Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Time Hacks

Who doesn't love some easy ways to save a little time?  Why not gain back a few of our minutes here and there when we can?  Here are 25 little time hacks to hopefully help you find a few more minutes in your day. 

  1. Shorten your "getting ready" routine.  I set a timer for my showers and try to beat it.
  2. Don't wash your hair every day.
  3. Make simpler meals that require less prep.
  4. Spend less time on social media.
  5. Teach (and enforce) your kids how to clean-up after themselves.
  6. Get a DVR to fast forward through commercials and watch your shows in your own time (just don't use it as an excuse to watch more tv!).
  7. Watch less tv.
  8. Combine errands or avoid them as much as possible.  Some weeks we don't even go to Target and I strangely love it!
  9. Take advantage of internet shopping and have things delivered for free!
  10. Automate all your regular bills - credit cards, utilities, cell phones, etc.  (But, of course, still review your credit card activity on a regular basis!).
  11. Pick out clothes the night before when you can probably think straighter than doing it half asleep in the mornings.
  12. Do laundry less (we do every other week for most things).
  13. Multi-task while watching tv - last night I synced my phone for new music and wrapped up presents for Luke when he fills his quiet time chart (he won't get presentS but we're going to let him choose from a few wrapped things).
  14. Spend less time on social media.
  15. Check your e-mail less.
  16. Refresh Feedly less (I need to be better about this...)
  17. Spend less time on your phone doing whatever you know is a time waster.
  18. Delete games from your phone (I have none.).
  19. Brainstorm during down times.  I often mentally write blog posts while driving or plan my outfit for the next day while brushing my teeth (at least on the days it matters like work...not that my normal SAHM wear needs much planning...)
  20. Eat leftovers.  Either for lunch or supper, saves time either way!
  21. Eat the same thing for breakfast and/or lunch every day or rotate between just a few things.  Not having to think about what to eat saves time and mental space!
  22. Don't put off anything that takes less than a minute.
  23. Workout in the morning before you have time to resist and then only have to shower once a day. 
  24. Menu plan.  I swear by it.  
  25. Take a book (or a magazine that's been sitting around too long) when you know you're going to have to wait like at a doctor's appointment or the school pick-up line. 

What else do you have??

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mixed Drink Monday: Hawaiian Lava Flow

This is a drink I planned to make last summer but then ran out of weekends/energy.  It's a very summery drink but I drank it last fall around the fire.  Fire, lava, totally appropriate, right?  Even if it's a pineapple/coconut drink and the leaves were starting to turn colors outside.  Still, appropriate.

We didn't actually drink any of these in Hawaii.  Actually, we are generally too cheap to pay to drink in public (notice: pay, we are generally fine with free drinks such as at weddings) and so most of our public drinking in Hawaii was at our open bar luau on Maui.  But "open bar" pretty much meant unlimited mai tais (and weak ones at that).

What this all has to do with a drink I made recently, not much, I know.  Sometimes I think about how I am going to start these posts and sometimes I just sit down at my computer and start typing.  (#notaprofessionalblogger).

Hawaiian Lava Flow
yield: one drink
-2 oz rum (I used coconut)
-small handful of frozen strawberries (about 2.5 oz)
-2 oz pineapple juice
-2 oz cream of coconut
-handful of ice cubes

In a blender combine the rum and strawberries.  Blend until mostly smooth.  Pour into a glass.

Combine the pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and ice cubes in the empty blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into the glass with the strawberry puree.  It should slightly mix!


My Thoughts
This was actually the third time I made these but the first time I got a half-decent pictures (attempt #1 was by the fire).  So these are obviously tasty.  Can't exactly vouch for the Hawaiian-ness of them but still rather good.  I've probably said it many times but the pineapple + coconut combo is one of my favorites for summer and probably one I share frequently here.  It's hard to beat!

Source: slightly modified from: The Chic Site

In the summer I aim to make a new drink every week and share them all here, good or bad!  See them all in chronological order by following the "Mixed Drink Monday" tag here or check out my favorites by scrolling down to "Mixed Drink Monday" on my recipes page!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What I've Read: The More of Less

I did small series on money in July and time management in August.  I was thinking about what I should do for September and my first thought was minimalism because that's been a big interest of mine lately.  Then I read this book and realized he said it all so much better than me.  So I'm just going to recommend the book and hope you read it! 

