Sunday, May 29, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Tasty Foods!

It's almost June. Really? Where did the first five months of this year go?! I'm not ready for June. June means summer and holidays and my son starting playschool in September. I'm NOT ready for that. Nope. Not at all...

It also means it is only a few more months (four, likely) until we have snow again. I like snow, i don't even mind winter but after a seemingly endless winter, I've had more than enough for right now!

But summer does appear to be hear, even if she doesn't technically arrive until June 21... But it's light, it's warm, the birds are singing and the grass is green. It doesn't get much more summery than this! This makes me happy. Although I don't always cope well with the heat, I do like barbecuing, spending time outside, camping and eating lots of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit! Our fridge will be brimming with lots of ripe fruit and vegetables, all yummy and fresh and it won't taste like last year!

Our vacation is coming up at the end of June and I'm looking forward to that. We did a similar trip with my parents the year TroubleMaker was born and I'm looking forward to being able to share my favourite place on Earth with my son, who is now very aware of where and who he is and is starting to form lasting memories! So bring on summer, bring on the sun, the backyard inflatable pool, slurpees, sunburns and hat season, I'm READY!!!

What does Summer mean to you? Or winter, if you're on the other side of the globe? ;)

May 30 to June 4

Monday: Crockpot Barbecue Beef Sandwiches New Recipe
Tuesday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday: Hamburgers & Salad
Thursday: BBQ Pork Chops
Friday: Weeknight Lasagna Toss
Saturday: Family Barbecue at my parents
Sunday: Chicken Burgers

Monday: Cottage Cheese with onions
Tuesday: mini bagel pizzas
Wednesday: -
Thursday: -
Friday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches

Monday: Granola with yogurt & berries
Tuesday: Toast
Wednesday: Cereal
Thursday: Cereal
Friday: Muffins
Saturday: Bacon & Eggs
Sunday: Bacon & Eggs

For more great menu planning tips and tricks, check out the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday and we'll see you again next week! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

52 Week Organizing Challenge: Week 21 - The Outdoor Organizing Project

There are lots of things on my list of things to organize. Some are big... Ok, most are big but every so often something creeps up and says "ORGANIZE ME!"

That is what happened this week. My original intent was to get back into my office and do some more cleaning an purging, however, it is the end of May and we are most likely free from frost and snow. So it means GARDENING season is upon us! I'll add now that there is a frost warning tonight. GRRR!!!! My poor tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, marigolds, petunias and gerbera daisies!!!!

How does one organize a garden? Well, you see... I'm botanically challenged - and before you Google it, it is a real affliction. ;) My green thumb is green enough but I often have a hard time differentiating weeds and plants. Case in point - our gardens. When we moved in, the former owners had mad gardening skills. They had the side garden all decked out in shrubs and colour. We quickly dug up many of the plants, mistaking them for weeds...

Photobucket the pretty German Statice I dug up by accident during year two

We added a few, killed a few more but mostly, it's just overrun with dandelions and weed-like plants such as Yarrow, Lamb's Ear and the rogue poppies and sunflowers that grow like weeds (such as wild onions and dill) in this neighbourhood.

PhotobucketPoppies - grow like weeds

This year, I've had enough. With my full time job, blogging, crafting and home renovation projects, something had to go. So I chose flower bed. I spent this weekend on a backyard mission to tidy, purge and organize the yard into a user friendly, attractive, kid friendly place that I can sit and enjoy once and while instead of spending every weekend morning weeding, thinning and filling bag after bag with weeds.

The East garden was simple enough. It's the one I've done the most damage too over the years. What remains are day lilies, tiger lilies, hyacinth, tulips, some weird tulip like plant with teeny little flowers and the very hardy Nanking Cherry tree I got as a Mother's Day gift from my niece, sister and brother in law. I also added some Hens & chicks a couple years ago that took over... I thinned those last year only to see they had babies... Like 100 babies!

So I pulled up all the new edging I pounded in last year, encircled the plants I want to keep (there were six) and that's it. We're digging up the weeds and planting grass. I then hope to get add a couple of fence mounted flower baskets for colour.

I planted four pots of flowers and decided to overhaul our patio. Every thing came off, I washed it (yes, I actually washed paving stones) and then reorganized everything! It looks amazing! I finally feel like we are starting to make our house ours!

I didn't take any before pictures... Too much to do and no camera handy! And I don't have any 'after pictures' either... I know - after Laura suggested always taking pictures to make your story pop and have it be an inspiration! But I figure since the 'finished' project isn't exactly finished, once I get the grass in, I'll update!

Thanks for popping by and I hope you think 'out of the ordinary' for one of your upcoming projects - gardens, like drawers and clsoets, need our love too!

For more great inspiration, check out all of us participating in the 52 Week Challenge at the Organizing Junkie's site!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We-Design-Day: The Foyer Project

With the planning done for our basement renovation, I suppose it's time to move onto the next project waiting in the wings... A couple weeks ago, my husband suggested we look at doing the back entry way next. He wanted to rehang the handrail that fell down two to five years ago (it's been down long enough that neither of us can remember when it came down and we stowed it in the laundry room).

