Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WOW! How Did You Do That?! PART 4

 A Place For Everything and Everything In It's Place!
So, another thing that was a real inspiration on my quest to take back control of my home was a lady I found on Pinterest. Her name is Alejandra Costello from Now, I have looked at and watched tons and I mean TONS of organizing videos, read the articles etc... Nothing clicked for me. I mean, you look and think, "ya, that looks very nice, but it's not practical. There is nothing I use daily in there". They seem to empty a room and take almost everything you use and need out and replace it with decorative pretty little things and there you go, the room looks beautiful....but it's not very practical. I needed/wanted something that could look really good but also be practical and versatile. Then I came across Alejandra! Besides being absolutely adorable herself, she was PRACTICAL! She fused my love of bright colors with practical and for the most part, cheap solutions that work! She also sells a program that helps you get to the root of the problem and teaches you how to keep your hard work up once you have accomplished it all. Often times I watch the videos over and over just to find my motivation again. You really can't help but be motivated after one of her videos. Also, when something doesn't necessarily apply to an area you have, it may spur your thoughts to an area you do have. Or if you can’t do it exactly the way she does, you can easily come up with a way to set up a similar system in your home. The point is, you adjust and then readjust to make it what you need, like and will use. She is very big on that and I think that is part of what draws me to her.
            Some ideas I have gotten from her that have made a huge impact is her mail center. See her video here: http://www.alejandra.tv/blog/2012/05/video-how-to-organize-your-mail-in-the-home-office/   I adjusted some of the categories to fit my things better, and I used plastic drawers instead of her Elfa shelf system. 
This has cut down and organized the paper monster from all over the house dramatically. I am still not as good at it yet as I hope to be, but we are getting there. My goal is, as soon as the mail comes in, if I have not gotten it, that whoever has, will put it in the “IN” drawer. If I don’t have time to sort it, it also goes in there. I keep the stamps address labels etc in the “OUT” drawer, I use the “ACTION” drawer for things I need to do something with, such as make a call about, or write down somewhere etc… I have a “SORT” drawer for things I haven’t decided if I will keep or get rid of, I want to look at better later. Then there are the obvious drawers “FILE” for things to file, sometimes I will file things right away, but more often then not, it will be either weekly or every other week. But having a drawer means I know where something is until it gets filed and it’s all in one spot instead of all over the place. When cleaning up, I can put it right in there quickly and then take the time to file it later. Also, the “COUPON” drawer. I receive them in the mail weekly, sometimes in fliers, some in papers, some from receipts etc…. They all go there in that drawer. Then, once a week or so, I go through and cut and sort and put them in the accordion file in my purse. But again, it’s a quick easy place to put them until I have time to get to them and they are all in one place. All this has helped me give everything a quick and easy place to put things when I clean off my desk or as they come in. It all goes back to having a place for everything. It keeps me from setting it down and then forgetting where it is, or spilling something on it, etc… **Also, on a side note. About that accordion file thing in my purse. I have tried several ways to organize coupons. It seemed the easiest way for me was by month. I shop biweekly and so I go through the coupons after I make my list. I pull out expired as I come across them in the ONE month’s section and after that the rest I know are good. Then at the end of each month I can just pull everything out of that month’s section and pitch it. No having to go through each one. No accidently pulling out a coupon, only to find at check out, it was expired. It has saved me a lot of time.

