Tuesday, July 31, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Here's a list of some of my favorite things as a new wife! Nothing raunchy-- this is stuff for the house and things that make me happy and my life easier.

1. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers Target Brand Magic Erasers. :) Yup $2 for this 4-pack or $4 for $2 of the Mr. Clean brand. I use these everywhere! Mostly for scratches on the wall from when we moved in, the fridge, and the tub. These babies are worth every penny. Honestly, I'm looking forward to using them on the baseboards next week!

2. Under shelf storage. I bought two of these at The Container Store for $8 each and of course Amazon has them for $6.97. These are a lifesaver for people with small pantries. I use one for bread (You can see that bread is on our grocery list) and the other for cookies/crackers. You just slide them right into the shelf and they sit perfectly.

3. Bissel Sweeper Vac. The dogs are not a fan of this little guy but I am his #1 fan! Instead of having to drag the broom and dustpan, I just get this guy out. He sits in a closet charging 24/7, so I just unplug him and go to town. It can be used on carpet, hard wood, tile, etc. I even sweep up the bathroom rugs. I've done the couch before, too. Don't judge. The sweeper vac is on Amazon for $35.99. I'm not 100% sure what I paid for mine, but it was a gift. I'm sure you could find it at Walmart, too!

4. PEVA Blanket & Comforter Bags. I found these at The Container Store as well and love them! For $9/bag, I think it's perfect to store comforters or large blankets we aren't using. You can see in the picture above I have our comforter we'll be using in the winter (Left), and the duvet for the futon (right). They zip up and have 2 handles on them. You see them more detailed tomorrow when I post our office closet makeover. :)

Hope you enjoyed this list! xO!

Ongoing To-Do List

Nathan leaves the first week in September for 3 months. I'm not one of those normal wives who's dreading him leaving-- I'm excited. I'm excited for his new job opportunity and I'm excited for my time alone with the dogs. I'm excited to miss him. We don't miss each other anymore. I'm excited to write him letters and emails and anxiously await his reply. It should be fun, but I'll be busy.. Why?

I have a to-do list of household projects I'd like to get done before he gets home. Most of them are DIY, but some are just things that need time/attention (Let write our congressman so we can get a White House tour).

Anyways, here's some of the things on my household to-do list:

 :: Paint the pot the violet pot. We got the violet from my favorite Aunt Sharon when we got engaged. The violet's name is Sharon and she is in an orange vase. I hate orange. I think this will be difficult because I don't know what to do with the violet while I paint the vase. Should I buy a cheap vase to keep it in while I paint the vase and it dries? Violets are very sensitive and I don't want to kill it.

:: I want to recover this sewing bench. It was my great, great grandmother's and the fabric has been all over the place-- blue with dogs, pink, and now white. I'd like to change it to a grey that can hide stains better. I like this fabric, but it's a bit too busy for my taste.

:: This is the one to-do I'm most excited/nervous for! Recover the dining room chairs. How hard could it be? Ha! I know I'll need a sturdy fabric that hides stains, but I'm so sick of this red and gold. I'm thinking something a bit more modern, but still homey. A grey/blue but definitely no white. I will also "clean up" the wood. I've read you can rub a walnut on the scuffs.. Looks like I might need a few bags of walnuts. :-) The most expensive part of this project will definitely be buying the fabric. I'm going to try places like Etsy, but I may end up using coupons at JoAnn's.

:: Hang/Show off our wedding photos. This is pretty self explanatory but I would like them displayed in a beautiful way all around our home. I need to order them, frame them, and put them up.

:: And last but certainly not least, I'd like to make/find new lamp shades. These are so dark in our large room that they don't light the room up very well. I'm picturing (again) a white or grey. Probably white. And maybe ruffles. :-)

I have so many other small to dos, these are just some of the projects I had to share with you! Do you have a lot of household projects on your mind? Have you ever completed any of my to-dos? Comment below!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Obsession With Labeling

I've always been an obsessively organized person. It's fun for me and our house stays clean, but Nathan sometimes gets annoyed. Whoops. :)

When we first moved here we went to Staples to get my office all organized and BOOM-- I found the Martha Stewart section. She is kind of my idol. Long story short, we came home with $20 worth of labels. (Surprisingly the $20 got us me about 100 labels).

So what's chalkboard labels without colorful chalk? I am a lefty so I have terrible handwriting, but you get the point.

I also got the regular labels for containers that the contents won't change. (Brown sugar, sugar, flour, powdered sugar, etc). We'll always have those ingredients on hand, so the label doesn't need to be changeable. I put a piece of tape over the labels to keep it from peeling off. I occasionally wash these Tupperware containers but I want my labels to be protected!

The contents in the jars (pictured above) will change-- we won't always have rice or popcorn on hand, so I felt they needed the chalkboard labels. 

