Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Apple Cider

Have you completed your clothing inventory yet? The initial set up can be quite time consuming. However, once you have the system in place, updating it each season won't take up too much time.

If you haven't finished your inventory, that's okay. Keep working on it this month as you have time.

Googles for today:

"how to make your own cream cheese" (hint: there is a reason we buy cream cheese ready made at the store)
"cost of living calculator"
"where is the battery in my GMC Acadia" (under the front passenger seat!)

What did you research today?

My daughter's birthday is in October. I try to keep the Master Calendar light the week of her birthday. This allows me to finish the details of her party.

Today, we are going to plant onions, make cider, and take a deep breath.

Onions are hearty in Zones 3-9. Find out what zone you are in here.

Onions are a cold-season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. Wonderful news for me and my black thumb. According to Google, "onion sets" (a small onion bulb planted instead of seed) are best because they can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than planting seeds directly, or planting a transplant.

Plant your onion on a raised bed, or a raised row, at least four inches high. Onions need full sun, not shaded by other plants. Soil should be well drained, loose, and fertilized. If you are planting onion sets, don’t bury them more than one inch under the soil. Practice crop rotation with onions, which means plant onions one year, and another crop in that place the next year.



Onions are heavy feeders (like my 15 month old). You will need to fertilize them every few weeks with nitrogen to get big bulbs. When the onions push the soil away and the bulbing process starts, you can stop fertilizing. I did not know this, but if you water your onions more, they will be sweeter!

Now that the onions are settled in, let's make some cider. I love the way hot apple cider makes the house smell. If you aren't in the mood for hot cider, take a look at this idea for cider slushies that I found on Pinterest.

We are going to make a family friendly apple cider, and then I am going to give you a tip to kick it up a notch after the kids go to bed. Apple cider is forgiving and versatile. You could add cranberry juice, orange juice, cloves, nutmeg, etc. to this recipe. Experiment with what you have in your cupboards. Come up with your own unique family recipe!

Ingredients for Family Friendly Cider:
(serves 5)
5 mugs apple juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
caramel flavored syrup to taste (optional)
whipped cream (optional)

Combine apple juice and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour equal portions into mugs. If you wish, add the caramel syrup to the kid cups, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired. Check the temperature first to make sure it has cooled off enough to serve to your kids.

Additional ingredient for Adult Cider:
Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Flavored Vodka - if you haven't tried this, YOU MUST. It will change your life.



After the kiddos are snuggled in bed, add the caramel vodka to your cup and finish off with whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

Finally, it is time to take a deep breath. Schedule time for yourself today. Whether it be one minute, ten minutes, or thirty minutes. Make time for just you. Nobody else. Sit down with your cider. Take a moment to enjoy this season. Close your eyes, feel the warmth coming from your mug radiate through your fingertips. Let your thoughts float away, like clouds in the sky. Block out the sounds of life around you. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Focus on the smell of the sweet, spicy cider. Drop your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Exhale, and let all of your stress and worries go for just a moment. They will still be there when this moment is over.

Even though I don't want to go back to reality, the time is here for me. If you have more time, by all means, sit there and enjoy yourself. Don't have any guilt over the fact that you're sitting there doing nothing, while I have three kids climbing all over me while I try to prepare dinner.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Update, Confession, and Solution



Mr. Perfect has a job!  He started a new job earlier this year.  He absolutely loves it.  I am so happy for him, truly.  And also happy for our bank account.  Ha!

That is the update.  The confession is that the transition has not been smooth for me.  His job schedule is not consistent, with different days off each week.

As a result, I let my routine get out of control.  I have not been keeping up on my DailyZones.  For the most part, I was able to keep up with the other items listed on the Master Calendar.  I also planned my daughter’s second birthday party using every inch of my Ultimate Party Planner.

