Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Done with Stuff

My family has too much stuff.  I'm done storing it.  I'm done cleaning it.  I'm done letting it stress me out.

It's  been almost 6 months since we moved into this house.  And half of our garage is filled with boxes that still need to be unpacked.  Only half because I made room to squeeze my car in a few months ago.  (Side note: did you know that you can put a car in a garage?  Well, my car has never lived in a garage before.  We feel very special, my car and I).

Most mornings, by the time I get home from dropping the kids off at school, Chloe is napping in her carseat.  So I've been taking advantage of that {short} time and going through a few boxes at a time.  Trash, give away, or put away.  Really, it only takes about 10 minutes max to get through a box.  I'm really seeing a difference.  (Oh my goodness, maybe one day we will be able to get 2 cars in the garage!!! Okay, slow down, Rebecca, don't get ahead of yourself.)

So anyway, this morning I got to a couple of boxes labeled photos and books.  Why am I storing photos in the garage?  I came across a great article a few months back from Orgjunkie.com on organizing photos - I'm going to give her method a shot. 

And the books?  I love my books.  But I'm lucky to have time to sit and read a book one time.  I think I'm keeping them for someday when I have unlimited time to read.  Well, that isn't happening anytime soon.  So, I will keep some of them, but most of them are going away. 

I know getting organized is not an overnight process.  (Although maybe with enough coffee it could be?)
And I'm nowhere near ready to live a minimalist life.  But I've let our STUFF take over our lives, and I've had enough.  My goal is to stop storing our stuff.  Garage stuff will live in the garage.  Tools, holiday decorations, sports & camping equipment...and a car (or two!)

Wish me luck!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Silhouette SD Giveaway

I came across a really cool giveaway on my RSS feed today...check it out!

Silhouette SD Giveaway from Decorchick!

 This is such a cool machine for crafty people, and aspiring crafty people like me.  

Check out Decorchick's post about some of the awesome things you can do with it.  Post a comment on her blog for a chance to win - and read her instructions for more chances to win.  

Laura from I'm an Organizing Junkie is also giving away a Silhouette SD.  

So - plenty of chances to win this uber cool machine.  Good luck!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday - Gratitude

Today I am SO thankful for good friends - reliable friends - that I'm able to call in a pinch.

Tonight is a RARE night that the hubby and I were going to leave the kiddos with a sitter and go to a concert.  We don't go out. Without kids.  Like, ever.  So I've really been looking forward to tonight.

Well, because of a miscommunication with the sitter {okay, it was me not confirming times with her} she thought that I wasn't going to need her, and made other plans.  Dangit!  Since locking the kids in their rooms with a snack wasn't really an option that was going to work for us (well, the baby certainly wouldn't go for that!) I was almost resigned to the possibility that I would have to stay home, and send hubby out with someone else.  Either that, or I could just call John Tesh and see if he could reschedule the concert...wait, that probably wouldn't work either.  :)

I have some really great friends, but most of them also have school-aged kids, and it would be hard to ask them to come over and babysit for 4 hours on a school-night.  But then I remembered that I do have 1 kidless friend, who has helped me out in so many ways just in the last week alone.  She comes over and just starts washing dishes, straightening up, offers to vacuum, ran errands for me...seriously, this is a great girl!  5 minutes and 3 texts later, she's confirmed to come over tonight, help the kids with homework and stay til 10 - or whenever.  10 o'clock! As in PM.  Oh, my goodness, we're going to be out past our bedtime!

So, I have a date tonight.  With the most amazing man I know. {Isn't it a great thing that I'm still excited about dating my husband after 12 years?!) 

And I am so grateful to Tracy for making it happen.

P.S.  I am also extremely thankful that Chloe slept ALL NIGHT.  Let me tell you, in case you were not aware, that a full night's sleep makes a HUGE difference in my attitude.  Uninterrupted sleep = happy mom, and happy mom = happy family.  Much better all around.  Take note, Chloe, my dear.