When applying the labels, make sure the containers you're labeling are clean and dry. It's obviously easier to write on the label before you apply it, so try to write while the label is still on the pad. 

Any questions? Comment below.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nathan's Closet Dilemma

At quick glance this looks like a pretty normal closet, right? Wrong!

You probably cannot tell from the above photo, but when we moved in, this was supposed to be Nathan's closet. He was pretty excited to have his own space for everything and not have me bothering him with girly stuff-- skirts, dresses, what have you.

Anyway, the moment we opened the closet I noticed an issue. There was no room for clothes. You have got to me kidding me. See where the ties are hanging (now)? You can't hang a shirt "normally" because it's not deep enough.

...So we let it go and he moved over to my side with my dresses and skirts. Poor guy. We had this entire closet empty so I decided to make it my linen closet. Which would be nice because it's so close to the bathroom. (If you'd like to see the tour of our house, click here).

A few days later I got super organized and "did" my linen closet. (For that makeover, click here). I am so proud of it!

In the midst of all this organizing, Nathan's parents came to visit. They have done the DC Thing before, so I was hoping (secretly in the back of my mind) that Nathan's dad could take a look at this closet issue. Hey-- Dads like to help their sons get more closet space. It's a growing problem!

Nathan's dad took one look at the closet and could not believe how poorly designed it was. I think if he had more time he would have: 1. Told the management company off. 2. Redone our entire closet to look like this, but they had to leave 36 hours later. :-)

So we all hopped in the car and went to Home Depot. Norm knew what he needed to get for this "closet makeover" so it was quick and painless. Not to mention it cost just $9.

See? He put in that support to hang Nathan's clothes on/

I can't say if it was easy or not, but it only took Norm about 15 minutes

Viola! Nathan's wardrobe is complete. 

Isn't that awesome? Nathan was so excited to finally have his own space, and now I have room for more clothes! :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-- My Favorite Photo

I just love this photo I took while walking about a week ago. I didn't edit, crop, or do anything to it! Sunflowers are just so beautiful, aren't they?


Chocolate Banana & Spinach Smoothie

I'm a huge smoothie drinker. Especially in the summer months when it's so hot! For the past several years I've been throwing random fruits and veggies into the blender and it's surprisingly tasted good!

Here's my latest smoothie that Nathan has been having for lunch the past few days:

Chocolate Banana & Spinach Smoothie

So I know it doesn't look tasty, but I promise it's delicious. You can't even taste the spinach!

Here's what you need:

:: Handful of spinach, washed
:: 1 frozen banana
:: 1 cup milk
:: 1 packet Weight Watchers chocolate smoothie mix (You can sub in whey protein or powder for this)

Throw into blender and pulse until nice and smooth. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Still Don't Have Our Table Pad

How ugly does that look? I'm so sick of not being able to use our dining room table like normal people! 

Our table pad is being made/on its way, so I'll be sure to share when it arrives. Until then I don't know what we're going to do! I don't want any marks/scratches on the table, so the beach towel is just thick enough to protect the table. I didn't think a thin table cloth would do enough. 

Just had to share our beautiful dining room table. :) xO

My Favorite Wedding/Shower Gift

Yesterday I posted a tour of our apartment and said I would talk about our favorite wedding gift. I'm not even sure what to call the gift, so I named it "The poem and candle gift". It's just beautiful. I encourage you to try this for a couple getting married. It's quite frugal and very simple to put together.

What it is: At our shower I opened up this beautiful frame with our picture in it. I immediately loved it before actually reading what was typed on top of our picture. The poem (written below) goes with a box of candles that are lit as each "milestone" is reached.

Can't read the picture above? It says: 

"A basket of candles for (Bride's name). A basket of candles that come in a pair, in all different colors for you two to share. The white ones burn first; they are wrapped in white lace to celebrate your first married night in your new chosen place. The green pair is taller, and also much thinner, burn them with the first company you have over for dinner. The dark blue candles are for after your first fight; use them to burn while making up all night. Pink candles set the mood and pave the way, for your first married Valentine's Day. Now, when your first year of marriage is through, the cream anniversary pair will light for you two. Red candles aflame, both your futures are bright; celebrate promotions you've worked toward all your might. By this time we hope, maybe, just maybe you can light the purple ones, on the birth of your baby. And just when you thought you'd put these away, take the light blue ones out for your fifth anniversary day. Now just one more pair left-- for the big "two five"- the anniversary pair that will keep your love alive. Congratulations (Bride's name) and (Groom's name) on the start of your forever. May the two of you always be happy together. And burn these candles just the way that we said, but please don't forget: blow them out before bed!"

All the candles came wrapped in tissue paper labeled for each use (Ex: First married night). They were gently placed in this adorable box that we keep in a closet.