Due to my lack of organization, I began feeling very overwhelmed at home.  I felt as though I wasn't spending quality time connecting with my kids.  I felt distracted instead of focused.  I put emphasis on everything I thought I wasn't doing perfectly; parenting, finances, crafting, gifts, house projects, cleaning, LIFE, etc.  Instead of taking life one step at a time, I had this huge pile of emotional baggage.  It was unnecessary negative thinking and self-doubt, and it consumed me.  I was feeling blue, but couldn’t really pinpoint where that feeling came from.  My husband has this great new job after being unemployed for 6 months.  Why was I sad, instead of grateful?

Eventually, I became anxious about every little thing.  I was so paralyzed that I just did nothing.  Well, not nothing.  More like, I sat in my bed, eating ice cream from the carton while watching a German film from 1998 without subtitles, crying because I didn't understand as much German as I thought I should.  I always intended to brush up on my German, but I never make time for it (because, hello, it’s German, and I live in Northern California).  Since I was in an emotionally unhealthy state, this tiny thing that didn't really matter was the focus of my life.

As a side note, I figured out all of this without the help of a therapist, thankyouverymuch.  Actually, that is not 100% true.  I went to therapy for years, so I'm sure some of what my therapist told me stuck.  I'm still going to take the credit.

I thought I would get used to Mr. Perfect’s new schedule.  I thought I would find my all-familiar “rut”, and get back into my comfortable, safe, routine.  It finally occurred to me that the routine I was doing was based on a certain lifestyle that no longer existed.  A lifestyle of my husband being unemployed and home with our children.  This new job was certainly not that lifestyle.  I had to figure out how to adjust.

The solution is still in progress.  I am trying new things, and I will see what works.  If one thing doesn't work, I will try something else.  I have a couple of ideas, so even if the first idea works, I might still try the second idea, to see if it works better.  I am open to failing and making improvements until I find something that works for our family.

In order to manage my time appropriately, I needed to make a list of what I wanted to be doing.  Then I could create a plan to implement each of those things into my daily routines.  What I was actually doing was scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, watching random things on TV that I didn’t even like, and staying up too late.  I was living without intention and it left me feeling (obviously) unproductive.  Here are a few areas where I wanted to be investing my time:

Exercise
Daily Zones
Organize/Decorate
Read Books
Photography
Draw
Blog

There are a few more (like brushing up on my German).  I know that I can do a few of these things at one time and be successful.  I cannot incorporate all of the things on my list into my schedule and do them all well.  I have to decide which are the most important to me now, and save the rest for another time, or include them when I have extra time, and then be okay with the fact that there just isn't time to understand old German films during this phase of my life.

Because Mr. Perfect doesn’t have the same days off each week, I created two schedules.  The first schedule is a list of the things I want to do if Mr. Perfect is at work.  The second schedule is a list of the things I want to do if Mr. Perfect is at home.  These are just the things I am doing for myself.  Of course, I still have all of our regular family events, like karate, tap class, dinner, playtime, bedtime routines, etc.

Then I can look at my day of the week, look at his schedule, and know which items I will be doing that day.  I am starting with what I would consider a "light load" each day.  Once I have an idea of how much time these events are consuming, and get comfortable in this new routine, I can include additional areas of interest as desired.  This will help me avoid feeling overwhelmed from the very beginning.

The other option is to forget about the seven days of the week.  Mr. Perfect works 6 days on, 3 days off, a nine day cycle.  I can list the things I want to do on each day of his week, regardless of which calendar day it is.  I do like this option, but if Day 3 lands on a weekend, I could possibly squeeze more into that day than if Day 3 lands on a Tuesday.  If I go this route, I will have a list of options for the days I end up needing more to do.

Within each item is a more detailed plan of how to achieve specific goals in each category.  I don’t just write “Exercise on Sunday” and expect that will happen.  In order to be successful, I have smaller steps to guide me each day.

Do you have any tips or comments about how you deal with your household routine when work schedules are inconsistent?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Leave a comment below!

Monday, March 31, 2014

March Master Calendar

I have to apologize for not going over ANYTHING on the Master Calendar for the month of March.  It is my goal to go over more in April.

