Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is it crap? Guidelines to clearing out clutter.

Recently I was watching a YouTube video about clearing out your clutter.  It inspired me to go into my hobby room and clear out some of mine.  In the past I have found it tricky to figure out what I should keep and what I need to get rid of.  I kept thinking, "Oh my god!  What if I need this in the future!"  It would raise a bit of worry in me.  Well, here are some guidelines that I have come up with to help you figure out what you need to get rid of.

1.  Think about your long term goals in life.  How do you want to be in the future?  How do you picture your future self?  If the item does not help achieve your long-term goals, chuck it!

2.  If it doesn't inspire you, chuck it!

3.  If you do not use something often and you know that someone else will give it a better home, chuck it!

4.  Stop keeping things b/c someone bought it for you and you feel bad you have not used it.  Give better guidelines to friends/family of what you really want.

5.  Stop keeping things b/c YOU bought it and you feel bad that it hasn't been used.  People make mistakes and buy things they really don't need.  One of the best ways we learn is by making mistakes so just be more careful in the future.

So now that you have some guidelines, I will present to you how I went through these in order to further your understanding.

1.  These are things I want for my future self:  an eco-friendly life, a clean home, good physical/mental/spiritual health, a wonderful love life, a family, a job, a frugal life, and a non-materialistic life.  

So when I came across my bobbin for spinning yarn, a couple of spinning books, and fiber to spin, I let them go.  I let them go not b/c I don't want hobbies (good for the mental health), but b/c I already have enough hobbies. If I want to achieve all my goals, I need to let go of a hobby that I really haven't even started and focus on the ones I love already.

2.  If I found yarn or a book I really didn't like, I chucked it.  If I found a knitting pattern book where I liked maybe 1 pattern b/c it inspired me, but not the other 10, I copied the pattern and put the book in the pile.

3.  I have tea cups that I think are so cute but I never use them.  I know someone else will.  

4.  I have a recipe book that someone bought for me.  They thought I would like it and I never use it.  Chucked!

5.  Most of the knitting books I'm getting rid of, I bought.  It was back when I first started knitting and I wanted every book I could get my hands on.  I'm human and make mistakes.  Chucked!

Well, I hope this helps you clear some of your clutter.  I know for me, clutter makes me unhappy.  I don't like the site of it.  So in doing this, you will probably feel happier when you can see the floor better, learn from your mistakes, and realize how blessed/thankful you are for being able to have those things.  Now it is time for the item to move on and find a better home.  

Good luck and have a bright day filled with joy!  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

For the love of winter

I live in the Chicagoland area and I hear a lot of complaining about the weather in the winter.  On average, 5 months out of the year the temps are in the 30s and 5 months out of the year the temps are 60 and above.  I personally love the weather here.  The only time I don't really like the weather is when I fear for my life (i.e. driving in winter storms, thunderstorms, or on icy roads).  So I ask myself, why do I like living here?  Why do so many people flock to warmer places like California or Florida?  As I pondered this question, I wrote down ways that I appreciate the weather that mother nature sends our way.  Maybe, just maybe, if you do these things you'll like the winter weather a little more.  Here is a list, in my own order, of what I think is most important. 

