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Sunday, August 2, 2015

My First Attempt At KonMari: My Clothing

Last week, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  This is one of the first times I've actually read what I would consider a "trendy" book while it's still trendy, by the way.  I usually don't get to them until a few years later...

I decided to give some of the KonMari organizing principles a try.  You organize by category, and one of the key things is to gather everything from that category in one spot.  The first area to tackle is clothing.  So I gathered all of my clothing to my bed.  (I actually only had a few coats downstairs, and everything else was already in the bedroom).  Here's before:
And here's after:
The pile of t-shirts on the bench (on the right) is something I'm saving for when I go through mementos (the last category you're supposed to tackle), because I don't wear any of them any more, but they do have sentimental value.  I'll probably end up getting rid of most of them later on, but not right now.

I got rid of a big pile of stuff that's still usable (on the left below), and a smaller pile of old bras and unmentionables that will be trashed (on the right).
I've already been working on cutting down my wardrobe for awhile, keeping only those things that are truly my style, and creating my version of a capsule wardrobe.  So this pile would have been bigger a few months ago too.

The other big theme I noticed for the KonMari method of organizing clothing is folding.  Fold everything!  I like having some things hanging, but I was able to clear out two drawers of our dresser for Jesse to use, and I put most of my stuff in my three drawer bin in the closet.

Drawer #1: Socks and underwear.  I kind of like how the socks look all folded together (aside from mine being not-so-white any more), but that seems like more of a hassle than the stack I had them in before, so I don't know if I'll keep them that way.
Drawer #2: Tank tops, workout shirts, and bras.  I will say that this folding method saves a lot of space over what I was using before.
Drawer #3: Yoga pants, my only pair of nice pajamas, lingerie, and swimsuit.  My goal before winter is to find another nice pair of pjs.  You know, a grown-up pair.
And finally, while going through my dresses (and getting rid of about half of them), I came across this little number.  It doesn't fit right now, but I really liked how it looked when it did fit, so I brought it out for a bit of extra motivation to keep my eating and exercising habits in check.
So.  Now that you've seen all the pictures, here's what I think.  I really like the idea of getting everything in one spot to go through it, because while my clothes were already mostly there, there are other categories that I know I'll be gathering from all over, and I'm kind of curious to see how it works out.

The average KonMari organization takes 6 months according to the book.  No idea how long it will take here, but I'm going to keep going with it for awhile.  The idea is that once you go through everything once, and purge a lot, you don't have to do it again ever, because seeing things so neat and tidy makes you want to keep it that way.  I'm game to try it!

Jesse was even inspired by my cleaning up, or maybe by my folding all of his workout shirts to see them fit in a drawer, to go through some of his clothes too.  (He went through them and got rid of about half of them, but then hung them back up).

Next up, little boys clothes and little girls clothes!  Stay tuned...

Weekly Goals: August 2-8

The big kids asked for tattoos this week, and I had fun drawing them.  My Lego guys are pretty good.  My Curious George needs some work...

Last Week's Goals:

  • Get plans for VBS squared away.  Done!  All lesson plans and craft project directions and materials lists have been passed on, and I picked songs to do for each lesson (music is the part I'll be leading).
  • Do the August church newsletter.  Done!
  • Get rid of the sugar ants that have invaded our kitchen.  There are still a few stragglers, but we put out Terro and got rid of most of them.
  • Finish reading A Handmaid's Tale and pick which book to order next from the library.  I forgot I had already ordered The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which came in right after I finished the other one, and I read it in one sitting Friday afternoon. 
This Week's Goals:
  • Grocery shop and food prep for the first half of August.
  • Start doing my homeschool lesson planning, getting at least 3 subjects figured out.
  • Figure out the layout and storage of our homeschool room and hang our calendar and new posters.
  • Fix the pile of broken toys and books.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Books I've Read: July 2015


Earlier this month, I posted my review of Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before.  I'm attempting to read more by getting a book from the library, which has a two-week due date (and then a two-week renewal).  It's not perfect, but it is a deadline to force myself to read something.  I do look forward to the day when the kids are a little older, and nap time/quiet time morphs into reading time.  For now, here's my other book review for the month...

A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I read a copy of this from the library.  This is one of those books that pops up fairly often on "If you like dystopian young adult fiction book X, you might like this".  So I finally requested it and read it.  It's actually from the mid-80s, before dystopian YA books were a thing, so good job Ms. Atwood for being ahead of your time.

The book was really well-written.  I liked the word play, and the characters were witty and unique.  The book kept me hooked, and I wanted to know how it all turned out.

But.  [Spoiler alert].  The ending is unresolved.  I'm not a big fan of unhappy endings, but I think I like those more than the make-up-how-it-ended-in-your-head endings.  The scenes were also really choppy.  You'd get a paragraph of plot in the present, and then a few pages of a flashback, and before you know it, you're three chapters later and not much has actually happened in terms of moving forward.  Like I said, the writing was spot on and really smart, which is a great talent.  I would have liked a little bit more of what was happening at the moment and a continuation of the story, instead of so many flashbacks.  I also disliked the little epilogue chapter.  It gave me a bit of hope that the story wouldn't end unresolved, and then dashed that hope again by not really saying anything.

Overall, it got me interested in Margaret Atwood's writing, and I may seek out another book by her.  If it ends like this one though, we're done.

Total books read this month: 2.  Total books read this year: 9.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What I'm Up To Lately...

Here are a few bits and pieces of what I'm up to lately.  None of these are worthy of their own blog post, but they are things I've been doing, and learning.

The garden is in full swing!  Not only have we been harvesting some stuff from our own garden, but we've had several drop offs from church members with yummy stuff they've grown.  We've eaten some of it, but we've also been saving it.