What's For Dinner Tonight

So the hubby and I are going to a concert tonight, and the kidlets are staying home with a sitter.  I wanted to make something early in the day and just have it in the oven when we leave. 

This morning's post from The Pioneer Woman was this yummy-looking Sour Cream Noodle Bake.  Just what I'm looking for!  Easy, just a few ingredients.  Looks yummmmmmy. 

So, we're going to try it.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Hot Spot #2 - Paper Clutter

After last week's de-clutter project of my Master Closet, I've been anxiously awaiting "Hot Spot #2" from Simple Mom.  (Part of the Project: Simplify challenge).  Last week, getting started was the hardest part, and now that it's done I am so HAPPY to go into my closet.  And it's been 4 days and it's still clean & organized!!

So, this week's challenge is Paper Clutter.  And BOY do I have paper clutter!!

And I'm not even going to try to make excuses, I'm just going to get in there and DO IT!  And I'm EXCITED about it!

Here is a before pic of my desk:

Well, that's just one of the desks.  We have 2 desks, plus 2 for each of the (school-aged) kids.  I actually have bags and bags of papers that I've shoved away when I have company over.  Terrible habit.   

Stay tuned for more pictures.  It really is bad.  Okay, here I go...


Smiling all the way!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Well here it is, Thursday again, time to count my blessings.

Today I'm thankful that I made the commitment to do this every Thursday.  Because today is one of those days that it's hard to see past the problems.  I'm tired.  I have bills to pay.  I have work to do.  I'm frustrated.  I'm worried. 

But I am thankful today.

My house is messy, but I'm thankful that I have a house to clean.

My kitchen is a mess from this morning's rush to get out the door, but I'm thankful that I have food to prepare meals with.

I'm thankful that I was able to stay up late last night to finish helping my son with a school project, and spend the rest of the night on the couch with the baby.  (Darn teeth need to COME IN already!! That will make me REALLY thankful!)

I was able to take care of my family last night, and not have to worry about going to a "job" today.

Because my husband is a good provider and that allows me to stay home.

Because even when we don't know how everything is going to work out, God always does.  I have learned to not worry (most of the time that's easier said than done).

"Let Go and Let God"

When I feel that worry holding me down, I realize that I just need to let it go.  Because when I do, when I truly let go of the worry, everything turns out okay.  It always works out.  I have spent so much time worrying about things that I truly have no control over.

What a difference it makes in my own attitude to sit for a few minutes to intentionally reflect on the good things in my life.  My family, my friends, my health.

I'm ending this blog feeling so much better and so much more prepared to handle the rest of the day.

Now, on to happily pay bills, clean the house, cook & bake.


PS - I'm also thankful for the red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting that I baked last night.  Because that means I get to have cupcakes for lunch.  THAT makes me VERY happy

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Project Simplify - My Closet (Update)

Good morning!
On Monday, I posted about my reluctance to clean out my closet.  But once I got started, I really got into it.  I was ruthless!

Here is my stuff to get rid of:
The black trash bag and Spongebob bag are getting dropped off at Goodwill today. 
Brown bag labeled Trash: self-explanatory, I hope
Victoria's Secret bag - 6 shirts from my old employer.  I'm giving them to my friend who still works there.
Brown bags in the back - 1 is maternity clothes and the other I'm going to take to a consignment shop.

And here are my results:






The shelves are organized by size, since I'm still losing baby weight.  The bottom shelf is what I can wear now, the middle shelf is the next size down, and the top shelf is my goal.  I did thin these clothes out to get rid of things that I knew I didn't love and that never really looked right on me at any weight/size.  When I reach my goal weights, I will have to go through these again to try on and re-evaluate fit and style.  But at least I know not to even try the clothes on the upper shelves or else I will just get frustrated.  same with the tops hanging below - those are all my "Mediums" which I really can't wear yet, either. The maternity clothes will stay there for now, until I find someone to give them to.  (Pretty sure I won't need them again, although that's what I said after the second baby).