10.  Knit/crochet - If you do this, every fall you'll look forward to all of the winter items you can make.  Plus, what you make will probably be cheaper than what you are willing to buy in store.
  9.  Roast chestnuts - A yummy winter tradition that you can look forward to.
  8.  Light a fireplace - What better way to warm up than to cozy up next to a fireplace? 
  7.  Look at the stars - The stars in the winter are at their brightest and they are amazing to look at. 
  6.  Cozy up with hot chocolate - Another winter tradition to look forward to.
  5.  Sit by a sunlit window - It's easy to forget the warmth of the sun in the winter but if you sit by a sunlit window, it will warm you right up.
  4.  Appreciating winter helps you appreciate summer - If you always lived in a place like California, it would be easy to forget why warmer weather is nice. 
  3.  Play in the snow - Kids appreciate winter more than anyone else.  Why?  B/c they have fun with it!  It's ok to be a kid sometimes.  Make snowmen, have a snowball fight, and slide along the sidewalk on the slick snow.
  2.  Run/walk outside (or any sport) - When I run outside, in 5 minutes I'm all warmed up and the cold no longer bothers me.  I start to notice the beauty of winter rather than just focus on how I feel.  When I walk outside, especially after snow has just fallen, it's gorgeous.  Nothing is better than a fresh blanket of untouched, sparkly snow.
  1.  Dress appropriately! - I cannot emphasize this enough.  It always surprises me when people tell me that they are THINKING of wearing long underwear.  In the winter, I always do!  One of the worst feelings in the winter time is walking outside and feeling the shock of my cold pants or the icy wind touch my skin.  If you wear long underwear, you don't feel that.  Also, wear layers, wool gloves, wool hats, wool scarves, wool socks, cowls, whatever it takes to stay warm.  Please do not complain about the temperature b/c YOU chose not to dress appropriately. 

 In my opinion, every season has its positives and negatives.  I just don't like the way people HATE HATE HATE winter.  Embrace winter for what it is because it will not be changing significantly, anytime soon.  To remind you of some of the beauty, here are a couple of my favorite photos. 
Things I LOVE in the winter
The sound of ice cracking under my feet (purposely breaking it), seeing individual snowflakes; white, snow coated trees; sparkly, icy trees; untouched snow; sparkly snow; the bright night sky; animal tracks in the snow; bright, blue sky and white snow together, the quiet of winter.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Music To My Ears

I love music.  When I want to be more energized, I'll listen to more energetic music like The Black Eyed Peas.  If I want to relax before going to bed, you'll catch me listening to calmer music such as Enya.  I'm here to share with you the different ways to listen to music through the internet and TV.  Perhaps you will find a new favorite way to listen to music.  

I have mentioned Pandora once before but I feel the need to talk about it more.  Pandora is by far my favorite way to listen to music.  You can do it for free w/commercials or pay for a year subscription.  You can get an app for it on your phone.  Any type of music you can think of is on there: alternative, solo piano, nature sounds, country, New Age, Film Scores, French Cafe, Teen Pop and Chicago Blues to name a few.  I highly recommend getting an account on there and exploring.

Online stations
Online stations fall into two categories: ones like 101.9 The Mix that are an actual FM radio station but you can listen to them online too and then there are the ones that are just played online like Third Rock and Q101.  Since I live near Chicago, my listening is influenced by what is played around here and this is by no means an entire list of online stations out there.
  • Third Rock 
    • This station is becoming one of my favorites.  It is a radio station that was made by NASA in order to connect with the public more.  Occasionally a NASA update is mentioned but not too often and the music is selected very well.  It is rock but it is a whole variety of rock.  You'll here familiar artists but also some ones you may not have heard before.
  • Q101
    • This is a unique station in that it used to be an FM radio station but it is no longer.  Now it is played on their website and you can listen to it on your phone through an app.  They still play alternative rock like they did before except now you no longer have the DJ's.  The only negative is that their commercials all sound like infomercials that make me want to turn off the station.
  • 101.9FM The Mix
    • This station plays a wider variety of music such as alternative, rock, and pop.  They do have DJs and promote local concerts just like a regular FM station.
What's nice about this page is that you can watch old and new music videos.  Not all artists are available but there is a pretty good selection.  You can also listen to their stations like the 90's station.  

If you have iTunes you can go to the Radio section and find a big variety of stations that you can listen to for free.

TV Cable
If you have Comcast cable, you can go to the radio stations on the TV.  Again, a pretty good variety.

Those are the many ways I have listened to music over the past several years.  This is by no means a complete list and you are more than welcome to share how you listen to music.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with music that puts a smile on your face and gets you tapping your foot.  :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baskets Everywhere!

I love baskets.  They have so many uses, they look nice, they come in all sorts of sizes, and you can buy them for really cheap if you look in the right places and at the right times.  So here is my dedication to them, a blog entry.  

