New Year = New Fridge

OK, so I'm not really getting a new fridge, mine is only a few years old to me and this hand-me-down fridge is a drastic improvement to my last hand-me-down fridge.  But, last night as I polished off the last of the cookies, I decided to make a clean start in the fridge too.  The reality of 1 am is that I wasn't going to actually get up and clean the fridge then, but I made plans!

Earlier in the day I had read a post on my cousin Lynn's blog Random Family Thoughts about Mark Bittman and becoming a Lessmeatarian.  From what I read about it, the basic concept is not eating meat until after 6pm (or dinner time), eating more fresh fruits and veggies either raw or prepared at home therefore drastically reducing the use of processed foods.  Since a while back I switched our family's consumption of proteins to hormone free dairy, chicken, meats, etc, this was in line with my current goals (typically means I pay the price for organic, but have tasted the difference in quality and while I prefer to be as thrifty as possible, it is a price I'm willing to pay). 

I also try to do as much as possible to be as environmentally responsible as possible and teach the importance of that to my children as well.  My mom always said I was a bag lady as a child, so it was no surprise when I jumped on the reusable grocery bag train just after it pulled out of the station.  Throwing anything recyclable in the trash causes major guilt, I went so far as to bring all my recyclable materials back from our vacation in New Hampshire since they didn't have recycling at the resort we visited.

Well, I could go on, but I'll let you go find out more yourself.  My planning involved finding some new recipes that were simple, involved fresh or natural ingredients and quick to prepare.  I went to bed excited to clean out my fridge.  This morning I picked up a oats, whole wheat flour, bananas and several pounds of citrus fruits and a few other basics.  I spent a solid hour dancin' to my ipod, dumpin' old food and wiping out the fridge.  As I put stuff back, I put dinner in the crock pot to help use up things.
After dinner Junebug assisted me in making home made granola starting with Mark Bittman's basic recipe, here's our version (which we are already snacking on!):
  • 6 cups oats
  • 2 cups seeds and nuts (we cleaned out the pantry using up what was left of roasted soybeans, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds and mixed nuts)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin pie seasoning
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla butternut extract
  • 2 cups of dried fruit (we used craisins and cherries)
Preheat oven to 350.  Mix everything but dried fruit in a large bowl.  Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet (we used two large Pyrex casserole dishes since my baking sheets don't have rims).  Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Mix in dried fruit and let cool.  Store indefinitely in an air tight container in the fridge. 


Nothing like a new toy to inspire organization

Christmas was quite the happy occasion in our household, especially for me!  I was blessed to receive the two top items on my wish list, a new surger and a bias tape maker.  Since I felt it necessary to give them a good home, the quest to conquer the craft pit of dispare became priority numero uno.

So, against Flylady's advice, I decided to go at it until it was done (OK, with some good nights sleeps and naps in between).  I did however have a give-a-way, throw-a-way and several put-a-way bins (good Flylady advice).  I started by dividing up everything by category: Sewing, scrapbooking, jewelry and other crafts.
I took everything off the floor and counter tops and put it into the correct bin.  This enabled me to look at  the stuff that was already in the cabinets, something I knew needed to be done, but had been avoiding.  Filling the bins was the fastest part of the process:
The original bins really are under there, it always looks worse before it looks better
Since there was a lot that came out of the cabinets, and wasn't going back, I worked one craft at a time and put stuff back in it's new home, labeling as I went, seriously thinking about if I would ever use it before putting it away.  After two days of my ipod constantly running, I had a huge black bag of trash, a kitchen bag full of plastic bags to drop off to be recycled, 4 large boxes full of cardboard also to be recycled and 2 large bags of give away (already picked up by the VETS!). 
I do still have a large basket of items to be passed on to other people, a lamp to decide what to do with and the two big drawers still haven't been touched.  The picture really doesn't do it justice but I took it with the cabinets doors open to show that nothing is stuffed in, it is all grouped together and labeled, maybe this helps:
I knew all that Chinese take out would benefit me later!
So, my new toys have a clean home and hopefully, I will be using them regularly very soon.  We have a few days left of Winter Break and a few projects I want to do with the kids before then, so my toys may have to wait, but at least they won't be claustrophobic while they wait. 

