Friday, April 30, 2010

How To Make a Car Maintenance Binder

Tonight I finally put together a car maintenance binder. I feel like I never know what to do with receipts from tires we replace or any maintenance work that gets done on our cars. I never know if I should file it or keep it in the glove compartment, or what! Usually it just hangs around in some random pile of papers in our house until it's just so old that I throw it away and figure we'll never need it.

However, I know that it is good practice to keep maintenance records for cars for several reasons. So, since binder systems seem to be working out well for me, I started one for the cars. Mine is pretty simple. We have two cars, so I put two page dividers in the binder. Each has the car's model written on the tab. At the top of each page divider, I wrote "Oil Change Log." This way I can just write the date and mileage of each oil change right on the page divider for each car.

I added clear page protectors to the binder so that I can slip any maintenance receipts in right when we get them. I'm also going to keep a photo copy of our registrations and auto insurance in the binder.

That's about it. You could definitely add more, but for us, I think simple is best. I just think it will be helpful to have an easy place to store everything. Plus, whenever we sell our cars (which hopefully won't be for a long time) we will have the maintenance records to give to the new owners!

How To Make Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

I used to be a better Mom to our pets. I used to make our dogs homemade dog treats (all different kinds!) I used to walk them a whole lot more and take them to the dog park. Lately, not so much. This lack of effort on my part has translated into the dogs being more hyper, barking more and me getting super frustrated with them. So, instead of being annoyed with them, I am going to start putting forth more of an effort to be a better Mom and not let them feel so neglected. Instead of giving up something every day for the month of May, I'm going to resolve to walk the dogs every day!

Tonight, I baked them a batch of yummy all natural peanut butter treats! A friend e-mailed me a great recipe when she saw it on my list for the month. The dogs TOTALLY knew I was baking for them. They didn't leave the kitchen the whole time! That is unusual for this time of night... usually they are upstairs sleeping.

I used a little dog bone shaped cookie cutter that I've had for YEARS (since I used to bake them treats!) but you can use any cookie cutter, or just cut them into little squares. The recipe said that it makes two and a half dozen, but I got four dozen out of it!

These were super easy and quick to make! Not to mention, much cheaper than buying processed dog biscuits!

Peanut Butter Goodness Dog Biscuits

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour (* I used un-bleached)
1/2 cup peanut butter (all-natural or organic)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour, one cup at a time, forming a dough. Knead dough into firm ball and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces or cut shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Secret Storage Area

We have a coat closet in the downstairs hallway of our house. It backs up to the under side of our stairs. A couple of months ago, my husband cut a hole in the back of our coat closet and put in a door. I now have this GREAT storage space that I didn't have before! I'm using it to store all of my Christmas stuff. It's perfect! Since it is at the back of the closet, I couldn't store anything that we would need to access frequently. I also didn't want to have to lug all the Christmas bins up and down the attic stairs. Plus, it gets super hot in the attic in the summer, so I didn't think that would be the best place to store the decorations.

So, the door to our secret storage area has looked like this for the past two months

Before we put the closet back together again, and actually hang coats in it, I wanted to get the trim spackled and the door and trim painted.

The closet itself is pretty deep. Previously, there was a shelf/coat rack all the way at the back of the closet. This was kind of annoying because if we hung coats on it, we couldn't really keep anything in front of the coats or we couldn't easily access them, but then we just had all of this wasted storage space up front. Our solution was to remove the existing shelf/rack (which we had to do anyway in order to put the door in) and we are going to hang a coat rod across, closer to the front of the closet. Then we will have room to store infrequently used items back behind the coats. You can see how deep the closet is here:

So, finishing out this closet will be on May's list. For right now, I'm just happy to have the door painted and have a home for all of my Christmas bins!

Crossing Stuff Off!

Alright! I FINALLY just sat down to take care of some long overdue items. The first... sending in my form to our electric and gas company to get our rates lowered. When we bought our house (ummm....ELEVEN months ago) we were given this form and told that if we filled it out and had the builder fill out their portion, we would qualify for a lower rate on our utilities. The builder was offering a free "green" upgrade package on our house at the time we purchased, and that included a more efficient HVAC system, blown in insulation, radiant barrier on the roof, etc. I have absolutely no excuse for WHY it has taken me almost a year to request a lower rate on our largest monthly utility bill... but, there you have it! I'm excited now to see how much of a difference it makes on our bills!

