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Projects of late

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Painted front steps last July

 

Just thought I’d make a quick post of what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks.  Of course, physical therapy remains part of our regular routine, so we work our lives around it.  The kids and I continue to go three days a week.  We definitely can see progress as it’s been five weeks now since our auto accident.  But, we’re looking forward with great anticipation to the day when we can say we are without pain!  And, so, we press on …

And now to the projects …

Our house was built in 1977, thus projects abound!  So much of our house has received cosmetic updates, however I think with an older house, projects will continue until kingdom come!

We renovated the kitchen last month and are still waiting for one last cabinet to be installed above the refrigerator.  They ordered the wrong size initially, so once that’s done, the installation will be complete.  We plan on painting at some point down the road when our shoulders and backs no longer hurt.  We want to paint a taupe color.  The sickly salmon color that adorns the walls now is awful.

In the spring, we replaced 3 of the 4 – 1977 colored toilets.  Who knew such a menial update could mean so much?!

Last week our A/C decided to flare up and had to have some maintenance and repairs done.  Thankfully, it wasn’t huge.

Over the weekend, my dear husband scraped up all the old caulk in the upstairs master bath and applied fresh caulk.  What a transformation!  Why is it that we delay such routine tasks?  I don’t know, but I like the finished product!  He also fixed my daughter’s closet door knob, which has been broken for nearly four years!  He fixed my son’s closet door knobs last month.  It’s the little things in life that mean so much!  I cannot stand things that don’t function properly, so these little things are significant!!

Dear husband and I made a “Projects To Do List” over the weekend and we plan to divide and conquer.  Some of the smaller tasks, the kids and I can handle; whereas some things only my husband can do … Such as: re-grout our bathroom tile, caulk the crown molding and repair the porch door screen.

The kids and I cleaned up the back porch and replaced the pillows (we’d stored away until post-pollen season) on the wicker furniture.  We’ve enjoyed eating dinner out there the last two nights under the ceiling fans.  Very peaceful.

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Back porch – I’ve updated pillows since this pic but you get the idea.

 

Yesterday the kids and I organized the garage!  Whew, what a lot of work!  How I thank God for the kids’ help and, in particular, my son’s strong muscles and height to lift things and reach the high shelves! (My right elbow is still hurting so that limits my movement, which is challenging because I want to do so much!)  We loaded up donations for the Salvation Army, donations for a family of eight and filled a large trash can!  After playing Tetris with boxes and the garage shelves, my son used the blower to clean out the garage floor.  I watched this YouTube video on applying an epoxy coating to the garage floor and was so tempted to do that here!  Dear husband and I have talked about it in years’ past, but one day we might just do it …  It would be so much easier to keep clean, thus minimizing dirt and dust getting tracked in the house.  There are definite benefits.  That’s one idea for the back burner…

We have this huge outdoor Rubbermaid bin that was completely filled with balls of every sport, most of which the kids no longer play with.  So, we filled a large black trash bag last Friday with an assortment of balls and outdoor toys and donated to another large family we’re good friends with.  Their kids were overjoyed!  That makes cleaning up so worth it right there!  My son even gave them a couple Nerf dart guns he doesn’t need.  Happiness all around!

While Operation Organize Garage is complete for now, there is further room for improvement.  Phase II will be in progress soon…

Today’s mission is to spray weed killer and power wash the front porch and brick paver sidewalk.  The back patio will be for another day.  I painted the front steps last July so I think power washing them will brighten them up a bit.  They were a drab color before we moved in and I painted them a taupe color, which looks really nice.  The two pots of red geraniums on either side of the front steps are thriving nicely.  They must be hearty!  I haven’t killed them yet!  😉

Does anyone else have four, large artificial trees in their home?  We have three Ficus and one banana tree!  That’s a lot to contend with!  They’re spread out in different rooms but dusting them seems to be a task I’d rather postpone.  That’s one of our next projects…to take them outside and dust thoroughly!  Dusting the blinds in each room is also on our list… Oh, how I do not like to dust!  Haha!  Divide and conquer …

Speaking of which, I better get to conquering!

 

Past projects:

 

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Painted 2 sets of back steps last July

 

And, to see the before and after pictures of our recent kitchen renovation, check them out here:

 

https://englishrose2014.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/our-kitchen-remodeling/

 

 

 

 

 

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Buried Treasure

We’ve been looking for a few things since we returned from our big trip visiting our older son almost three weeks ago (and recovering from our accident).  I knew we’d eventually find them, but today was a true red letter day as I found all three!  Yay!

