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Sunday, August 28, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

At work I have a boss and mentor who is always asking questions to make sure we have proper procedures in place to ensure we are doing our job efficiently and in a way that makes the most sense without adding extra steps.  Last week I decided to take a look at my home life in that way too.  Since I've been sa'darn busy with work this summer, I thought it only made sense for me to be sure that when I am home and having a little down-time, that I am doing it as efficiently as possible.  I found a few things around the house which have been a big time-saver and life-easer, so I thought I would share:

Maybe you all have already used these for years, but I'm new within the last year or so to them.  They are frozen chopped onions.  I enjoy cooking, but rarely do an entire meal from scratch... I'm a 50/50 Homemade kinda gal to get by.  My husband loves onions, and for something like $.99 per bag, I always have a bag on hand to add to omelets, ground beef, stir fry... just about any meal.

This little guy is pretty new to me, I've only used it once... but talk about quick, easy and affordable mani/ pedi!  Since my left hand looked a lot more polished (no pun intended) than the right, I just went back with a Q-Tip with nail polish remover on it and straightened up my edges. I think it was about $3 at Wal-Mart.

See the metal contraption- it's called a "Kwik-Kut" and it's awesome.  I pictured it here with the delicious guac.  It's basically a round blade with a handle and can be used for so much.  You just basically mash with it.  I've used it to cut up broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and then mixed them together with Greek yogurt and ranch dip.  Obviously makes a beautiful dip, egg salad, you could even cut biscuits.  I had searched many, many stores for this and had mentioned it to my girlfriend who is Super Woman of Shopping (shout out to Katie Perry!)  Next thing I knew, she had found them online and ordered them for me!  Love my girlfriends; they too are things that get me through the day!

Now, I'm most certainly the LAST PERSON ON EARTH to this party, but my husband and I just recently got android phones...
How did I survive?

Additionally, I have honed my grocery list and budget skills immensely since my hubs was laid off from his job with a custom home-builder in the height of the economic down-turn.  Every month we map out how much income we have, what days the bills are paid, how much we need for groceries & gas, etc- and then adjust it every time we spend something that wasn't budgeted for.  We have nearly eliminated the use of credit (only as it's intended, for real emergencies) and have paid off a number of bills in the past year.

As far as the grocery shopping is concerned, I've created an Excel spread sheet which was an idea I morphed from Real Simple and it's lined up in basic columns, the first of which being the meal, then the columns following are Produce, Dairy, Butcher, Bakery, Pantry, Household, Misc, etc.  So, for example; my husband eats the same lunch every day.  I list "Brian's Lunches" in the meal category.  Under dairy goes "American Cheese" under bakery goes "Honey Oat Bread" under Pantry goes "Cheez- Its" and so forth.  By separating them by column of area of the store, when shopping, it's quick and easy to get everything needed without running all over the store.
Lastly, there's this thing:
I keep it in the back of my car.  Since it's an SUV- if I've bought a few groceries, but not enough to fill the back/ trunk (if so, kudos to me!) then stuff rolls around.  Talk about distraction while driving while my fancy new Smart Phone is going off and there's a gallon of milk rolling & somersaulting on every turn!  So, I collect things in the basket in the car and bring them into the house this way.  Believe it or not, it's helped keep my car clean.  On days when I couldn't carry everything inside at once, it would usually stack up in the car, but now I have no excuse. 

Any tips or advice you have for a working girl who delicately balances her love of domesticity with her love of her career?  What's the best tool/ device/ life-saving item you use to keep your sanity?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Inspiration, Imagination, Motivation

I'm so looking forward to Fall!  It's my fav season; pumpkins, football and that feeling of cozy comfort mixed with anticipation blowing through the leaves as the holiday season approaches...  here are some things that make me so excited and inspired for the coming months...
Go Seahawks!  I've already made my scrolling slideshow of all-things-Seahawks for my digital picture frame to have on during game days.  I usually work on craft-projects while watching the game with the hubbin.  Sundays are usually (knock on wood, if I'm lucky!) our one chance a week to have a day off together.  I'm thinking this season's project will be making my Christmas Cards by hand. 

Walks in the Fall leaves... even though we have so many Evergreens here.  I love going to the pumpkin patch, corn mazes, parks, etc.  Anywhere I can get it.  Bonus if it smells like apples and fireplace smoke. 

Decorating the house for the holidays... Our front stairs are pretty dark and we worried about the Trick-or-Treaters last year.  I love this bright welcoming porch and want to add some festive lighting for a really neat porch for Halloween this year. 

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate... I actually have never had one.  So many people were posting about them on Facebook last year during Fall/ Winter and I never indulged.  Since I'm already thinking about it in August- I think this is going to be my year!

Celebrating our second wedding anniversary on October 10! 
(This is the first picture we ever took together, back in May 2006!)
We are planning to make the time for a weekend away to celebrate our anniversary this year (even if it's not on our actual anniversary weekend.)  Last year, I worked a 13 hour day and Brian picked me up to get take-out from Anthony's restaurant and we took it back to a downtown hotel.  We soaked in the jaccuizzi tub and enjoyed the evening but I was WIPED OUT.  This year, I will make more time to celebrate and enjoy.  Our marriage is a happy one, but that's not to say we don't work really hard to keep it that way, and it deserves proper credit!

What is your favorite season, and why?

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's been a while...

It's been too long, friends!
As an Event Planner, Summer means loooong days at the office- which means zero projects at home.
Down time is much needed, people!
I've been in "Maintenance Phase" since my last post, and here's where I'm at:

Garden is doing OK.  The Mammoth Sunflowers are... well, Mammoth.
The Corn is thinking it can...
The tomatoes are green and growing.
The Peas are delicious.
RIP zucchini, pumpkins and onions.
I read a blog recently where someone used these little mossy rocks in a beautiful Spring display. 
Since Western Washington never knows which season we are in anyway, I wanted some too:
Can you believe they are from *ahem* the Dollar Tree?

In my pretend life, I live inside "Real Simple" Magazine and I read this tip in there...
Keep your cleaning supplies where you need them, not all in one place.
And it works.
Clorox wipes on the bathroom counter to swipe away toothpaste and Hubbin's shaving messes?  Nice!
Spray & Wash hiding behind the bottles of perfume on the dresser to just spray on the soiled article and right into the hamper?  Oh yes!
The little pouches of Pledge Multi-Surface wipes?  In the side table in the living room, kept in the glovebox, etc- DUH!
Usually, I like to use chemical free cleansers, but I temporarily chucked that for a little sanity and staying-on-top- of things while crazy busy at work.  Besides, ain't nothin' cleanin' my tile like some Soft Scrub.  Word!

That little trick has helped me- hope it might be helpful to you too- since keeping house is such a dirty job, afterall.

My next big project I want to tackle is our bedroom.  It's never gotten much love- and it needs it! 
Anyone else out there always neglecting the bedroom?
It's the place where we start and end our day- shouldn't we ensure it makes us feel good?!
We have a small room with a big ol' king bed- so I need to get creative with how we make it both functional and heavenly...
I think the most comfortable bed I've slept in was at the Edgewater in Seattle.  While I don't love the fish/ plaid look of the rooms for my home, I do think I will start by making the bed as comfortable and welcoming as that bed was and work from there.  Big, fluffy yet full pillows, high thread count sheets, and that perfect down alternative bedding which keeps you warm in Winter but cool in Summer?  Sounds like a plan!
And, one more thing- the original purpose of the blog... to document our journey of becoming home-owners?  We're getting closer by the moment!  More on that soon.