Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

Fat Tuesday Volume XV: A List Of Excuses

What’s up? It’s after 2:00 on Tuesday and this is the first time I have logged into my blog this week. I am still fat and I know the reason why: FOOD! I will soon be starting a boring and bland routine of lean meats, vegetables and fruit. I am no longer able to fool myself into thinking I can eat moderate amounts of whatever I want and still lose weight as long as I exercise.

Here are my excuses for being an absentee blogger:
1. I went to Houston.

This sweetie had to be baptized.

This cutie was there, too. Don't be fooled by the sweet smile, she's two!

Sadly, this is the best picture I have taken in ages. (That's my mom in the background!)

2. I went to Austin to go wedding dress shopping with my sister. Except, she found a dress in Houston the day before. I know! Right?! I did have a great time with my mom and my sister. And we found a great suit for my mom to wear to the wedding.

3. My sick dog and my wimpy dog have been making it difficult to sleep through the night. Last night was the first night in over a week that I have been home and not awakened in the middle of the night by either sick dog or wimpy dog. Wimpy dog doesn’t like thunder storms. I’m hoping last night becomes the norm.

4. I’m cleaning my house like crazy because my friend is coming to visit! She told me not to, but I totally am anyway. It will be so pathetic if I don’t get done. But at least I will have the excuse that she told me not to. 😉

A positive development:
My art is no longer being held hostage at Aaron Brothers!

They're ALL done!

If I’m brave enough, I’ll post before and afters of my closet tomorrow. That’s a big if. Although, the closet doesn’t look as bad as the bedroom. I definitely won’t post any pics of the bedroom. Total disaster area!

The Great Coupon Caper

I did it! I clipped and printed out coupons. Only what I would use. Then on Monday morning and afternoon, I went to four different stores. I had four different lists and a set of coupons for each store. Here is the result:

I saved $57.65 in total, between coupons and in-store specials! Which is about 15% of what I spent. I did stock up on medicines and toiletries. Some of that stuff I won’t have to purchase again for months. I have enough food to pack the husband’s lunches all week and to make dinner. When I go again next week, I know I won’t save as much. But I won’t have as much to buy, either. The only store that I went to that is not usual for me is Walgreens. But you know what? They had some nice coupons and some great in-store specials. A couple of them were so good that they were already sold out by the time I got there at 10:30 AM Monday morning. So far, so good. I’m going to keep it up.

PS I can’t imagine doing the coupons and the four different stores with kids. Kudos to those of you who somehow pull that off. 🙂

Speaking of food – Here is my new favorite way to fix vegetables. I grill them on my Lodge grill pan.

Yes, there is a ton of alcohol in the background. There were some lushes at dinner known as the husband and the sister.

I stole this idea from my favorite Italian restaurant.

Like Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off

Wednesday was not a great day at our house or thousands of other homes here in Texas. We had a double whammy of loss of electricity and loss of gas. Apparently, about 50 places that supply electricity to Texas went off line early Wednesday morning. Many of them, because they were not properly winterized. Some commission in charge of power for the state decided to do rolling blackouts to deal with this. To top it off, the need for natural gas for heating was too high because we can’t seem to get above freezing and we’re wimps, and our homes are not well insulated. This caused the gas companies not to be able to keep enough pressure in the lines.

What this meant for us was that we were awakened sometime after 6:00 AM by every single fire alarm in our house going off at the same time. It’s not a good way to wake up. We realize that we are very lucky that it was not due to fire, but to the power outage. We also realize that we are completely unprepared for that type of emergency. I have already posted about this post at Young House Love. It got us thinking about fire preparedness and Wednesday morning drove home the point quite well that we don’t have a plan. We really were running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

What about emergency preparedness in general? Are you prepared for emergencies? I bought this book a few months ago and am three quarters of the way through it:
It’s called, “Just In Case: How To Be Self-Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens” by Kathy Harrison and illustrated by Alison Kolesar. You can buy it here. The author lives in a different part of the country than I do, and therefore has different experiences with weather situations, etc… But I still think you can read this book and apply her thoughts and techniques to whatever situations are possible in your area. Also,she brings up some uncomfortable topics like war and computer shut downs that we all avoid. Even after September 11th, I think we all feel a little too secure about war not coming to our shore. This is probably very naive. One of our closest neighbors is basically in a state of war inside their country right now. What about our reliance on computers to buy necessities? Would you have any cash on hand if no computers were working in stores? Would you have any food on hand, if stores weren’t open for a week or two? What if stores weren’t getting shipments because trucks couldn’t get through? Would you have a way to heat your house if services shut down? How would you cook?