Next, I contacted Time Warner Cable (my favorite people to call... note that is dripping with sarcasm) to get a price quote on having an additional phone and cable jack installed in the house. Apparently, in order to hook up our modem for the cable and the phone, they needed to have both jacks next to each other. This information might have been something helpful for the people working in the design center for our builder to know AND pass along when we were picking out locations for these things...but... I digress. So, the only room that had both jacks is our bedroom, but they aren't next to each other. So, our modem is sitting on the floor, and we have a super long phone cord running across the floor from the other side of the room. Very well thought out and planned on our part. Today I found out it will cost $85 to have the new jacks installed next to each other in our office. That actually isn't as expensive as I thought it would be. I'll be calling them back next month to get that taken care of so that we can get our office set up!

And finally, I submitted my first claim to the warranty office. We have one small issue and one possibly larger issue with the house. The first is that the veneer on the front of one of our kitchen cabinet doors is bubbling, so they need to replace that. The second is that we have MAJOR floor squeaks under the shower in our master bathroom and on the floor right in front of the shower. The project manager told me to have warranty look at it, but they might have to rip out all of the bathroom tile to fix it. This is most likely not an option I'm in favor of, BUT... I want to make sure that there isn't water getting down in there somehow and it's causing the floors to start to squeak. That's been going on for a while, but I guess I've just been putting off calling because in comparison to the myriad of issues we have at our rental house (which was built in 1920), this doesn't seem like as big of a deal!

I'm also really happy to be back home from North Carolina. I had a wonderful time, but am happy to be home and glad it's Friday so Matt doesn't have to go to work tomorrow! I'm going to spend my weekend picking out plants for the front of our house because according to our home owners association, I have to get them all APPROVED first! Sigh. I'm all for H.O.A.'s because I know they help keep the neighborhood nice and maintain home values, blah, blah, blah, but give me a break! They planted the crappiest plants EVER in front of our house, but I have to submit two copies of plans for what I want to plant where along with the size and color and have it approved?! Whatever. I will play by the rules. I guess the upside to this is that it will make me have a well thought out landscaping plan!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Room Closet # 2

Okay, first let me start out by saying that in order to get this post done I am sitting in a Starbucks using the free Wi-fi... BUT... I only ordered a bottled water. I did NOT cheat on my goal of giving up Starbucks for the month (although it was very hard!)

I'm in North Carolina visiting my Dad and working on a few projects over at our rental house. I couldn't get the Internet to work at my Dad's house last night, despite spending an hour and a half sitting on the floor and hiding behind the side of the bed with the laptop and trying not to wake up Andy, who was asleep in the same room. My Dad doesn't have a wireless router, so I could only sit where I could plug my computer into the cable. It was very frustrating, so finally I gave up and went to bed! I'm here until Friday, so I've brought things with me to finish up from my list, but before I left, I tackled the closet in the second spare room (that will eventually become Andy's "big boy" room).

This project was way more than just the closet. This is what the whole room looked like when I started

Ugggh! It was terrible. This room had become the dumping ground for EVERYTHING while I was cleaning out our bedroom and the other spare room. It took me a few hours, but now it looks like this
The photo albums on the bed stand will eventually be moved to the office (whenever we tackle that!) and the bin on the floor in the closet is FILLED with unorganized craft supplies. Organizing that will be on May's list.

Mostly I'm just glad I don't feel a sense of shame when opening that door! Everything now has a home, and that makes me VERY happy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bench Cushion

Today I took the easy way out and made the lazy person's version of a cushion. I bought a piece of foam and then wrapped fabric around it. We have this built-in bench on the landing of our stairs...

It's just kind of a boring and random space that tends to collect clutter. I haven't done any kind of decorating on the walls of our stairs... no pictures... nothing. Everything just looks very bare. I really like having the bench there, but it's purely decorative. It doesn't open for storage or anything like that (although I guess we could make it open and use the space for storage if we were ever so inclined).

I thought that if I made a cushion for it, that it would spruce things up a bit. So, I bought a piece of foam today at Hancock Fabrics while it was on sale for 50% off (because it turns out that foam is expensive!) and found two and a half yards of this blue striped fabric in the clearance section. Tonight I cut the foam to fit with a serrated knife and wrapped the fabric around it. Here is the final result...

