Friday, October 3, 2008

Freebie Friday

Head on over to MomAdvice today for Freebie Friday. Amy's always got a lot of good stuff you can get for free. I can't even tell you how much shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, personal hygiene products, and food I've gotten samples of just for the asking. I can guarantee you don't wanna miss a single Freebie Friday!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Organized Love of Books

So, you love books...but you are trying to live simply and frugally...and want to be organized as well. Here are some ways to do that...

First of all, get what you have at home organized. Of course, you don't need to have a working knowledge of the Dewey decimal system to do this!! As was mentioned in the previously linked article, you can use an online tool like Library Thing to keep track of all the books in your personal library.

Next, take advantage of the public library. Getting a library card is as easy as bringing in a proof of residence and your ID and then you literally have thousands, if not millions, of books at your disposal!! Many libraries have an online presence so you can usually search their database, request books, and renew what you have out...all from the comfort of home!! Most libraries have at least some sort of inter-library loaning system as well...and some (like the area where I live) will actually let you get library cards at other neighboring library networks as well. I currently have three library cards...and I love it!!

Of course, if you are going to use the library as an easy source for books, you need to keep on top of things so as not to rack up fines!! I find that keeping everything library related on the shelves in my staging area by the front door helps with that. A great idea I found online was to make a special library bag to corral each library's (or each cardholder's) books...with the library card for each attached nicely to the handle!! For me, this would work great...as doing so would also help to keep what I check out down to a reasonable amount (as I could only check out what would fit into the bag)!!

Another easy way to keep track of what you've got out is to use an online tool called Library Elf to help you keep track of everything out. All you have to do is set it up with your library card numbers and how you want to be notified and you will receive a text or email when you've got books coming due!! Very cool!!

If you don't mind spending a little money and love perusing real bookshelves you should check out Half-Price Books. I've found several books on my wish list there...you just have to be patient and check back fairly often.

If you want to swap rarely read books for ones on your current wish list you should check out swapping sites like PaperBackSwap and Bookmooch. I've received a lot of great books via Paperbackswap and my only request is that if you do sign up there, that you go thru my referral link!! My username there is Texanromaniac.

If you wanna rent books, a la Netflix...you should check out Bookswim. They have several different plans based on how many you want out at one time, but seem fairly reasonably priced. I think the swapping and rental sites would both be ideal to someone who lives in remote or rural areas without a wide assortment of books readily available. Where I live and with multiple libraries to search, I just check out things from the public library and if they are ones I really want to keep then I go to Half-Price Books or Paperbackswap to get them.

If you are a bookworm with an adventurous streak...check out BookCrossing!! This is an uber-cool site where you can find out where to "treasure hunt" for books that have been left at various places...as well as post places where you have left books to be found. Each book added to the system has a unique tracking number and it is a lot of fun to see where all in the world the book has traveled!!

A couple of other resources for both getting and organizing books can be found here and here...thanks to a post on Freebies4Mom!!

Anyway...so there ya go!! I hope this has been helpful. Leave me a comment and let me know what your strategies are for anything book-related and maybe I'll put them into a future post!!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Shoutout

Inspired by a couple of different bloggers who give link love out once a week, I am going to attempt something of that nature myself...but I will call it Sunday Shoutout so as to be a bit different. I haven't heard that term used for a theme amongst the blogs that I frequent...though I would not be surprised to find it has been used somewhere in the blogosphere as there is nothing new under the sun...but I like to think I'm at least somewhat original!!

So, as referenced in a previous post, I have been attempting to wrangle all my favorited links into some semblance of order. The following are some lovely links found in my "Keeping the Home" document. Enjoy!!

*Amy at MomAdvice gives a nice roundup of online family planners.

*Over on Momaroo, Mama Fox gives some tips for more efficient grocery shopping.

*On PaidTwice there are some handy tips to help you avoid that takeout urge.

*FlyLady gives you a rather thorough routine to follow to get things done around the house. (I simplified and personalized this in an earlier post).

*From the surprising place of a Scott brand website...a veritable smorgasboard of handy online tools.

*Finally, last but not least... SimpleMom has a handy-dandy e-book for sale to help you with that dreaded chore of "spring cleaning"...no matter the season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coming Soon!!

I am in the process of redesigning this blog with a simple 3 column design, and some nifty widgets and gizmos. I'm also working on getting a regular posting schedule worked up where I have at least 3-4 entries to post each week...more if inspiration strikes!!
I'm hoping to have it all up and running by the first of October...but for a quick preview look here...then come back and let me know what you think of the test blog design. Thanks, and here's to really getting this crazy blog going as a regular thing!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Organizing Links

Ever since seeing the Amy's Notebook posts on momadvice.com and the Wednesday Wonderfulness posts on a friend's Xanga blog...I have liked the idea of saving links of things I like, want to try, or want to save to refer to at some point in the future.