Because I’m so ridiculously Type A, I write out a “To do” list every day generally.  Well, post-accident I get tired really easily and am combating pain, so I have to take it easy (which is so hard!); and most days I feel like I’m merely chasing my tail as my to-do list spills over to the following day.  But, today I accomplished one task anyway!  I organized our master closet.  It wasn’t horrible; it just felt that way.  Out of control.  In the process of corraling the dirty laundry, winter clothes, shoes, etc., I found the three items we’d been searching for!  A postcard from our trip that we bought for our neighbor; my husband’s dearly loved flip flops; and my elbow brace.

When you find something that’s been missing for a while, somehow it validates one’s mental capabilities.  It does for me anyway.  It reaffirms the truth I cling to:  I am not going bonkers!  Trying to keep up with everyone’s “stuff” can be a mother’s greatest challenge and particularly when you’re busy!  You know, the unspoken assumption is that mothers know where everything is in a household at any given point in time.  I’m not sure how we got burdened with such a thing, but it’s true.  Whenever anyone is missing something, they turn to me for answers. (Whhhyyy?)  🙂

After sifting and sorting through our closet, I began to fill a bag of donations for the Salvation Army once more.  We’re always purging it seems, so it’s pretty amazing that we still have more to part with.  It really should be the standing rule that if I buy three new shirts, I part with three.  Things have a way of sneaking into our house and somehow it’s easier to bring things in than carry them out!  Why is that?  We like to amass stuff, but we’re far more hesitant to part with it.  The thing is holding onto things that are unnecessary only leads to more clutter and disorganization.

Another area I will be conquering soon is boxing up last school year’s books and papers.  As a longtime homeschooler, we can quickly clutter up a space with all of our textbooks, teaching aids, educational DVD’s, notebooks, pencils, highlighters, etc.  I have to remind my Type A self that educational clutter (within reason) is OKAY and is a sign of good things happening around here!!  Haha!  As my kids are getting older, I bear in mind that it won’t be this way too much longer, so enjoy the ride!  😉  That said, we do have a designated area for school stuff, even though they may not always land there.

The kids have unpacked their suitcases and their rooms are actually tidy (as of this writing anyway!).  Haha.  They are teenagers, afterall.  My daughter showed me how she’d organized her dresser drawers so nicely the other day and I thought someone else’s daughter was speaking to me, for sure!  My daughter?  Wow.  She must be growing up!  😉  She did a super fantastic job and is learning how nice proper organization is.  She can actually find things now instead of digging through piles of clothes on the floor!  And, as for my son… Well, a little parental bribery works like a charm!  If he wants time on his tablet, he has to take care of his chores and clean his room.  Once it’s been inspected, he can have the tablet.  It’s a wonderful motivator!  And he even takes care of most of his laundry himself.  My daughter has been doing her own laundry for several years now, which is very helpful.  I think I’m working myself right out of a job … But, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?  😉

And, so, here’s to optimal organization on an ongoing basis!  Have a blessed day!  🙂

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Sewing/Craft Room Thrifty Organization

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Today I decided to sort through some books in my sewing/craft room and tidy up the bookshelves some.  My fabric and craft supplies were already in bins, baskets and boxes, but I fine tuned it a bit.  I wanted to post a picture to illustrate how I used three cardboard boxes on the bookshelves as a thrifty container for my fabric.  Can you pick them out?

Each one is covered with a different material ironically.  (Hadn’t thought of that until just now.)  The red box is covered in fabric with a polka dot ribbon around the top.  The black and white print is contact paper I purchased at the Dollar Tree a while back, and the box directly under that is actually covered with scrapbook paper.  Most of the smaller baskets were purchased at a thrift store last year.  And the three clear Sterilite bins were purchased from Walmart a while back.  All in all, the cost for organizing my fabric and crafts was fairly minimal.  I’m 100% for re-purposing boxes or other containers.  Why pay so much for plastic bins if you don’t have to?

