Why is a morning routine so important?

Nothing is ever set in stone. I’ve sometimes been scared of the unknown. Will I be ready for what is coming? Should I just hide and avoid it all? Can I face everything?

Spoiler alert, I can handle it, I am very capable. So are you!

I’ve thought holding myself accountable was setting myself up to fail. This isn’t true. Sometimes my routines are the only structure I have. I set my own goals, my own time tables. I run this house (with help, but mostly it’s my gig) and this is exactly what I want. I want the freedom of making my life into exactly what I want.

But setting your own goals and not being held to anyone else’s standards is also intimidating. Where do you go? What direction do you want to go in? What do you value?

It’s a complicated concept that I am unraveling little by little every day. I am a visual person, I like data, I like charts and patterns. It’s helpful to me to look back on my journals and plans of the past to get a sense of what I plan versus what actually happens. More often than not, I get everything done. My goals are always accomplished, but still I can feel things are out of reach…

I catch this thought, and resolve it by planning. Writing out what needs doing, and how it can be done. Seeing it all laid down is one step closer to action. Proving it’s possible, and holding myself to the goals I set.

But what does it take to set a goal? What if it’s the wrong goal?

There is no right or wrong, I think. I can’t remember where I heard it, but I think of this quote when I start to worry if I’m going down the wrong path.

everyone needs a beautiful island to row to”

It doesn’t matter if you reach the island, or if you see a better island on your journey and choose it instead. The point is that you keep rowing. If only for a moment, you have a direction and you choose it.

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My most important routine is in the morning, and is my most strict. Getting my goals accomplished as soon as possible in the day is essential to my growth. I do these things every single morning no matter what. Not because I’m anal retentive, but because if I don’t, the order and comfort level of my home goes right out the window. I spend 85% of my time within these walls, and it hurts my soul and frankly makes no sense to have everything out of whack. There’s usually more to my routine in the morning, but if I get absolutely NOTHING else done in a day, these four things are non-negotiable.

-Make the bed

I full-on fluff the pillows to make it comfy and inviting as that’s where we relax and communicate the most after tiny human is in bed for the night.

-Dishwasher run or emptied

depending on if I filled it the night before, I put dishes in or take them out.

-Coffee maker cleaned

No moldy coffee grounds! 

-Load of laundry in

It doesn’t matter what it is, but if hubby needs work clothes cleaned then that’s top priority, a close second is towels. I do a load every day and put it away as soon as possible. I started Konmari folding my laundry and it is definitely more work, but also causes greater satisfaction once finished, which is good for me.

I choose to nourish my home and my family. To honor the land on which my home sits, and make it a comforting and safe place for the people I love most. It’s basically a never-ending journey and a complicated task. There is a lot that goes into keeping my house a well oiled machine and I take pride in the value of my home space.

Waking up every day and choosing to hold myself to certain standards isn’t always a natural action. Sometimes I get up and go through the motions of my routines, not seeing the value of it in the moment. But I have those routines for just such moments. The routines aren’t just so that the laundry stays in check and there’s never any dishes in the sink. They exist so my family can thrive. Thriving and rowing to whatever island they choose. To nourish the mind of my child. The comfort of my husband, so he can focus on being the incredible father and man that he is.

Most importantly, it fulfills me. I feel whole when I feel valued and when I do valuable work. When I can sit back and ACTUALLY relax. Being present with my loved ones and KNOW that my rowing and planning and doing is in line with my values.

I am working on a full post about my cleaning and self care routines, so keep your eyes peeled! If there’s anything else you’d like to know more about, I can expand on that, so let me know in the comments and have yourself a great morning!

 

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Time Management Resolutions

 

I don’t necessarily have new year’s resolutions. I typically make “resolutions” every time there’s a new moon. One of my recurring resolutions is to better manage my time. I sometimes catch myself scrolling on my phone wishing I had more time. I’m working on it.

I’ve been feeling the highs and the lows of the holiday season roller coaster. First the prep and presents, then the execution, finally the cleanup and getting life back to reality. As much as I would love to live in an antique Santa and christmas lights wonderland forever, I have to reclaim my life and home or I will go off the deep end.

This year I really nailed it though, had all the supplies way ahead of time, wrapped early and got some great responses from the handmade gifts I made this year. My family had a good time, I got to spend real quality time with my side of the family, and had a great Christmas day with my husbands family.

Good food, too.

We made a ham with brown sugar and maple syrup with pineapple juice in the crockpot. My husband poked little cloves all over it and it was so cute and tasted amazing. It was really sweet and had a lot of depth to the flavors. I made my mac and cheese, obviously delicious.

We ate off that ham and mac all the way till payday! Total win, I’d say.
I owe this success, and the happy proud feelings I have about it, to really focusing on where my time was being spent. I think I have a sunshine deficiency lately with this bummer weather, so sometimes my schedule is one of the things that really helps me get off the couch.