The rest of the house on the other hand required some Flylady crisis cleaning to be ready for my parents delayed visit.


The 13 Hours of Christmas Eve

The last few days have been so busy, I'm just happy to have kept up pretty well with my baby steps.  I'm not going to try to add any until after the weekend is over.  The clock just struck 11am, so I have 13 hours left:
13.  Grocery Shopping, thankfully the list is short
12.  Deliver last minute Avon orders
11.  Clean up living room
10.  Clean up kids
  9.  Put together an appetizer (probably going with chips and salsa in a nice serving piece!)
  8.  Make family tradition breakfast strata
  7.  Deliver neighbor gifts
  6.  Christmas Eve Party
  5.  Christmas Eve Service
  4.  Get kids to bed
  3.  Wait for kids to fall asleep
  2.  Last minute wrapping
  1.  Transform into the jolly big guy
I'm off before I have even less hours to get this all done.  Have a very Merry Christmas!


Naked Walking Man and Decluttering 15 Minutes at a Time

Naked walking man lives in my neighborhood and walks daily while reading a book.  Well, not completely naked, but shirtless as soon as it hits 45 degrees, and I guess since it is right about the freezing line here, if he's walking now, I haven't noticed since it's usually the fact that he's shirtless that calls him to my attention (and to my children who always ask why he's walking around "topless reading" as Junebug called it once).

What does this have to do with decluttering 15 minutes at a time?  Well, yesterday Flylady had me add a 5 minute room rescue to my morning routine.  Yesterday and today I did this and felt pretty good about my accomplishments.  So today, Day 10, is "You can do anything for 15 minutes."  I did 15 minutes of decluttering and decided to do 15 minutes of walking, around the center of my house that is (that whole freezing outside thing).  I actually had my shoes on at this point so I set the timer and started walking but since O-man didn't want music on, I was trying to figure out what else I could do to help the 15 minutes pass more quickly.  I figured if naked walking man can walk along the road and read, I can do laps in my house and crochet, right!?!?!?!  I grabbed my now less frequently used baby sling, threw some yarn in and worked on one of my last Christmas gifts.  A bit of exercise and creative productivity at the same time was a successful 15 minutes in my book.

And, since one of my hot spots is the dining room table and I'd already taken care of it, we were able to spread out and make some Oreo goodies for class parties tomorrow:
Dipped in chocolate and decorated with crushed Oreos, candy canes and sprinkles by the girls.  O-man tested them before we had a chance to stop him.  I'm judging by the chocolaty grin he sported, they were yummy.


The Wrong Kind of OCD

I have a chronic disease I like to refer to as Hereditary Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Trust me, it runs in the family (any family members reading, feel free to compulsively deny and then obsessively ponder for a few days).  The problem is, it's the wrong kind of OCD according to my husband.  While there are some things in the germ/dirty category that completely freak me out (birds for example), I don't spend hours a day cleaning like crazy (hence, the wrong kind of OCD), which is why I'm trying to fly!

My kind of OCD involves suddenly getting an idea in my head and obsessing over it until it is done (or I start obsessing over something else....).  Here's how it all unfolded:

Friday: Flylady had me add a hot spot cleaning to my babysteps.  I successfully did two or three of these actually and the girls helped!  Well, with a few living room spots cleaned up, I decided it was time to get out the rest of the Christmas decorations.  I'd been procrastinating the tree for one reason:

I can't figure out how to rotate the picture! trOble with a capital O!  O-man hasn't left the tree alone since we put it up, he doesn't leave the tree at church alone either, so I knew it was bound to be a problem...
While getting out the decorations, I opened a few boxes in the basement, found a few things I had been wondering where they'd been lost to and quite a few things I was ready to let go of.  The end result?????
That is 4 large boxes/bins, two stuffed bags and a few outdoor decorations!
A pretty successful obsession in my mind, all picked up by the VETS the very next morning.  Baby step day 7, I woke up feeling pretty accomplished and was quite happy to add "Pick out your clothes" to my nightly routine.  Enter obsession #2 for the weekend....  One of the things I found the night before was a box of my missing sweaters, which got me back to thinking of my Clothing New Years resolution (more on this later), made me think of great Kohl's bargains with my friend Amy, brought me back to trying to figure out what to make her for her birthday, and with a few more mental jumps brought me to a weekend knitting obsession.

