January 31, 2011

Meal Plan Monday ~Jan 31st

I have been struggling with planning meals the entire time I've been married but it never seemed too big a deal in the past.  Now; however, with a baby the lack of organization in this area is really becoming a burden.

So, I am going to attempt to dedicate a blog each Monday to menu planning starting this week.

This week's meals:
Monday:  Slow Cooker Pineapple Pepper Chicken Stew with rice (if this is good it might end up as my monthly food exchange group meal for February)
Tuesday:  Pot roast
Wednesday: Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Okra
Thursday:  Dinner out
Friday:   Make your own pizzas (I'll have to come back and add the links later - I can't recall where they are right now!)

January 29, 2011

Project Life is here!

Here I am hugging my Project Life box!  I don't think I've been this excited in a while about a package.  I'm such a nerd really....that's all it boils down to!

Well, as you can imagine I tore into the package like a dog on bacon and pulled everything out.  I started setting my binder up - put the page protectors in and then started putting the monthly divider tabs in and that's as far as I got because Real Life started crying to go to bed (that would be my sweet Olivia)!

So, you'll have to stay tuned for more details but I will leave you with this shot of my page protectors and the dividers.  Aren't they pretty?!

OYtamOL: Wk4 Slicing the Pie of Life

It's Week 4 in Unsolicited Advice's One Year to a {more} Organized Life challenge!  This week Brenda asked us to look at how we spend our time as a pie graph and she provided yet another adorable worksheet.  I tried to use it, believe me I did but I just could not quite visualize the slices so being the nerdiest of nerds that I am I resorted to creating a pie graph in Excel. 

But, do you want to hear something CRAZY???  The hours I input for the week did not add up to 168!  What?  I can barely find time to shave my underarms more than once a week but Excel is informing me that I have twenty-some odd hours not accounted for?  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark! 

So, I have a mystery on my hands it seems and the only solution is to pay more attention to where my time is actually going.   One thing I may have mentioned before that I have realized from working on this challenge is that I spend WAY too much time on the internet, especially during work hours.  Probably shouldn't confess to that on a blog but I'm trying to be accountable to make change this year so the price of admission is transparency.

Since we know that my pie chart was completely inaccurate I'm just going to share the categories I had entered into it (try not to laugh at some of these):

  1. Actual working time
  2. Time at work not working
  3. Time spent in support of my marriage
  4. Time spent with God
  5. Household maintenance
  6. Hobbies/Relaxation (ha ha!)
  7. Olivia (this represented time where I am taking care of Olivia and cannot multitask such as when I am putting her to bed, spending play time with her, etc. vs when she's in the high chair and I'm cleaning in the kitchen)
  8. Cooking or other food-related time
  9. Entertainment (including TV, movies, internet - at home)
  10. Personal hygiene (another ha ha!), and my favorite,
  11. Sleep (I have come to the conclusion that I took sleep for granted to such a degree pre-baby that I actually should apologize to it!)
So, those are the "slices" I came up with.....think I missed anything??  Have any idea where those twenty-some odd hours were spent?

January 28, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 4

Once again I am ready to show you my mini organizational success for the week as part of Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge!  

We're in the fourth week of her challenge and for this week I chose to organize a few drawers in my dresser.  I decided that would be the project for the week when nothing more would fit in the middle drawer and I was tired of digging through it to find whatever I need. 

So, here is a look at the before:
And now, the after, complete with cute dog:

January 27, 2011

Printable Subway Art

I just LOVE the Subway art I keep finding around the blogosphere!  I posted in December about getting started with these at Christmas and my goal is to get them for all occasions and have them ready to put up with each season.  I just love how clean they look and how easy it will be to change them out of the frames each season and constantly have something 'current' up.  For someone who really does not "decorate" this makes it very easy to look like I do!

So, with Valentine's Day around the corner I thought this new one should be the next in line to print and frame and Jessica of Craftily Ever After is providing them for FREE to anyone who posts about them on their blog so you, too, could have one!!   And, PS. congrats to Jessica on her pregnancy!!

January 25, 2011

Project Life....woo hoo!