            I have learned, the greatest joy of organizing your stuff is how it looks afterwards. If it looks good, you really want to keep it looking good, because it makes you feel good. As I said earlier, I love color! I have learned to add color to a lot of my organizing because it encourages me to look at it, to keep it up. I use different colored dry erase markers on our boards, I use different highlighters to check things off my to do list. Once I start seeing those colored lines on the page, I want to see more, so I work hard to get them on there. I know each colored line represents accomplishment! When you purchase Alejandra’s program, you get check lists and goal sheets and charts to use. They are all colorful. Now if you are computer savy and you can make your own, try to add a lot of color. It just does something for a person.
In another video, she suggest using colorful small post it notes for a “goal” board. http://www.alejandra.tv/blog/2012/11/video-office-organization-planning-projects/I did not buy the one she uses, I already had a large dry erase board but I kept changing what I used it for. I have since turned it into my goal board. I have different categories than she has obviously. Right now my categories are OUTSIDE, these are goals I want to get done outside, such as paint the fence, clean the patio, etc… Next is SCHOOL. We homeschool so I have goals such as researching some fieldtrips, making report cards. Etc… Then I have To Buy, As we things pop up I need to add to my list, I put them on there, (this is kind of a cheat, it allows me to move post its to the “done” section more frequently!, but it motivates me, so there you go). Next my largest section is PINTEREST. This has several ideas I want to try in the near future. Then we have FUN. These are family “bucket list” goals if you will for this year, such as go camping, go visit family in Illinois etc.. . Never get so busy you forget to have fun. Then lastly I have HOME. On there I have bigger projects that I wouldn’t do on a daily basis, such as painting a room. None of the things listed on here are things I would do daily. Most are things that once it’s done, it’s done, I may do it again, but not for awhile. Finally, there is a DONE column. As you complete these goals, you move them over to the done section. The whole board is one big visual for us to see how much we have to do, but yet also be able to see how much we have accomplished. Each column has a different color and so the “done” column looks more like a rainbow of colors! Which I enjoy. The post it’s make it easy to add and take away. This has been a very fun way to make and keep goals.

            Since organizing and minimizing, I have totally changed how I look at purchases I make. I used to buy things I liked, simply because I liked them. But then I get home and don’t know what to do with them and I certainly didn’t have a place for them. That is why I had to get rid of so much stuff that was still practically new. Now, before I buy something, I think about it. What will I use this for? Do I have a place for it? In order to follow the one in one out rule, what am I willing to give up and get rid of in order to bring this in? If we really start to ask ourselves these questions before we buy something, we would start spending less and loving what we have more. I would rather have a closet with a few clothes that I love to wear than a closet full of clothes that I hate on me. The same is said for our homes. It’s is better to have a few things that we love and feel good about our house. Than have a house cluttered with things we thought we would use we thought we liked but we don’t and so it’s more a house full of guilt and regret. I really stop and think through the purchase, envision it in my home, envision using it. This helps me make smarter choices and if I can’t decide, I put it down and know I can come back and buy it later if I still think about it and can’t get it out of my mind. This helps prevent impulse shopping. A lot of my purchases I got rid of during the great purge as I call it, were things I bought on impulse.        

Just because something is not working doesn’t mean you give up all together. You just keep trying different ideas until one does work. Think about your end goal for that area. Consider HOW you use that area. What do you NEED  to get out of that area. Then build on it. For example, I bought 4 smaller dry erase boards at the beginning of our homeschool year. My intentions were to put their daily assignments on one for each of them, and any notes to them on the others. Ya that was just not how we worked. A different area I was struggling in, was remembering what I had planned for supper that night. So I used one board to start listing the weekly menu on. I can not quickly glance over and see what I had planned and if it’s not going to work, I can see a list of other ideas I had on there to make and switch them around. Plus it helped keep everyone from asking me, what’s for dinner. I am not using any of the boards for what I intended, but I am making them work for something I NEEDED. Which bring me to another idea, if you are in need of something, shop your house. Is there something you already have that could/would serve the purpose you need. If something I use to organize things does not work out, I still keep the item. I have a section in the basement for plastic totes and such. So if the need arises I can look through all that and see if I already have something that can work instead of  going out and buying new. This is something I learned from Alejandra as well. Some things you can try and leave the tags on and take back, but others if you have had for awhile and decide there is a better way to do it, you don’t have to get rid of it, just put it away or think about where the item might be helpful. Keep your eyes and mind both open. You would be surprised at the ideas you can find and come up with if you think outside of the box. 