However, I did check off nearly everything on my calendar, and I hope you did, too!  Here is a summary of what I did this month:

Well, for starters, I am going to mention what I did NOT do, which was add to the garden the things that are in season to plant.  For two reasons: 1) we did not increase our garden plot like we had initially planned, and 2) we got fruit flies in our existing garden that I have yet to exterminate completely!  I tried spraying them with vinegar.  I need to Google more options.

I DID purchase artichokes and mushrooms, since they are in season here.

Recycled bottles and cans ($15!), cleaned the HVAC filter, took a country drive (free date night activity with Mr. Perfect), watch the moon (free date night activity with my son - check out the app, SkyView Free to  see the constellations!), file taxes, and shred old documents.

We still need to check tire pressure, and clean the garbage disposal, which I happen to know will be completed today!

I had on the list to schedule an HVAC inspection, but we are working on updating a bunch of energy-suckers in our house, and the HVAC inspection is included in that.

I don't have very many Easter or Spring decor items, one basket for each of the kids that I reuse each year, and a bag of plastic eggs that we use for egg hunts and other Easter games.  I have a shopping list for basket stuffers.  I found this great list of non-candy basket items, and this great list of Easter crafts for toddlers.

We couldn't afford to replace our two broken sliding screen doors at this time, so that's going on an on-going list of things to do once we have two incomes again.

I finalized my tax prep (see the How To with a free printable here).

I decluttered my e-mails.  I use the Bloglovin' app in order to keep all of my blogs in one place.  Then my e-mail isn't cluttered with tons of separate e-mails from blog posts.  If I want to remember a store, but don't necessarily want to continue receiving advertising e-mails from them, I unsubscribe, but write the store name and type on my Brain Dump List.

We recently had a home inspection completed (for an energy saving assessment), so I knew the gutters were clean and there has been no damage to the roof or attic.  We also inspected the exterior of the house for siding repairs and paint touch up.

Whew!  All of this along with my Daily Zone clean up, seems like a lot, but over the course of the month, doing just a little bit each day, you can really get a lot done!

I hope you will check in during the month of April for more tips, ideas, and Google searches!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekly Agenda Planning

Typically, I plan the following week in my planner on the previous Friday.  On Saturday morning, I will finish planning by menu planning with Mr. Perfect.  This is my process for planning:

Step 1.  Pull the week out of my planner and lie on a flat surface.

Step 2.  Choose color coordinating stickers/washi/post its based on my own ideas, or inspiration I find online (Instagram or Facebook planner groups).



Step 3.  I make notes ahead of schedule in pencil.  I do this because things can, and often do, change.  During this step, I erase the pencil markings and note my permanent items with color coordinated pen.  This is the color coordination I use:

Blue - son
Peach - daughter
Mint - Mr. Perfect
Orange - menu plan
Pink - me (work/personal appts)
Aqua - photography

Step 4.  Decorate.
Step 5.  Add sticky notes with grocery list/to do list.



Step 6.  Return pages to planner.
Step 7.  Take pictures and post!



I do this every single week.  It helps me to get prepared for the following week.  I can see what is coming, and what I might need to put on my To Do list, or get at the grocery store.  It also lets me know if I need to communicate anything with my husband or kids about the week ahead.

As a reminder, I do have another system that I use for recurring household tasks (i.e., clean HVAC filter, daily zone cleaning, seasonal items, etc.), that are not part of this planning system.  I keep that calendar in my household planner, and reference it daily!

How do you plan your week?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Day In The Life of a Goddess

I am super nosy.  This shouldn't come as a surprise.  Part of being nosy is a thirst for knowledge.  Being a google-er satiates that thirst.  So does peeking in someone's medicine cabinet.