I feel all tingly today because I ordered Project Life last night and it's on the way!  

I happened upon this product a few days into the New Year when a blogger posed a question about preserving memories in 2011 and a reader responded that their next scrapbook would be Project Life.  I had never heard of it so I put my "googling" skills to use immediately and boy, was I excited when I saw it! 

As a diehard scrapbooker, who has been burnt out for years but still has all the tools, I couldn't be more pleased to find this 'scrapbooking alternative'.  With a baby I feel the need to document as much as possible but have felt trapped in regards to how to get started.  The baby books where you fill in the details and add photos didn't feel personal or creative enough yet the idea of traditional scrapbooking was overwhelming when you consider that I rarely get more than 2 showers a week, if that.  I had begun making notes on scraps of paper and throwing them into a basket for later but let's be real - when is later??  5 years from now when she's ready for kindergarten, when she's graduating from high school, getting married?  The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, and this mom has lots of good intentions she doesn't want to fall by the wayside.  So, this seems like a nice middle-of-the-road solution for this season of my life and I can't wait to get started!

January 24, 2011

What is stockpiling?

Recently I heard about a new TLC show called Extreme Couponing.  I haven't watched an entire episode but I did watch several clips online.  My immediate thought afterwards was that the folks depicted are not extreme couponers, they are HOARDERS, it's a disease and they need help!  There is a BIG difference between hoarding and stockpiling so I thought I'd dedicate a blog to talk about what stockpiling is and how extreme couponers do it.

Stockpiling is exactly what it sounds like - creating a stockpile of something.  I consider the "something" to be a household or food item that you use or consume regularly.  Most couponers accomplish their stockpiles by combining sales with coupons.  I find, personally, that I am able to stockpile most efficiently and inexpensively at Harris Teeter and CVS but it can be done using a plethora of other stores if those are not near you. 

Why stockpile?  Well, that should be obvious but for me, my purpose is multifold.  1) I hate shopping (that's right!) 2) I love getting stuff for free or cheap and 2) I hate shopping!  Confused about how shopping helps someone who hates shopping?  Well, my dear, you see the more I stockpile the less I run out of the stuff the less I have to's all about how you look at it!

I thought you'd enjoy seeing a few photos of my most useful stockpiles:

Toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss (you can't see)

Deodorant (very important item you don't want to run out of!)

Shampoo and conditioner

Liquid dishwashing detergent

Powder automatic dishwasher detergent

Liquid formula concentrate (we don't normally use this but I found it on a clearance rack at Harris Teeter and it turned out to be a better deal than our normal powder so we bought all that they had - 24 cans = 24 days of formula)

January 21, 2011

Just do it!

This week I outdid myself at CVS.  A few weeks back I got a coupon out of the red machine for a $25 giftcard with a transferred prescription.  I had never transferred a prescription and figured it was really complicated but hubby came to me and said he wanted to transfer one of his so I headed up to CVS to figure out how to do it.  It was actually simple and they did all the work for me which was a huge surprise.  An hour later I picked up his refill and got my giftcard.

Fast forward to this week and we are out of canned soda (very scary in our household), dishwasher detergent and Lysol hand soap dispenser refills.  So, I headed back up to my favorite CVS and got (6) 12 packs of Pepsi products for $20, used the giftcard so they were free and got back $10 in ECBs.  I then used the remainder of the giftcard, the $10 In ECBs plus another 89 cent ECB to get 3 boxes of Cascade and 2 hand soap dispenser refills for free!

So, I didn't pay a dime of my own money and walked out restocking three categories of items we use often and were out of - LOVE IT!

OYtamOL: Wk3 Brainstorming for the Rough Draft

So, here we are on Week 3 of the One Year to a {more} Organized Life challenge and what a week it has been.  Both my husband and I have been sick so productivity has been at an all time low in our house. This week's assignment was to start brainstorming about things that need to be done weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly - anything that came to mind during the week - and put it on the list (another worksheet made available by Brenda, our fearless leader).

