Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010

I think this was the busiest Christmas yet, but it was a very special one as it was Jack's first!

3 separate family Christmas celebrations in one week's time + a brunch at my parent's house the morning after Christmas + the usual hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holiday + caring for a baby = one tired momma!  (And daddy too!)

I love holidays and I hope to establish fun traditions that will make Adult Jack look back on his childhood Christmases fondly as I do mine. 

Being that Jack was days away from being 10-months-old on Christmas morning we really didn't expect that he would know what was going on or care, but we were pleasantly surprised by his obvious excitement!  He had so much fun opening his gifts and playing with his new toys.

The Monday before Christmas we went to see Wildlights at the zoo.  Probably more for my enjoyment than Jack's or Mark's, but it was a fun trip.  We bundled up to stay warm and only stayed for an hour or so.

Before Christmas, I was busy working on stockings for the family.  Since we needed to add on to our collection this year anyway I decided to make us all new ones. 

I think they turned out pretty cute despite some trouble with my stocking.  Originally, I was planning to make a red stocking with white snowflakes.  Against my better judgement I only purchased one skein of the red yarn I needed and a week before Christmas when I ran out I couldn't find anymore despite visiting several stores.  So... I had to frog all my work (3/4 of the stocking!) and start over with a new idea.  I settled on the stripes which turned out pretty cute and a Christmas tree instead of snowflakes.  Next year I'll add some embellishments to the tree. 

And this year's special ornament is a very special one made with Jack's handprint!

I made it with salt dough (recipe below) and I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I'm sure this will be an ornament that we cherish forever.

2010 was a great year for us and I can't wait to see what 2011 will bring! 

Happy New Year everyone!   

Salt Dough Ornaments

1-cup AP Flour
1/2-cup Table Salt
1/2-cup Water

Mix ingredients together then turn out onto the counter and knead until fully combined. 

Roll out to desired thickness and cut with cookie cutters or make handprints. 

Use a toothpick or straw to make a hole at the top (to add yarn or ribbon to hang). 

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 250-degree oven for 2-8 hours (depending on size and thickness of ornaments, it took me 8 hours) until dough is completely dried out.  

Once ornaments are dried they can be painted with watercolor or acrylic paint, or decorated with glitter and glue, if desired. 

String with yarn or ribbon and hang on a Christmas tree or add to a gift as a fun embellishment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tidy Home Tuesday: Week 5 - The Office/Spare Bedroom

Sorry, I kind of disappeared on this challenge! 

A few things happened... 

1) I have a small house, and I've noticed that it's much harder to find time to dig in to cleaning and organizing as I move closer to Jack's bedroom.  Because I'm left with rooms that are adjacent to his, I can't really clean during his naps for fear of waking him and of course setting aside enough time to clean a whole room while he's awake isn't very easy.  So I had to find time while Mark was home. 

2) The holidays snuck up on me and I found that it's much harder to get everything ready for Christmas when you're also tending to a baby! 

And 3) I didn't realize anyone was following along with me until they said something about it because no one was commenting ::side eye:: 

Moral of the story is, I'm hoping to get back on track now and finish up this challenge! 

This week's assignment is the Spare Bedroom. 

We happen to have ours set up as an Office/Dog Room/Place-to-throw-everything-we-don't-know-where-else-to-put.  If you're anything like me this room is probably filled with clutter and things that need organized and purged.  And, again if you're like me, you've been putting it off and ignoring the clutter. 

Let's get started. 

Here's before: 


Step 1:  De-clutter!

I don't even really have general guidlines for this... because I wasn't sure where to start for myself.  I just found a place adjacent to the only floor space still showing and started sorting things into piles: donations, trash, recycling, things that needed to be moved to the garage for storage (then it becomes Mark's problem!  Muahahaa!), etc.  Then, rehome things accordingly. 