I am that person who will peek in your medicine cabinet when I use your restroom.  Not to be a gossip about what anti-depressant you're taking.  More for informational purposes, such as, she has this perfume, that's why she always smells good, or she uses this make up, that's why she looks flawless.  I just tuck the information away in the back of my brain, and feel satisfied that I have learned something new today, and learned something new about a friend.

Since I know I'm not the only one who does this, I'm going to reciprocate.  I can't invite you all over to snoop in my medicine cabinet, but I will give you a peek into my "daily life medicine cabinet".

First, let's do recent Google searches/thirst for knowledge/nosiness:

"diy healthy protein bars" (research for a friend)
"funny things to give up for Lent" (I settled on giving up giving things up)
"quick tomato sauce" (research for another friend)
"are Ellen and Portia still together" (yes)
"Jared Leto short hair" (way better than long hair)
"causes of bad breath" (also known as - your daughter stuck something up her nose, and now it's rotting and you need to take her to urgent care to have it removed)
"best stationery stores in Sacramento" (for someone visiting)
"bikini body mommy" (great FREE workouts)
"angela adams" (I am searching for a clutch that a co-worker had years ago, in case anyone has one)
"geocaching" (mega cool free scavenger hunt! Check it out in your area)
"free little library"
"community garden" (I'm starting to feel like a hippie)

Whew, that was a lot!  What have you researched recently?

I'm going to give you a peek into my weekdays.  They go a little something like this:

As you read, keep this in mind:  Baby - 20 months old girl, Toddler - 3.5 year old girl, my son is 11, and Mr. Perfect is my husband.  He is out of work right now, so I do have a lot of luxuries that I wouldn't have if he was working.  For example, you won't see laundry in my day.  Sometimes, I do laundry.  But for the most part, he takes care of it.  He is able to start dinner before I get home.  Those things will change when he starts working again.  Also, I would like to add an exercise routine to my day.  At this point, I choose sleep or TV over working out.  One step at a time!

6 a.m. Baby wakes up.  Nurse baby.  Snuggle in bed with baby.

6:30 a.m. Toddler wakes up.  Snuggle in bed with baby and toddler for as long as possible without being late to work.  Watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Quick check of E-Mail, Instagram, and Facebook to make sure nothing life altering occurred while I was sleeping.  Think about what I should wear today.  If I come up with a complete outfit, I snuggle 5-10 minutes longer.




6:50 a.m. Shower.  Shave and wash hair (every other day, once a week, okay...never).

7:10 a.m. Dry off with baby clinging to legs, throw hair up in a clip, moisturize legs and face with coconut oil.  Share coconut oil with baby and toddler.  Sometimes, toddler give me a "massage" on my legs with the coconut oil.  Sometimes, baby eats it.

7:15 a.m.  Choose clothing with baby clinging to legs and toddler asking where I'm going (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.).  Get dressed one handed while holding baby.





7:20 a.m.  Make lunch if I didn't make it the night before (it happens).

7:25 a.m.  Gather sweater, purse, lunch, try to pawn off lunch to toddler to carry to the car, carry baby like a football to the car.

7:30 a.m. Say good-bye to all of the children and husband.  Includes hugging, kissing, hugging tighter, good byes, tears, more kisses, binkies, what's going on in the front yard?  BIRDIES!  Whining, more tears, toddler says, "Don't burn the toast!" (I burned the toast ONE TIME), finally drive away while kids watch somberly and rip out my heart.

7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m. Drive to work.  Sometimes I listen to music, or my favorite radio segments.  Sometimes I enjoy the peace and quiet.  I reflect on the morning, think about being intentional with my actions and words at work and in the evening.  Mostly, I listen to rap.



8 a.m. COFFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.



8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Work, coffee, Facebook, coffee, Google, Pinterest, coffee, Instagram, coffee, Google, blog, coffee, plan, eat, read, drink water, work, work, more work.  I do a lot of my planning and blogging on my lunch breaks.

