30 Days of Thankful

Every November on Facebook I see any number of my friends begin to list what they're thankful each day. Some years I love reading them, but to be honest some years it drives me crazy. (No offense to anyone!) Maybe those years I wasn't feeling particularly thankful, or maybe my Facebook feed went crazy overrun with all those extra posts. So how ironic is it that this year I am feeling so overwhelmingly thankful for so many things that I'm compelled to write daily? Well? I'm going to start my list via blog so that only those who want to read can check in and read when you want, and I'll update the same post so that it doesn't make a blog post mess. Yep! That's my plan!

November 1 - I'm not thankful that Josiah got the flu, but I am thankful that he did it on the day after Halloween. In case you're wondering...that's every teacher's least favorite day of the school year. :)

November 2 - I'm thankful for Josiah and for his sweet heart. I love waking every morning to his smile, hugs, snuggles, and energy. I am so thankful for his active mind and eagerness to learn. How can my baby be almost 5 years old, though...I am not thankful for how quickly time flies by...I'm not ready to have a kindergartener next fall...yikes!!!

November 3 - I am thankful that I now work 3 minutes from home and can much more easily prep for a sub. I'm especially thankful that when I arrived tonight there were no other staff members present to witness my inexplicable appearance and pjs.

November 4 - Thank God Josiah likes his new daycare! After 4 years with our Katie it was so hard for both mom and J to change to a center. Today he complained that Jim picked him up too early, and he only got to do 2 centers. Also thankful that they are only 2 minutes away instead of 20-25, they feed him breakfast, he comes home singing songs, and that Jim can much more easily get him so I'm not 99.9% responsible for all transportation...just 98% now...

November 5 - Josiah had dental surgery today to crown his molars, which unfortunately inherited my poor enamel. I am SO thankful that no teeth had to be extracted and that we didn't need to go the spacer route. Especially thankful that there were no complications with anesthesia since that is what I had myself all freaked out over.

November 6 - After 2 rounds of flu, surgery, and 3 days off of work in a row, I'm so glad to be back to "normal!" (normal = at school)

November 7 - I'm thankful to be hungry! I'm also so proud to be part of the Mary Kay family as I sit here watching Project Runway. Wow! What a fabulous company and product!!! (And yep, I actually watched a TV show tonight...that is thanks to Mary Kay too since I can't remember the last time I watched something other than Friends reruns or HGTV)

November 8 - Thankful for a night to hog Josiah while Jim whines about his cold. Love every minute with my little boy...running errands and chatting away the whole time, snuggling on the couch for a movie, & staying up late on a Friday!

November 9 - SO THANKFUL THAT MY IN-LAWS WERE ABLE TO COME VISIT TODAY!!! We see them so infrequently, here even less. Today was a joy as Josiah roped them into doing puzzles, golfing, reading books...oh, and we enjoyed a fabulous meal a Doolittles together. Why don't we eat there more often???

November 10 - Thankful for an entire day at home to do house-stuff & find such a fabulous list of gift ideas for Josiah (both birthday & Christmas in the same month...yikes!)...can't wait to shop, wrap, & watch him tear them open! Favorite part of today = setting up our Christmas tree...with Josiah, of course. :)

November 11 - I am thankful for a day to do whatever I want to do! After 4 years of teacher-only daycare this option to utilize daycare on my days off is HEAVEN! I usually keep him home, at least part of the day, but today after bringing him mid-morning I got my haircut, went for lunch, ran errands, started Christmas shopping...oops...working on report cards and spending the day at school were also on the list...next time!!! (maybe)

November 12 - I am thankful that my in-laws brought me an office chair. I am sitting AT my desk with padding under my bum without a backache. Yes!!! It's the simple things...

Ready to Ride!

Took part of the afternoon off to do some online perusing with Josiah for ideas for his birthday party. Last year I fully intended to do a party after the holidays, but without an actual birthday and the presence of an awful winter (the plan was to do a sledding party) it just didn't happen. So this year I'm going to be a much better mom and start planning a month early. Can you guess what our theme is going to be? Yep...bikes! Josiah and I ran down to Unglued on Broadway so we could check out the new fabrics that Modern Textiles just stocked...what perfect timing!!! So excited to use these for decor and favors!!!