I didn't like the way the cubes on the tops shelf were so I changed them and then reused the others somewhere else and stored some of the others for if I need them somewhere else later.

Below are some of my before and after pictures of our craft/schoool room/ office. It was always such a mess. These pictures were taken right after Christmas so it was an extra mess. How could I have any clear thoughts in a room like this... well, I didn't!


Friday, March 21, 2014

WOW! How did you do that?! PART 3

Letting Go….It’s A Process

There are several reasons we hold on to stuff and I think I have experienced all of them. The following are things I have gone through and how I overcame them. First of all, emotional attachment. I am very family oriented. I love the history of our family, I love the memories of our family. I love the idea that my grandparents were young once and what they were like then, what they were like at whatever age I currently am. Same for my parents. I love that they had a life before I was ever born. So, I was very attached (and still am to a point) to all things that were theirs. So when my grandmother passed away, I took anything and everything no one else wanted. We were about to move and I didn’t know what I would “need”. Then my mom and dad moved, again, if she was getting rid of something, who was I to say no? After that, my husbands grandmother passed, same problem. Then his parents moved from their home of over 40 yrs to an assisted living. That was his childhood home, how could we pass on anything from there. Then his father passed, and both my parents and his mom moved again. All emotional times. So, we just kept taking stuff whether we had room or if we liked it or not. What happened is my house could not be organized because I had more things than I had places to put them. My basement was a full finished basement, I should have had a nice extra living room down there, but instead I had a storage locker! Half the stuff we had, I had tucked away because either there was no room for it, it was not something I enjoyed looking at, or I did not want it to get ruined, or I had no use for it, but again, it was THEIRS so I must keep it!!!  

            Well it all started with a drawer. A couple of things that I really did not want to keep moving from drawer  to drawer, I really did not have any use for, and I had plenty of other things of hers ( I shall not mention who)  so I threw them out. Wow! The Earth kept on turning, my skin did not burn!  That did not hurt as bad as I thought it would. Found some (ok a lot) of cards from people over the years. But isn’t it rude to throw them out, I mean they did buy them or make them…. Plink…plink ..plink…in the trash they went… I did NOT experience the overwhelming guilt or shame…. Wow! On and on it went until I started getting to the bigger stuff. A suitcase of my grandmothers knitting. A blanket not quite finished, some squares for a quilt… I was never going to finish it, I had no idea how to knit. I was NOT going to pay someone to do it. I have too many finished blankets already. So I found someone at church who did love to knit. I gave her the knitting, suitcase and all. Whether she kept it, I do not know. I like to pretend in my mind she was so excited about it. And then.. I let the thought go. I am more into fabric quilts and blankets and I did keep the ones that she had finished of those. THOSE make me happy and I use them and love them and they will be part of my kids’ memories. Then came the stuff that you hate to get out because you don’t want to ruin it. But… I’m not enjoying them sitting in a box. My kids are not making memories with them in there. They will never hear the stories of them in there. So out they came… to be put into use… Emotional ties keep us from getting rid of so much. However, if there was a fire or a natural disaster, that wiped them all out, would that erase the memory of that loved one? No. In fact, I challenge you, that telling stories and sharing memories of that loved one is more important than their physical things. Keeping the MEMORY of THEM alive!   

            We all have done it. We never even came close to growing up in the Depression Era, yet we have heard the saying, Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do with Out!! If there is a frugal bone in your body, you have looked at an empty butter bowl and thought, “I can’t throw that out, it can be used for something else”. We actually do that with A LOT of things. However, the fact is, we now live in a throw away society. Unless you are planning on having a big meal with lots of left-overs (think holiday meal) then you will likely empty another butter bowl before you ever use that one  your debating on hanging on to. The same goes for other things. There is inevitably something that you are holding on to, not because YOU have use for it, but because you MIGHT one day. I challenge you again, IF that day ever comes, you can either buy another one, or probably find someone else who has one they are not using!! But chances are, that day will never come. If you have not used it in the past 5 years….your not likely to. And if Murphy’s Law comes into play, I would bet chances are you can borrow one from someone else for the ONE time you need it. GET RID OF IT!!

