Sunday, September 30, 2012

Equality in a Marriage.

Before I was married, or even really in a serious relationship, I believed equality in a relationship was key.  Stay-at-home dads are cool, moms mowing the lawn seemed normal, and cooking dinner together would be mundane.

I was right on most of these points, although I haven't mowed a lawn in years.

Jason and I are pretty equal.  Our contributions to the house are on par with each other, and we support each other with projects and school and everything else.  Jason is a great chef, and I definitely  have some "handyman" blood running my veins.

The one thing I never counted on was having a husband who actually likes to decorate.  I look around at linens and I know that this is not normal.  If so, the flowery, lacy bedspreads would not sell as well as I think they do.  As we've been purchasing things for the new house (curtains, etc.) and new bedding (we got a bigger mattress, so we need new sheets and such), Jason has definite and deep feelings about color schemes, fabrics, and home decor as a whole.

My aunt also said she has this "problem," so I know I'm not alone.  Decorating our new bedroom has been a team effort, and since I only have so much brain power to devote to so many things, Jason has really taken the lead on the major elements.  We bought our new bedset today (so many decorative pillows!), and he may even get the accent wall paint this afternoon.  Our mattress arrives on Thursday morning, and I can't wait to get the bedframe soon.

Fortunately, Jason lets me have my other domestic moments, such as my recent project to make laundry day more efficient and organize our office.

I promise a house tour soon, but there are still major elements missing.  It will probably end up being a "Christmastime / Home tour."  My goal is to have our piano by Christmas so we can have carol singing with our very first Christmas at home.

- M.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Crafty Lady Goes Overboard.

I have a confession:

I went to the craft store twice this week.  I even took Elliott on one of the trips because I felt it was essential that I went on Tuesday before grocery shopping.


It all started when I got it in my head that Elliott needed a new hat for winter.  He really does.  I made him one last year, but I'm pretty sure it won't fit.  Even if it does, he needs something warmer this year.  So, off to the store we went.  I had a coupon for 50% off my entire purchase (sale, clearance, what-have-you), so I figured I could get some fall decor and cotton yearn too.  I paid very little for my stuff, and I got E a neat twisted blue yarn for a nice, bulky winter hat.

I had more coupons though, and those didn't kick on until today.  I knew I wouldn't have time again during the week, and they are really good coupons.

So I went again this morning.  Alone.  I set out to buy all the materials for all the projects I plan to take on any time soon.

This week I purchased:
 - 1 skein of bulky yarn for E's hat.
 - 2 balls of cotton yarn for a mat I'm making.
 - gel window stickies (leaves)
 - Halloween gel window stickies (that glow in the dark!)
 - little scarecrow for the yard.
 - 1-one pound skein of yellow yarn for a baby blanket.
 - 1 yard of fabric for a front door curtain.
 - a glue gun (how did I not have one before?!)
 - spray adhesive.
 - paper cutter.
 - a jumbo pack of embroidery floss for my grandparents' Christmas present.
 - Fall themed table runner.
 - fall / owl themed vinyl table cloth.

Nothing was purchased "for kicks."  I had next to no fall decor, and I got all of this for 50% off.

I can't wait to show you the outcome of all of these projects and decorations!

- M.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Plastic Bags Everywhere!

I've been an active supporter of the "reusable bag" idea for a long time.  Even in college, I tried to have a couple with me at the store.  Try as I might, I don't always remember.  Perhaps the last big trip took all the bags out of the car, and when I need to take a quick trip in for produce and milk, I'm left NOT holding the bag.  Therefore, I end up with plastic bags.  The Giant has a place for us to take them to be recycled, but we also need some around the house for emergency diaper disposal and everyday kitty litter duty.

Anyone who is on Pinterest has seen the tutorial on using an old Clorox wipes container as a pop-up plastic bag dispenser.  As much as I love Pinterest, I'm always a little skeptical that something is going to work until I am completely done with the project.

It really works.

The tutorial is here at Tater Tots and Jello.