5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.  Drive home.  I am much more inclined to enjoy peace and quiet on the drive home.  I know that I will be greeted by a very loud household when I walk in the door.  Baby and toddler will attack me and cling and whine and not let go until bedtime.  I try prep myself for this barrage.  If I don't, I find that I feel very anxious in the evenings, and I am not as patient.



5:30 p.m.  Walk in the door.  MAYBE put my purse away.  Get attacked at the knees by baby and toddler.  Eleven year old walks in, doesn't notice that I'm trying to deal with screaming children, decides this is an excellent time to slowly and wordily talk his way through his day with me.  Take a deep breath.

5:45 p.m.  Change out of work clothes, one handed, while holding baby.

6:00 p.m.  Dinner.  Which Mr. Perfect almost always makes.  I am so blessed.  Baby eats five bites of her own meal in her seat, and then decides my food (the same food) is better.  Sits on my lap and eats all my food.  I'm working on a Weight Loss Book called "Have a Baby Who Eats All Your Food".  Ask everyone what their favorite thing was today.  Discuss those events.




6:15 p.m. Clean up dinner.  This often involves packing up part of the leftovers for lunch the next day.

6:30 p.m. Grab diaper bag and snacks, and head out to whatever extra curricular activity we have for the night.  Usually, karate for my son, more recently, tap dance for toddler.  If we don't have anything scheduled, we play in the playroom.  If the kids are playing well on their own, I will sometimes sneak off and start my evening routine of addressing my Daily Zone, or packing my lunch for the next day.  Sometimes, I will watch them play because it is so much fun.  Sometimes we read or color, or play together.





7:00 p.m. Baths for the kids.  As they take baths, while still being able to watch them, I will pick up the bedroom, or do a Daily Zone if it's within eyesight of the bath.

7:15 p.m. Pajamas and reading books to baby.  I take her to her bedroom and we read alone together.  Sometimes Mr. Perfect joins us.  I relish alone time with my kids, and try to focus on each of them every day.  It doesn't always happen, but most nights, it does.  Then, when I miss a night, I know it's okay.





7:30 p.m. Bedtime for baby.  Kisses.

7:30 p.m. This is my one on one time with toddler.  Sometimes, I go into the master bedroom after putting baby to bed, and my son is reading to her.  I love watching this.  But if he's not reading to her, I read to her, or we jump on the bed, or I just listen to her talk.  She says the funniest things.




7:50 p.m. Potty, Pajamas, and books in toddler's room.  Mr. Perfect comes with us, and tucks her in.  She likes to be piled with blankets.

8 p.m. Bedtime for toddler.  Kisses.

8 p.m. - 9 p.m. This is my one on one time with my eleven year old.  We go over homework, do his pennies for the day (more on that another time), sometimes read together, or watch a show together.  This kid can TALK, and he is very intellectual.  I try to listen to whatever he wants to say, even if it makes me want to jam a pen in my eye.



9 p.m. Bedtime for my son.  Hugs, because he's eleven, and kissing your mom isn't cool, APPARENTLY.

9 p.m. One on one time with Mr. Perfect.  We will watch a show, talk about our days, lie in bed and be on our phones, or he will be on his phone, and I will do my daily read for "Simple Abundance", or plan, or check Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.  If I need to, I can do some pick up in the kitchen and great room, fix my lunch for the next day, etc.

Anywhere between 9 p.m. and midnight, usually around 10/10:30 p.m. Bedtime.

In the next week, let's talk about my process for planning my weekly agenda, as well as address the March Master Calendar, and maybe I can work on sharing a day in the life weekend edition.

If you share what your week looks like on your blog, post a link in the comments!  I would love to be nosy and see what you're up to!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How To: Game Closet Organization

Last weekend during nap time, I decided to organize our game closet.  If you follow me on Instagram (which I think you should!), you already knew this, and you're here for the dirty details.  I found the idea for this on Pinterest (you should also follow me on there).  Here is the original link for the instructions I followed.  I modified them for what worked for our storage space.  I found this bin at Walmart.  I was there already shopping when I spotted this.  I had not previously measured the space, so I assumed it would fit.  It did not fit with the wheels, but (WHEW), it did fit without the wheels.  Make sure you take measurements of your storage space, and then keep them in your purse/wallet in case you happen to be out and about and spot a great storage item.