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Time management will look differently for everyone. For me, it starts with breaking it down into what I actually value. What drives me? What are the most important things to my overall success. Checking in with yourself is a great way to really look at why you work so hard, and getting your priorities clearly defined.

This gives you the ability to cut yourself some slack. Or at least to tell yourself “if I get absolutely nothing else done, I am still meeting my goals” What is the bare minimum required to still be moving forward with whatever growth process you are going through? Whether that’s weight loss, spending time being present with your children, or anything, really.

Keeping those “bare minimum” requirements in mind, and doing them as early in the day as you can. I like to make deadlines for myself such as ‘this must be done before nap time’ or ‘at least before husband gets home’ This approach gives me the grace that my brain needs to not feel pressured. If I feel pressured, I run for the hills (gemini sun mercury and venus, smh) so the trick that I have a broader deadline is helpful. Some pressure is necessary though, I still must hold myself accountable.

That’s the whole point!

Finding your “why” and putting your pen to paper is an important step into truly understanding time management and how it works for you.

If you’re interested in hearing more about my specific routines and processes, let me know and I can make separate posts diving a little deeper about it. Thanks for reading, hope you all are well!

Accomplishing the Gallery Wall

Before I get into HOW I hung this gallery wall and the process behind it, let me explain a few things first.

We live in my husband’s childhood home, owned by his mother. His mother is a wonderful woman who lives with HER mother, caring for her since she had a stroke several years ago.

They’re both sweet, beautiful women with some serious artistic ability. The grandmother liked to paint, so many of our paintings in our home were done by her. Beautiful landscape pieces that I love.

They weren’t hung all at the same time, so the end result was kind of a mish-mash of fitting the finished paintings wherever they fit on the wall. I moved in three years ago and I struggled to make the home mine without trampling all over the family history in this home.

My solution: An accent wall!

I wanted to show off the paintings in a way that was my own, but that respected the art and the artist. Why does this make me emotional to write about? I just love my home and the land it’s on. My husbands parents built this home basically with their bare hands and I am so grateful to care for this property.

Maybe that’s what homemaking is to me? Maybe that’s why this is all so important.

Alright, my eyes are just watering, just allergies, nothing to see here, back to the point of the post…

The living room had only been painted once, back when they built it in the early nineties, and you could tell. Handprint smudges, nicotine staining, and for some reason, the top of the walls shaded dark by the boards behind the walls. It needed some TLC for sure.

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I didn’t want to change the neutral home-y vibe of the house, so I knew the accent color had to be some kind of grey/brown/beige color. After half an hour at Lowe’s we settled on our colors and matched the original white of the other walls and bright white for the ceiling.

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We priced everything out and decided to just paint the room ourselves instead of hiring people to do it, and after a few hours, I almost regretted that decision.

Make sure if you ever paint a room, that you actually like the person you paint with, because I swear if I didn’t love my husband so much I would have smothered him with the drop cloths… Not really, but I hate to sweat and get grumpy when physical activity is involved.

With the walls finally painted and dry, the next day it was time to figure out how we were going to arrange the paintings back on the wall. Here’s where it gets tricky!

We measured the area on the wall where we wanted to keep the paintings, and then used that measurement to figure out how to arrange the art. Keeping within that area, we laid the paintings down on the floor and shuffled them around until it felt right. Keeping things spaced as evenly as we could, and that the subject of the paintings flowed.

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It’s a common design rule that if you’re going to have a “heavy” side of a gallery wall or the like, it’s best to keep the weight to the left. We have a book case taking up the weight of the wall on the left, so we opted to have the biggest painting above the bookcase and the smaller paintings toward the bottom right.

The test run on the actual wall, we taped up wrapping paper and moved things around a little so everything was perfect. I measured each painting and cut out wrapping paper to the size of each painting and wrote the subject of the painting on the paper so I could keep track. It’s important to remember that this wall was freshly painted so we had to find a tape that wouldn’t rip the paint off. Painters tape wouldn’t do, so I tested some washi tape on an inconspicuous spot and it came off without any problems. I found my least favorite washi tape and hung up the wrapping paper

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Most of the paintings are hung by wires, so we had to measure to account for that, and marked the place we wanted to put the nails. BAM BAM! Then hubby hung them up, and it was so perfect.

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I’m so happy with this wall, it really was the perfect way to turn something that had history into my own.

And was the perfect excuse for new (energy efficient) curtains!

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This will hold me over as far as home improvement projects for a little while, I think. It was a lot of work!

How have you guys been? I have been busy with the holidays and stuff, I’m ready for life to return to normal!

The Best Sugar Cookies

I am on a journey to the secret of pinterest-perfect sugar cookies. I’m taking it kind of personally. I want tasty, perfect texture, skillfully placed icing, adorable cut out characters. I’m working on it.

