31 March, 2012

{Project Simplify} Countertops & Drawers

This year for Lent I decided to put my New Year's Resolution of "One Step at a Time" into action: clean and de-clutter one section of our apartment at a time.  My goal is to get rid of a minimum of one brown paper bag worth of trash or things to donate from each space.



Week Four: Closets, Countertops, and Drawers (Oh My!)



Goal: 

I originally planned to tackle the WHOLE kitchen, but once we got started we realized it needed a lot more work than we bargained for.  We also got a little side tracked with rearranging the living room.

I knew what needed the most attention: spice cabinet, drawers, cups/glasses and our beer glass collection.

Eric pitched in a lot this week and helped, especially with the tall spaces.

How I did it:

Would you be surprised if I said I first took everything out of the cabinet??  Good. You're catching on.


The cabinets and drawers needed a good wipe down after two years of heavy use.  The spice rack was particularly nasty.

For the spices I grouped things by size.  It works out that spices I use most often (think the Italian trio: parsley, basil, oregano) are large, and the spices I use less often are small.

I checked for anything that was WAY expired (i.e. was clumped together) or had MSG hiding in it.  I also married duplicates, and refilled our "adult" salt & pepper shakers. (Say good-bye to our Corona Extra ones)

I was tempted to throw out the can of bay leaves, because have you ever said, "Man, you know what this stew is missing? A bay leaf"  But it fit back in the cabinet so I kept it around.

What is a bay leaf anyway?

Then I put everything back in size order, alphabetically.


But I went to use it later that afternoon and realized I hardly use thyme and rosemary, etc so I swapped them out with spices I use a few times a week.


Next stop, drawers.

I forgot to take before pictures.  They weren't that bad, just needed some re-grouping and a good wipe down.


You store your Nalgene bottle sippy lids next to your meat mallet and garlic press, too? No way!


The silverware was a change.  We had been back and forth with it being in the drawer or an organizer on the counter top, but in effort to keep the counter tops clean (remember, clutter begets clutter), the silverware went back in the drawer and all the stuff that was in the drawer went to the donations pile.

I know we made the right decision because I can't even remember what we threw out!

Next stop, the fridge door.  We mostly just threw out random stuff we hadn't used in a while.  I don't eat many condiments or dressings so this is easy to maintain.  The rest of the fridge, however, needs it's own week. Yikes!


Eric worked on our drinking glasses and beer glass collections.  The space above our cabinets was solid, shoulder to shoulder beer glasses.  We decided to find new homes for everything except the breweries we've been to.  We're keeping our nice etched ones for our everyday glasses.  Eric even ran all the glasses through the dishwasher before replacing or donating.  Good man.




We've already had a friend claim about a dozen glasses and this is what remains. Can you say "over kill"

In addition to the purging, I flip flopped our toaster and microwave, moved the knives, coffee press, and bottle warmer to make better use of our counter top space.  It's taken some getting used to.

We have barely scratched the surface with re-organizing the cabinets.  That will come when we get the donations out of the dining room so we can re-organize the hutch and cabinets at the same time. We did a quick pass of appliances or utensils we've replaced or upgraded but never got rid of the original. My sister is about to get a bunch of awesome cooking gear!

We more than exceeded the goal to get rid of one brown paper bag!


This week's little helper...

What I Learned in the Process:

  • We have too much stuff.
  • Are collections necessary?
  • Streamlining our stuff makes it so much faster to get jobs done.
Just a few days left until Easter. Are YOU ready?

28 March, 2012

What I Am Loving! {5}





Draw Something.  I get a little carried away.

My Erin Condren Life Planner & Notebook.  I ordered the notebook back in October when I was just looking for a nice notebook with a calendar for my work notes.  But once I started staying home all day every day, I found myself writing and losing so many to-do lists so I bought the Life Planner when they went on sale.  I took both of them apart. Took out the used months. Rearranged a few things and now I have a jumbo hybrid Life Planner & Notebook. And a million trillion stickers.  Who doesn't love stickers?

My sweet little girl and her adorable outfit. Baby Gap. Be still my heart.


The Pantone Colors of the last 10 years (and green).  Although cliche in the design world, I'm sure, I LOVE these colors.  Such a fresh spring look.  I finally had the courage to do a little design work with some free programs. By no means professional, but it's been fun learning new things!


Speaking of cliche in the design world, I also cannot wait for this...


And while we're on the subject of design...I am loving that MAD MEN is back.  And I am loving this horrible avatar I made of myself.  I am so bad at making them actually look like me.  What do you think? The donut makes it more realistic. 