I had starred so many things in my Google Reader and had created so many folders of saved stuff in my Bookmarks that I started trying to get it all in some semblance of order lately and I used Google Docs to do it.

What I did was to create a document in Google Docs for each folder I had in my bookmarks. Currently I've got documents labeled: Pets, Keeping the Home, Recipes and Food, Organize, Faire, Frugality & Finances, and so on...

Everytime I see something I want to be able to reference back to, I save it to one of my Bookmarks folders...then every few days I go thru the folders and transfer the link to the appropriate Google document with an accompanying bit of text explaining what it is about...then I delete the link from my bookmarks. I am also in the process of doing the same sort of sorting thru of all my starred items in Google Reader.

The beauty of saving all this on Google Docs is that I then can access this from any computer with internet access, it's got notes of explanation as to what exactly this link is about, it's organized into categories by document, and to top it all off...cause it's in Google, I can do a search on any topic and pull up exactly the links I need!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Simplicity and Keeping it Green...

I like to think of myself as someone who wants to help keep our planet beautiful for future generations without being fanatical about it. I admit it...sometimes I just want the simplicity of grabbing an Ozarka or Fiji water at the corner gas station to quench my thirst instead of making sure to take my Sigg of filtered water with me everywhere. Sometimes I forget to carry my reuseable bags into the store when I'm buying more than I can carry out without a bag...so I end up with a few plastic bags. But all in all, I do try to do my own little part to at least TRY to keep the planet clean and healthy for a bit longer.

Here are some ways that I've thought of for cutting down on the consumption of disposable goods:

*Start using handtowels, washcloths, and napkins for cleaning things up...versus always grabbing a wad of paper towels.

*Buy a splatter cover for use when heating things in the microwave...versus covering things with paper towels (or having to clean up the spatters with paper towels after the fact!!).

*Go ahead and splurge on that Sigg bottle and then remember to fill and carry it with you...instead of always buying bottled water.

*Buy (and then remember to use) those reuseable bags for the grocery store. If you are just buying a couple things, refuse the plastic bag and just carry it out in your hands.

*If you regularly have folks over, buy some inexpensive plastic cups at Walmart or Target. When company comes over, tape a piece of masking tape on each cup and write names in Sharpie on that. It'll only take you a few extra minutes afterward to wash those cups out...but they will last you so much longer than that jumbo pack of disposable cups will...and save space in the landfill as well.

*If you think you can do it...try to get your office as paperless as possible. Use e-fax and hard drives to cut down on your use of paper. It helps the planet AND makes it easier to find stuff when you need it!!

*Use homemade cleaners with natural ingredients. You will be able to breathe easier without the chemical fumes, it's safer for the environment, and your children and pets will live healthier lives!! (I will try to post some natural cleaning recipes here in a coming post).

The next two ideas are a bit more radical and are not for everyone...but bear with me...as I think those that can do this are to be admired!!

*Cloth diaper your babies. Modern cloth diapers are not like those our mothers used on us. The newest cloth diapers are ALMOST as convenient as disposables. Think about it, at least!!

*Feminine hygiene products. I think this takes even more fortitude than cloth diapering, truthfully. But my hat goes off to any of you girls who choose to use cloth menstrual pads and/or a Diva Cup or Keeper instead of disposable pads and tampons. I'm sure it's better for both your body and the environment.

What ideas have you come up with for "greening up your life"? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old Fashioned Skills become new again...

As things change for Americans in regards to the economy...and we tighten our belts...it seems that some of the old skills that our grandparents knew and used daily as a normal part of life are coming into vogue again. Haven't you noticed how knitting, sewing, gardening, cooking, canning, etc. have all had a bit of a resurgence lately? It's almost the "thing" now to wear an apron and be a housewife!!

I found a very cool blog post from a while back that dealt with a lot of these practical skills...why they were dying out and why there is now a bit of a resurgence...and gives helpful links to those interested in keeping these skills alive. The blog where I found it is called simplemom.net and here is the link to that post.

I have to say that though I enjoy getting into the kitchen occasionally and trying out new recipes, I am not too skilled at cooking. I can sew up simple things without a pattern and somewhat complicated things with a pattern, but I'm no seamstress. I have a black thumb when it comes to keeping plants alive. Yet I am very interested in being a thrifty, crafty homemaker and am constantly trying to improve my skills. What sorts of old-fashioned skills do you enjoy?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Establishing a staging area in your home...

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and so am always reading things that either inspire me to try something new...or make me grin cause it is something I've already made a habit in my life. One such thing I've read a lot about recently that is already a habit for me is having what I call a "staging area" near to the front door.

How many times have you gotten off away from home and realized that you forgot a library book or video that needed to be returned...or mail that needed to go to the post office...or donations to be dropped off at Goodwill? How many times have your kids got out the door without books or papers that they needed? If any of this has happened to you, then you need to set up a staging area in your own home.