I think the first place you start with making “fancy” cookies is to have a solid recipe. I’ve tried this one a few times and it has never let me down. I’ve only ever made blobulous cookies before I came across this recipe.

Here’s an example of the difference of my cookies now to my cookies from 2015

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I hope that picture is enough to convince you to switch to this recipe. I’m passionate about it, ha.

Here it is:

Ingredients:

2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

*1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large room temperature egg

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

*the almond extract is not required for them to look perfect, but the taste is just slightly different and adds a different dimension with the almond extract

Having the butter and eggs room temperature is an extra step in the prep, but I was doing some research on cookie science and I learned a few things about that. If the butter is too warm, the cookies will get droopy and lose their shape. This was one of the biggest improvements to my technique, as I always used to use melted butter and never once thought of the repercussions.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: Preheat to 350 and cream the butter and sugar together

Step 2: Once the sugar and butter is combined, add the extracts and egg, and beat until well combined

Step 3: Add baking powder and salt, then add flour one cup at a time. It may seem a smidge dry, but once you work it a little, it comes together.

Step 4: Cut ball of dough in half and roll out anywhere from 1/4 inch to 3/8 or really however you want.

Step 5: Cut out shapes with cookie cutter or make balls and flatten

Step 6: Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in middle rack for 6-8 minutes. 6 minutes is usually exactly right for my oven. You may have to experiment to find your sweet spot. As you can see, I put mine relatively close together.

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I leave them to finish cooking on the hot baking sheet for 5-10 minutes or however long it takes me to finish cleaning up the giant mess I just made. Then I put them on a cooling rack so they fully cool.

Waiting until they’re fully cooled to put the icing on is always so difficult…

But you must, or you’ll get cookies like in my last post.

For the cookies I made today, I made two different typed of icing, both with the same base. For the green dinosaurs, I put a dash of ground allspice in the powdered sugar, which is why it looks crunchy. It was an experiment. Pretty tasty, but it might work better in a whipped kind of icing.

I used:

2 tsp corn syrup

1 cup(or more) powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp milk

Last time I used water, but this time I wanted something a little more substantial. I had to add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up, and just added two drops of food coloring.

My goal was to be a little fancy with this, so I wanted to make like a peppermint design on the round cookies. I outlined it like all the tutorials said to do, then filled in after it dried a little.

To get the icing all the way to the edges of the outline, I used a toothpick to drag the icing while it was still wet.

The red design was made with two drops of red food coloring in a splash of water. I dipped a wooden toothpick in the red water, and dragged it in squiggly lines from the outer edge into the middle.

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It’s not perfect but from far away they look really great! Come to think of it, these would be cool for Halloween bloodshot eyeball cookies!

Well, there it is, my best attempt at cookies so far. I’ve grown a lot, and I’m very proud. I’m still on the lookout for perfect icing, so if you have a good recipe, let me know!

I hope you all have a great day and awesome holidays and I’ll talk to you later!

 

Realistic cookie decorating

Quick post today, but I’ve been drooling over everyone’s fantastic looking cookies this holiday season. I thought I had what it takes to bust out some adorable cookies, but I might have over estimated my abilities.

It’s not brain surgery, but it does require patience, trial and error, and a good recipe.

The cookie recipe is something I am pretty confident with, I’m very happy with the way the actual cookies came out. They’re soft but not too soft, and before this recipe I had literally never made a soft cookie before. They’ve always come out blobby and hard and mostly unrecognizable as whatever shape they were supposed to be.

Raise your hand if that describes cookies you’ve made before. 🤚

Not anymore, I swear, I’m telling you, something about this recipe makes perfect cookies. Its magic, probably.

The icing on the other hand… kind of a fail. I realized it was too runny after I got it into the bag. So I just ran with it and instead of outlining neatly, I made blobs and forgot about caring if I got icing everywhere.

BUT it does dry hard enough so you can stack them. I’m just not super crazy about the flavor either, I feel like I can taste the powdered sugar and it seems really fake to me.

I’m really on the lookout for an icing recipe that fits all my criteria before I’m going to try again.

I don’t want to waste my precious powdered sugar that I had to wait in line for. Yes there was a LINE in the baking aisle at Walmart today. Never again.

So if you have a great icing recipe you’re willing to share, please do! Also I might make a separate post about that cookie recipe because seriously I’m in love.

Talk at ya later!

My First Time: ClickList

I’m sure if you have ever listened to the radio you’ve heard a dozen commercials for grocery pick-up. They talk about how convenient it is, but what can you really expect when someone else picks out your groceries?