 Different Uses for Baskets

1.  Under End Tables
Place them under end tables to hold all of your crap, I mean stuff.  :)  I have one under each of my end tables in my living room.  They hold pens, pencils, playing cards, cup holders, and remotes.  As a result, I've realized how little I use those things and I should really just put them somewhere else.  

2.  Next to a Printer
You can put extra printer paper inside the basket or paper that you printed off but intend on recycling later on.

3. As a Hamper
I separate most of my clothes into three linen bags which is the standard number of laundry bags for a laundry sorter.  I found that I needed a 4th one to put clothes that need extra special care (i.e. hand wash only) so a basket was my solution to just throwing the clothes on the floor.

4.  A Place to empty your pockets
I use a basket on top of my husband's end table on his side of the bed.  It's fine if he empties his pockets but I want everything in one small basket so it looks neater.  

5.  On Closet Shelves
I use one for putting my husband's handkerchiefs in, one in the winter time to put winter hats into and another I use to put winter mittens/gloves into. 

6.  Flower Girl Basket
I bought one for my wedding, lined it with cloth and glued it with ribbon. 

7.  Tool Holder
I use a shallow but wide basket to put my garden tools in when I take them outside.  

8.  A Seasonal Organizer
I have one I put all of our suntan lotion and bug spray in.  In the winter it hides underneath our sink and in the summer time I bring it back out.

Some Places to Buy Baskets
1.  Salvation Army/Goodwill
You are bound to find a basket for less than $5 at either one of these stores so I would recommend going to them first.

2.  Michael's/Jo Ann Fabrics/Hobby Lobby
You are bound to find baskets here too but not for so cheap unless you get them on sale which does happen on a fairly regular basis. 

3.  Wal-Mart/Target
You can find baskets here but again, not as cheap as you would at Salvation Army or Goodwill. 

Of course, there are many more uses and places for baskets but I'll just end it there.  I hope this gets your brain thinking.  The next time you receive a gift basket, try to think of a way of using that beautiful basket before you decide to throw it out.

As usual, I cannot end this blog without throwing in some pictures I've taken since my last blog.  These are from the Museum of Science and Industry.  My brother and I try to venture downtown to a museum at least once a year. The first picture is from their Science Storms exhibit. 
The second picture is from their U-505 submarine exhibit.  Every time my brother and I go over there we find something else we have not seen.  This museum holds a lot more than you would think staring at it from the outside.  I highly recommend making it out there some day.  Did I mention they have a Dr. Seuss exhibit right now?

My next trip downtown I intend on going to the Field Museum.  They have a chocolate exhibit until January 8th.  Enough said.   

Sunday, September 4, 2011


It's that time of year where zucchini is growing in your yard and you don't know what to do with it or at least I don't.  I'm learning.  As with every vegetable that grows in my garden, I make it a point to find new recipes so nothing goes to waste.  Here are some recipe ideas and tips for zucchini.

  • Zucchini bread - I use a family recipe so I don't want to put it up on here and plus there are a ton of recipes online.  If you want to make zucchini bread later on, you can always shred the amount of zucchini that you need, put it into a plastic bag, and freeze it for later use. 
  • Eggs and zucchini - I've come across two recipes with eggs.  One I saw in a book I want to buy called The Kitchen Garden Cookbook.  It has a zucchini omelet recipe.  The other one is zucchini with eggs and parmesan.  I made it and loved it.  Here's where I got the recipe.  The Garden and Grill: Gagoots!!
  • Grilled zucchini - Here's one very simple recipe that a friend gave me: You cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  In the hollowed out zucchini you put a little bit of cheese and dill on top then another type of cheese that you can sprinkle.  Then you grill it or broil it.  What is great about this recipe is that you can experiment with different types of cheeses.  I've put brie in the center and mozzarella on top and it was super tasty.
  • Zucchini Casserole- I received a recipe for this from a friend and I have yet to try it but I'm sure it is tasty.  Again, there are a bunch of recipes for this on the net and I don't feel comfortable sharing the recipe I have.  Sorry!
That's all I have so far.   I hope this helps.  If you have any ideas, feel free to share them.  Happy cooking!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Going Out to Eat

I'm not a fan of going out to eat.  For one, the portion sizes are huge so I'm tempted to eat more than usual.  Secondly, it's usually not healthy.  Lastly, it's usually more expensive than eating at home.  Nonetheless, we still do, just not often.  When we do, I try to combat these negatives and here's how.