            I had so many craft supplies. I loved the idea of crafts, I loved they way other people’s crafts turned out. I loved collecting supplies, so fun to look at. I even came up with some really good craft ideas…however my supplies went untouched. Either lack of time or talent, often time both, would keep me from using them. If I had the time, my talent left much to be desired. It would frustrate me, even bring me to tears at time, why MY projects did not turn out as cute as my crafty friend’s did (you know who you are! You Martha Stewart of homemaking! Lol) So plain and simple they were not making me happy. They were constant reminders of my failure in crafts! My kids were not so inclined in the craft areas either so they were not being used. I FINALLY had to come to terms with getting rid of them. Painful as it was. I have not missed them…not one day! Plus I freed up room for things I do enjoy, like organizing tools! J If you just think it’s too good to just throw it out, find someone who you know WILL use it and get good use out of it. Make their day! Or sell it! If it’s in good condition and you know it’s something a lot of people would love to have, sell it and make a quick buck. Do not expect to get what you can go to the store and buy it for, people will buy new for that price, and people don’t care what you say it’s worth or what you spent, because it’s only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. Keep the price low so it will go quick and not tempt you into keeping it.  
Oh the money invested, but never used... Gone
Surely I could use these....No but someone else could!

So cute, I loved it, but was never going to use it, so I gave it to someone who would!
            Very simply, if you have not looked at or used it in the past year… get rid of it. The only time it will matter to you is while your debating whether or not to get rid of it. Once it’s gone, you will not even think about it. I have not yet, but I plan to hang all my clothes backwards on my railing in my closet. If I wear something, it will be hung back up the right way. After a year anything still hanging backwards, will be donated to Goodwill. I was going to do the ribbon on the clothes but this seemed a lot quicker and easier. If you just discovered something while purging you forgot you had, unless you intend to create a place for it and start putting it to use, get rid of it. No excuses, just do it. You will thank me later. If you have gotten by all this time without it, you will get by even longer after you get rid of it without needing or wanting it. Trust me!!

            Its bound to happen. You come across something that is broke. You keep planning to fix it. And yet, here it is again, another year and you have not. You have two choices. Stop everything that your doing and fix it. If you really want to keep it, fix it now and get it back into the mix. If you realllly don’t want to stop and do it, you realllly don’t want to keep it. It’s not that important to you. Because I can promise you, no matter how many good intentions you have  not gone back and fixed it for the last several months or years! THROW. IT. AWAY!!!  If it’s something you have to send out to be fixed, take it to your car NOW and take it the next time you get in your car. If you are not willing to do that, it is not important enough. THROW. IT. AWAY!!  

In Closing, I leave you with this. I tell my kids all the time, there are reasons and there are excuses. Reasons are the whys of things. Why they are the way they are. Excuses are the thing you make up to avoid doing what has to be done or needs to be done or even you want to do. Reasons are acceptable; they are a part of life. Excuses just mean you don’t want it bad enough or it’s not important enough to you….yet. When your desperate enough, the excuses will stop no matter what the reasons are.


