Sunday, June 16, 2013
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Saturday, June 15, 2013
Hello and happy Tuesday! It’s the new year and for me (and most of us?) that means clearing out the clutter!! I’m always pumped and hyped and ready to tackle it in January, it wanes a bit in February, I get into it again about March and then hopefully my organization/decrapifiying has held up because I don’t do much again till the next year.
This year I’m planning on making the organizing a constant thing, so you’ll come along for my ride. At least till March. ;)
Today I’m sharing a spot that usually stays pretty organized – I’ve figured out what I want there, what I need within reach, and it stays decent throughout the year.
I’m talking about under our sink – I try to clean it out every six months or so, which usually means every twelve months or so but whatever. This is not one of my problem spots. I’ve got plenty of those.
When we built our house we had tip out trays installed on the sinks – it makes those faux drawers in front of your sink somewhat useful. But when we installed the new granite sink in the kitchen years ago, the trays wouldn’t work because the sink was so big.
So I hung them both on the inside of one of the doors instead:
They don’t hold a ton, but they do keep the little sponges and sink stuff out of the way, and they are within easy reach. And yes, I use a bottle brush to clean our dishes – I find they work just as well as the fancy ones you can get. :)
On the other door I put one of those little jobbies that holds your kitchen towel:
I used it for about three days and stopped – I’m just a throw the towel over the sink kind of gal. :)
Inside I store our tall, skinny stuff that doesn’t really work anywhere else – I found I was storing them all flat in drawers and other stuff always got piled on top, which made them a pain to get to. I’ve got just enough room to line up the baking sheets, cutting board and bulky strainers:
The paper bags are our compactor bags and I’ll probably do a post on our trash compactor sometime – I love it that much. :)
The other side holds our paper towels:
I know it’s an odd place for them, but a couple years ago I was on a mission to get as much off the counters as possible and came up with this idea instead. We actually had them hanging from under a cabinet but it was just visual clutter that I was trying to eliminate. (It was probably in January. ;) )
It’s AWESOME. I just installed the bar at an angle so they are easy to tear off:
It takes very little effort to reach down and grab one, so I love it under the sink!
When we get a new roll of trash bags I tear the whole flap off for easy access:
There’s nothing more annoying than a floppy flap getting in your way. ;)
I keep one small bin under the sink for necessities and this is usually the only part of this area that gets cluttered. I did a quick clean out and set everything upright again:
Cause let’s be honest, nine times out of ten I’m not one to put it away perfectly. :) (I throw it back in the bin and shut the door.)
This is the stuff I pulled out of the bin that had piled up over the past
six twelve months:
Lots of hand soap (I bought a glass soap dispenser almost a year ago so that tells you last time I used most of these), random brushes we don’t need, a remnant of the child locks and an old sponge to name a few. The soaps and cleaning supplies will be put in the linen closet. You know…where they go.
It wasn’t too bad to start, but I wiped it down, cleared it out a bit, washed out the trays and now it’s ready for a new year!:
What areas have you tackled so far this new year? Do you do it all at once or spend months doing it like me?
Friday, June 14, 2013
Hey hey!! It’s a beautiful Friday here – cold but the sun is shiny bright, warming things up and making things pretty. :) I don’t see much hope for spring temps for another week or so around here (another snow storm is supposed to hit Sunday, for real??) -- how it is where you are?
Funny how I’ve been looking into new bedding for the master bedroom for months, and I find every piece of the bedding puzzle in one place the other day – at HomeGoods of course:
And funny how new bedding means a whole room redo. ;) I’ve been planning on that for a while, this just may have moved it up a bit. You know, in a year from now instead of two.
I am SO excited to get all of this on the bed to see how if it works as well as I think it will!
If you read our mouse story from last month you know I have been looking for a way to store our bird seed. Many of you recommended a metal container instead of plastic, so I was so excited to find this at a local antique shop:
It has a lid and a handle – the handle was a biggie so I could easily carry it around. It will stay in the closed storage in our garage in this pail, so crossing fingers this keeps them out (if they ever dare to visit again).