Portioning off food 
Instantly when I get my plate I look at it and decide how much I'm going to eat.  This does take some will power to stop eating when you say you will but if I don't listen to myself, I usually regret eating too much.  It helps if you aren't super hungry b/c if you are, you usually eat more than you should b/c you THINK you need more than you should.  Does that make sense?  So again, when I get my plate, I take my fork and separate only what I will eat.  With the rest, I take home as leftovers.  This keeps me from wasting food and money and a $5+ meal turns into 2 or 3 meals.  Yea!

Resist the meals
When I eat fast food I usually don't get a "meal".  So at McDonalds, Subway, Arby's, Wendy's, wherever, I don't ever get the #1 or #2.  I get a sandwich b/c that usually is enough food as it is.  If you have a wonderful significant other that you like eating with, you can share food.  So my husband gets the meal (sandwich with a side and drink) and I just get a sandwich and we both eat the sides and drink.  That way we both get some fries, some drink but not too much and we save money. 

Try drinking a whole glass of water before you start eating the food.  You'll find you eat less.
In most restaurants, you can ask for a cup for your water and they won't charge you.  It's free and healthy!  Or you can just bring your own bottle of water to a fast-food restaurant.

Allow one indulgence
When I'm in line at a sandwich shop, I stand for quite a long time deciding.  It's not because I'm unfamiliar with the menu.  I'm deciding on the one "bad" thing I want to eat.  For example, I want the ham sandwich which I like on Italian herbs and cheese bread with a side of mayo and a slice of cheese.  All things that are not too healthy but I can't cut all of that out of my sandwich or I will start to hate being careful with what I eat.  So I'm deciding, do I want to take the Italian herbs and cheese bread out and replace it with whole wheat?  Or do I want to take the cheese out?  Or do I want to take out the mayo and replace it with oil or vinegar or mustard?  Well, the last time I went I got a 6" ham sandwich on whole wheat bread with cheese and oil and vinegar.  I love my cheese.  

Well, I hope this helps someone out there.  Sorry, I don't have any pictures.  Just to let everyone know, you can follow me on Twitter.  I will open my account to the public again but if it looks like your account is simply for spam purposes, I will block you.  Until next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Adding variety to life

Howdy y'all! =) The other day I was thinking about how I get bored of some things easily, like food. I'm not sure if other people get this way too, but just in case, I decided to blog about it.
I get bored of eating certain types of food. Sandwiches are a good example. I get bored of eating the same thing all the time so then I don't want to eat it and then I let the food go to waste and instead I spend money on fast food and eat something unhealthy. Not a win, win situation. So I've come up with ways to add variety or to spice up the mundane while staying pretty healthy. These work for me anyway.


Bread- You can use whole wheat bread, bagels, french bread, rolls (hamburger, sub or kaiser) or croissants (well...not that healthy). My favorite are the bagels, personally, which in of themselves, come in a variety of flavors (i.e. onion, plain, raisin, or egg).

Cheese- There's such a wide variety of cheese out there. My favorite are colby jack, cheddar (mild or sharp), and provolone but of course there is also american, swiss, pepper jack or colby. I recommend sticking to one slice on a sandwich.

Lettuce - Romaine is my favorite and iceberg is my least favorite. You can also use spinach. I've heard cucumbers are good, too, but I've never tried them.

Well, sadly, that is all I have for you today.  Look for my next blog on tips on how I try to stay healthy while going out to eat.  Ciao!