I miss blogging…

I know I said it before, back in May, when life began to get a bit more hectic – but I didn’t mean to just drop the blog.  But here it is – SEPTEMBER! – and I haven’t posted anything since then.  I miss it.  I never thought I’d be one to want to share my life on the world wide web, but I enjoy this as a creative outlet…as well as a way to keep myself organized.

So here’s what I’ve been up to over the summer, a check-in on my New Year’s resolutions, and a project list update:

My summer was nothing out of the ordinary.  Our house guests stayed with us for three weeks while they got everything worked out with their renters insurance and found a new place to live.  In between work deadlines for both of us, my husband and I took a couple of vacations to visit family and a camping trip or two.  We celebrated our one-year anniversary in July.  There was no studying for exams involved because I passed my last section of the Architect Registration Exam in June.  New Year’s Resolution #1 COMPLETE!  As for resolutions #2 (house-keeping) and #3 (cooking) – I go back and forth between on-it and not on-it.  I would say overall, the house stays company-ready, and I do cook most nights – which was really all I was trying to accomplish with those resolutions anyway.  I have fallen off the Slow Cooker Challenge wagon, but may revive that soon.  I do have on of my stand-by’s, chicken for tacos tonight, already in the slow-cooker as I type this.

As for my  project list, I have updates and more to add.  #3 – Organize the shed – DONE.  It’s not as scary anymore since it’s not crammed full of who-knows-what, and I have a happy husband because his lawn equipment and tools are easily accessible.  As for #2 – Renovate the home office/gym – it’s so close to complete I can taste it.  All that is left to complete is the baseboards and the millwork (which we are meeting with a cabinet maker soon).  #1 – Create a Filing System – DONE – at least temporarily.  I have created a temporary system until we get the filing cabinets in the office for the permanent solution, but all I will have to do is move everything over.  I don’t want to talk about #4 right now…but I still need to focus on that.

Office Renovation Progress; desk, shelves, cabinets, and a wardobe still to come.

Office Renovation Progress; desk, shelves, cabinets, and a wardrobe still to come.

New additions to the project list:

#5:  Renovate the pantry.  To make a long story short, this has to be done because we bought a new frontloading washer and dryer that was on super-sale over Labor Day weekend.  Our small pantry also serves as the laundry closet, so this new set, which is stackable, will save space.  We have several things we need to do to the pantry before we can install the washer and dryer, so we are on that right now, trying to get that completed my mid-October.

#6:  Blog regularly.  I have come across tons of things I want to share recently, so this might as well add this to the list!

That’s it for now; it’s good to be back.  I can’t wait to get back to sharing more recipes and household tips!

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HOW TO FOLD A FITTED SHEET

This post is thanks to Laundry Day on Saturday, in which I washed, folded, and put away 1 load of dog blankets, 2 large loads of towels (weighing 46.5 pounds wet), and 3 sets of sheets.  Had to wash the dog blankets because I washed the dog (and then had to deep clean the bathroom too – pet peeve:  wet hair, dog or human – GROSS); had to weigh the towels because I had to dry them at the nearby laundromat (the fuse box our dryer runs on is currently out of commission) and 30 pounds is the limit to one dryer.

As a disclaimer, I learned this technique ten years ago working for a woman who ran estate sells.  Though I’ve used this technique since then, it’s still not easy.  And though I’m no master, I am usually pleased with the end result.

Step 1:  Hold the sheet with the outside facing you.  Locate the 4 corners.

Step 2:  Place one corner on one of your hands, and the adjacent corner on the other hand.  Make sure that the sheet is not twisted.

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Step 3:  With a corner still on each hand, place the corner hanging below each hand on that hand (so that there are two corners on each hand and the sheet is folded in half).  You must make sure the sheet is not twisted.  To me, this is the hardest part of the process; it often involves setting down one hand’s corners at a time.

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Step 4: Place all corners on one hand by putting touching the tips of your fingers together and rolling the corners from the top hand onto the other hand.

