Monday, September 28, 2009

not me monday

— This week, I started running training schedule with lovely friends A and T. On our first day out, I did not gracefully roll my ankle off the curb and plummet to the sidewalk. I did not get road rash on my knee. My face was definitely red from the workout and not from embarrassment.

— While practicing the Hokey Pokey with Husband while he planned for his elementary phys ed classes, I did not have to pause and really think hard about which foot to stick out when the music sang, "You put your left foot in ..." Husband did not roll his eyes at me. I swear, Jeff Foxworthy, I AM smarter than a fifth grader.

— I was not one of those obnoxious people talking loudly on my cellphone on the bus this morning. It really isn't my fault that I really had to have an animated conversation with one of my lovely friends. Dear annoyed fellow commuters, I promise it won't happen again.

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

blog love

I am beyond flattered to tell you that I have been given a blog award!

Beth at Laugh Until You Cry recently started following my blog and has decided to honour me with the Over The Top award! Thanks for reading, Beth!

The rules for accepting this award are to answer the questions below and pass the award to 6 of your fave bloggers and alert them they have been awarded.

1. Where is your cell phone? In my raincoat pocket
2. Your hair? Rain-soaked
3. Your mother? Friend
4. Your father? Hard-working
5. Your favorite food? Pasta
6. Your dream last night? My Husband was in the NBA
7. Your favorite drink? Coffee
8. Your dream/goal? Magazine writer
9. What room are you in? Office
10. Your hobby? Crafting of all sorts
11. Your fear? The bubble bursting
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Living in a house
13. Where were you last night? At home, doing the hokey pokey with Husband as he prepared for today's elementary phys ed classes.
14. Something you aren't? Mean (I try not to be, at least)
15. Muffins? Making homemade tonight, actually
16. Wish list item? New winter clothes
17. Where did you grow up? Woodstock
18. Last thing you did? Commuted to work in the rain
19. What are you wearing? Dress, tights, sweater
20. Your TV? HD
21. Your pets? Scarely and Ellie
22. Your friends? Can't live without
23. Your life? Pretty awesome
24. Your mood? Content
25. Missing someone? Lots of family and friends who live in other places
26. Vehicle? Mable the Corolla
27. Something you're not wearing? Pants
28. Your favorite store? Khols
29. Your favorite colour? Yellow
30. When was the last time you laughed? Two words. Hokey. Pokey.
31. Last time you cried? It's been a while
32. Your best friend? Is awesome
33. One place that you go over and over? The grocery store
34. One person who e-mails me regularly? Mum
35. Favorite place to eat? Home

I am passing this award to the following lovely bloggers:
2. Dusty @ All Things G&D
3. Amy @ Rainy Saturday
5. Molly @ No Hometown
6. Jennifer @ Made By Girl

Saturday, September 26, 2009

storage solved

I meant to show you the solution I found to the stuff-being-left-on-the-microwave-all-the-time problem

This pretty white dish is the perfect catch-all for iPods, wallets, pens, coupons, etc. And I got it at the dollar store! Success!

Friday, September 25, 2009

who doesn't love mail?

You know the feeling when you open your mailbox and you're flipping through the envelopes — bill, bill, flyer, bill .. Ooo, a card! Isn't it fun when there's something there that you weren't expecting? I'm one of those people who starts checking the mail with ridiculous enthusiasm more than a week before my birthday because I love getting mail that doesn't require sending someone money.

I'm a big believer in the giving and receiving of cards. I've heard the arguments to the contrary — they're a waste of money, it's some else's words, blah, blah. But I really think that taking the time to pick out a meaningful card from the hundreds in the store is sometimes more heartfelt than the monetary gesture of a gift.

My crafty friend and Magenta Revolution business partner HH blogged recently about cards and gave a little tutorial on how to refurbish old cards — check it out here. Handmade. It doesn't get much more personal that that.

