Summer to-do's

And it's (un)officially begun... the day I wait for all year! The last day of school. A certain song comes to mind, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" I still have until next Friday of post planning, but here goes!

So along with my monthly To-Do's, I am going to keep up a Summer To-Do list. I'm a "lister" by nature and it makes me feel accomplished to go back and look a stuff crossed off the list!

1. Make a pantry. Here's my inspiration. To my surprise Josh LOVED this idea and is eager to start! 
We have no pantry although we have 19 (!!) only UPPER cabinets. Being 5 feet tall, the upper cabinets are pretty impractical!

2. Make liquid hand soap. I've mastered liquid laundry soap so this can't be too hard. 

3. Make Family Christmas Stockings... (stop judging... ever heard of Christmas in July?) It's also #70 on the list

4.  Would love to do something like this for our dry goods. After the pantry gets overhauled I'll have tons of room for this stuff. 
{Couldn't find the source. It was something I pinned a while ago on pinterest.}

And this eye candy is amazing!

5. Finish Luke's room. It's 80% done. And I need a swift kick in the booty to get motivated. Here's that list

6. Go somewhere I haven't been. I would love to make a trip to Diamond National Park in Arkansas (we're making an Arkansas trip in July). If that doesn't work, I'll figure something out. 

7. See a Stone Mountain Laser show. Can you believe I've never been??? I grew up less than 30 minutes away and went to church less than 15 minutes away and I saw Stone Mtn from the highway each time. I've been to Stone Mountain for various events, but I've never seen the laser show and I've never been to the top. Here's hoping!

I think 7 goals are manageable this summer! I will still have my monthly goals as we go. The summer is already lining up to be hectic. Spending time with my family is the most important goal, and everything else will be bonus (hey I need something to do when he's sleeping right??). 

Emergency Kit- Part dos


I shared with you back in April about our Emergency Preparedness Kit. I hadn't quite finished it and I pledged to finish it soon! It's now finished. The dollar store helped me finish out the remaining items. Here's a picture of 75% of the **things I added. I'm not comfortable putting our ID/Phone#list/information cards on the internet. So I left those out. Here's a picture of some of the loot I added:



Supplies in the kit:
masks
**bleach (I'm thinking a bleach laundry pen)
**AA batteries
candles
matches/lighter
dawn
**1 whistle per person
cloth gloves
sun block
bugspray
rope (parachute cable)
garbage bags
**pocketknife
flashlight (I didn't actually put this in the box- it is always plugged in so when the power goes out it is fully charged)
diapers
wipes
deodorant x2
shampoo
bar of soap
toothbrush/ toothpaste
razor
hair ties
pads/tampons
glasses (perfect solution for my old ones that I didn't know what to do with!)
contact solution/contact case
3 rolls of toilet paper
 roll of paper towels
**gum 
**plastic utensils
Bible
blanket x3 (one for each of us)
change of clothes for each person
notebook and pens (there are 3 notebooks and 3 pens, one for each of us)
**cash (inc. coins)
**pictures of each family member (laminated)
**card with phone numbers laminated (police dept. fire dept. poison control)
**copy of identification cards (copied and laminated)
**deck of cards/uno


first aid kit: I made my own according to the Red Cross website:
               ✔box of Bandaids
               ✔tylenol/benadryl
               alcohol pads
               antibiotic ointment
               rubber gloves (We have 2 pairs- so 4 total)
               gauze 
               ace roll/wrap 
               hydrocortizone cream
               thermometer
               cold compress (I used the peri pads they gave us at the hospital. After my c-section they                   weren't really needed. You bust them like a cold pack and they stay cold for an hour)


3 days of food: 
**soup
ramen
granola bars
crackers
**peanutbutter
3 days of water: I bought a bottle that is 3 quarts, and then 12 1 pint bottles. 

As I as researching how to put together our emergency kit, I came across a pet kit and a car kit. I have put these together too. 