It looks cute... but desperately needs some pillows! Eventually, it will be on my list to turn this into a proper cushion cover, but not this month! I'd like to sew some piping around the top and bottom edges and make the cushion removable in case it ever needs to be washed. Maybe with the pillows and a few pictures on the walls the space will look a little more finished. I've never had a space like this to decorate before, so I'm not quite sure what to do with it. We also have two small windows, one above the other, above the bench. They are too small to put blinds up, but also just look very bare right now. I am at a loss for what to do on those. I can't even reach the top one without a ladder. Guess it's time to go to Barnes & Noble and start flipping through some decorating books and magazines for some ideas!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Metformin Study In The News

One of the benefits of this new habit of getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to go to the gym is that I catch up on my news. There is literally nothing else on that early other than infomercials! I NEVER used to get up and watch the news in the morning at home, but now it passes the time on the treadmill pretty quickly!

This morning, I saw a story on MSNBC about a Metformin study that shows a correlation between type II diabetics who have used the drug for five years and an OVER 50% less chance of developing breast cancer. It does not talk about women with PCOS who take the drug, and more studies are being conducted, but it was still encouraging news!

I have read that women with PCOS have in increased risk of developing breast cancer because they typically have higher insulin levels (even if not diabetic) and since high insulin levels promote abnormal cell growth, PCOS patients are at an increased risk for several types of cancer.

The thing I found most interesting about this article is that in addition to the reduced cancer rates, most likely attributed to lower insulin levels, some studies are suggesting that the Metformin actually inhibits tumor growth in patients already diagnosed with breast cancer. A study is being conducted now to see if Metformin helps lower the rate of recurrance of breast cancer after standard treatment in early breast cancer patients.

Personally, knowing all of this information is going to make my Metformin pills a little easier to swallow every day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Powder Room

Today I touched up the paint in the powder room and hung two prints that I had previously hanging in the bathroom at our rental house. When we moved in, this bathroom was pretty much your standard builder half bath. It had a so-so white pedestal sink, an oval mirror with no frame and a cheap looking silver light fixture. And OF COURSE it was painted with the same beige flat paint as the rest of the house.

Since we had to pull out the pedestal sink to install the hardwood floors, we decided to do a little upgrade. We figured we lived in a neighborhood where everyone's half bath looked exactly the same, so why not do something a little different.

Of course, I painted. The kitchen and the powder room are both this grayish green color called Dusty Miller from Home Depot.

I fell in love with this mirror from Lowes. I know it's more of the type of mirror you would put in an entry way, and not a typical bathroom mirror, but I LOVE it in here!

We found this cute vanity at Home Depot. We loved it because it has two drawers (so we can store toilet paper!) but it's still open. We didn't want something with a cabinet, but then a pedestal sink doesn't give any storage options. This was the perfect solution!

These two prints came from Target. I got them almost two years ago (although I still see them in stock when I'm there) to hang in the bathroom at the house we were renting. They look really cute in here and give the bathroom a touch of the coast. Other than the family room, I've been trying to give our house a coastal feel without being overly beachy. The only thing left to do in this room is to find a bath mat to give the floor a little more warmth, and then I'm all done!

Web Cam

I know this probably doesn't deserve it's own post, but today I got the web cam set up on our computer. We've probably had the web cam for a full year now. My Mom keeps asking when we are going to get it set up so that she can "talk" to Andy... so, okay, Mom! Mine is set up... now you have to set yours up! We got my Mom a web cam for her birthday last April and she's been waiting to set hers up until after we got ours set up. ANYWAY... today I also created a Skype account so now, I am ready to go!

The reason I took care of this today is because my (almost) 81 year old grandfather called me on Tuesday and asked "when are you going to get your camera set up so that we can Skype?" Apparently he got a web cam and has been Skyping with other family members. When I gave him my excuse he told me "Well, it only takes 5 minutes to set up, you know!" So, I figured if my grandfather is Skyping, that I'd better get on the ball! Now, I know that my high school age cousin is visiting right now and I'm sure he set up the web cam for my grandfather, but STILL! Sometimes it just cracks me up how technologically "savvy" my grandfather is, and other times it drives me crazy when I'm trying to explain over the phone how to do something in Excel and I have to specify whether to left click or right click... but mostly it just amazes me. When I was visiting for a week in January he was instant messaging with my cousins in Vermont. It was cracking me up how they would use all kinds of "chat" shorthand and lingo and he, of course, would have no clue what things stood for. Overall, though, it just made me happy that he will try any new technology so that he can stay in touch with his grandchildren and I know it will make him and my grandmother happy to talk to and see Andy on the web cam!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Family Room