Drawer - Before

Drawer - After

I got rid of enough shirts that I now have an empty drawer.  Now the challenge will be to NOT fill it back up! 

I learned a few things along the way:

1. I tend to buy things on sale, even if they don't look great on me.  I will NOT be doing that anymore.  If I don't love it, I won't buy it.

2. I hang onto clothes for way too long.  I had shirts with holes, stains, seams coming apart...things from 12 years ago.  I don't wear them, but for some reason I have a hard time letting go of "things" - especially my clothes.  I will be working on that.  

3.  I'm so much more motivated to lose weight now, because I want to hurry and fit into my cute smaller clothes.  I now have a visual of exactly I can wear, hopefully within a few months! 

4.  A clean, organized closet is so much calmer than a chaotic one.  It's only been 1 day since I've organized, but I feel so much better knowing that I can just walk in and throw anything on.  

Looking forward to next week's hot spot!  In the meantime, maybe I will do the kids' closets...


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homemade Baby Food - Sweet Potatoes

This morning I am making some baby food for Chloe.  Sweet Potatoes are her favorite right now, with peas a close second. 

How To Make Your Own Baby Food

Normally I will have a lot of produce ready to make and take a couple of hours and make it all at one time.  But, I've been sick and I'm just not all that organized this week.  I just realized this morning that I had some sweet potatoes that I bought Sunday and I don't want to let them sit much longer before I use them. 

Wash & Peel the sweet potatoes
(Now I would love to put those peels in my compost. But I don't have a compost. That's a project for another time.)

Cut the sweet potatoes into pieces, put in a pot, cover with water.
Boil for about 5 minutes.  You don't want to over-cook and lose all the nutrients from the vegetables, just cook them until they are soft enough to puree.

When the potatoes can be easily smooshed (yes, that's the technical term for it), remove pot from heat

Spoon the sweet potatoes into a food processor.  (If you have a really good blender, I've heard that works too. My blender was $20 at Target.  It does not work for baby food). Save the water in the pot.
 Add a few spoonfuls of the water that the sweet potatoes were cooked in to the food processor. 

Blend. Mix. Puree.  Whatever it is that your machine does, do it.  My KitchenAid Food Processor only has 3 options - on, pulse, and off.  Keep mixing until the food is smooth enough for your baby to eat.  As babies get older, you can have a little more texture in the food to get baby used to chewing.  

Ta-Daaaa!  Pure, fresh, nothing added, BABY FOOD.

To Store 
I put some of the food into ice cube trays to freeze, and pop the cubes into a Ziplock Freezer Bag when frozen.  To use, put 2 or 3 cubes in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds.  Stir and continue heating just until defrosted - do not feed HOT food to your baby.
I also fill several various to-go containers so that I can grab them on my way out the door.  I save the baby food containers that I do buy (rarely!) just for this reason.  Note: The lids on the little plastic Gerber cups do not seal, so be careful not to just throw them into a bag the way you would if you bought it from the store.  That will be messy.  Not that I've ever done that.  ;)

My favorite: (On the Left) I bought those colorful take-along cups at Babies R Us for just a few dollars, and they DO seal, and are just the right serving size for the baby right now.  I can also use these to put some dry rice cereal in and take with me, and just add water to the cereal when the baby's ready for it. 

Price Comparison
When Chloe first started eating "real" food, I had just started paying attention to the cost of every single thing that I bought.  So I decided to do the math on how much baby food costs compared to fresh fruit & veggies. 

