Decluttering One Thing at a Time

Hi, Alex!

 

This weekend I went to Pinners with my friend Alex from firesidestoriesnet. Alex and I worked as teachers together, but we left the campus at the same time. Since our friendship goes beyond convenience of geography, though, we still hang out! It’s awesome because she’s wonderful in all the ways.

We had a great time checking out all the vendor booths, hanging out, and attending classes.

One of the sessions we attended together was about decluttering and was hosted by Dana White from  http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/

Dana went through steps to get you from overwhelmed to under control, and it really resonated with me. While she was talking, I thought about how practical her advice was and knew I could apply it right away.

In my house, most people come in through the garage and enter into the living room rather than the front door. The living room has a built-in that my husband and I call The Crap Collector: obviously, it’s not a tidy area.

However, it’s the first thing most people see upon entering our home, and it gets out of hand pretty quickly:

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Decluttering starting point: madness

It’s where we drop off wallets, keys, kids’ shoes (why??), mail, diapers (that are too big and are therefore unused–again: why??), and various other Crap. Really, we named our space appropriately.

Well, today I used the tips I learned from Dana and got my trash bag, my donate box, and my walking feet. Every five minutes, I took a picture so I could see that I actually WAS making progress, and I didn’t have a “take upstairs” pile or a “goes in ___” pile: I put those things away as they came into my hand.

AND I used her questioning method of “Where would I look for this first if I needed it–not where SHOULD I look for it, but where WOULD I look for it?” to find better homes for the stuff we do use but shouldn’t keep on the counter (like the glue and baby lotion, for instance).

20 minutes later and a few trips around the house, and I had a decluttered–but still dusty–counter top: it’s no longer a Crap Collector, either.

Now the trick is two-fold:

  1. Keep this cleaned up (I might have to train my family)
  2. Move on to the other one or two (haha!) areas of my house that need decluttering

I think I’ll tackle the toy area of the living room next. Or maybe the playroom. Or perhaps the laundry room. The craft room could use some help, though. Or… well, it’s always good to have options, right?

 

Happy Sunday!

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Back to school sign

I posted about making a chalk board with back-to-school information, and today I finished the board.
I had to redo three of the sections, though, because they were difficult to see against the gray background. Curses.

And now I’ve made a total of three of these, and I love them! It still takes me a little while to make them, but they’re totally cute, so I think worth it. I’ll make another one for my younger daughter later, but that won’t be needed for a few years, so I don’t feel much sense of urgency.

Maybe my next project will be to make something for my office door–I have an office now instead of a classroom.

Personalized Laptop

Today I had my first day of training for the 2017-18 school year. They were good sessions, and it was great to see my colleague friends!!

When I got home, I decided I needed something a little more fun for my laptop to distinguish myself from the many other district-provided-laptop users. I love that they give me a laptop, but I want to stand out a little. 💁🏻

So, I added vinyl.

Now I'm a happy nerd. 🤓

Happy Birthday, #BabyShive

My big girl is three now! Today we had her birthday party, and I think she and the guests had a good time! I didn’t do much in the line of decorating because it was a pool party, and it was kind of nice to not worry about decorations!

We had a family party on her actual birthday, and #BabyShive got to help decorate that cake:

 

She said she wanted a grape cake (what? gross!), but she settled for purple frosting on a white cake instead. Thank goodness.

Today’s party had cute cupcakes, but they didn’t reach my vision:

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These were a butter cake with home-made buttercream frosting–definitely not health food. The “beach” is just crushed up graham crackers, and the “towel” is sour candy.

I made personalized water bottles for all the kids, and I think those worked out pretty well, and they were super easy:img_1665.jpg

Aside from some crepe paper streamers and leis for the guests, that was really all there was to it. Simple and sweet and swimming. Huzzah!

Happy Saturday!

 

If you came today or sent well-wishes, thank you! #BabyShive said she had a great time and was “so so happy to SWIM!”

Mountains and Rocks and Vinyl, Oh My!

Bear with me: this is a long one!

Our Anniversary Trip

My husband and I recently shared our 7th anniversary. He traditionally takes the whole week off work, and we hang out together as a couple and a family. This year, we decided to leave the kiddos with my parents (thanks, parents!) and drive into the mountains!

Colorado Summer weather > Texas Summer weather. By a lot.