Well, the family room is PAINTED! and the blinds are hung! Hooray! I have actually had the blinds for several months now. I bought them from JC Penny on clearance for $15 a piece! I didn't want to hang them up, though, until after I had painted. Less of a hassle. So, I'm glad I painted the bedroom before this room, because it made this one feel like a piece of cake! I started it on Saturday night and finished on Sunday afternoon. Our family room is also the play room. It's upstairs, and it's the only room in the house with a TV. We decided to make it kind of fun and make it half New England Patriots (for me) and half Tampa Bay Bucs (for Matt). So, I picked gray for the color, because it was the only overlapping color for both teams (yes, I know the Bucs colors are red, black and pewter... but that was just too dark!) Anyway, I'm really happy with how the color turned out. I also think it looks great with the red roman blinds. I'm going to buy some Bucs fabric and some Patriot's fabric and make curtains... two windows on one wall will be one team, and the two windows on the other wall will be the other team!

Okay, so here is the "Before" (Oh,and I finally figured out how to put pictures in the middle of my post! Ya, I know I'm slow. Those of you who use blogger are going to think I'm an idiot!)

And, here are the "After!"

I moved the toy box against the back wall under the window to make more room for Andy's car mat. Also, since the toy box used to be to the side immediately after you walked through the door, it seemed to collect a lot of clutter. I'm hoping to avoid that by putting it a little more out of the way.

I made some space on the other side of the room for Andy's little table and chair. This is where he colors. I had those additional block mats stored in a closet, so now they are being put to good use!
Eventually I would like to do some kind of toy storage on this wall on either side and paint a big chalkboard square in the middle. Right now, it's just kind of blank. We don't really need any kind of organized toy system yet, but I can see the need for that in the future if we have more than one child!

This is Matt's vintage Bucs lamp. Personally, I think it's really cool and I'm excited to buy a shade for it and have it functional in the room. The only issue I have with it, is that I can NOT find a matching Patriots one! Right now, this sits to the left of the TV. The poor little empty spot on the right side is just screaming for a matching lamp! I found ONE website that sells these. They didn't have any Patriot's ones and the ones they did have were well OVER $200. Sigh. I suppose if I could just find a vintage helmet, I could make my own lamp. That is a definite possibility!

Otherwise, as far as decorations go, Matt had a vintage Bucs pennant, so I bought a "matching" vintage Patriot's pennant off of Ebay for $5 and we are going to frame those and hang them on our respective team's walls. I'll probably also make some pillows for the sofa. I can't even tell you how relieved I am to finally have this done! I told Matt that I honestly feel like I've been painting for 4 years straight. He told me that is because I pretty much have been! Between renovating the two NC houses (including the whole exterior of one of them!), repainting our entire rental house because I was "nesting" when I was pregnant with Andy, and tackling this house one room at a time... I will be soooooooo glad when I'm done here. It is fun though, trying to turn this house into a home, one room at a time!

Learn Your A,B,C,D & E's

May is National Melanoma & Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. I felt like I should do a post about knowing your A,B,C,D & E's... that is Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter and Evolving. These are the things everyone should be checking when looking for changes in their skin. If you notice any moles or spots on your skin that have any of these characteristics, you need to make an appointment with your dermatologist. You can read more information here as well as see pictures.

Last month, one of my resolutions was to make a dermatologist appointment. I had several spots and a few asymmetrical freckles that I wanted to get checked out. I had my appointment on Monday. I was actually expecting everything to be fine. I thought maybe the doctor would tell me to keep an eye on a few spots. What I wasn't expecting, was to have any spots that concerned him so much that they had to be removed. But there were.

I had two spots on my back removed and sent to pathology. I know that the odds are in my favor that these will be benign, but every so often the thought creeps into my head... what if they are not? I'll know in 10 days. Of course I wish the nurse hadn't specifically told me that I'll get a letter in the mail if they are benign, but they will call if not. So, basically, if the phone rings and I can see that it's the doctor's office, I'll completely panic and think I have skin cancer. I would have rather just been pleasantly surprised with a letter in the mail!

I'm definitely more aware now of my sun exposure, and making sure I'm always wearing sunscreen when I'm outside. Of course, I'd like to be nice and tan for my brother's wedding in September, but I might just be getting my first spray tan instead!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Refills & Returns

I'm crossing a few things off my list today... I've called in prescription refills that I've been putting off and finally made some long overdue returns. Let's start with the returns.