One little problem with the weekend knitting obsession... I didn't know how to knit!  So why would I obsess over knitting?  It's quite simple actually, I entered to win a free pattern while on one of my favorite blogs From An Igloo and I won!  Since I know how to crochet and have made up my own patterns, I had to challenge myself.  This was supposed to be a post Christmas challenge, but a best friend's birthday trumps that, right?  Of course once I started I had to finish.  I'm actually very pleased with the end result (just needs buttons): 
Tiny Sky Cowl by LaBoutiquedeJosefina
It's a really good thing day 8's baby step was to find a 3-ring binder and put paper in it.  Today is day 9, Decluttering a few minutes at a time, oh boy, this could be trouble.....

I'm linking up to
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Shoeless Em and Hot Spots

I got up yesterday and got dressed to the shoes.  Then before I knew it, I was standing in my socks looking at the dishes in my sink trying to decide if I should wash them or just deal with it in the morning!  I ended up getting busy and forgetting to write things down on my post it notes.  But, I'm happy to say, I did do the dishes and shine my sink.  I don't have a clue when I lost my shoes the first time, I was in and out of the house so I'm pretty sure I kept to my habit of removing shoes when I entered the house, but haven't successfully built up the habit of wearing my indoor shoes yet.  But, that's why these are Baby Steps!

I'm also supposed to be writing down any negative thoughts I have and turning it around into a positive.  This is something I've done for years and am currently trying to teach my daughter.  Actually, we've been working on using this method for comebacks.  I'm trying to teach her whenever someone says something mean or negative to her, to say thank you and give them a compliment and a smile.  For example, Junebug came home from school the other day upset because a boy in her class called her "Tomato head."  She was wearing her favorite strawberry hat Ya Ya Tracy made her.  Next time her response should be something like "Thank you, I really like your hat too," followed by her toothy grin.  We discussed how not everyone knows how to give compliments, so if we respond to negative remarks with a compliment and a smile, maybe they will be more likely to give someone else a compliment or at least not make a negative remark.

Which leads us to Hot Spots (OK, not really, I'm just saving you the babble).  Today in our Flylady Baby Steps we are learning about Hot Spots.  Time to find the timer and practice two minutes of dealing with a "fire" in our house.  Junebug and Tasha are going to be learning about this when they get home since they want to finish decorating for Christmas today (yes, we are very behind).  We'll see how O-man and I do today, I'm hopeful that I can teach the 2 year-old to clean up for 2 minutes.  Maybe in between "Sticky House Mug Mouse" since he is totally zoned out to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse right now.....


Lace Up Shoes, Seriously?!?!?!

OK, I'm familiar with Flylady, and one of the things I have always protested is the lace up shoes.  Day 2 baby step is to get dressed to lace up shoes when you first get up.  I understand the concept, if I tie the shoes, I have to untie them to lounge on the couch.  I have two problems with this. 

1. I've grown up taking my shoes off when I enter the house.  If I need to wear shoes in the house then the floor better be amazingly disgusting!!!  I'm so used to asking people to take off their shoes when they come in my house and a major pet peeve of mine is people tracking dirt into the house.  It makes me want to scream at them like a banshee and I start to obsess over it.

2. I love shoes, but I can't stand shoes that tie, never could!  The past few months I have gone out of my way to find supportive shoes that don't tie, something that gives me support and doesn't look like a sneaker. 

So, my compromise, I have a pair of Crocs that are amazingly comfortable, fit my custom insoles and have that supposed benefit of toning your legs while wearing them (not sure I really believe that, but like to think I do).  I cleaned off the bottoms and they are going to be my indoor shoes.