And while I love HER to death, I am not loving that she is big enough for her very own Exersaucer. (But I am loving the price we paid, $1.83 because we had so many returns after this)


What are YOU loving today???


24 March, 2012

{Project Simplify} The Pantry

This year for Lent I decided to put my New Year's Resolution of "One Step at a Time" into action: clean and de-clutter one section of our apartment at a time.  My goal is to get rid of a minimum of one brown paper bag worth of trash or things to donate from each space.


Week Three: The Pantry




Goal:


We'd been in this apartment for two years at Christmas.  I recently found a jar of peanut butter and thought, "Man, we've had this for ever. I wonder when it expires"  Oddly enough, it was that day.  And then I wondered, how long had we had that peanut butter.  The answer will make you never by commercial peanut butter again (read: since before Eric and I were even engaged).

If the peanut butter was that old...what else was hiding in our pantry?

I would feel really guilty about the state of our pantry, but we hardly use packaged or canned foods so it's easy to forget what little we have in the there.

My goal was to get rid of everything expired (trash), everything unopened I don't for see us using before it expires (donate), and reorganize what was left

How I did it:

First I took everything out of the pantry and put in on the counter.


Then I grouped things by like items.

I pulled out the stuff we don't use or has expired.  Said good-bye to some really nice stocking stuffers (WHY!?! didn't I make snickerdoodles and use that spread?!?!)


And placed everything back in their new home in the pantry.




It was super easy, especially with this little nugget as my helper.



Confession: I actually did this back in early February (that's why Evie is so little!).  I have since taken more things out!  A few went to the laundry room (all my sprinkles) and a few went to the cabinets (all the coffee) in this week's clean out.

What I learned in the Process:


  • This jump started the de-cluttering process for me.  I had done a few other small areas of the house,  but this gave me the "high" I needed to tackle the rest of the house.
  • It doesn't take but another second to put things into the right place instead of any place. The key is having the right place for everything, and following through with it.
  • De-cluttering is contagious (I am not sure that's the most accurate word). Once I do one area, I can't wait to do the next one.  This has been an overdue spirit for me to have.
  • It's probably hard for outsiders to see my de-cluttering as a religious experience worthy of Lent.  I've been learning how weighed down by "things" I have become.  Detaching from them has been so freeing.  I've also spent less time tracking down lost items (which becomes a near occasion of sin by the time I actually find what I am looking for...ha!) and spent more time doing good things, like efficiently preparing a healthy dinner for my family!

Extra! Extra!

  • I don't know if I necessarily met my goal of removing a brown bag of stuff from this space with the first pass.  However, I did a bunch of baking and used up some odds and ends out of the pantry.  And later relocated some things to newly cleaned out spaces.
  • Don't think I cheated by using an old project for this week.  We did more than our fair share of cleaning last week and this week (I am a week behind on posting, too!).  This next week's post has so many clean outs! And we'll have a bonus feature at the end of Lent!

How is YOUR Lent going?? What have YOU learned about yourself?

22 March, 2012

Dear Google, What am I supposed to do NOW?

Dear Google,

I love you. I really do.  I was an early adopter of Gmail.  My social and work life thrives because of Google Calendar.  I stay in touch with family because of Google Chat.  I even traded my beloved iPhone for an Android phone to integrate my Google life.

However, you have done some really lame things over the years.

For example, Google Wave.  What was that nonsense? I consider myself fairly intuitive, especially when it comes to Google products, but that was...

it was....

Um.


Yeah.

And then there is Google+  STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.  The End.

But, Why oh Why are you shutting down Picnik?  Seriously?  Worse. Mistake. Ever.

I had finally perfected my image upload-edit-share work flow and now you're taking out my middle man. Yes, I said "man", because no woman would do such a crazy thing!

From what I hear, you're moving the editing tools to Google+.  Even my love for Picnik won't move me over to Google+.

So There.

You lost a paying customer for Picnik AND I am unsubscribing from Google+.

So there.

Or something vicious.

Sincerely,

A frustrated loyal fan-girl

___________________________________________________________

On a happier note, dear blog friends, what are YOU doing about the shut down of Picnik?

I can't afford, nor am I ready for the Adobe Creative Suite.  I have iPhoto and Aperture on my iMac, so I am thinking of giving those a good run.  I might also play with Aviary some more.  I just hate that I need to change up my work flow from Eye-fi > Picasa > Picnik > Blogger  I think I am going to play with some extensions on Aperture and redirect my Eye-fi uploads straight to my hard drive.