While we were there I just couldn't leave these two...the print on the left I've used before and LOVE, and the one on the right is just absolutely gorgeous. I see some beautiful baby gifts for some of my beautiful friends in the near future! 


Sew cannot wait!

Did something I've always wanted to do (or wanted to do since I started sewing again last fall) this afternoon...Josiah and I picked out fat quarters from 1 whole line of Moda fabric! My overly visual, super picky, matchy matchy side is in luv!!!

(Moda line is the smaller folded series across the bottom)

Inviting all Mama / kiddo friends over Friday evening and Saturday for playdates and crafty coffee time. Can't wait to start working with everything in this basket while chatting away! LMK if you want to come over!!!


I love fall...and reading...

Jim absolutely hates raking and has informed me that if, someday, we build our dream house, it must be away from the presence of trees. Haha! Lucky for him he married a girl who likes to be in the yard, but, unluckily for him, I won't live without trees. Good thing we are nowhere near ready to build a house! Fortunately, we both love New England style homes, so at least we'll agree on one aspect of the exterior!!!

Anyway, fall is absolutely my favorite season. I love the crisp air and leaves crunching beneath my feet, I love homemade soups and putting away harvest for winter, I love curling up in a hooded sweatshirt or under a blanket after having complained for the last few months about how it's so hot outside! Maybe, most of all, this year, I love that after I can't remember how long, I have this unquenchable desire to read, something I used to do ALL THE TIME. There must be 15-20 books on the shelf next to my bed that have book marks about 1.57 chapters in. All great books, yet I couldn't finish one. Not sure if I went through a dry spell or if I should blame it on being a busy mom, but OMG do I want to curl up with a book!!!

Just finished: Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli and Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Currently reading: Because of Winn-Dixie (going to start a novel study on that this week), Notice and Note (taking a class on this one), and Growing Readers. 

Reading Next: Masterpiece by Elise Broach and Igniting a Passion for Reading (followed by a whole list of books to use with my fourth graders)

Augh!!! So fun!!! Yep, I'm officially back to being a crazy teacher...don't be surprised if you wander past my room and I'm practically jumping out of my skin or scaring the pants of my students because, yep, I'm the teacher who screams when the characters scream in our read alouds. Whoops! :)

What are you reading? And what were your absolute books from when you were around 10 years old-ish?


Chicken Artichoke Soup - Yum!!!

Oh, how I love long weekends at home! After accepting the position in Fargo early in July, my summer basically ended (or at least the getting to stay away from school part) as I packed up my classroom, moved, and settled into a new school. Our intent for the weekend was to head to the lake with my parents for a last swim and to help my dad move trees in preparation for a new septic system, but Josiah running a temp and coughing away kept us at home. If I was pregnant I would say I've been nesting, but since that's not the case I've just been content to clean up, clean out, organize, and cook to my heart's content. My neighbor and I have both been cooking up a storm to use all our CSA produce. Creamed ham to use up a whole pile of potatoes, grilled corn with avocado and tomato salad, apple cake/pie, homemade pizza sauce (now in the freezer), and our favorite...chicken artichoke soup!!! Today's mission will be the one I avoid on most days...my desk and the ever growing piles of paper in the office. Sigh...ignorance is bliss...one more tool of procrastination first, though...here's the recipe for the soup!!! 

New Orleans Artichoke Soup

Saute 'til tender in 1/4 pound butter:
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • (I usually do larger amounts since we like chunkier soup)
Add 1/2 package of mushrooms, simmer 1 minute. (I add the whole thing)

Add 1/4 cup flour, simmer approximately 10 minutes. (stir every few minutes so it doesn't all stick to the bottom of the pan)

Stir in:
  • 2 cups chicken broth (since I add extra veggies I usually add extra broth)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 5 cups quartered artichoke hearts, drained (I chop them as well and remove any tough parts)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (I also chop up a large section of a rotisserie chicken from Costco.)
Simmer 30 minutes.