I purchased ten pint size Mason jars (that I just love!) at the thrift store last year as well for $3.43.  Not too shabby.  If you’ll notice in the above picture, I use them to hold a variety of supplies: Sharpies, pencils, scissors, stick glue, twine, etc.  And, I just love the novelty of Mason jars, so they make me happy just seeing them on the shelves.  🙂

My younger two children are 14 (soon to be 15) and 16 years old.  As I was sorting books today, it was amazing there were so many they’ve outgrown.  Many were already packed away, but a few stragglers remained, like: a paper airplane how-to book and a couple Klutz travel book/craft kits.  It reminded me that you blink and the kids have graduated to another phase!  I filled a bag to give to a new friend of ours with younger children.  She’ll appreciate that.

I can probably thank all that iced tea I drank, (and it’s only half caff) but I also cut out a baby quilt and batting while I was upstairs this afternoon.  🙂  So, it’s all pinned and ready to be sewn.  Productive day indeed.

It is my hope that this post may spark some ideas if you have a craft or hobby.  Rethink that cardboard box or Folgers coffee container the next time you’re ready to toss it.  It just may be what you need to corral your supplies.  Incidentally, coffee containers can be very useful to hold nails, bolts, etc.  My daughter just purchased 250 plastic snaps and my first thought after admiring the pastel colors was…Where are we going to store all these little bits?  Fortunately, I had a Tupperware craft container on hand and gave that to her.  Anyone remember those little blue oblong plastic boxes with the tray insert?  They’re perfect for tiny things.  I got that at the thrift store too several years ago for $1.50.

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Clothing and shoe closet hangers can be especially useful for storing fabric, yarn and just about anything.  I can see the fabric and batting I have at a glance, so it’s pretty handy.  We’ve had these hangers for almost a decade and they weren’t being used, so I snagged them for my craft closet.  Zero extra cost to me.  Take a look around your home.  Chances are you have a box, basket or bin on hand that you could use in another area.  If not, check out the thrift or dollar stores nearby.  A dollar here and a dollar there add up over time!  Here’s to thrifty household organization!

*Bonus:  One of the awesome perks of cleaning out closets is that you may just find something you’ve been searching for!  Today I solved a mystery that has perplexed me since before last Thanksgiving!  I found the lighted garland and garland ties nestled so very nicely inside a Target bag at the back of a shelf in the closet.  I searched high and low for them last year and gave up for the moment.  So, friends, a four month old mystery has been solved!  Whew, now I can sleep at night!  Maybe you’ll find something that’s been missing too!  🙂

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Purging is Therapy for the Soul

tigers

I am a happy camper today!  We visited a new friend, who is expecting her sixth child in a few weeks, and gave several bags of clothes and miscellaneous household items to her.  We had such a nice visit over a cup of hot mint tea.  Perfect remedy for a cold, rainy day! For the first part of our visit, her kids were watching a movie.  Then, one by one, they each came out and I got to meet them.  Precious.  I asked my new friend if they would like a keyboard we have, along with the stand and bench; so she said they would.  I’ll drop that off to her next week.  I’m just so happy to give it to someone who I know can get a lot of use out of it.  It’s been collecting dust in my sewing room, so I’m excited about clearing some space!

Speaking of things taking up space…My husband loves to play theme park games, and over the years, we’ve brought home an assortment of large (super size!) stuffed animals.  He plays those impossible games like basketball and tossing the ring over the milk jugs… and he actually WINS!  He is very methodical about it and has a steady hand.  Some people have all the talent! Anyway, I digress…

Most recently, we had two mondo tigers, who really needed to find a good home.  Last fall, I gave one to another friend, who happens to also have six kids.  (Do you see a trend here?  haha … Those homeschooling families!)  Anyway, her little five year old just loved that tiger!  That made my heart happy to see because it was just sitting in a closet.  Well, the tiger’s brother was up for adoption last month, and I offered it to the same friend for her three year old daughter.  I was so glad she accepted because it freed up some mental space for me!  (Now, selling the “adoption” to my husband was a different story altogether…)  We’d had those tigers for at least seven years; it was time for them to move on!  Sometimes ya just got to let go! (pardon my vernacular)

Recently, our church asked for sheets for a local homeless shelter; and we came up with two kitchen trash bags full!  I used to shop quite a bit at thrift stores and had stocked up on a bunch.  We still have plenty, though.  I was just glad to get rid of those extras!

I’m anxious for spring so we can regain control of our garage!  It’s been so brutally cold that we zip in and out, and that’s it.  No dilly dallying!  Last year we made great headway in the garage.  We sold a foosball table and donated an extra riding lawn mower, so that freed up a lot of space.

