I have been basking in a wonderful sense of calm ever since about 7PM on 12/25/2016. I made it through another crazy stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas and I have to say, I really pulled it all off this year. Except for two gifts that Santa misplaced. I’m sure they will turn up at some point. Other than that, we had good food, a not overly decorated house, awesome gifts (including a sewing machine for me!) and happy, happy children. What better way to carry that sense of calm into the new year than by creating a Free Printable 2017 Calendar to keep us all organized next year! And even if I never right a single important date on it, at least it looks adorable!
So clean and graphic, right? I have to say this is one of my proudest projects. It started out not so clean and graphic, but half way through (May, actually), I had an epiphany. I placed those three pink daisies and just loved how simple yet bold it was and went back and redid January – April. I spent the better half of the day working on the whole thing and I accomplished two things. First, I felt like I was *really* doing this, creating. Not just slapping something together, as might happen at times. It sort of felt like I was an honest to goodness blogger for a minute. Secondly, I created each month in Picmonkey and, although I use Picmonkey several times a week, I learned a lot of little tips today that I hadn’t figure out before. Mayhaps a Picmonkey tutorial is in order, hmm?
The best part of this project, you get to enjoy the fruits of my labor! You can click on each of the images below, right click on the image that opens, save it to your desktop and print it to your color printer (I printed my 8×10).
There you have it! I really do hope you print them and enjoy them all year! Happy 2017!
***This post contains affiliate links. If you click one and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.*** I’m a list checker, which in theory should be a benefit when it comes to cleaning the house. Not so. Why? Because cleaning is never “DONE”. I can make a to do list tonight: Laundry, Dishes, Counters, Floors, Beds, Toilets. I can check off all of those things tonight. But, guess what? I have to do them ALL again tomorrow! This drives me absolutely batty. Especially since, often, I have to do the things on the list more than once in a day. That’s just not even fair. The kitty litter boxes have to be cleaned THREE times a day! Our cats don’t even like us that much. Or at all, really. The big one only wants to be fed and left alone and the little one isn’t fooling me. She sleeps with me every night, but it’s not because she’s sweet and loves me. It’s so she can steal my body heat while I’m sleeping. And God forbid I try to move around too much while she’s resting. One false toe wiggle and she will attack with no remorse. I think my frustration with cleaning (and our cats) is coming through loud and clear. I have found one way to trick myself into looking forward to cleaning. Do you want in on this magic? I listen to TED talks while I clean. BRILLIANT! In fact, I think I should do a TED talk on listening to TED talks to make our mind numbing chores bearable. While I’m waiting to hear from the people at TED, I’ll share with you my Top Ten TED Talks so that you can stop hating chores, too.
Before I get to the list, if you are like I was about a year ago and had never heard of TED Talks, you might be thinking, who is this TED guy? He’s not a guy. TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. TED talks are usually 18 minute or less and are motivational, funny, thought provoking or fascinating. Sometimes they are all of those things in one. They are not just audio, but I almost exclusively only listen and don’t look at the video because I am almost always cleaning while listening, so if I were distracted by having to look at the screen, I wouldn’t do much cleaning, right? (There are, however, many talks that are more visual. Someday I’ll make myself sit down and watch those). You can totally pop in your earbuds and listen in peace, however, I tend to play them on our little wireless speaker(I love the wireless speaker we have! It works well and it’s cute. It looks like a camera lens). Fair warning if you do listen to your talks on a wireless speaker, make sure they are appropriate for any small ears that might be hanging around. I’ve found most of them are fine for my kids, but use your judgment.
I think this was the first TED Talk I ever listened to and I’m pretty sure I found it on a playlist of all time greatest TED Talks. If you haven’t stumbled upon this yet, it’s an inspiring listen. Mr. Robinson is funny and thought provoking and will make you want to change the world (or maybe just your child’s school) just a little.
Maysoon Zayid will make you laugh and at the same time make you feel like a jerk for ever complaining about your easy life. This one is inspirational, but not at all in a preachy way. Maysoon comes across as someone you would be best friends with if she lived in your neighborhood.
This one will get you right in the heart strings and it will also make you want to go vote and write to your senator and hug your spouse and your kids and bring your neighbor some brownies. That’s how you change the world, in case you were wondering.