Our dog is seriously a member of the family. How in the world could I ever leave her out??  
Sadie-dog kit:✔food (1 small bag/2 gallon ziploc bags)
✔waterbowl
✔couple bottles of water
✔leash
✔medicine (she takes Ascriptin for her arthritis/joint paint)

As I did more research I realized that 99% of the time in the summer I wear flip flops, and I had no food/water in my car. Flip flops don't = great walking shoes in case something ever happened. Not that I anticipate being stranded anytime soon, but I sure will be glad if I ever am!

Car Kit: We each have a simple first aid kit in there already. 
✔blanket 
✔flashlight
✔shoes
✔water (24 hours worth)
granola bars
 Blanket:

Contents:

My flashlight is in the glove compartment and is regularly checked by my wonderful husband for dead batteries!

I hope all this stuff is never needed and fingers crossed- since we are prepared we surely will never need it. Be there is always the "what-if" in my mind and I'm glad we're prepared!

Oh yeah did I mention it marks #55 off the list!

Dining "room"

We don't really have a dining room. It's more an area/eat in-kitchen. Nevertheless, looking back through my old photos, I'm pretty amazed at the transformation of our house over the past almost 4 years. It's so funny how you forget what it used to look like and it's amazing all the things you lived with!

Here is a peek at our dining room right when we moved in:
A couple things I have to mention... Josh's shoe graveyard... he seriously needs to stop making fun of me. That chandelier?? Cringe worthy. The shelf in the background is my sewing shelf now. And that table... wow.

This is looking more familiar. This was around Luke's 1st birthday party. Notice my wedding bouquet on the wall. This was an awesome wedding gift. A couple of amazing friends went in together to pull this off. And I had no idea that they had somehow swiped my bouquet at some point after the wedding!

Notice the table got stained and painted. We added a baby (and a high chair!). A new chandelier and those candle things to the side of my bouquet.

Here's the wall today! I wanted to do a collage in here. But I wanted it to be less "random" than the master bedroom college and Luke's collage.


I am totally shocked at this transformation. Somehow with all those frames up there it makes the wall feel bigger! (And I had other people mention this weekend how much bigger it felt too- without me mentioning it!) In a 1,400 square foot house I'll take bigger any day!

A couple of things from this post... I am going to move the fabric frame back to my bathroom once I find another frame to put there. Whatever goes in it's place will be even with the orange-ish frame to the left. I'm not digging the stair stepdown part. I made the LOVE the Lord printable before Picnic shut down. The wedding card collage is all the way on the right. The shelf I found at Salvation Army and it was black! I made the Oh how He loves us printable and the candle holder is from habitat for humanity. That's a quick tour around the collage and I am LOVING it!! I like that the top/sides of the collage are all even like a rectangle. I kept the bottom a little random just for visual interest!

Storing Paint

** I have updated our old ways of storing paint! Check it out here!

Storing paint is such a pain. No joke! I wish there was a way to keep a tiny amount for touch ups and get rid of the rest. I am WAY too stingy to throw away perfectly good paint, and because it doesn't tolerate temperature change well, keeping it inside is the best bet.

We keep our paint in out hall closet, tucked back in the corner under a shelf (right next to our Emergency Kit). After years of digging through this closet looking for a certain paint (did I mention that this closet doesn't have a light?) I decided there had to be a better way. I have heard of people taping paint swatches in the corner of a bedroom's closet, or writing the paint color on the top the door moulding, but to me this is by far easier.

I labeled the top of each can (with my handy dandy label maker) with the room it goes to.
I made sure to keep the original color visible, and also the barcode. The barcode will give a 100% perfect match if you ever need another can. It's more reliable than just the paint swatch.

So there's all my paint labeled. I did "undo" the stacks a little bit to make it easier to see. How in the world did we end up with so many colors anyways??

When the can is empty I always keep the top of the paint can. When we move this won't be necessary to keep because I can just go from the paint swatch, but while we're here it'll save my life if I need touch up paint. It'll save me the headache from here of what sheen to use.