The problem is, I get busy and make excuses. I pretend that there isn't a mailbox on every corner and I let cards hang around in my purse for weeks. Well, no more. I'm making it my goal to pick up a roll of stamps and put notes to family and friends in the mail more often.

When's the last time you sent a card for no reason?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

try it tuesday

Thanks to a suggestion from creative partner C, I have a unique idea for this week's Try it Tuesday.

Today is garbage-free day. That means only using recyclable and compostable materials. I have no idea how easy or hard this is going to be. To read an amazing story of a couple who lived for a year without creating waste, click here.

7:30 a.m. Cup of coffee at home with a ceramic mug. No trash yet! The filter and coffee grounds can go into the compost. The water was from the tap. The milk carton will inevitably be recycled. Hooray for small successes!

7:40 a.m. Breakfast. Removed leftover pancakes from plastic baggie in the fridge. Recycled baggie. Pulled out the syrup. In a plastic bottle labeled No. 5. Not recyclable. Darn. How about a little strawberry jam? Yum. Recyclable glass jar? Yes.

7:55 a.m. Brush teeth. Uh oh. Did I fail already? Toothpaste tubes are not recyclable.

If you're really intense about it, there are recipes out there for homemade toothpaste, but the idea of scrubbing my mouth with baking soda isn't terribly appealing. So, I set out to the drug store to look for alternatives.

The majority of brands come in the non-recyclable tubes (locally we can only recycle No. 1 & 2 plastics), but both Crest and Colgate offer plastic versions like this:

The Crest one is No. 5 plastic though, which can't be recycled locally, but Colgate earns top billing with it's environmentally friendly No. 1 plastic package. I'm going to try to remember this the next time we need to buy toothpaste.

If you want to be very kind to Mother Nature, you can also purchase Tom's of Maine toothpaste at local Shopper's Drug Marts. Not only are the tubes recyclable aluminum, but the boxes are made from post-consumer paperboard and printed with soy-based inks. The paste itself is made with no artificial colours or flavours, which is also a lovely bonus.

8:00 a.m. Took the bus to work. Public transit = sustainable commuting. That earns a bonus point, don't you think?

9:30 a.m. Caught myself throwing a Post-It in the trash. Placed it in my blue bin instead.

12 p.m. Lunchtime. My leftover pizza was ported in a reusable container. My banana peel goes into the compost. And then there's my yogurt. No. 6 plastic container = not recyclable.

Frugal Village suggests using these small containers to help keep junk drawers organized. Place jewelry, pantyhose, odd buttons, loose change, cotton swabs, paper clips, rubber bands, nails and screws in them so they aren’t loose in drawers. They also mention using the washed yogurt cups to scoop kitty food, too.

12:30 p.m. Put a birthday card in the mail. Added a little reduce, reuse, recycle message on the back of the envelope for good measure.

2:45 p.m. Tea time. Ceramic mug — check. Composted tea bag — check.

5:45 p.m. Dinner with Husband. BLT, veggie "BLT" and roasted potatoes. Made almost entirely out of fresh produce, our supper was quite enviro friendly.

6:30 p.m. Shower. I'm pleased to report that each and every shampoo and body wash bottle in our shower is a recyclable plastic.

8:15 p.m. Disposed of wilted flowers into the compost.

That's more or less my day. Was it perfect? No. What have I learned? There's a place for everything and it only takes a second to check the label to see what that place is. Most consumer products are available in a more environmentally conscious form.

Overall, I give myself 2 our of 4 stars. It wasn't exactly a trash-less day, but I've definitely changed the way I think about waste, for the better.

Try it!

twitter gone bad

You may have noticed that there is something horribly wrong happening with the Twitter feed in the right column on my dear blog ... and before I go ahead and delete it, does anyone have any advice on how I fix this spammy mess?

UPDATE: No luck. I tried deleting the gadget and re-adding it, but it still brought up all kinds of unrelated information that I've never seen before. Do you use a Blogger gadget or a Twitter app on your blog? Any suggestions on what to do next?