Yesterday morning I hauled our one un-opened box of hardwood floors down to Lumber Liquidators. Per my memory, I was pretty sure that we could return any unopened items for a 20% re-stocking fee. So, I put Andy in the stroller (he did NOT want to be confined in his stroller, at ALL), brought my receipt (where the return policy is clearly written ... right in front of where I had to initial it... did I read it? Nope!) into the store and expected to just get a refund! Ha ha ha. The guy took one look at the receipt and said "Ummmm.... you bought these almost a YEAR ago! (June, to be exact!) Our return policy is THIRTY DAYS." Are you kidding?! Thirty days? It took us at least 210 days to finish them! Not working continuously obviously... but you get the point! Uggghhhh! He said he's not even supposed to exchange anything after that long, but I think he felt bad for me. After discussing it with his co-worker for at least 15 minutes... while Andy was saying "Down! Down! Down!" over and over and over and OVER again the WHOLE time... he decided we could do an exchange. And then he handed Andy a Lumber Liquidator's NASCAR truck to play with and said "Now, you can't keep that, Buddy." Uh, huh. So, now I'll be leaving with a screaming child when I take it away, thanks.... Buddy. So, if I was going to exchange, it had to be equal to my refund value. We needed thresholds, but that still left us $75 short. Okay, so, it's a store that literally ONLY sells FLOORS. We already have really nice floors that took us 210 days to put in.... WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO BUY? So, we are now the proud owners of some ridiculously deluxe hardwood floor maintenance kit... that is most likely going STRAIGHT onto Craig's List... because I'll probably never use it! All, in all... success! Because 1) the box of hardwoods is out of the study and 2) We now have our thresholds to install. Yeah. Maybe we will have finished the floor trim before we've lived here a year!

Okay, next up... returned some curtain rings to Target that I bought in DECEMBER... but, diligently kept with the receipt. Yup... had to exchange for store credit since it's been over 90 days. But, honestly, isn't store credit to target and cash the same thing? So, success!

Then on to Publix where I returned a strainer that was 60 days old. Matt had bought it knowing he needed it for a recipe that night, but NOT knowing we already had one. They actually gave me cash for that! Whoo hoo! Definite SUCCESS!

Alright, so... refills... I'll get the easy one out of the way first... I called in the refill for one of our dog's pain medication. In August, she tore her ACL. She is 9 years old, and we opted not to do the ($2,200) surgery. We let her heal on her own, and she did great! She slowly worked up to being able to run again and not need her pain medications. We felt good about our decision because since we knew we weren't going to do the $5,500 surgery, the outcome with and without the $2,200 surgery really weren't very different, so we opted not to put her through the procedure. Well, either way, she had a much higher chance of blowing out her other knee. That's exactly what happened a few weeks ago. So, we started her back on her pain medications and are trying to let her rest more. It's different this time around though, since her "good" knee isn't as strong. I'm a little worried about her, but we're going to give her a few more weeks to see how she does healing. All three of our dogs and our cat are all the same age. I've been dreading them all getting older at the same time because I know it will be very difficult. We've had them all for almost 10 years.

And last, but not least... the dreaded METFORMIN. I posted about re-starting my Metformin last week. Today, I increased to two 500 mg pills per day. I have felt nauseous and tired and had gastrointestinal issues. I have cried (a few times) and been generally annoyed that I'm going to feel sick for a month, but overall, so far, it hasn't been as bad as when I first started on it. Honestly, it hasn't. Yesterday I called my OB/GYN and asked them to call in a prescription for the 750 mg extended release pills. That way, when I am ready next week to step up to 1,500 mg per day, I can take two of those instead of three . I remember feeling much better on the extended release pills last time. I just keep telling myself that this is good practice for what it will feel like during my first trimester while I'm also running after a toddler all day. Keeping the goal in mind helps make it easier!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Hooray! We have started a compost bin! I'm super excited about this. I really wanted to get one started this spring so that next spring when we plant a garden we will have our own compost to use. I also have been feeling really guilty putting fruit and vegetable scraps down the garbage disposal when I know I could be composting them.

Because we have so many other projects we are trying to tackle, we opted to just buy a compost bin from Home Depot instead of making one ourselves. It was $50 and, I think, worth the investment. I need to get a canister to keep on our kitchen counter for food scraps to take out to the compost pile every 1-2 days.