I also keep our current paint swatches in my home binder. If I need to know if something matches our paint I'll whip out my swatches (since I always have them with me- at least in my car) and make the decision right there in the store.

It takes up a lot of precious real estate in that closet, but paint is a pretty big deal in a home!

I'm a complete and total hypocrite...

I mentioned here that I was setting a personal goal to not buy clothes for 6 months...

I really meant well on my goal. I really wanted to do this. But I failed. I will take absolutely NO responsibility for this, and I'm blaming it all on my husband. 

We were on our way to a day full of shopping. Since we live at LEAST 45 minutes from a Target, Sams, and Publix, I hit them all on one day each month. It's like a mega couponing/saving money trip. 

On our way down we were talking about how Josh needed new shorts and the conversation suddenly turned into how I dress like a total and complete bum when I work out. Like I wear shirts with holes in them. And shorts covered in paint. My theory is NO one is going to see me (we go to the rec dept. to bike ride). 

He suggested I spend some time today looking for workout clothes. I have been slightly motivated to exercise recently. I was able to access my medical stats online from the dr. office and I realized I've lost 23 lbs since Luke was 6 months old. That doesn't include the "baby weight" that I dropped in those first 6 months. It was total motivation to see that by not really trying (just by chasing a baby/toddler around) that I can lose a lot of weight!! So I'm on a roll. And I mean he pretty much forced me to get the new workout clothes. Who's going to argue the point??

I also accidentally threw a shirt into the cart. And maybe a BOOK (gasp- since I NEVER buy books). I figured I'll donate "Loving" to the church or public library when I'm done reading it. And he qualified it as an early Mother's Day gift. 

So although I totally broke this goal I am refusing to buy new flip flops. I have too many. And the ones I have need to be worn out this summer and thrown away come next fall/winter. 

Did I mention I also bought some jewelry from Premier and I plan to buy more in August? Oh well. Some habits die hard. 

Hot Wings Recipe

So I decided to try a new recipe tonight! And it was planned on my handy meal planning calendar! Here is the recipe (although it's so easy I feel silly typing this up!)!!

4-8 chicken wings (my wings were still attached- sometimes they come split).
Buffalo sauce (our favorite is Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce)
Cooking spray

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Spray dish with cooking spray. Coat chicken in sauce and place in a covered oven dish. Let cook for 1 hour. At the hour mark I poured a little more hot sauce on top, just to soften it up. The skin got pretty crispy!

Eat! Josh said he could have eaten 8 more! They were really good and super easy. I hate my over getting that hot, but it's a pretty cool evening tonight! This as an appetizer or with pizza would be delish too!!

Photo Storage: Part 1

Before I start any major photograph makeovers, I decided to brainstorm. I hate brainstorming. I tell my kids all the time they need to brainstorm. My most overused line is "When you go on a trip you need a map (or GPS) to tell you where to go. Your writing needs a map to tell you where it's going." I always feel like such a hypocrite because I am a "doer". I usually jump in with both feet... thinking is usually an afterthought.

So I am thinking this project out. And these are my thoughts:

Identify the problem:
-I have a bunch of loose photos that desperately need organization.
-Digital pictures-they're organized but not secure. If our computer crashes, there is external hard drive failure, or something happens to the house, all our pictures would be gone.

Ideas:
-Keep a most update video of our possessions in our safe. This link talks about how we document possessions. Confession: It has not made it to our safe yet :(
-Make CDs by year to store in the safe. Right now they are stored by year on an external hard drive. I would love to make one each January for the previous year.

Goals:
-Make yearly photobooks/prints to enjoy. I am slightly convicted that we have had professional photos taken about 6 times the past 3 years and I have nothing to show for it except a few canvas prints and some facebook albums. I read an article recently (and I can't for the life of me find it) about a photographer who refuses to give digital copies to her clients. Her reasoning? Because people never make the digital files into prints. And the prints are what you'll remember. Now I FOR SURE don't want our photographer going that extreme (!!) but I am guilty of not turning those files into prints. I remember flipping through old photos with my grandmother. If I don't preserve these memories now, then they will never be preserved.
-Secure copies (either hardcopy or digital) of these professional sessions in the safe.