What good would candles be without candle stick holders? We registered for these and surprisingly got them for a wedding gift. (These came separately, not from the person who got us the poem and candle gift).

Doesn't this seem like a frugal gift idea? I saw candles at Hallmark a few weeks ago for $1 each. You can have the poem printed and framed-- Shoot, you can really play around with pictures, cartoons, and more. The options are truly endless.

Just had to share! xO

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Tour Of Our Apartment

Some of you have been asking for a "virtual tour" of our apartment. While it's certainly nothing out of a Pottery Barn catalog, it's quite organized, clean, and it smells nice. Isn't there something to be said about that?

This is our extremely small decently-sized kitchen. This is directly to the right when you walk in. My favorite part is my apron collection-- my mom's, great grandmother's, and just cute ones from my bridal shower. Above them I have a shelf with some candles and my cookbooks. I don't really use cookbooks but somehow I keep getting them! I hope one day I'll use them, but we'll see. :)

When you walk down the hallway past the kitchen, I have hung my little Creative Memories board. I try to update it often but it usually ends up being crammed with random cards/notes/letters and pictures. As you can see we're still celebrating the 4th of July here. Hey, we're in the nation's capital so we celebrate a bit longer! (To the right is the bathroom and to the left is our bedroom).

I don't have any good pictures of our bedroom because it's quite boring! Notice the fancy fan-- I highly recommend it. Thanks, Dad, for the housewarming (no pun intended) gift. It's this fan (Well worth $57) and my dad bought it because he was too hot unpacking our house

My stepmom set up the curtains and I love them. They add so much to this room. I rarely close them because I love looking out at night. 

This is my favorite part of our room! My jewelry area. I also have the frame above of my favorite shower gift (more info. on that later, but here's a sneak peek). 

Pretty much the only thing we have on the walls-- our puppies! Thanks, honey for setting these up! (You can see from this picture we have two entrances to the bathroom, left and right). 

I read in one of my Martha Stewart books that you are supposed to have something "live" in each room of your house. Did you know that? Well, I'm looking for a small flower to put in that vase. That's about as live as it's getting in the bathroom. 

We just have two bedrooms so the other room is the office. It has both our desks, another fan (I told you we loved them), a futon, and a huge walk in closet. 

As you can see Cocoa is quite comfy. :) During the day we usually lay the futon flat and open the blinds so the puppies can look out and bark at strangers. It's not annoying at all!

I said the closet was big! It's not quite as organized as I'd like, but you should have seen the before pictures. It was horrifying. Can you spot my extremely thorough home filing system?

See that big white box on the top shelf? That is my wedding gown. In a box. Forever. :(

This is the view you get when you walk right in. Now pictured is our dining room (back left) and couch (far left). 

My favorite part of the living room is above the fireplace. I'm not sure what we'll do with it long term, but for now it holds live sunflowers, my beautiful chalkboard, and our engagement violet, Sharon. 

Phew! I know I forgot a lot of little details, but that is definitely the big stuff! Enjoy! xO

Linen Closet With Labels

So many of you I'm sure have seen this-- labeling your linens with a post-it (or notecard of some sort) and a safety pin.

I have to say though, I highly recommend this method! It's amazing how much more organized I feel.

As you can tell we just have to "beds" in our new apartment. One king and a full size futon. We have 3 sets of king sheets and 2 sets of queen sheets for the futon (until I decide to splurge on full sheets)-- cotton and flannel. The flannel sheets came with a "bag" to put them in, so they are separated from the other futon sheets. It's more organized this way and it just makes sense in my head. And that's what counts, right?

Because the futon sheets aren't used too often (just when people are visiting), they go in the white crate.  The king sheets are more "out" and accessible. 

Obviously, when we use these, the label and safety pin will be removed. There is an open spot that is specifically for the labels. It's used when sheets or blankies are in the wash, being used, etc. 

Oreo was being super clingy while I was organizing..can you tell?

While this system is certainly not perfect, it sort of works for us. Obviously I am dreaming of one day having a linen closet in every bathroom and one outside the kitchen with a foldable button... but, that day is not today. :)

In the picture above you can see how I have the bin system-- some stacked, some not. The bins are from Target (the black ones are $9.99 and the white was $4.99). 

The towels are less than perfect. One of these days that gigantic mountain of towels is going to collapse and I know I will cry. 

What do you think of this system? Is this something you would ever try? How do you have your linen closet organized? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Extremely Thorough Home Filing System, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 in this two-part series on my extremely thorough home filing system! If you missed part 1, you can read it here. Enjoy!

Part 1 covered how to make your home filing system (and I stressed that there is no correct way). Part 2 is going to cover each of my sections, and what's in them. Let's get started!

