Lent for Beth

I was turned on to the blog Five Kids is a Lot of Kids a while back by my friend/neighbor Jen.  Beth is funny, honest, a little church-y (but we love her anyway), and gorgeous.  Her words are almost as beautiful as her smile and her blog is a joy to read.  So when she posted her Lent Challenge and Day 1 pictures*, I was shamed inspired into action.  I looked at the floor under her desk, glad that she’s just as human as I am, and then I looked at my dining room table.

2014-03-05 14.53.47Sigh.

It’s not that bad.  A basket of clean (folded!) laundry, two bags of stuff from Target, yet to be unpacked, the tray from Rex’s high chair, two yarn bags, etc.  The area to the left (that’s a coffee table under there, I promise!) has also been a irksome eyesore.  So I took her challenge.  I found a movie on Netflix that I’ve seen a gazillion times, I made myself a cup of coffee, checked to make sure the boy was still sleeping, and set to work.  And I didn’t stop at fifteen minutes.  I waded through the clutter until Rex woke up.  I finished while he was having his snack, and bythe time Jen and Conner arrived to play, I was done!

2014-03-05 16.38.53A clean and empty table, ready for dinner. Yay!  

The coffee table on the left, while it may still look piled up, is actually much better.  The nearest box is clothes to be taken with me on a visit to my sister’s.  The box next to it is a box of boxes.  The last box is toys to be sorted/donated, topped with a bag of cloth diapers to be listed on Craigslist.

It even stayed this way for a whole 10 minutes before toddlers destroyed it.  Oh well… What’s a Mama to do?

Play in the rain and stomp puddles on the deck, that’s what!

2014-03-05 16.56.16

I may have also done some clutter control in the kitchen, but didn’t get any pictures.  When the bug bites and the time is there, apparently I become a tornado of tidiness.

Or something like that…

*I don’t actually celebrate Lent, but I do like the cleaning inspiration.  Quite a few blogs have cleaning challenges going on during March.  Off the top of my head are OrgJunkie’s challenge from last year and Money Saving Mom’s 4 Week Challenge.


Office in a Closet

One day in October, I was getting my daily dose of RSS when I was hit with a post that lit up the lightbulb in my head so bright that it could have powered a small city.  It was this post on OrgJunkie, written by Deana Ward of Your Happy Stuff.

An office IN a closet?  A space where toddlers don’t pass by, causing an avalanche of papers with their wandering fingers.  A space that can be safely cordoned off with the use of certain child-proofing devices.

It was a positively brilliant idea.

My previous setup was a desk in the corner of the dining room. Besides taking up space, it gathered piles of stuff.  I usually ended up working at the table, rather than the desk, because it was easier.  The drawers of the desk proved too tempting for our neighboring toddler, who would open them, looking for implements of injury.  

It just wasn’t working.

Enter the hall closet.  Upon moving into this house, we were shocked at the number of closets.  There are more closets than bedrooms and it is glorious.  The hall closet is actually more like the living room/dining room/entry closet.  It was housing the vacuum, two guitars, and some other miscellaneous items.  After reading the post linked above, I ran out into the garage and grabbed an unused plastic shelving unit.  Of course, I didn’t measure first and then tried to shove a 36″ shelf into a 30″ closet.

Woops!  Time to rethink the plan.

A couple weeks went by and the state of my desk deteriorated.  With the money tree in hibernation, buying a new shelf wasn’t in the cards.  I needed to make do with what I had on hand.  A few days ago, I had a small cleaning fit and tidied up the kitchen, reorganizing some of the foodstuffs.  While doing so, I noticed my unused IKEA kitchen cart.  In our previous residence, it had been the side table at my chair.  But in this house, it had been shoved into a corner of the kitchen and been used as place to put things that didn’t have a home.  At the moment, it was housing some empty containers, a sad looking house plant, and being used to keep the blinds up (by tying the string to the cart).

So, I repurposed that sucker. I cleared the cart out, re-homed a few items in the closet, and transferred my desk to the cart.


The top of the cart houses the items I need often (envelopes, stamps, pens, etc.).  The middle shelf is the “IN” box. Incoming mail and things to be filed go there.  The bottom shelf is my filing folders. They contain manuals, paid bills, medical records, and other important information. Not pictured is my shred box, which is still looking for a permanent space, and the shelf of the closet.  The built-in closet shelf houses a box of batteries, a box of tape and scissors, and a box of candles.  (I was having a hard time getting a picture of the new setup, as Rex was trying to get to the guitar.)

The roll of paper next to the cart will soon be moving downstairs where it will be joined by the unused cupboard in the garage and the desk that is now empty.  Those will be setup as an art station in the play room.  This solution will free up a large amount of space in my dining room, just in time for Thanksgiving!

I’m finding this solution to be even better than a shelf, as I can pull the entire cart out when I need to do paperwork.  I just wheel it out to the table, deal with the paperwork, and then put it away.  It is out of sight when not in use, and more importantly, inaccessible by toddlers.

Total cost of this new setup = $0!  Yay for using what was on hand!

Today I…

  • Scrubbed the bathtub
  • Organized the baking cupboard
  • Cleaned the cat box
  • Did 3 loads of laundry and 2 loads of dishes
  • Took Dad coffee
  • Went to the store
  • Aired up Henrietta’s tires and took her for a ride
  • Took Grandma some soup
  • Made homemade pizza for dinner
  • Baked cookies

I think I’m ready to settle down and knit.  What do you think?

(I’m currently working on Ishbel in The Unique Sheep‘s Foot Prints.  Colorway is an exclusive one for the first Sip ‘N Stitch Club called “Quechua”.  Pictures to follow at some point.)