What should be in this staging area? Well, you need some kind of surface (a table or closet shelf) that is between waist and eye level right near the outside door that you use the most. For some that would mean by the front door...for others, by the garage door. In any case, you need a designated spot to collect anything that needs to head out the door.

Use your area for any and all of the following: Library books, movie rentals, borrowed items needing to be returned, bought items that need to go back to the store, letters to mail,donations to drop off. Make sure that anytime you run across something that needs to head out that you immediately put it in the staging area...and then when you head out make sure to check your staging area to see if there is anything there that you need to deal with while out. Doing this will make getting out the door so much easier!!

Long time, no blog!!

Okay, it's been forever since I last blogged!! So, last time I blogged we'd just been to Lubbock. Since then, my parents and younger sibs came for a day of museums and fun...and then my sisters stayed for a few extra days. It was fun to hang out with my sisters...we even ate one night at Spiral Diner (a vegan restaurant I like that Brack doesn't)!!

My maternal grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. Since she was 98 in February and had been bedridden for the most part for the last several years, we were all somewhat expecting it to happen one of these days...but we will still miss her. She was a terrific lady who left behind a great legacy. If all counts are accurate, she had 9 children, 28 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, 5 great-great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-great-grandchild...with 4 more descendants on the way (and that's not including anyone's step-children)!!

We've also done a LOT of looking at houses in the last month and a half. Starting out it was just curiousity, then we got stuck on a house...even going so far as to put down earnest money and signing papers...but in the end we pulled out of getting it. We've decided to really concentrate on getting the credit card debt dealt with first, before we go adding a mortgage into the mix. Sad, yes...but it's better for us in the long run.

So, I found out yesterday that it's the end of an era!! My favorite comic strip "For Better or For Worse" has ended it's regular story line!! I grew up with Elizabeth and Michael (the older two kids) and was sad to see the end of the series. Wiki does say that there will be some new strips focusing on the next generation along with older strips and flashbacks mixed in, but the characters will no longer age along with me. Gah...now I really will feel old!!

Alright, I am a bit behind on posting this mosaic thing that's been making the rounds, but here is mine!!

mosaic4596406

Here are the directions if you wanna make your own mosaic.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker. Choose 3 columns with 4 rows.

The Questions (with my answers):
1. What is your first name?--Julie
2. What is your favorite food?--Fresh fruit
3. What high school did you go to?--Homeschool
4. What is your favorite color?--Green
5. Who is your celebrity crush?--Matthew McConaughey
6. Favorite drink?--Water with lemon
7. Dream vacation?--Greek islands
8. Favorite dessert?--Cheesecake Factory (kahlua cocoa coffee cheesecake)
9. What you want to be when you grow up?--Mommy
10. What do you love most in life?--My husband
11. One Word to describe you?--Loving
12. Your favorite animal?--Kitten

So there ya go...a quick peek at what's been happening in my life lately!! I will try to be better at keeping up with my posting, but we'll see how long that lasts!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frugality in practice...

Since we'd been having some problems with our dryer drying our clothes (we have a suspicion that the vent from laundry room to outside is clogged somehow)...and since we also wanted to save on our electric bill...we bought a drying rack!!

Now, we live in an apartment complex that has rules against hanging clothes out to dry off the balcony. I can in a way understand, as it upsets the American white-bread aesthetic...but after having lived in Europe, where almost everyone has colorful clothes hanging off balconies, it seems such a silly thing to fuss about. In any case, though, we had to come up with something that would function well indoors.

We already had a small wall mounted rack near our washer for small things that collapses against the wall when not in use. We got it at IKEA last year and I like it rather well. We couldn't, however, mount any more things to the wall...so we went looking for a regular euro-style folding rack that sits on the floor...

We ended up not getting the one we'd seen in the IKEA catalog, because we found another one that really impressed us. It is TALL...as tall as I am, but folds up small enough to slide between the fridge and the wall when not in use...and EASILY holds a load of clothes (it could hold two, but I'd rather have the clothes dry faster). We set it up in the corner of our bedroom, which seems to work, except for when our kitten claims it as her jungle-gym!!

We've used it now for a couple weeks and it's worked out well. The clothes are drying stiffer, so I'm contemplating adding vinegar to the wash, as I've heard it helps with that. We'll have to iron some of our clothes more, but the iron uses a whole lot less energy than a dryer...that's for sure!! The jury is still out on a few clothing items though...I kinda like the way my jeans fit better when they've dried in the dryer and my tank tops look a little stretched out after air-drying.

All in all though, it's worked pretty well. Do any of you air-dry clothes...and if so, do you do it despite rules to the contrary (ie. apartment rules, HOA rules, etc.)?

drying rack away drying rack in use

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Daily Routine...

Who has a routine that they try to keep to? I have attempted to keep a routine at various times in the past, but I didn't keep at them long enough to make it a habit. This is something I am really trying to work on, but I need to be kept accountable!!