I must admit that the only thing that has changed for me since I started reading this book, is that I do buy a lot more food most of the time when I go to the store. But I really need a better plan for what meal staples I will always have on hand. I found out yesterday that we do not have a way to heat our house if services are down. The heaters are gas and the thermostats are electric. The lack of gas also meant that the fireplaces did not work. We have to investigate further to see if we can also burn wood in our gas fireplaces. It seems as though you should be able to, but if your flue is not set up to handle the ash, etc… that comes with wood you could be in big trouble. I do actually have enough storage space in my home to do a lot of what Kathy recommends. I must admit that I haven’t done so because I started to feel very overwhelmed. Kathy herself does not live in a very large home, and has lots of great ideas for storage in small spaces.

Reading this book also made me think of the issue of self-reliance quite a bit. Those of you living quite near your families of origin have a safety net that those of us who have moved far away do not. Our closest family is about 4 hours away. We do have friends here, but most of them have many children. We really wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for help when they already have so many to be responsible for. I do think that people are mostly kind and that we would receive help if we asked. But wouldn’t it be better to be prepared just in case?

Have you thought about this stuff? Is your family prepared for emergencies? Am I stressing you out? 🙂

PS On a funny/pathetic note, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy were so freaked out by all the loud noises from the alarms and from everything in our house beeping every 45 minutes when the power cam back on that by 9:00 AM they were outside by the back fence line shivering in the cold. They had to be bribed to get them to come inside. Such big weinie dogs!

Blog Love

For your enjoyment, here are some blog posts I have read and enjoyed over the last week (or so).

Professional interior designer, Amanda Burdge of AB Home Interiors in Nashville, did a kick ass post this week about the true cost of remodeling and redesigning your home. She uses real numbers and pictures to illustrate her points and it’s definitely worth your time to read.

Even though I don’t have little ones, I really enjoyed this post by a guest blogger over at Triad Moms On Main. It’s all about the things she’s glad she did with her kids and a few things she wishes she had done differently or more often.

John and Sherry over at Young House Love have had a couple of readers suffer devastating house fires recently. The lessons they shared have given me a lot to think about, and I bet it will do the same for you.

Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist can be amazingly insightful sometimes. And I found her post about Generation X to be just that. If you are a part of Gen X, give it a read and see what you think. PS Penelope’s personal life is a bit, well, nuts. So if that kind of thing bothers you, then for the love of all that’s holy, don’t start reading her entire blog! Just remember, you’ve been warned. 🙂

Mrs. Limestone over at Brooklyn Limestone has been doing a series where she got other bloggers to clean out a junk drawer in their house. While I have liked all of them, I particularly liked Friday’s post by the woman who writes a blog called Tatertots and Jello.

My friend Luciane at Home Bunch did a feast for the eyes post about colorful interiors, which I of course loved. I can’t seem to get enough color!
Green Guest Room After

And finally, Julia over at Hooked on Houses did a post about Highclere Castle, where the BBC is filming Downton Abbey. I am so obsessed that I bought the DVD’s and don’t have to wait till Sunday night to watch the last episode, because I already did! I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that BBC has ordered 8 more episodes. Yeah!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

All photos except the last are by me and are pretty random, but may loosely apply. 😉

Fat Tuesday Volume III

So, I am entering week three of better habits and please leave, fat! Here is my progress report: three pounds down, a hell of a lot more to go. 🙂

Question of the week: Have you ever kept juggling all of your balls (be quiet dirty birds!) without dropping any? And if so, for how long? When I talk of the juggling act I am referring to three main areas for me and probably more for other people. My three are 1) weight,exercise, & food under control 2) finances in order and 3) house in order. For many of you the juggling act will also include a job and parenting. It boggles the mind!

