Monday, August 28, 2017

Staying busy

I've managed to remain pretty busy these past few days. I am working on a rainbow baby blanket and it is coming out nicely.

I will post final pictures once it is finished, probably in about a week. I spent a little time Saturday night writing down the projects I want to tackle using yarn I have in the craft room. Looks like I will be busy for quite some time if I plan to make all of those lovely items on the list!

I upgraded my phone Saturday morning after a nice leisurely brunch at Cracker Barrel with my husband. I wanted a phone with a better camera so went from the LG3 to the LG6. I hated to upgrade after only 2 years because the phone is in great shape, but the camera just wasn't doing it for me. Here's a comparison of photos taken by the different cameras with the new one being on top. I did play around with an effect for the photo so it isn't as crisp as the original picture, but you can certainly see the difference in the colors which was my main complaint with the LG3 camera - the colors were never quite right. The great thing about staying with the LG is that I didn't have to learn the phone all over again!

My parents celebrated their 51st anniversary on Sunday and we all went to lunch together. Longhorn Steakhouse was so sweet and brought them a complementary dessert to share!

Mondays are usually my big "to-do" list days. I've managed to get through most of it, so will probably put the rest of my chores on other days this week. One big thing I worked on this morning was decluttering my bookshelves and pulling out books I no longer want to keep. That meant the final clearing out of books I had purchased for our homeschool - most of them were ex-library books and so not accepted by the used book store. However, my local library will take them and put them out in their used book sales, so I will be dropping them off there soon. It feels good to be getting rid of books that will never be read anyway. I did find that some of my books are worth selling so I will be listing them online when I figure out where the best place for that is!

My oldest starts his EMT training today at the local community college. He will take the Advanced EMT classes in the spring, sit for his certification exams and then begin working as an EMT next summer sometime until he decides whether or not he is going to pursue medical school. It is a tough decision to make as it is a TON of money through school loans and about 8-10 years of schooling/training before he would achieve his dream of being a surgeon. Some days, he isn't sure the dream is worth the investment and, other days, he is totally gung-ho about it. I think a lot will depend upon whether he gets into medical school or not on his first try. He also has the option to pursue Paramedic and Advanced Paramedic training/certification which would help him learn more skills and earn more money ... We will see!

This week looks to be a nice, easy week and I am looking forward to a lot of time for crochet and reading! I plan to review some books this week, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The week so far

It's been sort of a busy week with lots of errand running. That is not my favorite type of week. I love those days where I have NOTHING to do because it means more crochet time!

My husband, son & girlfriend and I went to view the total eclipse in Andrews, NC. We had our telescope with solar filter and found a spot alongside the road where 2 other families were set up. They had cameras and got some amazing photos. Another young man popped in about 15 minutes before totality and we enjoyed the total eclipse together. It was really neat - as we got closer to the total eclipse, the temperature cooled, crickets and frogs came out and the wind stopped. We could see the solar flares on the sun during totality! Our trip over was a bit under 3 hours and our drive home was over twice that! Traffic home was insane! However, we can't wait to do it all over again in 2024 because it was such a wonderful experience.

I want to share a wonderful product that I'd highly recommend - My youngest son has a really difficult problem with gingivitis and our dental hygienist recommended the Crest HD treatment, so I went out and bought it and, in about a week, the redness of my son's gums is almost GONE! It costs about $13 and is worth every penny. My oldest son has gum issues, too, and I believe he is going to try this product as well to see if it will help him.

I'm starting to work on a rainbow baby blanket this week. I hope it comes out ok. Sometimes, it is difficult to take a pattern and put yarn to it and envision the final project. I hope to get this blanket done within a couple of weeks so I can move onto another project. I only have 524,937 projects that I want to complete before I die! LOL!

I haven't been eating as well as I should (i.e. I've been eating gluten, more carbs, sugar, etc.) and I can tell this in my energy levels. So, I need to get back to leaving these items out of my diet and hope my energy levels go back up. I'm still motivated to get up and go to the gym and that is a good thing!

Guess that is all for the week so far. I hope that your week is going well!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Tour of my Home - Laundry & Hall Closets

** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

I am very thankful that my laundry room is NOT in the basement. It can be a bit noisier to have the washer and dryer in the hallway, but I'll take that over a basement laundry any day! We have a 3-pocket sorter and NO laundry baskets. Laundry goes from the dryer to the bed and then gets put away ... well, most of the time. Sometimes, the laundry ends up on my dresser top to put away the next day!

I have see-through containers on the shelves above so that I can see what is in them and know which one to grab. They are full of cleaning supplies, Glade plug-ins, lightbulbs, medicines and other odds and ends.

Our quilts, blankets, sheets, tablecloths, beach towels and other linens are stored on the shelves next to the dryer.

Finally, we have this small closet (it is opposite diagonally from the laundry closet) which I am so thankful for! It was extra space behind the shower in the hall bath and the builders had the forethought to use it for something! There are lots of shelves and it holds all kinds of toiletry items. I will stock up when something goes on sale!

