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Category Archives: 31 Days

Moving Right Along


Oh, November — where have you gone? Thanksgiving already kind of seems like it was a long time ago (although the fact that we’ll be eating leftovers tonight should be enough to clue me in to the fact that it was only day before yesterday), and we’re heading straight into Christmas. Ho ho ho!

This morning, as promised, I dragged our family room tree down the stairs and set it up. It still sounds strange to me, this “setting up” of the Christmas tree. Not chopping it down? Or picking it out? Nope. Since we’re all allergic to pine, it just makes sense to go artificial, but…yeah. Sounds strange. And I do love my white tree. I say if you’re going to go fake, GO FAKE. Anyway, it took all of fifteen minutes to get it in place, and then I let the kids do the decorating. It only took me fifteen more minutes to sneak back in and move some of the ornaments around for a more balanced look. What is it about kids, that they beg and beg to help and then race through at top speed to get the job done? About 90% of the ball ornaments were hung in one section of the tree (of course), perched on the very tip of the branches. (So thankful for non-breakable ornaments!) But we had a good time, so it was a success.

In other news, the annual craft sale is behind us;  most of my Christmas sewing is complete, except for maybe two or three projects; and the majority of the shopping is DONE. Instead of going out shopping yesterday morning (or Thursday night), I shopped online. So much more fun! And a little bit dangerous, because every time I got a new sale email, I wanted to buy a little more…and a little more…ooh, and maybe one more thing. Whoa! Back away from the keyboard! After a break, I was feeling much less frenzied and so relieved to have made some serious progress.

Know what else? I didn’t even buy a bunch of stuff for myself, nor did I go to Joann’s for the flannel blowout bonanza sale. Every year, I say how much I hate it (because I do), and then every  year, I wake up at five and go anyway (because I love it! The flannel — not the wild-eyed, crazy shoppers or that horrible never-ending line.) Not this year. Nope. You see, this year, by the end of my 31 Day project, I didn’t have the house transformed and my life in order. I did, however, come away with a revelation: There’s just too much. The idea of a place for everything and everything in its place isn’t really enough. For me, everything has to be in its place, and that place can’t be in the third shoebox from the top in one of those cupboards. One of the reasons I can’t find things is that there are too many places for it to be stashed. Neater stacks are still stacks, and we are kind of drowning in them. So, one of my goals for the new year  — big surprise — is to create more space instead of a finding a better system. Therefore, it wouldn’t really be prudent to haul in a sweet load of $2.00 flannel when I currently have three shelves devoted to just that. Even if the prints were really cute. I wouldn’t know if they were cute, actually; haven’t even been by to check them out.

Things are happening, friends. Here’s hoping that we can all slow down just a little to really enjoy the spirit of the season. It’s going to speed by so quickly!

31 Days: Personal Victories

Today was a busy one. So busy, in fact, that excuses for veering away from my original, well-ordered plan popped up at nearly every turn.

It was very tempting to listen to the little devil on my shoulder [a devil which sounds suspiciously like me] that was tempting me all morning long.

See, if the pre-school costume parade ran long, would it make sense to go for only the last little bit of bible study? I could always borrow the dvd portion and catch up on it later. Besides, there was so much to do at home! Maybe I should just forget about going to the study at all — I mean, there’s no way that I wouldn’t be at least a little late anyway — and just plan on going home.

The parade ended at 9:40. Hmm. That would mean there’s only…an hour and a half left. Oh. Well, when you say it that way, it sounds ridiculous. To Precept!

(Time well spent, as always.)

Then there was the question of whether or not to go to early voting to cast my ballot. With so many days left, is that really necessary? But I was practically passing by the polling place, so why not! Twenty minutes later, I was glad I could cross that off the list, too.

Ah, but here’s the real test: Was there enough time left to justify going all the way back to the gym to squeeze in a workout? By the time I got home, changed, and had a bit to eat, there would only be thirty minutes left. And no classes, and I love a good class.

Oh, who am I fooling?! As if I really spend more than thirty minutes on a treadmill — please! At the rate this week is going, I may not have another opportunity to go until the weekend, so I got up and went. And I was happy — thrilled! — that I had an excuse to leave after thirty minutes. Man, am I out of shape!

Did I feel like an idiot leaving after thirty minutes? Sure. But do I actually think that everyone there was agog that my commitment to fitness was so obviously lacking? Well, yes, but I also know that has more to do with my brand of crazy than anything based in reality.

All in all, a very successful day! I can’t believe I managed to get out of my own way three times in as many hours; that may be a record.