Until then, you can visit me directly on Twitter by clicking here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

not me monday

The other morning, I was not frantically calling in to Beat the Bank, a local radio contest. I did not hit redial on my cellphone, assuming that the radio number was the last that I called. I did not run, screaming IT'S RINGING! IT'S RINGING! into the kitchen, much to Husband's excitement. When my Dad answered the phone, I wasn't completely bewildered, wondering why it wasn't the voice of the radio host. He and Husband did not both laugh hysterically at me for this mistake. I was not completely bummed that I didn't have the chance to win $50,000. Boo.

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

movin' on up

Fellow apartment dwellers will feel my pain on this — a serious lack of space. Our two-bedroom place is a whole 772 square feet. You add two people and two cats to the mix, and living space is at a minimum.

So, to tackle this issue, I surveyed our apartment to decide what is necessary, what has to take up floor space and what doesn't.

Problem area #1: Walk-in storage closet

What to do about a lack of floor space? Move it on up. If you're not already using 3M hooks, you should be. They're like magic.

I also used them to move the mop and broom from the floor to the wall to free up space.

Problem area #2: Master bedroom closet

The floor was once cluttered with purses, totes and luggage, not to mention other things that happened to be shoved in there when I only had time for a 10-second tidy. Not anymore! I packed all of the must-keep bags into one another and put the consolidated, single suitcase in the spare bedroom closet in exchange for our deluxe hamper. I don't know why we ever stored our hamper in a room other than the one we undress in. That was just plain inefficient. Now, surprise(!), we gather less dirty laundry on the floor.

Problem area #3: Spare bedroom

The main issue in this space is our lack of discipline when it comes to staying neat, tidy and organized. When company comes over unexpectedly, miscellaneous items get stashed behind door No. 2 and sometimes sit untouched for days weeks.

Plus, I unceremoniously dumped all of my craft supplies on the floor, reorganized and purged, and placed them all in a neatly labeled drawer in the top of the closet.

Am I sick and twisted to be not-so-secretly in love with how structured this is?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

before & after: headboard

You're going to love this.

Lovely friend A has been itching to get a new duvet cover lately. She recently removed her headboard, and she's been trying to come up with a way to freshen up her bedroom.

Here is the before, sans old headboard, with the duvet cover she wanted to replace.

She found some pretty, peel-and-stick floral wall decals at Kent this weekend. And rather than investing in a new duvet cover, she simply removed it. She added a soft throw that used to be on a chair in her living room, et voila:

Quite a transformation for just $20! Looks great, A — good choice!

Next stop, Fabricville, to dream up some coordinating accents!

Friday, September 18, 2009

if kitties could talk

If your pet could talk, what would you want to know?

I had to check in with Husband on this particular prompt, because I was sure he'd have opinions of his own.

Me: What if Ellie and Scarley could talk?

Husband: Squirrel.

Husband and I decided long ago that our kitties — Scarley in particular — don't have much of a short-term memory. In fact, we think their brains re-set every 5 minutes.

But if they really could talk, I'd ask them both about their pasts — though they were young when we brought them home, they both lived somewhere else first. That always makes me curious.

Oh, and I 'd ask Ellie where she hides all of my hair elastics.

For more Writer's Workshop entries courtesy of MamaKat, click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

try it tuesday

Happy Tuesday!

For this week's Try It post, I decided to tackle one of the little annoyances in our apartment.

Lovely friend A's cousin spilled red wine on her new apartment's carpet recently and, like most genius 21st-century gals, she Googled a trick. It worked like a charm for her, so I thought I'd try it out on a stain of my own.

After Husband and I moved into our place more than a year ago, I threw this little rug down at the doorway of our kitchen. But I think the carpet was still damp from the carpets being shampooed before we moved in —

And we ended up with a faded, brownish rectangular stain. I tried a number of carpet spot cleaners but had no luck. The annoying part is that I really wanted to move the rug, but it had to remain in place to cover the stain.