I am not taking you into the hall bath or my son's bedroom because there isn't much to show you in those rooms. So, next, we will see the master bed and bath.

A Tour of my Home - Master Bed & Bath

** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

Trying to find an older house with a bedroom big enough for a king size bed can be tricky! We lucked out with this house. All 4 dogs sleep with us so we have to have blankets and a dog bed for them to snuggle into at night!

This is my dresser and I honestly keep it clean most of the time. The plastic basket holds lonely socks and the other baskets hold my perfumes. Clothes in the dresser include pajamas, socks, shorts, turtlenecks and a few sweaters ... mostly anything that doesn't need hanging up.

Now, for my closet. I arrange clothing by type, so like things are stored together. Sweaters and hoodies are stored on the middle shelf and in the hanging container in the top photo. This side of the closet holds jeans, capris and skorts as well as my shoes. I do have boots that I wear only in the winter and they are stored on the top shelf (can't see it in this photo) and switched out with my sandals each year.

This side holds all of my tops and vests. Every January, I put all of the clothing on the pole with the hanger hook facing forward. As I wear a piece of clothing and put it back on the hanger, I face the hook towards the back of the closet. When January rolls around again, I have to take a look at the clothing with the hooks still facing forward and decide if I'm going to keep the items another year or not. If I haven't worn it in a year, will I really wear it next year? After storing some clothing in the craft room, I decluttered and gave away a bunch of clothing this year, so I finally got all of my clothing into this closet and I will not allow myself to buy clothing unless I have space for it in the bedroom.

I have a lot of necklaces which are mostly worn in the winter or when going out to eat and I store them on tie/belt racks organized by color. Behind them is another hanging container that holds shoes I don't wear very often, like dressy shoes or boots. I felt it was best to hang them there because it's a hard to reach area anyway!

And just to keep it real, here is my husband's armoire which he hasn't decluttered in I don't know how long! That is an essential oil diffuser on the right which I use a couple times weekly to keep the room smelling clean. The box fan is used every night so that I don't hear all of the little noises the dogs make while I am sleeping!

Now for our small bathroom. When we moved here, the sink was in the room and only the toilet and shower were behind the door. We fixed that a few years ago and put in a pocket door so that a swinging door doesn't take up extra space.

I keep the counters pretty clear thanks to the wall shelf, the basket on the back of the toilet and drawers in the vanity.

In the cabinet below, you will see my collection of Bath & Body Works However, I won't be replacing these as I use them up because they are full of ingredients that really are not good for us. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and what we put on it matters! I have found some good natural shower gels and lotions and will be using them beginning in 2018, dumping most of what you see here in the trash. For now, I've decided to enjoy these shower gels and lotions for the rest of the year.

I also love having the wall hook unit for hanging pajamas, belts and my bathing suit.

As in the hall bath, all towels are stored below the sink for easy access. It may seem like we have a lot of towels, but the white ones are older ones that we use for bathing the dogs.

My facial cleansing and makeup items are kept in various containers inside the drawers.

Final room for me to share is my craft room!

Tour of my Home - Craft Room

** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

My "yarn" room is my most favorite room in my home because it is full of all of my yarny goodness! I have lots and lots of yarn from many companies and I actually have plans for most of it.

This is what you see when standing in the hallway looking into the craft room.

This is the first shelf on the left side.

Then going around the room, we have the following:

The fridge under the desk holds all of my essential oils. Refrigerating them doubles their usage time. When my oils "expire," I use them in cleaning items or keep using them in the diffuser knowing that their therapeutic properties are not there anymore. It doesn't mean they still don't smell good! The cupboard houses more aromatherapy supplies. Of course, there is yarn in the bins!

I also have a small space off of our living room that holds my papercrafting supplies. I also like to cross-stitch and want to learn embroidery, so I have a set of DMC flosses in all colors. I'm not sure I have enough time left on this earth to complete all of the projects I want to do!

Well, that is the grand tour of my home. It's nothing you will see in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, but I am more about having a home that works for us and not a showplace.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Natural Products - a short list

A few years ago I became more interested in using personal products that use natural ingredients and did not contain ingredients that are bad for us. Here are 10 you should highly avoid (read the linked article for more information):
  • Parabens
  • Synthetic colors
  • Fragrance
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium laureth (SLES) 
  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • Sunscreen chemicals (benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate)
I thought I would share some companies that I have purchased products from and recommend. You can check them out and decide if they have anything to offer you! There are a TON of natural product companies out there, but these are the only ones I have purchased from.
It feels good knowing that I am using products that do not contain harmful ingredients. Of course, as I get older, I want to use facial care products that will help with wrinkles, firming the skin and such. So, I will be doing some research to see if I can reconcile my desire for better looking skin without using products that contain harmful ingredients.

A Tour of my Home - Dining Room & Sitting Area

** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

This space was used as a living room when we first moved here because we wanted to use the fireplace. However, we quickly found out that it doesn't draw well, so there was no point in squeezing the four of us into this tiny space. It has been a dining room for a long time now. This is the room as seen from the foyer.

