Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wide Open Spaces

Mistakes are a necessary part of learning and growing.  So, step out there and try something new.

What brave thing will you do TODAY!

Failure is an adventure for continuous learning.

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Kind of Crazy-Review of the life-changing magic of tidying up

the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondo

This little book has been all over the internet and was featured on the Today show recently.  I can't remember where I read about it first, but I LOVE me a good purging/tidying/spring cleaning.  I downloaded the Kindle version (because, you know, CLUTTER) and went to town.

Let me tell you--this gal must have been a load of fun as a kid.  She talks about spending her afternoons after school tidying her room, rummaging through cupboards and plotting on how to declutter her siblings' stuff.  That'll win you the "Most Loved Sister Ever" award, for sure.

Despite the crazy lead-up, I powered through to the practical section.  Where to Start.  And, thank goodness, she starts with clothes.  She recommended placing all of your clothes on your bed and touching each piece and looking for a spark of joy.  If there is joy when you feel the item, you keep it.  If there's not, you thank it for it's service and put it in the discard pile.  (See?  Crazy talk.  If my kids had seen me speaking to my sweaters, they would have been sitting me down in the recliner and bringing me a glass of sweet tea to try to talk me off the ledge.  On second thought, I may have to try it in the future.)

Anyway, I had a bit of a headstart on this one.  Once a year, usually in the spring when I'm sure I'm past wearing my winter clothes, I go through my closet and turn my hangers around backwards on the rack and as I wear them, I turn the hangers around to the normal position.

Love these Ikea hangers!

When I do my yearly clean out, if there are hangers still turned backwards like that, then it means I haven't worn that piece in a year's time and it needs to go.  That makes the decision process short and sweet.  I don't think twice--it goes in the box for Goodwill.  I finished my side of the closet in record time  My husband gave me the stink eye when I started digging on his side, so, I left that and read on to the next category to tidy.

The next big section is books.  Oh, gracious.  Books.  This one is going to be much tougher for me.  I love to read and try to go to the library more than to the bookstore, but I still have quite a collection.  I've tried listing a bunch of them on paperback swap and I've looked at trade-ins on Amazon, but that hasn't moved very many.  Our library has a big book sale twice a year and they need donations for that, but it's hard to let go.  Marie Kondo, of course, is all about clearing out the bookshelf except for those you absolutely love and re-read.  Those types of books are a very small percentage of all the ones I own.  Two whole shelves in my office are of books I've purchased and haven't even read.  (Yet.)  Just the idea of giving those away makes me feel weak in the knees and has started me on a frenzy of reading. (Must. Finish. These. Books!)  This one's going to be a tough one, but it's a lot easier than the next chapter.

"Papers" is the category after books and that may just send me right around the bend.  Every summer I vow to get a grip on scrapbooks and my children's school keepsakes.  I've got most of my digital photos labeled and organized on Shutterfly, but I don't ever finish the scrapbook because I'm afraid I'll find one more little art piece or keepsake I want to scan in.  And, of course, if I don't, then the scrapbook would be missing something and WE CAN'T HAVE AN INCOMPLETE SCRAPBOOK.  Yep, I've got my own kind of crazy going on with this category.  

So.  Books and papers.  They're my new tidying goals.  The laundry room and the purse are still in good order, so, onward and upwards, my friends.  I'll do an update on the bookshelves and share some of my favorite Shutterfly tips in the next couple of weeks.  Once that's done, I'll touch on the rest of the tidying tips Marie Kondo gives.  By that time, I'll probably be stroking my books, patting my jeans and rolling my socks like sushi rolls, but there won't be any clutter, doggone it!

How do you feel about "tidying"?  Love it or dread it?  Any good tips you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear from you.  If you'd like to have future blogposts delivered right to your email, I'd love it if you'd subscribe! Have a a great day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

O There Are Ten Thousand Charms

Peace and rest are in short supply this time of year.  Every mama I know is ready for school to be out and hurrying up summer in their hearts.  We complain about May being the busiest time of year--"even worse than Christmas!"-but we know every month is the same mix of appointments and games, lessons and contests, recitals and homework.  As my not-so-little ones remind me of what grade they'll be in next year, I just want to stretch this last week of school out.  Just a little longer.  Just one more chance to have that conversation in the car, that after school treat. that whispered confidence about a friend or a crush.