I first mentioned Joshua Becker here in my Quick Lit for August.  I had read his book Clutterfree with Kids and really appreciated all he said about living less with kids, how to do it, how to deal with gifts, how to get your kids to appreciate less.  I started listening to podcasts he had been on (just by searching his name in the podcast app) and many of them were done as promo for this book which came out earlier this year.  It's a small book and barely 200 pages so it was a pretty quick and easy read.  But also, so enjoyable and beneficial for me.

He starts by telling the story that led him and his wife to pursue minimalism (a story he told on every podcast I listened to so I could basically recite it at this point).  He was cleaning his garage one spring while his young kid wanted him to play baseball or something with him in the backyard.  But he was stuck cleaning the garage.  A neighbor made a comment about not needing to have all this stuff and bam!  A minimalist was born (basically).  I've thought of this story many times lately while we've been tackling big projects around the house and we also do the annual garage clean out in the spring.  While Luke mostly entertains himself.  Is that how we want to keep living?

From the he moves on to the benefits of minimalism (less to buy, less to store, less to clean, less to maintain, more time, etc.).  I agree with basically 100% of what he writes.  I had a library copy otherwise I would have been highlighting every other paragraph.  It pretty much completely sums up my thoughts on why I feel like we need to own less. 

Now, minimalism doesn't mean getting rid of everything you own.  For most of us, we consider a certain number of our possessions absolutely necessary: clothing, beds, lodging, a car, at least some of what is in our kitchens.  There are people who set certain limits on the number of things they own: say 100, but that's not for everyone.  Being a minimalist doesn't mean I have to get rid of everything that isn't 100% useful 100% of the time.  I can own more than one outfit and a pot for cooking.  Minimalism is getting rid of the unnecessary. 

This obviously means different things for different people.  Example (1) Matt needs scrubs to wear to work.  He own quite a few.  My sister who used to be a nurse got rid of all hers when she quit to stay home with her kids full-time.  I've never owned scrubs in my life.  For my sister and I scrubs would be excess while Matt needs them (Although does he need as many as he has?  I don't know...at least his work pays for them!)

Example (2) I use my ice cream maker all the time and consider it worth the cupboard space.  My sister was selling hers at our recent garage sale.  Someone picked it up and was looking at it before her mother told her "nobody ever uses those" (I didn't point out I use my weekly in the summer.)  Just two examples.

Joshua Becker goes through the stories of a few other people, what led them to minimalism and what it means for them.  This includes people like Dave Bruno who limits his possession to 100 things and has maintained it.  There are also stories from people who have way more than 100 things, which is pretty much all of us.

It covers the positives of minimalism and ways to fight the consumerism that is so entrenched in our culture.  It covers ways stores trick us into wanting to buy more (I see you, Target credit card and Jo-Ann's decoy pricing). There are always ways our generation (millennials, gen X, etc.) can influence how we feel about stuff.  Something I had honestly never thought of (I also can never remember which generation I am supposed to be...)

A lot of the book covers the benefits of minimalism because, of course, you have to sell someone on something (a concept in the case) before you can get them to buy (get rid of stuff here).  Then he goes through strategies for purging.  He covers the things that trip up a lot of people (myself included) like inherited items and other sentimental things. And of course there is a starting point - somewhere, anywhere, small, maybe just a drawer, a single cupboard, or your car.  Starting is always half the battle.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to downsize their possessions, whether you are interested specifically in minimalism or not.  It is very easy to quickly feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of your belongings and this may help you reconsider what is necessary and what is not.   Or even if you just want to stop a bad shopping habit.  Or create better habits for your kids to follow.

I've read a decent amount in the last few years about getting rid of things and the benefits to owning less and this is one the standouts.  Highly recommend. 