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Step 5:  Lay the sheet down on a flat surface and pull your hand out.   The tips of the corners should become one corner of rectangle that the sheet is now shaped.  All elastic edges of the sheet should be towards the center of the rectangle and all edges of the rectangle should be smooth.

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Step 6:  Fold the short side of the rectangle into thirds, hiding the elastic edges.

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Step 7:  Fold the remainder in half, then half again.

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As a bonus, I stack the folded flat sheet, fitted sheet, and one of the pillowcases, then place the stack into the other pillowcase, fold to close and store.

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As I’ve struggled to perfect this technique, I found this video from Martha Stewart, which shows this process.  I do the corners a little differently (my way is easier in my opinion than sliding your hand down and finding one corner at a time; when I tried it this way, the sheet always ended up twisted like the poor lady in the video).  You can see that it’s still a battle, even when you know the technique.

Current Thoughts on Menu Planning

Menu planning is one of those things that I have a love/hate relationship with right now.  The organization junkie inside of me loves making a list of meals for the week ahead, developing a grocery list from that, and knowing what I’m going to cook when I come home from work every day.  It helps keeps us on budget – our goal being to spend no more than $100 a week on groceries. Having a plan for the week and for grocery shopping is a necessity to stay within that; you can’t just walk around the store, randomly tossing items into the cart.

 

In the 5 ½ months that we’ve been married (plus probably a year before when I started trying this), I feel like I’ve developed a knack for menu planning.  No more nights of staring down the pantry, wondering what I could make from what’s inside, ultimately deciding to order Chinese food.

 

But like I said, it’s a love/hate relationship – and the hate comes from the fact that it has gotten complex.  The planning was relatively easy until last December; I would just pick things that I knew how to make, ask the husband for requests, maybe add a new recipe in once and a while, and make sure there was enough variety so that we didn’t eat the same meals week after week.  Then, at the start of December, we decided to try The Zone Diet (which you can read about that on the blog I started to keep up with that, though since we derailed, I haven’t kept up with it).   We keep it up for three weeks, were derailed by the holidays and life, but we are planning to get back on track Saturday (and I plan to keep up with that on the other blog again – two blogs? This could get crazy!).

 

So today, I started planning for next week.  Planning has become like another job.  If I didn’t work, I think I’d spend all day researching recipes and planning…but I do work, and I don’t have time for that.  It’s complex because you have to learn to speak the Zone’s “block” language (blocks are how to measure food); either convert current recipes you use to blocks and find balance or look for new recipes that are already block friendly; and then you have to make sure the proportions are correct – for two people who get very different portions.  I rant more about that here, so I’ll spare you and say the moral of the story:  I can understand why people don’t stick with diets – they’re too complex!

 

I’ll be glad when Zone menu planning is as easy as menu planning was before, but until then, it’s staying in that love/hate category.

Advice for Newlyweds when moving in together

This post did not start out this way, but as I was writing about hosting a cookout tonight and being thankful I had stayed on top of my cleaning schedule, I took random tangent.  But then I thought, “This is actually something that someone may need to know” – and it does deal with organization and cleaning, so I’ll go with it.  Plus, I think the advice is applicable to anyone.

 

At the time of our wedding last summer, my husband was 28, and I was 27.  We waited until just before the wedding to start moving in together, so he had lived in an apartment, and I had owned my house for several years.  This means we each had everything we really needed for our current living arrangements.  And that means we had two households worth of stuff to consolidate.

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF

 

Not to mention, I had lived in the house for several years AND accumulated a lot of junk.   When you’ve got 1,750 square feet of space to yourself and you like to hold on to random junk, you can accumulate quite a bit.  I’m talking stacks of old bills I thought I needed to hang on to for who knows what reason, magazines I never read but thought I might someday, several random bins of who-knows-what that I had attached some sort of emotional meaning to and couldn’t throw away.  That kind of stuff – you know, junk.