As usual I feel the need to share yet another embarrassing glimpse into our lives.  This week I completely ran out of clean clothes for my sweet baby girl which prompted me to realize that the laundry basket of "have stains that need to be treated" clothes had piled up quite a bit.  In fact, it had been piling up for about two weeks.  The basket included bibs/clothes with baby food stains, clothes that had experienced biological stains (that's a nice way of saying they had poop on them!) and those mysterious little baggies sent home from daycare when there was some type of soiling.  I assumed that the majority of the basket were items with food stains but guess what - I was wrong.  So that brings us to talking about why you should NEVER let stained baby clothes sit for more than a day. 

I started delving into this basket while sick.  I had taken a day off of work due to illness when I realized that I had no clean clothes for the baby so I had no choice but to figure out what to do about this basket of stuff in between naps.  As I began digging into it I realized there were A LOT of poop-stained clothes and {gasp} a number of them with chunks of poop still attached....ewww, GROSS!  Getting to the bottom of the basket was disgusting to say the least but worst of all was the fact that several really nice items had developed mold which I cannot seem to get out despite trying multiple stain removers.  If you know anything that will get it out please let me know!  So, this is how I figured out that I needed to add "clean all stained baby clothes" to the DAILY list!!!  Why must I learn everything the hard way?

Now, with that being revealed I have to say other than this gi-normous discovery the other major discovery I made while doing this week's assignment was that I am actually pretty good at getting things done for EVERYONE else in the house but I am getting very little done for myself and dang it, I'm important too, right? So, my rough draft is of things that I need to remember to do for myself.

So far I have:
Daily:  time with God, reading for pleasure
Weekly:  SHOWERS!  several.....need I say more?, also plan needed errands for week and work on meal planning which makes my life easier as well as everyone else's
Monthly: eyebrow maintenance
Every two months:  haircolor
Quarterly:  haircut
Twice a year:  dental cleanings
Yearly:  physical

I am sure I will think of more items but this is what I have for starters.

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 3

Here we are in Week 3 of I'm an Organizing Junkie's 52 week challenge!  This week I chose to organize the homemade baby food cubes and when you see the BEFORE picture below you will understand why!

Recently I used Once a Month Mom's fall baby food menu plan so I have A LOT of baby food in my freezer as you can see.  I thought putting it in bags would be good for fitting it in the freezer but when it's in this state it makes it hard to easily pull out what I need so that totally defeats the purpose of making so much ahead of time.

Here is the AFTER (how do you like my cute labels?):

I am still not 100% happy with it because I don't have enough freezer safe containers and these are not really utilizing the space as efficiently as I'd like so I'm going to check out other options soon.  Stay tuned for a possible update to this project in my next installment!  For now though this is working for me better than the way it was before so SUCCESS!

January 20, 2011

A new milestone!

Just days before her 7 month birthday Olivia decided to show us that she could now sit on her own for long periods of time - she sat on the changing table for about 10 minutes and on the floor for about 15 minutes!!

Olivia had her 6 month pediatrician appointment also this week (a few weeks late due to the holidays) and was 18 lbs 5.5 oz (80%) and 27 1/4 inches (80%).  We were quite proud - she was a real trooper when she had to get a bunch of shots!

January 14, 2011

Kite Update

Recently I came across a very good deal on Amazon that I posted about a Prism Quantum Stunt kite which is one Prism's basic to intermediate two line stunt kites. I actually already own one of these kites but since I had some recent birthday money I decided to go ahead and get another one in a new color style that I really like called Spectrum. This is a great kite and really fun to fly because it has a lot of pull so you really feel the kite.

So why do I ever need more than one of the same kite? Well because one of the really fun things to do with kites is to stack them. Stacking is when you take multiple kites and connect them together on top of each other by two short even lengths of spectra line attached to the center of the 2 leading edges of the lower kite to the flying lines of the upper kite. A process which is repeated for each kite you wish to add to the stack. This allows one person to fly all of the kites in tandem by simply controlling the flying lines of the bottom most kite in the stack. It can be a very beautiful and amazing thing to watch. Some people have stacked as many as 25 or 30 kites. Personally, the most I have flown is a 5 stack with my Prism Microns. This stack kite set is super fast and does require some very quick reaction times but it is a real blast to fly. Since the Quantum kite can have quite a bit of pull I would probably only want to at most stack 3 of them but I am sure someone has probably done more.