As a side note, I'm using scrapbook paper (since I don't really have fabric around), and I easily put 14 bags in mine, not 12.  I also had a lot of usable bags (bags with holes went to the Giant to be recycled), so I started a second roll, and just put a rubber band around it until I have enough bags and another container.

They suggest stowing one in the car, but mine will be in my laundry room (until I can make a second) taking up far less room than the big ol' bag-o-bags did.  It will also open up a hook in the mud room for jackets, now that fall is around the corner.

It was really simple and I'm oddly satisfied with having done something from Pinterest, even something this easy.

*Pictures soon*

- M.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meal Planning

In my not-so-humble opinion, meal planning is essential to maintaining a personal budget.  I actually learned this habit from Sara, who always pre-packed lunches for her internship our senior year.  She goes months sometimes without buying lunch out.  When I consider how much money that saves her just to plan lunch, it's pretty convincing.

Anyway,  because of our schedule, I end up planning almost every meal, as well as how Elliott will eat what Jason and I are eating.  I get stuck in ruts A LOT.  I thought I'd post our meal ideas to help my readers...reader?  Oh, who cares.

Note: On work days, I have an instant breakfast shake and toast or an English muffin.

Monday: Lunch (packed) - Turkey sandwich with mayo, tomato, and colby-pepper jack cheese.      
               Dinner (packed) - Steak salad with lime, oil, and vinegar dressing.

Tuesday: Breakfast - pancakes (it's my day off)
               Lunch - PBJ and mandarin oranges
                Dinner - Taco night! (Elliott will probably have veggies and a baby food.  Tacos are spicy.)

Wednesday: Lunch (packed) - Beef quesadilla with all the fixin's.
                    Dinner - Grilled cheese with tomato soup (topped with Hot 'n' Spicy Cheez-its)

Thursday: Breakfast - waffles (I have my Thursday mornings off too)
                 Lunch - Pasta and hot dogs (not together...)
                  Dinner - DIY (class night...I'm thinking Neato Burrito for Mama).

Friday: Lunch (packed) - Pasta with homemade red sauce; salad.
            Dinner - Pulled pork in the crock-pot

Not that any of these are intense meals, but our weeks are crazy.  The pulled pork recipe is from Real Simple, and it is amazing.

Do you meal plan?  What are some of your go-to-meals?

- M.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Organizer Tutorial

Finished product!
Look around your office, playroom, any functional room, what-have-you.  What is the most annoying thing about the way it looks?  I bet it's the little clutter.  Pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins (ooo...they're everywhere!), little know the drill.  I found a solution on Pinterest, and I love it.

Here's my little tutorial (some of the other tutorials were more complicated or had measurements that were a little off).

 - Stack-On 22 drawer Organizer (Home Depot, $16.92) *There is also a 39-drawer unit, if you feel like that might serve you better.  I'll be buying one of those when I finally get a craft space.
 - 2 pieces of 12"x12" scrapbook paper.  I used two different colors of the same pattern, but obviously the creative choices are up to you.  I used DCWV's Citrus stack, which was on sale for $9.99 at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I always have a few of these paper pads around to make boxes and to scrapbook.  This one has glitter!
 - Scissors
 - Clear Scotch Tape

 1. Cut 14 1 5/8"x 2" rectangles for the small drawers.
 2. Cut 8 2 1/4" x 4 1/4" rectangles for the large drawers.
 3. Place the papers inside the front of the drawers.  You may find you need to trim some of the tops down.
 4. Use the Scotch Tape to tape the sides of the paper down INSIDE the drawer.  This is easily the most tedious part of the project.  I found that placing the paper in first, then putting the tape up the sides was the easiest.
 5. Put stuff in!  I haven't labeled mine yet, because believe it or not, not all of the drawers have things in them!  The big drawers are ideal for pens, pencils, highlighters, 3"x 5" index cards, and regular sized Post-Its.  The little drawers rock for those little things: paper clips, rubber bands, staples, Post-It tabs, and binder clips.

If you are looking for something sassier, or with more sophisticated labeling, check out See Kels Learn, who made an amazing Teacher Toolbox.

She was inspired by another blogger (whose post I can't find), who was inspired by Create-Teach-Share.  These are intense!

