Saturday, March 31, 2007

Closet Organization Tips

A well-designed closet with logical flow and attractive design is not only an absolute pleasure to see first thing every morning, but can be a great selling point when you sell your home. However, I used to design for Closet Factory, so I've seen many many closets and I've seen how expensive a custom built closet system can get (I've sold 2 $16,000 closets, and few cost less than $5,000 - don't know about you, but I'd rather build my own functional closet and spend that money on a jet ski or something!). It's absolutely possible to have a gorgeous closet that will magically create storage space and won't break the bank.

To Begin:

Declutter first and foremost - (parts of my Spring Cleaning post may help) - objectively clean out your closet - unflattering fit or color, worn-out items, unloved accessories, or icky fabrics MUST GO! Donate work clothes to the local women's shelter, dresses to Cinderella's Trunk, the rest to Goodwill. You only need clothes that you love - better to wear something great over and over than to wear something not so wonderful just because you're sold on the idea that you need a heartily stocked wardrobe. In this article the author states that most people only wear 20% of the clothes in their wardrobe! I believe it. Keep this in mind next time you go shopping. Let go of (or put back, if you're still in the store) the things that aren't that great but were on sale, clothes your shopping buddy talked you into that just don't suit you, and trendy items that you will no longer wear. Classic, quality pieces that make you feel great are best.

Take inventory. Measure how much double hang, medium hang, and long hang you need, and how long your longest item is in each category. Measure how long and wide your biggest shoes are and count how many pairs you have. Consider all of these measurements when drawing out your design.

Measure your closet and draw it out to scale on graph paper, marking any obstructions and your doors, including door swing if it swings in.

When designing, keep in mind any obstructions such as switches, ducting, outlets, and vents that shouldn't be blocked.

Consider your doors, especially in a reach-in closet. If bifold, open them and measure where they fold up. Drawers, baskets, sliding shelves, etc. will not be able to open if the door is in the way. If sliding, mark on your drawing where the doors overlap - this 6" or so will be difficult to access. If a pocket door, do not hang anything on the wall where the pocket door inserts. A regular door is ideal.

Think vertically.

The Basics:

Double Hang - If you don't already have double hang, this will be your new best friend. Measure out the length of rod required to hang all your short hanging items (shirts, skirts, shorts) and then divide it in two - this is how much space you will need to hang two rods, one above the other. Be sure to hang the rods with enough height so your longer shirts etc. will not drag on the floor or on the lower rod.

Medium Hang - Pants, long skirts, short dresses need a medium length rod (again, measure how much rod you need to hang all your items in this category). This is an excellent place for shelves above or below or drawers or baskets/hampers below.

Long Hang - Few of us need more than 12" of hanging tall enough for long dresses, so you can either have a dedicated rod for these or in a medium hang section have one small area that doesn't have shelving or drawers/baskets/hampers below it so your dresses can hang unhindered.

Shoe Shelves (shoe racks can be used if you have no room for shoe shelves, but please use the canvas type that either hang over the door or off a rod. Metal ones wreck shoes over time so I don't recommend those.) - use the measurements and inventory you took for your shoes into account here. For example, say your widest shoes are 8" wide. Then the length of the shoe shelves should be in increments of 8": 16" wide holds two pairs, 24" holds three, and so on. So if you have twenty pairs of shoes and a 24" space, you need seven shelves (only about 6" tall, except for boots). Easy! A 12" deep shelf is usually sufficient except for large-footed men who don't like the toes of their shoes sticking out over the edge.

Sweater/ Jean shelves - Should be 16" deep. Measure the width of your wider folded items to see how wide your shelves should be, using the same method as with shoes. Try to keep the spaces between shelves short so the stacks don't get tall and tippy.

Purse Shelves - This one is entirely dependent on whether you love big purses or little purses and your inventory.