This week, I’ve been exploring the different things to do to our entry way in order to complete the renovation to it as soon as possible. There are a few things I’ve looked at since moving into our home and one of them was this area. It’s a small, tight area that always seems to collect everything (especially dirt) and never has enough storage space for all those things one needs when leaving the house. Our back door houses leashes, dog treats, shoes, coats, winter apparel, toys, bags, summer products (sunscreen, bug spray, bubbles, sidewalk chalk). It truly is a ‘catch all’ for everything and as it stands presently, it isn’t working.

I did do some extensive cleaning and purging a year ago. I incorporated storage bins and recycled some of TroubleMaker’s Lego-like bins. This does work; however, because we have so much stuff, it isn’t easy to access any of it. A bin for hats, dog stuff, our winter gear, TroubleMaker’s winter gear, and helmets is just too cumbersome and problematic, especially when rushing out of the house in a panic.

We have too many coats and shoes – even with seasonal rotation so we need a way to store more in less space.

The plan (in no order):
Remove the bar and install coat hooks
Build a shoe storage rack with a bench on one side with extra shoe cubbies up to beneath shelf
Paint the area, repaint hand rail/balustrades
Install & pain wainscoting along South wall
Replace baseboards
Repair stairs (we have some loose nosings)
Repair & Replace handrails
Install new light fixture
Key storage
Leash storage
Purse storage (I’m always misplacing my purse in the house – I’d like to keep it at the back door)
Replace door
Replace door casings
Repair weather stripping on door
Repair screen and window on storm door
Create studio wall on West wall down stair well
Repair walls
Install door stop

It’s a long list – my husband didn’t want to replace the door but I think we should. To me, it’s like doing half the job but it’s still up in the air as the door is in reasonable condition. The light fixture has been on our ‘to do’ list for years. We seriously dislike all the light fixtures in the house but cost has prevented us from doing them all. I also think this is the kind of thing one must do all at once because if you don’t, you run the risk of not being able to get the companion or coordinating pieces later when your budget allows. I’ve also not found much I like… Or when I do, they don't have fixtures suitable for the several lights we have in close proximity to one another.

I’m a simple person and I like clean lines and not a lot of fuss but I like a lot of light in this area and that’s a big bill to fit for our budget. The area has very high ceilings (16’) so I need a large fixture to adequately fill the space and not have it dwarfed (in scale) to the large area it’s hanging in. What we have now is terrible (80’s brass and plastic danglies) and as a result, it doesn’t get cleaned, repaired or even looked at but now is the time to address it – but with what, is the problem.

The colour scheme will be carried throughout the house and I find this the most daunting of tasks because I have to make the ‘right’ choice, not knowing what’s in store for the adjacent areas. The next project will be enclosing the studio but after that we are looking at the kitchen – which is the first space you see when you come up from the foyer. It has to pull the space together but I have to ‘match’ it to the cupboards and I do not think we’ll be replacing them but refinishing them (a job I swore I’d never, ever do again after refacing the cabinets in our condo).

I love colour but I have reservations about applying it in my own home and always tend to lean towards a very neutral, bland pallet. This is in part to ensure harmony between my husband and I but also because I fear picking the ‘wrong’ colour. Being a designer often has it’s challenges – like being under scrutiny by those who come to your home expecting design perfection.

But I’m tired of the horrible blue we’ve had for seven years. I’m ready for change, I’m ready for different, I’m ready for bold! Come back next week and I’ll reveal the back entrance makeover!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - May 22 to 29

What my husband and dog do when we go away

It's Sunday night and I'm sitting up in the spare bed as TroubleMaker sleeps in the big bed in the pink room at my Mom's house. My niece and sister are tucked away downstairs, my Mom & step dad are sleeping at the other end of the house and I'm just enjoying a few minutes before turning in myself.

We've had a good weekend - a great weekend - just sitting around laughing, playing and talking. These times are good for my soul and as you've probably realized, it's something we try to do often.

I always feel so productive when I come here - maybe because there is nothing to do - I've written everyday, played games (Wii, Scrabble, etc), helped my Mom with cooking and dishes, went shopping and spent lots of time getting hugs and laughs in. We even did a craft today (I'd hope to have the pictures uploaded, but didn't quite get the craft done yet)! We played outside, the kids ran and shouted lots and I even got to flip through a couple of cookbooks and pick out a couple of new recipes to take home with me! If you can believe it, we even skipped rope and I learned that I can still 'jump in' to a moving skipping rope and I even taught my niece how to do it!

It's back to the real world tomorrow - which is alright, I suppose. Life can't be all fun and games!

This week also marks my fifth wedding anniversary - I can't believe how time flies... I expect my beautiful apple tree to be in full bloom when we get home tomorrow - because you know, the ONLY year since we moved into the house when it wasn't blooming at the end of May was the year we planned our wedding UNDER the apple tree! My Dad & step Mom are taking TroubleMaker and our Goof 'over night' Friday and I'm looking very forward to spending some quality time with my husband!

We've got a good menu lined up this week and with the rainy weather that's being predicted, we'll give the barbecue a few days off!