When Olivia gets older say 4 or 5 I am hoping she is going to want to fly kites with me but at that age she will not quite be ready for stunt kites so a single line kite will be more in line for her to start off with. Fortunately Prism, my favorite kite company, also has a product line of single line kites too. Some of these kites are designed so that they can be easily stowed away in a book bag, luggage, car or wherever. Their newest addition to this stowaway single line kite design is the Delta Kite. Right now Amazon has the Delta kites available ranging from about $20 to $34 depending on the color scheme you chose. That $20 price is great and lucky for Olivia and I the $20 one is in the Spectrum color scheme just like my new Quantum Stunt kite. So it didn't take much convincing myself to use bit more of my birthday money to go ahead and buy Olivia one of the new Prism Delta Stowaway kites in the Spectrum color scheme. In the meantime until Olivia is old enough to fly it herself I will now have 3 Prism Stowaway kites in my quiver, 2 Diamond and 1 Delta design, which is a perfect number to match the number of cars we have in our family. So no matter what vehicle I am driving, if I am out and I get somewhere with some good wind and open land I will always have a kite on hand to fly.

Bible Reading for Slackers and Shirkers

As a new mom I am totally immersed in all things Olivia.  Seriously, if you read my blog then you know that I don't even have time to pluck the weird hairs out of my chin or take a shower so the thought of actually reading the Bible is waaay out there for me right now.  But reading THIS today really ministered to me and took a load off my chest.  I will try again. 

OYtamOL: Wk2 The Bare Minimum

So, before I get into Week 2, can I be completely honest????  This lack of organization is like a resounding gong or clashing cymbal right now.  Let me provide some (embarrassing, yet again) examples from the last week or so:

-Looking in the car mirror for THIRD day in a row and realizing I still have not plucked the strange hairs growing out of my chin
-Realizing my daughter is completely out of bibs because they are all in a laundry basket waiting to be treated for stains along with every outfit from the past week and a half that she has pooped, vomited or spit up on
-Worrying I'm going to get fired from my job for not being able to get to the office at a reasonable hour, not having my employee evaluations done and forgetting about God only knows how many other things
-Almost running out of gas (again)
-Realizing that three days ago we had some air-bound poop from the changing table that landed on the carpet in the nursery and I still haven't had a chance to put any stain/odor remover on it
-Forgetting to charge my cell phone so it dies and then the daycare has to call all over trying to find me when my daughter gets sick

And, these are just a few of the many examples I could share!  I.NEED.TO.GET.MORE.ORGANIZED!

So, moving on, it's week 2 at One Year to a {more} Organized Life with Brenda from Unsolicited Advice.  and there were two instructions this week along with one suggestion:

1.  Display your purpose somewhere you will see it many times each day
2.  Determine the bare minimum for each day, post it and follow it! (she has a worksheet available that goes along with this one)
3.  Consider not logging any internet time until the bare minimum was done each day.

So, how did I do?

1.  I printed out some really cute purpose statements with the OYtamOL logo but have not posted them anywhere yet.
2.  I did not complete my entire worksheet but I did think about the items for the "Daily Do or Die" column which are:
Get dressed and go to work
Take care of Olivia (whatever that means each day)
Make formula, prepare food and label for daycare
3.  I did not forego internet time but I did become accutely aware of how much time I spend on the internet and am not getting more important things done so this has been a bit of a wakeup call for me.

I assume this is one of those things (completing the worksheet) that is supposed to become a weekly task so I will try to do better next week!!

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 2

Just as a reminder, this post is part of Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing 2011 challenge and everyone else is really on Week 2 of the challenge while I'm just starting so really this is m Week 1 but I guess so that there is no confusion between my posts and Org Junkie's I will call this Week 2 and there just won't be a Week 1 for me.

So, if you are still with me after that boring clarification I'm ready to show you my Week 2 organizational success!  I chose this week to de-clutter and re-organize the bathroom cabinet that is in the baby's bathroom.



