9/28/17

When I Have No Real Time or Money to Decorate My House




How do you feel about decorating your house? Is it a priority? Do you make time for it?

I have had decorating on my brain lately. Sometimes I have long stretches where I just don't care. I'm content to do life in my space and not obsess over how it looks.

And then there are times when I CARE. I get the itch to change and improve things. My thoughts become obsessive. I think a large part of it is that it's a creative outlet. It's "play" and a break from the monotony of mothering taking care of the daily household stuff.

Rarely are any of us in a place to do a complete overhaul of a space. It is impractical for our lives, our time, and our finances.

Gradual improvements are more realistic for most all of us. It takes months and years to make a beautiful home. Patience. It's a process. Plus, I love an eclectic, collected look. We can't rush it.

I mentioned that we are renovating the main living area in our home. I'm dreaming of pillows and seating arrangements (finishing touches), but we don't have a ceiling. This is not the time to go hunting for a great piece of art. I need to hunker down, wait out the renovation, and save our money.

We all have limitations - time, money, new babies, sickness, general busyness. But even when it's just not the week to load up on throw pillows and candles and buy a new arm chair, we can still do a few little somethings. 

I have found a few totally FREE tricks to hold me over when I am overcome by my desires to decorate but because of life, I simply can't make it a real priority.

These are my 5 no-spend "decorating" tips that settle me down.

1- clean up

Sometimes a clean house is all I need. It's refreshing and calming.

2- get rid of something

My best example for this is when my mom encouraged me to get rid of a too-big-for-the-space coffee table that was dark and awkward. The room didn't need a new thing, it needed some sparseness. It was a revelation to me that getting rid of something can improve a room verses adding something.

Even getting rid of a load of kids toys can be such a rush.

3- ROY G. BIV your books

I love books when like colors are together. Rainbow books are my favorite. It makes such an impact.

4- rearrange

I rearrange furniture all the time. Sometimes I move it right back. But it is worth a try to experiment with different layouts. 

5- shop your own house

If you are trying to improve a particular space, sometimes you can "shop" your own house and find the perfect thing. Examples: moving art to better lighting, raiding your linen closet for a change of bedding, moving picture frames to a new shelf.
.....

All these things are free and can be done in a nap time. What are your thoughts?

new favorite podcast - How To Decorate

one of my favorite decorating and design books Design Mom....and this one too, The Nesting Place

Links are Amazon Affiliate links

9/25/17

Fake It Till I Make It - Fall Things

We started a renovation a few weeks ago (yea!), but we are in the not-fun phase. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Fall is here, but not because the heat is still very real. Always a downer.

I'm bogged down with helping two kids with homework every afternoon. (WHY?!)

Anyways, it all hit me over the weekend and I was over it. Bad mood galore.

These fall-y things were my attempts to embrace fall over the weekend and to be cheery in the midst of frustration.

mini pumpkins on the mantel





pumpkin muffins



dark floral dresses - so fall (love)



cheap Mums



switching over to our fall dishes, Woodland Spode


No doubt a crisp fall day would cheer me up. Until then, Jesus take the wheel. I'm just going to keep faking till I make it.

9/22/17

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Forgive me, this is not a real clear recipe but it's hard to mess up...and it's amazing!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry makes a lot and it gets better after it has been refrigerated and reheated.

Seriously, this is one of my favorite meals. We eat it over white rice and top with cilantro and Sriracha (for the adults). It took a few tries for my kids to warm up to this meal, but I now have 3/4 of them eating it. I call that a win.


What I love is that you can use all kinds of vegetables. I usually put handfuls of frozen spinach and green peas and make it a really veggie heavy dish.

.......

large diced onion
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

tons of veggies - suggestions...

diced bell pepper
carrots
cauliflower 
cabbage
frozen spinach
frozen peas

1/2 can of coconut milk (more if you like)
chicken broth (I use this)

teaspoon minced garlic
salt

red pepper flakes - 1/2 teaspoon is a good starting point, less if you are sensitive to spicy

curry powder (2 tablespoons, more if you like)
turmeric (1 teaspoon, more if you like) (optional)

toppings:
cilantro
Siracha

............

This is how I make it...

Dice onion and put it in the slow cooker first, then layer chicken thighs. Salt to taste. Then add coconut milk and garlic. Give it a stir. Throw in tougher vegetables like carrots and peppers but hold off on vegetables like cauliflower or peas so they won't get soggy. You can add them at the end.

Pour in enough chicken broth to mostly cover the chicken and vegetables.

Add remaining spices.

Cook it on low for 4-6 hours. Add more delicate vegetables 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Serve over white rice, add toppings.