We have a lot of different things in this room: books, mail stuff (envelopes and that sort of thing), office items (documents, paper shredder, supplies), and tons of craft things (paper cutters, art supplies, scrapbook paper, fabric, sewing supplies, yarn, etc. - and there's A LOT of  "et cetera"!).  Although I wasn't sure what exactly to do with it all, I just kind of grouped everything together as best I could and found a bin or drawer for it to call its own. 

Those two short paragraphs really don't describe the amount of time I spent in this room, but we'll move on. 

Step 2: Clean!

There wasn't a ton of cleaning to be done in here for me, but I did dust and vacuum, both of which desperately needed to be done.  If you have your spare bedroom set up as a guest room with a bed, now might be a good time to strip the bed and wash the sheets, which may have been sitting for a while. 

And after:

I still have to move out the bassinet that's sitting under the window.  That will go back into storage in my parent's basement and we're planning to put a toybox in that space to hold all of the toys that Jack got for Christmas!  Because... we don't have anywhere else to put them right now. 

And the big box in the corner of the last picture is holding a surround sound system, which has yet to be installed.  We need to do that so we can get that box out of there! 

But, things are looking so much better and hey!  There's a floor!

My goals for keeping the office clean:

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Task:  Don't dump stuff in there and put things back where they belong!  Seems like an easy task, but somehow this room always gets messed up again.  ::blushes::  I swear, if you dump just a few things in there they mate and you come back to a room out of control with clutter babies! 

Alright, let's see your spare bedrooms!

You have until next Tuesday, January 4th to complete the assignment and blog about it (feel free to right click and save my "Tidy Home Tuesday" graphic to use in your post!).  Come back to this post and link up to your post.  If you don't have a blog just leave a message in the comments about your progress!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 26th

I took an impromptu bloggy break last week as things got a little crazy with the holidays.  It is a lot more tiring now that we have to do all the usual Christmas preparations plus tend to a (near) 10-month-old!  Today, I will resume Menu Plan Monday and I'll get some pictures from Jack's very first Christmas posted very soon!

Let's try this again since I had my dates wrong! 

Sunday:  BW3-inspired Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps with Ranch Wedges

Monday:  Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Paninis

Tuesday:  Sloppy Joses with Elly's World Famous Black Beans

Wednesday:  Crunchy Honey Chicken with Brown Rice

Thursday:  BBQ Chicken Meatballs (from freezer) with Ranch Mac & Cheese and Steamed Green Beans

Friday:  New Year's Eve - not sure what I'm making yet, but I'm sure it'll be snacky things we can graze on all night!

Saturday:  Corned Beef and Cabbage

I'm linked over at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Extended Rear-Facing

Extended Rear-Facing (ERF) is the act of keeping your child rear-facing in their car seat for as long as possible.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until at least 1 year of age and 20lbs.  If you ask most parents, this is the recognized threshold for when to turn your child around into a forward-facing position. 

Some parents turn the seat at this age because they think...

...that's when it should be done (that is the generally recommended guideline, after all).

...the child is no longer safe because their feet or legs are touching the back of the seat.'s easier to keep an eye on their child when they're facing forward.

...that their child is bored staring at the back of a seat while in the car.

...that their child is uncomfortable because their feet or legs are touching the back of the seat.

The truth is, rear-facing in a vehicle is the safest place for a child so it's beneficial to keep a child rear-facing for as long as possible. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.  There is no general rule for when to turn your child, but rather it depends on the model of car seat that you have. 

Convertible car seats vary in price, but most are safe for rear facing up to 35 pounds.  Some even go up to 45 lbs.  On average, a child will not reach 35 lbs until they are 3 to 4 years of age.  Check your car seat's guidelines for the specifics of your model's weight and height limits.

Why should you choose extended rear-facing for your child?