I wrote about the planked walls in our powder room this week, and then I found this image on Pinterest and was HOOKED on the idea to plank a ceiling:
I love the whole room, but that warm ceiling really had me! Isn’t that lovely? I’m thinking of doing this in our mud room.
This quote from Dave Ramsey resonated with me:
I’d rather take criticism any day than to be or do nothing. Although if you are a bump on a log that’s a sure fire way to get criticized too. ;)
I have this weird habit lately – I’ll be putting on makeup in the morning (on the settee I recently moved up there) and go to move a stray hair or something and I’ll hit the lamp shade next to me with the mascara:
I do it ALL the time! I did it constantly with the floor lamp I had there before too, and you’d think I would learn. Arghhh…any idea how to get mascara off of fabric? I’m afraid if I try make up remover it will be oily and if I use soap and water it may spread out into the fabric.
For now, I just turn the shade. :)
Speaking of lamp shades, I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time in forever the other day and loved the trim on this one:
I want to try to recreate it with some nail head trim and spray paint – can’t be too hard right?
Your responses to my last post had me laughing and nodding – thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only one obsessed with Coke. Or soda. Pop? A few of you northern Hoosiers told me you call it pop and that fits in perfectly with this map:
Yes, someone made a map. God bless the Internet. I can see here that the Coke term is definitely a southern thing that has crept up into Indiana.
Today I shared a little trick I use in the morning on Instagram and I was surprised to see how many of you do it too!:
That would be ironing my shirt with my flat iron. ;) It works people!
This adult beverage I found on Pinterest is calling my name:
It’s called the Frenchy and there was no good link – let me know if you know where to credit this! It’s just 1 1/2 oz. pear vodka, 3 oz. pineapple juice, 1 oz. cranberry juice – sounds so yummy and fresh!
Is he adorable or what? I found him at a local shop and he fits perfectly on the sink. Love. him.
Have a GREAT weekend!! Hope it’s beautiful!
And butter is used at breakfast. Yes? So, if we added a little bit of marshmallow, it could still be a breakfast food. I think?
Rice Krispy Treats for breakfast!
That's what I'm talkin' about! In car shapes! (At least, that is what our cook told us!)
I love summer!
Hey hey all! It is GORGEOUS here today!!! Whooooo! I am so stinking excited to mow the grass later – isn’t that ridiculous? I’m so happy for the warmer temps. :)
I mentioned a couple times I recently took a quick trip out to Salt Lake City to speak at the Snap! Conference. It was lovely and I was so happy to get the chance to see bloggy friends I knew and meet new ones too!
I spoke with two lovely ladies – Amy from The Idea Room and Desiree from The 36th Avenue on basic blogging tips. We thought it would be fun to share some of our session with all of you! Well, those of you who are thinking about blogging, just starting blogging or have done it for a while anyway. If you aren’t a blogger you can read on for a peek into how we think. ;)
I wanted to speak about engaging readers because it’s near and dear to my heart – I feel like I have connection with you all and I don’t know if that can be explained into nice little bullet points, but here are a few tips that I think help!
Here’s the thing – you can’t blog in a bubble. If you want to put stuff out there and welcome the emails, comments and responses – you need to be prepared to respond. And it will take waaaaay more time than you ever imagined.
I’m sure people who don’t blog still laugh a little to themselves when those who do talk about it being time consuming. It is. (Don’t laugh at me!) It’s FUN time consuming, but it can be busy. But it is so important to let your readers know you are listening (and appreciate them!).
I do my best to respond back to questions in my comments section (the “reply” option in Blogger makes that even easier) and most of the time will respond to that same question via email. So I’m answering it twice but I want the person who asked to see it and readers in the future. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. There is only so much time in the day. But I make a concentrated effort and I think that’s important.
Social media adds a whole other level to this though – don’t forget Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that good stuff. I LOVE interacting with my readers on Facebook and I am pretty good at responding to questions there (it may take a couple of days but I do). It’s easier for me to respond there than to emails for some reason.