Why Colorado? Well, the weather, honesty, and also because Colorado Springs is close enough for us to drive to it in one day without feeling like all we did was drive. And it wasn’t terribly expensive, either, so that was a big plus.

While we were in Colorado Springs, we also visited the surrounding areas of Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City, Cripple Creek, and something else whose name I can’t remember.

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I ate two FANTASTIC BLTs at two different restaurants, we saw mountain scenery that took my breath away (and I’m not even kind of nature-y, really!), drove up Pike’s Peak and ate hot donuts, walked a ton, and generally enjoyed being in each other’s company (d’aww!).

Both of us had been to Colorado in the past, but we’d never been there together, and we both enjoyed it. 10/10–would do again!

 

Fixing Up the Driveway

When we returned, we were promised flagstone from my fantastic in-laws whose yard had just been worked on. They did a bunch of work and ended up tearing out/picking up flagstone that they wouldn’t need any more.

I was more than happy to take that off their hands! I wanted to add a standing/walking area by the driveway so I don’t have to step in the grass when I get in/out of my husband’s truck and I wanted a pathway from the driveway to the front walk.

We’ve put a lot of work into the exterior of our house this summer (all new siding, all new paint, rearranging the flowerbeds’ stone border, planting new flowers, occasionally mowing the lawn…), and this was a nice piece of easy sweat equity: it took about an hour to unload and arrange all the pieces, and my dad was nice enough to come help us lay the stones down. We didn’t do it “right” in that we just dropped the stones on top of the grass, but the grass will eventually die and the rocks will naturally sink down. Right? Maybe?

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New stones! Bonus: old grass that needs to be bagged or blown back into the yard

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A path leading to the front walk!

And now I don’t have to stand in wet or itchy grass when I get the girls in and out of their car seats or when I step in or out of the truck. Everybody (mostly me!) wins!

Vinyl Signage

Today, my older daughter is officially a year older! Yikes! So now she’s three, and she’s going to start going to half-day preschool in August. (I’m trying not to freak out!)

I keep seeing cute “First Day of School” chalkboards and dry-erase boards, and the more I see them the more I think I want to do those for my girls! But I don’t want to buy them, I want to make them. (Why by something for $5 when you can make it for $25 in materials and countless minutes of your time, right? #CraftingProblems)

After seeing two version in stores and looking at tons of pictures online (looking at you, Pinterest and Etsy), I decided what I wanted on my own boards.

I opened up Silhouette Studio and got to work. I designed two boards: one for the first day and one for the last day.  They’re both going to be in color, but at the time of taking these pictures of my laptop screen (I’m very high-tech in that, I know), I hadn’t made any decisions. I still haven’t yet cut the pieces or anything, but I have the cut file, I have the vinyl, and I have two chalkboard options:

Husband likes the blue one because it’s cheaper, but I worry the rose gold frame will forever mark this as 2017. I have a few weeks to figure it out, but I know laying all that vinyl is going to be one hell of a project. So I really need to get it started soon… maybe tomorrow.


And that’s the haps around here. Maybe tomorrow I’ll let you know about #BabyShive’s birthday cake and family dinner. Or maybe that’ll happen next week. Or never. Who can tell?

Enjoy

Nerd Water

I figured out what to do with my stainless steel cup! I posted about that cup a little while ago boasting about how amazingly cold it keeps my water, but I didn’t know how to personalize it.

I’ve been thinking of cute and clever and funny and all kinds of things to put on there, but I’ve finally decided the best thing is to showcase my love of reading, nerdom, and Harry Potter.

Can you tell what it says?

In Harry Potter, there’s a specific spell to summon water. Since I’ll exclusively use this cup for water, labeling it as water seems PERFECT. And labeling it as water while showcasing my love for HP? EVEN PERFECT-ER!

RIGHT!? So awesome.

Obviously, I used my Silhouette Cameo 2 to cut the vinyl. The font is called Harry P, and I got it from dafont.com. Huzzah!

Happy making,
Christine

#SummerBreak = #SummerMake

As a teacher, I’m on Summer Break, and I’m using this time to make things, so I’m on Summer Make. (Haha. I am so clever. Ha.)

Anyway. A while ago I went to Waco and visited Magnolia Market. I found an awesome vase thing (they call it a multi-tube rack) and bought it immediately. What I didn’t do immediately, though, was know what to put in it. In April, my wonderful #ManShive bought flowers for my birthday, and I pulled a few of the smaller flowers and put them in this vase thing. After the flowers expired, though, the vase thing sat empty.

