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Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Christmas X2...

This year for some unexplained reason, I offered to host not one, but two family Christmas celebrations. One for Dh's mom's side of the family (F Family Christmast) and one for my mom, brother and sister (et al.) (aka. LGH Family Christmas) Oh...the grandiose thinking that was going on 6 months ago! UGH!

The first celebration is in T-minus 5 days. And the second on Christmas day (so 12 days.) I am kinda freaking out. Yes, I am a planner, but did I start planning months ago? HELLS NO! Ugh....I really don't know what I was thinking.

However, I have decided upon the menus for these two wonderful celebrations:
F Family Christmas:
(disclaimer: I am not making all this food. I was smart enough to suggest a pot luck and everyone is bringing at least one item. Such a lovely family! ))
Appetizers: Deviled Eggs
Shrimp w/cocktail sauce
A surprise app from Dh's aunt
Nacho Bean Dip
Entree:
Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Sugar Snap Peas
Corn
Broccoli
Sweet Potato Casserole
Macaroni and Cheese
Peppered Cabbage
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls
Desserts:
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Tapioca

LGH Family Christmas: This celebration is actually an overnight thing. I've invited my mom, brother and family and sister and family to come over Christmas Eve, sleep here and we can all open gifts together in the morning. So, breakfast is provided by moi and then we'll eat Christmas Lunch. So here's the plan:

Breakfast:
Breakfast Muffins (or Breakfast mini-quiches)
Cinnamon Rolls
Yogurt, fruit and granola

Lunch:
Turkey & Gravy
Stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Green Beans
Corn
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls
Dessert:
Christmas Cookies
MAYBE a pie of some sort.
This is NOT a pot-luck even though I tried to suggest it...my family is very cheap and won't put forth either effort or money unless required to, so therefore I am footing the entire cost. Oh well...I guess that's family for you. (Watch...no one will offer to clean up either! Anyone want to place a bet?)

All festivities will take place downstairs in our newly renovated basement, and it should be wonderfully cramped and cozy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Family Portraits...

Back in August, hubs and I got some family portraits done! Just to commemorate our 1 year anniversary and our family as it stands now. We chose not to do engagement pictures, and our wedding pictures were less than stellar (thepros.com is NOT someplace I would recommend to anyone...the photos sucked, the dj sucked and made my day less than special! The only thing that ended up the way I planned was my wedding album...which I designed myself by the way!)
Mi familia
We went to Union Canal Park in Lebanon, PA. It's a beautiful area, very green and pretty. They have this beautiful stone canal structure (seen behind us in the picture above.)
Our photographer did a great job collecting candid photos of our "posed locale shots." I can't remember for the life of me what I was laughing at! DH makes me giggle all the time though, it's one of my favorite thigs about him.
My baby boy Panzer

Pretty girl Banya


After the park, we changed outfits, threw the dogs in the car and headed to the Annville, PA train station. It's not a working train station, but has been turned into a museum.



We did catch a train speeding by though!


My handsome honey!


By FAR my favorite picture. Erika did a great job. Check out her fan page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Erika-Epler-Photography/144382865578513?ref=ts
and her shutterfly page: http://eplerphotography.shutterfly.com/








Bridal Shower...

Saturday, September 18, I hosted a bridal shower for my good friend Heather. She's getting married to her fiance (of 2 years, whom she's been dating for 10+ years) on October 2! Eeek, it's only a week away! Heather and her bridesmaids.
Our theme was based on the colors hot pink, black and white with a damask print at center stage, accented by beautiful and happy hot pink Gerbera Daisies. (found online at www.myflowerbuyer.com for less than $1.50 a stem)
As seen above in the plate/napkin/utensil set up on the food table.

Food table
Each bridesmaid was responsible for two dishes; served hors d'oeurves fashion. Lots of dip and veggies and crackers, (including homemade roasted red pepper hummus, crab and spinach dip, baked brie bread bowl, 3 different kinds of onion/garlic dip) stuffed mushrooms, cucumber tea sandwiches, and "texas caviar" (I do not have this recipe but it's super yummy. It's like a cross between a bean salad and salsa...a tad spicy, but full of nutritiousness and yummyness! and no there's no fish eggs in it!)
Gift table
Cake (from rosie's creative cakes out of Lancaster PA)
wine bar set-up

Heather was a beautiful and gracious guest of honor, and seemed very happy by all the effort that went into the party. She received lots of great gifts for her home, and was genuinely pleased by everything. Next up is the bridesmaid's luncheon, the rehearsal and the wedding day!
I too was very pleased by everything and how it turned out. A lot of planning went into it, and I spent way more than I should have but it was perfect and Heather had a great time, so that's all that matters!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Been a busy few weeks...

It's been a crazy few weeks. We got our patio renovated, built stairs for the deck, threw a party, and in between all of that worked, started two new babies at the daycare, started planning a baby shower, continued planning a bridal shower, and tried to grow some grass.

Schedules are overrated ya know? LOL I say that because due to the high-volume of items on my plate over here...the schedule has suffered. Back to the starting line. I'll try this again!

Oh and I bought new bedding and new throw pillows for the master bed from overstock.com :)!!! SO excited to get the bedding in the mail! I plan to use my old duvet cover fabric and sew some more matching throw pillows. A girl can't have too many pillows on her bed can she?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pre-work and Mid-Day Routine, Week 4...

Working from home makes it difficult sometimes to determine when the work day begins and ends. In order to try to create some lineation between the two parts of my day, I created a pre-work routine.
It's also difficult during daycare hours to take a break to work on any household chores. I have contracted with my clients that I will care for their children, not clean my house. It's not like caring for your own children in your house, I don't feel comfortable leaving the daycare kiddos alone to focus on my housework. However, a clean area is vital for the children to play. So, during daycare hours I can clean those things that are specific to the daycare...such as the daycare windows, sweep the daycare floor, wash dishes, tidy the bathroom, etc. It's only during naptime that I have time to branch out and do other household duties. Unfortunately, before I set up my bedtime and morning routines, I rarely had the energy to focus on those chores during the free time at nap.

So this week I focused on my pre-work and mid-day routines. I also added a load of laundry to my morning.
Monday: Morning Routine
Start Laundry

Pre-Work Routine: Sweep daycare floors - it's difficult to sweep around toddling little ones, plus the vacuum can scare some, so I try to do this before they arrive. It does need done daily due to my dogs and their overabundance of hair :)

Mid-Day Routine:
Dry Laundry - fold and put away

Bedtime Routine

Tuesday: Morning Routine
Start laundry

Pre-Work Routine: Sweep daycare floors
Tidy desktoop - nuff said, working from a clean desktop allows for a clear head. Plus, I'm less likely to lose important papers for the kiddos, checks from parents or the invoices and receipts I pass out.

Mid-Day Routine:
Dry Laundry - fold and put away
Dishes
Litterbox scoop - I added this extra task simply because I typically do the dishes...just sometimes not everyday during nap...so I wanted to feel as though I was adding something...and this does need done everyday with two cats.

Bedtime Routine

Wednesday: Morning Routine
Start Laundry

Pre-Work Routine: Sweep floors
Tidy desktop
Check Lesson Plans and change date - check the lessons for circle time with the dckiddos that day, change the date on the calendar board

Mid-Day Routine:
Dry Laundry - fold and put away
Dishes
Litterbox Scoop
Clear Dog Piles in yard -- I do this everyday as well, but usually when we get outside after snack, and I really should do it BEFORE we go outside to play.

Bedtime Routine

Thursday: Morning Routine
Start Laundry

Pre-Work Routine: Sweep floors
Tidy desktop
Check Lesson Plan and change date

Mid-Day Routine:
Dry Laundry - fold and put away
Dishes
Litterbox scoop
Clear dog piles
Do a 15 minute declutter session - take 15 minutes and declutter in a mess nest.