I made refrigerator pickles  (kind of based off of this recipe, but without the sugar and coriander) with several cucumbers.  I did this last summer, and I was really bummed when they ran out sometime in September or October.  They're delicious!  The kids will occasionally have some when we make bean burgers [link], but otherwise they're all mine.

I also learned how to blanch veggies from this post, which was perfect timing!  We got a ton of cabbage in one week, so I made Polish sausage stew and that ramen noodle salad everyone always brings to pot lucks, but we still had extra.  So I blanched the rest to save for a future batch of stew.  I blanched a gallon ziploc bag full of extra green beans from our garden as well.

I shredded up about 16 cups of zucchini and froze that in 2 cup portions for future muffins and breads.  We actually didn't plant any zucchini this year, and one of the reasons was because we haven't gotten around to getting a chest freezer yet, and I know it's one of those plants that kind of takes over.  So I'll enjoy everyone's extras for now...

On the not so happy front for gardening, we've learned about mildew on our pumpkin plants, which resulted in hacking off about a third of the plant.  And we learned about sap beetles in our raspberries (they like over-ripe fruit), which are harmless, but it's kind of gross to pick berries and then have to wash the bugs out.

We finally got Elizabeth a real bed, and I put it together with just a little help maneuvering pieces from Jesse.  The girls are adjusting to sleeping in the same room, and I love not sharing our room with a baby any more.  It's one of those things that is hard for me to give up in the baby stages, but I'm always thankful when I do.

I ordered most of our homeschool books.  I'll be writing a separate post soon on what we picked and how I'm lesson planning this year.

I still love my coffee.  I use this iced coffee recipe and this chocolate syrup recipe, plus a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.  I top that all with milk and a few ice cubes, and enjoy during afternoon naptime.

So that's life here.  Food, kids, coffee...sounds about right!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekly Goals: July 26-August 1

Miss Elizabeth has always been a momma's girl, but especially lately, with all the busy-ness we've had going on.  She would rather snuggle than sleep, so I'm soaking in lots of baby love lately.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Get in better control of my "little shopping trip" schedule.  We only went to the grocery store once this week, and it was the planned trip.
  • Finish reading Better Than Before and start reading A Handmaid's Tale.  Done and done!  I won't quite finish the second one before it's due at the library tomorrow, so I'll have to renew it, but I'm over halfway done.
  • Strip the cloth diapers.  Done.
This Week's Goals:
  • Get plans for VBS squared away (specific stories, crafts, songs for each day).  We're doing a 4-day evening VBS at Redeemer and a 4-hour Saturday session at Trinity, both focusing on the colors of the church year.  Jesse and I need to nail down the specifics this week to get them to the helpers.  We have most of the ideas from talking over the weekend, but none of it is written down yet.
  • Do the August church newsletter.
  • Get rid of the sugar ants that have invaded our kitchen. They're in the microwave.  It's gross.
  • Finish reading A Handmaid's Tale and pick the next book to order from the library.
Oh, and aside from all that, I need to finish the last 4 letters of the week before we officially start school next month, do my lesson planning, help host a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law, and keep up with the garden produce that we keep getting!  So, you know, not too much going on here...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Garden Update: Mid-July

At long last! Another update on our garden!

Our apple trees have apples!  I'm pretty excited for that come fall.  We love applesauce.
Here's our grapevine:
...and a close-up of a bunch of grapes!  They're not ready to eat yet, but they're growing great!
The raspberries are just about done
...although there's still a few last berries to grab.  The kids have basically been gobbling these up as soon as I bring them in, so we didn't end up making anything with them this year.  Snacks of fresh berries are always a good thing though!
Here's an overview shot of the garden.  The bushy area that's overgrown at the bottom of the picture is where the strawberries were.  Since they're done, we haven't weeded that part as much.
We finally got the pepper plants weeded out and they're growing well.  
The jalapenos are almost ready to harvest.
When we were weeding, we took the cages off of the tomatoes, so now they're just big bushes.  We have Romas
And beefsteaks.  The first ones are just starting to turn red.
Can you spot the butternut squash in the next picture?
Our green beans have been growing like crazy!  We've gotten several dinners' worth of side dishes already!
Our first pumpkin is as big as a basketball.  We researched the kind of pumpkin (Howden) and discovered they're more of carving pumpkins and not so much eating pumpkins, although supposedly you can eat any pumpkin.  So we'll probably try one to see what it tastes like.  If nothing else, we have free pumpkins to carve this October.
And finally, our baby watermelon.  
Our peas are done for.  They didn't take root very far down, although I think pea season is pretty much over anyways.  The strawberries are done.  The potatoes are still going strong in the buckets, and the parsley and basil are still growing inside on the dining room table.

We've harvested over 11 pounds from the garden so far this year, and that's been mostly little stuff.  Once we get to the big squashes and all the apples and tomatoes, our total should be pretty high!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Polish Sausage Stew

Growing up, this was my "peanut butter sandwich" dinner.  Whenever my mom made this, I was allowed to have a peanut butter sandwich instead, because I could not stand it.  I'm not sure if this was a rule she instituted beforehand, or if I was just so stubborn about not eating it, but I loved the peanut butter sandwich rule.

My kids are young enough that I still make them eat everything once, but I have a feeling before too long, I'll let them pick one meal that is their "peanut butter sandwich" meal too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound Polish or smoked sausage, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small head cabbage, chopped
  • 3-4 potatoes, chopped (I used baby reds, but russets work well too)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (optional)*
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional)
*I'm pretty sure the vinegar is part of what I disliked so much as a child, so I left that out.  Feel free to experiment with it though.  It does add a certain tang to the dish.

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.