The suggested magic formula for red wine removal is equal parts Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.

With A's help, we scrubbed with a combo of brushes and rags — this is the closest I have to a before photo:

After a lot of scrubbing, the area slowly lightened, and then turned a light shade of blue as it dried. In my defense, I couldn't find a single website that warned against using coloured soap. So, I tackled it again last night with a rag and clean warm water, and here is the after

Not bad. There are still some areas around the corners that look like they could be treated again, but the solution definitely dulled the discolouration.

I give this trick a 3 out of 5.

Have you ever tired this? Did it work? Do you have any other carpet cleaning suggestions?

Monday, September 14, 2009

not me monday

— No blogs all weekend? Not me.

— I was not totally ashamed by last week's Not Me Monday post. A certain friend did not call me out on it for being a total slacker post.

— I did not sneeze at work and then say "Bless you." Out loud. To myself. It's not my fault if I got into the habit of saying it over and over again this week because Husband and I became walking germ machines. Lovely creative partner C did not laugh at me for this.

— Lovely friend A and I did not ignore the fitness magazines on my coffee table by covering them up with junk food. We're always super health conscious and never indulge in hot, homemade pretzels with lots of salt, bridge mix and gummies instead of going out for a brisk walk.

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

making something out of nothing

My bloggie friend Lacey over at Laptops to Lullabies has inspired me in a big way today.

I'm feeling very frugal these days because I started reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. This book has been discussed among many of my fave blogs and I decided to check it out for myself. I'm just a few chapters in, and already I'm pumped to spend less and save more.

Back to Lacey though. She posted today about how she was planning to send her Darling Husband to the store to pick up some groceries, but didn't want to spend the cash outside of her regular grocery day. She, instead, got creative with the ingredients she already had and made a lovely breakfast, lunch and dinner without spending a dime!

I could totally relate to her when she said she often opens the cupboards and complains that there's nothing to eat. I'm guilty of that too, yet there's always food in our kitchen.

Tomorrow is our regular grocery day. Instead of going in with a list that's a mile long, I am only going to pick up a few things that we absolutely need, including cat food, milk, bananas and bread. I'm going to stick to a short list and then try to extend the groceries that we already have for another whole week. 

To be honest, we have lots to eat — chicken, ground beef, veggie dogs, eggs, rice, pasta, beets, cabbage, squash, cheese, soup, a few potatoes — the list goes on. Husband and I are just guilty of going for groceries every two weeks and stocking up on all the things we love; the things we'd rather eat. We also go through major food phases — currently we're in a pizza, pasta, roasted potatoes and burgers rut. But getting creative with supplies we already have, I also hope to diversify out diet a bit, too.

Thanks for the inspiration, Lacey!

fall inspiration

OK, we're into the second week of September, which I've decided puts me well into my rights to start decorating for fall. While lovely friend T thinks I should keep the Halloween decor under wraps until October 1, I don't see the harm in a bit of fall foliage.


But it wouldn't be exciting if I didn't pose a challenge. I'm giving myself a budget of $20 to spruce up the apartment for autumn. Got any ideas to share?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

he said, she said

Transcribe a recent entertaining conversation you recently had with someone.

Last weekend, Husband and I packed a modest picnic and took a drive to a park in a nearby seaside community — we had to do something so I would stop pouting about our canceled camping trip. Anyway ...

When we were finished our lunch, Husband stood up under the tree we were sitting beneath and put his head through a spider web. He quickly ducked out from underneath it.

Husband: Aghhhh.
Me: What?
Husband: I just stood up in a cobweb.

This was proceeded by a bunch of jumping around, as he tried to wipe it off.