I still need to do some reading up on how to get the most out of our compost. I also want to start reading up on planting a vegetable garden so that next year I can have a well planned garden. Well, that's the goal anyway!

This year we are going to focus on sprucing up the front of our house. We kind of feel like the builder just threw in whatever plants were on clearance when they built our house and we would really like to do something with a little more curb appeal. Some of our neighbors have really nice front yards and porches with hanging plants, etc. We have not put one cent into the front of our house. I'm looking forward to tackling that project sometime soon. The problem is that I don't feel like I have much knowledge of what types of plants to put in. I'm a little overwhelmed by the thought of trying to figure out what will look the best and grow the best in this climate, sun/shade, etc. and how much to water or fertilize... hmmmm... I am going to recruit the help of my future sister-in-law. She's much better at that stuff than I am. I just need to do it while the weather is still nice out here! Pretty soon it will be transitioning to hot, humid and gross! I love the South... most of the year... but summer... I'd rather be at a lake house in Maine!

And p.s. can I just say how much I LOVE my clothes line!! I completely love hanging clothes out to dry and love NOT hearing the dryer running constantly. It's definitely one of my favorite new things off my resolution list... that and my recipe book... I use that ALL the time!

My First Guest Post! (Part Two)

You can check out part two of my guest post about saving money for Rachel's Preparing For Motherhood series over at Frugal & Simple Living. Congratulations to Rachel and her husband John David who welcomed their first baby, Paxton Graham, on Friday!

Rachel blogs about frugal living, cooking, family life and crafting. I'm sure now that Paxton has arrived there will be a lot of blogging about being a first time Mom!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cutest Room In The House

Okay, so... I love our guest room! It's totally and completely my favorite room in the house. I think that one of the reasons I'm struggling with what to do in the master bedroom is because I feel like the master bedroom should be the room I want to relax in the most... not the guest room! (although this set up is good for our guests)

This room was the first room in the house to actually get finished. Part of the reason was that I already had the dressing table, bedside table and mirror. I have also been saving the two closet doors for four and a half years, hoping to one day use them for a head board. They came out of our first house. The one built in 1920. The closets in the bedrooms were rather small... ummm... actually... just short. Kind of strange. Since we turned the house into a rental when we moved a little further South, we made the closets a little bigger and took the mini-doors off. They are still pretty heavy though since they are solid wood.

I rescued the dressing table from a "junk" store and painted it to match the bedside table that we rescued from my in-laws' garage. It's still missing a knob. Someday I will get around to finding a replacement. We think that my husband's grandfather made that table. I bought the candelabra SEVEN years ago at a shop in downtown Charleston... just because I loved it and I just KNEW one day I would have the perfect spot for it. I think it drove my husband nuts to keep moving it from place to place, but now it finally has a home.

The serving tray and luggage rack were hand me downs from my grandparents. My great grandmother needle pointed the straps on the rack. And last, but not least, I had given the framed handkerchief to my other grandmother as a gift, since the embroidered handkerchief had come from her, and I got it back when she passed away.

I think that having so many pieces from different family members just gives the room a sense of nostalgia. That's probably why I like being in there the most. I even have an old sepia tone photo of my grandmother and great grandfather on my grandparents wedding day on the dressing table. I just love everything in there!

So, tonight, I cleaned out the closet! It's TOTALLY cleaned out and empty. My goal with this house is to not store anything for the sake of storing it. (my husband is going to laugh his rear end off when he reads that... but I'm totally serious!) Aside of craft things, or tools, or sports equipment, etc. if it is something that I don't know that we'll ever use, I'm trying to get rid of it. This means there is no reason to keep anything in the guest room closet! I need to put some clothes hangers in there, and I'd like to find a small, distressed dresser that I can fix up and put in there for guests to put folded clothes.
I dispersed the things from the closet and found new homes for everything. Well, for some of the things a "new home" meant getting moved to the other bedroom (ya, there is totally a reason why I started with this closet! ... it's because I'm completely procrastinating starting on the other bedroom. It's not just the closet. It's the whole room. It looks like it exploded.)

Now the guest room is not something I have to think about anymore. It's just sitting there waiting for friends and family to come and visit!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Organizing The Linen Closet

When we moved into our house last July, I spent almost NO time putting things away in the second bathroom. We call it Andy's Bathroom because that is where he takes his bath every night, but it also doubles as our guest bath. I really want it to be a fun, kids bathroom. All that I have done so far to move in that direction is to put up a cute monkey shower curtain and monkey floor mat. My goal is to get it painted a fun green color next month and add a brown bath mat and some pictures on the wall.