Next week's project will be organizing all of the homemade babyfood that I've made this week and planning a menu for how I'm going to use it!

January 13, 2011

52 Weeks: Some before pictures

I haven't gotten my list together yet but I took a few before pictures of areas I know I will be working on in this first month or two...what a mess!

Baby's bathroom cabinet

Master bathroom cabinet

Shelves in Laundry closet

Top of dryer

January 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing

I found Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing 2011 challenge today and I think it fits in really well with Brenda's One Year to a {more} Organized Life challenge that I've committed to so I'm going to get started on this as well.

With this one you make a list of 52 organization related projects - one for each week of the year and each Friday you comment/blog about what you did.  I love this idea because it is totally customizable to each person's situation.  The projects and be whatever you want them to be and they can be as big or as small as you want them to be.  Org Junkie also challenges her readers to post before and after pictures of their projects.  I think I'll enjoy seeing everyone else's pictures; however, as you know I am terrible about actually completing a task so I can take an after picture!  Maybe this will help?

I am a little behind in making my list so stay tuned......

January 11, 2011

My very first embellishment

The process of learning to sew is rather painful for me.  I am more or less learning by trial and error.  The classes I took were fun and I did learn some things but I really did not learn foundational concepts so I am finding that I make alot of errors because I just don't know what to do when.  I am currently signed up to take a Sewing for Babies and Toddlers class which begins at the end of February; however, I got a list of the "skills needed" from the instructor and between you and me, I am not ready for this class.  So, I am looking into working with a lady one-on-one to get the help I need so that I can get ready...stayed tuned for more on that!

In the meantime I have a little something to show you.  I got two of these cute towels for Christmas from my sweet aunt Joyce. 

When I went to JoAnn's after Christmas I discovered pom pom trim!  What a fabulous invention...I see lots of pom pom trim in my future!  I'm having visions of ways I can put pom poms on all of Olivia's clothes....oh, I digress.  Anyway, so at JoAnn's I found Christmas pom pom trim for 90% off so I had to get some so I could experiment with sewing it onto things.

Voila!  Here is how it turned out:

January 10, 2011

Booking It in 2011

Reading has always been a passion of mine going back to elementary school.  I have been known to read more than one book in a week and to stay up til the wee hours in order to finish a particularly exciting book.  But alas, along came Olivia...  She is truly the joy of my life but I have to admit she has really put a kink in my reading schedule.  In fact, I am fairly certain I've not read more than 3 books since she made her appearance back in June.  I really miss reading.

So, for 2011 I am hoping to reclaim reading!  In an effort to have more accountability around this I am posting my 2011 reading plans.  Also, I decided to join Life As Mom's Book Club also to broaden my reading interests. 

Here is my list of books for 2011.  (Note, some of these are for my church book club, some are from the Life As Mom list and some will be tied to Blogging For Books which I will be posting reviews for throughout the year).  For my church book club we only have the books identified through May so I'll have to add the remainder to this list later in the year and for Blogging For Books I don't know until I finish one provided book what the next one will be so I'm just planning to read at least 4 books this year in relation to that.

January:  Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

February:  Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

March:  Sisterchicks On The Loose by Robin Jones Gunn
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
TBD book for Blogging For Books

April:  Front Porch Princess (book 1) by Kathryn Springer
Finding Your Purpose As a Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground by Donna Otto

May:  June Bug by Chris Fabry
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

June: TBD book for church book club
TBD book for Blogging For Books
Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson

July:  TBD book for church book club
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

August: TBD book for church book club
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider

September: TBD book for church book club
TBD book for Blogging For Books
Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand

October: TBD book for church book club
The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin

November: TBD book for church book club
The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, the third in The Wingfeather Saga

TBD book for church book club
TBD book for Blogging For Books

Anyone want to join me?

January 06, 2011

It's a New Year and I need a New Life!

I am really barely keeping my head above water when it comes to everyday living.  Olivia, who I adore, takes up alot of my time, especially in the hours that are supposed to be for sleeping!  And I work full-time.  Combine the two and there is very little leftover for housekeeping tasks, spending quality time with my husband or anything else for that matter.  I have completely forgotten what it is like to do something for fun like read a book (I sooo miss reading) and forget having "quiet time"....I haven't opened my Bible in months.  So, what to do, what to do?