Take out bay leaf & stir in 1 cup of whipping cream. Cook until cream is heated through. Serve immediately. If serving later, add cream just before serving. Delicious with a warm, crusty bread!

I got the recipe from my friend Lesli while teaching in Somerset, WI. She used to bring it in a crockpot for us at lunch and we would devour it! I don't remember which of her cookbooks it came from, but it might have been an old Dayton's or Marshall Field's cookbook...


True confessions

Great at starting. Horrible at finishing.

Good at procrastinating. Sometimes great/sometimes struggle with prioritizing.

World's best self-critic who wants to take care of everyone else first, but who is also sensitive to criticism since I set the stinking bar for myself so unreasonably high. Yep, that's me!

Someday I'll learn to put myself and my tasks first, and put them in the right order. Ironically, I think I posted awhile back that I need to focus on a healthy balance in my life...back to basics we go!


Monster Cookie Bars

This is a recipe I've been asked to share over and over, and after being asked for it again today (by my friend Kassie --- so I hope I'll see her soon so I can eat one...hint hint!) I thought it might be time to post it on my blog! At least this way I can direct people here in the future AND I can't ever lose the recipe card, heaven forbid! I got the recipe from my friend Kate in our small group a few years ago, but I have no idea where the original came from. If you know the source please share so I can give credit where credit is due!

WARNING --- These bars are HIGHLY addictive, so be prepared to eat as much of the pan as you can hold (like my friend Lisa), begin making them to eat the dough (like my friend Shawn), or just call them breakfast due to the peanut butter, eggs, and oatmeal (like my friend Jill). I guess in this post I'm mentioning a lot of friends, too!

Monster Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup plain MMs

Cream butter, brown sugar, & sugar together. Add eggs & peanut butter; mix well. Add vanilla, baking soda, & oatmeal; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips & MMs. Pat mixture into a jelly roll pan. Bake @ 350 for 16 minutes. Don't over bake!


I'll have to make them soon so I can add a picture to the post, especially since now I am totally craving them...thanks Kassie!!!


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good - Josiah and I are LOVING total flexibility in our schedule. We got to go out of town for 10 days, we don't have to stress over naps and bedtimes, and twice this weekend we walked along with Jim on the back 9. I am also getting to do some activities of my choosing (although mostly Josiah's choosing).

The Bad - Parking in the garage is not an option due to a plethora of sporting equipment (3 bikes, 3 bags of golf clubs, boxes of golf & birdie balls, & scattered gardening tools. My house hasn't been cleaned since our last cleaning lady tour at the beginning of May. Who wants to be inside when it's finally so nice outside?! Please still come and visit now that I've confessed, but please don't look or judge the dirt and disorganization!

The Ugly - Hmmm...I may be a Mary Kay lady, but on days when I don't have appointments you can expect to see me sans makeup, hair in a pony, athletic shorts & a T, and probably with dirt on my feet, knees, and hands since I've either been biking, playing in the yard or at the park, or working in the yard. Also a little ugly, the piles of paperwork that have accumulated in the office and are haunting me...time to go get a shredder, I think!

The end!


Lovin the Rain!

I have such fond memories of running around outside in the rain catching as much as I could to water my mom's plants. Guess Josiah has a little of me in him, somewhere! And I got to sit on the front step with my morning cup of coffee watching him. Precious time!!!

I should be cleaning...

...so I'm blogging instead! We have had a whirlwind spring and first few weeks of summer, and unfortunately I've missed sharing some wonderful, hilarious, sweet, and monumental events. I'll do my best to remember and document them over the next few weeks!

So here's a snapshot of the Clarey's currently:

Jim - 's business is going WELL (www.nahfloors.com)! He is booking jobs into September right now, has hired 2 employees (one full-time and one part-time) and is looking for a third (full-time). When he is not working he is either hanging with us at home or golfing (which also happens daily at home).