Bedtime Routine

Friday: Morning Routine
Start Laundry

Pre-Work Routine: sweep floors
tidy desktop
check lesson plans and change date

Mid-Day Routine
Dry Laundry - fold and put away
Dishes
Litterbox scoop
Clear dog piles
15 min declutter
Check emails

Bedtime Routine

Saturday:
Morning Routine
Start Laundry
Grocery Shoppig - store and Farmer's Market

Mid-Day Routine:
Dry Laundry - fold and put away
Dishes
Litterbox scoop
Clear dog piles
15 minute declutter
check emails

Bedtime Routine

Sunday: Morning Routine
Church

Mid-Day: WEEKLY HOUSE CLEAN- 1 hour (10 minutes per task)
vacuum
dust
empty trash
wash mirrors and doors
change sheets
purge magazines/catalogs
mop

LESSON PLANNING - 2 hours
Spend time creating games and activities to do with the children during daycare.

Bedtime Routine

Friday, August 20, 2010

Morning Routine Week 3...

In order to make a change, you must first determine what it is that isn't working and what you want to be different.

The next phase of my day to address following the bedtime routine...is the morning routine. Makes sense right?! Sometimes there is a logical pattern to these things, lol!

Week one was devoted to gaining much needed sleep and developing a routine for going to bed on time. Week two was devoted to developing my bedtime routine and creating a habit.

Notes on the bedtime routine: for me it was more about the personal-care aspect rather than the cleaning aspects...but I've been noticing it's easier each night to empty and shine the sink. And those 5 minute mess nest cleanings seem to multiply and what once was a giant mound of paperwork, shoes, towels, etc. are no more than anthills or completely gone! 5 minutes is better than no minutes and little by little I am getting there.

Developing the morning routine was a bit more difficult than the bedtime routine. I do a ton of different things in the morning...and I didn't see at first how to manage adding a task each day that made sense. For the morning routine, it was important that I made sure that whatever I was doing prior to beginning my daycare day would be able to be accomplished between the alarm and the doorbell. I assigned time-frames to each task...not to rush me through, but to allow me enough time to have a relaxed morning, not one full of rushing, stressing and craziness!
Here's what I came up with:

Monday: Shower, dress including shoes, do my hair and make-up.

No-brainer right? Of course, I already shower each day, but now that I have my clothes already picked out, I can dress quickly. Doing my hair and make-up seemed at first to be a bit over the top, cuz really do toddlers really care about what I look like? As long as I'm fun, and play with them...does it matter? It apparently matters to me. I feel different when my hair is 'did' and my 'face is on'. I feel like I'm making a viable contribution to my home because I AM going to work. I mean really, who doesn't like to look good?!

Tuesday: Shower, dress including shoes, do hair and make-up

Spray, Swish and Swipe

Spraying the shower with daily shower cleaner after every use is a good way to keep mildew and soap scum at bay. It only takes a minute while the shower is steamy, not only that but I swish the toilet bowl with a tiny bit of all-purpose cleaner and a toilet brush, then I wipe the counters, sink and mirror with a micro-fiber cloth and bit of all-purpose cleaner. Doing this daily keeps the grime and gunk from even building up! Now, when it's time for a deep clean, it'll take that much less time since half your work is already done!

Wednesday: 20 Minute Movement

Shower, Dress including shoes, Do Hair and face

Spray, Swish and Swipe

With no formal exercise time for me throughout the day, a vigurous refusal to pay for a gym membership, and little time. 20 minutes is all I've got right now to spare for exercise. Yes, I know it's important to exercise for a variety of reasons, but I've never liked it (hate to sweat, ya know!?) However, from what I understand exercise in the morning can really set your day up right, increase your metabolism and help me lose weight. I plan to do yoga videos or borrow a friend's zumba workout videos. Eventually, I hope to add time in the evening to walk the dogs...and between the extra energy of the proper amount of sleep at night, and the added boost from daily exercise in the morning, something tells me it won't be long before the dogs and I are huffing along after dinner.

Thursday: 20 Min Movement

Shower, Dress including shoes, Do Hair and face

Spray, Swish and Swipe

Coffee and breakfast, take vitamin.

My daily breakfast is usually a couple cups of coffee and that's it until my tummy is rumbling too loudly too ignore and then maybe a granola bar. Not a good start to the day. I'm finding now that I'm getting up on time, and actually feeling better sleep-wise I can really tell when I need to eat. I menu-plan every week for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner every day, mostly for the daycare, but why can't I eat what I serve them for breakfast? They are healthy, nutritiously balanced meals and could give me the extra oomph I need in the AM. Plus, now I can serve my hubby a healthy balanced meal to make his military job that much easier and we can eat together...more time with DH...nice!

Friday: 20 Min Movement

Shower, Dress including shoes, Do Hair and face

Spray, Swish and Swipe

Coffee and breakfast, take vitamin

Check Planner

Again Attachment Planning at it's best! Taking this baby with me everywhere, remember? Taking a few minutes in the morning to plan my day, while eating a healthful meal, perfect! Takes no time at all since I check my planner at night...but it does give me a reminder that I need to iron that shirt for dinner tonight with friends, take the hamburger out of the freezer for spaghetti with meat sauce, remind DH that it's trash night, etc.


So, now I've been alarmed, exercised, showered, dressed, shoed, dolled-up, fed, caffeinated, and planned. By the end of the week, I was getting used to doing all of these things. I still have to remind myself. I have sheets of paper outlining my routine for the day in my planner, so when I'm checking my planner, I'm reminded and I can go do the task quickly. I have had moments where I just don't want to...but I try to remind myself, it's about the dishes, or the mess nest, or whatever I'm not wanting to do...it's about the feeling of accomplishment, the pride in a clean home, the ability AND TIME to do other things and share them wholeheartedly with my family.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bedtime Routine Weeks 1-2:

In order to make a change, you must first determine what it is that isn't working and what you want to be different.

First on my list, I wanted more energy. Full Stop. I'm exhausted ALL.THE.TIME. I have no desire to do anything after work...and recently no desire to really do much DURING work. I have never been a morning person, but when you have your first daycare child dropped off at 6:30 most mornings, it doesn't really matter whether you are or not.



"Funny sidenote: I've had an early morning shift job (typically starting at 6am or 6:30am) for the past oh...8-9 years...so you'd think I'd be used to this. But I've begun to notice that working from home makes the transition between work and home that much more difficult. The no-commute is nice, but there's not delineation in your time to tell you it's now work not home time. Even though I have a dedicated daycare space...I'm still home. Food for thought, maybe?



Going to bed at 10pm works for my hubs...he gets up at 6am and then has his breakfast made for him (or would like it so!)while he takes 20 minutes to shower, shave, and dress in his uniform and jet out the door by 6:45am. However, I'm rarely ready to drift asleep, although I'm exhausted, I usually end up pushing it until 10:30 - 11:00PM. I TRY to get up with the alarm at 5:30am...but usually end up sleeping through the alarm until 6am...then I'm rushing MY shower to make sure hubs has breakfast, lunch, and clean clothes to wear. Forget about my clothes...they don't matter...all I do is play all day. Hair doesn't get combed, no make-up, barely enough coffee in me when the doorbell rings for the first drop-off. Can you tell I HATE my mornings?



The first step to a better morning is to create a peaceful night. That includes adding routines to make bedtime a breeze...bedtime routines aren't just for children...we all can benefit from a few habits to calm us down. My first order of change is my bedtime. No more 10:30 - 11:00PM bedtime...it's 9:00PM to bed, and 9:30PM lights out for me, thanks. Hitting the bed at 9:00 gives me time to relax, journal for a few minutes, watch a bit of tv, read an article I've been wanting to read, read a chapter of a book, or get some cuddle time with the hubby. It gives my head time to unwind, and my body time to relax...all good prep for a good night's sleep. 9:30pm to 5:30am is 8 hours sleep. I don't know yet if I need a full 8 hours or less/more, but it's a decent place to start! With a good night's sleep in me, my day can start a little brighter and perhaps a little less grumpily!