Another great story about human connection and why it is important. Scientifically and quantitatively. This one will make you laugh and also probably want to bring your neighbor brownies.
Ok, so click on through to each of these talks and clean your house top to bottom without losing your sanity. And when you’re done, bake some brownies in your clean kitchen (cause you won’t mind cleaning it again tomorrow) and bring them to your neighbor’s house.
***This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a referral reward if you choose to utilize the ibotta app! The good news is you can get referral bonuses, too!*** Have you seen the promoted pins on Pinterest forIbotta?
I’m usually very savvy and don’t click on the promoted pins. (That’s not true. I’m not savvy at all. I’m a sucker for any type of promotion. Like when I was in my twenties and ACTUALLY responded to one of those faxes that you get at work about a trip to the Bahamas for $99. Who does that? Me. And I even went on the trip). I’m so glad that I did in fact click through to ibotta, though, because it is awesome!
With Ibotta, you earn rebates on all types of products from over 500,000 locations. Products include groceries, cleaning products, over the counter medicines, personal care products, clothing and even alcohol.
To get started, you download their app. It is very user friendly. First you’ll choose a category, like groceries:
Then, choose your favorite store:
Then start browsing through the available rebates:
When you see one you like, you click on it to unlock the rebate. Occasionally there is a one question poll to answer or a very quick video to watch (like seconds, people). I’ve also seen recipes offered with some of the offers, which I think is pretty cool. Here’s an example of what comes up if you wanted to unlock Turtle’s Caramel Clusters:
One quick poll question and you have unlocked the $1.00 rebate. Totally worth that .1 seconds it takes to unlock.
As I was scanning through the available rebates, I was so excited to see products that I already use and rebates for “any brand” of certain items, like bread. There are also rebates on produce and meat. Here’s a peak at some of the rebates I have unlocked at the moment:
One thing to note, if you see a rebate like the one for the pork shoulder and beer above, don’t assume that you have to buy the beer as well as the pork. You don’t. You only have to buy the pork shoulder to get the rebate!
The rebates are updated very often and almost every time I have logged in there have been offers for fresh tomatoes, onions, eggs and bananas. Those are staples in our house and you can choose any type of tomato/onion/egg/banana you like. There also seem to be a lot of healthy brands and gluten free options. Those are usually fairly expensive, so the rebates help!
So, now that you’ve unlocked all of your rebates, it’s time to go shopping! While you are shopping, it is best if you have your ibotta app open so that you can scan the bar codes of the items you plan to purchase as you are putting them into the cart. At first I was scanning the bar codes at home, but I goofed a couple of times and bought the wrong item that wasn’t eligible for the rebate. If you scan while you are in the store, you won’t have to worry about that. Scanning is a breeze. In the app, you will go to your unlocked rebates, select the item you have picked out and click verify purchases, then scan product bar codes. Your phone magically transforms into a bar code scanner and all you have to do is point it at the bar code. It reads the bar codes very easily.
Once you are done shopping, the very last step in the process is to take a picture of your receipt. You do this with the app again and it does take about 30 seconds to figure out what ibotta wants you to take a picture of exactly, but once you have the hang of it, it’s simple.
So far, I’ve used ibotta on two shopping trips. In rebates, I have earned over $9.00 and I also earned a $10.00 reward just for successfully verifying my first purchases!
The second best part of ibotta, coming in a close second to the free money, is that it actually makes food shopping kind of fun! I mostly try to stick to products I always use so that I don’t feel like I’m buying something just to get a rebate, but I have tried a couple of new products and have added them to my list of staples. If I have convinced you to give ibotta a try, then I’d love it if you signed up through my referral link!
My usual first post of the week is a recipe, but I’ve been thinking about switching things up a little bit and making this (usually) Monday (yes, I know it’s Tuesday today) post more about things I’ve tried and liked. It might be a recipe, a new product or a life hack that I’ve unearthed from somewhere in the depths of Pinterest or Stumbleupon or any of my other favorite haunts. So, without further ado, the debut of “I Tried It”. Super catchy title.
This week I tried a recipe that I found while browsing through a link party. The recipe, from Simply Designing with Ashley is for a simple Chocolate Parfait. Click on over to her blog for the full recipe details and check out her pics of the final product, which are way cuter than mine.