Josiah - is totally living it up this summer. He's sleeping until 9:30 some mornings (shocking, considering he typically sleeps no later than 7:30, even if he goes to bed super late), riding his bike every day and just figured out how to turn around in driveways so he can go up and down our sidewalk, playing independently in the back yard, snuggling in his new big bed with a big pile of books, and exploring the great outdoors. One of his new favorite things to do is hit balls in the backyard and either try to get them stuck in the pine tree or hit them over the fence into the neighbors (and then ride bike around and throw them all back over the fence). Good thing they like us! His new favorite word is "definitely," and he's definitely full of words. Suddenly he's adding in all these great descriptions. Of course the only one I can remember is, "Why couldn't you hear me, Mom?! I was talking louder than a lion can roar!"

Laura - is actually feeling relaxed and enjoying summer! I am planning to not work in my classroom until August 1st. I have never done that...ever...I did bring a few books home to read (ok, like 8 or 10, so probably more a shelf than a stack), but they are not at the top of my list just yet. After being out of town for the first 10 days of summer and then throwing a garage sale together in 2 days I need to fix our disaster of  a house first. Yikes! Oh, and my Mary Kay business is blossoming as well! I'm currently working on earning my first free car and moving into a leadership position. Woohoo!!!

All the extra tidbits:

Excited for - my chalk paint class and painting a whole bunch of things. Josiah to go to Prairie Preschool at Buffalo River State Park.

Eating - the first box of our CSA from Bluebird Gardens and loving it! Josiah and I devoured and entire cucumber together the first night, and thanks to the farm's personal chef we grilled our head of romaine last night for our salad. Let's just say that I will definitely be grilling lettuce all summer.

Focused on - wrapping up selling the last of the garage sale items and cleaning out clutter so we can clean and organize the rest of the house. When I say ORGANIZE I mean really organize. Summer is the only time when I can really get the entire house updated and restructured to fit our changing needs. Good thing I love doing it!

Outside - biking, finishing up spring yard maintenance (yes I realize I'm behind...), golf - mostly Jim and Josiah, but hopefully me too after I get my clubs out of the basement...

Relaxing - hopefully around a fire beginning today! Jim's got scrap wood coming out of his ears, and what better way to dispose of it than by sitting around a fire in the evening! Better stock up on smore supplies...

Sewing - nothing yet, but lots of projects are in the plans!

The things I'm avoiding - a huge pile of mail, starting laundry, cleaning up the pile of clothes in our bedroom...


My Summer DIY List

Spontaneously selling Josiah's bed and replacing it with a full now has my brain rolling. It's time to revisit Pinterest so I can slowly redesign and redecorate a few things. Think I can figure out and master Jim's power tools? We definitely don't have a shortage of wood downstairs, but the trick will be trying to use mostly what we have along with excess flooring.

Potential projects: Josiah's headboard, coffee table, cubbies for the back door, fabric covered canvas for above our bed, throw pillows for living room and both bedrooms, a new (much larger) top for the kitchen table, and if I get really good a corner desk unit for the office.

Reality? I probably won't get more than one building project done. Sewing, though, no problem! After a good night's sleep my enthusiasm for a full summer is finally appearing!


And just like that it's summer...

Where did this school year go?! At times it seemed like it was flying by faster than I wanted, and at other times the end couldn't come fast enough. And so it goes with teaching, I suppose. But summer is really, truly, finally here, and the reality still hasn't quite sunk in. Could be due to sheer exhaustion, or could also be due to the number of things running through my head. I've been asked what big plans I have for my summer, and to be honest I'm not really sure how to answer. Usually I have grand plans, but I haven't even started to consider what this summer might include. Here are a few things I've randomly mulled over in the last few months. Hopefully jotting them here will both get the ideas flowing and keep me from forgetting!