The More of Less

Friday, August 26, 2016

Things I Like - August

1) Map my Run app
I have been using the MapMyRun website for the last 2 summers to keep track of my distances and times.  I use the stopwatch on my phone and was running the same route, or the same few routes, around the neighborhood.  The website would save my routes, I could pick which one I did, put in my time, and get an average pace.  It worked well for many many miles.  Then I went running with two sister-in-laws and one of them had a running watch which let you know when you completed a mile, gave you a pace, average pace, and more.  Basically much better than I was doing with my stopwatch and website.  So I came home from that run and told Matt I wanted a running watch too, especially since I was starting to increase my distance.  He told me there was probably something I could get for my phone for free.  And there was.  The app version of the website I had been using for over a year.  Duh.

I always have my phone with me on my runs, either in the stroller or strapped to my arm so it wasn't any more complicated than downloading the app, logging in with my web log-in, and then starting to run.  It lets me know when I've completed a mile, what my total time is, what my pace was for that mile, and my average pace for the whole run.  My sister-in-law with the fancy watch said she had checked her watch against our niece using the app and they were pretty close besides the calorie burned (which I don't pay attention to anyways).  I feel like it's opened up all new paths for me!  Now I don't have to stick to where I have run before or try to remember my exact route because my phone does it for me!  I can see how far I've gone and figure out where else to run to get in the miles I want to for each day.  It's really really helped as I've been expanding my distances and listening to a 3 year old "Mom!  We already run here!".   It's really changed my running!

2) Buffy Espadrille Wedge Sandals
I mentioned I was rebuying these back when they were on super sale and now that I've been wearing them, I'm so glad I did!  I started wearing them to work where I mostly sit so no comfort issues.  Then I wore them to my niece's rehearsal dinner where I was mostly on my feet for 3 hours and they were still really comfortable!  I was really surprised with the 4.5" heel but still no problems!  I wasn't sure I needed another pair of nude wedges because I still have and wear these....but these feel a little more versatile?  I don't wear the others to work when I will wear these.  Definitely a good buy.

3) Physicians Formula Super BB All-in-One Cheek & Lip Beauty Balm, Berry Pink

Sometimes I have to go back through these old posts to figure out what I have and haven't written about already.  And I was surprised I never wrote about these!  I got this one for Christmas last year (off my Elfster list) and it's my go-to lip color!  I first bought it in peach which was not a good color for me, at all.  But I love this one!  I only use it on my lips because I'm too pale for that much color on my cheeks but it's perfect for adding a little color without messing with lipsticks or other lip stuff.  So easy to throw on while running out the door!

4) Lace Top
This is one of those clothing items I had seen heralded many times on blogs as being as comfortable and easy and versatile.  I finally bought one and I completely agree.  It's as comfortable as a regular tee but the lace makes it just a little bit fancier, perfect for so many occasions.  I've worn it work.  I've worn it to church.  I wore it when my husband and I had a date night to see Jim Gaffigan perform.  There are probably about 100 places I could wear it.  Mine was a ThredUp purchase (more on that coming next week) so I can't link to my exact one but I higher recommend anyone trying one.  Now that I'm hooked I'm on the lookout for different colors: black, blue, grey, pretty much any color I wear.  These are super versatile and so comfortable.  Such an easy way to make an ordinary outfit a little more special.

5) The Olympics

We are not big sports people.  We watch the occasional Colts game, the Superbowl, American Ninja Warrior (if you count that), and the Olympics.  Now, I realize they are over and there isn't much you can do about going back and watching them...but...this still did take a lot of our time in August.  We set our DVR to record all the NBC coverage and then could fast forward through the boring stuff (whyyyyyyyy so many semi-finals, quarter-finals in track and swimming?!?!?  Show medal races and then some of the other random sports too!) and non-medal stuff (for the most part) and watch what we wanted.  Now, this didn't necessarily keep us from going to bed earlier, especially on the nights of the gymnastics stuff (which NBC, for some dumb reason, held until about 11:55 even though it had actually happened hours earlier and they had spoiled it all over social media...) and some beach volleyball kept us up late the next week.  Lucky for us Matt was off the second week so we could stay up late and sleep in the next morning.  (I was texting with my little sister one of those nights we were up late and she said she was assuming I was already in bed reading because of this post which had just gone up...we really do stick to that schedule most of the time...besides the Olympics...)