The first thing I did was remove all of the games from the closet and place them on my bed.

BEFORE shot:







The closet is now empty!  A blank slate.


Then I started with one game, made sure I had all pieces and instructions.  If not, and the game was not "play-able" due to missing pieces, the entire thing when into the trash!  I did not have any games that my kids have outgrown yet, but if you find games you don't play, donate them.  Make a trash pile and a donate pile.

If I had all the parts, I folded the board, used my label maker to title the game it belongs to on the back of the board, and placed it in the bottom drawer of my new storage container.

Then I took all of the game pieces and instructions, and put them in a plastic bag.  I labeled the bag with a permanent marker with the name of the game, and placed the bag in the top drawer.






There were some game boards that were too large, and some games that had nice containers.  I decided to keep those separate on the shelf in the closet.

Once I had everything labeled, I threw out recycled the old game boxes.  If you have anything for donations, keep them in a designated space in the garage for donation items.  The Master Calendar will let you know when it is time for a drop off.  Of course, if your pile gets too big, you can donate whenever you need to!

Finally, I placed the new game central back in the closet.  Now I have room for my spare sheets!





This mess is history!



BEFORE:




AFTER:





Have you organized your games?  What method did you use?  I would love to see your photos.  Tag me on Instagram (@googlinggoddess) of your organized games!

Happy Organizing!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Income Tax Checklist Printable

Here we are, smack dab into the middle of next week already. Last week, I said I would have a tax checklist for you...LAST WEEK! I do apologize for not providing it. I had something come up at my day job that took precedence.

Let's take a detour first and talk about recent Google searches:

"bloglovin" (this is my favorite way to read my favorite blogs)
"geocaching" (sounds intriguing, I'm researching further)
"home decorators collection shoe bench" (possible addition to the master closet)
"what does the star mean in the elevator shaft" (tiny tower question)
"are cocoa pebbles gluten free" (yes)
"best books for 12 year old boys" (for a friend)

What have you researched lately?

Back on track with this tax printable. Since I did not deliver when initially promised, I am going to give this printable to you for FREE. Download it HERE, and then continue reading for tips on how to use the checklist and organize your tax paperwork.

Let's talk about taxes and paper organization for a minute. We can't do much about what you did last year, so for now, separate all of your papers into the categories on first page of the checklist. Paperclip each section together, place a sticky note on the front of the package, title it, and place a dollar value if applicable (i.e., total medical expense amount). This may take awhile if you didn't keep things organized last year, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it all done in one night. AND! Leave yourself plenty of time between now and April 15th to complete this project. No procrastinating!

Since it is still early in the year, you can get your paperwork in order now so that taxes next year will be a breeze. I keep one filing box in my desk for my tax files. When the year is over, the files are removed and replaced with new files for the next year.

I have a desk that has hanging file folders. With regard to taxes, I keep one each of the following files in this drawer:

Taxes. I keep the previous year's tax prep file here. I move the year before to storage in the garage.

Income. Any 1099s or W-2s, job search expenses (clothing, mileage, food purchases, etc.), job related moving expenses, etc. all go in this file.

Dependent #1. I name a file for each of my children. I keep anything not medically related in this file. Extra curricular expenses, educational expenses, childcare expenses, etc.

Dependent #2 and Dependent #3. ^^^SAME

Medical. I file all medical expenses here. Receipts for prescriptions, mileage reports, bills for doctor visits, etc.



Vehicles. Anything related to the cars go here. DMV receipt for registration, receipts for repairs, gas receipts, etc.

Household. File household improvement items here. Receipts, invoices, etc.



Home Documents. Property tax bills, mortgage statements, insurance policy, etc.

Pets. Vet bills, mileage reports, etc.