  • School: Read bag full of 10ish teacher books
  • House: paint master bedroom and sew some super fun and very loud curtains with fabric from Modern Textiles; spring clean (yes, I realize it's summer, but if you've met a teacher you know that doesn't happen in the last month of school!); catch up on office paperwork; clean out the basement and sell everything on a garage sale!
  • Yard: figure out how to make the lawn look like the golf course, plant a few pots, add a few plants to the back, add a little secondary bed by the green fence
  • Sew: too many projects to list...
  • Catch up on digital scrapbooking and make family yearbooks
  • Mary Kay: continue building and encouraging my team and customers on the road to directorship!!! 
And, of course, there are all those FUN non-listy things that I get to just do whenever while Josiah and I take full advantage of getting to be together ALL SUMMER: sit in a lawn chair and read a book A LOT, go to the lake, take advantage of the CSA harvest events and figure out how to freeze veggies, go to the pool, ride bike, take naps, head out to Buffalo River State Park for Prairie Preschool (I might secretly be just as excited to take Josiah as he will be to go), meet friends for coffee, go garage sale-ing (yep, I don't think that's spelled right, but Blogger said my options are sailing or saling, which don't look right either...), visit family, update and revise my cookbook (yep, I "wrote" one!), and relax (what's that again?)!

My goal is to not go into my classroom until August. Should we start a pool and everyone can put their money on how long I make it before I head in?

Oh, and I should probably predetermine bedtime regulations for both Josiah AND me. I could have gone to sleep at about 8:00, and now it's 12:19 and here I am sitting at my computer. Will someone please knock some sense into me and send me to bed?! That might also help accomplish my reading goals for the summer...



One of my favorite things to blog hop for is new recipes, and OMG have I found some tasty ones! Here is my first go at posting one of our favorites...Kona Banana Bread from Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cookbook. 

Just looking at this picture makes me wish that either I wasn't trying to lose weight and could eat at 11:36 pm, or that it was morning and time for a big ol' chunk with my morning coffee...yummmmmm!

Step 1: Cream 1/2 cup shortening and 1 cup sugar (I usually cut back to 3/4 - 7/8 of a cup) until light.

Step 2: Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (I use slightly less). Make sure your bananas are RIPE, aka: black and mushy. Your batter will look like this:

And if your 4 year old likes to sample every ingredient as it goes in, he or she will look like this:

Still cute with flour all over!

Step 3: Sift together 1 1/8 cups flour (I substitute wheat flour for the 1/8 cup), 3/4 teaspoon soda, & 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add to banana mixture. Mix til well-blended. Love my Le Creuset spoonulas...after a few year of newlywed bliss and my first 3 Le Creusets I added a few other brands and none compare (even Cuisinart and Kitchenaid), so I am back to only the best (although my hubby would tell you the others are still in the drawer since I haven't cleaned them out yet...he LOVES an overabundance of kitchen utensils too, NOT)!

Step 4: Pour into a greased 9x9 or 8x8 pan. Bake for 30-35 (I usually do 35) minutes at 350 degrees. The bread will come out golden brown and separated from the sides of the pan. Isn't it gorgeous!

Step 5: Cool. Cut into squares. Eat them as fast as you can before your hubby gets to the pan!

Here's my cookbook, copyright 1963. Thank you to my mom for finding it for me at the Friends of the Bismarck Public Library Used Booksale!

And the original! Haven't tried to make it with cake flour, mainly because I don't usually have it on hand, but also because the recipe I got from my mom calls for all-purpose flour. I didn't realize until tonight when I started writing this post that it was in the recipe. Oops! Sometime I'll pick some up and will update this post to let you know how it compares. Happy baking!!!


Cutest boy, ever!

Ok, so I know every mom on the planet thinks her kid is the cutest one, but Josiah really is...trust me! Here are just a few of the things he's said in the last few days...

Last Wednesday when we were eating at Grazies the waiter brought our food before Josiah's. As he was walking away from the table Josiah turned to us and said, "Aw, how come he didn't bring my food first? Doesn't he think I'm cute?!"

One of Josiah's favorite book series is Where's Waldo, thanks to Jim, and he knows all about all the additional people and objects to find. He even knows that Odlaw (Waldo spelled backwards) is Waldo's arch-nemesis (or "the mean guy") and follows him to all the different places trying to steal his cane (or whatever object is Waldo's). So as we were driving home one night I'm smiling to myself as I watch him reading in the back with one knee propped up in his carseat and the gigantic Waldo book open and completely covering him, when out of the blue he comments, "I hope Odlaw gets a sunburn!" (there's a beach page where half the characters are noticeably burned, and we've had lots of conversations about sunburns and sunscreen with him inheriting my always pale skin) I responded with the proper mom comment of, "That wasn't very nice!" To which he answers, "Yeah, but Odlaw's mean!"