**Next blog will address how to organize what’s left after all the purging.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wow! How did you do that? PART 2



            I was over it! I was over being constantly stressed out over the unorginization. I was over trying to find the miracle fix all. I was over not having any sort of time management. I started praying for all of the above, I asked others to pray for me as well. While participating in a ladies Bible study at church, one of  the ladies told us about a book she was reading called simply, 7. I still have yet to read the book, but she told us the concept which I found fascinating. The author, tired of being overwhelmed with “stuff,” decided to try an experiment. Basically she decided to start limiting all the choices in her life to 7 things. 7 outfits only, to choose from, 7 meals or food to fix etc… I was not ready to go that far yet, but I liked the concept of limiting what you had, to save time on choices and to only have the things you really liked, wanted and needed. At any rate, it got the wheels spinning.
            Then, because I truly believe God has orchestrated it all, I was on Facebook  and saw a friend post to a group called MINIMIZE. This peaked my curiosity. So I went to the page and checked it out. It was a brilliant concept and I was hooked right away! I asked to join and jumped right in! Watching everyone else post pictures and lists of the things they were getting rid of were just the motivation I needed!!! Then the support they would give each other when someone  would post really helped motivate me to keep going. Sharing in a journey that others were also on, no judging, just simple encouragement! In fact, the more stuff you had, the more pumped they got! Haha!  


            How it works, is the first day of the month, you get rid of ONE thing. Then on the second day, TWO things and so on. Now I started on like day 7, so I did not have only seven things to get rid of, I had to come up with 1+2+3+4+5+6 also, so a total of 28 things in order to catch up! Now that was my choice, there was no one cracking the whip. In fact some days, some people would say, well I didn’t meet the goal but I did get rid of SOMETHING. And that was ok!! Some times people would get rid of emails or things that brought mental clutter. It’s still removing the excess in your life. It’s still managing your time. Some nights I would go to bed and get on my ipad, I would  not have gotten rid of anything, thinking, oh I will just do extra tomorrow. Then I would see 4-5 posts, cleaning out a junk drawer, or a medicine cabinet…. And I would think, OH! I could easily and quickly do that and it would be done. Plus I was motivated, so here it was, 11pm, I am jumping out of bed, pulling stuff out, taking pictures and posting! Haha! My family was starting to really think I was nuts. However, I never hounded them to do it, to participate or shame them into it. I just let them watch me and my excitement. All of a sudden my daughter started going through HER stuff, she wasn’t playing the game but just wanted to minimize some of her stuff. My husband started by saying, when are you going to go through MY stuff? I would say when I am done with the rest of the house. You know that man caught the fever and started going through his own stuff! I was leading by example and never even intended too! I had not planned it, it just happened! My excitement was contagious. For awhile Minimize was an open group. Everyone could see our posts. I also started motivating my other friends on Facebook without even trying. Several started joining the group and participating! Some just started doing a little here and there and telling me I had inspired them! WHAT? You mean to tell me, just by throwing away a bunch of junk, I inspired people? Shoot, that’s just plain craziness! Haha!

The kitchen junk drawer.... no shame in my game, it's all gone now!


The mouse chewed ketchup packets...

            I started small. I started with a bathroom drawer. That led to the entire bathroom! Cabinets and all the drawers. I caught the bug, late at night, as I get most of my steam at night. I knew I had totally rearranged everything and my husband was not going to be happy in the morning, when he tried to get ready for work and could not find a thing….so I drew a map and hung it on the wall. Haha! I just recently took it down. We still laugh about that one. I started by just doing a drawer a day. I had one friend say, just how many junk drawers do you have!? My answer…too many but a lot less now! Haha! I had one junk drawer in the kitchen that a mouse had found very delightful. You know those suckers had been chewing on ketchup packets in there! That was bad. No more junk drawers in this house. I try to go through them at least once a month now and purge any excess!  