Pay Stubs
:: Elizabeth
:: Nathan
This section is quite obvious. When we get our pay stubs from work, the slip goes in this section. Because we get direct deposit, we just get stubs from our office the Monday after pay day. These never get thrown out until tax time. If everything matches up, they get shredded after our taxes are filed.

This section is not divided by our names, because we have a joint bank account. I just have our account numbers on a post-it in this section, our banker's business card, and some misc. papers from Bank of America. Obviously if you have more bank-related stuff-- Bonds, Roth IRAs, etc, you would have a more thorough section. We just have a few accounts so one simple section is enough.

This is the section that is used most often. Any receipt that we get goes in this section. At the beginning of each month after I've matched all our purchases up, I'll empty out the receipts we no longer need. Receipts for big ticket items like our computers, phones, and my engagement ring stick around for a bit longer. I used to keep this section separated by our names, but because we have joint bank accounts, I don't think it's necessary.

I keep the dogs' shot records in here, along with any vet bills. At their last appointment we were told Cocoa had a heart murmur, so I keep the sheet with the "medical term" for it in this file.

Misc. Papers
:: Elizabeth
:: Nathan
This section is probably my most chaotic, but there's really no way to avoid it. Any random papers we get go in here. Nathan's section is quite empty besides his voter card. Mine, on the other hand, has our marriage license and information on getting my new passport.

Product Manuals 
This section also speaks for itself. Product manuals for anything from my camera to our belgium waffle maker. Every few months I go through this and remove anything we don't have anymore. For example, I will probably remove the belgium waffle maker's manual soon because everybody knows how to work one, right?

Gift Cards
I keep gift cards in here rather than with my coupons because we get a LOT of gift cards. I don't know why! They stay in here and are safe and sound. I also get the exact amount by calling the number on the back of the card and writing it in sharpie on the front of the card.

Return Labels
I keep our return address labels in here for letters, mailing bills, thank you notes, etc. I have 2 kinds-- ones for both of us and ones just for me.

Apartment Info.
:: Camden Potomac Yard
:: Comcast
:: Renters Insurance
This section has everything related to our apartment. The comcast online bill login information, our renters insurance information (Policy number, etc), and a copy of our lease.

:: Metro Cards
:: Nissan Sentra
I keep our car's title in here along with information on our metro cards. We have an online login to add money to the cards, so that information is kept in here. I also know who's card is who's so we know which one needs money.

Phew, that's it! I know it seems insane, but just remember to do what is best for you. You don't have to do this all in one day. Shoot, you don't have to do this all in one week! It just feels so wonderful to be organized!

Want to go back and read Part 1? Click here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Extremely Thorough Home Filing System, Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of a two-part series on My Extremely Thorough Home Filing System! I hope this series helps you keep your paperwork under control and gives your life some order!

Want to jump to Part 2? Click here

It may not look like much, but this blue folder is my life. I would probably be lost without it. Life would go on, but I would be crazy disorganized for quite a while. :)

This is not a homemaking binder, it's just a big folder that holds important stuff-- receipts, pay stubs, our lease, insurance information, car information, etc. 

I have a separate homemaking binder that is for household information-- cleaning, organizing, etc. That will be covered another day!

Want to make one for yourself? Here's what you "need" (I put quotes because you don't really need anything, just adapt for what you have on hand):

:: Some sort of folder/file cabinet. I like the ones that close and can be carried/moved around. I have a Martha Stewart one from Staples that cost about $9. You can easily get them from Target for about $3.

:: Some files. I'd say about 7-12.

:: Sharpie

That's it! See, it's really simple. It can be as thorough and decorative or plain and simple as you want it to be. (As you can see I went the "decorative" route as first and then changed to "simple" when I ran out of folders). It doesn't matter-- the only person who will see this folder is you!

First things first you need to figure out what is going in your folder. Get organized. Take your time and try to figure out what you want in it and how you want it displayed and separated. 

Next you need to label your dividers. As you can see my first one is Pay Stubs. I then have two folders in the particular section because we each work-- they are labeled Nathan and Elizabeth. 

My other dividers are: Banking (That is not separated with each of our names because we have a joint account), Receipts, Dogs, Misc. Papers (Two folders for Nathan and Elizabeth), Product Manuals, Gift Cards, Return Labels, Apartment Info. (With divider folders for: Lease, Comcast, and Renters Insurance), and Transportation (With divider folders for Nissan Sentra and Metro Cards).  

As you can see, my folder is completely stuffed. I'm afraid to admit it, but I think I'll have to move to an actual file cabinet very soon. 

After your dividers are labeled, start plopping papers in their designated area. This is the easiest part and probably the most fun. :)

In another post, I'll go over in detail what is in each divider and how I keep this folder clean and neat

*Please remember that this is the system that works for me. This system may not work for you and your family. You have to do what's best for you and if it's not this, by all means-- try another way!