So there you have it. I am not one for having a bunch of prints made, but I do somehow manage to end up with alot of loose photos. I am looking at purchasing these for old prints.
I've heard great things about mypublisher.com, shutterfly.com and snapfish.com. When the time (and money) comes to actually do this I figure I'll use whoever will give the best price.

For now, I'm happy I brainstormed. I feel like I have motivation to start preserving our family's precious memories! And I love saving up for projects!

Teacher appreciation

This week is always a fun week to be a teacher. We get treats throughout the week (Hardees on Monday morning, Subway for lunch Fri, jean days all week). But this year it is especially fun because we get to celebrate Luke's teachers at school!

I wanted him to have a part in putting his teacher gifts together, but obviously that part has to be very limited. But here's what we came up with:

Inside was some "germ juice":

A baggie filled with "hugs and kisses":

And a painted plaque by Luke:

I stuck vinyl down first, let Luke go at it painting, and then unpeeled the stickers.
We also wrote a message on the back:

I love giving gifts... and teachers really are under appreciated!!!!!!

Meal Planning

Being a working mom, I HAVE to meal plan. I literally stress about it during the day if I don't know what I'm cooking or what we're doing for dinner.

There are many mornings when I make my breakfast, pack my lunch, and put dinner in the crock pot before 7 AM!!!! But those days seem to go so much smoother because I have a plan. 

I stepped away from meal planning for a while. I made sure our cabinets were stocked and I just grabbed whatever I felt like eating and made that for dinner. Josh is great about helping in the kitchen, but I am a fairly picky eater. I need to feel "in control" with food because that's just how I am. I don't like food surprises... I guess it goes back to hating change. 

I meal planned a few years ago (when I was pregnant and right after I had Luke). But then I got into couponing. I couldn't figure out how to balance meal planning and couponing effectively. With meal plans I like to plan by the month. I prefer to grocery shop by the month. We get paid monthly. Months just work better for us. Coupons/store sales change weekly.  It was hard to keep up and I flew by the seat of my pants most months. I even found that with careful couponing, I would spend more money per month- I don't even know why? But shopping the sales EACH WEEK just didn't work for us. 

As I prepared to figure out a new method, I jotted a few things down. First I made a list of ALL the meals I make. Almost like a dinner bank. Then I categorized it by how I cooked it: grill, oven, crockpot. (that part really didn't help me- so I went back and categorized it by meat type- chicken, beef, seafood, vegetarian).

Then I made a list of all our "staples". I'm talking more than bread and milk. Our staples are EVERYTHING I want in our cabinets at ALL times. Amazingly after I got my list of staples together, I found out most things don't usually have coupons. So all this time I was trying to meal plan around coupons- no wonder it didn't work!! And these are things I am willing to buy at full price- because they are our "go to" foods.

Here's what I started with.... I know, not much to look at right??

I imagined it a beautiful shade of blue with boxes added for the days. I didn't take pictures while I went because I wasn't really sure if it would work. Most "fly by the seat of my pants" projects typically end up  turning out the best. I'll show the finished product, then break down how it works. 

I started with the calendar squares. This is vinyl cut from my amazing Silhouette cutting machine. The month, food types, and dates are all printed on magnetic paper (straight from my printer). 

I arranged the numbers on the calendar first. Then (since I had it all written down on paper) I added all the meals. I tried to include the "main meal", a side, and a veggie. Some meals I don't need a side (like chicken and rice-b/c the rice is cooked with the chicken), or Mexican night (because it's assumed that the lettuce and tomatoes are added to that). 

Each main meal is color coded. The source of that inspiration came from a post on iHeartOrganizing where she highlighted this post. What an inspiration both those ladies are!! 