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF + MY JUNK

 

Then we’ve got shower and wedding gifts.  We are both blessed with large families and many friends and while we had dreams of a small, intimate weddings, that was quickly out of the question.  And not to sound gift-grabby, but a large wedding means a large amount of gifts – and that means you need a lot of space.  I had been displaying the gifts from our showers in the living room, thinking I did not want to start using them until we were settled in together – but that got a little out of control.

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF + MY JUNK + WEDDING GIFTS

 

Then, if you’re a DIY bride like I was, you’ve got wedding stuff.  I won’t really get into the massive amount of stuff that I had to make our invitations and programs as well as decorate the church and reception venue, but I will say that because I am creative and like things my way, plus we didn’t want to spend an excessive amount of money, I wanted to do just about everything myself – and that meant there was A LOT of stuff.  Trying to keep it organized so everything could easily be taken where it needed to be the day before the wedding was not easy.  And that stuff doesn’t just disappear after the wedding.  I had already lined up several other brides who wanted to buy some of the things I had, but some of the stuff was still around for a while (some of it still is…).

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF + MY JUNK + WEDDING GIFTS + WEDDING STUFF

 

We started the merging process a little at a time.  A few weeks before the wedding, while the wedding gifts were starting to pile up in the living room and wedding stuff was starting to pile up in the den, we slowly started bringing over boxes of his stuff and going through my stuff.  He would bring over things from one room at a time, and we would work on deciding which items we would keep and which needed to be donated.  The things to be donated were piled into the guest bedroom.

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF + MY JUNK + WEDDING GIFTS + WEDDING STUFF  + THINGS TO BE DONATED

 

Somewhere in the middle of this whole process, we decided it was time to finally finish the living room renovation by having carpet installed, and we got such a good deal on carpet, we though we’d have the bedrooms redone.

 

HIS STUFF + MY STUFF + MY JUNK + WEDDING GIFTS + WEDDING STUFF  + THINGS TO BE DONATED + FURNITURE AND EVERYTHING ELSE MOVED INTO THE KITCHEN AND DEN = CHAOS

 

So here’s my point and advice:  the merging of two households creates a lot of stuff.

 

It’s going to take time to organize. Don’t be surprised if it takes a little while to set up the house.  It’s not going to happen overnight.

 

Purge before trying to consolidate.  BOTH OF YOU – not just the one moving.

 

Create a plan.  Talk about space constraints, ideas for the spaces, and maybe even a sentimental objects limit.

 

Don’t attach emotions to inanimate objects.  Placing sentimental value on things leads to hoarding.  Okay – maybe that’s a little extreme, but it does make it unnecessarily hard to get rid of things (which is why it’s a good idea to talk about that before you start!).

 

Compromise and be respectful of one another.  Work together – you’re on the same team now.

 

Go ahead and start using the gifts.  They take up too much space to store.

 

And do not, I repeat, do NOT think it’s a good time to renovate something amidst all the stuff.

 

I will say that even though the house was a disaster at times, the whole move in process went really well for us, other than just taking so long to get organized.

Project List

If you’re reading my blog and you haven’t figured out by now, I like lists.

In addition to my yearly resolutions, I have a few “projects” that need tackling.  Amidst my organization efforts, I think it will be good to keep track of them.   I hope to be updating this list regularly, so I’m going to create a “Page” for it.

 

1.  Create a filing system

Right now, we have a very disorganized system for filing in a couple of small plastic bins.  It’s a mess, and what needs to be filed usually ends up in a big pile on top of one of the bins…or lost somewhere else in the house.  It’s not working.

Planned Completion Date:  January 31

2.  Renovate the home office/gym.

We recently renovated our living room and after recuperating for a few months, have started on the home office/gym.  We lost all momentum over the holidays, but hope to get back on it soon.

Planned Completion Date:  February 28

3.  Organize the shed.

The shed is built into the hillside like a storm shelter.  It’s a dark and scary place to me.   It needs help.

Planned Completion Date:  March 15

4.  Lose 10 pounds

I don’t want weight loss to be one of my new years resolutions because I think there’s so much more to being healthy than the number on the scale, but I do want to lose some.  My first small goal will be 10 pounds.  This task list is to keep me accountable, so why not include it?