In any case, here is the routine that I've worked up. Obviously, not everything will get done every day...but if I have this in front of me, then it will remind me of the things I still need to get done!! I have printed out two copies for myself...one to cut in half and put into my binder, and one that I've put into a protective plastic cover and attached to the fridge with magnets!!

Before Bed Routine

1. Clean up the house before I go to bed…

Living/Dining: Pick up and put away things…dishes, books, clothes, etc…

Kitchen: Clean it up, wipe down counters, run dishwasher…

Take out trash (as needed)…

2. Think about tomorrow before I go to bed…

Check my calendar and planner for appointments…

Do what I can tonight to make tomorrow morning easier...make lunches, lay out clothes…

Put things by the door that need to be remembered…

Plan what breakfast will be…do any prep…

If crockpot will be used for preparing a meal, do the initial prep work…

3. Get ready for bed…

Brush teeth, wash face, comb hair…

Take vitamins and other meds…

Dress for bed…

Write in journal, read, listen to music, pray…

Snuggle in with lights off at a decent time!!

Morning Routine

1. Rise and shine…

Make bed immediately upon rising…

Go to bathroom, wash face, brush teeth…

Dress in exercise clothes…

Start load of laundry (as needed)…

2. Exercise…

Go to workout room or do a video at home…

Check mail…

Clean bathroom, weigh myself, shower…

Dress for day, fix hair and face…

Switch laundry over to dryer…

3. Kitchen…

Make coffee and start breakfast…

Empty dishwasher…

Thaw something for dinner, or start crockpot…

Feed cat…

Feed myself (and dh on weekends)…

4. Think about my day…

Run-thru of house…dust and vacuum…

Put away clean clothes…

Check my calendar and make to-do list…

5. Think about myself…

Have my morning devos, pray…

Catch up on basic stuff online (skim email and feeds), save to favorites things to peruse later…

Day’s Routine

1. Run any errands…

Library

Post Office

Grocery store/drugstore

Other—Thrift store, drycleaners, etc.

2. Attack any big projects NOW!!

Sewing

Organizing

Planning meals

Planning shopping expeditions

3. Online again…

Take care of emailing and messaging

Post on blogs

Catch up on other online reading and forums

Of course, the routine beyond the basic morning one is dependent on my current work schedule…whatever that may be!!

What sort of schedule do you try to follow?

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool, what will they say Monday at school?"

So Brack and I headed out of town on Wednesday afternoon after quick stops at the bank and library. We had a fairly smooth trip out to Lubbock...listening to music and me cutting out coupons. That evening was fairly quiet and fairly late. My MIL had made a pot roast with carrots and potatoes...so very yummy!! Jana brought her kiddoes out for a bit of a visit after dinner.

Thursday was a fairly quiet day. We went to a few stores mid-morning and I think everyone dozed off for a bit in the afternoon!! That evening we went to a party with a bunch of people from the chapel. There were people playing volleyball and putting golf balls when we got there, but a big rainstorm started up right before the food was served, so everyone crowded into the house to eat and keep dry. Once there was a lull in the storm everyone headed out to the barn for a talent show...which was both funny and gross!! After the talent show the kids got to go out and play with sparklers until it was dark enough for the fireworks show. I have to say, that was the most impressive display of fireworks put on by non-professionals I've ever seen!! After the fireworks and some more sitting around and visiting...we headed back to my MIL's...about 11:30...

Friday was NOT as quiet of a day, as Brack and Aaron got started on a project that soon involved me and my MIL as well!! We pulled out a desk from the office and started moving furniture around and re-organizing!! We probably spent 4-5 hours on that project...but the office looks a lot better now. Jana and the kiddoes came over again and we all headed off to Josh and Kym's. I managed to get some good pictures of all the little nieces and nephews, we got some good visiting in, the kids had a BLAST setting off the poppers that Josh had bought....then we all sat around and watched fireworks...the ones Aaron and Jana set off as well as the ones the neighbors all around were setting off!! Leo was so funny...dancing in his little wagon and yelling "wowowowowow" over and over again!! Little Julie cried when time came to leave cause she didn't want Uncle Brack and "Aunt Big Julie" to leave!! We had to go to the store after that, so it was another late night...

Saturday started off quiet. I worked on posts for my Essential Simplicity blog until Jana and her kids and the Baucoms arrived. We ate lunch, then I got occupied showing Havah and Rachel some pictures and playing Wheel of Fortune on the laptop. About five o'clock or so, we all loaded up and drove out to the McNabbs for hamburgers. We ate, then again I hung around Havah and Rachel and we entertained Jana's kids...or was it that they entertained us?? Merrill is SUCH a ham, Daisy is pretty funny, and Mattie knows how to work a crowd!!