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children under 14 years of age.  {source}

Rear-facing is safer in the event of a frontal or frontal-offset impact car crash.  According to Crashtest.Com, frontal and frontal-offset crashes combine for about 72% of severe crashes.  Side impacts are about 24%.  Rear and rear offset crashes only account for about 4%.  The odds of being in a frontal crash with a fatality or very serious injury are many times greater than being in a severe rear-end crash. {source}

Because of this, being in the proper position in the event of a frontal impact crash is of the utmost importance.  When a child is rear-facing in a car seat, the force of a frontal collision is spread throughout the child's body while it is cradled by the car seat, which protects the child's body, neck, head and organs and very importantly keeps the child's head from being snapped forward. 

A child's body is underdeveloped when compared with an adult's.  Their spinal column is comprised of both cartilage and bone making it more flexible than an adult's.  If a child's head is snapped forward in a collision it is much too easy for them to sustain spinal column injuries, which can leave them paralyzed or dead. 

Flexibility also allows for children to be more comfortable in a rear-facing position than many adults perceive.  Children can sit with their legs crossed in a car seat and still remain comfortable and safe.  There has been no research which shows that it's no longer safe to rear-face because a child's feet or legs can touch the back of a seat.  Car seat safety isn't about the position of a child's legs, it's about protecting their body, organs, head, and neck from trauma in the event of a car accident. 

Research from the AAP finds that children are up to 5 times safer when rear-facing in a car.  Data show that it is particularly important to keep children rear-facing between the ages of 1 and 2 years of age. 

In Scandinavian countries, children are often kept rear-facing much longer than in Europe or North America, even to 3 or 4 years old while ERF here is considered to be around 2 years of age.   Because of this, auto-related injury and death rates for rear-facing children in countries like Sweden are near zero. {source}

If you still need additional convincing that extended rear-facing is the best choice for your child, YouTube has numerous heart-wrenching videos regarding the importance of car seat safety both from a research standpoint and from the urging of families which have lost children or whose children have sustained life changing injuries because of car accidents. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 12th

Sunday:  Coney Dogs (CrockPot) with Tater Tots - didn't get to this last week because we ended up eating at a gathering!

Monday:  Loaded Potato Soup

Tuesday:  Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts with Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Baked Potato Bar - Baked Potatoes, leftover Coney Sauce, Cheese, Sour Cream with Veggie

Thursday:  Asian Chicken over Sesame Noodles with Veggies

Friday:  OUT

Saturday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza - This was on the menu for last week, but we didn't end up eating it because I made a white pizza with leftover alfredo sauce instead.  I promised Mark we'd have it this week!

I'm linked over at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tidy Home Tuesday - The Bathroom

This week's assignment is The Bathroom. 

We only have one bathroom, and aside from being our only it's also tiny (and ugly, but that's a separate issue), so every inch of it gets used.  A lot.  Because it's used a lot it gets dirty fast.  Just like everything else around here, it's well past due for a deep cleaning so let's dig in. 

Here's a before:

Step 1:  De-clutter

Thankfully there's not a lot of extra stuff hanging around in this room, but I did take a few minutes to throw out any empty bottles that I leave hanging around much too long in the tub, empty toilet paper rolls that needed to be recycled and that sort of thing.  I also had to remove the random caulk-gun that's been sitting in our bathroom for several weeks from the toilet repair project my husband did at least a month ago.  You may also want to go through your drawers and cabinets to purge any outdated makeup, moisturizers, and other items. 

Step 2:  Clean

Wipedown countertops, faucet, sink, the mirror, cabinet doors, the entire outside of the toilet as well as the top and bottom of the lid and seat.

Clean the inside of the toilet with appropriate products.

If you have a window, clean that too.

Wipedown and scrub the tub and shower stall.  Now is also a good time to change out that gross shower curtain liner for a fresh one.  We're currently using the cheap plastic kind, but I think we're going to invest in a washable one soon. 

Wash shower curtain, towels, and rugs. 

Dry sweep and mop the floor.

And although it doesn't look much different in the picture, here's after:

I'm going to be honest here.  I hateHATE cleaning the bathroom.  It's the stupidest thing, but it really skeeves me out.  I feel like there are germs all over the place and that they get on me and I'm not cleaning anything, but actually just spreading the germs around.  I know it's irrational, but that's my bathroom cleaning confession. 