Planned Completion Date:  Not setting one.  Wanting to lose weight by a certain date usually leads to disappointment.  Progress not perfection.

Cleaning Schedule

Since I decided that being a better housekeeper was going to be one of my 2013 resolutions, I’ve been looking at a plethora of daily cleaning schedules.   A simple Pinterest search brings up a ton.  I’ve looked and pinned quite a few, but none were quite the perfect fit for me – so I made my own.

One of the favorites that I found suggested making a 4-week schedule to include items that need to be done monthly, like checking the smoke detector batteries and changing the air filter.   The article included a template, so I started there.

The article also has some good advice, so if you’re interested in the template or the advice, here’s a link.

I decided to do a couple of things a little differently than this schedule.  I did away with the “owner” heading that the template includes since this is my resolution, not my husband’s.  However, I’m sure that he will be helping out with the tasks, and he’s more than welcome to mark them off the list – I just didn’t want to assign him anything.  I also decided to include a few things I want to do daily, such as wash the dishes, wipe down the counters, and go through the mail.  I also broke some of the “deep cleaning” tasks out to do separately, such as cleaning the inside and outside of the fridge on a different day than I clean the rest of the kitchen.  I lumped areas of my house together to deep clean, such as the kitchen, dining area, and den, which are all open to each other.

Cleaning Schedule.xlsx

This first 4-week schedule is going to be more of an experiment than a firm schedule, one reason being that we’re going to have a houseguest for the first two weeks, so I’m sure I will be off schedule more than on.  I also have a feeling that some days will take 30 minutes to complete the tasks, while others will take 3 hours.  I’d eventually like to find a balance, so I left space at the bottom to track the time.  Ideally, those deep cleaning days that take 3 hours to complete could be broken up into one-day-a-month tasks, but that would make the schedule incredibly long and daunting.   I may work that way anyway, marking “deep cleaning” off on the day I finish all the tasks.

Deep Cleaning Tasks

I know there some things I forgot, like cleaning out the gutters monthly and any once a year tasks, like cleaning the carpets, but it’s a start.  If you have a cleaning schedule you follow, feel free to share or link me to it!

I am also happy to report that yesterday, I finally tackled the piles of laundry in the master bedroom and reorganized the closet as well as the dresser drawers.  Today was more laundry (sheets to prepare for our houseguest), and I implemented another organization tip from the article that suggest turning the clothes hangers backwards:

Store extra sheets inside of one of the match pillow cases; found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed.

Store extra sheets inside of one of the matching pillow cases; found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed.

Good Intentions

All day yesterday, I was planning to go home after work and tackle the piles of clean laundry in the master bedroom.  I have no problem doing the laundry…until it comes to folding and putting away.  Sadly, my husband is no better, so we usually just leave the clean clothes in piles in the laundry baskets until we wear them and they make their way to the hampers to be washed again. All day, I was thinking of organizing my closet as I put away my clothes…until about 7pm, after we had eaten dinner, washed dishes, and cleaned the kitchen.  We then decided that we needed an ash bucket for our fireplace, so we ran to a couple of stores to find one.  Then, since we’ve had so little downtime during the holidays, I let my husband convince me to watch a couple episodes of his favorite show…which meant I went to bed later than planned, without hanging up the clothes.

If it had been any other chore, I probably wouldn’t have put it off, or if we had a tv in our bedroom, I could have multi-tasked it.  But such is life, and I am now planning to tackle it this afternoon, since I only work until noon today.

In my planning, I found this tip on Pinterest that I would like to implement:

Found on Pinterest via Buzz Feed

Found on Pinterest via Buzz Feed

I was really hoping I would be sharing a picture of my closet with all the hangers backwards instead of the original tip, but I really like this idea.  I did a big closet purge this past August after our wedding to make room in the master closet for my husband’s clothes, but I know there are still items that I rarely or maybe never wear.  I am pretty excited of the idea that by this time next year, they will be out!