After a bit the Baucoms said their goodbyes and headed out and the rest of us loaded up and headed to the drive-in!! I'd never been to a drive-in movie before, and really liked it. They had a cartoon, several previews, and then the two movies (Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda). It did get a bit chilly during the second movie, but I'll just know to bring a jacket if we ever go there again!! The movies were funny and cute, and the kids had a lot of fun. What was pretty cool to me was looking over at one of the other movie screens (the other side of the playground) and seeing the same concessions commercial that is showing on the screen during the "Sandy" song in the movie Grease!!

Once we got back to my MIL's about 1:30 we discovered that her kitten had gone missing...then we heard pitiful meows coming from somewhere under the house!! We finally figured out where he'd got stuck and Aaron ended up having to do some crawling to dig him out...crazy kitten!!

We slept in this morning and then had a nice breakfast and are just lazing around now. We'll try to head back to the metroplex around two...so we won't get back too late. I'm sure Ami will chew us out and demand attention as soon as we get there too...as this is the second longest time we've had to leave her...and the other time she at least had someone to check in on her occasionally!! Once we give her her proper attention then we'll probably call it a night...since I've got to be at Bennett's house bright and early tomorrow morning to get him to camp on time!! I will try to get my blog posts all posted sometime during my free time tomorrow while Bennett is at camp...

Coming projects...

So we are visiting my MIL and youngest BIL this holiday weekend, which explains the fact that I'm posting so many posts all at once...since I can only blog offline while here and then post them to the web when we get home.

Upcoming projects will be to get another freebie list posted, to get the bedroom in order, and to get previously organized areas of the apartment back in shape (which will only take a few minutes each...as it is so much easier to keep things in shape when you have places to put each thing in order)!!

The bedroom will be the biggest project. We cleared out an old dresser this week and hauled it home to my MIL's place, as it wasn't being used for clothes anyway and was just an excuse for not sorting thru the assorted junk that had made its way into the drawers. Now the plan is to move the dresser we do use, move one of our big bookshelves from the dining room in, reorganize the big bookshelf and the smaller one currently in the bedroom, and just get the whole room in order...making it into our sanctuary from the real world!! I will be making sure to actually get before pictures for this next project!!

The Kitchen Cabinets!!

So, I'd gone thru and organized the kitchen once, right after we moved into our apartment last March...basically re-creating how the cabinets were arranged in our old apartment...which really wasn't the most efficient arrangement. We also STILL had too much stuff to really fit comfortably into the cabinets. So while my dh was working on his project, I tackled the kitchen cabinets. I got rid of some random things...potholders, a vase or two, some mugs and mismatched bowls...and just by doing that, rearranging where certain things went, and switching out my canisters to some pretty ones my mom got (from an old country store that closed down)...it freed up a lot of space and made things much more user-friendly!!

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking...posting before and after pics of each cabinet and drawer area. If you look closely, you can see where things were moved around and re-arranged and what things didn't make the cut to the "new and improved" kitchen area!!

kit1a kit1b

kit2a kit2b

kit3a kit3b

kit4a kit4b

kit5a kit5b

kit6a kit6b

kit7a kit7b

kit8a kit8b

kit9a kit9b

kit10a kit10b

kit11a kit11b

kit12a kit12b

My dh's latest project...

I realize that this blog is really more about my personal organizing projects...as well as posting about frugality and simplicity and green living...but I really think my dh's latest project really fits into this realm of organized simplicity...and well, I really must brag about my man!!

Inspired by some posts on Lifehacker.com, my dh decided that something MUST be done with all the cables piled up in dusty piles behind the desk and the entertainment center!! Those piles of cables and cords only attracted dust (and our curious kitten) and really were a mess to sort thru when he wanted to rework a particular component...as he had to untangle ALL the cords to get to the one he wanted.

So dh headed off to the hardware store and brought home some 1x2's and pegboard and got to work. With saw, hammer, and zip ties he came up with a very neat and organized desk area...and then tackled the entertainment center and got it in order too!! Now our printer actually fits into the entertainment center..which clears up surface area in our apartment...helping us maintain a simple, uncluttered look.

The coolest thing is that not only did this clear up the actual under-desk area and the inside of the entertainment center...but there is not even a big pile of cables and cords hanging around the back of them either...in fact, behind the entertainment center there is only one cord...going straight back to the electrical outlet!!

Once again, we failed to get before pics...but just take a look at these after pics and see how neat and uncluttered it looks!!

underdesk 

deskleftside deskrightside

tvcableft  tvcabright

Tackling the storage room...

So it's been a while since I've posted...but we have sure been busy!! A few weeks ago we decided to tackle our biggest project...that of getting the storage room off our balcony in order. It had not really been organized since we moved into our apartment last year in March...and the plastic tubs of stuff were piled onto each other so high that the bottom tubs were buckling and breaking!! So one weekend we tackled it...and it is now in much better order (though we still have a couple tubs full of papers to sort thru that are occupying corners in our bedroom)!! We unfortunately did not think to take before pictures, but you can just imagine it piled up as high as the top of the door, with no floor visible!!!