If you’ve been hesitating to order your groceries online, I’m here to break it down for you and see if it was really worth it…

I shop at Kroger, I am a ‘best customer’ according to the packets of coupons that come to my mailbox twice a month. I’m almost obsessed, I really think you can get really good deals there, and I am very comfortable with the layout of the aisles. This is not something I can say about other big grocery stores in my area (cough, walmart, cough)

I was perusing the Kroger app this morning looking for electronic coupons to use for my afternoon shopping trip. I decided on a whim to try the clicklist thing, as I already had my list prepared. It was only a matter of using the search bar to find the item I wanted, and clicking on “add to cart” and selecting the quantity.

I had zero problems ordering, everything I searched for, I found, so all that was left to do was input my credit card information and select a pick-up time.

It was about 5:30 AM when I ordered and the closest pickup time was from 11-12 this afternoon, and since I like to get my shopping done early this is the option I chose.

One downside is that you cannot modify your order once it has been placed, but this is something I completely understand and they warn you of this before you finalize the order.

I still forgot the milk. Woops!

Of all things to forget… Anyways, so I pull up to the assigned parking area about 5 minutes before 11 (being the compulsively over-punctual person that I am) and called the number on the sign as instructed in the confirmation e-mail.

She asked me my name, I told her, and an employee came out with my groceries right away. He informed me that they didn’t have the ground pork I ordered and that they didn’t charge me for it. All the substitutions or omissions are on a printout stapled to the receipt, which was nice.

He asked if I wanted my eggs in the front with me, which I agreed and thought was nice. They rode shotgun next to my purse, safe and sound. He also asked if I used fuel points because if you do the survey at the bottom of the receipt then you get 3x fuel points. Or something.

I got home and tried to do the receipt survey, but for some reason I couldn’t find the “entry id” so I couldn’t start the survey. I would have given him five stars, though, for the egg thing alone.

Also something I forgot to mention was that you can use paper coupons once you arrive, and I had mine in my hand when he came out but for some reason I froze up and hid the coupons and never gave them to him. My brain is weird sometimes. I guess I didn’t want to inconvenience him once I realized he was standing out in the rain. My husband said you’re not even allowed to tip these people, so I just wanted him to get back inside. Weird, I’m usually so on point with my coupons but my brain just derped! Ha

95$ for 50 items and the 5$ pickup fee was waved since it was my first time. I’d say it was worth it to not have to deal with the pre-xmas crowd or even get out of my car. I was browsing the app anyways and it really only took probably five minutes to get everything in my cart. I’d say if you can find 5$ worth of coupons (and actually use them) then it’s worth it if you are short on time. Or, in my case, patience.

Have you guys ever done grocery pick-up before? What were your experiences?? I want to know!

Thanks so much for reading, see you guys soon!

DIY Image Transfer Candle

I have really been trying to make this holiday season as special as possible while also staying within our budget. I found this idea on Pinterest and I knew it would be perfect for my mom.
My family lives about a hundred miles away, so they don’t often get to see me or my daughter in person. We video chat and send pictures in a group chat, but they don’t have very many actual physical photographs of us. A product of the internet age, I suppose.
I think my mom will really love this gift, and after seeing how easy it was to actually make, I contemplated making one for everyone in the family. I already bought or made everyone else’s gifts this year, so maybe next year everyone will get a candle with our faces on it!

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YOU’LL NEED

  • A candle with suitable surface for the size of the picture you’ve chosen
  • A printer
  • Tracing paper
  • Plain printer paper
  • Tape
  • Wax paper
  • Heat source like a hair drier or heat gun (I actually used a curling iron, but I don’t recommend this unless you are prepared to clean the wax off the iron thoroughly afterwards.)

First you start by selecting the picture you would like to transfer. I used a black and white image partly because my printer only had black ink but also because I thought color might not show up as well.
I taped the tracing paper to a piece of regular printer paper on the top, bottom and both sides. I actually only taped the top and sides at first but when I ran it through, it crumpled the tracing paper from the bottom. Tried again using tape on all four sides and it worked perfectly.
I put the paper in and for my printer, it needed to be put in tracing paper side down. I printed 9 images on the one sheet of paper and selected the one that turned out the best. Some of the other pictures had smudges and I used one of them for a test run on a smaller candle.

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Align the picture ink side out where you want to transfer the image, and wrap tightly with wax paper.
Apply the heat source to the image, and you will start to see the image more clearly. Make sure you heat every part of the picture and are maintaining an even grip on the wax paper.
Slowly peel off the wax paper, ensuring that your image has transferred evenly, and let cool completely.
That’s it, we’re done!

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I got my candle on clearance and the tracing paper was pretty inexpensive so now I have like 100 sheets of it to image transfer my little heart out. Now, I’m on the lookout for other stuff to put my face on, so if you know of any other cool crafts like this, drop them in the comments and I’ll definitely try them out!
Thanks so much for reading, Happy Holidays!