May 22 to May 29

Monday: Two step Honey Dijon Chicken
Tuesday: Beef & Bean Burritos
Wednesday: Tuna Casserole
Thursday: Mushroom & Chicken Linguine
Friday: Dinner out (It's our 5th Wedding Anniversary)
Saturday: Pizza Party!
Sunday: Crockpot Barbecue Beef Sandwiches New Recipe

Tuesday: Bagels & cream cheese
Wednesday: -
Thursday: -
Friday: Cottage Cheese with cucumbers

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Toast
Wednesday: Cereal
Thursday: Muffins
Friday: Toast
Saturday: Bacon & Eggs
Sunday: Buttermilk Pancakes

For more great menu planning tips, tricks and resources, check out the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you again next week!

She Ain't Heavy, she's my sister (and she's yours for $5.00)

For those of you with siblings, you will probably understand the innate ability of one sibling to get the other into trouble. In my family, it was always the "baby" of the family who caused the trouble for my parents and my brother and I. She was always sweet and dainty and tiny with finger nails like an eagle's talons. My parents only ever saw the adorable sweet little girl with the long, fluttery eyelashes.

As my sister and I became teenagers, I think our parents began to see with Devil that slept within my sister... But even her coming home tipsy and running smack dab into my Dad's chest well after curfew didn't get her in trouble. She ran amok and followed me like a puppy (because as she'll tell you, my friends would give me grief if she didn't tag along - that isn't actually true but I won't burst her bubble... ;)

Anyhow, we are well into adulthood now with children of our own and our relationship hasn't grown much. Each trip to my mother's brings the typical sister squabbles and her continual insistence of turning the photos of my brother and I around so only her picture is showing. She tattles to our mother for every little thing ("Mom, Corrie is hitting me!" - when I'm not) and bats her eyelashes and tries to look innocent (my Mom now knows better).

Trips to the local stores always illicit childlike behaviour (especially the dollar store) and has my sister setting off everything with batteries, trying on wigs, hats and giant sunglasses. Trips also involve buying things and doing things I wouldn't normally do.

The last trip had me colouring my hair an odd shade of coppery red and this trip involved me buying "bling" for my laptop. Now I will admit that hanging out with my sister is fun and I do these things because in the moment, it generally seems like a good idea. Reflecting on it, it seems like a waste of money and so out of character for me (I've always been the responsible, mature one).

I like the bling - in theory. But I know my husband will tease me - just like he does when I spend any time with Lizz... She tends to bring me back to a time in my past when I was very "rural"...

None the less, sisters are fun and annoying - but I wouldn't part with mine (even if I did try to sell her to the bag boy at the Sobey's yesterday). She's been my best friend, my worst enemy - likely all in the same day! I love her and she keeps connected.

So here's to you Lizz!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's the End of the World...

I'm not usually one to get caught up in the "end of the world" hype but what would May 21, 2011 be (to me) without taking the time to talk biblical prophecy! Keep in mind I am not a religious scholar, nor am I really all that well versed in the Bible. But I love drawing conclusions, making comparisons and talking to an audience!

April 1, 2011 is apparently 1,978 years since Jesus Christ was crucified (based on a year being 365 days a year) but taking into account a solar year is 365.2422, to get the number of 'days' since Crucifixion, you have to multiply the number of years by the number of days in a solar year - which comes to 722,449 days since Jesus Christ was crucified.

Next if you look at numbers that are of important religious significance - 5, 10 & 17 (to find the meaning, read this) and you multiply those numbers together once and then square them, you get 722,500. Which naturally, Preacher Camping realized is only different from the days since Crucifixion by 51! Coincidence? He thought not and decided to add 51 to the number of days since Crucifixion (because that's obvious) which brings us to May 21, 2011 - today.

He also decided the time would be around 6pm Pacific (7pm Mountain). Who knew Jesus was going to be so courteous to let us all know what time he'd be arriving! I like company like that! So as I type this, we're just over an hour and a half until the Rapture! I know I won't be going anywhere (meaning I'll have to endure on Earth cause I'm a nasty sort) so we're preparing a nice barbecue dinner for my Mom & Step Dad. Ribs, twice baked potatoes and corn on the cob. Then we're going to play Wii and eat Angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream... OHHHHH!!!! Is it just coincidence that we're having Angel food cake?! I think not! It's a sign...

Anyway, I suppose if he's right we'll know soon. If not, we've always got next year when the Mayan calendar runs out (because, yanno, the first priority for a dying civilization is to ensure they have enough days left on their calendar) and I recall the end of the world back in 1983 when I was 8 - I wrote my will that time. I'm really glad it didn't end then because I think I left everything to my sister and I know she would have just ruined my Rockstar Barbie!

I wish I had some deep and profound thoughts with the end so rapidly approaching but I don't have anything profound. I will ask my sister and the kids their thoughts...

Me to them: "Do you have anything profound to say?"

TroubleMaker: "No."

My niece: "To preserve nature and stop destroying it."

Princess: "No, I'm all out of deep and profound things to say."

I guess that just about sums it up! Oh... Except that R.E.M knew it was coming too - or at least I think they did... One of the lines in the song "The End of the World (as we know it)" talks about it happening at six o'clock... Coincidence?! I think not!

You know you're in the country when...

It's late - around 12:30am (MST) and the house is quiet. I'm at my Mom's for the official start to Summer (in my province anyway) and the whole house is still and silent.