Drawers - Usually the most expensive part, but it's nice to have some things hidden. Consider buying or making drawer dividers (can use a router and thin pieces of wood or plastic to make your own) - really helps things stay tidy.


If you're renting or afraid of commitment use something like this to add a second rod. Use a canvas sweater hanger for extra shelving too (not just for sweaters). Shoes will be happy in a canvas hanger over the door or (preferably) off the rod. These types of things can often be found at Ross for under $10.

Paint or even wallpaper the inside of your closet in colors much more daring that you'd usually use. It's a small, intensely personal space that can be hidden from view. Go wild! Choose a color or pattern that is invigorating, since you typically see it first thing in the morning. This would take very little paint!

If you're renting, you can "wallpaper" with a fun fabric and starch, which peels off easily when you move. Click here for a how-to on a really clever website.

Install an attractive light (can be very inexpensive if you shop well - Home Depot has good flush-mount ceiling fixtures for $15 for a two pack, also check out I've seen reach-in closets with a 2' rectangular florescent light mounted on the wall directly above the door (so it isn't seen) with a motion sensor, so it comes on when you open the door. Genius!

Find a system of hanging your clothes that makes sense to you: Separate by work/play, formality, warmth, color, or otherwise. This will make dressing faster and simpler, and will give your closet a soothing, organized visual flow. Maybe a little OCD, but I break it into color, in ROY G BIV, then brown, white, grey, and black. Then I hang clothes in order of warmth, tank tops to sweaters. It helps me because I can think, 'well, I feel like wearing purple, and it's a little cold, oh look, my purple sweater section!'. Matt just likes the short sleeve shirts separate from the long sleeves. Whatever works for you!

For the shelving, build your own or buy freestanding bookshelves from secondhand stores or Ikea.

To reduce costs, consider using the white wire shelving and rods from Home Depot/ Lowe's. My old boss would whack me for this, but if your budget is limited it's better to have organization in a less ideal material than to live with an inefficient closet. OR check out something like this.

If you have a reach-in closet that has deep wall returns (the wall that surrounds the door, blocking your view) you may consider cutting the wall back so the closet space is more accessible. The doors can be replaced by larger doors or hanging dramatic curtains that go well with the bedroom (go deluxe on these or it will look cheap), preferably floor to ceiling to create the illusion of height.

Avoid storing non-clothing items in your master closet. The bedroom (closet included) is ideally a sanctuary, not a storage room.

Hang a hook for each closet user so that clothes can be chosen at night and hung up, ready and waiting, to speed up morning routines.

Hooks are also great for frequently used things, such as PJ's, jacket, jeans that are clean enough to wear again, today's bag, etc.

A Little Bit Luxe:

Invest in beautiful wood hangers (Bed, Bath, and Beyond has the best price - $15 for 24). This may seem like an unnecessary purchase but it beautifies your closet, dresses up your wardrobe and will truly make your clothes seem more satisfying. This could actually save you money because your wardrobe will feel more full and you can better fight the subconscious urge to shop. I used to have a variety of colored plastic hangers that made my closet look mishmosh and disorderly, despite any organization (and made putting away laundry slow, as I have a touch of OCD and can't hang clothes on a clashing hanger). I love my wood hangers!

If you choose to have a custom closet made for you, keep in mind that white will be cheaper than colors and drawers and doors will make the cost jump very quickly. Closet Factory charged $100 for the most basic drawer, and the cheapest wood grain melamine was a price increase of 15%. If you go into custom stained wood, the price would be astronomical. I've quoted closets at $24,000, but the same layout in plain white with standard accessories would be more like $7,000. You can, of course, do a reach in closet for about $800 if it's very basic. Ikea does custom closets for MUCH cheaper.
There are a lot of plan-it-yourself websites, which of course you can order from, or just use their website to design your closet and then use that plan when you build your own. Please oh please do not have a closet designer come to your home to draw plans and give you an estimate if you're planning to DIY - this is disrespectful of their time and money (they get paid strictly commission and gas prices hurt when you drive for hours on end for free - trust me, I've been there) and you risk bad closet karma. ;-)

Most older homes have teeny-tiny closets. I may be worthwhile to steal some space from the room to expand the closet, for resale value and your sanity. If done well this could create enough storage space that you can eliminate the dresser from your bedroom.