Me (trying not to burst out laughing): What's the big deal? You're not afraid of spiders, are you?!
Husband: No, I just feel bad for the guy.
Me: Who?
Husband: The spider.
Me: Oh ...?
Husband: I ruined all of his hard work.
Me: Ohhh (feeling enlightened). Well, he's a spider. Building webs is what he does all day. He'll build another one.
Husband: Yes, but maybe he doesn't want to. Maybe he's lazy. Like me.
Me: Oh. Well, what do you think he's going to do now?
Husband: He'll probably get his wife to do it.
Me: Is that so? Why?
Husband: Because she loves do-it-yourself projects!

Thanks for the prompt, MamaKat! For more prompts written by other bloggers, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

try it tuesday

Since we couldn't go camping over the weekend — boo, sinus infection — we decided to bring camping to us. This meant still eating hot (& veggie) dogs, we may or may not have sort of built a tent in the living room, and we definitely made SMORES!

So, for this edition of Try it Tuesday, I give you the Uncamping Smores. It's really not that original of an idea, but I wasn't sure how well it would work until we tried it.

We used tinfoil to line a cookie sheet, laid out graham crackers topped with chocolate and marshmallows and put them into the oven on broil. Note: Watch these suckers very carefully; they didn't take long to roast.

Please ignore the unclean state of my oven.

The marshmallows toasted perfectly!

Topped with another cracker, et voila!

Delish! If I had to do it again though, I'd toss the top crackers on the pan too so they'd be hot like the rest of the layers. And while Husband may not agree, I think they could've used more chocolate, too!

I give them 3 out of 5.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

if you're looking for us on saturday ...

... this is where we'll be ...

**Editor's update: OK, so we didn't go camping. Boo. I came down with a sore throat on Friday, just in time to turn into a full-blown head cold and sinus infection, and ruin our long-awaited camping trip.

But we're making-lemons-into-lemonade type people, so we made the most of it ...

Stay tuned for a very special un-camping edition of Try it Tuesday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

so many blogs, so little time

The other night, I spent an hour picking through the many, many subscriptions in my Google Reader, and after much deliberation, several didn't make the cut. I didn't make this decision lightly, but I've been subscribing like crazy since I first adopted GR in the spring, and well, things were getting a little crazy ... to the tune of hundredsss of new posts a day.

I'm trying to be more selective about the blogs I subscribe to. Some of my faves reside in the right-hand navigation. Please take a moment to check them out. If you like me, you'll probably like them, too!

However, being the blog aficionado that I am, I'm looking to replace a few the departed blogs with new lovelies. Do you have any recommendations for my Reader?

What do you look for in a good blog?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

the first day

It's the first day ...

... of school!

And in our world, that normally doesn't mean a whole lot, since Husband and I have finished our university years (for now) and we don't have any little ones catching the bus.

It is, actually, Husband's first day at school today though, but now he's the teacher! After a long year of substituting, today is his first day in a term position at a new school, teaching a new bunch of kids physical education.

For us, it's the first day for a lot of things.

It's the first day I dragged my butt out of bed before 7:30 a.m. (I got up at 6:20 a.m. thankyouverymuch);

It's the first day we had to try to figure out what Husband could pack for lunch, since he can't take peanut butter, anything with nuts or anything to do with strawberries to the school because of students' allergies;

It's the first day of an exciting new adventure for Husband, and for us, because a term can lead to the stability of a full-time position at one school, which can lead to things like buying houses and starting our family.

It's the first day. And I couldn't be more proud.

This post is a response to a Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt. To see posts by other bloggers, click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

try it tuesday

This edition of Try it Tuesday is dedicated to everyone I know who thinks they aren't crafty. All you really need is a little creativity to turn something plain into something pretty.

I started with this shelf:

It's a nice looking shelf, but it was plain and boring. I knew I wanted to turn it into something special.

It's amazing what you can do with a few coats of paint, a couple new baskets and a little stamp action — I got too excited in the revamp process and forgot to take some in between photos .. oops!

Now, you try it! Before you cast something aside, think about the difference a few alterations can make.