And as I sat here catching up on some blog reading, I heard a gun blast. Now I am not a gun expert but I would suppose it was a shotgun - probably fired off at some random animal a mile or three away from my parent's farm. It left me with a weird feeling - not frightened or anything but just curious to know what on earth got shot as the night is dead silent (no pun intended). Often we hear the coyotes crying and dogs barking and I know they had a bear in the area a couple years back but there was barely even the constant din of the highway traffic.

You know you're in the country when you hear a gun being fired and it isn't followed by the scream of police sirens!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

52 Week Challenge: Week 20 - Sort, tear and purge (Magazine Challenge)

After the success I had last week cleaning up part of my office, I decided to do a simple task this week that would help me pare down some of the items needing to be stored in my new space. Some time back, while I was with my Mom who was purging and cleaning her stuff, I took a box of craft books and magazines. I'm an avid crafter and sewer and I love pouring through magazines for inspiration, ideas and new techniques.

The problem is, I look at them, get inspired and then put them away because I never really have time (or space - did you see my studio - where would I work?!) - "One day" I always think - when I'm retired, on holidays, a weekend... But one day never comes - and often when I do get a chance, I forget what I wanted to do!

Another tip I got from the organizing seminar was that one shouldn't keep more than one magazine holder (meaning one of these) full of magazines. Use the "one in, one out" rule when it gets full or better yet, try this approach - which is what I decided to do with the box of magazines from my Mom...

Sit down (I did it in front of the TV a la Laura) and go through the magazine page by page. When you come to an idea or piece you want to keep, tear it out! Then you can sort them all in page protectors and clip those in a three ring binder!

I know - it's such a simple thing and so obvious... But I come from a long line of "Do not harm the book/magazine/newspaper" people (and I married the ultimate preserver of written word). We do not deface the written word... Ever. No dog earred pages, no broken spines and the newspaper shall be put back together with all the sheets matched - not one can be out of place...

It was difficult and odd and went against everything I knew to be right and true. And when I found the first thing I wanted to keep, I'm quite certain my husband died a little as he heard the 'thrrrrruuuuuuuupppppp' as carefully tore the page from the non-creased, still intact craft magazine from 1996.


But you know what? By the third thing I tore out, it seemed natural and OK. I was conserving the best part and the pages and pages of advertising will no longer interfere with my ability to read the instructions! I also found that my tastes have changed drastically in the past fifteen years... Things I once thought were 'too cute' for words are now tacky and "OMG! I can't BELIEVE I ever liked that!" It's liberating too - it's an odd sort of freedom getting out from under a stack of paper. I get to keep what I want - just what I want... Hmmmm...

I shared this gem with my husband (remember the thousands of mags hidden away in our laundry room) - but he insists he cannot do that. Ever. You see, his magazines are informative and education and research material and he couldn't just keep bits and pieces because he never knows what he may look back for to practice or a specific technique.

But, friends, I had a counter argument for him.

90% of what we read we need is available online. For free. Repeatedly. So, in theory, he could purge through and keep those he felt were important and simply Google the rest of the things he wants to know!

Sounds simple doesn't it?!

For more great organizing tips and check out the journeys of all those participating in the 52 Week Challenge! Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you again next week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We-Design-Day: Let the Fun Begin!

Well, this seems to have been a long time in the making but I'm proud to report I am THERE! Almost to wall knocking down, carpet tearing up time... I've planned, checked it twice, thought it to proverbial death and am now ready to move forward to the first renovation to our home! All this as our seventh year in this house anniversary approaches!

I am so excited to get this underway that I've even began the challenge of cleaning my studio! It's bad - really bad... Not for the faint of heart but probably good for those "scared straight" things where my hoarding tendencies will want to make you purge everything you own...

None the less, I'm on task and on schedule... Even if I'm having a teensy bit of problem balancing my budget! Yes, I know the importance of a balanced budget but I am leaving it 'as is' for the moment since I have not had the opportunity to go and actual cost out a few of the items. I'm also working on a rough/preliminary quote on the electrical costs. Fingers crossed things will work out in my favour and I won't have to look at sacrificing function to meet the budget!


Also, I have a construction schedule to keep us on task. I've done these before but this time I used a template I found on line. There are some hiccups that I'm trying to iron out (like why is my unpacking taking until December when I clearly entered the date as August 1). But this will give you the kind of idea of how to schedule time. Through experience and practice, I have a good idea of how long things will take to complete. I've also learned it's wise to add a week to what you think it would take - especially if you're a first time DIYer or if you have limited experience.


The other thing I'm a huge fan of is contingency funds. Being i started my career at the beginning of a HUGE boom period, it was consistently happening that we had budget overruns. Huge budget overruns - often to the tune of 25%. Part of this is due to greed (well, maybe greed is the wrong word)... Companies get busy so their time is at a premium as they are in high demand. Often the overhead increases on construction materials to cover the increased cost of more staff. It's a cycle and the general rule of thumb is 10%... I am not comfortable with 10 - I do believe that 15 is a better number and 20 is my comfort range. Like I said, too many projects gone well over budget have made me this way!

Design Tip: At the very least, you will want a minimum of 10% to cover inflation. More is better because if you miss something during the design phase (I once had a gas line missed being located - it cost $15 000.00 to move it - this ate the contingency fund before we'd even began to dug) or if there is something unforeseen (doing a bathroom reno, we learned the cast iron pipes were corroded and needed to be replaced).

Let's get this project started, shall we?