            My advice for you today. If you have an area that you feel overwhelmed with. Start small. Set small goals that you can easily and quickly accomplish and see success right away. If you have say, a garage that you think there is no way you can ever get it done. Make a goal to throw away 5 things today or get rid of 5 things from wherever, maybe it’s the entire house, get rid of one thing from each room!  5 that is all. If your up for a bigger challenge, get a big trash bag and fill it with trash, not the stuff you can’t decide to keep or not, not even “things” but actual trash, I guarantee you can fill it up. If it’s broke either fix it on the spot or throw it out. You will find out real quick how much you want to keep it, if you have to stop and fix it right then. If you really don’t, then you might as well throw it out because you more than likely never will.  If you have a junk drawer, pull everything out and if it belongs somewhere else, go take it there right then, if it’s trash throw it out for love of Saint Pete! Throw. It. Out. If you have forgotten about it ever existing and probably STILL won’t use it…throw it out, if you think you will, put it where you will SEE and REMEMBER it. NOT BACK IN THE DRAWER!!! And if you still don’t use it after a month…GET.RID. OF. IT!!!  If you don’t need/want it but hate to throw it out, donate it to a friend or to Goodwill whoever, just get it out of the house before you change your mind!  Ok, now I have got you ready to start. On your mark, get set, go! You can do it, no problem, easy peasy!

Tomorrow, I will post about letting go…. It’s a process….

Monday, March 17, 2014

WOW!! How did you do that? PART 1

This is the first part in a series of my journey. I am willing to share my process of how I regained…wait, that would imply I previously had , ok, so this is my process of  how I finally gained control of things in my life.
So I have been on a journey. A decluttering, organizing, gaining control journey. The things I have been learning and doing the last 5-6 months are not things that have come easily to me. In fact, I have never in my almost 39 years been able to gain control over them. I was never taught HOW to clean a room. How to manage a space, how to organize what I have, or to not overfill a space. I still struggle with time management, I still have dust on my shelves and I still have places to gain control over. However this will share how I have gotten as far as I have ….so far…Some may  help you, some may motivate you, some may make you say, whatever, I’m not doing that or I don’t care… but it is what it is. What it is, is a process. To begin the process you have to understand the root of the problem.
 My parents, like most of us, just told us “clean your room”……ooookkkk,  but I never knew HOW to properly clean it. You would think (like most of us)  DUH no brainer, except, there are many ways to clean a room. It is NOT just put things back where they belong, especially if not everything HAS a place where it belongs. The tactic I took often, even into adulthood is to hide everything, under the bed, shoved into closets, crammed into drawers. Out of sight gave the APPEARANCE of clean and was “good enough”. It passed parental inspection anyway. Therefore now that I am a parent, the exact same pattern I have, my kids have learned! The problem is, when you don’t learn how to clean properly, how to limit the amount of stuff you have, how to organize it, you just keep bringing stuff in (more on that later). So, what do you do when every closet is full, every drawer is overflowing and you don’t dare look under the bed?  Well it starts accumulating where you CAN see it, and it accumulates faster than a cage full of rabbits!
You know how I collected so much stuff? Several ways, one being family members moving…and being normal people, who don’t want to move a bunch of stuff they don’t want, they say  “do you want this?” well being the abnormal person, who you would think lived during the depression by all the things she hoards, thinks, well I might want it at some point in my life and I don’t want to have to buy it so really I would be saving money to take it, so I went ahead and took it, or a family member passing, and you hate to part with their things because, gosh, I must hold onto it, it’s all I have left of them, if it is something I would never want to display or look at too often, that doesn’t matter because  it was THEIRS!. Then you add the high you get from purchasing new items, whether you need them or not, whether you have a place for them or not, whether you really can afford them or not, you like them, therefore they MUST be bought!!  And you never take anything out…. Well, that my friends is how people end up on hoarders! Which, is where I found myself headed. 