The least expensive baby food in our Vons was Gerber. 
Gerber 1st Foods - Package of 2 - 2.5 oz  for $0.90
$0.18 per oz = $2.88 per pound

Gerber 2nd Foods - Package of 2 - 3.5 oz for $1.00
$0.14 pper oz = $2.24 per pound

Fresh produce - varies, but I always manage to find sales for around $1 per pound, up to $2 per pound.  Peas I get frozen, and I just make sure that I get the kind with "No Salt Added."  When looking at the ingredients, it should only say Peas.  (I made the mistake of buying a big bag once because it was cheaper per ounce, but got it home and realized it had added salt. I did not use that for baby food).

I have only bought one package of baby food in the last month.  I'm saving money, and even though isn't a huge amount, a few cents here & there do add up.

I'm saving a lot of little plastic containers from going to a landfill.

I know exactly where my baby's food is coming from and what is going into it. 

I'm feeding my baby fresh food.  Not processed.  Have you noticed that baby food doesn't expire for a LONG time?  Ew.

I will even eat it.  Well, not for a meal.  But I've never once tried baby food from a jar - it looks and smells disgusting to me.  But the food that I make - that's another story.  It looks yummy.  Bright colors, smells like the vegetables are actually supposed to smell.  And it tastes good.  I figure if I won't eat something that I'm trying to feed my baby, that's a problem.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Project Simplify - Hot Spot #1 - My Closet

So I thought that I was excited to organize my house.  In my head, I can see the finished product and it's fabulous.  "A place for everything and everything in its place."  And getting there was going to be a piece of cake.  Right?  Right!

Then, along comes "Project: Simplify" from Simple Mom - what better way to get started than to follow along with another blogger's challenge, right? Work right alongside others who are in the same unorganized boat that I'm in! Right? Right!

Oh, but then Ms. Simple Mom has to start off with our own closets.  Um, no! Hello...still losing baby weight, still breastfeeding - not MY closet, I'm not ready! And there I was, making up excuses as to why I couldn't possibly play along.  And I was so justified.  Before I even got halfway through her instructions, my mind was made up - I was excused from this exercise.

O. K. FINE.  (Dragging feet, rolling eyes - my son's attitude has rubbed off a little on me).
I'll just take a peek in my closet.
Maybe I can do this.

And just like that, it came to me...Yes I Can!

And now I'm once again excited about organizing.  I realize that I will have a shelf (or 2) of clothes that I can't fit into yet.  But I realized several things will happen by the end of this task:

1.  I will have gotten rid of clothes that I don't like and that have never looked good on me, no matter what size I am.
2.  I will have a section of clothes that I KNOW I can wear NOW, so that on a rushed morning I can just grab something and go - no need to try on, get frustrated, and be irritated with myself
3.  I will finally get rid of my maternity clothes.  It's embarassing, and I can't believe I'm admitting it here, but sometimes I still wear some of my maternity t-shirts.  I mean, they're so comfy, and so easy to nurse in.  And I never intend to leave the house in them, but something almost always comes up, and there I am, in public, in my maternity clothes, with my 7 month old.  Yes, time to end that nonsense.

BEFORE PICTURES (Stay tuned for the after pics)

Misc. shirt drawer  - quick, find the white tank. No, not that one.  And not that one either.  No, that one fits funny...

The shelf in my closet that holds things that I try on, don't fit, and then get tossed up there in frustration. That's productive, I know.
Can you spot any specific piece of clothing?  Me neither. (This is another - try it on, can't wear it, toss it up there place to store clothes. I obviously don't fold the pieces that frustrate me.  Shoved in a heap on a shelf is a much better solution).
Full view of my closet.  I'm lucky, it's big.  But, that's no excuse to keep clothes that don't work for me. Oh, and the boxes of stuff that I still haven't gone through since we moved in October - those should probably go.

Okay, ready...set...here I go!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thank You - My Husband

I owe my husband a million thanks.  I am so grateful for him every single day, but life gets so busy that I don't often remember to stop and tell him how much he means to me and how much I appreciate what a great man he is.

James and I began dating almost 12 years ago.  We have had really good times, some bad times, and have grown stronger together through it all.  He is my best friend, my better half, and I'm so glad that he is my partner in life.  He understands me, and loves me anyway.  He supports my crazy ideas and keeps me accountable to follow through with what I start.