If you have any question about budgets or schedules, feel free to drop me a line! I'm going to commence the design of our second We-Design-Day project! Then we'll be bringing out the hammers! Thanks for popping in this week and next week,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Happy New Year!

Well, I'm starting my second year of my online menu planning. It just seems so unusual that a year has passed! I've come far this past year - in my menu planning and my blogging and in my life. I also realized in my excitement to get my menu up last week to celebrate, I forgot about putting any menu links in and this week my menu is uninspired!

I like my new system - it's working out well. I am hoping to get even more organized and start my monthly planning before the second last day of the month!

May 16 to May 22

Monday: BBQ Chicken
Tuesday: Meat loaf
Wednesday: Egg wraps
Thursday: Tuna sandwiches & salad
Friday: To my Mom's!
Saturday: At my Mom's!
Sunday: ???

Monday: Cottage Cheese & fruit
Tuesday: Bagels & cream cheese
Wednesday: -
Thursday: -
Friday: Lunch on the road as we travel!
Saturday: ?
Sunday: ?

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Toast
Wednesday: Cereal
Thursday: Muffins
Friday: Toast
Saturday: Cinnamon buns
Sunday: ?

*sigh* It's been a great weekend and I'm sad to see it come to an end! I feel like I got many things I wanted to accomplished and still have a few hours to relax! Have a great week and for more great menus and tips, check out Menu Plan Monday over at the Organizing Junkie! Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you again next week!

52 Week Challenge: Exposing yourself (and the skeleton in the closet)

Each week, I really enjoy surfing all the blogs of those participating in the Organizing Junkie's 52 Week Challenge. I'm always amazed to see that there are so many people who are continually overcome by their stuff and, like me, are working on getting out from under it all!

For Week 19, I had to call in extra resources... See, I know myself too well and I know there are several good words that describe me: creative, fun, silly, kind, passionate, dedicated. But there are others too - like scatterbrained and disorganized. I don't like those words. Sure, I always joke about my piles and my chaotic filing system and I've purchased something twice forgetting that I had already purchased one but couldn't find it when I needed it (ask me how many large sized bias tape makers I have).

I want to be organized and I want my world to fall neatly into line and stay there for more than five minutes!

Participating in the 52 Week Challenge has made me see a few things. First, I like to think I thrive with chaos around me. I've learned that I'm (more often than not) out of control because my environment is out of control.

It's like the old saying 'contempt breeds contempt' - chaos breeds chaos and one does not thrive: one adapts and learns to exist and survive in the world they created around them. To do anything less would be tantamount to admitting defeat.


I am defeated.

I've also learned that my stuff bordered on hoarding. I'm fairly certain that my entire house would like like my office (if I lived alone). I would just keep piling more and more stuff until I couldn't dig my way out with a forklift!

BUT noticed I said "bordered" - not "borders".

Sometime in the past three or four years I quit buying stuff (mostly). But generally speaking, I'm getting better. I realized that those things do not make me happier or feel better nor do they add any value to my life. But I've spent over 12 years getting everything I have because I really tied my sense of happiness and well being to my possessions. I became so overwhelmed that I just stopped dealing with it. I've moved things around and re stacked the piles but I've never really dealt with all the issues tied to it, in part because I don't know where to start.

This week, I had the opportunity to attend an Organizing seminar with a local professional organizer. I've gathered information from the wonderful online communities and I think hearing it in person helped it click. I've also gone back and read many of Laura's older posts (I easily succumb to obsession).

Quite simply, my office, as it exists now, is more than I can do.


So, armed with a little knowledge (enough to be a little dangerous, anyway) I set out to use the PROCESS and a couple of the tricks from the seminar.

First, I really took a look at Laura's PROCESS. We are renovating the basement, I've spent many hours looking and planning (storage) solutions to my sewing and design studio clutter problem. I've pictured a place for everything and room to grow. I also decided know that I could not possibly keep everything I have and fit it into the new space.

PhotobucketNorth Elevation

Photobucket West Elevation

This is what I've allowed myself for storage. The nearly 250 metres of fabric, the hundreds of spools of thread, miles of ribbon, cutting rulers, pins, books, magazines (don't ask me about my button collection) has just this much space to exist in along with the crochet supplies, scrabooking stuff, clay modeling and acrylic painting supplies. No storage solution would allow me to keep everything and keep it even a little organized. Trust me, I tried and tried to get everything to fit but I do believe it would be physically impossible for me to squish the current 160 sq ft of clutter and stuff into 14' feet by 18" deep space I will have. Did I mention I also do interior design jobs on the side so I have a sample library too (of paint chips, product guides and laminate samples)?

So, I planned. Then I 'removed' my stuff from the space - well, sort of. The room is adjacent to our main living space so there is no way I could dump put everything out there. Some of the big stuff is in the living room - at least the huge stuff that I can't contend with. As my husband said, I need space to work at the clutter!

And this is where I began to employ some of the tips I learned at the seminar.

First, remember I said I didn't know where to start? Well, this week I learned about "White sheeting" and not biting off more than I can chew. I knew from the get-go my office was going to be a struggle so the White sheeting idea seemed a good one. I used two table clothes to 'hide' part of my room.Photobucket

This allowed me to focus on one, small manageable piece of the room. Then I applied "containerize" - but not in the typical way. I got boxes and labeled them "Keep" and "Give-away". I also had a garbage bag and a blue bag (for recycling). Then I set to work and I was ruthless.