Because of this, my husband has always taken responsibility for the bathroom and I think I'm just going to have to keep relying on him for this one.  I'm going to try to nag encourage him to do it on a more regular basis and I'll help out by doing the in-between-cleans maintance.  Thanks in advance for keeping on top of it, honey!

My goals for keeping up with the bathroom: 

Daily Task:  Spray the shower down with a no-scrub spray to help keep it clean.  I'm planning to use the following recipe:

1/2 cup Hydrogen-Peroxide
1/2 cup Rubbing Alcohol
6 drops Liquid Dish Soap
2 teaspoons Liquid Spot-Free Dishwasher Rinse-Aid
24 oz. Water

Mix in a spray bottle and spritz around shower stall after every shower.  {source}

Here are a few other options.

Weekly Task:  Wipedown counter, sink, and faucet.

Bi-Weekly Task:  Clean toilet (inside), floor, and wash rugs.

Monthly Task:  Deep Clean - hubby's job :)

Alright, let's see your bathroom(s)!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 5th

Sunday:  French Onion Soup

Monday:  Fettucini Alfredo with Veggie

Tuesday:  Mom's Night Out!

Wednesday:  Chicken 'n Dumplings over Mashed Potatoes with Steamed Carrots

Thursday:  Meatball Subs with Veggie

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Coney Dogs (CrockPot) with Tater Tots

I'm linked at 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tidy Home Tuesday... err Wednesday: Week 3 - Organization

This week I have something different to share.

We're kind of off schedule around here between the holiday weekend where we had places to go and people to see and food to eat, as well as Mark being home with us for 4 days, and this week we are busy with playdates and such.  Because of this, I'm going to slack on my cleaning (obviously I'm slacking because I didn't even post Tidy Home Tuesday until Wednesday!) and instead focus on organization. 

I decided that the best way for me to stay on top of the "extra" chores that I want to do after I get done with the daily things is to map it out on a calendar.  Here is what I came up with for me:

{Click Image to Enlarge}

 I also have a blank version that you can download {HERE} to fill in with the tasks that you need to complete in your household.

I'm planning to slide this into a plastic sleeve and then write in the dates over top of the chart so that I can easily find the corresponding day.  So, today is Wednesday, December 1st (December?!  Yikes!) and I can see that I have to dry sweep the kitchen at some point today.  Does that make sense?  I hope so. 

So, this is my plan to get my household tasks organized so that I know exactly what I need to get done each day in order to keep up with my goals.  I hope this is also helpful to someone else!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The War on Christmas?

Let's talk about the War on Thanksgiving! 

We hear a lot in the media about the "War on Christmas".  I read an article the other morning (No Truce in 'War on Christmas') and rolled my eyes through the whole thing. 

It offends me that people are offended because store clerks are encouraged to wish shoppers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".  Really?  That's what we're concerned about nowadays.  How store employees send us on our way after we spend too much money on material goods that no one really needs. 

I'm so glad we have our priorities straight because I'm sure that God and Little Baby Jesus would certainly be offended that we as a society are trying to be more contentious of including ALL people, religions, and beliefs.  But no, those who celebrate Christmas should be the ones readily recognized for their public service of spending money this holiday season. 

Because after all, that's what Christmas is about and somehow the lack of wishing shoppers a "Merry Christmas" is a personal affront on Christ.  Come on people.  I'll end my rant about the "War on Christmas" here, although I could certainly go on. 

What I'm MORE offended by is not being wished a "Happy Holidays" this season, but the fact that Christmas is starting to encroach on my very favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. 

Consumers are being bullied into making holiday purchases earlier and earlier as stores are bringing out their Christmas displays in late September and early October and carols are being broadcasted throughout stores from November 1st on through December. 