Day 2 added dressed to shoes to shining my sink. Check!  Day 3 is "Do what we've already done" and read some of the messages, something I usually do when I need motivation. Check, check and che... (OK, have to go put the last two dishes in the sink.. ck).

Day 4, "Write these things down."  So tomorrow, my Control Journal will officially begin to evolve.  I'll be looking for some post-it notes, in my indoor shoes, tomorrow morning.


Now Boarding

Well, I have made a bit of progress in the craft area but I've also decided it is time to really truly learn to fly.  I've been fluttering around with the Fly Lady for a few years, but I've never truly learned to fly and I've decided I think part of this is my lack of interest in actually making a control journal.

I guess you are probably wondering what on earth I am talking about.  Flylady.net is a great site where an amazingly encouraging woman named Marla teaches baby steps to getting your home in order.  Fly stands for finally loving yourself.  This is a great site when you live in c.h.a.o.s or can't have anyone over syndrome.  The first thing she tells you is to go shine your sink, sounds like nothing, but I can attest that it is great to walk into the kitchen in the morning and not find it overflowing with dishes.  The system is "all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot."  I know I need this, that is why I signed up for her emails, but I never built the control journal, so I'm going back to day one. TODAY!

So, I'm off to "Shine my sink" and tomorrow, day 2, I will "Get dressed to lace up shoes" when I first get up in the morning and shine my sink before going to bed.  I can do this, I know I can and I know when I do this, my house will be on auto-pilot, and I will have more time to work on my constantly growing craft list.


Craft Addicts Anonymous

Seriously, I have a problem and need at least a 12 step program!  I keep finding great craft ideas and my list of things I want to make gets longer every day.  Luckily, I have a dedicated craft area but it has two major problems.  First, it is the other half of my kitchen, so there is no door.  Second, it is just out of control.  I continually work at cutting back, rearranging, reorganizing, prioritizing but I must admit, there are times where I sit down in the middle of it and try to clean it up so I can actually work and I'm so overwhelmed by it (the "helping" 2 year old doesn't help that much either).  Right now there is so much stuff I have one of the entry ways blocked which means I have to take the longer path to get to the pantry which makes meal prep and clean up take even longer.  But, I've asked for a few new tools (bias tape maker, surger, etc) for Christmas and I know I will want to play with whatever I get immediately.  So, the goal is to get this cleaned up by Christmas (earlier would be better so I can actually finish my holiday gifts!):
There is a floor under there somewhere, I promise

I actually have a lot of storage, I got my fabric all folded and organized (there is more in the left cabinet) but that iw where it ended....


Making my list and checking it twice

No, not my letter to Santa, but my list of thing I want or need to do before my domestic deadline.  This list has been growing steadily over the years in my mind, but every time I cross something off, I add another two (or five, or ten) things to it.  So I'm taking the list out of my head and putting it down on paper; sorting and prioritizing it.  Some things on my list are lifestyle changes, some are just crafts or fun things, a lot are things for my kids and family.  Hopefully they will all lead me to the balanced home and family life I aim to acheive.


Where to start...

It is so nice to sit down and relax with a little crocheting.  My home is photo ready for the next decorating magazine shoot.  Add a freshly brewed coffee and a little music and my life couldn't get any nicer.

"Mom, Mom, Mom," then I open my eyes...reality.  The couch pillows are on the floor, my two-year-old has stripped his clothes off again and the light filtering in from the fingerprint covered back door illuminates the two foot square glue spot on the floor.  Toys and boxes litter the living room floor along with Cheerios and fabric scraps from my latest sewing project.  Dishes overflow the sink but are generously covered in soap (thanks again to the two-year-old).  School papers, library books and "recycling crafts" are adhered to the dining room table with orange juice.


"I love you," and that is the number one reason why I am so glad I get to be home with my children.

I've been at home with the kids for over 7 years now but somehow I have yet to figure out how to keep the house in order with everything else I do.  Add this to the fact that my list of things I want to do is constantly growing and the days until I have to find a "real" job (as my husband says) are starting to dwindle.  Every day older my little one gets is one day closer to school age, and my domestic deadline!
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