• September 28, 2016

    September Round Up

    Wow, you guys, September came and went in what feels like a flash!  I don’t even know how we got here!  I guess a big part of this whirlwind month is that it was so busy (which is why I don’t have any pictures!  Sorry in advance)!  Here’s a little review of all the things!

    If you missed it, I started out September with a major hair cut for charity!  You can read more here.  It was such a rewarding and relieving event – plus I love my new hair!  It’s been so much easier to get ready in the mornings  which gives me a ton more time – I actually started doing dishes before I leave for work!  *haha*

    This month was my hubby and my 8th anniversary!  We usually try to go on a trip or do something big like that, but this year we just had too many other things going on to pull it together.  We did go out for a couple of nice dinners and had a lovely picnic lunch in the park, so it was still very nice.  True to our (sort of) tradition, we didn’t get each other individual gifts… we got one big “gift” for the both of us:

    That’s right, friends, we got a new washer and dryer for our anniversary!  I should have taken a picture of the ancient, rumbly, terrifying old machines… but let’s just say they were way past their prime and we needed the new ones!  Our kitty isn’t terribly impressed and I still don’t really know how to work the darn things, but I am a happy laundress!

    rat-queens

    This wasn’t a great reading month… too many other things got in the way.  I did enjoy a new (to me) comic called The Rat Queens.  The art style is glorious and the comic itself is the perfect balance of adventure and comedy.  There is quite a bit of strong language, so be aware of that, but it’s still really fantastic!

     

    animal-vegetable-miracle

    The book club book for October is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  That’s the only book I’ve really made time for so far.  The focus is on eating well from local sources to promote health, seasonal eating, and farming.  I like it a lot, but Barbara can be a bit preachy in her writing – I often feel like she’s wagging her finger at me like I’ve done something terrible.  She also sets the bar for her cause so high that I’m less inspired than I could be just because I know I could never measure up to her standard.  Worth a read if you’re interested in her ideas, but take it with a grain of salt.

     

    outlander-starz-poster2

    Besides being too busy to read much this month, I’ve also devoted a significant amount of time to my new favorite show: Outlander.  I’ve been meaning to read the books (and I still will), but I just couldn’t wait to watch the show any longer!  This is one of the most beautiful, thrilling, emotional, and intriguing shows I’ve ever seen and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes romance, Scotland, time travel, politics, history, or deep stories that make them think!

    On YouTube, I’ve gotten addicted to Carpool Karaoke.  A lovely co-worker suggested it after First Lady Michelle Obama was on and oh. my. gosh.  So fun!  I really love James Corden and he’s done a really lovely job with the series.  Michelle was my favorite guest so far, but I also really loved Adele and Elton John.

    Because I’m a multi-tasker, I’ve been planning for a short trip to Hawaii while watching all those YouTube videos.  that’s right, next month I’ll be boarding a jet plane with my BFF and enjoying the surf and sun in Hawaii!  We are super excited!  I’ve been researching and learning and planning all month and am practically packed already because I’m so excited.  *grins*  Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it when I get back!

    Lastly, I ran a 5k this month with my husband.  The last one I did was about a year ago and I’ve been exercising a lot, so I figured it would be easy.  Guess what?  It wasn’t.  The course was very different (lots of hills and running on dirt) and I just struggled so much!  I was pretty disappointed, but I learned for sure that I am really not a runner.  I’m just not.  This realization made my hubby sad since he enjoys running, and he was so encouraging and supportive… he even tried to convince me that we’d run together at home and he’d try to help me get better.  Poor thing… so much hope was dashed that day.  I’m glad we did it, but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to try again!  *haha*

    So, that’s my big story for this month.  I hope you are enjoying this time of transition from summer into fall as much as I am!  Go play in some leaves and drink some coffee!

  • May 13, 2015

    How to Sell Your House

    For-Sale

    In the midst of selling my house, I feel super inclined to share what I’ve been learning and putting into practice!  I hope you have so much luck selling your house!  First, you have to ask yourself:

    Are you Ready?

    Make an honest assessment whether or not you are really ready to move.  Is now a good time in the market?  Do you have a huge amount of time, energy, and resources to invest in moving right now?  Are you ready to hear about how your home does and doesn’t measure up (like, really ready)?