Thanksgiving is a separate holiday that isn't celebrated with presents under a tree and perhaps that makes it a little less popular.  It's about food, and family, and thinking about the things we are lucky to have.  It's a day to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy some good food with family and friends. 

I not only enjoy the holiday for those reasons, but I also respect it because it is probably the least commercial holiday of the year.  I enjoy showing up at someone's house with some good food in hand and that being my only contribution.  There's no stress of trying to figure out what you're going to buy the person that already has everything or where you're going to get the money to spend on gifts for everyone on your list.  It's just a nice day with good food.  I like days like that. 

Thanksgiving is slowly being forced out of the picture by Christmas, stealth-bombed by garish lights, hi-jacked by carols booming out of store speakers, and accosted by giant inflatable lawn ornaments of Santa on a Harley in his boxer shorts.  All in the name of being good consumers and spending even more money on even more unnecessary items all in the name of a holiday that has to be bigger and better and more grand every year.  Of course it's not about consumerism, but about celebrating Jesus's birthday. 

Although I don't generally like to admit it, I can't control the world around me, but as for my household we will not be celebrating Christmas before its time.  There will be no holiday music coming from our speakers.  No lights on our house.  No tree to trim in front of our window.  At least not until after Thanksgiving and probably not until this weekend. 

I enjoy celebrating one holiday at a time and for me, November is for Thanksgiving.  Once December hits, I'll gladly switch over to Christmas mode.

Note:  Tidy Home Tuesday will probably be Tidy Home Wednesday this week as it's been a busy one and I haven't had time to get much cleaning done around the house other than the necessities. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 28th

Sunday:  Clam Chowdah with Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Monday:  Taco Braid with Corn (didn't get to this last week)

Tuesday:  Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Carrots

Wednesday:   Beef Stroganoff (CrockPot) over Egg Noodles with Green Beans

Thursday:  Cheese Enchiladas with Mole Sauce with Refried Beans and Mexican Rice

Friday:  BW3-inspired Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps (served on Soft Wrap Bread) with Ranch Potato Wedges

Saturday:  OUT

I'm linked at

Friday, November 26, 2010

8 Months!

This boy is growing up much too quickly for my liking.

Admittedly, I haven't been taking as many pictures of him as I used to.  This is because when I pull out the camera usually one of two things happen.  Either he freezes and stops whatever he's doing to look at me quizzically with the very same look on his face (always) just staring and trying to figure out what I'm doing with this fun looking thing in my hand. 

It looks kind of like this:

Although any face he makes is, of course, adorable I can only take the very same picture so many times, ya know?

If it's not the blank, quizzical stare, the other thing that happens is he does the complete opposite and totally ignores me.  Continuing to play or flail around as usual.

Again, anything he does is cute, but I can only have so many pics of him avoiding the camera! 

So what is this 8-month (nearly 9-month!) -old boy up to? 

It has been quite a productive month for Jack!  He's finally able to roll from his back to his tummy.  He has been rolling from tummy to back for quite a while, but before now he hasn't really shown much interest in being on his tummy unless we place him there.  Now, he seems to be getting interested in being on his tummy because I think he's preparing to crawl.  So he's now a rolling machine!  Flipping himself back and forth to get around.

He's not quite crawling yet, but in the last couple of weeks he has started to scoot himself around.  Mostly he turns around in a circle and moves backwards, but I really think crawling is on the horizon.  Scary and exciting!

He has started to babble more.  Before now, Jack's main mode of verbal communication involved squealing.  He loves to squeal and does so at the top of his lungs when he's happy.  He still does this, but now he's added in some syllables.  He now says, "BwahBwahBwahBwah", "BaBaBaBa", and "MaMaMaMa".  So far, I haven't noticed him associating the sounds with anything in particular, but it's so adorable to watch him make these new sounds and listen to him as he talks to himself over the baby monitor.

He can clap!  He does it all the time and we're working on doing it on cue.  When prompted he'll do it sometimes, other times he'll just look at you while you're clapping like a maniac trying to encourage him. 