The Purge Pile

The Undecided Pile

And I know it doesn't look like much, but it is a huge start for me and combining the two helpful techniques allowed me to positively focus on one area as well as allowing me to see instant results.


And although I did not find any Mom jeans or medication older than 2002, I did find three large sized bias tape makers, 17 garbage CD's (old software - I was keeping for a craft), several floppy discs and the notebook I kept when I had my back surgery in 2003 - in which I document every detail of the surgery and resulting complications... And I only did 1/4 of the room...

I have Freecycled all my old design resource guides and paint fan decks, 18 gift bags (I have a dozen still saved for my own use) and I have two - two cubic foot boxes filled with craft items to be played forward. I also have about 70 bottles of acrylic paint I'll be passing on to my Painting Princess of a Sister!

It was a good week and very rewarding for me to see actual progress!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Things That Keep you Awake at night...

Ok. I'm an insomniac - I have been for as long as I can remember. I do sleep but if my mind starts to work, there is no shutting it off until I get the idea that's keeping me awake out of my head.

First, I'm behind in my 52 Weeks of Organizing. Second, the wind has been banging everything around at night and I don't like it. Third, I want a pond and fish and a nicely landscaped yard. Fourth, I can't have a pond because my husband pointed out some problems: first, the neighbour has 8 cats second: we have a child third: I have to be responsible for it. Fifth, I've got a lot of stuff. Sixth, as much as I want a new house (my friend is placing an offer tomorrow on a brand new build) with everything brand new inside, I can't justify the cost of a new house. Less house, less yard (then we have now) and MORE money. Seventh - which is the real reason I'm awake - we've decided (sort of, maybe, kind of) to improve our house and make it ours.

Which has my brain working in 1000% overdrive. A new look inside and out. It's totally overwhelming to think that I/we can make changes to our home... It's been our home for seven years and now we might be really making it our home and I can't sleep... What colours will I chose? We will change the facade? Will it be too cramped with the conversion of the main floor for the studio?! It's all swirling away in my head and just keeping me up.

And don't get me going on the landscaping... I'm not much of a gardener - I don't have time to spend hours pulling weeks and watering stuff. Tonight we decided to seed lawn in the front part of the East (flower) beds that we dug up a few years ago. This got me toying with the idea of doing the same with the remainder of the East bed. Then I could get hanging baskets and small planters to do flowers in. I could then transplant the few plans we have (that I like) into an expanded West bed just off the patio. Then I wouldn't have the maintenance of such a large flower bed and I could do hits of colour with nice baskets or planters. And do not get me going on the front yard...

I better stop there or I will get no sleep tonight. It's going to be hard enough to shut the brain down from trying to figure out how to make our 1981 bungalow not have the frontage of a typical infill house... And being we have to re-roof this year, i have to make sure I have it moderately planned so the colour of the new shingles will 'go with' my eventual plan for the rest of the exterior renovation.

On second thought... Maybe we should just find a new house!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MPM # 52 - One Year Planniversary!

Well, gentle readers, it has been just over a year since I posted my first Menu Plan with the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. It seems oddly surreal that an entire year has passed but I checked the dates and it has. I know one year ago tonight, I was enjoying a weeks' stay at my Mom's... And although it's not the house I grew up in, there really is no place like home... And my Mom always has a cupboard full of snacks! Funny - when we grew up, there were never any snacky foods around but as an adult, my Mom always has yummy treats in her pantry!

Today, we hosted a brunch for my all the special women in my life - although my sister and her family were not able to come - it was a great day filled with laughs and good company. And lots of good food, of course! And I'm so happy good fruit season is finally upon us!

Tonight, my boys ordered in Chinese food and we ate up a storm. It was nice not having to cook and just put up my feet and RELAX! It made me wish I was on holidays!

This week, we've got a fairly easy menu planned. I used my new planner and it worked out well. It's not as finely tuned as I'd like and I have some changes to make to it but it makes the monthly planning much easier and far less overwhelming. The only thing is that I do like flipping through my cookbooks and other menus for ideas but I think that when I find a recipe I want to try, I'll add to a new page on the spreadsheet.

Would you like to give my Perpetual Monthly Planner a try? Leave me a comment (be sure I can email you back from your Blogger profile) or send me an email at brennansbest at gmail dot com and I'll email you my beta version with instructions! You only need access to a spreadsheet program like Excel or Open Office.

May 9 to May 15

Monday: Bacon Cheeseburger Roll Ups
Tuesday: Fish sticks & KD
Wednesday: BBQ Pork Chops &
Thursday: Chicken Nuggets & Fries
Friday: Second Annual Dufashanye Foundation Dinner & Silent Auction
Saturday: BBQ Hamburgers & chips
Sunday: Crock Pot Roast Beef Sandwiches

Lunches Soo... I just tell you all that I'm back to planning a few days a week and my husband is working all week! :)

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Toast
Wednesday: Pancakes (frozen)
Thursday: Cereal
Friday: Muffins & cheese
Saturday: Bacon & eggs
Sunday: French Toast

Below is the convenient monthly calendar I post on our fridge at the beginning of the month. One page - so less waste, planning takes me less time because my meal choices are easily selected and overall, I think it works well for our family!