I can't wait to make another one for my crochet supplies!

I think I have an organizing addiction...

- M.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Can We Talk About Pinterest?

I love Pinterest.

I've found great crafts, DIY projects, and recipes.  I could sit and search certain boards for HOURS.  I wish I could take a year off from life and just craft and read (I've said this before, I know).

However, having spent so much time on the site, I have a few issues.  Folks don't have Pinterest etiquette, and it drives me nuts when I'm trying to look things up or find a tutorial.

1. If you are posting something from a blog, link back to the exact post.  Maybe it was the first post when you pinned, but if this person's blog is well-kept (read: unlike mine), that post will be off the front page soon.  Take the time to click through to the post (click on the post title) and link THAT.  I went to a blog today for a baby gift idea, and found out that the baby she was expecting in the pin was now almost a year old!

2. Have clean, clear boards.  I have a catch-all board for the things that really aren't "Pinterest" items, but I want to save them anyway.  No one wants their dashboard cluttered with pins they don't care about, and the point of boards is follow them individually (and to be able to actually find things in your own board).

3. Don't post a random picture of food or a craft from Flickr* or another photo hosting site.  People on Pinterest want to be able to replicate the item, and without a tutorial, that's usually difficult.

3a. Don't post from Pinterest imitators.  The same effect occurs, and I see projects I have no instructions for.

3b. *However, if you are posting amazing photography from Flickr or another site, that's different.  That's a viable category.  (I'm talking to you, Sara).

4. Create some content!  Pin from blogs you like, which  helps give those people traffic.  Many craft, home, and DIY blogs are run by stay-at-home moms looking to make some money with a monetized blog.  Many of those ladies are Professional, with a capital P.  Gabrielle Blair, better known as Design Mom, co-founded the Alt Summit, a conference for professional bloggers, proves that the best bloggers are creating content, not just re-pinning it.  Promote these folks' hard work.  If you have a tutorial or the like on your blog, pin it!  We pin Jason's recipes all the time.  My mom actually started that, but it was a good thought.

5. Use the right words in your comments.  These are used in the search to help others find specific crafts and ideas.

Basically, be part of the Pinterest community in an active way.

What suggestions do you have?

- M.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just One.

Now that school is in full swing, I've gotten some idea of when I get to eat and when I have breaks.  I didn't want to embark on a new fitness plan until I knew what was feasible.  I spent the summer participating in a "Biggest Loser" challenge with some ladies from high school.  I lost a few pounds, but considering the fact that the contest was 12 weeks long and I danced 5 hours a week, along with other exercise and cleaner eating.  I was frustrated to say the least.

That being said, I'm going to start implementing one new health / fitness "rule" each month.  I'm starting with two, because any food rule is going to be less effective without any exercise (dance ended two weeks ago).  Feel free to join in, but this is really just for me.

So, for September, here are my goals:

1. During the week, only water to drink.  I drink a breakfast shake in the morning, but I don't think of that as a "drink" so much as "breakfast."  Penn State Harrisburg has these neat water fountains that have a filtered spout, in addition to the regular fountain, just for filling up water bottles.  It even counts the number of bottles it has filled.  On the weekends, I'll let myself have a soda or a beer.  I'm not a crazy person.

2. Use the rowing machine for 20 minutes a day, along with 20 minutes of stretching / pilates / yoga.  Jason got a rowing machine for his birthday a few years ago, and I just started using it.  I LOVE IT.  I'm not into running at the moment, as I'm recovering from shin splints I got by doing leaps at dance, which doesn't have a sprung / floating floor.  Ouchies.  This has similar benefits.  I just love stretching, so I should feel good after that.  Why 20 minutes?  I exercise in front of the TV in our attic.  20 minutes is one episode of Seinfeld, Parks & Rec, or 30 Rock.  I'm not watching a clock, and I take my mind off the work.

I'm not posting weights on here (pah-leese), but after each month, I'll post a percentage of weight loss or some other milestone (inches, down a size, what have you).  I'll tag these posts "Just One" so you can find them all later.

Yay health!

- M.