He's doing great with food.  So far, he's enjoyed everything we've given to him and he loves to sneak bites of things we're eating.  It's getting increasingly hard to eat in front of him because he has figured out what it is we're doing and will stare at us longingly as we eat. 

Recently, we tried giving him some puffs.  So far, he's unimpressed.  He'll eat them if we put them in his mouth, but if we put them on his highchair tray he prefers to play with them rather than eat them.  He'll let them start to melt in his hand, resulting in puff-smelling hands for the rest of the day, or he'll toss them over the side to the dog, which she really enjoys.  We'll continue working on finger foods.

And yesterday was his very first Thanksgiving!  Gobble, gobble!  Here's a rare pic of the two of us together:

We had a successful first Thanksgiving as a family and I hope that everyone else enjoyed their Turkey Day too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Bug Incident

My poor husband has the disadvantage of sleeping next to me on a nightly basis.  I'm a VERY heavy sleeper and for some reason this coincides with me also being crazy in my sleep.  Of course I'm a cover hog, but among other things, my crazy also extends into random midnight sleep conversations, which my husband tells me he likes to keep going as long as possible just to see where it ends up, and I often awake from dreams thinking that they're real. 

Last night, I was having a dream about bugs.  I don't really remember what my dream was about, but it may have been inspired by a blog post at Grumbles & Grunts that I read shortly before bed regarding baby-led eating and bugs.  All I know for certain is that I was conscious enough at the time of this incident to be mildly embarrassed of my actions.

Shortly after 3am this morning (dead time, anyone?) I suddenly proclaimed to my husband, "GIANT. BUG. RIGHT BY YOUR HEAD.  GIANT BUG!!!!!!!".  To which he, presumably from a dead sleep, jumps out of bed and starts yelling, "BUG!  WHERE?  WHERE IS IT?!". 

Hmm..., I thought to myself now that I was reasonably awake, was there really a bug or was that just part of my dream?  Well heck, let's go with it, maybe there was a bug.  I was all confused at this point. 

So I hand Hubs my book light to check out the situation as I roll over and say, "I dunno, it was hanging right there above your head.  It was a big one.  Maybe it was just part of my dream... ".  ZZzZZZZZzzzzzZZZZ...

You'll have to ask Mark about whether he was comfortable attributing the monster bug to my dream or if he felt like maybe there was a giant bug hiding somewhere near his head all night.  I'm not sure how that played out because after I caused all that ruckus over a likely imaginary bug, I rolled myself up in the blankets and went right back to sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tidy Home Tuesday: Week 2 - The Family Room

This week's assignment is the family room! 

If your family is anything like mine, then this is where you spend the majority of your time.  It houses the baby's toys, the dog's toys, as well as an unnecessarily large TV.  This is where we spend time together as a family, Jack plays, and Mark and I relax and enjoy some TV after the baby goes down for the night.  This is also our only living room.  Because it's the main room in our house clutter piles up quickly and it gets messy easily.  It is well past due for a deep clean! 

Here are some before shots:

Here is our assignment for the week:

Step 1:  De-clutter!

This is the same first step as last week and will be a continuing theme. 

 - Everything needs a home!  So start with that stack of mail or outdated magazines and work your way throughout the room.  Recycle any old magazines, newspapers, and junk mail that you have laying around.  Because our coffee table is the first flat surface you meet when you walk in our house, things tend to pile up there!

 - Now, find a home for all the junk that's laying around.  Random things can usually be found on the back of our furniture - discarded sweaters, and several different hats are usually sitting on top of the chair that my husband inhabits.  Whatever it is, find a home for it. 

 - If you're anything like me then you may have some "decorative storage baskets" a.k.a. "a place to put unnecessary crap".  It's time to dig through those and purge what you don't need.  Organize what you're keeping and make sure that your "decorative storage basket" is the right place for the item.  Donate, re-home, throw out accordingly.