The juggling act seems like a catch 22 to me. I can’t remember the last time I had all three areas under control. Yet, it does seem to me that if one and especially if two of my three areas get out of control, they will pull the third one with them. The last time all three were going well at the same time might have been around 2005. And that is probably not completely correct. Just because I was thinner then than I am now doesn’t mean #1 was totally great. But that was the year that I was introduced to Dave Ramsey. That saved our lives, financially speaking. And I had a much smaller house back then, so it was easier to keep in order.

Does this happen to everyone else? Have you ever mastered the juggling act? If so, do you have any tips? My only tip that I can give for sure, is Dave Ramsey. Whenever we have followed his financial advice, things have gone well for us in that area. I still struggle a little with the financial stuff (like falling off the envelopes wagon once in a while), but most of my struggles are with #1 & #2. How about you?

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Lions and tigers and laundry, oh my! I have so much laundry to do that the laundry chute is stacked all the way to the top. I’m not kidding.

I told you!

2. Do you remember the Seinfeld episodes featuring the fictional Rochelle, Rochelle? Every time I hear the ridiculous promos for the movie Black Swan, it’s all I can think of. “Rochelle, Rochelle, a young girl’s strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” I hope SNL or somebody mocks it. Pretty please, with sugar on top!

3. I have no Christmas decor up yet, not even our Advent wreath. Not good.

4. My brother continues to coach my niece to say, “Aunt Nichole punched me” each time we are on the phone. Usually after a few times, she switches to someone else like Grandma or Sarah. So, beware! If Cara knows your name, you may have punched her. 😉

5. For the last six weeks I have been finding dead, or almost dead wasps in my house. I have no idea where they are coming from. And I’m not sure I want to.

6. What do you do when someone you do not know friends you on Facebook? This has happened to me twice in the last couple of months and I have no clue how to handle it. This spoof about Unfriend Day cracked me up.

7. I had no idea that bay windows were so difficult for people. Every day, at least one person (usually more) clicks on my blog because they were searching for window treatments for bay windows. Who knew?!

This post is linked to 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!

Tiny Pockets Of Organization

And I do mean tiny. My house has mostly recovered from Thanksgiving. It’s not dirty, but I can see piles starting in all of my little clutter spots. Also, I am starting to wonder if I have a little ADD going on. I have a few too many projects.
1. Complete TG recovery.
2. Complete Christmas shopping.
3. Plant all the flowers that I bought last week.
4. Frame all the prints I have for the front stairway.
5. Attack the disaster that is our master suite.
6. Buy and paint wood molding, so it can be installed.

So, I’m taking inspiration from these little organized spots in my home.

Mail I need to go through.


This is a vintage toast rack that I am using for mail near my front door. Sometimes it holds mail that needs to go out. Right now it holds mail that I want to go through. This is helpful because one of my biggest problems is junk mail. I have become very paranoid about identity theft. Even though I have insurance for that, I think I need to shred everything. I’m trying to get over it and not be so crazy! The toast rack helps because it doesn’t hold much, and I only put stuff in it that I really need or want to deal with. The rest is trash or recycling. Coincidentally, there is a toast rack up for grabs today over at High Street Market. So if you think you might want one, go and enter. I must confess that I like the giveaway one better than mine. 🙂 Also, I’ve done several transactions with Kelly from her shop and everything has always gone beautifully.

Sippy wrangling!


I came up with this last year for when little people visit. All the different sippy cup parts seem to get lost in the cupboard and take up valuable space on the lower shelves. As a short person with a tall kitchen, I need those shelves! This also makes the plastic cups more easily accessible for the older kids. The sippy cups are from Born Free and are BPA free. The plastic cups are from Tupperware and are not. If anyone has a recommendation for BPA free plastic drinking glasses, I would love to hear about it. Oh yeah, basket from Target.

Organized Armoire


This is my opening salvo in the master suite battle. I didn’t take any pictures of the destruction around the armoire that continues into the master closet. I may take some so I can do a before and after, but I’m not sure. It’s pretty bad. And as long as I don’t show pictures, you’ll never really know or believe how bad it is. Unless you are my friend’s husband who thought my house was always clean, so I sent him pictures one time and he STILL didn’t believe me! He said the mess looked staged! I guess everyone needs their delusions. I am slightly concerned for him, that my supposedly clean house is one of his. 😉

Anyone else on project overload? Everyone else?