Donations. Keep receipts for donations, that slip Goodwill gives you when you do a drop off (ask for one if they do not offer), etc.

When I receive a bill, I pay it, then write on the portion of the bill I keep for my records:

"Paid 01.01.14
$50.00
Check #123
Mailed 01.02.14"

Staple anything that goes together so you don't accidentally add the same expense twice. Now I can easily reference the amounts when I am adding my like categories together.




Speak with a tax professional to find out what income, adjustments, and deductions are appropriate for you.

Now, when tax time comes around, I pull out each folder, paperclip everything together, put a sticky note on the front that says the category and the total:

"Medical
$516.25"



Stack everything together, answer the (lengthy, but trust me, useful for your accountant) questionnaire, and slap the checklist and the questionnaire on top of your paperwork, rubberband together, and you are ALL SET! Easy peasy.


Happy Tax Return Organizing!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February Master Calendar Prep

Right off the bat, I'm sharing my recent Google searches:

"gluten is my bitch"
"gluten free detox" (My son had gluten on Sunday, and he's feeling it this week. I'm trying to find a detox for him - one that he finds acceptable to consume - to rid his system of this.)
"build with chrome" (from The Lego Movie!)
"up light or down light for the bathroom" (the answer was neither)
"berg cloud printer" (cutest printer EVER)

What did you research today?

In reviewing the Master Calendar for February, you should get started on collecting all of your recipes and cookbooks in one place. Print out all of those recipes you Pin or Bookmark on your computer. Just keep them in a pile for now.

You can get a separate binder for your recipes, or place them in the "Food" section of your Family Binder. Or, create a "Recipe" section in the Family Binder.

Also take this time to collect old coupons and menus. Sort and declutter. Throw away expired coupons. Put coupons that you will use and that are still good in your wallet or purse. Add the item to your next grocery list so you don't forget to use them. Menus should be kept in one place, perhaps in a pocket folder in the "Food" section of your Family Binder.

Next, set up dividers. You may want to categorize your recipes by ingredient (i.e., pork, poultry, pasta, etc.), or by food type (i.e., gluten free, dairy free, egg free, etc.), or by course (i.e., appetizers, salads, main, dessert, etc.). Whatever works best for you is how you should do it. Maybe you will try one way and decide you don't like it! You can always change your method! One thing I would suggest. Use this time to write your favorite meals/recipes (just the title) in one list. You can reference this during your weekly meal planning. You could also create a divider for the front of your binder called "Favorites", and keep all of your most used recipes right there for easy access!

Next, declutter your cookbooks. Did you receive a cookbook as a gift that you really don't use? Is there a cookbook that seems to have obscure ingredients, or is beyond your skill level? Maybe you want to keep it for the beautiful pictures. As a rule of thumb, if you haven't used the cookbook in the last year, get rid of it. Donate it. Gift it. Or, if you really want to keep it, put it in the back of your cookbook storage so that it is not taking up visual space. Put it in your family bookcase. Put it in a box in the attic.

Next, declutter your paper recipes. Printed, on cards, ripped from magazines, etc. If you haven't made the dish within the last year, toss it. OR, keep it out AND MAKE IT. If you like it, incorporate it in your binder. If not, throw it in the trash. You can put the printed recipes or magazine papers in plastic sleeves. If you want to keep the recipe cards, find a divided plastic sleeve to insert them into.

Finally, insert your dividers into the binder, sort your recipes, and insert them into the appropriate section. You're all done!

Later this week I will be outlining my checklist for taxes, and the filing procedure I use to keep my taxes organized.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Master Bath DIY Reno and Storage/Organization Tips: Part One

Happy Monday, blog world! How was your weekend? Here in California, we were having unseasonably sunshiny, and warm weather. The rain finally came at the end of last week. I absolutely love the rain, so I enjoyed my rainy weekend.

I was so excited to see the participation in my giveaway on Instagram! Check in and "Like" my Facebook page for another giveaway, which will be happening soon!