Step 2:  Clean! 

Your family room should be more organized now so it's time to get it clean! 

 - Let's start with dusting.  Wipedown all of your flat surfaces with the proper cleanser and cloth.  Don't forget to move things out of the way to make sure you get all the dust and don't neglect behind things like the T.V. and under your DVD and DVR players.  We seem to collect a lot of dust around our electronics!  Also, make sure to wipe off lampshades, light bulbs, and your ceiling fan or other light fixtures.  Don't forget to tend to all of your knick-knacks that are sitting around collecting dust, as well as picture frames.

 - Clean your T.V. screen

 - Clean your walls and baseboards.  I feel like we're the only people that have this problem, but probably once a month I have to dust or wipedown our walls in random spots.  Dust bunnies collect and make them icky.  Does this happen to anyone else or do we just have disgusting amounts of dust in our family room?  Wipedown your baseboards to make sure they're not harboring any dirt or grime.

 - Let's move on to the windows and window treatments.  Clean your windows and window sills. 

          ~ If you're lucky enough to have curtains or some other sort of fabric treatment now would be a good time to take them down and wash them (or drop them off at the dry cleaner, I'm not sure exactly how that works). 

          ~ If you have nice wood or faux-wood blinds then you can probably just dust them or run a cloth over them to get them clean. 

          ~ If you are unlucky (as I am!) to have crappy, cheap plastic mini-blinds (ICK!) that have not been cleaned since you've moved in and maybe even long before that because they really are a pain in the tuchus to clean then you, like me, will probably spend several hours laboriously wiping down each individual slat with a cloth to take care of the years of dirt, dust, and grime which have accumulated.  There's just really no way around this and yes, it's a pain in the butt.  I swear, next time mine need cleaned, I'm just replacing them.  I had better start a fund for nicer blinds now.

24 hours later...

Still with me? 

 - Okay, it should be time to vacuum now.  Vacuum your floors or rugs and don't forget to move small furniture like your coffee table or end tables out of the way to get underneath.  Use your hose attachment to go around the outside of the room and get the edges where the carpet meets up with the baseboard.  Also, use the attachment to get behind and around the legs of heavier furniture like your T.V. stand and couch.

 - If you have wood floors, do whatever you do with wood floors.  I guess you would dry sweep and then mop like I do in the kitchen.

NOTE:  If you have both a living and a family room then your assignment for the week is to tackle both!  This is one situation where it's a benefit to have a small house :)

And here is my after:

See the blinds?  The ones with eleventy-million slats each?  Yeah, they're nice and clean now, but it took two days of really hard work!  On they upside, they do look worlds better than before I cleaned them.

What are your plans for keeping up with your living area?  Here are my goals: 

Daily Task:  Sort mail and do a 15 minute de-clutter before I go to bed at night

 - As soon as mail comes in the house sort through it and recycle envelopes and junk mail, shred necessary items, and handle other items accordingly.  I need to find a place to file paperwork that needs something done with it.  Maybe I'll put that in the office once I tackle that area.

 - Before I go to bed spend 15 minutes picking up the dog toys, baby toys, folding our throw blanket, and addressing any other things that are laying around.  That way, when we wake up the next morning we will come out to a nice clean family room! 

Weekly Task:  Dust and Vacuum

Bi-weekly Task:  Clean the windows

Alright everyone, let's see your family room before and afters!

You have until next Tuesday, November 30th to complete the assignment and blog about it (feel free to right click and save my "Tidy Home Tuesday" graphic to use in your post!). If you don't have a blog just leave a message in the comments about your progress!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of November 21st

Turkey Day is here!  Well... almost anyway.  Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday of the year.  A day that's just about eating good food and spending time with family?  I'm all over that!  Can't wait for Thursday! 

Sunday:  Sloppy Joes with Mac & Cheese

Monday:  Pasta e Fagioli (CrockPot) with crusty bread for dunking!