Pegboard and Shame

Despite my ovaries trying to claw their way out this weekend, I did manage to accomplish something.  Along with lots of help from my wonderful husband, the craft room now has pegboard across one wall!

Sadly, if you turn around from the pegboard, this is what still awaits me…

I have a long way to go to get the craft room under control.  But (with Sam’s help) I can do it!

Menu Plan Monday – May 31st, 2010

Ok, so it’s more like Tuesday, but still… With my new (frugal) life style ahead, it’s time to get back into MPM.  I’m so excited that I will be able to actually go to the Farmer’s Market now!  Look for more seasonal menus coming soon.

Monday: Happy Memorial Day!


  • Breakfast – Eggy toast with bacon
  • Lunch – Lunch with Mom
  • Dinner – Pesto chicken with mozzarella and red potatoes

Wednesday: Eating out day

  • Breakfast – Eggs and toast
  • Lunch – Soup from Sophia’s
  • Dinner – Wasabi Sushi with friends

Thursday: Yarn Night

  • Breakfast – Egg whites on toast
  • Lunch – Tuna with aoili, pickles, and lettuce on sourdough
  • Dinner – Turkey, pesto, and cheese sandwich


  • Breakfast – Eggs and toast
  • Lunch – Bologna and cheese sandwich
  • Dinner – Chicken fajitas


  • Breakfast – Eggs, bacon, and toast
  • Lunch – Dealer’s choice sandwich
  • Dinner – Chicken curry


  • Breakfast – Eggs, bacon, and toast
  • Lunch – Leftover curry
  • Dinner – Slow cooked beef with veggies

Menu Plan Monday – March 29, 2010

Aaaand… I’m back with MPM!  I’ve missed it deeply the last few weeks and my evenings of unplanned dinner have felt chaotic.  It’s time to get myself back on the wagon and start planning again!  (You’ll also note that my meals have taken on a different flavor.  I am trying to eat more protein and less carbs these days, for health reasons.  I am discovering a surprising new world of delicious recipes.)


  • Lunch – Frozen Amy’s Kitchen dinner that looked yummy when I went grocery shopping
  • Dinner – Company dinner


  • Lunch – Tuna with Aoili on whole wheat
  • Dinner – Spaghetti with ground turkey


  • Lunch – Lunch with Mom
  • Dinner – Leftover spaghetti (I’m teaching a class at the shop)



  • Lunch – Leftover quiche.
  • Dinner Chicken curry with veggies

Saturday & Sunday:

    The Family is coming over for Easter.  Meal planning goes out the window.  (Hoping to make homemade baked doughnuts though…)

Menu Plan Monday: February 15th, 2010

That’s right, dearies.  It’s Monday again!  And you know what that means… MPM!!  I think my menu planning has become the highlight of my Mondays.  It’s a time where I can take control of what feels like an out of control day and pretend (for a little while) that my week won’t dissolve into chaos.  (You might wonder how it is in my little fantasy world.  It’s nice, they know me here.)

I have been approved for surgery (more on that later, gotta keep you guessing) which means I have to start altering the foods I take in.  I need to take in more protein and less carbs.  That, combined with more exercise (I joined the YMCA!) means less evening time to cook, but healthier food that needs to be eaten.  My format for MPM is changing a bit to incorporate the day’s big activity(s) as well as breakfast/lunch for myself (I need to stop winging it).  Let’s see if I can make it work.  (P.S. I got a big bag of Clementines at Costco, so you can just mentally insert those into every day.)

Monday: Doctor’s appointment, trying out the Step class at the Y at 5:30pm.

  • Breakfast – Mmm… breve with flavor (I’m being naughty today)
  • Lunch – Sophia’s Soup Factory  (I have a doctor’s appointment, so I need something fast and easy and I didn’t have enough brain to pack food this morning.)
  • Dinner – Baked Steelhead Salmon with lemon and herbs, pan roasted asparagus, and french bread

Tuesday: Zumba at the Y at 5:30pm.

  • Breakfast – 8oz homemade granola with plain yogurt
  • Lunch – Ham and cheese sandwich, salad with oil and vinegar, and a small serving of lightly salted Kettle Chips
  • Dinner – Slow cooker chicken Adobo (I am determined to cook this.  Perhaps the third time’s a charm?) with mixed veggies and red potatoes

Wednesday: Teaching the last session of the crochet hat class.

  • Breakfast – Mmm… breve with flavor (it’s double punch day and I take Dad coffee), ham and cheese bagel
  • Lunch – Weekly lunch with Mom
  • Dinner – Leftover chicken Adobo for me, hubby gets to fend for himself

Thursday: Yarn night and taco truck day!

  • Breakfast – 8oz homemade granola with plain yogurt
  • Lunch – Taco truck day!
  • Dinner – Dealer’s choice

Friday: Zumba at 5:30pm.

  • Breakfast – Latte and Artisan sandwich at Starbucks
  • Lunch – Turkey and cheese sandwich, salad with oil and vinegar, and a small serving of lightly salted Kettle Chips
  • Dinner – French Dip sandwiches (without the juice, inspired by A Slob Comes Clean)

Saturday: Tyler comes to visit Grandma & Papa, I’m probably driving up to help pick him up.

  • Breakfast – Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, yum!
  • Lunch – Flexible, probably do something out with Mom and Dad.
  • Dinner – Shepherd’s Pie with ground beef and mixed veggies, mashed red potatoes for topping

Sunday: Making a duct tape dummy with Liisa!

  • Breakfast – Homemade bagel breakfast sandwich
  • Lunch – Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup
  • Dinner – Stir fry with chicken, veggies, and ramen

Looking at this menu, I can see that I seriously need to cut down on my espresso.  In the coming weeks I have to give up caffeine again, so I guess I’ll live it up this week.  Wish me luck!