Friday, February 05, 2016

Decluttering Challenge: Weeks 2-4

A few of the weeks didn't really apply to me, so I skipped those.  This week, for example, is all about organizing cookbooks and recipes.  I'm doing okay there, so I didn't worry too much about it.

Honestly, I'm looking forward to moving to other areas of the house.  We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen and dining room

Probably the toughest part of this challenge so far has been the plastic food storage cabinets.  They are almost always a total mess and organizing them is a daunting task.

So with a "Just Do It" attitude that would have made Nike proud, I dove in.  It took the better part of a day to figure out what should stay and what should go, and how to organize the whole thing.  I'm very happy with the results.

Other completed tasks include: organizing pantry and spice storage, cleaning out refrigerator and freezer, organizing all cabinets and drawers, and creating storage solutions for cooking utinsels.

I have really enjoyed thoroughly organizing my kitchen and dining room, and can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Star Wars Birthday Party

We had Nicholas's first birthday party last month, and it was so much fun to put together!  When we found out the release date of the new Star Wars movie was on his actual birthday, we had to choose Star Wars as his party theme, even though we had the actual party a couple of days later.  Here are some of the things we did, in case anyone wants to use these ideas for their own Star Wars birthday party!  I'll be doing a separate post on how to make the awesome R2-D2 cake.

So picture time! 

The table.  R2-D2 cake, food with Star Wars puns, and a decorating kit I bought at Party City.
We love themed food!  These two were Jon's idea. Shards of Alderaan and Hoth Chocolate.  Our location-themed items.

We made light sabers with pretzel rods and candy melts.  We also made some themed candy with molds from ThinkGeek.
A close-up of the candy from the ThinkGeek candy molds.  There are chocolate ones and colored vanilla ones.
No Star Wars party is complete without the Princess - and no party is complete without Lay's potato chips.  ;)
Fruit kabobs!  I think Obi-Wan would approve of these.  Nathan helped us skewer the fruit. He's obsessed with kabobs.
Darth Veggies!  This was me cheating because I didn't have time to cut up a bunch of veggies.  Enter the convenient veggie tray!  I was going to put them in my own tray so at least they would look nicer, but we ran out of time.
Smash cake.  I made this using two small ramekins, so it has two layers.  It's the perfect size for a smash cake.  The Vader head on top was from a Pez dispenser that Nathan had previously destroyed, so I repurposed it.  The candle is his light saber.
A taller shot of the party table.  I purchased all the decorations from Party City, including plates, napkins, the decoration kit with the storm trooper and BB-8, and a TIE fighter that we hung up on the other side of the aquarium, as well as balloons.  I usually like to make my own decorations, but these were great, and so much easier!
Here's his birthday sign.  I made it in Photoshop and had it printed at Wal-Mart's Photo center.  We then mounted it on a piece of foam board from Hobby Lobby.  We have one for each of our boys.  I'm going to hang them on their wall one day.
A closer look at R2-D2.  It took many hours to complete and I cried a little when they cut into it.

Star Wars is a great theme for a party!  Have you done a Star Wars birthday party?  I want to see yours!  Link in the comments and I'll check it out!

Oh, and a final picture...

He loved his cake.  :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Decluttering Challenge: Week 1

I've committed to doing this decluttering challenge this year.  Clutter is the bane of my existence and it's starting to really affect my satisfaction with our home.  And since I'm here about 90% of my time, being dissatisfied is a BAD thing.  Enter this home organization and decluttering challenge!

I'm using the two together, as they are intended to be used, but I can see how you could just use the weekly challenges and do your own daily missions to complete the weekly challenge.  I really like the daily missions, though, because they give me something very specific to do.  For example, one day the mission was to organize the silverware drawer.  Well, we have about four drawers that could qualify because everything was just that spread out.  I did all of them that day and now I can find everything I need as soon as I need it!

This week's challenge is kitchen counters and sink.  The daily missions mostly support this goal.  Yesterday, I got started with the "organize utensils" goal and just ended up doing a couple of other daily missions at the same time.  I've never been happier with my kitchen than I am right now!

All it took for me to become a believer in this organizational and decluttering system was a few days.  I'm a convert.  I can't wait to do the rest of my house!  I threw a TON of stuff away while decluttering my countertops and silverware drawers.  Broken items, very cheap silverware I bought when I was poor (lol) and that had started to rust, and just junk that we had in drawers that we had no reason to keep.  Next week is cabinets and remaining drawers.  I can't even tell you how much of a relief it's going to be to get that done.  