Kid's Rooms:

Triple Hang! This is the most wonderful thing about kid's rooms. Their clothes are small enough that you can hang 3 rods vertically, or one or two rods with lots of shelving or baskets. Make their closet easy for them to use as they grow. Toy baskets can go on the bottom. The more colorful and easy to understand their closet is, the more likely they will actually use it. Also, consider shelves or hooks where, as they begin dressing themselves, you can set out outfits for them to choose from. They'll learn a little bit of independence and you won't have to have as many arguments about clothing choices. ;-)

To Make it Green:

Use secondhand bookshelves.

Use low VOC paints.

Build your shelves with FSC certified wood.

Donate your old closet rods and shelves to

Keep in Mind:

Consider form and function. Function is of course the first priority with something as hardworking as your closet, but it should be beautiful too. It's where you start every morning. Make it pleasing!

Don't neglect your other closets, either. Do you pray that your guests don't open the linen closet? Is your coat closet full of unused coats or things that don't belong there? Is the pantry overwhelming? Invest some time, creativity, and a little money and these can be places to show off in the grand tour! (A couple ideas - coat closets should ideally have space for plenty of guest coats as well as shelves or hooks for gloves, purses, scarves, hats, etc. If you're blessed with a linen closet, make sure it is orderly and isn't a booby-trap set to spring when someone opens it. Anything not linen-related should live somewhere else or be eliminated.) And then there's the garage...

Absolutely under no circumstances use the melamine coated particle board they sell at Home Depot. It may look like what closet companies use, but I've seen it for myself - it will peel, scratch, and look cheap almost immediately. If you build a wonderful closet system yourself, use paint-grade MDF or plywood (plywood will be more expensive). Don't use particle board - it can't be painted, it could snag your clothes, and it usually has formaldehyde in it.

I'll probably update this post as I think of a few more ideas, but please let me know if you have questions or great ideas!

Excuses, Excuses

I just wanted to apologize for my lack of useful posts these last couple weeks - I've been helping Matt a lot, and when I'm not helping Matt I'm knitting like a maniac.

I made a few of these for upcoming birthdays:

I'm working on two of these still - from Christmas! Geeeeez I'm late! It's just a slightly frustrating pattern. Well, I can't blame the pattern - I just had to learn several new techniques and it's slow to knit because the pattern has an odd rhythm and tiny needles. AND it's blinkin' impossible to find 9mm safety eyes without paying $6 shipping for a $2 item, so I had to commission my MIL to embroider the eyes on. Pardon my rant!:

And I'm working on veggies for Eli's first birthday, as requested by Danipants. I won't show you the pattern yet to keep a little mystery. I'll post pix when the crop is completed. Turning out cute though (and fast - hooray!).

Someday soon I'll knit myself this, hopefully before summer is over. :-)

Tink has been asking for a nice spring sweater... well, shivering slightly and looking at me as if to say, "Where's my jacket?" My only response is, "Well, Noodle, you got too chunky for all your sweaters, and you wrecked the last one I made you".

I wanted to knit something for Ruth's new baby girl, but little Sierra arrived the other day and I haven't even started the project yet! Maybe by Christmas... ;-)

And then there's Auntie Barb's head scarf (for in the convertible) - she asked for that, ohhh, three months ago...

I was also planning on knitting something nice for Mother's Day, but seeing how rapidly it is approaching and considering I have three "mothers" (and some mama friends I'd love to honor), maybe they will get flowers instead, haha!

I need to learn to speed-knit!

Happy Birthday to Lindsey!