9/20/17

Fall Meals

A while back I learned the magic of having a meal bank, a list of meals our family eats regularly that I can easily refer to when meal planning.

I recently switched out my summer list for fall and winter foods, whoo hoo! Though it's still summer temperatures where we live, it is time to change up the menu and embrace soups, glorious soups.

The beauty of fall and winter food is that much of it freezes well and is even better the 2nd or 3rd time around.

Today, I'm sharing my fall meals. I will link to some of the recipes, but honestly I am not a strict follower of recipes. I'm always substituting up and improvising. If I left a link off a recipe, it's because I can't find one close enough to the one I use. I will do my best to do separate posts on those meals....especially this slow cooker chicken curry pictured below.


Fall Meals

taco soup
turkey chili with black beans
super food soup
chicken and quinoa soup
lentil soup
vegetable soup
chicken tortilla soup

red beans and rice
chicken pie
hot ham and cheese sandwiches
sloppy joes
hamburgers/ turkey burgers
greens, black eyed peas, corn bread
sheet pan chicken

roasted sausage and veggies
tacos
enchilada casserole
slow cooker chicken curry
spaghetti
fish and roasted vegetables
homemade pizza

We don't strictly eat from this list. I do a lot of roasted vegetables and salads as sides. I use up leftovers and make random soups. Also, I use a lot of ground turkey instead of ground beef. This list is here for reference when times are tough and I'm stuck.

What are you favorite fall meals?

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P.S. Using Walmart's online grocery pick up is keeping me sane!

8/26/17

A Few Things I'm Loving Lately

Hello out there!

How was your end of summer, your start of school?

We have transitioned semi-successfully, and I must admit I like the structure and routine school provides. We are getting more sleep, eating better meals, and benefiting from a little separation as all 4 of my kids are doing some school this year. Hallelujah!

I thought I'd pop in to say hello and share a few things I have been LOVING lately.


1. I bought a THIRD LOVE bra and it is 100% amazing, probably the only bra I've ever worn that actually fits and is comfortable. I can't wait to buy another one.

2. Wal-mart grocery pick up has changed my life. I used this service all summer, and it spared me the torture of taking kids with me to the store.

3. I just finished reading Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I found it totally fascinating!

Margo has some thoughtful insight on this book.

4. After all that reading about French parenting, I simply could not resist buying a 10-pack of these baguettes at Costco. They're made in France! Though how un-French to buy them in bulk. Ha!

5. For the past couple of Friday's we have had family movie nights. This is new for us, to enjoy a movie with the entire family. I think we've found a new weekly ritual. Last week was Beethoven, this week was Swiss Family Robinson.

What have you been loving lately?!

Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

7/26/17

No Spend Month...A Few Things

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.

.....

I have a confession. I bought something.


I have been stalking this GAP, 100% cotton open cardigan that has been out of stock for quite some time because it's awesome and everybody wants one.

The other day it popped up in an ad in my sidebar. When I clicked over, my size available in one color - the gray. I had to snag it, on sale for $15. Open cardigans are my favorite, and it's very difficult to find one that's not made out of synthetic materials.

I'm a cotton girl through and through.

This was worth the splurge.
.....

My goal for groceries this month was to spend only $600. I had a ton in my freezer that needed to get eaten and I wanted to challenge myself to not be so lazy in the kitchen and to really stretch our food supply. I'm so close to the finish line! I have enough food to get us to the end of the month and $40 left in the budget. I think I can...I think I can...


One little tip if you love tomatoes as much as we do, save the little bits and leftovers and freeze them in a plastic bag. Also, if a tomato is mealy or partly bad you can salvage the good part and freeze it. Later you can use them in soups or pasta sauces. Lately I've been making pizza sauce with our freezer tomatoes bits.

Don't waste! Food is $$.

.....

This month, I evaluated the money we spend on subscriptions. I decided that my Audible subscription of 2 books per month is definitely a keeper. My 8 year old Stephen and I enjoy it the most.


I'm currently listening to and LOVING America's First Daughter.

Stephen is on the second Harry Potter.

A subscription I decided to cancel was to a Pilates site that was costing $13/month. I wasn't using it much any more. It was perfect to jump start my exercise plan when I was struggling with the craziness of school. But lately I have been walking in the evenings and finding great workouts on YouTube.

.....

Over all I'm loving the no spend month. It's not as hard as I thought it would be, and I find it very freeing to not have to decide or agonize about spending. Of course, it's not sustainable. I have to buy things. But the spending break has brought so much clarity and taught me how to be more disciplined with money.
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