So respond – interact with your readers, let them know you’re there. Say thank you. Answer questions (as many as you can). You would be blogging to an abyss in the world wide web without them. :)
The linky party has become HUGE in blogland. If you are a reader and you don’t know what that is – an example is the before and after party I host at the beginning of the month:
I like it because it’s a chance to give some traffic to other bloggers. You link up and visit each other and hopefully find inspiration and new blogs to get hooked on. ;)
I like linky parties that have a theme but with that you may not have quite as many link up. I mean, recipes would be hard to link up to the before and after party, you know? (Well, now that I think about it maybe not!) I know of some bloggers who do them once a week and some only do them a few times a year (or never!) and the timing is up to you. I would say be careful about having them too often because you’ll have a CRAZY amount of outbound links on your site which isn’t a great thing. You want to keep that somewhat under control to keep the SEO stuff in your favor. ;)
So here’s the deal. I operate my blog in a way that I would want to read one. Does that make sense? So if I get an offer (and I get a lot) that feels spammy or whatever, I don’t do it, even if they are offering a ton of money. If it would feel weird for me to read it on another blog, I don’t do it.
So the same goes for just letting your readers know what to expect – as human beings we crave some consistency. So decide how often you want to or can post and try to stick to it. (Try is the key word – I know life gets in the way.) If you want to post once a week you CAN! Just don’t post five times one week and then once a week for three. Readers will get hooked but then may fall away.
I post four times a week on average. During the summer it will probably go down to three – but I think consistency is key. No, you don’t have to pick certain days and stick to them. Just keeping the frequency the same week to week will help your readers know what to expect from your blog.
OK, here’s the thing – this next part is a struggle for me. My kid is cute people. I mean…Cute with a capital C. Precious!! But I decided long ago when I started blogging that I didn’t want to put many pictures of him on my blog. It’s absolutely a personal decision and there is no wrong or right one – it’s just important to me to have a bit of my life just for me since I share so much here.
That being said, sharing your family and precious pictures of your kids definitely creates a bond with your readers. Sometimes I wonder if I should just because my readers feel like friends and I want to share him with you all – but there’s a little nagging voice in the back of my head that still holds me back. (And if you’ve read for a while you know I do share pics of him, just not often and usually not a full shot of his face.)
(In his book nook.)
Sharing personal information is a tough one – I still struggle with it. I want to write so many things and don’t because I don’t know if I want the world to know. (And that’s the thing – if it’s out there the world will know. It may be a smaller piece of the world if you’re just starting out, but you never know when your blog might blow up.)
I have tried to strike a balance because I know sharing our struggles in life ultimately HELPS so many. We learn from these things and come out with knowledge and experience that will be useful to someone else. That’s why I touched on some of my personal history last Thanksgiving here and of course I have shared our debt free journey here.
I did hesitate to share both of those but now the debt story especially has brought me great JOY – just the other day I got an email from a reader who won one of the financial peace packets we gave away and she was telling me how she’s paid off another debt and it is the BEST feeling hearing that.
So…you have to figure out what’s right for you. I love reading personal stories about bloggers I love, but there is a fine line where it’s too much information. Only you can decide where that line is for you and your family.
I also talked about partnerships during the session, and a lot of what I discussed when it comes to advertisers I covered in this post.
But there is something I want to emphasize to bloggers – please don’t be afraid to share the love. When I started blogging I would hesitate to link to someone else because I was afraid my readers would see their awesomeness and forget all about me and never come back. And I would have cried. :)
But the longer I blog the more I realize you need to become friends with other bloggers, share with other bloggers, link to other bloggers – you get the idea? ;) As a reader of blogs, yes, I only have so much time in the day to read the ones I love. But if you have me hooked I’m going to keep coming back to you, and I’ll love you even more for introducing me to new sites I can fall in love with.
One of the BEST things people ever say to me is that they found “so and so” through my site – I love hearing that. As readers and bloggers we all share a sweet connection and I love how we remember things like that – who brought us to who.
So there you go – a little insight into what I think makes for a great blog. I’ve been at this five years and still don’t know html from whatever, but I do enjoy creating a connection with my readers and other bloggers. I’ll keep focusing on that and keep ignoring the html as long as I possibly can. ;)
And as always, thanks to you all for coming along for this ride! I couldn’t do it without you!
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This morning, I felt a sense of accomplishment in all I had completed!