Until now!

Aren’t those lovely?! I made those flowers–with paper and wire and hot glue! And my Silhouette, of course. Ain’t nobody got time to cut those petals by hand!

 

I used the free template I found here and the directions I found here (which the template-maker suggested). Super easy, super quick, super cute. That’s my kind of super.


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Fajita Spice – doesn’t everyone remember to take the picture when they’re sitting at a stop light??

 

 

In a different project, I also made a label for my mom’s spice jar.

I’d already made her labels for her bigger canisters, but she had this shaker of Fajita Seasoning that needed a label. “Fajita Seasoning” is too long for such a small space, so I changed it to “Fajita Spice,” and voila: a labeled jar to match her labeled canisters.

 

 


And finally, in between labeling and gluing, I found time to make a perfect summer dessert: strawberry pie.

It has so few ingredients (four!) and is so easy to make. I’m sure other people slice their strawberries and arrange them in a stunning way, but I don’t mess around with that: just dump those strawberries in! I did make some whipped cream to serve with the pie, too, but there aren’t any pictures of that.


As you can see, it’s been a good couple of days for making things! What are you making?

We Ate This

I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve cooked at home TWO days in a row. So. Basically we’re unstoppable now. And did I mention tomorrow’s meal is planned? Yeah. We’re a big deal around here. 

Yesterday: 

Bacon-wrapped cheddar ranch chicken with baked potato and green beans. Made by yours truly. The chicken was Delicious, but the cheese and bacon didn’t stick to the chicken, so it was kind of like cheesy bacon served with ranch chicken. Not bad, just not the intended outcome. 

Today: 

HOME-FREAKING-MADE Orange Chicken with (from a box) Minute Rice. I cut up the chicken, then #ManShive did all the magic of mixing oranges and eggs and sugar and panko and I-don’t-know-what-else. Super good!
Tomorrow is going to be steak pinwheels. From the butcher counter at Kroger. Served with a baked sweet potato. #FancyFood

As you can see, we’re having a magical summer break. 

Cold as Ice

Omg. I know I just posted fewer than 15 minutes ago, but I am SHOCKED. 


I put ice in this cup LAST NIGHT, and there’s still ice in it RIGHT NOW. I’m talking almost exactly twenty-four (24!) hours of ice retention. 😲😲😲

We (#ManShive and I) bought a two-pack of these Reduce brand cups from Costco, and I am continuously impressed! My almost-three-year-old (what? how? that’s another post!) knocked it over, and the lid stayed sealed and didn’t spill a drop (though it would have spilled had there been more water–the water within didn’t reach the straw hole). My drink is always super cold. The straw is hard plastic and not that flimsy plastic stuff. 

My only problem: it’s plain! I don’t know what design to put on it. A monogram? My name? A funny or witty saying? A cute flower? A fun animal? Nothing at all? There are so many options! If you have some inspiration for me, I’m all ears! (Or eyes, I guess, since this is a blog and not a radio show. 😜)

A Toddler’s Awesome Week

The past week has been pretty great for #BabyShive!

  • Monday: her dad and I were both off work and we got to spend the day together (with her sister, of course!)
  • Tuesday: her cousin hung out with us all day, and we went to the library to check out books! We also played in the back yard and went for a walk/scooter ride/bike ride around the neighborhood. 
  • Wednesday: we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and played on their playground before going to Great Wolf Lodge and having a BLAST at their water park! I went with my two girls, my mom, my niece, and my niece’s dad. (An awesome friend of mine hooked us up with some extra passes!) That day was preeeeeetty great. 
  • Saturday: we went to my dad’s company’s summer picnic, and that happened to be at the Ft. Worth Zoo splash pad. It was an after-hours party, so we had the whole splash park to our limited group. So fun!!
  • Today: we went to Bagel House (that’s what my daughter calls Einstein Bros. Bagels, lol) and then got to go swimming at my parents’ house. 

Overall, I think she had a pretty awesome week. #SmallShive got to do all the same things and enjoyed herself as well, but she’s one, so she doesn’t talk about it with me. ☺️ 

I don’t think our remaining weeks of Summer Break will be nearly as adventurous, but it was probably my most exciting first week of Summer Break ever! Tomorrow, my big plan is… hit up a park? Maybe?

Happy Sunday night, y’all!