20 March, 2012

On The State of Me: My Life Four Month Post-Partum {MM 8}

It's been four months since I've had Evie. One hundred and thirty two days, to be exact.

I remember those first few days and weeks to seem never ending.  There was no separation of day or night, just two to three hour cycles of eating and sleeping.

I learned the importance of making meals for families during these critical times, and we even had an easy situation.  I thank God for the generosity of family, friends and parishioners for the great meals.

After the new-baby scent wore off, and the winter holiday decorations were put away, (What? Why did I even decorate?) our life has settled into a bit of a routine but not without a series of changes from our *old* life.  Or as many people call it "B.C." or Before Children.  Here's a little up date of what life looks like these days...


A total blur :)


Mental and emotional state - 

I am finally feeling more attached to Evie.  It's taken a while for it to sink in that she's mine.  Forever and Always.

I have struggled with Post-Partum Depression and Anxiety.  It took the help of a good friend to recognize that what I was going through wasn't normal and I needed help.  My midwife and I talked about a lot of options and I decided on a prescription that's safe for breastfeeding.

I am ready for the day I can ween from the medication, but I am just not there yet.  I haven't woken up with panic attacks in the middle of the night lately, nor have I sobbed in the closet or under the covers in a while, but there are still small things that aren't quite back to normal.  My husband, family, and pastor/boss (he has a counseling background) have been incredible instruments in my recovery.

I know that eating better, getting sleep, and exercise have also been key.



Food, drink, exercise -

After 2+ months of prepared meals, eating out, or take out, we are finally back to cooking most nights.  I plan meals and Eric grocery shops.  Eating lots of whole foods is great for my mind, body and soul.

My relationship with food has changed tremendously over the course of the pregnancy and now post-partum recovery.  I will probably write more on this.....eventually.

Now that the weather was is nice, Evie and I have been hitting the walking trails during the day.  Sometimes we wait for Eric and go at night.  My goal is to get at least a 30-40 minute walk in at least 3 times a week.

I have cut almost all drinks except water and milk out of my diet.  Honestly, I don't miss them.  I have coffee probably once a week, an iced tea once a week, and maybe a beer a week.  No sodas and low caffeine & alcohol have reduced my headaches tremendously!

My body -

I have about 4-6 stubborn pounds of baby weight left to lose.  I feel like it's taking forever to come off, but most women are telling me it's a miracle that I've lost 40 pounds in 4 months.  I have another 15-20 to lose after this because I REALLY don't want to start another pregnancy so heavy.

My stretch marks are slowly fading.  The lighter ones on my thighs and hips are almost white already (yay!) but the really deep ones on my belly are still red and angry looking (boo!)

Speaking of my belly, seriously, how long does it take for that extra skin flab to go away? Walks, yoga, crunches, planks, and my belly still jiggles and sags.  Blerg.

Our marriage -

The first few weeks, even months, every conversation revolved around Evie, diapers, and whose shift it was to sleep.  I am SO thankful those days are behind us.

This Lent we've been praying the daily readings and discussing them together a few days a week.  It's not anything we're beating ourselves up over, but it's been such a blessing when we get around to it.

We've had a few date nights and great conversations in the last six weeks.  I am so in love with Eric and glad to have him by my side.

Most days we wonder what we did with our life before Evie.  Nothing compares.



Work -

"Your blood pressure is the best it's been in a decade" - my dental hygienist (yes, my dentist office monitors our blood pressure).  That would be because I am no longer herding 300 cats, 40-60 hours a week.  And by cats I mean junior high kids, 10th graders, and all their parents.

Working part time and in just one ministry (I am the Confirmation coordinator at a Catholic Church) has been the best gift to my over all well being.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE ministry and my job, but in order for me to stay in love with it, going part-time was the right decision.

My boss/pastor has also allowed me to work from home as needed.  I utilize nap time, nights, and weekends to work on correspondence, our website, and planning.  I attend a few staff meetings and events a month, and bring Evie with me.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my co-workers patience and understanding.

I do have to admit though, it's been hard to "let go" of working full time and having my hand in so many little things in our parish's livelihood.  I miss social interactions and brain storming with my co-workers.  And I miss them seeking out my advice.

Being a Mom -

Honestly, y'all, everyone is right...being a parent is the BEST thing in the world.  Baby smiles and snuggles make every day the best day since yesterday.  Sure poopy diapers aren't fun, but the belly laughs after more than make up for it.