Last (for now, until I remember another and update the post), the last two days have been very stormy in Fargo with lots of accidents. Yesterday after church we saw a van on it's side along the interstate and many onlookers rushing to help, so it must have just happened before we got there. He also overheard us talking about yesterday's fatality accident on I-29, because when I came home at noon today after West Fargo sent staff home he came running over to me, gave me a huge hug, and then told me, "I was worried that you were going to get in an accident and die." I felt so bad that he apparently has been worrying about that this morning, but totally amazed by his ability to hear about something that's happened to others and empathize with them or relate the situation to his life. It also leaves me wondering if it's better to censor some of the sad or scary things that happen around us from him until he's a little older, or if it's ok for him to be exposed so that we can talk about it as a family to help him understand what's happened and how to respond. Oh, how I wish I could protect him from heartache...he has such a soft heart...this fall there was a skunk on the side of the road that we passed every day for about 2 weeks on the way to daycare. After he finally realized that the skunk wasn't living any longer he was so worried that the skunk's family would miss him. Lord, please keep his heart soft and loving, but not vulnerable!!!

This was supposed to be a funny post based on the first two quotes, but somehow I turned sentimental. Oopsies! Sorry about that!!! Guess I'll sign off before I get too sappy and tackle the planning and grading I brought home for the afternoon. Happy Monday afternoon from home, everyone!!!


Oh what a weekend!

So I don't have anything exciting to write about, but I'm just feeing so content for a change. My weekend was actually pretty nice! I got all my "mom stuff"done, like laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping... I also cleaned the cupboards and walls in the kitchen after the renovation, put the curtains and decorations back in the dining room, and did a little office organizing with my new Thirty-one office organizers. Now, that would have been a great weekend on it's own, but on top of that I road tripped to two quilt shops and found some AMAZING fabric for projects I have on my list, started one of those projects, finished ALL the school work I brought home (which never happens), signed Josiah up for a Sports Sampler, and ordered our summer CSA from Bluebird Gardens. So how's that for healthy balance?! The only thing I haven't done well is go to bed at an earlier time...2:00am last night (blame that on sewing and being on a roll) and now it's almost midnight...off to bed I go!!! Hoping there's some room left since Josiah fell asleep there with Jim almost 4 hours ago!!!

Oh sew fun!!!

Thank you Lori Steinbrink for road tripping with me to your family quilt shop! I am SO excited about all the new projects I am now supplied for! Here's a sneak peak at what's to come!!!

I see a sweet, soft, snuggly receiving blanket...

So many possibilities in here...the two fat quarters on the lid will be pin cushions, and the rest inside will be a combination of burp clothes for baby gifts and owl heating pads for Josiah and a few other special friends.

Future throw pillows to coordinate with Josiah's newly finished quilt.

My big splurge...the softest, most beautiful ivory minky I've seen with a contrasting flannel back. Josiah is clearly the most spoiled child, unless I decide to keep this one for myself. :)

This last stash didn't come from the quilt shop. Modern Textiles is a local fabric company, currently without a shop. I picked these up a few weeks ago at The Studio in downtown Fargo, but they also have fabric available at Eco Chic and Unglued. The teal will back another baby gift, the yellow/grey and yellow chevron will be pouches or bags to hold my sewing supplies or other goodies, the blue chevron will be a drawstring top bag for toy storage, and the blue bicycle pattern has yet to be determined. 

Would love to start right now, but folding laundry, grading a few papers, and whipping up a pot of Southwest Chicken Soup for dinner are first on my list! 


He's unleashed the beast!

Well, I went from having the most hideous floor in Fargo...

...to having the most to-die-for-GORGEOUS floor thanks to my amazing hubby and all his skills...