I'm looking forward to keeping my kitchen this nice and neat permanently - and to making the rest of my house look just like this - organized, functional, and pretty.  :)

What about you?  How do you organize and keep things the way you like them?  It's a constant struggle here, and I would love to see how others handle it!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Green Energy Products for Car Maintenance

Cars are a necessary evil, especially when you live in an area like ours, where the only way to get somewhere is with a car.  Public transportation is nonexistent and communities were not planned with "walkability" in mind around here.  Most people I know have a commute of at least 30 minutes one way to get to work and even sometimes to the nearest grocery store.  So we have to deal with all the joys and pains of owning a vehicle.  I'm always trying to find ways to save on fuel costs and ensure that my car will last longer.  That's why this line of products intrigued me when I heard about them.  Keeping my family safe on the road every day and avoiding costly auto repairs are both very important to me.  I haven't tried these products, but they do look very interesting, so if anyone does try them, let me know your thoughts!

Xtreme Green offers green energy products for everyday car maintenance that help save money on fuel costs, preserve car engines and transmissions, avoid repair shops and in general put vehicles in top running condition. Not just cars, ALL vehicles.  In addition, the products can help save money on fuel for any small engine equipment or heavy duty equipment from lawn mowers to tractors to backhoes. 

In addition to offering these products for purchase, there is also an opportunity to become an independent distributor and perhaps earn money from home.  I know a lot of people who are involved in similar organizations as independent distributors and they are very successful and are able to spend more time with their families as a result of their home-based business.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spice Bistro

I think I've found the restaurant I want to visit the next time I'm in Atlanta.  Spice Bistro looks like exactly the kind of place I would love.  A fusion restaurant featuring Caribbean, African and south style cuisine, there's something for everyone on the menu at Spice Bistro!  This restaurant is located at 2857 Buford Highway in Atlanta, Georgia.  

While I have not eaten there yet, the menu looks amazing and I can see several dishes I would certainly want to try.  There are options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Breakfast options include egg stews, which are certainly intriguing.  Lunch and dinner include such amazing sounding dishes as Curry Delight, and for my husband, a delicious looking Rib Eye Steak.  The menu covers a wide variety of ethnicities and ensures that you will find something to your liking, no matter what kind of food you love.

Here are a couple of photos of the food, because you know we all love great food pics!  

So if you are in the Atlanta area, check out Spice Bistro and let me know how you like it.  It looks amazing, and if you look at their Facebook page, you can see that there are lots of fun events going on all the time. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Picking the best vacuum cleaner

You've read about our dogs, Kaylee and Simon.  You know all about their antics and the messes they create in our house.  I think the worst thing about having dogs is the hair all over the place.  I vacuum at least twice a week because I can't stand seeing the tumbleweed-like balls of hair making their way down my hallway if I don't.  Kaylee's hair is so short it usually doesn't create hair balls, but hers gets stuck in the carpet and then I step on it and it embeds itself in my foot.  I'm the only person in my house who has this problem and it's so strange, but having a dog hair stuck in your foot is actually really painful.  I have to get tweezers to pull it out, usually.  Ouch! 

We have a fantastic Dyson that Jon bought before we met.  It was made for pet hair, so it does a great job.  We use it on our hardwood as well as the carpet and the rugs with great success.

If you're in the market for a vacuum cleaner for pet hair, you need to read the article I just linked.  It gives you all the info you should consider when choosing the right vacuum for your needs.  There are some things I hadn't considered listed here that will be useful when it's time to replace ours. 

It's so important to have the right vacuum.  We may love our fur babies, but we don't have to love (or tolerate) their fur everywhere in our homes. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Skilldigger for freelancers

This site looks so cool.  It's called Skilldigger and it's for freelancers to connect with buyers.  I've been working with another site that is similar, but this one has a really neat component that I haven't seen before.  It's a hub where freelancers can post their services and people can come to buy them.  On the one I've been using, it's all Internet based services and goods that can be shipped to the buyer.  And there is a set price for each gig, then add ons can be purchased.  This site appears to be different in two ways: while there are Internet and mail based goods and services, there are also providers who physically go to your location to perform the service, such as make up artists or wedding/portrait photographers.  They also have a category for classes/lessons, which is very intriguing. 

It appears to be UK based, but I'm hoping it will spread like wildfire and providers from all over can advertise their services to buyers who are international AND local.  I could use a great place to offer my event planning services, for example.  The really cool thing about sites like this is that people can turn hobbies into cash.  Check it out and let me know what you think about Skilldigger.