But time doesn't stand still and there are new memories to be made.  And in the busy-ness of the summer plans and daily schedules, I know I have not scheduled the most important thing.  I have not made the time--found the time--embraced the time--I need with the Lord.  Time set aside and deemed special because of the importance of what I will be doing with it.  I am teaching my children what means the most to me with my use of time just as surely as with my words.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, than surely my action is worth ten thousand.

In my reading this morning, I came across this new Bible study--She Reads Truth.  The app is free (there are in-store purchases, if you want) and you can choose to dive right in to the Bible or go with several different devotional/Bible studies.  You can be as engaged with the community as you want, or you can just read it and savor it all to yourself.  Just take the time--take it and hold it close and rest in His arms-to steady your heart and comfort your soul in time spent with Him.

Michael Card from his Starkindler album

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

Summer's just around the corner and I found this great new bag to get me in the mood!  This lovely came from Target and I have gotten tons of compliments on it.  (Don't you just love it when total strangers validate your purchasing decisions?)  They're 30% off right now online with the code MEM30 and come in some other cute colors, like this coral one:

The turquoise color is perfection and the size is awesome for all my stuff, but it doesn't have any interior compartments--just wide open spaces.  After a few days, my sweet new bag was a hot mess.

Receipts, papers transferring back and forth between home and office and just general chaos ruled the day.  I've tried fighting the "stuff" by insisting on having a small purse, but that results in me having to carry it loose, anyway,  PLUS my handbag, so, I regrouped and decided to corral the things I needed and dump the things I didn't.

Here's what I came up with.
Nothing revolutionary, but I've got 3 new little bags I found for $1.97 each in the travel size section at Target.  Now I've got one for my pens, markers, highlighters and a note pad.  The second one is for bandaids, hand sanitizer, etc. and the third one is for lotions and sunscreens.  I have my large wallet for all the cards that we seem to carry these days, plus I have my wristlet with my driver's license and cards I use all the time.   With a bag this big, I even have room for the book I'm reading and my daughter's, too.
much better

The bird file folder you see above may be the lifesaver, though.  I tried to think of ideas to keep the papers I carry back and forth between home and work and nothing was really big enough.  So, I took this sweet little bird file folder that I've had for a while and wrapped it in clear packing tape, leaving the top open.  This will make it more durable and I can easily drop papers or receipts into it and they won't fall out.  It's worked great so far, so, I think we have a winner.

Order, At Last

I'd love to hear about your favorite new summer bag and any purse organizing tips you have.  
Hope you all have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  
Here's a little vintage James Brown to get you in the swing of things!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's my happy heart you hear-Review of Speed Queen Washer & Dryer

or "How $12 spent at the Dollar Tree can make everything right".

I love a good clean-out.  It helps keep the household chores to a manageable level and gives me back time to do things that I love to do and that matter.  Not that household chores don't matter.  You know what I mean.

My laundry room was beyond anything I could describe, so, I'll just show the embarassing photos.  (#keepingitreal)

Apparently, somewhere down the line, we became hoarders of light bulbs and dead succulents and I cannot for the life of me explain why.  I need to do a whole house clean out, but this is the smallest room and it was a good jumping off place for me, with the first task to give the sad little aloe vera plant and his friends a proper burial.

So, off to Dollar Tree I went and bought 12 cute little plastic baskets to hold the plethora of light bulb types, gardening gloves and various and sundry doo-dads.  These items may or may not be worth keeping, but they get a one year reprieve from being thrown out.  If the basket hasn't been touched by human hands in 365 days, out they go.  I did end up throwing away a big bag and packed a large box of items to take to Goodwill.  So, here are my newly organized cabinets!

The end cabinets need another shelf installed to make use of the wasted space.  The larger expanse of cabinets have the same tall middle shelf, but it's a good place for thermoses, coolers and larger insulated bags, so, I'll leave them like they are.

If you're looking closely, you'll see the washer & dryer in the second set of pics is different than the first set.  The real reason for the big clean out (besides the pitiful little dead cacti) was we got a a new Speed Queen washer and dryer.  If you listen closely, you can still hear the angels singing "Hallelujah".  The old Sears Kenmore set just wasn't cutting it anymore and had already been repaired a few times.  I was dreading this purchase decision almost as much as I had been dreading the whole mattress thing.  (Update on the Tuft & Needle mattress--still firm, but we've adjusted and are enjoying it--yea!!)