He is an amazing father to our 3 kids.

(and we make some pretty darn cute kids).

He is the hardest worker I know, doing whatever it takes to make sure that I get to stay home with the baby.

He makes me want to be a better woman.

He makes me laugh, and I love it when I can return the favor.

He makes me feel like the most beautiful woman on Earth.

He is my shoulder to cry on, my hand to hold, and my ear when I need to talk.

James, my love, I wouldn't want to be on this journey through life without you.  You make all my days brighter and I love you so very, very much.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Frugal Tip of the Day

I'm lucky to have hair that can go curly or straight.  But I always go with straight. Which means product.  And a blow dryer.  And a hair straightener.  For the last few weeks, my poor hair did not know what to do with this strange weather.  It was full of static, and I couldn't get it to do what I wanted it to no matter how hard I tried.  So I decided to go curly.  And I've gotten so many compliments, I think I'll keep it this way for a while.  I can hear my hair thanking me for taking a break from all the damage I've been causing to it all this time. It's not nearly as needy and I'm able to use whatever shampoo or conditioner I happen to find around here.

So here's where my Frugal Tip comes in. 
I ran out of conditioner a few days ago.  My daughter is now washing her own hair, and she likes to use my shower, so she helps herself to whatever she finds in there.  Fun surprise for me, I thought I just bought this bottle!  Anyway, since I was desperate and needed to use something, and I knew there was still a little bit in the bottle that was just being stubborn, I added some water and shook it up.  It was just a thinner version of my conditioner, and it just so happens that my hair loved it!  So I bought a new bottle of conditioner, squeezed some of it into the old bottle, added water and used it again today.  So far so good.  On the one hand I feel super cheap, because I only spend about $4 on my conditioner anyway, but hey, if I can stretch it this way, then fine.  And now maybe I won't get so irritated when my daughter uses so much. 

Frugally yours,



My New Favorite Book

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story

I only started reading the Pioneer Woman blog recently, but I absolutely love it.  All of it.  The recipes, the photos, just every single post.  When I mentioned it to my mom (she's been reading her blog for quite some time) she decided to get me the book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels for my birthday.  Well it came in the mail 2 days ago from Amazon.com, on a day that I just felt like death thanks to this lovely sinus/cough/headache bug that I picked up.  Anywho...I was SO excited that as soon as I opened the package, I plopped myself in bed and read the whole thing cover to cover.  (Hey, I was sick, so it's not like I was actually going to get anything accomplished anyway).

I loved it.  It's the most real love story that I think I've ever read.  Have I mentioned that I LOVED the book?  It made me think of my own love story...it's practically the same, oh, except for the part where my husband is so not a cowboy and won't go within 50 yards of a horse.  Ha ha.  Seriously, it really made me reminisce about falling in love with my husband and how far we've come in the last 12 years.

If you haven't read this book yet, DO IT. You will be so glad you did.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Motherhood has Taught Me

My Angels

Of course I was a perfect mother with my first 2 kids. Well, maybe not perfect, but I did the absolute best I could, and my kids are turning out alright.

Life is full of lessons, though.  I sat down to reflect on how different motherhood is for me now, almost 13 years since I had my son.  Here are the gems that I've learned along the way.

1.  Go with the Flow & Don't Worry About a Schedule.
I am so SO much more laid back now than ever before in my life.  I let the baby sleep when she needs to sleep, eat when she needs to eat, and I do what I need to do around her timing.  Yes, sometimes this means that I don't get to shower until noon.  But I'm blessed that I don't work outside the home, so this really doesn't affect anyone else.  You would think this would make it harder to leave the house or make plans that involve anyone else.  It's not harder, it just requires a little bit of planning.  I keep a few changes of clothes and diapers in the car, and since I'm still breastfeeding, I carry her meals with me.  Since she is also eating actual baby food now, I do try to keep some prepared & ready to grab if I have to rush out the door (this part was a little harder since I make my own baby food, but with a supply of plastic to-go bowls and spoons, it's really no big deal).