    Partner Up

    Find a realtor you love and whose opinion you respect – you will be spending a lot of time with this person in the coming months, you might as well enjoy their company.  Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations and if you meet someone but they rub you wrong or don’t seem to be doing anything to help you, move on!  Don’t waste your time working with someone who isn’t providing what you need.

    Clean and Clear

    Clean everything – yard, windows, carpets, pantry and closets…  Hire help if you need to.  The newer and shinier everything looks, the better.  If it isn’t shiny, people will notice and people will gripe about it, so don’t give them that opportunity.  Pay special attention to the front of the house because first impressions really do matter.

    Be wary of smells in the house.  A lot of people think you should bake cookies or light candles for showings, but that usually just makes buyers think there is a smell you’re trying to cover up.  Definitely don’t use plug-ins!  Smells can carry different connotations for different people, so just make it smell clean, not “homey.”

    Clear out as much of your personal stuff as you possibly can.  Rent a storage unit, donate or sell things you don’t need, box things up and hide them in your attic – whatever it takes to make your home look lived in but not too lived in.  Remember, you are selling a house, not a home; prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in this space, so don’t distract them with your goofy family pictures and clutter.  If you can, paint the interior with neutral colors like tan or grey.

    Stage Right

    Stage with neutral items: no personal or potentially polarizing pictures or objects.  You may be a devout Catholic (and that’s great), but if a Buddhist is thinking about buying your house, they probably don’t want to be met with a giant crucifix on the living room wall.   Same goes for political items and anything else that might be taken the wrong way by a potential buyer.

    Learn to live in a staged home:  keep a box to toss your important stuff in whenever the house is going to be shown so you can take it with you; send pets to daycare and if you have a cat, take the litter box and scratching posts out of the house when it’s being shown; cook on the grill or eat non-cooked foods a lot so you don’t generate smells and dishes.

    Let it Go

    Once all is said and done and your home is on the market, let it go.  Keep up the hard work you put in to clean it up and keep it looking nice, but try not to think about it too much – you’ve done what you can to make your home presentable and now it is just waiting to see what kind of fish bite the hook.  Let God, the universe, fate, and/or karma take over to bring the right buyer to your door.

    Now that your home is on the market, you might as well start looking for your own possible future home!  Dream a little, but try not to get too attached to any one place or plan until you really have a buyer.  This has been the hardest part for me by far… I know what I want, so waiting for a buyer so it will all work out is torture!  You can always make an offer on a home contingent on the sale of your house, but that may not work for the person selling… so just be careful with your heart and dreams.

    Good luck!

  • April 15, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition – Organize!

    Pretty

    Hello again, dear readers!  I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to find out how to get all your Keep pile back in to your closet without spending a ton of money while still increasing the organization of it all.

    I’ll tell you right now, there are tons of gimmicky things out there designed to organize closets and storage areas and if you’re not careful, it can become very costly very quickly.  Look at the space and organizational items you already have on hand and get creative with it.  Consider different ways to store items like purses and accessories.  Once you have an idea of what you really need, go shopping.  I started with cheap stores like Marshalls and Ross where I had great success!  Then, I hit up the Target clearance isles  and for the storage boxes (pro tip: Measure where your storage boxes are going to go!  I really needed a bigger size than most boxes are made for it to look right in my built in storage spaces).

    Middle-New

    Now that you have your organizational stuff, put it in place and fill ‘er up!  When hanging clothes back up, sort at least by season or type of clothes.  I separated sweaters and long sleeve tops from short sleeve tops and sorted the short sleeve tops between work appropriate and t-shirt.  Then I sorted those types by color.

    Her-Side-Now

    His-Side-New

    Once it’s all hung up, find all those pieces from your original “Maybe Keep” pile – you know, the pile of stuff you needed to try on and think about whether or not you’d actually use it again – and turn the hangers backwards on the hanging rod.  Then, when you use the item, you can turn the hanger around to indicate you made the right choice in keeping it.  Next year when you clean again, you’ll instantly have your donate pile because you know you won’t actually use the things that are still hung backwards!  Smart, eh?