Perpetual Meal Planner_May 2011

For more great menu planning ideas, check out all the people sharing their planning skills at the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Motherhood

When I was just 22 or 23, I was told I'd never have my own children. My body was 'broken' and the odds of me having a natural child was slim to none. I remember at the time being devastated - heartbroken. I felt empty, I felt alone. I wasn't even trying to have children when I was told but that one moment rewrote what I had always envisioned as my future.

Years passed and my life changed. I moved forward as a strong woman, empowered by my desire to be identified as more than just a vessel for procreation. I wanted as much distance between me and children as I could put. The wound was fresh within me still and thinking about it too much hurt in a way that I just couldn't erase.

Fast forward life several years and I came to the realisation that I needed to know definitively, one way or another, if I was truly unable to conceive. Add a few weeks of drama, five months to plan a wedding to my partner of 8 years and a fantastic time as 'newlyweds' and we found out we were pregnant.

Really and truly with child. It was likely one of the most amazing moments of my life. a child, my child was inside of me. It was surreal and joyous and scary and exciting - it was a dream.

And 13 days later, I began to miscarry the pregnancy. I don't think I will ever forget the pain of that miscarriage... Physically, I laboured for two hours but the emotional loss was like something I've never experienced before and hope I will never have to experience again.

But time does help that great sense of loss and almost out of the blue, six months later - with all the odds against our 'timing', we conceived again. It was difficult - emotionally, mostly - because I was so very fearful of losing another pregnancy... We didn't talk about it and we didn't celebrate. We'd been devastated once and we were not wanting to show our joy too soon.

And again, like the first time, I began to spot... We went to the doctor with no hope, resolving ourselves to another loss... But then, during the early ultrasound, we saw the flicker...

The flicker of our baby's heartbeat. Our baby's heart was beating. 140 beats per minute. My husband and I held hands and our eyes filled with tears. For now, our baby was alive.

There was more ups and downs throughout the first of the pregnancy but finally, at about 24 weeks, I felt our baby move. And it all became very real... But not wanting to 'jinx' anything, we still held our breath at each appointment hoping with all we had that they would again find our baby's heartbeat... And each time, they did - and it was beating it's steady pitterpatter rhythm and was constantly 140 bpm.

Soon it was time for the baby's arrival. We'd planned, we'd painted, we'd practiced diapering a very cute polar bear.

But nothing we did or could have done could have prepared us for him.

And as I sit here, preparing for my fourth Mother's Day, I still think my son is the best gift I've ever received.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's in my life and in the world. May we all truly appreciate the gift we've all been given - the best job in the world - motherhood.

Friday, May 6, 2011

52 Week Challenge: Week 18 - The Recap

Well, it's been an interesting and very busy couple of weeks at my home. I will be the first to admit I've suffered a bit of slackeritis. I also had a commitment to sew some lovely little coats for super talented papillion that will be representing Canada in the World Open Agility trials taking place in England next week!

I am getting back on track this week but have been knocked back by a flare of my Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has left me exhausted, sore and kind of crabby. The next bit will be yucky as I will be starting a round of steroids and likely trying a new course of treatment that I'm not looking forward too at all... So today - this week - is about regrouping and regaining some control.

I lamented to my husband (who, I might add, agreed too heartily) that many of the spaces I'd organized over the past 17 weeks have once again nearly returned to their former cluttered state. The Cupboard of Doom needs a refresh, TroubleMaker's Dresser has had a three year old pulling out 17 shirts and 8 pairs of pants every morning in an attempt to get an outfit that "matches" (because what I pick apparently doesn't match), our dresser looked almost as bad as before and the computer and it's companion cart were once again cluttered with junk and I didn't help matters by stuffing some random stuff in the drawers while tidying this morning.

But I decided instead of trying to attempt an entirely new project, I'd go back over and give a bit of a tidy over the stuff I've done the past 16 weeks. It was rewarding to straighten up - it didn't take as long as I thought and although I didn't get back to every thing I have done, I did make a nice dent and it was easy enough to tackle with my somewhat limited mobility.

This week, Laura asked three questions for the participants of the 52 Week Challenge to answer.
Questions to ponder:
1. Do you sometimes use limited funds as an excuse not to get organized?

2. What’s on your list to organize this week?

3. What one task do you notice yourself continually putting off? Why do you think that is?

Well... These got me thinking. Although I do not use my limited funds to excuse my lack of organization, I do often think that if I had more money, I could buy things that would make it easier for me to be more organized. In my past, I have often purchased 'organizational devices' in hopes that they would aid me in keeping my paper and such organized. They have not. Most often, I don't even end up taking the 'device' out of the box! So although I do often daydream about fancy holders and baskets and racks, I know and understand that until I learn to keep myself more organized, no device - regardless of how awesome - will not make me more organized.

This week, I need to start tackling the one place that scares me deeply and that I keep putting off... My sewing studio. I've spend months planning a renovation to our basement. I'm nearly finished the planning but in order for anything to start, I have to pack up my room... No, not pack. I must apply Laura's PROCESS.