Anyways, love the Olympics and we always watch a lot of it.  I'm not proud of every parenting choice we've made, definitely, but we mostly do keep Luke off the tv...again, besides the Olympics where he watched quite a bit with us.  Just the perfect thing to have on in the background while working at the house or waiting out rain at the lake.  Interesting for Matt & I.  Interesting for Luke.  Two thumbs up, Olympics.  Thanks for keeping us entertained.  (And two thumbs down, NBC.  You need to work on what you show and when.) 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Painting on the Porch

Early in the summer I decided our porch needed some pictures.  For a long time our porch just had furniture but over the last two summers I've been trying to make it more homey, especially since Luke and I spend so much time out there when the temps are right (basically between 50° and 80°).  We bought our house when we were 22 and weren't real picky about most things - we had picked a couple neighborhoods and, of course, had our budget set.   I feel really lucky that we ended up in such a perfect house still 10 years later.  This porch always feels like such a wonderful bonus and so so wonderful for at least 6 months of the year.

Obviously I was going to do some sort of gallery walls, because that's my go-to when I want to fill a wall.  Like here.  And here.  And here.   I waited a long time for frames to go on sale at Target and picked some free printables I had found on Pinterest.  The "hello" was a Target dollar spot find that sat on one of the tables next to the front door for a few months, constantly being knocked over.  Getting that up on the wall may have been a major motivator in getting this wall done.

To the left of the door is this:

To the right is this:
These pictures face a wall of windows, it's super hard not to get a glare.
I plan to change out most of those pictures with the seasons, being able to find so many great, seasonal printables on Pinterest.  Most of our pictures stay the same year-round but now I have two places to switch them out with the seasons!

 If you follow me on Instagram, last week you may have seen this picture:

When I hung up my paper guides for the pictures I knew I needed something else on the far right.  I didn't want another picture frame and didn't want another sign with words so I decided we needed a painting.  Buying a "real" painting isn't something I'm likely to do and I couldn't convince Matt to paint this for me so it was up to me.  More than a month after hanging the rest of the wall, I finally got around to painting a picture, following the rough instructions here and using a bunch of acrylic paints I had on hand.  I am under absolutely no impression that this is amazing.  I know that.  But I still really enjoyed doing it and mixing the colors and it was just really fun.  We were also watching the Olympics which is also fun and something we did a lot of the last two weeks.  So even if the painting isn't great, which it isn't, at least I have happy memories associated with it.  And it fills the spot on the wall.

Now, if you are following me on Instagram you may have also seen this picture almost two weeks ago:

And that would explain why the two above pictures are close shots.  Because the rest of the porch looked like this when I took the pictures:

Notice the complete lack of furniture, decorations, and carpet.

Matt had last week off and after a few days at the lake it was time to get things done.  We knew our porch foundation needed some work.  We have a basement under the house but not the porch.  Matt pulled up the carpet, hoping there was a trap door to get under the porch without having to tear at the brick foundation.  No luck on that front.  BUT we did discover we have beautiful hardwood (although I have since been corrected that these are not "hard" woods but a softer wood...all the same to me) floors on the porch.  We never had a problem with the porch carpet and wouldn't have even suspected wood floors underneath but there they were!

So, on top of Matt fixing the foundation we also stuck a whole bunch of other work into his week off.  As I type this, he's part way through sanding down the floors.  The carpet has been permanently moved to the basement and the padding is trashed.  It's pretty exciting and a good experiment for when we eventually, hopefully, tackle the wood floors in our front room (so we did pick one of these options after all).  We had debated doing the porch, front room, and Matt's office all at once...but that all of a sudden seemed like a lot more than we could handle in a week off that already included foundation work.  So, porch for now and hopefully it goes well.  I need to start shopping for some rugs and figure out a solution for the main walking path in the winter.

When I initially planned to write this post it was just going to be about these nice little gallery walls I had finally completed.  It just so happened that by the time they were completed the project has greatly expanded.  Actually my gallery walls came down a few hours after taking these pictures so they wouldn't be destroyed with the dust from sanding.  Hopefully soon we have a fully finished porch to share.  A project we didn't think we'd ever be tackling but are now very excited about!

frames: Target
anchor art: Target
hello: Target
pineapple print: Pinterest but I can't find the original source
palm tree picture: Etsy
watermelon print: Twin Dragonfly Designs
popsicle print: Remodelaholic
flamingo print: Oh So Lovely