    Turn-The-Hangers

    Another fun tip I love is to use rolled up catalogs inside your fall and winter boots to keep them standing tall!  There are all kinds of boot holders and expensive tips, tricks, and ideas for boots, but catalogs come to you in the mail for free and work perfectly!

    Boot

    You’re almost there now!  Pull together everything that is left over – accessories, purses, and so on – and find logical places for it all.  The best part of this step is that, if you have room, you can arrange beautiful bags and items on shelves to create a lovely backdrop of color.  This also helps you see what you have so you’re more likely to actually use it all!

    Now, take a step back and enjoy the progress you made!  Enjoy the beauty of a clean and organized space and do whatever you can to maintain this level of awesomeness throughout the year!

  • April 8, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition

    Messy-Closet

    As we established last week, it is spring!  And spring is busy!  If you’re anything like me, the improving weather makes you want to run outside and never come in again.  Being outside in the fresh air makes brings into sharp relief just how stale and dark the air inside is after being shut up all winter.  And if you’re anything like me, that creates an insatiable need to clean, sort, and renew every part of everything in your life.

    This spring, I decided to start with my messy, disgusting closet.  We’re about to get pretty personal here, so I want you to check any judgment you might have at the door.  If it helps, go look in all of your messy closets and remember that you’re not such a great housekeeper either.  And when you’ve done that, think about using the following tips to clean up your act too!

    *grin*

    First things first, assess your mess.  Take a good long look and soak it all in.

    Her-Side

    Her Side

     

    His Side

    His Side

     

    Pile of Shoes

    Pile of Shoes

    Ok, stop soaking it in and move on to the real step #1:  Pull everything out of your closet so you have a blank slate to work with in putting things back.

    Step #2:  Before putting things back, sort into 4 piles.

    Keep, Maybe Keep, Toss or Recycle, and Donate.  This probably goes without saying, but the Keep pile is for things you use and wear on a regular basis.  I also include things  you may not use often, but has sentimental value (e.g.: your wedding gown) and cannot be replaced.

    The Maybe Keep pile is for things you haven’t used or worn in a long time, but you think you might.  It’s also for things you need to try on and need to make sure you can even use it.

    The Toss or Recycle pile is for things that have holes, are broken, or actual trash that made its way into the deep, dark corners of your closet.  As you create this pile, keep in mind all the Pinterest DIY’s you have been saving up – you might not be able to wear your holy t-shirt, but maybe you can make a rug or grocery bag out of it.

    The Donate pile is for things that are still useable and in good condition, but you no longer want them.  These things will be given to charity, friends, or thrift stores.

    Keep

    Keep Pile

    Step # 3:  Execute your plans for each pile.

    Throw everything in the Toss pile away, keeping back things you have a project in mind for.  Be careful not to use the recycle ideas as an excuse to keep crap you’ll never use: be realistic about your plans and don’t hoard junk.  For the things you can Recycle, wash and put away in your craft storage place.

    Try on everything from the Maybe Keep pile and make a judgment call.  If you think you’ll use or wear it and it fits, put it with the Keep pile.  If there’s no way you’ll ever be a size 2 again, put it with the Donate pile.

    Bag or box up everything for Donation.  If you think friend might want some of it, let them sort through it before dropping it off at your favorite charity or thrift store.  This is a great time to donate the plastic grocery bags you’ve been hanging on to too – thrift stores often reuse grocery bags for their own shoppers.

    For what to do with the Keep pile, tune in next week!

     

    Happy Spring Cleaning!

  • February 25, 2015

    Essential Oils Carpet Odor Killer

    Feature Image

     

    My husband and I have two pets, a corgi and a cat.  We love them to pieces, but they both shed like mad and stink up the house if we’re not careful.  So, I vacuum once a week and use this odor killer as often as needed to keep the carpet clean and smelling fresh.  I imagine this same mixture could easily be used on furniture as well, if needed.

     

    Supplies2

    Ingredients:

    • Baking Soda
    • Essential Oil – You can use whatever oils you like depending on what you hope to accomplish with them.  For instance, Lavender is a nice smell in a bedroom to help you relax and sleep.  On Guard and Cinnamon will kill germs and yuckies that thrive in your carpet.  Lemon leaves a lovely, uplifting scent that feels really clean.