No more linoleum, no more duct tape transition, no more scrubbing things that won't come off...hello beauty, seamlessness, and low maintenance!!! Six and a half years was well worth the wait for this!!!

So...of course I'm now on the verge of exploding with new ideas for how to organize and redecorate our home. It may be small, but it's comfy cozy (with the exception of the basement) and now on the brink of become oh so beautiful. Here's what I'm already planning (Jim would be rolling his eyes right now if he were reading): repaint the kitchen some shade of latte/mocha to complement the floors and woodwork, the "not-so-bad" 60s countertop is now the eyesore, the broken kitchen faucet might need replacing, build the wall storage / cubbies / lockers for the back door space, split our sectional into two separate pieces and rearrange the living room, find a rectangular (maybe upholstered) ottoman (make on my own?) and recover the throw pillows on the couch, paint the master bedroom and sew my own custom designer bedding, add something fun to Josiah's room (maybe paint a stripe pattern of some sort?), and the office...OH, the office...the most challenging space in our house. Two small businesses + a home office for our family in one small 10' x 10' (at best) bedroom = disaster! I've been collecting ideas on Pinterest for months, and now one of my favorite blogs (I Heart Organizing) has been posting a plethora of home office organization projects all month. Hmmm...do I take notes? No, I pin! Actually, I'm pretty sure the author is my identical twin in terms of personality and interests, only with blond hair and living in Wisconsin. LOVE how she creates such beautiful, functional, and clutter-free spaces. May need to follow her lead, unleash my totally type A side, and start making lists of all the things we need in our office. Get ready for a whole slew of posts on home improvement projects!

Now, if someone could just clean up my house after our flooring installation so I could get started that'd be great! Any takers? :)


Game on!

So many things going on in my brain right now I don't even know where to begin! I am just SO excited that 2013 has started off on such a positive note. Shortly after I posted my New Years Resolutions a Facebook Friend posted that her theme for 2013 was going to be SIMPLIFY. Love that! That's totally the mode I've been in for the last 6 months and plan to continue in, probably forever since it applies to life in general. After seeing that I decided I needed a theme for my resolutions. Luckily I took a much healthier approach this year (loving that it's a lifestyle, not a checklist), so picking mine was almost instantaneous...HEALTHY BALANCE! Healthy balance in eating, exercise, work vs. personal life, organizing/cleaning vs. hobbies, time for myself / family / friends...it just fits everything! Thank you Kari for the inspiration!!!

The other thing I'm SO excited about is applying that Healthy Balance to my physical health. Yesterday we started a Biggest Loser competition at school, and (fortunately / unfortunately) I weighed in higher than I thought. Ouch!!! Major wake-up call! I was already gung-ho to start, and now I'm ALL in. No wonder I feel crummy and super self-conscious all the time! I know I'm not the most unhealthy person ever. We don't eat chips and other processed foods that regularly, I don't drink a lot of alcohol or have a mocha every day, and I don't smoke. However, I have never monitored portions, balanced my food groups, or been active other than walking all day long at my job or with Josiah in our neighborhood. Apparently turning 30 ends the time in life when your body can handle all that. Thank you Lorraine for  starting BL at school and now getting me going on learning how to calorie count and find some good resources on healthier eating. Woohoo!!! I'm totally on a roll toward my resolution #1: be healthier!

Here's what I have so far:
  • Count calories --- thank goodness Lorraine introduced me to the My Fitness Pal app! What did I do before my iPhone!? Click here for the website!
  • Exercise --- 3 days a week at school with my "Biggest Loser" friends, and either at home on the weekend or maybe a gym. Family Wellness is so appealing with their pool and classes, and even though it's right by our daycare it's SUPER far from our house. Anyone use Anytime Fitness???
  • Pull my family into this clean eating plan. Jim's in his non-golfing season (not by choice), and Josiah is growing like a weed and on a mission to be "stronger than Dad." May need to do a share from Bluebird Gardens again this year!
  • Sites for recipes:
I would LOVE to hear your comments on how you've been successful in your weight management endeavors as well as your sources for recipes and info on eating healthier!


Just have to brag a little...