This is the room while standing in the kitchen. The shelving units are made of reclaimed barnwood and were purchased last year at a local antique store. I used to sell Southern Living at Home many moons ago and so most of my dinnerware and other SLaH items are stored here.

Since our fireplace doesn't work, we snagged a bunch of cut up logs from the side of the road and put them in here! The pottery and basket come from the farm that Jim lived on during his childhood.

Some of the bins in the shelves hold stationery items, like note cards and address labels.

Right next to the dining room is a little sitting area. This area was a breakfast nook when we were using the dining room as a living room. It has also been an office area when I had a desk. Now it is just a quiet place to sit and read or chit-chat after dinner.

The corner cabinet is another reclaimed barnwood piece and it houses the other half of my Penguin Clothbound Classics collection and more Southern Living at Home items.

In the bottom of the cabinet, I store decorating items and candles.

Here is a photo I found when this space was an office area. This is a "first day of school" picture from about 6 years ago for my youngest son, Ian. He is Shadow's favorite person!

Now, we will venture down the hallway!

A Tour of my Home - Kitchen

 ** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

This is probably the room I spend the most time in besides the living room. We eat pretty clean and healthy, so all of my dinner cooking is from scratch. This is also the room most in need of an update. Not sure why they dropped the ceiling to 7 feet! We've painted the cabinets twice. The appliances were bought last year, but everything else is original to when we bought this house 16 years ago. We will remodel it eventually! The items on the counter on the right side of the sink include a food scale, a utensil holder for overflow,  and a ceramic dish which holds our phone chargers and various papers. Jim and I sit here every morning. Jim eats breakfast and I drink my coffee and we share stories from the news or Facebook.

I recently purchased two anti-fatigue mats since I spend a lot of time preparing food. Some nights, I am cutting, preparing and cooking for up to 2 hours depending on the dish! I highly recommend them - they have made a huge difference in how I feel when standing so long. I purchased 2 sizes - you can see the longer one - Butterfly Anti-Fatigue 24 by 70 Inch Quatrefoil Kitchen Comfort Mat, Antique - in the photo above. The smaller one - Butterfly Anti-Fatigue 20 x 39 Inch Quatrefoil Kitchen Comfort Mat, Antique - is in front of the sink. Here is a close-up picture of the pattern. I love them!
The pantry is to the left of the picture. See the recycle bag hanging on the door knob? This is the easiest way to take care of it for us!

Now, this is the inside of the pantry. Less used appliances are on the top shelf and I try to group items by type. Notice I didn't straighten this up ... I know where everything is now so I didn't want to mess that up - ha!

You will see that I do not subscribe to the "empty counters" philosophy. Items used often stay out. I have a smoothie almost daily and this Bosch mixer is what I use to start up my bread. Next to the mixer are 2 items I use daily - the plastic cookbook holder and the dry erase board. If someone needs me to pick up an item or remind me to do something, they know to write it on the board! Weekly menu and coupons are on the fridge.

The other counter area holds cooking utensils and my 2 coffee makers. Yes, I have two! I bought my Ninja thinking I would get rid of the Keurig, but I find the Keurig pods so handy that I can't bring myself to get rid of it! However, in switching over to healthier coffee, I may need to find a new home for it soon. The blue dish holds items we use almost daily.

I have found that using Lazy Susans in my cupboards makes it easy to find items I am needing. One cabinet holds our daily meds and vitamins, while the other has 2 Lazy Susans holding my spices which are arranged in alphabetical order.

Continuing in our circle through the living area, we will go to the dining room and sitting area!

A Tour of my Home - Nook

 ** To view other rooms in my home, start here **

This room was a dining room when we looked at buying this house. We tried it as a dining room, but it was really too small. This room has been the following:
- a dining room
- a schoolroom when we homeschooled
- a craft room
- a reading nook/sitting area

I know the rug isn't centered in the room. We learned the hard way that we walk around the table to get from the kitchen to the living room and so we wear that end of a rug out REALLY FAST! When we bought this new rug in June, I aligned it so we are walking on the wood flooring. Jim's telescope is in the corner of the room and his evening warming blanket on the chair!

So, it is a versatile space! For now, it holds a pub table where we play games and a buffet which is our office area holding our printer and my computer when it is charging. Under the buffet on the left is my bucket of whole wheat that I grind for making bread. This room is near the kitchen so it is the best place to store it. Also, there is a chair from the dining room in case we need to add more seating. The ottoman holds my crochet project box. I usually put my feet up when crocheting!

Office supplies in the buffet!

Finally, I thought I'd show you a trick I use because I don't sew. I do own a sewing machine, but I've never learned how to use it! I just shorten long curtains to the desired length by using the hook clips! See the bit I folded over before clipping??

And, just for fun, here is a picture of this space as a craft room a few years ago before my son moved downstairs and I was finally able to take over his bedroom and make it my craft room! This is before I started crocheting and was only into papercrafting/scrapbooking. The walls are also the original yellow color.

Now, let's venture into the kitchen!