Thankfully, my "skills" of being an interior designer have really helped me - for months with my "We-Design-Day" articles, I've been researching what may/will work for my much needed storage solution for my craft and sewing supplies. This will allow me to store things where I can see them and access them but it will also 'make me' pare down my excessive collection.

The pictures below are only a small representation of the problem I'm trying to solve... But I'm on my way - I just have to get in there and start!


I've got a plan and now, I just have to start going through the piles and containers and allow myself the time to say 'goodbye' to everything... Which I think will be the hardest...

Wish me luck... I'm going in... Please send a search party if you don't hear from me!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We-Design-Day: Pulling it (all) Together

The past couple of weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve been spinning my wheels and making no progress. Life has a way of doing that, I suppose, but when one is trying to document and record that life (or part of it) there isn’t any room for hiccups!

I truly admire the bloggers who write and create every day. For those parent bloggers who do that, hat’s off – I don’t know how they do it! For working outside of the home, parent bloggers who write and create every day – when do you sleep?!

As a full time employed outside of the home, Mommy blogger – I’m always behind with my (self-imposed) blogging deadlines. One week, I feel like my head is above water, the next week, I’m drowning and the third week; I say “bugger it!” and try to start fresh. I’m presently in the “bugger it” week but am trying to keep up enough to keep my own weekly serial going! But it’s hard – not give up and quit altogether but almost to the point of asking myself why I’m bothering?

Initially, the We-Design-Day series had a 12 week schedule. It had been my intention to do ‘it all’ in 12 weeks and then I’d move onto the next project. As you can well imagine, that did not happen – and honestly, is likely still 12 weeks to completion (I don’t want to give myself an ‘out’ but it likely could be 12 weeks until I even get started).

Last night, my parents came in after their month long holiday in the States – with tales of awesomeness and excitedness about their new future (they bought a home in Palm Springs and will be wintering there) so they are in the process of downsizing their home here. We excitedly shared plans and I had to sheepishly admit that I was nowhere near ready to even begin our renovations – even though I’ve already started planning the next renovation! I should be ready! I should be knocking down walls! I can’t imagine what I’d be thinking right now if this was a ‘work’ project and my consultant had gotten me nothing but preliminary drawings and talks of big plans.

I really, really, really want to grab some tools and start knocking things down!

But first things first. I need to finish the floor plans and layouts and get my preliminary budget together. Next must come the construction schedule followed by my detailed cost estimate.

This week, I've got my "95% Constructions Drawings" ready for presentation. My finish board is still in the works and I've also got my preliminary budget together.

First, let's remember that my budget for this project is $2000. My initial estimate already has me over budget. I've trimmed and revised but to get what we need and want, this is what I need (at a minimum). I found some linoleum floors I really, really wanted but the cost was far more than I could spend... So I must compromise and settle for some sheet flooring. I'm not usually one to sacrifice something like that - real lino is sustainable, ecofriendly and has an incredible life-cycle cost - but for the 140 sq ft I'd need, I can't justify using more than 1/3 of our budget! The electrical requirements and the furniture for a function studio for me is far more important.
Project Cost Estimate
I've also attached my preliminary floor plans. I use an older version of the (drafting) software at home so I had some issues editing the drawings (since I wasn't able to get them all completed during my lunch hour). I also neglected to send home my business logo file so it's missing. But this presents the idea well enough. I've reviewed them with my husband and there are already changes from what I presented.

Click Here to see the Complete Collection

I'm hoping I'm on my way to getting back on track for next week... Soon, I'll have hammer in hand and I'll be truly on my way to finishing this project!

Have a great We-Design-Day and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

MPM # 51

Where did the month go?! It's May 1 - that is the "official" start of Spr-ummer in Canada. It's also been a year since I started my blog! It's been a year of change for my family and I know there will be many more changes in the coming years.

I've been working on a beta version menu planner that I want to share with everyone but I'm not quite done with it so I think I'll release a limited edition with my "Blogiversary Party" next week but it was SO helpful in my "super fast rush and plan" menu last night!

Mother's Day is coming up quick and we are hosting the families next Sunday for brunch!

Here is what's on our menu this week!

May 2 to May 8

Monday: BBQ Chicken & Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Tuesday: Assorted Subs
Wednesday: BBQ Hamburgers & Chips
Thursday: Tuna Melts & Salad
Friday: Chicken Nuggets & Fries
Saturday: Chicken Fajitas
Sunday: Ordering In for Mother's Day!

Monday: Leftover Pizza
Tuesday: Cottage Cheese w/ onions, cucumber slices & cheese cubes
Wednesday: -
Thursday: -
Friday: Mock Orange Julius Smoothies, PB Sandwiches
Saturday: Crackers, cheese & Sausage
Sunday: Mother's Day Brunch (we're hosting - I'm cooking)

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Toast
Wednesday: Pancakes (frozen)
Thursday: Cereal
Friday: Muffins & cheese
Saturday: Bacon & eggs
Sunday: Mother's Day Brunch (we're hosting - I'm cooking)

TroubleMaker is only going to the sitter's two days a week as my husband's contract is back down to just a couple days a week... My husband just asked for a list of possible ideas that he could serve for lunch but I thought since I was creating the Perpetual Meal Planner, I may as well include all the meals in a day. It helps with grocery shopping and keeping on budget so it was worth it!

For more fantastic menu ideas, check out the Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you next week!


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