Tuesday:  Orange Chicken over Rice with Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday:  Taco Braid with Corn

Thursday:  Thanksgiving Dinner with the fam!  I'm making a Garlic Pecan Cheddar Cheese Ring and Green Bean Casserole, because what would Turkey Day be without it?!

Friday:  Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza (Mark doesn't know it yet, but he'll be cooking dinner this night!  We use the crust from the linked recipe.)

Saturday:  Game Day food to snack on!  I've been wanting to try these Buffalo Chicken Bites for a while!  Maybe I'll also make some Spinach and Artichoke Dip to get some veggies in ;)

I'm linked at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tidy Home Tuesday: Week 1 - The Kitchen

This week we'll be tackling the kitchen! 

I feel like the kitchen is the heart of every home.  It's the room where we nourish our family with food and conversation.  We begin our day by putting on a pot of coffee.  We end our day with a family meal or maybe even a bedtime snack or cup of tea.  And I know a lot of us will be spending quite a bit of time in our kitchens in the coming weeks preparing for the most important meal of the year - Thanksgiving Dinner! 

Let's get our kitchens organized and sparkling for the holidays! 

Here are a few "before" pictures.  These were taken before I got to any daily cleaning so there are dishes in the sink, things displaced on the counters, etc.


Here is our assignment for the week:

Step 1:  Declutter! 

 - Start by putting any dishes that are sitting out in the dishwasher (Or washing and putting them away if you don't have a dishwasher). 

 - Put everything that doesn't belong back in its place and throw away/donate anything that you don't use. 

 - Next, tackle your pantry and fridge.  Throw out anything expired and donate anything you're not going to eat (no use letting it sit around to spoil if you know you're not going to use it!).

 - Organize your cabinets.

Step 2:  Clean!

 - Wipedown (I don't think "wipedown" is a real word, but we're going to go with it.) your countertops with an all-purpose cleaner.  Remember to move everything out of the way to clean underneath and behind appliances and don't neglect the backsplash or that little top ledge on the back of the counter. 

 - Scrub your sink and faucet. 

 - Wipedown all of the things that have a home on your counter - coffemaker, mixer, canisters, teapot.

 - Wipedown your kitchen table and chairs, your appliances, and cabinets.

Step 3:  Tackle the floor! 

 - First, sweep the floor using a broom and dustpan.  Throw any rugs into the washer.

 - Now, go along your baseboards and wipe them with a damp rag. 

 - Finally, mop your floors.

Here's after I was able to clean the kitchen top to bottom!

Ahh!  Much better!  Still not perfect, but unfortunately with my small kitchen and limited storage space this is as good as it gets.  Also, the CrockPot is sitting out because it's cooking our dinner for tonight :)  At least it's fresh and sparkling in person! 

Here's my plan to keep the kitchen under control:

Daily Task:  Empty/Load Dishwasher

In order to keep everything that we've worked so hard on tidy we need to incorporate small, daily tasks to stay on top of things.  This week we'll begin keeping the sink free of dishes.  That means, every evening before bed the sink should not have stacks of dirty dishes waiting to be handled the next day.  Make sure to unload clean dishes from the dishwasher as soon as possible once they are finished washing (I am TERRIBLE about this!).  That way, the dishwasher will always be ready and waiting to hold your dirty dishes!  A dishwasher full of clean dishes waiting to be put away is just going to cause your dirty dishes to be displaced in the sink.  Let's keep on top of things by putting the clean dishes away ASAP so that dirty ones can be loaded right away! 

Weekly Task:  Dry sweep the floor (or more frequently as needed).

Bi-weekly Task:  Mop the floor (or more frequently as needed) and wash rugs.

Alright everyone, let's see your kitchen before and afters! 

You have until next Tuesday (November 23rd, Just in time for Turkey Day!) to complete the assignment and blog about it (feel free to right click and save my "Tidy Home Tuesday" graphic to use in your post!).  If you don't have a blog just leave a message in the comments about your progress!