The next step on my bedtime routine is the pre-bed activities. I listed out what things I could do at night that would help make my mornings a bit easier. Then I broke it down

into steps before bed. Then I assigned a day to add them to my routine. The first to be added was the task to be completed JUST before climbing into the sack.



Monday: Wash face/brush teeth



While not specifically helpful to my mornings, it feels good to have clean teeth and face before bed. Plus, it helps to keep your oral hygiene in check and you can really ward off wrinkles by washing the day's grit and applying a good facial moisturizer every night! It's relaxing too!

Tuesday: Choosing an outfit for the morning.


Wash Face/Brush Teeth


It might seem silly to pick out a pair of jeans/shorts and a t-shirt every night for the morning, after all I don't work in the corporate world anymore. BUT it is helpful to have a chosen outfit hanging out for putting on in the morning. ESPECIALLY when I get up before hubs, I can just grab the hanger and head for the shower without turning on the lights and waking him up. (good wifey points!!)


Wednesday: Check my planner


Choose an outfit for the morning


Wash Face/Brush Teeth


Attachment planning remember, it's beside my bed. I make note of any appointments I have the next day, phone calls I need to make, I jot down any ideas I have in my head for activities with the dc kids, and errands I may need to run the next day. It helps me choose my clothes appropriately, and allows me to have fewer worries about what tomorrow might bring...hence allowing for a more peaceful nights sleep!


Thursday: Empty and shine the sink.


Check my planner


Choose an outfit for the morning


Wash Face/Brush Teeth


Dinner dishes are done (or not.) Take 10 minutes to put dirties in the dishwasher, put the clean ones away, and wipe down your sink and surrounding area! Spray some Windex in there and rub away! Usually, while I'm at it, I do the surrounding counter space, and the window and sill above too! Why not since I have the Windex out?! It is so nice to go to bed seeing that shining sink and knowing when I wake up it'll be shining up at me!


Friday: 5 minute de-clutter in a mess nest


Empty and shine the sink.


Check my planner


Choose an outfit for the morning


Wash Face/Brush Teeth


A mess nest is an area that seems to grow clutter...where the mail gets tossed, where you clean out your purse and throw the misc items or receipts, where dh comes home and throws his keys, phone and random work items, the nightstands, the coffee table, the kitchen table, junk drawer, etc. etc. 5 minutes a day REALLY will help keep your home calm and clutter-free. I may only be a week in, but I've already noticed a difference in how I look at those piles of bills to be paid or that tangle of grocery receipts. I've caught myself taking them where they belong, before I even PLACE them on the counter, table, etc.


The very last thing I do, before I roll over and go to sleep is tell my husband I love him and something he did that day that made me happy, feel loved, or just helped out! It's important to remember to give loving comments to those special people in your life. Verbally appreciating the things people say and do not only makes them feel important, loved, and appreciated, it's been helpful in reminding me of my blessings and what I already have so much of in my life!


I started this process 3 weeks ago. I did a whole week of going to bed on time, then added one extra task a day... I try to add only one task at a time and only on weekdays. I still follow the routine during the weekends, including the wake and bed times, but I don't add anything new because Saturday is Fun Family Day and Sunday is reserved for Church and Extended Family.


I know I have a whole mess of work ahead of me! And now that I'm rested and feel rejuvenated, I'm ready for it!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Outlook...

This year has been a experiment for me to become better organized, happier and cleaner in my home. I've always been messy. I recently learned HOW to clean...although not very well. Being newly married and wanting to please my hubby and create a safe and clean home for us, my daycare kidlets and any future babes we may have, it's really become vital for me to learn what to do! I've been searching and searching and scheduling and scheduling and while I am better...I'm no where near where I'd love to be.
It's frustrating and slow and unbearably hard to rework almost 28 years of living. That said, I've been trying a new system over the past few weeks and it seems (so far, very far to go!) to be working. Here's from the beginning up until today :)

I've been receiving emails from Flylady.net for about 9-12 months but it seemed too simple to work, and honestly her program didn't cover exactly what I needed it to. However, her philosophy seemed to be what I needed to hear because I kept coming back to it time after time.

So, I took some time about a month ago to read through the website, and see what it is she writes about, reading some of the emailed testimonials, and looking over her routine and detailed cleaning checklists. I read through her "Beginner Baby Steps" but wasn't 100% sure that they would work for me, so I took the concept she was promoting and incorporated some of my own needs and ideas.

First I took a look inside to discover some of my negatives: A lack of motivation, a strong desire to procrastinate, extreme dislike to sweat, and an undeniable aversion to cleaning anything, oh and a hubby who is less than handy and has all of the above issues as well. What this means is that dishes are less likely to get done, unless we do them together, the lawn doesn't get mowed unless we do it together, the laundry NEVER gets put away (it's clean, just in laundry baskets all over the house.) and cleaning the floors...forget about it. My schedule (like most working people) doesn't allow for a lot of cleaning time during the day. PLUS having 4-6 kiddos in the house at one time (that I am responsible for and are not related to me) makes it impossible to leave them and go clean a bathroom, kitchen, vacuum a carpet, etc. So, my available hours for cleaning, prepping, hygiene, sleeping, planning, etc are limited.

I also made it a point to look at some of my positives: I have been working on my spending and shopping habits, namely spending a ton of money on crap or needless items (typically for organizing, lol.) and becoming more able to part with things, so the clutter in our home has been reducing nearly every week with the trash pick up. YAY ME!! And, I have become MUCH better at learning to put things away when I'm done with them. Yeah, I know, I teach kids about it all day long, but after hearing my nagging voice all day, I've learned how to tune her out 'after hours'! I also LOVE to feel organized and have a "plan." This has translated into excessive scheduling in the past, over worked routines, too-detailed checklists, and micro-managing.


What I have decided to do, based on advice from Lara Gallagher at LazyOrganizer.com (in an archived post, I believe from 2007) and FlyLady at FlyLady.net and Molly at My Happy House is this:

1. I have started "attachment planning." Similar to Attachment Parenting it includes co-sleeping, planner-wearing, and spending every possible second with the planner at every moment of every day. I have always tried to carry it with me when I leave the house on errands, but seriously I have been carrying this thing into the bathroom when I shower (not into the shower...that'd be weird! LOL), sitting it on my nightstand at night, taking it outside when we go out for outdoor playtime, to the grocery store, out to dinner, at DH's work picnic, on a Bachelorette party, etc. etc. etc. Do I need it every second of every day, no...but I've been glad to have it on several occasions. Such as when I made plans for dinner on Friday, when I scheduled a follow up nail appointment at the spa (during the Bachelorette party), while shopping so I could write down an idea for something to use in the daycare space (instead of buying it and it not working out, thereby spending money and time I don't have to waste.)
My precious planner.
2. Next, I ripped up, shredded, threw away and disassembled my routines, cleaning checklists, and Home Management Binder! Yes my beautiful book...was taken apart to start over from scratch! I plan to take this 2 1/2" binder:
Old Home Management Binder
will be transformed into this 1" binder:
New Home Management Binder
The only parts that made it into the new book without editing are the miscellaneous section (for menus, township news, trash pick-up schedules, etc.) the contacts section (my address book) and the projects section (since we have so many projects on the near horizon, I need that to stay how it is.)
Areas to be edited and revised are the schedules section, routines section, menu planning section, and the checklists sections. Gone are the school section (school for me) daycare section and the budget section. I don't have pics to show you yet, because it's a work in progress. Each section will be updated slowly and revised and edited as I make routines, changes, and perhaps additions.
3. Also in the works is my routine building. Habits and routines take TIME to build. They can't happen overnight. They can't be hard or (at times) even logical. They have to be what works for you and what is DOABLE for you and your family. Something FlyLady has taught me is that in order for your family (in this case my hubs) to follow along the ordered path you must first lead by example. Case in point: If I want each dish rinsed and placed into the dishwasher right away, rather than wallow in the sink until there's a sink full, then I must show him how to do it by doing it myself. Or: if I want the laundry put away immediately after folding, then I must start by putting it away right away. If I want the shower stall sprayed with cleaner after every shower, I must ask him to do this, place the cleaner in a convenient area and SPRAY it myself after every shower. It takes faith, leadership and determination to keep a clean and happy house, not screaming, blaming and being an overwhelmed, nagging shrew of a wife (<-- Me :-(!!!) (Will post later about how exactly I am doing this :)!) I am journaling every night to allow some room for letting go of negativity, acceptance of the joys I already have in my life, and reflection on my habits, and the budding "new me!"
4.Finally, I've done a lot of soul searching and come to grips with some of my negative habits and character traits hence my confessions post. I've come clean to my hubby about some of the negativity I store inside...such as my abhorrence of cleaning, my jealousy of friends' good things or successes, and my resentment of his lazy attitude and joy in time-wasting activities (video games, mainly.) I've also asked for his help. What a revolution...asking for help. Never realized how much a sincere plea for assistance could be a turning point.
Who woulda thought that a, "Please would you help me do some things around the house?" would result in positive feedback more so than a, "ARGH! DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE ALL YOUR CRAP ALL OVER THE HOUSE FOR ME TO CLEAN UP!!! YOU'RE A GROWN MAN..PUT YOUR SOCKS IN THE HAMPER!" Hmmm....eye-opening.
We've had a moratorium on excessive video game playing (for him) and mind-numbing tv watching (for me). We have 7 tv shows that are recorded on the dvr and these are the ONLY ones we are allowed to watch. He's doing really well on the no video game front...but I'm failing miserably on the tv-watching front. It's hard, man! REALLY hard! That is all up the beginning of September, so this habit MUST be the next one to break.
As I said, so far so good! I'll be updating as I go...What about you? What do you do to allow yourself more free time and a life free of stress and chaos?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Confessions...

Today, I felt the need to confess things I hate about myself...
  1. I hate to clean...not really a revelation, but I hate to clean because I feel it's beneath me.
  2. I am jealous of my brother's girlfriend because she's pregnant.
  3. I'm lazy.
  4. I get angry when people I don't think deserve good things GET good things. (Not related to #2)
  5. I'm very judgemental and don't hide it very well.

My husband is such a good person (Happy Birthday a day late, my handsome hubby) and he truly makes me want to be a better person, but the green monster of jealousy and the ugliness of hatred makes this hard for me to do.

The things I want in life are so special and miraculous and I am starting to believe God won't grant me my deepest wishes unless I can purge some of the hate I carry around in my heart.

Perhaps this is the first step to creating a welcoming and healing heart for myself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Office is Done-zo...well almost...

The office is done! Not decorated, but clean, orderly and functional! YAY!!!

I am so proud of DH and myself! We buckled down (lost our way for a week or so) and got through it all. PLUS we didn't end up with a bunch of stuff just moved to another room. We sorted and filed and shredded and packed and tossed our hearts out!

Way to go honey! And a pat on the back for me too!


Here are the befores...

(The desk area with nothing organized...except the computer!)

(The little corner beside the desk...chock full of papers and papers and papers)
(And the "nerd closet" With random boxes, guns, and other items threwn in or strewn about. Actually, this wasn't half bad. Considering this is almost all of DH's gaming stuff.)
And the afters...(The clean and orderly desk! Only ONE little pile of paperwork to be filed...Dh's of course...my pile is neatly hidden from view!)
(The wierd little corner is wierd no more. Re-purposing an old bookshelf into a dvd shelf and a two drawer filing cabinet back beside the desk...and voila...organized! It took 2 hours to go through Dh's DVD collection to slim it down to fit on this shelf. He had a problem...a big problem! LOL)

(And the new guest bed...well one of two. Eventualy, this will be replaced by a sleeper loveseat, if I can ever find one reasonably priced! Anyone know of anywhere to look? Please let me know!)

So, there you have it...one inside project COMPLETED! YAY for us! How about you, did you finish any new projects lately?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...

Sunday:
Breakfast: Nada...slept in since DH had drill
Dinner: Goose-loaf (ground goose breast mixed with onions, carrots, spinach, eggs and breadcrumbs baked at 350 degrees for 1 hour.) sweet potato fries, broccoli

Monday:
Breakfast: oatmeal w/berries
Dinner: Shrimp Stir-fry (didn't have this last week) w/veggies and rice

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Eggs w/turkey bacon, bananas
Dinner: Grilled Chicken Salad

Wednesday:
Breakfast: French Toast w/peaches
Dinner: Beef Roast w/garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, salad

Thursday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/raisins
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, salad

Friday:
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, apricots
Dinner: Leftovers

Saturday:
Breakfast: light
LUNCH/DINNER: Family Reunion

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chest of Drawers...

Yesterday, I went on a mini-shopping spree. I went to Marshall's and Ross not specifically looking for anything...but ended up walking out with a few things...firstly this dress, for a friend's bridal shower I am hosting in September. I also found a cute stained glass window accent for my MIL and a small basket to work as a hamper for our downstairs bath. Please excuse the crooked picture and the weird trying to take a picture with my phone with only one hand...lol
Then, I hit the Salvation Army Family Store. And I found THIS chest of drawers for... $14.99!!! YES $14.99...there are barely any scratches...only missing ONE knob and in excellent condition. I knew I could take this and tackle this as my first foray into furniture remodeling. I headed to Home Depot and about $35 later, I left with my choice of stain, new brushes, new knobs and pulls, and a drop cloth.

A few coats of stain and a day later...I have THIS:
It's home is in our family room to act as a storage chest. Up close it has some imperfections. I didn't get all the little scratches out and I was a bit impatient with the stain and got a few particles in it and a few bubbles....but I love the imperfections. It adds character and warmth to it. I am not 100% on the pulls...but I think they work for right now!

What do you think? Are you working on any new projects?
Linking up with:
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Friday, July 16, 2010

Office Progress...

Since starting on the basement remodel...we kinda filled our spare bedrooms with a ton of stuff. The upstairs spare bedroom got the mis-placed living room furniture and all of that clutter...and the downstairs office/spare bedroom got the mis-placed basement clutter. This is where we were keeping tools, de-humidifiers, parts, purchases, plus all of DH's video game, computer game, nerd-gamey stuff. Oh and PLUS we had a bed in there and a desk.
We decided to tackle the office as our first room to de-clutterize. Main reasons being, things that were supposed to be done in there...i.e. nerd-gaming, computer-gaming, home management, bill paying, guest staying just couldn't be done. So with this room having so many uses and functions, it was imperative for our home organization and my peace of mind that we get this done. Most of the work is for Dh...since this was his "man-cave" for a long time, it's mostly full of his fun stuff.

We started by moving Dh's old desk out of there, (this is now MY daycare desk/work zone.) the full bed that was there was replaced by a twin, and moving in my office desk from upstairs.

Then our laundry room fiasco (read about it here) happened...and water seeped all the way from the laundry room through to this room. We had to move stuff around, dry it out and re-box all of Dh's nerd-gamey figures/cards.