    Directions:

    • To make the odor killing mixture, combine a small box of baking soda with 5-10 drops of essential oil.  Mix thoroughly before beginning the cleaning process.
    • Run your vacuum over the carpet you want to neutralize.
    • Sprinkle the baking soda mixture over the whole carpet.
    • If your carpet is really stinky or has long fibers, work it in as much as you can.
    • Let it sit for a while – an hour or more if you can.
    • Vacuum it all back up and enjoy your fresher smelling house.

     

    Carpet-Cleaner

    Pro Tip:

    Ensure the oils you use are safe for your kids and pets before using!  Some animals, like birds, are extra sensitive to some oils and great care needs to be taken to ensure they aren’t hurt by your cleaning product.

    I keep my odor killing mixture readymade in an old glass jar.  Be sure to only use glass or metal containers when using essential oils – never ever plastic!

  • June 18, 2014

    DIY: All Purpose Cleaner

    Last week I wrote about clean eating, so today I want to start a little discussion about clean cleaning.

    If you use store bought cleaners in your home, you are familiar with how sparkly and shiny they can make your home.  You are also familiar with the strong smells, headaches, expense, and danger associated with those chemicals.  I have never been able to clean my bathroom without both the fan running and the window open.  My kitchen is more open, so I have less trouble there, but then I wonder about the safety of eating food that touches my counters since I just wiped them down with chemical cleaners that tell me right on the label you shouldn’t ingest them.

    I’m thinking this might be a problem.

    So… I started doing some research.  It seems like there are a million and one ways to naturally clean your home.  Everyone has a different opinion and preference, but there are definitely some common ingredients that we can all agree on.  After taking it all in and talking with some good friends, I’ve come up with an all purpose cleaner that I feel good about using on my countertops.

    For this “recipe” you will need a glass spray bottle.  I include Essential Oils in my cleaner and these oils may have the ability to break down plastics and become toxic.

    Ingredients:

    • Water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon Oil
    • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil
    • On Guard Oil Blend

    Instructions:

    Fill your glass spray bottle half way with vinegar and the rest of the way with water.  Add 2-3 drops of each oil.  Shake well and get cleaning!

     

    I use vinegar as part of the base for my cleaner because vinegar is acetic (in fact, there is a more acetic cleaning grade vinegar on the market if you care to get that instead of the regular vinegar).  The acid in vinegar polishes metals, dissolves soap scum, kills mildew and mold, and removes some stains.  These properties make it very attractive for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens.

    Water is used to help cut the other ingredients.  It doesn’t necessarily help the cleaning process, but it does help the overall smell and usability of the cleaner.

    I love lemon to clean with for a few reasons:  1. It smells great!  Lemon is a natural mood lifter.  2. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antiviral oil.  Lemon will kill tons of common household germs and gunk.  3. It works wonders on removing sticky stuff!

    Melaleuca oil is an even stronger antiseptic.  It will also kill bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other infectious germs.  Melaleuca has been used throughout history as a medical tool to help heal wounds and cuts… I use it whenever I get a blemish.

    On Guard is a special blend of oils that doTERRA makes and markets as a germ killing, health giving miracle mix.  And it is.  With orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, this blend of oils is magical.  This is shown to kill bacteria, mold, and viruses.  It also stimulates your immune system, protecting you from the very things you’re cleaning up!

    The first time I used this combination to clean my home, I noticed that I felt better when the cleaning was done.  My mood was good and my home smelled really nice.  I love the feeling of clean without the smell of fake pine and citrus.  Totally makes sense why chemical cleaners are lemon scented, though, right?

    As with anything you do, please be cautious when trying new oils and mixtures.  Essential oils are highly concentrated and may cause negative reactions if left on your skin or ingested.  For the most part, you’ll probably be fine, but do a little tester first to be sure.  And if you know you are sensitive to, say, cinnamon, maybe find something with similar properties to replace it.  The same caution goes for your pets.  This mixture should be diluted enough for most pets, but again, be mindful of how it may effect them.  I recommend checking out this website if you have questions about pet safety.

    And there you have it!  A simple, green, healthy way to save money and keep your home clean and germ free!

    *grin*