I recently sorted through all the toiletry items stored under the bathroom sink.  How quickly things accumulate!  I didn’t think it’d been that long since I last went through everything.  Life gets busy and you blink, and it’s been six months or more.  Anyway, I set a few things aside to put in the bag for my new friend today.  (some hand sanitizer, lotion, shampoo, etc.)  I had a bunch of Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner (travel size) bottles from last summer, so I put those in the bag too.  I figured even if she didn’t want them, one of her daughters would think they’re neat.

Why do we hold onto so many things?  I try to be so frugal in a variety of ways, but sometimes it’s just time to let it go!  I guess I’m in a real “deep clean/purge” mood lately.  It just makes me happy to know someone else can use whatever it is that’s just sitting around taking up space in my house.  It might as well be put to good use.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

When I was younger, I think we were more in the “amassing stuff” stage.  We need stuff.  We need lots of stuff.  The more stuff we have the better.

Now, we’re in our 40’s and I’m thinking we need far less stuff than we previously thought.  Less = more.  My motto for 2014 is: Simplify.

I need less to think about.  Less to maintain.  Less, please.

I’d like to focus on what’s important: God, my family, church, etc. … and less junk.  Fewer distractions.  More happiness.

For me, less to maintain means more time I can devote to quilting!  🙂

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For you, it might be tinkering in the garage, reading, fishing or cooking.  You fill in the blank.

Next week, I plan on making yet another drop off at the Salvation Army while I’m out taking my Dad to the cardiologist.  I think of it every time I take him to the Dr… ‘I should’ve brought the donation bags’.  It’s on the same street as his Dr.  No need to make an extra trip and waste gas.  *Makes mental note to put donation bag in SUV.*

Some people suggest making a “Half way home” for items you’re not sure you should part with.  Give it six months or even a year and if you haven’t missed it, go ahead and give it away.  I thought that was interesting.  I don’t feel like I need to do that personally, but it might work for some.

Giving really does make the heart happy!

Most of us have too much “stuff”.  Why not find a good home for things that have overstayed their visit?  🙂

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February Purging

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It’s that inspiring time of year to clear out the old to make room for the new!  … Or to simply make space and enjoy less!

We’ve been cleaning out our closets once again, and have come up with three bags to donate, so far.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of giving to those I personally know, however, if I don’t have someone in mind for our discards, my favorite charity is The Salvation Army.  I love their mission statement:

“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission
is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

http://salvationarmyusa.org/usn/

My kids are growing up…the youngest will be 15 this summer!  Unreal.  As children mature, they not only outgrow clothing, but also board games, toys, etc.  Last year, we donated a number of board games to a group of teachers, who meet for a monthly “fun night”.  They really appreciated them, and we were glad to make more space in the closet.

My daughter has been purging her closet and discovering a number of items she no longer wears and a lot of socks she didn’t know she still had!  This means she has recently returned all the pairs she’s borrowed from me!  Thank you, dear!  Mom now has socks.  🙂

We recently had to clear everything out of our coat closet for a little project my husband was working on.  That meant all the coats landed on the couch, the bin of hats & gloves were removed from the shelf, and everything (finally) got picked up off the closet floor! (Isn’t it interesting how such miscellaneous things find their home on closet floors?!)  This was a purging opportunity waiting to happen, friends.  While we didn’t have any coats to part with (as we’ve previously given some to friends), we came up with five extra pairs of gloves and three scarves to donate.  No worries, we still have plenty of winter garb!

From time to time, sorting through kitchen cabinets, linen closets or craft rooms can also turn up possible items for donation.  Maybe you have some books that are no longer of interest?  Perhaps some clothing hanging in your closet is collecting dust?  Maybe you still have your teenage daughter’s Easy Bake Oven, Little Tykes Kitchen Set, dolls, and every toy she ever played with?  (I’m thinking of someone I know right now…)  Haha!  Memories are great, especially if space allows; but sometimes it becomes too much to hold onto.

 Most of us have quite a surplus, so why not get rid of a few things this month?  Consider it your Valentine’s Day gift to a charity.  🙂  They’ll thank you for it, and the tax benefit is an added bonus.

As previously mentioned, I receive great joy from giving!  Another tangible consequence of purging is it helps to simplify our lives and clear our minds.  Let’s face it, life is complicated enough.  Why not pare down some to make your life easier to manage?  It sure sounds like a plan to me!  🙂  What say you?  What have you organized lately?

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”  ~ Luke 6:38 MSG

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