In other news, I put on a sweater this morning, realized that it looked just as unflattering as it did every time I put it on last winter, and decided to rid myself of the collection. You may see me in the same shirt every day, but at least it won’t make me feel like Grimace.

Also, speaking of cold, it’s been mildly chilly here for all of four days, right? My hands are already a dry, burning, flaky mess, and my lips are beyond chapped. Winter should be lots of fun! (Guess it’s a good thing we’re nowhere near winter….)


31 Days: Trickery

It’s sad that, at my age, I still need to trick myself into doing chores. See, I really really hate doing the dishes. I try very hard to clean as I go and all that, but —

Okay, actually, I guess I don’t try all that hard, or I’d be cleaning as I go all the time. That’s pretty much one of those Yoda “there is no try” kind of situations. So, in theory, I believe in cleaning as I go, but it rarely works out that way. Hence, dishes begin to pile up super quickly. You miss one meal’s worth of dishes, and the counter’s covered.

In order to compel myself to get in there and get the job done, I’ve found two excellent tools:

  1. Keep some music in the kitchen, and turn it UP.
  2. Put on an apron.

Easy. Clearly, neither one of these tips is rocket science, but they have made a big difference in my routine. The minute I slip the apron over my head, I know it’s time to Work. Also, I know I can work without soaking myself at the sink ten minutes before I’m due to pick up the kids; one more excuse gone. Then, if I can just make myself walk to the back and turn on the iPod, I’m more than happy to stay put for at least a few tunes. The little things really do add up!

Right now, the dishwasher is waiting to be emptied and I have two loaves of bread rising on the table. (The dough has been in the fridge for over a week, so time was getting to be of the essence, there.) Seeing as how I have no desire to have anything at all to do with the kitchen today, an apron will definitely be in order.

31 Days: Welcome to the 21st Century!

As much as I hate having to stay at home all morning when a technician is working in the house, it actually does me a lot of good. Yesterday was one such morning. In two hours, I:

  • finished and folded three loads of laundry
  • prepared (well, finished preparing) the next five weeks of materials for Children’s Church
  • cleaned the powder room
  • cut the invitations for our holiday boutique (which is only three weeks away — what?!)
  • washed the dishes

Lots of stuff! Oh, and played two hands of something which resembled War with my girl. Card games with pre-schoolers are highly improvisational, don’t ya know. While I did all that, the nice gentleman from ATT hooked our home up with UVerse, thus bringing us up to speed with the rest of the neighborhood. Yes, we now have a few — very few, according to the disappointed man of the house — new channels, but that is not the best part.

Want to see the best part?

That hot mess is no longer littering my kitchen!!! OH HAPPY DAY! And that is after I’d already removed the phone from the windowsill. Yes, there was previously a phone sitting on my windowsill. With a modem. And a power strip. Care to take a guess how many times I tripped over that nest of cords, and toppled the whole blasted arrangement? Or opened one of the drawers under the oven and accidentally unplugged the power strip? So many times, but no more, my friends! No more.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little change has made me.

Even better? With the new and improved lines, we can now use the phone and the internet at the same time. Sweet freedom! So long, Pioneer House — we’re taking this place into the future!
Or ten years ago. Whatever — we’re forging ahead!

31 Days: Little Gobbler


A couple of months ago, I got all super ambitious and made up a bunch of Thanksgiving patchwork bib fronts with plans of finishing them before the sale season. Unfortunately, once they were done, I decided to go with another design, and found that all of the fronts were now too small. Meh. It happens.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when our neighborhood crossing guard shared the good news that she had welcomed her first grandchild into the world this month. Sounds like a certain someone should have a special bib to commemorate her first Thanksgiving, right? And, since she’ll still be a newborn, I was able to let one of the patchwork pieces fulfill its cottony destiny. Rather than wait until November, yesterday seemed like as good a time as any to whip it up. Now all it needs is a snap, which may run the project right on into November after all.

31 Days: Engage!

This week, the almost unthinkable happened: I joined a gym.

As it is, there always seems to be a very legitimate reason not to workout at home, or even walk around the neighborhood. For one thing (particular to the whole walking thing), there are not sidewalks in our neighborhood. There’s one that goes part of the length up the major street in our subdivision, but you eventually have to go off on a side street and then it’s survival of the fittest. This whole “no sidewalk” thing makes zero sense to me, by the way, especially given the narrowness of the roads. Add two rambunctious kids and it’s hard for me to get motivated. Also, a certain someone has officially gotten too tall for a stroller, and our one and only walk this school year was a debacle. Strike two! Oh, and let’s one again point out the whole allergy/pest problem, where even the briefest forays out the door leave you covered in mosquito bites and in need of a pollen-removing shower. No thank you.