But that feeling was quickly replaced by the conviction that I had not spent enough of the weekend with the truly important--my family!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
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Last week Patrick asked where his "smiley, happy mom had disappeared to?" I love that my ever-sensitive boy not only sees it and feels it, he calls me out on it.
This week I decided I can only live day-by-day, and in those days I want to make sure I am smiling at my kids, loving those around me, giving it over to God again and again (and yet again when I fail).
Kim's surgery is Monday. It's hanging over us, heavy as all the adoption paperwork we have ever completed! We are just ready to be on the other side.
My dad continues to decline. Cancer sucks. We don't use the "sucks" word in our family, except when it comes to cancer. Let me repeat that. Cancer sucks. We spend as much time together as we can, relishing each precious visit.
It's another reminder of how truly precious life is--you would think I would never forget that truth.
And yet I do. But I am also reminded of the healing power of love.
I've been enjoying special time with the kids over spring break. It included a trip to the video arcade where I solemnly swore I would not give them more than $15. And after double that, Paul hit the jackpot, which made it all worthwhile.
He ended up with enough tickets to become the proud owner of a red lava lamp. Which now lights up his entire bedroom window with a bright red glow (I just hope it's not sending the wrong message to any passersby!).
And, he had enough tickets left over to surprise his mama with a new case for her i-phone. Lime green. Rubber smell. Given with a shy smile and love. How sweet is that? Let me tell ya, it's sweet enough that I will be taking that kid back to the video arcade in the near future--smart boy!
Kim is doing okay. She's still struggling with nausea, but sleeping lots. One time she woke up confused, mumbling, "Why does my head hurt?"
I will make sure I tease her about that when she is fully alert.
As I sit here I am reminded of the day I couldn't find a parking spot. What better time to share the story?
I had come up to visit my dad. He was at the Veteran's Hospital, which is connected to the Children's Hospital via two long skybridges. I can see the other hospital out my window right now.
I came up on my lunch break, so I didn't have a lot of time. I searched and searched for a parking spot at the Veteran's hospital, becoming more and more frustrated! Nothing! Round and round the parking garage I drove. Mumbling under my breath, nervously checking my watch, and realizing I would have an ever shorter visit with my dad!
In irritation I ranted, "Really God? Can't You at least help me with a parking spot?"
In exasperation I finally drove clear around to the Children's Hospital and parked. It meant would have to make my way through Children's and go across the two skybridges to get over to see dad!
I continued my apparent one-way conversation with God, when suddenly I was hit with an answer.
Maybe God has a reason for me to be at Children's? Maybe He has something He wants me to do? Someone He wants me to meet?
I was on the lookout the entire walk over to the Veteran's Hospital. I didn't see anyone I knew or anyone who seemed to need my help. Nobody needed CPR or even so much as a band-aid. A mystery. I enjoyed a short, but sweet, visit with my dad then headed back the way I came.
As I stepped onto the first skybridge a thought occurred to me. Maybe God just needs me to smile at people along the way. Maybe God just needs me to encourage someone.
All along the corridors, hallways, elevators and bridges I smiled at everyone. I made eye contact with the mother holding her crying baby and gave her a knowing nod. I told the little girl in the elevator that I liked her sparkly Hello Kitty Purse--she grinned. I said a prayer for the bald mom in the wheelchair surrounded by a husband and six young sons in cowboy hats (I pray for her still).
I'll never know for sure if God really planned this lesson in disguise. But I'm glad I learned it. I'm striving to ask "Why?" less, and to say, "Here I am," more.
I'm a slow learner, but I have a very patient teacher.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The cookies are baked.
Thanks to my secret recipe.
The gifts and food basket were delivered to the family we assisted. They were such a wonderful, grateful family, and they sent us home with a delicious flan--how sweet is that? We plan to keep in touch in the coming year.
And finally, Mei Mei's Christmas stocking is complete.
My heart truly rejoices in this season of love and laughter, joy and hope.
And yet my heart aches thinking of all the children who won't get the one thing they really want AND DESERVE--a family.
Praying that hearts and homes will open up in the coming year--for families, foster care, respite, sponsors, support, and prayers.
Praying for each of you, that your Christmas will be full of family, friends, and faith.
See you on the other side!