Sound familiar? That is how I felt every day. I was drained of all energy when I looked around. No matter how much time I spent trying to clean and organize, it would look like a hot mess in a day or two. You know why? You can’t put lipstick on a pig and call it a princess! I was never going to get truly organized and clean until I got rid of stuff and I don’t mean a few things here and there. That was not enough! I have lived in 3 houses since being married and multiple apartments. With every move, instead of being like normal people and getting rid of stuff each time, I tended to do the opposite, I would collect more because you never know what you might need in the next place. I would drive by these little homes and wonder HOW people could live in such a tiny home, where did they keep all their stuff? What I never realized was, not everybody has as much STUFF as I did! Can you imagine?!  It was not normal for people to have as much stuff as I kept collecting.
            Anyway, several times friends and family would come over to help me TRY to get organized…. Guess what, it never took, because there was just too much stuff! We are back to the pig and princess theory. Do you know another reason it was never going to work? Because it was a process I HAD to do myself. I HAD to mentally let go, I had to mentally organize. You can not have PHYSICAL clutter without MENTAL clutter. You reduce the physical clutter, you will reduce the mental clutter. More on that later as well. But I was never going to be able to maintain anything until I got to the root of the problem…..letting go. Through out this process, I have been posting on my Facebook my progress. People have asked me how I did it, or what did I do so they can do it too. However often times, if you start to tell someone and they start to immediately give you excuses why they can’t do something, then they are not ready to let go. In my case, I was finally done with the excuses and ready to take action. Can I tell you, every excuse I gave in the past, were really not valid. They were fear and emotional attachment talking. Because I was not ready for the change. I knew it was going to take a lot of work and frankly I was lazy, and I knew I would have to let go of things, that I did not want to let go of yet. Since then, I have probably let go of a small house worth of stuff and do not regret a single thing I have gotten rid of.


            I would love to say I have found success. In fact, in a lot of areas I have. But I still have a long way to go. However I have learned so much and am dying to share it with my family and friends. This has been something that has affected every aspect of my life. My husband and kids think I am crazy or obsessed. They may be right. I tend to give things 100% or nothing at all. Some would say, obsessed or no interest at all, tomato tomaaaato! Haha What I do know is, I am finally on my way to being the very person I have dreamt about. I have a very long road ahead but I know now, after everything I have already accomplished, it’s possible. I now know for fact, that as long as you start, you have a chance. No matter how many times you fail, as long as you keep trying, you CAN get there, it IS possible and every other cliché’ I hated before. I know what looked way more than I could handle became “done” one day, one step, one room, one closet, one drawer at a time. I do not pretend to have it all figured out, I do know I am adjusting the process everyday. If something doesn’t seem to be working, I adjust it. There is no law, no rule, nobody to say if it’s not working, you can’t change it. In fact there are no rules at all, only what works and what doesn’t. I can tell you a lot of ways that worked ….for ME and a lot of ways that didn’t. But they may not be the same for you. This is my journey, and the adventures I have taken. I hope I can inspire you to create your own! I am not a professional blogger, I don’t’ even have very many followers, it’s never been about that for me. I don’t want nor need that pressure. My blogs have been about sharing with family and friends what’s going on in my life. It’s also my way of holding onto memories for my kids. To look back and see what their ol’ mom thought and did. So if you don’t like it, don’t read it and if you do, I would love to hear it and be encouraged if I have helped you at all. In the next blog, I will share how I FINALLY got started. If you need to finally get started, I hope it will encourage and inspire you to finally do that!

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Thomas Edison

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Colorful Way to Get Organized

Another tip I saw on Pinterest was to organize your year week by week. I have no dilusions that this will work as it should, but I am hoping to get it to work atleast a little as any little bit of organization can certainly be hellpful! The idea is to have a folder for every week. In that folder, you have menu's, to do lists, birthdays, doctor appts etc.... basically instead of a planner book, you have it in file folders. I THINK I can handle this. But  I have to make it colorful and fun to even get me started. So I whipped out the folders and the label maker (that always makes everything look organized! BEST PURCHASE EVER!!). And away I went.......

Now on the inside I came up with my own idea. I listed all the things I would want to keep track of and none of them were too terribly long, in fact a post it note would probably do it. Anything longer, I can add a piece of paper if need be. But for the general reminders, small pieces would be best and why have a bunch of them shoved in there. If they are stuck to the sides of the folders already spread out, I can just open, take one look and there you go! PLUS I have the added bonus at the end of the year, of just ripping those off and resetting for the following year OR, if something gets changed, or needs replaced, just lift and be gone! New one easily slides in....if only we had a post it government.....oh sorry, I was dreaming again! So again! I had to make it colorful and fun to motivate me to actually use it!