I forgot to take before "before" pictures, but here are the current pictures of the space. We did move a bunch of junk out and threw away a lot of old papers, debris from remodeling and Dh' started going through his nerd gaming stuff.
This was covered in dust, and drywall dust (from when Dh installed our cable and other such lines with a friend around 7 months ago.) Now, this is a nice representation of some of Dh's favorite mementos...and things that reflect his life. Next is Dh's "nerd closet." To be truthful, I'm a bit miffed this is as full as it is...I feel as though he needs to purge much more than this. But I understand his points...there are THOUSANDS of dollars worth of game pieces in here with books and actual games. Ideally, I'd like a bit more home storage to go in here...a safe for important paperwork and such. I guess I can deal with this for a while longer until we (God willing to have even 1) have a second baby, then all my stuff will need storage in here as well. I think we have too many hobbies and not enough house! :)


This is a box of books, cables, old girlfriend pictures, paperwork and random stuff I packed up when I removed a bookshelf from this room a year ago. We had decided I could have the bookshelf for the daycare, but someone took forever clearing it off...so I did it and this is what happened to all that stuff.
Here's the twin bed with MORE boxes on it. Some are full...others are empty, but God forbid we throw them away...we might need them!!! 2 points to whomever can spot the kitty :p



Notice the U.G.L.Y bright red carpet from Dh's teen years?? He still loves this carpet...I hate it. Blood red...really?
This is all the paperwork from the desk. This is the "hub" of the home and in order to move the desk we had to unload it. We are going through it bit by bit (that's my job, sigh) and shredding old documents and financial records. The little pile of paperwork to the left of the boxes in the foreground is what I've gotten through so far.


And here is the desk of destiny! I love this desk...but it's too big to be in the daycare space but we paid too much for it to just sell it. I think it will do nicely here, and I hope Dh takes care of it...*tear...I do miss it. Most of my things will be upstairs where I am most of the day...so this will be primarily for home bills and Dh's things. So, the decorating and set up of this room is going to wait until: 1) it's clean and orderly. 2) we have some time and money 3) I can find a pull out love seat.
I want to replace the carpet, with Berber or the same as the living area, paint the walls a nice soft color (perhaps with a bit of yellow and a bit of light green), replace the drop ceiling tiles and lights (currently ugly fluorescent) and paint the drop ceiling rails white.
I am hoping to find a love seat to put in here to be the seating AND guest sleeping area. I think it's too small for a sofa...but could hold the desk and a love seat. If you have any tips on where to look, primarily online, since I don't have ample time to actually shop...I'd appreciate it!
I want to remove the shelf (in pic #1) and the cabinets underneath. Perhaps we can put built-ins in the one weird cubby for more storage.
I am really excited to see this done! I've been under the weather the past few days, so I haven't wanted to do our hour in the evening...but I'm proud of our progress and can't wait to see it done!

After pics to come soon...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...

Sunday:
Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, toast, banana, coffee
Snack:N/A
Lunch: FAMILY REUNION
Snack:FAMILY REUNION
Dinner: Turkey sandwiches, chips and salsa, pear

Monday:
Breakfast: oatmeal w/blueberries, milk
Snack: yogurt & fruit
Lunch: sandwiches, carrots, pears, milk
Snack: cheese and crackers, juice
Dinner: Chicken florentine w/pasta, peas, salad

Tuesday:
Breakfast: banana pancakes
Snack: Yogurt & fruit
Lunch: chicken florentine, pasta, peas, oranges, milk
Snack: berry smoothies
Dinner: Pork chops, roasted potatoes, lima beans, salad

Wednesday:
Breakfast: eggs, toast, oranges, milk
Snack: yogurt and fruit
Lunch: pork chops, potatoes, lima beans, peaches, milk
Snack: goldfish and juice
Dinner: Black bean and cheese quesadillas, avacado, salsa, salad

Thursday:
Breakfast: french toast, melon, milk
Snack: yogurt and fruit
Lunch: black bean and cheese quesadillas, avacado, salsa, milk
Snack: hummus and pita, juice
Dinner: Burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli, salad

Friday:
Breakfast: oatmeal and berries, milk
Snack: yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli, melon, milk
Snack: ham and pineapple bites
Dinner: Shrimp and veggie stir-fry w/brown rice, salad

Saturday:
Breakfast: McJenny sandwiches w/egg and turkey bacon, fruit, coffee
Snack: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: OUT
Snack: veggie sticks and dip, water
Dinner: Leftovers

Friday, July 9, 2010

Laundry room fiasco...

Last week, I had a flood in my brand-new laundry room.


It's taken me so long to write about it because I was annoyed for this long. Nothing major happened...I didn't even need to call a plumber.

The drain hose from the washer to the main pipe came loose while the washer was draining...so voila a flood in the laundry room.

Really the ONLY thing that saved us was the fact that there is a rather large dip in the floor (due to an old illegal drain that we covered up when we renovated the room. Now, I almost wish we had kept it! UGH!

Water got into the bathroom, into the water heater/water softener closet, all the way under the stairs and into the office. Luckily...very little got into the new carpet...but I know some soaked up into the drywall (I saw it first hand in the office)...and that worries me because the contractor put the wrong stuff in and talked hubs out of replacing with the right stuff.

Unfortunately, there is a tiny bit of dampness remaining downstairs...not actual wet spots...just damp smell. We have the de-humidifier working full force and I'm trying to keep the windows open and fans going to circulate air.

Any other tips or tricks to ridding a damp smell? Eventually, we know we'll have to replace the carpet in the office (it's bright red, btw) which we planned to do anyway...but I certainly don't want to do it now when I have so many other things to do.

Looking on the bright side; it could have been worse...I guess. And it certainly won't happen again! No, I'm not giving up doing the laundry...although that was a thought. DH zip-tied the hose to the hot water valve...so hopefully it'll stay in place now. **sigh**

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plan of Attack...

You may have noticed my list of house projects from this post is quite long. And there have been several posts regarding the decorating schemes I hope to use for each of the three bedrooms. (See them here: Master Bedroom, Spare Bedroom, Nursery) So ambitious...so unmotivated...so unhappy with my house :(

BTW, the list may or may not have gotten longer in the interim time frame. But ANYway, we were able to cross #s 1-3 off of our list...Fence was installed last August, the Driveway installed and Daycare space updated in September and the Basement renovation was completed in February. (The decorating is still underway...but we're able to live comfortably down there.)

Now, we are attempting to tackle the remaining projects on our list.

The major project being undertaken this summer is the Patios outside and refinishing the deck. However, these both are projects that require a great deal of labor and expanse of time...both of which we currently lack. So, we are looking into working with a contractor friend and a friend who is a professional painter to help us out.

But there are still a number of smaller projects inside the house that need to be addressed. And soon...and by soon I mean IMMEDIATELY. I've been living in "limbo" as I call it for 4 years. I want my home to reflect me and my hubs, not my in-laws, and I'm tired of white walls, no art and basic nothingness.

So, I've managed to talk hubs into alleviating this problem for me.
First, we took all the projects and listed out in a logical order various steps needed to be completed for the project to move forward. Right now it's about 5-10 per project. Once those are completed, we'll evaluate and add more. So, for clearing the clutter in the office, setting it up with our desk, as a spare bedroom and creating Dh's Man/NERD haven we have these steps.
  1. Clear space in the office for desk and clean carpet, walls and ceiling.
  2. Take desk apart, clean and re-assemble in office
  3. Organize filing and house paperwork
  4. Set up Computer
  5. Organize electronics and gaming paraphernalia (Dh is an online gamer)
  6. Sort, purge, organize Dh's Nerd gear outside of closet (we decided his games, cards, paraphernalia must fit inside the room's closet...right now it's all over the room like it exploded!)
  7. Sort, purge, organize Dh's Nerd gear INside of closet

Then, we decided we'd commit to 1 hour each weekday night and 2 hours Saturday and Sunday to complete one to two tasks on our list.