We bought a high end Maytag front loader set when we first got married and we may have been on the early side of that particular trend, but I HATED them, especially the washer.  It smelled and broke down regularly and we finally just called it quits and bought a very basic set from Sears.  They've held up for about 10 years, but I felt like our clothes just weren't getting clean and the dryer took at least 2  cycles before the clothes were dry.

So, I was listening to an old Big Boo Podcast from 2014 ( I think it was this one) and I heard Melanie Shankle talk about her washer/dryer research and how she had bought a Speed Queen.  I had never heard of one before, but I did my due diligence in research and found a set for sale right here in our town at a great price.  Sold!  They are heavy-duty commercial grade and have VERY simple dials, which are perfect when your brain is tired of making decisions and you don't want to think about water levels, soap types, and fabric specifics and you just want to have some clean, dry clothes, for the love of Pete.  Here are the dials on my new loves:
Water temp and load size--I got this!

A little more to think about, but still doable!

I've done about 10 loads, so far, and I love them.  They're not sold at big box stores but local appliance stores should have them and sometimes you can find a scratch and dent  or an open box deal.

These were definitely more than my $12 dollar store plastic baskets, but the whole new laundry set up makes a necessary chore more fun to do.

Here is my still-to-do list for the laundry room:
*install shelf in end cabinets
*get a double laundry hamper
*get an organizer/hanger for my ironing board
*hang a small pegboard behind door for household tools
*some day--paint cabinets white
*some day--paint walls a blue/gray color (a faded denim color?) like this laundry room at The Handmade Home:
Her home is BEAUTIFUL,  The link above takes you to a full tour.  Enjoy.

Have you done any spring cleaning?  What room did you tackle first?  
What other plans do you have for your home this summer?

*affiliate link in post

Monday, May 11, 2015

Baby, It's a Wild World

This little fellow is a Texas Horned Lizard, or horny toad, as we called them when I was a kid.  They're not federally listed as an endangered species, but they are listed by our state as a threatened species.  You used to see them all the time, but as they've lost habitat, like a lot of wild creatures, their numbers have dropped.  We have some land south of town that we play around with and there are quite a few out there.  

One of the things I absolutely love about my husband is that he will stop his tractor when he sees one and will pick it up and move it to a safer place.  These little guys are precious and rare.  

And so are men like him.  

Have a beautiful Monday!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

There are times when all the world's asleep...Review of Tuft & Needle mattress

Last week I posted on a great way to have a kickstart breakfast waiting for you when you wake up in the morning.  Eating well first thing in the morning. is definitely a necessary part of fueling your day and having the energy you want to accomplish your goals.  But if you're already behind when you wake up, it's hard to play catch up.

We've needed a new mattress for a while now.  We both wake up groggy and I usually wake up with a sore back--not an auspicious start to the day.  Mattress buying is right up there with buying a new car or a sofa.  It's stressful because it's expensive and you're going to have what you buy for a long time.  There are so many options and it's hard to compare between stores.  So, we did nothing.  For a long time.

Last week I had finally had enough.  I had heard about some new mattress manufacturers on a business podcast I listen to and they linked to this article from Bloomberg Finance.  I got great advice from a friend who works in the industry and I read a ton of reviews.   After a lot of tossing and turning, (see what I did there?) we decided to go with Tuft and Needle via Amazon.

This king-size mattress came folded up in a cardboard box and once we placed it on the box springs and cut the plastic, it swelled up like one of those bathtub toys you add water to:

We were very excited about our new mattress and hoping for the best.  We gave it 4-5 days, but it never softened up.  It was FIRM!  My back didn't hurt, but it just wasn't as comfortable as we thought it would be.  I didn't really want to return it, so, back to the web I went.  I had noticed on some of the reviews that people had purchased this topper and it solved the problem for them.

It came in yesterday and we put it on our bed last night.  You're supposed to wait 48 hours, but patience was never my strong suit.  It is still firm, but gives just enough that you don't have any pressure points.  It's also not hot, which was my biggest fear in purchasing a tempurpedic-type, memory foam mattress and topper.  