Let's go back a few months first.  After returning to work from maternity leave mid-September I began to work on routines to help me keep the house clean.  I used FLYlady techniques and talked about that HERE and HERE.  Well, try as I might those were not working for me because there was just too little time in my day for all the routines and such.  Meanwhile the house was about to implode so we decided to hire someone to clean our house twice a monoth which has been fabulous!  Around that same time I also found the Life As Mom ebook which helped me to develop my first Household Notebook which I talk about HERE and have begun using now. 

So, I was feeling a bit more organized but with the dawn of the New Year things have been more chaotic than ever.  Looking around the blogosphere I found numerous goal setting worksheets and the like so I've been thinking I should set goals for the year and then just thinking about that has made me have heart palpitations because I just can't put anymore on my plate!  Fast forward to this week.....

I found Brenda's year-long organizational challenge called One Year to a {more} Organized Life.  She says her goal is to be more organized at the end of this year than she was at the end of last year.  Now that is a goal that I might be able to handle! 

Her Week One  post challenges the reader to determine their personal reason for wanting to become more organized.  She says that this will be what instills the stick-to-it-ness required for a year-long focus.  So last night I filled in the worksheet she created to help with this and discovered that I have a bigger problem with organization than I thought - LOL!  I'll give a few (embarrassing) examples that came to mind when I was doing my worksheet:

-This week I haven't had a shower since Sunday (it's currently Thursday)
-I am having MAJOR problems focusing at work to the point that I am starting to miss some deadlines and forget about random but important things.  Let me tell you that this is! 
-I regularly re-buy because I cannot find the same item I know I already bought
-At least weekly something important gets lost - this week we found our video camera after looking for it several one of our cars.  I guess blindness is setting in as well... 
-Last week a set of keys was lost.  It was found after much searching - where you ask- oh, you know, just out on the lawn.  Really? 

So, you can see we are talking about some serious disorganization, not just a little messiness! 

So, what is my reason for wanting to be better organized?  Well, to be perfectly honest it's because I feel completely out of control and I hate that feeling.  Last night I tripped over baskets of clean clothes in the hallway.  This morning I tripped over piles of dirty clothes in the hallway.  That was right before I found myself frantically making three meals of solids for Olivia - one for breakfast and two to go with her to daycare - because I hadn't gotten them ready ahead of time.  I haven't had a shower in days but didn't have enough time to take one this morning and was too tired last night to do it before bed.  I could go on and on.  But why do I want to feel "in control"?  Because I know that this kind of living is not God's best for me or my family.  So, my organization mission statement is:

I want to organize my life so I can be a better steward of all that God has so graciously given to me.

Want to join me?

I love baby feet!

5 Transactions....

That's right - FIVE transactions!  That is the number of separate register visits I made today at CVS.  I've never done a trip that big before.  It took a lot of planning ahead, coupon clipping, organization and TIME but wow, I got alot of high dollar stuff!  Here's a photo and below is the breakdown.

#1  Bought 4 packages of Excedrin and 1 GE Energy Smart lightbulb - had $15 in manufacturer coupons, spent $12, got $12 back in Extra Care Bucks (ECB).

#2 Bought 2 packages of Prilosec 42 ct. - had $3 in manufacturer coupons and $12.50 in ECB, spent $38, got back $14 in ECB (will submit a rebate request for $25 so total spent will end up being $13).

#3 Bought 3 L'Oreal Everpure shampoos and 2 conditioners - had $3 in manufacturer coupons, a $4 off $20 CVS coupon and $14 in ECB, spent $11, got back $10 in ECB.

#4 Bought 4 Reach toothbrush 2 packs - had $2 in manufacturer coupons and $10 in ECB, spent $0.93 (tax) and got back $5 in ECB.

#5 Used my $5 in ECB to buy a few items for fun.

Total spent $39.95 (after rebate mentioned in #2), total ECB earned and spent in this trip $50.50