My dh went to the store and bought a couple of sturdy shelving units and some clear plastic tubs for organizing. We've gone thru everything and have Freecycled a LOT of things that we no longer need and taken some things to family members as well. The things that remain that need to be stored (suitcases, Christmas tree and ornaments, the Star Wars stuff that is waiting till my dh has a separate home office space for it to be arranged in, grilling stuff and the ice cream freezer...along with any bulk food items we've purchased) are all neatly organized into tubs and labeled with my new label machine. I'm pretty excited to have such a nice organized space now that we can actually find things in without pulling out half the contents of the room to find!!

Here are the after pics...what do you think?!!

storageleft 

storagemiddle

storageright

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Random Stuff...

A bunch of random stuff thrown together...

Susie is finally back in the US after her year of teaching English in Taiwan!! She got to stay with Brack and I for a couple of days till we could take her home over the weekend. I sure did miss my little sister and am glad she's turned into such a beautiful young lady!! I want to have both her and Beka over for visits this summer...but probably not both at the same time. Two teen girls at the same time in our small place...and a cat too...YIKES!!

Ami-punk is still as ornery as ever, but she really is growing--filling out, sleeking up, and sleeping a lot more!! She is gonna be one gorgeous cat...and yes, I know I'm prejudiced!! I have to say...she is my most favorite Valentine's Day present ever!!

The organizing is still progressing, and there IS a light at the end of the tunnel...but right now as I blog, there are at least a couple more loads of laundry to do and there are piles of magazines and papers strewn about!! My mom is on an organizing kick as well and has sent us back home with more of my stored belongings each time we've visited...which then have to be gone thru and dealt with. Since we really are in a small apartment and we are trying to simplify, it's rather interesting to pull out these things of mine that have been stored away for 3-5 years and wonder "why in the world was I keeping THAT?"!! I THINK that I'm down to a packing trunk full of stuff at my parents house now...and that is gonna have to stay put for a while...as I most definately don't have space for my childhood handmade dollhouse and such...but that is something I do want to keep for future kiddoes!!

Something else I've done is started another blog!! Yep, I'm insane!! But actually, this other blog is just to help keep me accountable with my quiet time, planning out my day, and the rest of my early morning routine. I haven't set it as private, but I may. I am not linking to it though. You can figure out how to find it, or ask me and I will let you know how to find it.

Brack's b-day is Thursday, and since I happen to be off work this week we are heading off to Lubbock for a long holiday weekend with friends and family there. David and Danielle are even gonna be out that way too (staying with Josh and Kym)...so that will be even more fun!!

Friday will be four weeks since I was last on Crossings...and though I do miss the MWF some, it hasn't been that hard to find plenty of ways to keep busy. I've read a lot, spent more time with Brack, watched a few really good movies, tried out my DDR that Brack got me when he got his 360, and of course, spent plenty of time getting organized!! I've heard a few Crossings things from Brack (who still follows a few threads). I know that there's some more drama going on now cause someone's always gotta stir up trouble when they are bored. But frankly, why should I let the opinions of someone I barely know get to me? If they've GOT to take it out on someone, I'd rather it not be my husband...believe me, if it gets personal like it did last year, then all bets are off and claws come out!! Otherwise, I could care less is someone wants to be bitchy!! Treaba ta!!

Today starts the beginning of the Wardrobe Refashion challenge. Even though there's been a delay in the invites for guest posting on the blog itself being sent out, today still counts as part of the challenge. I have a few projects in mind to start out with. I've got a pattern and enough material for two aprons...one for myself and one for my poor person in a long-ago PR apron swap!! At least now she lives in the metroplex, so maybe I'll actually be able to pass it on to her in person. I also plan on making a purse organizer...one that will slide down into my massive bag and keep all the little stuff from settling to the bottom!! I found something online the other day that I want to try as well...making a duvet cover from thrifted sheets. It'd be pretty cool to have a bed like the Europeans do...with just a bottom sheet and a duvet with a totally washable cover for the top...way easy to make the bed in the morning!! Then of course, if I have enough time (haha!!) I can always work on our renfaire costumes...which really do need to get done before the fall faires roll around.

To see the results of my organizing and check out some new freebies, head over to my Essential Simplicity blog...cause I'm gonna try to get a couple more posts out here by tomorrow. You need to check out the cool stuff Brack did to help us get organized too...I will post some pics of that as well!!