But…the reality is that I’m not getting any younger, or fitter — I suspect that the doctor may have removed vital portions of my core during my last C-section, because those muscles just do not work! — and a change had to come. Hence the gym. So far, I’ve managed to get to two classes this week, and survived them both. My goal for this week is at least three, or maybe I’ll get crazy and go for a swim. I haven’t swum a lap since I had kids, so the thought makes me a little giddy. The freedom! Will I even remember how? Who knows? All I know is that it only takes a few minutes to drive to the gym, and I was sure that alone would make it impossible. No time, you see. But I’m finding more and more little bits, and they’re adding up to a whole lot.

Wish me luck, friends. My track record to sticking with this sort of thing is not so good.

31 Days: Scaly


While discussing the ridiculous number of coughs/cases of bronchitis/bouts with pneumonia our kids have dealt with over the course of this year, my friend mentioned that she used a warm steam humidifier instead of the cool mist variety. Since our cool mist one just bit the dust [it was completely riddled with bacteria — that’ll help!], and never seemed to do much good anyway, I decided to give it a try.

Lifesaver. Absolutely necessary purchase, especially coupled with the Vicks vapor stuff you pour in. I’m convinced that it played a major part in keeping Joey’s last cough from getting out of control, and it didn’t seem to hurt the girl’s congestion from turning into a cough this week.

Okay, but these things are such a pain to clean. I know I should have a better attitude toward the five-minute task of preparing it every night, and the twenty additional minutes each week to clean all of the mineral deposits out of the heating chamber, but I don’t. I despise it, almost as much as I despise taking the tank downstairs to fill it before bedtime.

“Downstairs” seems like it’s very far away by bedtime.

But — for the sake of my children’s weak little lungs and stuffed up noses — I’m doing my best to be diligent. Definitely easier than trucking it on over to the urgent care clinic at four in the morning; that’s what I’ll keep telling myself this winter.

31 Days: Make It Work


I can cook a nice meal or I can do the grocery shopping, but I can’t seem to bear doing both in the same day. Therefore, shopping day requires a different — much more thrown together — plan. This week featured a humdinger of a good salad: romaine topped with leftover pork chops, thinly sliced apple, and balsamic vinaigrette. The grown-ups added granola [surprisingly delicious on a salad!] and feta cheese. Since I’m still going for the gold, though, I did whip up a white bean and artichoke spread to top the ciabatta toasts; that filled things out nicely.

We started the morning off with a power outage, but it went up from there. The high point was going to the mall and finally buying seasonally appropriate shoes for the girl. Turns out she is long overdue, but it’s hard to remember when it’s hot every other day, and Crocs are pretty forgiving. That’s what I’m telling myself, at least.

31 Days: More Better

The one good thing about trying to make every day more productive is that I find myself feeling like it’s actually possible to get more done. Usually, on even the most non-productive Saturday, I am through by the time five o’clock rolls around. Through. This week, though, I managed to actually cook dinner — despite the fact that the grill ran out of gas as I was heating it up to cook the pork chops, which would normally be a total deal-breaker — AND make a dessert for the fellowship after church on Sunday.

Two things of note, there: I opted to try a new recipe instead of something tried and true, and I didn’t wait until Sunday afternoon to do it.

Another important note:

These brownies are completely delicious, and not at all complicated. The delicious part is not even 1% surprising, considering that  you can’t go wrong with Smitten Kitchen, but when I see homemade anything and swirling involved, well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to end badly. Not so! [But I would totally make these the day before and let them get good and cold before cutting them. It made a huge difference, at least for me.]

31 Days: Making Better Choices

The original title of this post was going to be “Making Good Choices”.

When I passed up a celebratory Starbucks this morning, and instead went home to make myself a cup of chai and get to work, that was a good choice.

Snacking on a delicious yogurt parfait instead of ice cream yesterday? A good choice, as was opting for a lunch of leftovers (and tossing them into a salad, at that) over fast food. After a summer of not-so-good choices (so many drives thru), these seem like personal victories.

Then…I took the kids out for frozen yogurt after school. Yum! And then the pork chops hadn’t thawed — nor did I care to cook them — so it was pancakes and bacon for dinner. Double yum!
Even better with a sweet cup of coffee.

So. Were these all “good” choices? Hmm. Probably not. But we’re moving in a better direction. Here’s to progress!