Anyway, I've been using the closet in the bathroom as our linen closet. Sheets, towels and wash cloths were just kind of shoved in there haphazardly as well as Andy's bath seat and infant tub. I was able to move the seat and the tub to the empty cabinet under the sink. That freed up some space on the closet floor to store the package of toilet paper that had been sitting in the hall outside of the bathroom for, oh, about a week!

I folded all of the hand towels and wash cloths (we don't have very many) and then rolled the bath towels and beach towels (all two of them ... we might need to get a few more this summer) and stacked them on the shelves.

Now, the sheets. Ummmm.... I'm not sure exactly how we ended up with so many misfit sheets and pillow cases, but that picture above of the pile on the floor is all misfits. Hmmmm.... what to do?! I don't want to donate incomplete sets of sheets to Goodwill, but I'm not quite sure what to do with them. I'm thinking about cutting them into squares and using them to make one (or two!) simple quilt/blankets. I realized the other day that we don't really have a good big blanket to take to the park or sit outside on the grass on, so, that might be a good project. Anyway, the few actual complete sheet sets that we have got folded (not nearly as nicely as my Mom would have done it... I should have tackled this project while she was still here!) and stacked on the shelves.

This was a pretty easy project. I don't know why I put it off for so long because it feels SOOO much better to have that closet all cleared out!

My First Guest Post! (Part One)

You can check out my very first guest post today over at Frugal & Simple Living. Rachel is a really sweet blogger who is due with her first baby tomorrow! She has put together a great series for first time Moms called Preparing For Motherhood. I wrote a guest post for her about ways that new Moms can save money. Since I tend to be a little long winded, she split the post into two parts. Ha ha! You can read part one on her blog today.

Rachel posts about frugal living, cooking, crafting and every day life. I've found lots of yummy recipes on her site as well as some good money saving tips! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back To It!

Well, my Mom is leaving today to head back up North (sniffle, sniffle... actually I know I'll be full on crying as I'm driving away from the airport). I'm sad she's leaving. I wish we lived in the same place. I feel very fortunate that I'll be going up to visit for a whole month in July, so hopefully the time between now and then will just FLY by!

I have been super duper slack at working on my list for the past week while she's been here, with good reason! BUT... I need to get back to it today. I just got home from the gym (at least I was keeping up with that while she was here) and am just sitting down to plan out my day. I am for sure going to get the linen closet cleaned out today, and hopefully at least one other thing on the list.

I'm feeling less anxious and overwhelmed today. My Mom helped me get caught up on laundry yesterday, which was fantastic, and I think that helped a lot. It's just hard trying to form new habits. I'm trying to improve in a lot of different areas, so I know that I'm going to have days where I feel like I'm just not succeeding at anything. I also know that the important thing is that I keep on going. I need to keep working out in the mornings, try to eat healthy, try not to waste too much time on the Internet and get things done, etc.

The other thing that I will be getting back to tonight is my Metformin. I stopped taking it when I had the stomach flu and then I was out of town for a week and a half, and well, since then it's just been REALLY hard to re-start it! It just NEVER seems like a good time to feel sick for four weeks! Ugggghhh! But, I'm going to start it again today. As I'm losing more weight I'm feeling more and more ready to try and get pregnant again. I know that I want to be on the Metformin when I get pregnant so that I can stay on it through the first trimester, but really I'm hoping that I'll somehow be able to get pregnant on the Metformin alone this time and not need the Clomid. We'll see. My doctor told me to try for only three months the second time around before using the Clomid again, but we might stretch that a little if we aren't in any hurry. I do have friends who have PCOS that have gotten pregnant on just the Metformin and on nothing at all the second time around!!! So, I'm hopeful!