Oh yeah...and the farmhouse is actually slightly improved!! I took pics of the bathroom when we were there in May and posted them on the "A Home For The Seale Family" group on Facebook, but never got around to posting them on the A Missionary Journey blog...and now the pics are obsolete!! The bathroom is far from finished, but at least there's drywall over most of the insulation in there now and no plastic hanging down from the ceiling!! Dad actually was able to put some stuff around the tub too, so now they can just use a regular shower curtain and don't have to worry about getting everything soaked in there!! Also, Mom's best friend from college was down last week with her husband and he and Dad actually built a small room for Susie off the dining room!! It's not finished out yet, but there's an actual floor, roof, and walls!! Pretty cool!! Of course, they still need a LOT of help getting the place completely livable...so please check out the blog and remember to pray for them!!

Well, as much as I'm NOT looking forward to sorting thru more papers, it's gotta be done...so I'll close this out. I will attempt to post more often...it gets a little hectic and now I've got four blogs of my own...plus two more I need to be posting to...but I've just gotta make myself keep 'em up!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wardrobe Refashion...and cleaning out the storage room!!

Well, I've signed up for a two month stint on Wardrobe Refashion starting the beginning of July. The pledge for this is as follows...

I, Julie, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, and recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn, or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted, or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftiness brings!!

Now if I can only figure out how to add the button to my sidebar...my compy's being stubborn!!

I'm a wee bit sad, cause after spending a good bit of time posting freebie links on my Essential Simplicity blog the other day, I didn't even get one single comment!! I sure hope that somebody at least got some freebies out of the deal...but I sure do love me some comments...especially over there, since I really work on posting more relevant stuff there...whereas here I just post my rambling!!

Today Brack and I tackled clearing out and sorting thru all the junk that we'd managed to accumulate in our storage room since moving into this apartment 14 months ago. We've already had a lady come pick up a load of stuff we posted on Freecycle, and we've got easily three times that again still to give away...plus a bag for the homeless shelter, a bag for Brack's mom, and three bags for my family!! It's amazing that we had that much JUNK piled up in there...and we still aren't done yet!! I had a bit of fun trying out my label machine that I bought for my organizing business on labeling the containers that have made it back into the storage room...stacked nicely on sturdy new shelves. I will post pics of the storage room on my Essential Simplicity blog once it's all done.

Well, gotta eat dinner and try to at least finish sorting the stuff still on the balcony, since I doubt we'll get any more of the stuff inside sorted by the time Saturday Night Live and bedtime roll around. We'll finish most of it tomorrow after church, though!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who Loves Freebies?

Okay...I don't think there are many people out there who DON'T like to get something for free, no matter how much money they have. I also don't think there are many people who don't like getting a fun surprise in the mail. This then, is for everyone pretty much!!

Since it usually takes a while after requesting something and since that time varies, I never know what is gonna be in my mailbox each day...but at least half the time there is at least one fun thing...and some are really great surprises, cause I'd forgotten I'd signed up for them!!

Here's some cool stuff I've gotten in the past couple weeks in the mail!!

Project1 Project2 Project3 Project4 Project5 Project6

There were a few more, but this is most of it. The magazines are free subscriptions...some for less than a year, but most for a full year!! Pretty cool, right?

Well, I wouldn't be getting such awesome freebies if it weren't for the people that pass these along on their blogs...cause I would only ever be running across such freebies on my own only rarely!! I'd encourage you to check out their blogs in case I miss anything good (they are in my fave links area..the biggest ones for freebies are The Motherload, Freebies4Mom, & MoneySavingMom), but I'm gonna attempt to post a decently comprehensive freebie list at least once or twice a week...so here we go!!

Babies/Children:

Free BeechNut baby cereal

Fifi and the Flowertots DVD

TONS of awesome more freebies can be found here on Freebies4Mom

Foodstuffs:

Attune Probiotic bar

Folgers coffee sample

On the Go drink mix samples

Fiber One Caramel Delight cereal sample

Free Bourbon Street Blends spice sample every month

Toiletries/Vitamins/Meds:

Benefiber sample

Kotex sample pack

Lancaster 360 sample

Vaseline Men lotion sample

Playtex Gentle Glide sample

John Frieda Lustrous Touch samples

Escada Moon Sparkle perfume sample

Pantene Pro-V Color Expressions sample

John Frieda Weatherworks/Night Serum samples

Body Eclipse Aromatherapy Moisturizing Shampoo

Home/Auto:

Car air freshener

Sample bottle of Clorox 2

Healthy Recipes booklet when you play a quick game

Fun Stuff:

Father's Day music sampler

Cartier Love music sampler

Free music download from Walmart

RCRDLBL site for free music downloads

Sterling Silver jewelry for free from silverjewelryclub.com, only pay S&H

Out and About:

Starbucks is offering free wi-fi, free refills on brewed coffee, free beverage customization, etc. to those people who register their Starbucks gift card and either use it to buy something or reload it at least once every 30-day period. If you haven't registered it yet, then you'll also get a coupon for a free drink in the mail if you register before July 14th.

Starbucks is also offering iced coffee samples from June 9-13, and June 16-20 between 4-6pm at participating locations. Sample as many as you like!! Call your local store to see if they're offering this deal.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Back!!