My parfait-ing skills are not exactly on point. I wanted to get that cool layered effect where there’s some chocolate and then some Cool Whip and then some more chocolate. Apparently, that takes some type of wizardry. Good news, it doesn’t matter if your Parfait looks perfect, it will still taste awesome. I did tweak the recipe I found just a smidge and added additional Cool Whip to get to a thicker consistency.
Here’s what I love about this dessert. It is VERY chocolatey. It’s that rich, almost mousse like flavor that is super satisfying, but so rich that you can’t eat a ton of it. It is also gluten free, which is always a big plus for me. Note to self, (and to all of you reading this), the Mason jar presentation was a bit of overkill. I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t eat an entire Mason jar of this delicious dessert, but it is definitely better served in a small vessel.
The other thing I tried this week that I am very excited to share with you is a new mopping technique. What’s that you say, you didn’t know there was a mopping technique? Ok, neither did I, so when I came upon this pin from The Creek Line House, I was intrigued. There is a *right* way to mop? You don’t just push some soapy water around on the floor while watching the mop get progressively dirtier as you go?
The correct way to mop your floors is called slop mopping. There are detailed instructions on The Creek Line House for her method, but I did change the method to suit my needs and tools pretty significantly, so I’m going to share my to do here in case it works better for you. PS, I have only tried this on my ceramic tile kitchen and bathroom floors and so I would only recommend for that type of non-porous surface.
Attach a microfiber towel to your Swiffer Sweeper.
Fill your sink or a bucket with hot water, a few squirts of dish soap, about a cup of white vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda. Get it all nice and sudsy.
Dip your microfibered Swiffer into the soapy concoction. Let it drip once or twice and then slosh it on the floor. Right down on the floor. Start with just a small portion, a few tiles at a time. Lightly mop over it a couple of times and then give it a couple of minutes to work it’s magic.
Grab a new, dry microfiber towel and, either on hands and knees, or (as I did) with your foot, start going over the wet area with the dry towel until the water is mostly absorbed.
Dip your mop back into the sink or bucket and lay the water down on your next set of tiles. Now, stop!
While the tiles are still wet, take the microfiber towel you just used to absorb the wet tiles, run it under a faucet and then wring it out really well. I ended up using the bathroom sink for this portion of the business. Lay this towel down somewhere flat to dry just a bit until you are ready to use it again.
Now, back to the tiles you just wet with the mop. Grab another dry microfiber towel and start wiping and absorbing the water. Repeat steps 5&6, alternating between the two microfiber towels you are using to sop up the water on the floors. I know this sounds convoluted, but I found that the towels needed a little more drying time in between absorbing duties and using two and switching off made the difference. Make sure each time you rinse the absorbing cloth you wring it out to within an inch of it’s life and then lay it down flat to dry just a bit.
Depending on the size of and amount filth on your floors, you might want to refill the sink or bucket halfway through. And don’t feel bad, I totally refilled and it’s not because my floors are enormous.
CLEAN YOUR SINK. When you are totally done with the floors, give your sink a good scrubbing with whatever anti-bacterial method you prefer. I love swishing my stainless steel sink with some watered down bleach.
Ok, I know what you are thinking. This is is a ridiculously crazy process. I admit, it is not something that I would do every day, or even once a week, but for like a monthly deep cleaning, it is awesome. It took me thirty minutes to do my kitchen floor and my small half bath on the first floor. Thirty minutes is not a short amount of time, but I was really amazed at how good the floors came out. Amazed enough that I felt I should write all of this down and share it with the world. I honestly have always felt that you got beautiful, clean floors for like, 3 months after they were installed and then they were bound to never look the same again. I was wrong. My floors look squeaky clean and even some of the gunky grout was de-gunked in the process. If I were motivated enough, I would imagine that if I did do this method every week, that even the grout would be back to it’s like new newness.
Ok, so that’s what I tried this week. Now it’s your turn! What new thing did you try this week??
Have you hard about the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? No? Well, grab your coffee and tuck yourself into the couch for a couple of minutes. You’re going to want to hear about this book.