I'm also almost done with all these doctor's appointments I've been scheduling! So far I have been to the eye doctor (and got my glasses, much happier!), had my follow up appointment with the breast specialist (everything looks good! Don't need another mammogram for a year! Yeah! You can read my previous post about this here), went to the dentist (have to go back for 2 sealants and go to a periodontist for some recession... bleck!), and I go to the dermatologist on Monday. It has been a lot to knock out in a short period of time, but it feels so much better to be on the path to a healthier me!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back To "Real Life"... (sigh)

For the past two days I have been relaxing in the cutest little beach cottage on Sullivan's Island (just outside of Charleston) with my Mom and Andy, and just generally taking a break from "real life." It was sooooo nice! My old boss and his wife let us use their cottage for free for a night and it was so great to just unwind! We had dinner with family, walked on the beach, read, clipped coupons (yes, this was fun for me!) and just relaxed. I didn't have a computer and it was really nice to just "unplug." So, yes, now I am a few days behind on tackling things on my list for April, but that just means I'll have to try and be a little extra productive this week. It also means that my house is now a mess (again) and I am seriously behind on laundry (again... not that I was ever caught up!) But, really, who cares, because now I have some nice memories from the weekend.

Okay, so this week I really need to focus on trying to find balance between getting things accomplished AND trying to keep my house in some sort of ordered state. I'm failing at that repetitively. It's just hard! I'm getting up really early (as in 5:00 a.m. to be exact) to go to the gym with my neighbor and get my workout in before Matt leaves for work. I always feel GREAT in the morning after doing this, but then I'm exhausted by mid-day and sometimes nap while Andy is napping and then I get nothing done and fall further behind. I'm also not doing a very good job with meal planning. I seem to do well in spurts. I will have one good week where I plan meals, shop strategically and eat healthy and then 2-3 weeks where I am totally the complete OPPOSITE of that. There is no happy medium!

Honestly, sometimes (okay, most of the time) it's easier to just tackle projects from my list than to work on the big areas that I'm trying to focus on (eating, exercising, finances and housekeeping). The problem with doing that is that I keep having the constant nagging feeling like I'm failing at everything and that was the exact reason that I started this blog... to NOT feel like that. (insert deep, cleansing breath) I'm striving to find balance. I'm not failing miserably (like I was) but still failing - at least mildly!

BUT... I am crossing something off the list! On Saturday we hung up a clothesline in the back yard! It was a family project. Andy was very helpful! I'm super excited because I've been wanting one for a little while now. I haven't actually hung anything other than a quilt and a blanket out to dry because we went to the beach the next day, but tomorrow... tomorrow I'll be hanging EVERYTHING out to dry!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Organizing The Counter Tops

Tonight I'm crossing Organize Cook Books off of my list. Just organizing my cook books has led to completely re-arranging my counter tops and making an effort to de-clutter. It's not that the few cook books that I have were in disarray so much as that whole area of the counter was just a mess... constantly! Okay, so, I previously had my cutting boards stored in the silver file holder. This worked great when I also had the trays from Andy's high chair stored there, but now that he sits in a booster seat and eats at the table, the file holder was just a little too big for three cutting boards. So, I took them out and just leaned them up against the wall and used the file holder to hold my cook books! Much better! This definitely made that counter top space a little more tidy.

The other issue I had in that area was that things like fruit, veggies, coffee disks, etc. were just kind of floating around. Nothing had a home. Since the pile of things I decided to keep out of the garage is still sitting in the entryway to our house (sigh) I went "shopping" in there for something to hold fruits and veggies that I want to keep on the counter. I found a cute sea grass basket that was holding a "Spa Kit" that was given to me for my wedding... four and a half YEARS ago. Well, it looks cute on my counter now! Then I moved the coffee maker to the other counter and found a pretty crystal bowl in my hutch (thanks Gramma!) and put it out on the counter top filled with the coffee disks. It looks SO much better not having all of those disk boxes stacked on the counter!

This has freed up a considerable amount of counter top space for food prep. I have been doing a LOT more cooking lately and it's been making me anxious to get my counter tops cleared off! It definitely looks a lot better and a lot neater. The biggest issue I am having now is the top bar part of our counters. It's constantly cluttered. It's like the landing zone for EVERYTHING that enters our house. I can NOT seem to keep it clean, no matter what I do. My husband told me last week that if there is a flat surface in our house it will immediately be covered with stuff! And he's totally right. What I need to do is figure out specific places to put mail, keys, purse, phones, wallet, etc. I don't have anything like that right now. There is no entry table in the hall, or hooks to hang anything on. Part of the reason is not being completely sure what I want to do, and the other is money. Maybe I should start hunting around on Craig's List and at yard sales for some kind of inexpensive entry table or dresser or cabinet that I could fix up and use. Maybe I should try not putting anything on the counter top for a week (or maybe even just a DAY!) and see if I can try to change that habit.

I really, really don't want to be a cluttery person, so I need to figure some kind of system out here!