So for the office area, it should only take us about 1 week to complete.

Our plan is to do this in every room of the house, so that we can start re-decorating the house to suit us. But we need to de-clutter to see what we have, what we would like to get rid of and what we need.

So, that's our plan of attack right now. Hopefully I'll be able to post before and after photos as they occur...but don't hold your breath :)!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...

Sunday:
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, toast, oranges
Lunch: Sanwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti w/sausage, salad, garlic toast
Snack: Yogurt & fruit, water

Monday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/apple snitzes, milk
Lunch: Spaghetti w/sausage, mixed veggies, applesauce, milk
Dinner: Chicken burritos, mexican rice, guacamole, corn
Snack: Cottage cheese, peaches, juice

Tuesday:
Breakfast: French toast w/plums, milk
Lunch: Chicken burritos, mexican rice, corn, guacamole, apples, milk
Dinner: Homemade pizza & French Onion soup, salad
Snack: graham crackers, juice

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Cereal w/milk, OJ
Lunch: Pizza, French onion soup, green beans, melon, milk
Dinner: Leftovers
Snack Yogurt & Fruit, juice

Thursday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/raisins, milk
Lunch: Grilled cheese & tomato soup, peas, apples, milk
Dinner: Beef & Broccoli, couscous, salad
Snack: Veggie sticks, dip, juice

Friday:
Breakfast: French toast, w/melon, milk
Lunch: Beef & Broccoli, couscous, peaches, milk
Dinner: Leftovers
Snack: BDAY Cupcakes, juice...one of my precious little DC kidlets turns 2 years old this day :) They grow so quickly!

Saturday:
Breakfast: Breakfast Burritos
Lunch: Mom/Step-dad's ??
Dinner: DCkidlet's Bday party
Snacks: Yogurt & fruit, water

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vacation...


This past week, the hubs and I took a vacation. Nothing too extreme or extravagant. We couldn't go far, DH was needed back at work on Thursday and on call Friday. So, we took a short road trip to Williamsburg, VA to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.

We left early Monday morning (after daybreak of course...we're not ridiculous) and the ride down was pretty uneventful. Of course, you run into rush hour traffic around 8-9 am on Monday morning going around Baltimore and Washington DC...so that's annoying. But it was a beautiful and sunny morning and perfect for a drive.

We arrived at Colonial Williamsburg around 2:30 that afternoon and discovered to our immense pleasure and surprise that active members of the military and a certain number of dependents get in FREE...Yep my favorite four letter word :)! Score. I was planning on just a 10% discount, but free is EVEN better. Just make sure the military member has his/her ID and each dependent has theirs. Technically, to walk around Williamsburg, it's free...but in order to see the houses and take some of the tours...you need a pass...so I think it's worth the $39 adult fee, regardless. (This is for entrance into the Governor's Palace...I don't think it's worth it without seeing this too!)
Go to http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/ for more information. There are also online discounts and ways to plan your visit. We just toured and visited what seemed interesting to us...but there are shows, reenactments, and various other events that go on as well!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take any pictures that day...since my camera had decided to be ridiculous and not work :( Bummer. The day was great. We had a good time and it was really interesting.

We left around 5:15pm and checked into our hotel...PS you CAN stay in the Williamsburg Hotel or one of the guest houses in the town itself, but since we were planning on going to Busch Gardens the next day...I didn't see the point. *shrug* Maybe next time.

We had dinner at the Seafare Restaurant in Williamsburg which was pretty tasty! 1 whole bottle of wine later and we called it a night.

Tuesday, we went to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. http://buschgardens.com/bgw/Purchase/Visitors.aspx
Again, it was free to active military members, with ID and up to 4 dependents. But you do have to sign up for their Hero’s Program...go to http://www.herosalute.com/ for more information.
Lots of things for kiddos to do..but at $51.95 for out of state visitors. ages 3-9 yo...I don’t see the benefit. Regular adult out of state tickets are $61.95; and I guess I can see where you'd get your money’s worth.
This wolf reminded me of my Banya dog...although Banya isn't so scary and scraggly looking :)!
One ride you HAVE to go on (as long as you aren’t afraid of heights) is the “griffen” !! DH made me go on it with him and I have to admit...it was pretty fantastic...shhhh!!! Don’t tell the hubby though!

PS there are passes you can get for all three tourist locales: Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA...It's like $125 and for a week you can jump back and forth between the three places...might be worth looking into for non-military members!

After Busch Gardens...we went to *Uno Chicago Grill* for dinner. Fabulous pizza.
By this time...I missed my puppers way too much and we left the next morning. I had a blast and would recommend this trip to anyone!
After we got home, we played with the pups for a bit...they were so cute...they missed us so much...although their Uncle Tim and Dh's dad did a great job taking care of them for us! Then we went to a matinee movie (The A*Team) and Sushi for dinner.
Thursday Dh had to work...I did NOTHING all day. Literally didn't get out of bed until 11am. *sigh* taking full advantage of being off work...yay!

Friday I did shopping and got a pedicure while Dh had some boy/nerd time and then I made dinner for us and Dh's friend W.
Saturday was more of the same as Thursday...nothing, sleeping in until 10...watched Food Network all day!
Today, my last day of vacation, I have to work. For one, I can't sleep. I've been up since 3:30am, we've got church at 9:30 and I have to do dishes, wash floors, vacuum carpets, and do laundry. Daycare starts bright and early tomorrow morning...I have a feeling 5:30am will come pretty quick! Can't wait. I've missed these kidlets so much! It's crazy how quiet it gets when then all go home and don't come back for a week!

Thanks to the Hampton Inn for a great hotel stay, clean rooms, sheets and towels and a great Continental breakfast! Thanks to the hubs for putting up with me and my neurotic ways...especially on vacay...and to our wonderful family for helping with the mutters so we could get away! :)

1 year ago...

1 year ago today, I became a Mrs.

I married my best friend, my lover and the most amazing man I know. He is kind, caring, generous, patient and the best husband a girl could ask for.


Thank you hubby for being you and for loving me. I can't wait for the next 50 + years and all that life has to offer. LOVE YOU!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pantry overhaul...

So, I'm not the most organized person in the world. I try...really, I try really hard. But, I guess I'm lazy at the heart of it, or don't have the time...yes, that's it. My excuse...I can't put things away properly...because I don't have time! YES!
One area of my house really lacking in organization is this pantry: Pretty HORRID, right? This space is pretty gross...and illogical. You can't tell from the above picture, but the first "shelf" (I think they're more like platforms, IMO) is about 3 feet off the ground and then each platform/shelf is roughly 20 inches above the next, and between 12-20" in depth. Now, keep in mind...I'm 5'3" tall and the back of the furthest shelf is 3 1/2 feet from the front. My arms don't reach that far! It's rather difficult to see everything in this space...let alone reach everything.

I am told these platforms are built this way because the basement staircase is directly below this and the wall behind said platforms actually comes up at a pretty steep angle. Add to that there is an attic access at the top and voila, you have weird platforms. Granted, this is pretty standard for the style and year of our house...but I've just never seen it before.

Although, we have a pretty large kitchen...it really has very minimal cabinet and counter space...making THIS space a "must-use" space for storage. In here must go: small appliances (food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, blender, etc.) Bulk food storage (flour: 3 kinds, honey, sugar, corn meal, baking supplies, whole grains, etc.) The hubs' never ending supply of hot sauce...I counted: 42 bottles...no joke. Various cooking accoutrement...mostly grilling items, oils and vinegar. Vitamins. Tupperware. Paper products (plates, cups, plastic silverware, etc.) Party trays/Beverage dispensers. Extra food bags, Saran wrap and Aluminum Foil.