After a summer of allowing myself to only finish projects I permitted myself to start a new project in September. Instead of focusing on the little life that didn't arrive as planned, I decided to celebrate the little man who I do get to spend time with every day. I have wanted to make him a "big boy" quilt, and just sew a quilt in general for SO long, and I treating myself to starting this project turned out to be GREAT medicine for the soul. I never would have completed it without the help of my friend Lori, who walked me through step by step, let me invade her home and use her machine, and ironed my strips while I sewed. I ended up enjoying it so much that I now have my own machine! 

Here it is!!!

And here's the second project I started and my mom completed (I designed and cut, and she sewed and appliqued). This was one of Josiah's Christmas presents from Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Blake! He also got 3 eye patches and 2 headlamps, and when we went to Barnes and Noble we picked up the Melissa & Doug pirate costume. Who wants to come for a playdate?!

Hmmm...now which sewing project should I tackle next: bean bags, minky blanket, pillows for Josiah's room, "floor poofs" for my classroom, quiet books for car trips, burp cloths to stash for baby gifts, or the door knob silencer from Pinterest...

New Years Resolutions?

One of the things I love about New Years Resolutions is that everyone (or maybe not everyone) takes some time to consider how to improve their lifestyle, family, focus, health, career...and on and on and on. I have always been one to want to learn more, try more, and do more, and consequently have realized that I'm a great starter, but not a great finisher. So this year, knowing this, I vow to try to plot my New Years Resolutions on a course of things that are lifestyle changes and not a checklist, because, let's face it...I don't think I fulfilled last year's resolutions. I can't even remember what they all were, to tell the truth. I need to come to the realization that life isn't about getting things done, it's about enjoying where you are and who you're with. Someone tell me that about once a day, please!!!

So since I wasn't overly successful last year, I have been mulling over what to do this year for awhile. Ironically, reading a friend's blog post (last year) about her resolutions was what inspired me to attempt them for the first time in years as well as begin my own blog (thanks, Molly Wobbema!). So this year I'm going to be a little less ambitious and a little more practical.

Here's my original list...going to need to ax a few!!!
1 - Be healthier: attempt to exercise more than just following Josiah around on his bike.
2 - Finish 1 Blurb photobook for 2012 and start working on 2011.
3 - Organize the office and the basement (I actually did the rest of the house last year!).
4 - Only bring home school work that can fit in my totally gorgeous Ju Ju Be Giga Be bag (see earlier post for more on that).
5 - Plan monthly time with friends so that I actually see them on a regular basis instead of randomly.
6 - Hang out with my hubby. Keep working on my golf game in the summer and learn to play Race Horse / Pinochle in the winter. Maybe learn to enjoy an occasional movie...
7 - Finish a book before buying a new one.
8 - Go to bed before midnight (I'd say 11:00, but I need to work my way back gradually).
9 - Mary Kay: Begin to work my business to match my career goals (Become a team leader, finish All-Star Consultant Status in June, and facial 50 new women)

Time to get serious...the reality of life is that there will always be things to clean out and/or organize, so let's nix those... Since my "theme" for 2013 is SELF-improvement, not career, let's get rid of those as well... Now, let's combine and reword the other ones to not be something I have to check off, but rather things that will focus on a happy, healthy, wholesome way of living...

Here's my final list:
1 - Be healthier --- exercise and balance those food groups!!!
2 - Make time for things I enjoy --- Blurb books, sewing, blogging, and cooking
3 - Plan monthly times with friends, or weekly if possible
4 - Hang out with my hubby and DO something together
5 - Establish a consistent bedtime and get out of bed time to support all of the above!!!

If I can implement those I think I'll feel like I've achieved some degree of balance instead of running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Yes, I'll still tackle any number of home organizing / decorating (already planning to paint our master bedroom this summer, among other things), and, yes, this plan will go out the window during certain times of the year (conferences, end of school, back to school...hmmm, might be a pattern there...might need to consider a "leave work at work" resolution sometime), but I need to focus on what's truly important and cut myself some slack on the rest.

Happy New Year!!!