second half of the year!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maintaining Routines

So, I've been having some major motivation issues lately. I'm not really sure what my problem is. I have just felt kind of blah every day for the past two weeks. It might be the Metformin or it might be the oppressive heat and humidity that has set in around here or it might be the aftermath of a waaaay too over scheduled June. I don't know what it is, but I know that I don't like it and I know that I am having trouble snapping out of it.

My grandparents were here the past two days and I didn't even have the motivation to clean my house. They were staying at my brother's house this visit, but still, I normally would have cleaned at least the downstairs... knowing they would be over here a good chunk of the time. I picked up (kind of) and vacuumed the dog hair off the floor downstairs and things looked mostly presentable... but my Grandfather still asked me You did know we were coming, right? when I half heartedly said Sorry it's a little messy in here. He said it jokingly, but I'm sure he wasn't really thinking it jokingly. It's just that normally when they come to visit, I've spent the previous day cleaning and staying up until midnight getting everything done... you know, trying to pretend that our house is this clean ALL the time... this time... my house just looked like it normally does when I'm not trying to impress anyone else! (well, except that the floors were vacuumed)

So, here is my issue... I have a problem sticking to things for more than a few weeks. I can make cleaning routines, or plan meals and grocery shop according to my meal plan for the week, etc. but I only seem to stick to it for a week or two and then something will come up that will throw me off course... or sometimes nothing will come up and I'll be generally lazy. The problem with this is that for one, when I don't plan meals and grocery shop, we end up spending waaaay too much money on food and two, when I don't do ANYTHING around the house for a few days, it requires a major cleaning effort to get things under control. The backlash of NOT doing things in a methodical way is a little depressing. Sigh.

In an effort to find my way out of this slump I did spend a few hours today clipping my coupons (from the past two weeks) and cleaning out my coupon book and getting rid of expired coupons. I hadn't done anything with my coupons in over a month. I felt like I was throwing money away when I was tossing expired coupons for things I KNOW I purchased in the past month... and paid full price for. Uggggh! But I'm back on track now. I actually have had a weekly planning session the past two Sundays (well, actually Mondays) so I think I need to add clipping my coupons and finding my deals for the week to that time.

I also washed the car seat covers. This was somewhat of a chore. They weren't the easiest things to get off and on, and it's always a pain taking those things out of the cars and putting them back in. But... it had to be done. Since we had so many car trips last month, there were more than a few times that Andy had leaked through his diaper before I realized it and changed him, and the car seat covers were starting to have a distinct odor. Plus, we've had them for about a year now and have never washed the covers. Vacuumed? Yes. Washed? No.

And last but not least, I finally broke down and bought a canister for our compostable food scraps. In April, we started a compost bin. For the past three months we have been putting our food scraps in bowls on the counter. Sometimes if I didn't want to dirty a bowl, they would just go down the garbage disposal. For three months I have put off spending the $7 at Walmart for one of these canisters because I KNOW I can find one much much cheaper at Goodwill. Well, every time I go, they either only have the small ones, or have a whole set that they won't break up (for more than $7). It was getting a little comical. So, today, I broke down and got a canister. I'm sure if I go to Goodwill tomorrow, they will have exactly what I was looking for... for $1.

Tomorrow I really am going to put effort into following my cleaning schedule and getting back on track. I might not really feel like doing anything productive, but I'm hoping that small successes will breed larger successes and if I can just force myself to do a few productive things tomorrow, I'll find that I'll just keep going and get a few more things done!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Giving Blood

Today I had my appointment to donate blood with the Red Cross. After I finished and was reminded of how easy and painless it is to give blood, I felt ashamed that I haven't donated since my senior year of high school when we had a blood drive at our school. That was 14 years ago!!! Even back then, I remember how easy actually donating was... the rest of my experience could have gone just a little smoother!

Our blood drive took place in the high school gym. I was a senior and my brother was a freshman. He happened to be having gym class while I was giving blood. They were outside playing street hockey or something like that... anyway, my friend Lauren had already donated and was standing next to me and chatting while I donated. All of a sudden she told me I think I'm going to faint! And the very next second... she did! Somehow I caught her in the arm that didn't have a needle in it and lowered her to the floor while the nurses ran over to take care of her. Literally, a few seconds later, my brother was getting escorted through the gym to the nurses office with blood gushing out of his forehead. A few minutes after that, someone came to let me know that they wanted me to go to the nurses office as soon as I was done. Apparently he fell or something... I can't even remember now. Anyway, they were concerned he might need stitches (he didn't) and I spent my recovery time in the nurses' office hanging out with him.

So, needless to say, actually giving blood wasn't really the part I remembered from that day!

When I went to the donation center today, everyone was extremely nice! I answered all the questions I needed to. I got my finger pricked to check my iron level (which has to be 12.5 or higher... mine was EXACTLY 12.5! Phew!) I had my blood pressure taken... and then I was good to go! Actually donating only took about 10-15 minutes. It didn't hurt at all when the needle went in, and I just chatted with the nurse the whole time. When I finished I got to have a snack and a drink. Most of the snacks they had available had too much sugar for me right now, so I opted for Cheese-itz. Since I'm back taking my Metformin, I can't eat anything with too much (or really, any) sugar or it makes me feel really sick. I totally take back what I said in my post yesterday about not being too nauseous on the Metformin this time... because I've really struggled with bouts of it last night and this afternoon. I hate, hate, hate this adjustment period on it. I know it will help regulate my hormones and help me ovulate (maybe even without Clomid?! we'll see!) and blah blah blah... but the first 3-4 weeks on it are horrible. But I digress...

So, here I am giving blood! Don't you love how they put me in the chair with the INSPIRE sign behind my head? I think it makes for a good back drop!

Don't I look happy to be donating? That's because...I AM! I was reminded today how this one easy and selfless act can have a major impact on someone else's life. I intend to start giving blood as often as I can. I would especially like to start donating with my husband. He's a little squeemish about needles and such (me?... not in the least!) but I talked to him about it tonight and I think he's willing to give it a try with me next time.

So, if you are like me, and it's been FOURTEEN YEARS or longer since you last gave blood, you should make an appointment at your local donation office. It's a good feeling knowing you could be helping to save some one's life!