At one time, this was an organized space...before I lived here and really started cooking. Now it looks like above. Or this scary picture...you wanted a close up, right?

AHHH...scary. Anyway, being on vacation this week and deciding that I just couldn't live like this ANYmore...I cleaned it out as best I could...without buying any new contraptions or shelving systems. Now, it looks like this.
Much better, right? Very organized: everything is in it's place. How long do you think it will stay this way? 1 week...2 weeks...a month? I personally think 2 weeks...give or take a few days. It depends on if I bake anything, I think.
Anyone have any ideas on how to make it better? I am not able to tear out the platforms...hubby's rule and I would rather keep the expense to re-do it low. Like under $100. Any tips, tricks, or products you think might be especially helpful...I'd appreciate your input.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Blog Find...

I recently stumbled across and started following a blog by the name of "Just Organize Yourself" written by mom of three boys, Joy.

I haven't read ALL of her posts but some of the more pertinent ones to my situation and domestic dilemmas. Organization and domestic routines are really simple...or they sound that way. What's difficult is finding what works for you and using it routinely.

Joy makes it very easy to understand how and why she does her habits and routines and how they might be able to be used by someone else.
She suggests a "MOMSpace" and having a household binder among other great ideas for making routines and holding yourself accountable.

I have had my home management binder in place for almost a year...but am now more energized to use it again! I did tweak it, clear out some clutter and add one new section. I now have a "MOMSpace" even though I'm not a mom, but it is MY area to keep track of everything daycare, plan menus, follow our budget and keep track of our projects and daily tasks.

Go check her out! See if her ideas could work for you! http://www.justorganizeyourself.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...


6/7/10

Monday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/banana, milk
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, mixed veggies, pears, milk
Snack: Veggie sticks w/dip, juice
Dinner: Beef w/veggies and potato stew, salad

Tuesday:
Breakfast: French toast w/berries, milk
Lunch: Beef stew, carrots, potatos, oranges, milk
Snack: Rice cake w/pb, juice
Dinner: Pork chops, mac & cheese, peas, salad
Wednesday:
Breakfast: Cereal w/milk, OJ
Lunch: Pork chops w/mac & cheese, peas, berries, milk
Snack: Yogurt & fruit, juice
Dinner: Summer veggie frittata

Thursday:
Breakfast: Waffles w/cantaloupe, milk
Lunch: Summer veggie frittata
Snack: Graham crackers, juice
Dinner: Spaghetti & MBs, bread, salad

Friday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, toast, milk
Lunch: Spaghetti & MBs, mixed veggies, pears, milk
Snack: Cheese & crackers, juice
Dinner: Dinner out with friends

Saturday:
Breakfast: pancakes & sausage, cantaloupe, milk
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Snack: yogurt & fruit, water
Dinner: Grilled fish, rice, veggie, salad

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Root Beer Can Chicken...

Found in Cooking Light Magazine, June 2010
$9.92 for 4 servings

1 1/2 t Hungarian sweet paprika
1 t brown sugar
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t ground red pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t ground allspice
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
2 (12 oz) cans root beer, divided
2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 t cider vinegar
1 (3 1/2-4 lb) whole chicken, skinned

1. Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium
2. Combine first 7 ingredients and 1/2 t salt in a small bowl
3. Open both root beer cans; pour 18 oz. into a small saucepan. Set remaining root beer aside (in the can.) Bring 18 oz. root beer to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 20 minutes.) Remove from heat. Add remaining 1/4 t salt, butter and vinegar, stirring until smooth.
4. Rub paprika mixture evenly over chicken. Holding chicken upright with the cavity facing down, insert reserved opened root beer can into cavity. Plae chicken on unheated side of grill. Spread legs out to form a tripod to support the chicken. Cover and grill for 1hour 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into meaty portion of thigh registers 160 degrees, basting chicken every 20 minutes with sauce. n
5. Lift chicken slightly using tongs; place spatula under can. Carefully, remove chicken and can from grill; placing on a cutting board. Let stand for 10 minutes. Gently lift chicken using tongs or insulated rubber gloves; carefully twist can and remove from cavity. Discard can. Carve chicken. Yield: 4 servings (serving size 1 breast half or 1 leg quarter.)
Calories 371; Fat 15.1 g (sat 6.2, mono 5g, poly 2.4g); Protein 35.6g; Carb 21.4g; Fiber 0.2g; Chol 121 mg; Iron 19 mg;
Sodium 502 mg; Calc 32 mg.

I made this for dinner last night. Paired with steamed Brussel's sprouts, homemade macaroni and cheese and side salad. It really was as simple as the directions stated. Dh really enjoyed it. The magaize calls it a family friendly recipe, but the chili powder and red pepper make it a tad spicy for young children. If you're making this for children under 5 or 6 I'd adjust the seasonings to reduce the heat. Add a bit more onion powder and garlic powder and reduce the chili and red pepper powders. Oh, and make sure to check the temperature before you turn off your grill. I ended up having to put the chicken back onto the grill for about 20 minutes to hit the proper temperature.

Happy eating!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Week 3: Happy House Challenge...



Check in for the Happy House Challenge: Week 2's challenge was to empty your sink. Uh oh...I hate dishes...and even more when I'm tired. I'm lucky dishes make it to the sink. But I gathered my stuff together this week and pulled through with a positive score! YAY me.
Make the Bed: 7/7 AGAIN...go me, and Dh for doing one day for me!
Empty the sink: 5/7. Two nights I just didn't feel like it, so boo for those days...but 71% is still passing in my book.
**bonus task: Wipe down all appliances. Done Wednesday during my RDF! YAY!
This week (week 3) is Clear the clutter. Major trouble spot for me: the kitchen table. Being right off of the hallway and daycare room means lots of things get dumped there for "just a bit" and end up staying for an extended visit. This will be a good one for me!
After all it's all about routine, routine, routine...habit, habit, habit!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's really basic, cleaning, that is...isn't it? Pick up the things that don't belong, find them a home, wipe up dirt and grime and make it a routine.

I think my problem with cleaning is that it N.E.V.E.R. ends. I mean never. There is always laundry. There is always that ONE dish that you missed. There are always one toy not put away. Or JUST when your kitchen floor is it's cleanest and shiniest...the dogs come in with muddy paws...or the kids track in bits of dirt and grass from playing outside. Even if we all lived in our own little bubbles...we'd still have to clean that bubble. I just don't like to clean...it doesn't relax me, it doesn't make me feel good to make things shine, and it doesn't really bring me a sense of satisfaction...because well, the cleaning doesn't ever end.


I'm hoping a bit of a revamp in my cleaning schedule will help motivate me to get going and make cleaning a priority and a routine.

Laundry is still a daily focus. I've now proven to myself that doing a bit at a time, makes laundry less overwhelming and chaotic...and I'm less likely to "forget" that load in the washer for 2 days. I've switched up the days a bit but here's the new outline:

Monday: Darks
Tuesday: Whites
Wednesday: Sheets
Thursday: Towels
Friday: Colors
Saturday: Daycare
Sunday: Curtains (monthly)

I am still insistent that the Room-Daily-Focus is a good idea for me. It gives me specific goals to accomplish every day...and allows me a specific time frame to focus on the task at hand and then move on. I know I don't have to clean in one room for 2 hours, it's 30 minutes tops. When 30 minutes is over....I'm done. This means, for me, there's a light at the end of the tunnel! I've split the RDF into two weeks, because frankly, there's too much to be done in one week...and some rooms just don't need that weekly attention, IMO.