Yeesh!! I sure am bad about blogging...especially on my personal blog!! At least I've blogged SOME on my other two blogs in the last three months, even if rarely!!

So, I am taking a bit of a break from Crossings...we'll see how that goes. It may last a couple weeks or a month, but I just needed to quit spending so much of my time there and concentrate on the real world. I might not even miss it, who knows? It was a big part of my life the last couple of years and I'll definately always like it simply for the fact that it's where Brack and I met, but I don't know. Lately it seems I'm just growing away from the whole forum thing. I haven't posted on tehbean in a couple months (nobody has, really). I've been once on the curlygirl forum to look up something specific and been a couple times on the renaissancefestival forum to look at pics and ask a couple questions. The other 3-4 forums I used to frequent, I haven't even been on in months!! Anywho...the few ladies I'd most miss from the MWF are Facebook friends anyway (and some are Xanga bloggers too) and there's always chat if I can get on the compy those days...so it's still all good!!

Speaking of compy stuff, though...I just found out that Ringo is shutting down at the end of the month!! Yikes!! Where will I post all my pictures now...and more importantly, where do I move all the existing pictures to? I could use Flickr cause I already have an account on there, but I'd have to go pro. I've also heard different people liking Picasa and Photobucket. Then there is always the option of just creating albums on Facebook (which would definately streamline things and fit in with the whole "simplicity" thing, but eh!). What do ya'll recommend? The thing I guess I hate the most about it is that most of my contact with Romanian friends is strictly thru Ringo and Hi5...and I don't really wanna lose that contact...you know?

As far as other stuff goes...eesh, it has been a while, hasn't it? Well, since I last blogged a LOT has happened. The biggest thing that's happened is very sad. My FIL passed away in his sleep in early April. Though he'd prepared my MIL and his youngest son for the eventuality of his passing, it came as somewhat of a shock to Brack and I. It's very hard to stand there and watch your husband suffer and know that you can't just make it all better!! I just wish I'd had more of a chance to get to know my FIL, as I still felt like I needed to prove myself to him as a good DIL. It's only been since he passed that I've even really felt like I'd passed the DIL test with my MIL...but she seems to like me pretty well now...and it's always a good thing to get along with MIL's, right?!!

After the death of my FIL, Brack decided that we needed to make an effort to spend more time with both sides of the family...so it seems we've been running around almost every weekend since!! Another trip out to Lubbock, one to East Texas, one up to Oklahoma, a weekend in the metroplex with my bro and his wife, and this weekend is a family reunion for my dad's side of the family!! It does settle down though...thank goodness!! After this weekend I think the next thing planned is 4th of July in Lubbock...so we get a few weeks reprieve anyway!!

I actually started a weekend job at Scarborough Rennaissance Faire just before my FIL passed, but only ended up working a pre-faire event and the second weekend. After that, we decided that I needed to at least have my weekends free cause I had also started a nanny job in March, taking care of three little children who (to put it nicely) were challenging!! It was a struggle some days to not let it get to me, and I learned a lot of what parents should not let their kids get away with!! That job ended the Friday before Memorial Day.

The day after Memorial Day I started at my current nanny position and I LOVE it!! The little guy is seven and we spent the last two weeks just hanging out...marathon Monopoly games, lots of craft projects (we built a cardboard castle, two boats out of drinking straws, and a sword and helmet just last week), trips to the library and park, and afternoons at the pool at the country club!! Yes, I did say country club!! I've started getting a nice tan from all that poolside sitting, and am even starting to make some contacts for my future business as a professional organizer!!

Speaking of that, I have set myself a goal that by the end of June I will have things in place to unofficially officially start my organizing business. I've even ordered business cards!! WHEE!! So far I've only organized for family, but I've got a pantry organizing job lined up for Monday morning for a lady that I babysit for...we'll see how that goes and hope that if she's pleased that she'll put the word out!! Anyway, fingers crossed and prayers appreciated!!

And on that more upbeat note, I'll sign out!!Take care, God bless, and have a wondrous weekend!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Organizing a Teenage Girl's Bedroom!!

As I stated in a previous post today, it has been rather hectic the last two months with lots going on!! One weekend, about two weeks ago, we went to my parents old house in the country. (To read about my goal of helping them get that house in decent shape, please visit my A Missionary Journey blog).

The big project that weekend was to help my sister get her room organized. I have to admit that organizing and keeping things organized is not something she's good at naturally!! She really needed some help to clear out unnecessary stuff and to get the rest organized in a neat fashion.

We started out about 11am and didn't finish till just after 10:30pm with only a few breaks here and there...but I think it was worth it and turned out pretty great...what do you think? Here are the before and after pics!!

Bekaroombefore4

Project2

Bekaroombefore1

Project4

Bekaroombefore2

Project3

Bekaroombefore3

Project1

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