“The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo is another book about organizing. I’ve read a dozen organizing books, which says something about organizing books. If one of them worked, I wouldn’t need to read twelve of them. What makes this book different for me is the “Konmari Method” of keeping only those things that bring you joy and then treating those things reverently. As in, thanking your socks at the end of the day for taking care of your feet. And patting your purse good night before you put it away. It sounds more than a little kooky, I know, but I like the idea of taking a moment to be thankful for the things that support you in your daily activities. It’s changed the way I think about the stuff in my house and has broken down my last resistances to decluttering. Because if I come across a “thing” that I’m not sure about, I have one question to ask myself, “Does it bring me joy?”. And if the answer is no, I can thank that object for having served me in the past and then set it free. It’s a good feeling.
While I have read the entire book, I have not made it through the entire process of decluttering. Kondo has a different approach to decluttering. She basically declutters by categories. First category is Clothing, then books, then papers, then keepsakes and then rest of the miscellany that has amassed in your house. And Kondo is adamant that you go in order. So, rule follower that I am, I started with my clothes. Here’s what I started with:
That’s my pile of clothes before. Yes, I made my daughter stand next to it for perspective. The Konmari Method requires that you remove, in this case, all of your articles of clothing from the closet and put them on the floor (same goes for each category, all books off the shelf, all papers out of the paper hidey holes and onto the floor). This is genius. First, if you are like me you will see the dramatic excess that you own. This pile was really eye opening. I go through my closet often, probably 3-4 times a year. And I STILL had all of this stuff. Taking it out of the closet and onto the floor took away that feeling of “if I get rid of stuff I’ll have nothing left”. Clearly, I had more than enough to spare. Second, plopping everything down on the floor requires that you touch each article of clothing and make a decision on it. Joy, or no joy? And this is where the magic of joy or no joy really comes into play. Most of the stuff that brought me joy was the stuff that I wear regularly, that is comfortable and that looks cute. Fine, easy decision there. But, you know what else got to stay? The navy blue polka dot dress that I wore to my son’s baptism that absolutely does not fit, but that I do LOVE and definitely still brings me joy. It’s still hanging in my closet. And because I got rid of so much stuff that was definitely not joyful, I don’t even feel guilty when I look at it hanging there knowing that I will probably not ever wear it again. I can just smile at it and give it a pat and thank it for the happy memories it gives me.
Here is the pile of clothes after my declutter session:
I think I got rid of more than half of my clothes. That was a few weeks ago and I couldn’t even tell you what went into those black trash bags. I don’t miss a thing. Not a single regret.
Now, the process is time consuming. The clothes decluttering took a few hours. Finding all of the clothes you own is not as easy as you might think. And then touching each piece, tossing things and then finally hanging stuff back up was all kind of exhausting. But my favorite part was the folding. If you get the book for no other reason than to learn the Konmari method for folding, it will be worth it. Check this out:
There are 22 size 12(ish) girls shirts in that drawer. I can see at a glance which shirt is which and they don’t come out of the drawer wrinkled. It has made picking out clothes for my kids a breeze.
I’ve been slowly making my way through the categories and have completed books and I’m working on papers. It’s a tough one, but I will definitely report back when that’s done!
I have a problem. I’ve always been a person who hits the snooze button in the morning. Usually three times a morning. Lately, I’ve been hitting the snooze button and not even waking up to do it. Like, I would wake up and realize it was 27 minutes after the alarm was set for. I didn’t consciously hit the button. It’s kind of a problem when you are responsible for feeding 3 animals and 2 humans AND dressing those two humans and getting them to school.
Once upon a time, a million years ago, I read that you can train yourself to stop the snooze button insanity. It’s sort of derived from the Pavlov’s dog experiments. At least that’s what the article said. I’m not really sure how you make the leap from salivating dogs to not hitting the snooze alarm, but that didn’t stop me from trying the method described in the article.
It is a very simple process. Set aside about 30 minutes of quiet time. Just once. This isn’t something you have to do for several days in a row. I don’t have the time or commitment skills for anything like that. Just thirty minutes one Sunday afternoon. Put on that cartoon you never let your kids watch if you have to. Set your alarm clock for five minutes ahead. Lie down in your bed and close your eyes. Don’t bring your phone. Leave the tv off. You don’t have to fall asleep, but if you do, the alarm will hopefully wake you anyway. When the alarm goes off, stand up, out of the bed and turn the alarm off. Walk away for a second. Walk back to the alarm and set if for another five minutes ahead. Repeat the whole process a total of five times.