2.  DON'T Keep the House Quiet at Naptime
With my first son, he got used to sleeping when it was quiet, because he was the only child. And when he slept, I slept.  When our daughter was born 7 years later , I made sure that everyone knew when she was asleep, and better not make a peep, OR ELSE!  That all went out the window with baby #3.  I noticed while we were still in the hospital that as long as she was wrapped up tight, she didn't mind laying in her bassinet and would fall asleep on her own after taking a look around the room.  The noise from the constant flow of nurses and visitors didn't bother her at all.  When we got home, I realized that as long as she was fed, had a clean diaper, and wrapped up tight, she was good to go.  She'd fall asleep and the rest of the family would go about their business.  And music calmed her, too - something loud with a good strong beat.

3.  It's OK to Let Them Fuss a Little
Picking up your baby every time they make a peep will only lead to a very clingy baby.  Now, please understand, I'm not talking full on crying or screaming.  I know it's just a natural instinct to pick up a fussy baby to soothe her...but now that I have 3 kids to care for, dinner to cook, house to clean, and homework to help with, sometimes I just can't get to the baby when she thinks that I should.  So, she sits in her high chair and waits.  She complains, but she waits.  I don't see anything wrong with this.  I'm certainly not neglecting her.  Very rarely does she get to an actual cry. Of course if she does then I will drop everything to make sure that she is alright.

4.  Nevermind the Latest & Greatest
For your first child, it's really nice to get brand new stuff.  It's all pretty, and new, and before you know it your house is filled to the brim with baby swings, seats, cribs, changing tables, and a million other things that you never knew that you needed.  But new baby equipment depreciates like a brand new car.  I really could not see spending hundreds of dollars on things that I knew  I would only use for a short time.  I was lucky to have several friends whose little one's were outgrowing their infant stuff just as I was needing it.  A baby swing, a baby bouncer, a bassinet, another bassinet (handy with a 2 story house!) all came to me for next-to- nothing, and to look at it you really couldn't tell it wasn't brand new.  It was nice because we had gotten rid of everything baby-related about a year before I got pregnant for the third time.  (We thought we were done, but God laughed at our plans, and put His plan into action).

 5.  You Really Don't Need ALL That Baby Gear Anyway
Remember what I said about house being filled to the brim with baby gear?  Well, you will quickly learn what are the absolute necessities and what you can do without.  Because we were not expecting to have a third child, we didn't have an extra bedroom for her.  So, she camped out with us for a few months until we moved into a bigger house.  We managed to squeeze a crib and a co-sleeper bassinet into our room, because I wanted to get her used to sleeping in both.  We obviously had an infant car-seat for her.  We bought 2 bases, but we never installed the second one in our "little" car because it was just too crammed with 5 of us in there.  I never got a changing table, because when I did have one before, it only served to hold the laundry that I had yet to put away.  We got a swing and vibrating bouncer seat from a friend, and we only really used them a handful of times.  Instead of a big bulky stroller to lug around, I got the one that was just the frame, and the infant seat just clicked in.  So much lighter, and so much easier on my back.  I will have to do a separate blog about my baby must-have's.

Oh, how very many times I have heard  "Enjoy them now, they grow up before you know it." 
And how very true that is.  I look at my son, and wonder how on Earth it's possible that he's going to be a teenager in a few short weeks...just yesterday I was teaching him to ride a tricycle and tomorrow I'll be teaching him to drive a car.  Seeing my 5-year old daughter doing her school work, having actual conversations with the child that it seems just learned how to talk last week.  I have learned to enjoy the time with each of my children.  And when I sit with my new baby, and look into her big blue eyes, I try to memorize every second with her, because next month, she'll be going off to college.