So far, so good.  I actually slept all night and woke up much more refreshed than I usually do.  I set my timer on my white noise app for 15 minutes of light rain and I was sound asleep.

Here's hoping for sound sleep and sweet dreams.  
Have any of you purchased mattresses lately?  
How did that experience go for you?

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  I would love it if you would like to subscribe to my posts via email.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  Thank you!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reading Departure Signs in Some Big Airport

There's something so exciting to me about an airport.  I love reading the departure and arrival signs and thinking of the places I've enjoyed and the places I've never seen.  Hope and anticipation add a spark to daydreams about travel to new places and a dash of romance to our remembrances of favorite spots.  The orderly lists of cities and countries and the schedule for those lucky ones heading out make me want to chuck my calendar and dayplanner and commitments and hop on a plane far away from it all.

But what if that calendar and dayplanner were our departure board?  What if, instead of keeping us grounded, they sent us soaring?  So much of my time is taken up with small ventures, but I am in need of a grand adventure.  And as all great travellers know, you need to pack light and plan right.

We'll always have the small ventures--the errands and tasks and dailiness.  It's what we do when we're living, but we need to leave time for LIFE. How will I go where my heart is leading me if I don't include it in my plans?  Right there, next to the reminder to pick up the drycleaning needs to be the reminder to write from the heart and share your soul.  After the dance recital should be the space to dance with your love and be the young ones you once were.  The day after the music concert should bring time to do what makes your soul sing.  Don't plan your day within a minute of it's life.  Leave room around the margins and right smack-dab in the middle for what really matters.

Drilling our commitments and schedules and must-dos down to the bare essential is hard work. No one wants to say "no" all the time.  No one wants to disappoint their friends and co-workers.  But there are only 168 hours in a week and even if you are the most efficient and organized person on earth, you cannot add a single hour.  So, when are you scheduling YOU?  When are you saying "This is my time to work on my goals and build my dream."  A full schedule and plans that have been made for you, instead of by you, are a sure way to make sure those goals and dreams never happen.  Packing light and planning right is the only way to make sure you give your life a chance.

Departure signs or your to-do-list.  It's your choice in what schedule you want to follow.  Me?  I want to live a little bigger, even if I never leave town.

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  I would love it if you would like to subscribe to my posts via email.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  Thank you!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Your Future Is Calling

What brave thing will you do today?

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  
I would love it if you would like to subscribe 
to my posts via email.  
The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  
Thank you!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Breakfast of Champions

Good morning.  Or is it "Good morning!" for you?  As much as I would like to be, I am not very bright-eyed in the morning.  In my journey to be more mindful of my time and how I use it, I am rediscovering how important our morning routine is for our family and for me, personally.  The food I eat first thing is a big factor in how well I feel the rest of the day and how much energy I have.  My organization or lack thereof determines how frantic we feel and sets the emotional tone for our family.  A quiet time of prayer and reading to prepare myself spiritually allows me to  focus on what's important and not just urgent.  My family's spiritual, emotional and physical health are greatly impacted by this short window of time each and every morning.

I made up this little basket of breakfast goodness to keep in the fridge.  Fresh fruit, walnuts, dried dates, and almond or coconut milk are perfect with steel cut oats for a warm breakfast.  I use my rice cooker with its built in timer to have it ready to go when I wake up in the morning.

Another favorite breakfast is quinoa (or brown rice), chopped veggies like onion and bell pepper, avocado slices and an egg.  The onion and bell pepper can even be placed in the steamer basket above the grains and cooked at the same time as the quinoa.  This little rice cooker has become a favorite kitchen gadget (2nd place only to my beloved crockpot) and saves so much time when you want a hot breakfast!  I bought it after reading Roger Ebert's book, "The Pot and How to Use It".  

It's a tiny book with some good recipes and it just encourages you to enjoy cooking and making good food for yourself and your loved ones.  And as he says in the book, "The pot knows."  As long as you put plenty of water in with the grains, it's almost impossible to mess it up.  Whole grains, vegetables or fruit and a good protein source can help you kickstart your day.  What are some of your favorite breakfast tips?

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  
I would love it if you would like to subscribe 
to my posts via email.  
The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  
Thank you!

*there are affiliate links in this post