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!!

Operation Christmas Child: A Rebuttal to Unsolicited Advice

Since that blog post (of what one person thinks you should and shouldn't send) is making the rounds AGAIN, I thought I might sha...