RDF Week 1:
Monday: Living Room
Tuesday: Master Bedroom
Wednesday: Kitchen
Thursday: Laundry & Cats
Friday: Daycare & Nursery
Saturday: Office
Sunday: Monthly Jobs 1, 3, or 5

RDF Week 2:
Monday: Living Room
Tuesday: Master Bedroom
Wednesday: Spare Rooms
Thursday: Laundry & Cats
Friday: Daycare & Nursery
Saturday: Entryway
Sunday: Monthly Jobs 2 or 4

I also wrote down the monthly jobs that need done routinely:
Week 1: Outside windows
Week 2: Garage
Week 3: Deck/Backyard
Week 4: Gutters
Week 5: Oven
These are mostly Dh's responsibility but when he's deployed or "conveniently" on TDY...then I need to incorporate them into my routine.

My Daily cleaning schedule will look something like this:
( I took some pressure off of myself and didn't assign times to the job, simply a certain number of minutes each job should take.)
AM:
LDF - wash (10 min)
Make bed(s) (5 min)
Tidy bedroom (10 min)
After shower spruce (Swish, swipe and spray) (5 min)
empty dishwasher (DW) (5 min)
DC Floors (vacuum/Hoover) (10 min)
LDF - dry (5 min)
after breakfast dishes - DW (10 min)

Mid-Day (DC nap time):
LDF - fold and put away (20 min)
After lunch dishes (DW) (5 min)
Up/Dwn Bathroom (20 min)
-- toilets, shower/bath scrub, sink scrub, wash floors, wipe mirrors/knobs/switches, wash walls, doors, trim
RDF - 30 min
-- dust/wipe down surfaces, wash inside windows, remove clothes/towels/bedding, Hoover/Vacuum, remove trash/wipe inside of can, wipe walls, doors, and trim, wipe knobs and switches
De-clutter (20 min)
Dog Piles (10 min)
Computer time (60 min)

PM:
After snack dishes (DW) (5 min)
After dinner dishes (DW & wash, dry, away) 15 min
Run DW (2 min)
Quick kitchen clean-up (15 min)
-- counters, empty/shine sink, stove top, appliance fronts, broom sweep/swiffer floor
Make coffee (5 min)
Lunch/Snack prep (10 min)
Walk Dogs (45-60 min)
Family Project (60 min)

Now, my duty is to get cleaning and USE the time I have wisely. Sitting on my butt, being a couch-potato is no longer acceptable!

Let's see if I can make it happen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wrap-It-Up-Wednesday...

Time for the second installment of my "Wrap it up Wednesday" plan! There's also a Check-in reminder AND a schedule change announcement.

Last week, if you'll recall, my plan was to remove the cypress and take it and some other things to the recycling center, and plant my hydrangea. I got my hydrangea planted. That's all from the plan. I'd say that's a half-pass.

Well, I'm determined to do better. Even if I don't follow through on anything the rest of the week...I want one night devoted to crossing things off of my list!

So, this week, with Dh on board, we are taking a tarp and a Jeep full of lawn waste, including the cypress to the recylcing center, picking up a new recycling bin (we need a bigger one) and a compost tumbler. I live in such an awesome township...even if the give me crap on my daycare and make me pay outrageous taxes...at least I see the effort back!

Plus, add to that is removing the carpet in the entry/breezeway and clearing all the clutter and dirt. That means, removing a dining chair that needs a new rung, boxes of books, random liquer and food items, and some yard ornaments.

Let's hope we can pull through!

Oh, and just a reminder: tomorrow is check in for the Happy House Challenge over at My Happy House! This week, I'm doing better than expected. I have trouble with dishes...considering I HATE them with a passion. Not just dislike...but HATE doing dishes...like I can't even stand unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher. I don't know why...I like clean dishes and the look of a clean sink and kitchen...I just can't make myself wash the dishes.
That said, this week so far since last thursday, I have had an empty sink 4/6 nights (this is not including the nights Dh has gotten up for a late/midnight snack and left his dirties in the sink when he was done...I count it as empty when I go to bed.) I still have to give my appliances a bath. The kitchen is my RDF for Thursday, so their bath will have to wait until lunch/nap time on tomorrow. Hopefully, Molly doesn't check in early! :)!!

Now for my schedule change reminder. Along the left hand column of my blog, you will find my daily and weekly cleaning lists: my LDF (Laundry Daily Focus) and my RDF (Room Daily Focus.) I still like the aspect of having one/two rooms to focus on and ONE type of laundry to run...usually meaning 1 to 2 (at the most) loads to wash, dry and fold. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up with my end of the bargain...and have decided to revamp the schedule a bit. I haven't exactly determined how, and what it will all entail...just stay tuned.

Hope your hump day is fabulouso!

Building our Savings...Post 1

Post one of the Building our Savings collection.

1 year ago (in three weeks) DH and I paid for a wedding. Our wonderful, delightful, exciting wedding. 95% of the cost of the wedding and honeymoon came from our joint savings account. Truth be told, most of it was from Dh's deployment in the early part of the year.

Then 6 months ago we started on a grand home remodel...creating double the amount of living space for ourselves, a second bathroom and a new laundry room, plus a wonderful new daycare space for the kidlets. These two endeavors wiped out most of our savings. At the last payment of the basement remodel we had a whopping $1000 in our savings. Keep in mind, we have plenty to live on...between my and Dh's incomes we have enough for our day to day expenses, our house and car debt and dc expenses. Then DH bought a new car in February...this means even less to go into our savings, and we just have kept right on spending. (don't get me wrong...DH needed a new car, his old trusty red Jeep was on her last legs, about to give out any minute. But she didn't have a car payment.) We got new draperies and hardware for the windows in the master, fabric and mulch for landscaping and many many plants for said landscaping. Clothes, shoes, toys, video games and trinkets top that list as well.

Now, I've paid off my credit card debt and am working on some late tax payments...a situation I should have rectified years ago, but was working under the misconception that ignoring it would make it go away...I have since learned my lesson and won't make that mistake again!


This summer we have a few big projects coming up that we MUST find inexpensive or DIY options for so we don't blow our budget.

First and foremost is our Patio projects. These SHOULD be relatively easy to complete, but we have absolutely no tools to use in completing these two items. Plus, with little to no help from DH's "best" friends (who really dislike doing anything that doesn't directly benefit them) and no prior experience with laying paver patios, Dh wants to hire someone to do the work. Unfortunately that is an expensive option...since most of the expense lies in the labor. I vote on doing it ourselves, but have learned that if that is the case, our lovely and needed patios will most likely not happen.

Next is the redecoration of the house. We were pretty lucky in the home department. The house we live in was Dh's Step-dad and Mother's house before they built their big one. They "rented" it to DH for years before officially selling it to him. This helped to create a large nest egg of equity that they took off the top of the sale price when he bought it. This means he paid much less than he would have buying it outright or from someone else, and we get more house for our money than we could otherwise possibly afford. That said, before MIL and SFIL moved, they decorated the house in their style and tastes and Dh being a single bachelor and frequent deployer never really made it into a home. When I moved in 5 yrs ago, I did so under the assumption that it was Dh's house and I never really did much either. However, once we were married, I had a complete thought reversal. Now, though, since we haven't really put much effort into decorating our home to reflect us and the destruction of two large and very energetic and active doggies we have much to do.
I've written posts regarding my designs for the three upstairs rooms: Master, Spare and Nursery. Also on the redecoration list is the upstairs bathroom, the office, the kitchen, the bar downstairs, and the daycare room. But, first among the house rooms to do are the breezeway (which will then be the formal entry to the house/mudroom/dog area) and the garage. Technically these are outside, but they are required to be completed to make the most logical completion of the others.

So, this year, we are most likely going to spend more than we save, but our plan is at least 10% of every paycheck (two weeks of my dc tuition fees - after taxes and expenses because Dh gets paid every two weeks) must go to joint savings. (15% of my daycare income automatically goes towards taxes and dc expenses.) This should help to build our savings even while we continually dip into the pot for fixing up our home.