I know it sounds ludicrous. I also know that I tried it and it worked. When I woke up this morning, I was sitting up and my feet were hitting the floor before I even reached for the alarm clock.
The funny story and probably further proof that this does work is that when I was doing the practice runs last night and the alarm kept going off, my fat cat would come running in the room and meowing at me. The first time it went off, I thought he was just being annoying, but as the alarm went off 4 more times in 30 minutes and he kept running into the room and meowing at me urgently, I realized that he was responding to the sound of the alarm. The first thing I do in the morning after the alarm goes off is feed the animals. So, he’s clearly programmed to eat when he ears that alarm. And, now I’m programmed to get out of bed when I hear it.
I was going to skip today’s task in the Organized Home in 30 Days challenge. The task was to organize your extra home decor and organizing stuff. I don’t really have a lot of decor stuff that I’m not actually using, so I thought it would be a bore. I told myself to do it for 15 minutes and see where I ended up. Here’s where I ended up after 15 minutes of digging up decor stuff that was stashed randomly through out the house:
I didn’t even make it through the whole house and I found all of that. There is some really awesome stuff in there!
I love these colorful tea light holders. I bought those literally more than a dozen years ago when we bought our first house. I think a couple of them have passed on to the great mosaic of smashed glass in the sky, sadly. The crystal (ish?) ones are cool, too, but I have no idea where those came from.
Uh, hello, 7 vases? Stashed away? Bring me some cut flowers, stat!
This is a stunner. This is my mom’s. She gave it to me. I hope she doesn’t read this and ask for it back. Also, the fabric underneath it is half of a pair of curtains that I forgot I had. I don’t really have a spot for the curtains, but I think for photos like this one it will be a great back drop. If I iron it.
This is two of about 47 frames that I found. I think I put a bunch of frames away at Christmas time and then never took them back out. What? Who does that?
I love these two fabrics. The bottom one is another thing that has been with me since my first home. I see pillows in the future.
There. Three books organized. I don’t have many actual books anymore; I absolutely adore reading electronically. That was a quick post, right?
Oh, what’s that? You’re curious about that Map Accent Wall? Why, I’d love to tell you all about it! It has a great story and it cost $6!
This past summer, during our trip to Lake Winnepesaukee, we went to a yard sale at a Jewish Community Center because my son is obsessed with going shopping for second hand video games and movies. I found this while we were there:
That has nothing to do with the map wall, but I still love it and my husband still hates it so it has been banished to the craft area. I also bought this at the same yard sale:
My first reaction, obviously WALLPAPER!
I went through the book and picked out pages that either meant something to us (our heritages, English, Irish, Scottish, Portuguese and Italian are all represented) or are places we’ve been to (Spain, Bermuda) or that were just pretty or interesting. I love the page of Antarctica and the one in the middleish of North America is so cool. I love the view from that perspective with Russia sort of above North America (yes that’s Russia in white above North America. No, I didn’t believe it either. Unless the map is wrong and maybe that is why it was at the yard sale after all). Once I had picked out all of the pages I wanted, I started sticking them on the wall with push pins (which were $5 of the $6 budget). I completely just eyeballed it, no levels or planning ahead. I just stuck one up, stepped back and looked at the wall and decided what went where next. Actually, I think that is my super power. Being able to eyeball for level.
When I thought I was done, I sat back and realized there was one spot (far left near the light switch) that was bugging me. I didn’t want to put a whole page there because I felt it would throw off the balance, but it was a little empty. I went back to the Atlas and tried to find another page to put up. And then, I found this:
And that just grabbed my little heart strings and tugged right on them. I HAD to include that in the wall. I wondered where Michael was and if he had traveled the world. And I thought of how neat Grandma Jan’s handwriting was. Then I thought, why did Michael dump this at the yard sale to be sold for $1 to a DIYer who would then rip it apart and blog about it? What an ungrateful little you-know-what! Grandma Jan and Grandpa Bob, I hope you know that your gift found a good home and I hope you don’t mind that I have plastered the Atlas all over my walls and am now sharing it with the world via the world wide web.