Recent Google searches...

"tea party activities" (my girlfriend is throwing an ADORABLE tea party for her daughter's birthday)
"The Container Store Orla Kiely" (OH. EM. GEE. You must check this out right now!)
"Jonathon Adler Decorative Tape" (<--- and ^^^ are definitely going on my 30 Day Wait List)
"How to change my Windows 8 Lock Screen"
"famous photo Sophia Loren"
"how to remove soap build up from shower doors"

What have you been researching?

Let's jump right in. As I mentioned in my first ever blog post, we recently bought a house. It was actually one year on January 31st! We have been doing home improvements little by little. I am sharing with you today some of the work we did in our master bath. It is still a work in progress (hence, the "Part One" in the title), but it is almost complete, and I am confident that "Part Two" will be ready shortly.

Here is the "before" shot of the master bathroom:



The first thing we did was remove the carpet, and stain the concrete that was beneath the carpet. I outlined this treatment when we did the same thing to our laundry room. You can read about that here.

Next, we painted one wall red, and did a gel stain on the cabinets with a dark espresso color. We followed these instructions when we did our kitchen (we did the kitchen first, but that will be a future post). We followed those instructions to the letter for the kitchen. Here are the changes we made when we did the work for the master bath, the kid's bath, and the laundry room (as you can tell, we like this treatment):



The second time around, we didn't use the sanding block. We used something called a "deglosser". Ask about it at your local hardware store. You rub it on the wood with a cloth, and it is supposed to do the same job as sanding. It was much easier, in my opinion, than sanding everything. And it worked.

Gloves. LOTS AND LOTS of gloves.

Gel stain. You actually CAN substitute the gel stain mentioned in that blog. We used another brand, and our results came out great. The product referenced was pretty expensive since we could not purchase it locally. We did our kitchen cabinets, both bathroom cabinets, and laundry room cabinets with less than two gallons.

Use a power drill to remove the screws and hinges if possible. It just saves time, energy, and will help you avoid carpal tunnel.

We tried the sock and weren't impressed. We just used the foam brushes and regular paint brushes.

We did not use painters pyramids. We waited for the one side to dry and then flipped them over. It took a long time. I recommend painters pyramids.

Next, we removed the huge builder grade mirror. We followed this video, except we didn't remove the counter, nor did we have those suction cups. We wore gloves, and we were VERY CAREFUL. There was no damage to the walls behind the mirror, so we just painted it white to match the existing wall, and then hung two matching mirrors we found at Ross.



Then we spray painted everything! We like the oil rubbed bronze treatment, so we purchase oil rubbed bronze spray paint. We sprayed: light switch covers, outlet covers, light fixtures, doorknobs, a basket for storing our towel, and faucets.





Tip: In my experience, things that are "oil rubbed bronze" are more expensive than other finishes, such as "nickel". This WAS a nickel faucet that we purchased for $26. I love the handles. We spray painted it, and now it looks exactly like one I liked that was $88.



Tip: Store your towels near the shower for easy access. We have this small shelf, where this basket fit. We already had the basket, but it was silver, so we just sprayed it!



Tip: Use hooks to hang towels, both for easy access, and to help them dry thoroughly between uses. These are the "sticky" type hooks, and they even came in this oil rubbed bronze finish!



I found this great "thing" at Home Goods. I'm not sure what it was supposed to be, but I'm using it as shelving and a rack for a hand towel. The finish matched, I liked the geometric pattern, and it keeps my counters clear from clutter. Which makes them much easier to clean!



Our toilet is in a separate room connected to the bathroom (for extra privacy, yay!). I found a shelf with a matching finish to hold extra rolls of toilet paper, air freshener, and you could even store feminine products on here.



I also hung this sign over the toilet, which I think is HILARIOUS.  I found it at Hobby Lobby.



That's it for now! I will have more DIY examples, tips, AND the final "After" photo for you when the last of the projects are complete.

Happy DIY and Organizing!!!