Last but not least, I used to open the bills, highlight the date, three hole punch them and put them in a binder......ya, done doing that! Half the time, the three hole punch would inevitably punch out something I needed to be able to read. OR the holes did not line up right etc.... not to mention all the work. So I simplified (colorfully ofcourse). I just open them, highlight the date (this really does help immensly when you have to go back to look at something) and stick them in their appropriate folder. Now at the end of the year, I can pull them all out (in order of course) and put them in one big manilla envelope and write the year on it. The best part is when that time frame you need to keep them is up, you can just start a fire and use the envelope as kindling! No more digging for this and that. Btw, I also added the number of them month in the corner, simply because when a bill is dated it is with the numbers not the name and so when I was back filling, it was quicker.

Sooo that is the story of my colorful organization. I LOVE bright colors. They put me in a happy place!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pinterest Epic Fail....well sort of

So I decided to attempt a recipe I found on Pinterest. Here is the original blog I got it from...   (sorry, don't know to get that nice little different colored link where all you have to do is click on it, so you will have to cut and paste) http://scrambledhenfruit.blogspot.com/2010/11/caramel-stuffed-apple-cider-cookies.html

The picture on there looked so nice. I bought into it! But just like Martha Stewart pictures, the real thing, made by real people, never turns out that way! I should have known better. Working with caramels have never turned out good for me, but I had a surge of optism in me and a cool day begging me to make something "fallish". So Grace and I decided to give it a whirl. 

We followed the directions. We made the dough, formed the dough around the caramels, baked, so far so good. But then.... things were going TOO WELL obviously. The directions said, "When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.)" Soooo THAT is what I did! Well, half the time, the carmel just remained on the paper while I lifted the cookie off, the other half I used a spatula (which I had to soak the caramel off afterwards) and had to wipe the carmel back onto the cookie IF the cookie didn't fall apart while doing this, then I had a blob of caramel across the bottom.....

 I think the cookie at the top of the bottom picutre, is what was SUPPOSED to happen.....but as you can see....most did not.... Finally on the last batch out of the oven, I just let them cool on the paper completely and you know what, they turned out great! No problem getting them off either! Lesson learned..... however she was correct in needing to eat them warm, otherwise the caramel gets too hard. So you should warm them either in the microwave or by sitting on top of a mug of hot tea/coffee before hand.

Even Hunter was willing to walk away....ok not really, he was looking at me like he wanted one and by the time I took the picture, he was walking away defeated....just like me!

End review....More trouble than they were worth. They wouldn't be bad or hard without the carmels though, so I may attempt them again without that. But in the meantime, we went back to our old trusty stand by......the ever true chocolate chip cookie recipe....NOT from Pinterest!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A handy little tip...

So there is this pan, it is a square pan. I love my square pan, it is awesome for all kinds of cookng, however my square pan did NOT come with a lid. So if I was in need to "cover and simmer", I was in trouble.

So there was this cookie sheet.... It was a nice cookie sheet, never did anybody any harm, but was not useful because it did not hold enough....so the little cookie sheet was in the pile to go to Goodwill......

So there was this friend, her name is Jenifer. Jenifer is the genius of homemaking! Jenifer was visiting one day and I told her the story of the poor cookie sheet as I was cooking in my square pan. JENIFER told me HER story of how she used things like that as lids for odd pans like my square pan.

Jenifer just saved the cookie sheet from it's certain dimise of the Goodwill bag! And the pan and cookie sheet have been inseperatable ever since!!

***Disclosure: do not look closely to my stovetop, it was dirty, we do use it to cook on and it is not easy to get sparkly clean.....it would, however, pass a health inspection which is all that matters to me! :-)