It's absolutely amazing looking at this tiny little person, who just a year ago was a little gummy bear on a sonogram.  To watch her grow via the ultrasound, deliver her, and now watch her grow out in the world: there are no words to describe.

We constantly look at her and say, "We made her, can you believe it?"


The Apartment / Financial -

We just signed another one year contract on our place. We had a few small financial bumps in the road this year, and also decided to dump some liquid cash into catching up on retirement savings.  This means we didn't get to put as much into savings for a house as we'd like.  We'll get there, it just might be another year later than we hoped.

Because we'll be here another year, maybe two or three, we decided a major clean out and rearrange was in order.  You can follow along the process here.

That got a lot longer than I was anticipating.... Thanks for reading this far!  And I'm doing a belated link up for Miscellany Monday...

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters


16 March, 2012

Evie: Four Months



Measurements:
Weight: 25 inches
Length/Height: 16 lbs 8 oz
Eats: 750-1100 mL in 8-9 feedings a day, most days around 950 mL
Diapers: middle snap on her all-in-ones and size 2 in disposables
Clothes: 6 months, a few 3-6 month dresses worn as shirts

Firsts for Evie
February 11
Trip to Whole Foods in the Ergo instead of carseat

February 14
Valentine's Day


February 17
Airplane Ride: ATL > MSP
February 17
Mall of America!!!

February 18
Wedding - Eric's cousin Paul
February 23
First laugh - For Grandpa C. (jealous!!!)

March 3
Basketball Game - Wake Forest / Georgia Tech

March 3
Trip to the Varsity
(I kept meaning to go get a paper hat to take a picture of Evie in it, and left before I remembered!)

Milestones
Sleeps through the night a few times a week.

She will sit, though a little wobbly still, in my lap, or between my legs on the floor.

Gnaws on her mini-Sofie the Giraffe.



Plays with the dangle toys on her play mat, and tries to pull them toward her mouth.

She is finally starting to endure a few minutes of tummy time.

She recognizes Mommy & Daddy and will follow them around the room with her eyes.

Smiles at faces she recognizes, and will smile at strangers after studying their face for a moment.

She smiles at her face in the mirror.

Evie will babble all day and make noises with her tongue. She's great at engaging in "conversations" with people or even her toys.



She now sucks on her right pointer finger to self sooth and to let us know she's hungry.

When she's tired, she rubs her eyes.

Hit her 4 month growth spurt right on the dot. She's almost out of her 6 month clothes!

Knows her diaper changing routine, and immediately puts her legs up as soon as we unsnap her pants.


Likes/Dislikes
Her likes and dislikes have not changed much from last month. 


She now prefers the front seated position instead of the cradle position in the sling.


She is much less picky about the temperature of her bottles, which is easier for us!


She likes the bright lights of the computer monitor and tv screen.


Other
Evie has had a nasty case of cradle cap, which we've been treating with coconut oil. She smells tropical.


She is drooling and gumming on her toys.


She's starting to discovery learn by putting things in her mouth.


She can sit on my lap when I type at the computer.


She gets a little bored in her swing or her play mat after about 30+ minutes.  Some times I just have to rotate her position on the play mat and she's fine. I wonder if she just misses me and wants to check in.


She's getting closer and closer to rolling over.  We've had fun watching her try!


At bed & nap time she loves watching and listening to her Glow Worm. 


Food:
Evie is getting so wiggly that we almost have to pin her down to eat.  I either swaddle her or wedge her in the boppy if I can't get her to cooperate.


We are cleared to start solids at our discression as soon as her head is just a little more stable.  We will probably wait until 5 months.


Evie has tolerated formula well.  


In a day she eats: all the fresh milk I've pumped that day, usually a bag or two of my frozen stash (it's time to start using the 3 month old stuff!), and a bottle or two of formula.


I am down to pumping only 3 times a day: morning, afternoon, and bed time.  It's been so nice to have my day back.

What they say...


"Yeah, Ergo Baby!"
"She's starting to look like her mama"
"Is she always this good?"
"What a beautiful baby"
"Is she sleeping for you yet?"
"You look great" (I had to throw that one in there!)

We are...
Feeling more comfortable and confident as parents, and with our choices as to how we raise her / what works for us.


Loving our new B.O.B. stroller and that Daylight Savings allows us to go on walks with Daddy after work.


Thankful to get a full night's sleep here and there.


Radiating joy in living the fullness of our vocation!


So in love with our little girl!