VEGGIE main course meals are light blue, BEEF meals are red, CHICKEN meals are purple, SEAFOOD meals are orange, and sides are teal. Then I just started arranging them. I tried not to have too much chicken one week, or too much beef another. I mixed it up to get a good variety (but I wasn't super anal about it). 

I added the sides (which include the veggies too), the OUT days, C (which stands for crock pot meal). NEW (which are new recipes I want to try), and LO which are LeftOvers. 
Here it is closer: 

The best part? All the "extras" fit on the back- ready for next month:

I cannot tell you how much easier this has made my life. Even when I have to change meals (because it happens) It's super easy to switch the magnets around. 

I made this back in April to prepare for this month, and I have done my grocery shopping for the month (I buy all my meat out of town at Publix and Sams at the beginning of the month). I have so much meat frozen and our fridge is still pretty much stocked.

Like I mentioned earlier I do a huge monthly shopping trip, and then go about once a week (on average) for fresh veggies, milk, fruit, etc. I check the staples list before I go to make sure we have everything. Also if something from the staples list is on sale I stock up (NO MATTER WHAT!). For instance Ragu was on sale (BOGO) the week I went shopping. This is something I KNOW we'll use. So I bought 8 jars (even though I know we won't use 8 jars in a month) since I don't know when it'll go on sale again (I'm guessing between 6-8weeks). 

Our new menu board hangs out on our fridge- held on with an oncommand hook/ribbon. Sometime I just stand and stare at it :) And it's so great to know that regardless how I feel at the end of a 10 hour day, there IS something for dinner. No more groaning "there's nothing to eat"!

P.S. I posted an update to this here. The updated post goes into details about how this works over a month later- and the pros and cons. I'm still really loving this method of meal planning!

Week of April 30-May 4

What a week this was. It flew by (and I know each week will just get faster and faster from now until June).

I haven't posted since Tuesday and it feels like I just posted yesterday. I have been super busy with lots of errands to run each day! I got my hair cut Monday, had a youth dinner at church Wednesday, put together a new train bed for Luke on Thursday, and I have been working on 2 sewing orders! I feel like I literally shut my eyes at night and it is time to hit the ground running again the next day!

School is winding down. I can't believe this year is almost over. (actually I can). But I am so ready for summer. I've found that as a mommy I look less forward to sleeping in and more forward to spending time with my beautiful family. I can't wait to play ALL DAY! (one of the many perks of both of us working in the school system!).

I have had some health related issues that have me down this week. Although I'm not ready to talk about those things, I am in a waiting pattern until AUGUST to be seen by doctors again. It's a wait and see situation, and I'm not a wait and see type person.

Luke's new sayings this week were "make me momma" as I was trying to get him ready for bed one night, and "meeeeee". I would ask "who's getting a bath tonight" and he'd say "meeeeee!" In the past he said "Duke!" (for Luke). I almost think he's starting to realize the whole talking in first person as opposed to third person. I'm looking forward to his school play next week, muffins with mom next week, and his first field trip the next week! Oh my is he really old enough to go on a field trip????


May intentions...

I don't have too much planned this month. I know it's going to be super busy with school wrapping up (can I get an amen and hallelujah??). I tried to set pretty reasonable expectations knowing that days and nights will be hectic.

1. I have a few sewing orders on the books, and after they are finished I am closing up shop for a little bit while my machine gets a little TLC. My goal is to actually get those orders done and get my machine to sewingmachines.com in Altanta to be fixed.

2. Finish our Emergency Kit. I started part 1, and there are a few items I need to add. Hoping to get that done this month.

3. I have some things to put on the wall in our dining room. I'm tired of the same old same old, so I've been collecting some items over the past few months that will be going up ASAP.

4. Vinyl on facebook. Since I will stop sewing for a while, I am going to post some vinyl that I've done.

5. Menu plan. I think I finally found a system that works with couponing, month long planning, and keeping our pantry and fridge stocked. Here's hoping!!


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