I decided recently to celebrate the birthdays of my loved ones by telling everyone what's wonderful about them. This last week was dear Lindsey's birthday, so here goes!

I love Lindsey because:

She's a great mom to her two beautiful girls and plans on taking the enormous but worthwhile challenge of homeschooling.

She's incredibly sweet.

She's fun-loving and very silly, the best hairdresser in the universe (but so darn far away from my hair, haha), perpetually cheerful, always looking on the bright side, superduper handy (knits and sews and bakes, oh my!), convinced me to try knitting (so grateful for that!), she made us two gorgeous nieces (So far! Maybe more later?), and she was my very first sister!


Spooky Facts About Household Products

This information was emailed to me by Melaleuca (they sell nontoxic cleaners, vitamins, etc.), and it's pretty interesting. BTW, my SIL sells Melaleuca and I'll be trying out the products soon and I'll let you know how it works out - if anyone wants to order any, I can get you in touch with her. I'll be expecting a free haircut for that shameless plug, my lovely Lindsey. ;-)

When we pick up a product at the local grocery store, most of us like
to think we are getting something that has been tested and proven to
be safe. After all, we have laws to protect our health and safety,
don't we? Actually, the government has very limited power to regulate
manufacturers, or require testing of their products.

Here are some disturbing facts:

A product that kills 5-% of lab animals through ingestion or
inhalation can still receive the federal regulatory designation
non-toxic . Of the 17,000 chemicals that appear in common household
products, only 30% have been adequately tested for their negative
effects on our health; less than 10% have been tested for their effect
on the nervous system; and nothing is known about the combined effects
of these chemicals when mixed within our bodies. No law requires
manufacturers to list the exact ingredients on the package label.
Personal care product refers to just about anything we use to clean
our bodies or make ourselves look or smell good. The closest thing to
a regulatory agency for the personal care industry is the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), and their power is extremely limited. Here
are more unsettling facts regarding personal care products:

The FDA cannot regulate a personal care product until after it is
released into the marketplace.
Neither personal care products nor their ingredients are reviewed or
approved before they are sold to the public.

The FDA cannot require companies to do safety testing on their
personal products before they are sold to the public.

The FDA cannot require recalls of harmful personal care products from
the marketplace.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and health (NIOSH)
analyzed 2983 chemicals used in personal care products. The results
were as follows:

884 of the chemicals were toxic
314 caused biological mutation
218 caused reproductive complications
778 caused acute toxicity
148 caused tumors
376 caused skin and eye irritations.

Warning: You Can't Trust Warning Labels!

You may think you know what is in a product and its potential harms by
reading ingredient and warning labels. Think again. Manufacturers are
not required to list the exact ingredients on the label. Also,
chemical names are often disguised by using innocuous trade names. So,
even if the chemical is listed on the label, you may not recognize it
for what it is. Even if the harsh and dangerous active ingredients are
listed on a package, often time the remainder of ingredients are
lumped into a category known as inert (not active) ingredients. This
term may lead you to believe that these chemicals are not toxic or
hazardous. In fact, many of the 1,000 different chemicals used as
inert ingredients are more harmful than the active ingredients. The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not require manufacturers
to identify most inert chemicals, or disclose their potential harmful
effects. Even suspected carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) are used
as inert ingredients in household products.

Regarding warning labels. One New York study found that 85% of
products they examined had incorrect warning labels. Some were labeled
poisonous, but weren't; others were poisonous but weren't labeled as
such; others gave incorrect first aid information. And there are
absolutely no warnings on products about possible negative effects of
long-term exposure. This is unfortunate because most diseases linked
to chemical exposure are the result of long-term exposure.

If we don't know what is in it, and we don't know if it can hurt us,
how are we supposed to make an intelligent decision about whether or
not to bring this product into our home?

Cleaning products
(just a few that I know are used in house cleaning)
Air freshener- toxic; may cause cancer; irritates, nose, throat, and
Disinfectant- very toxic; causes skin, throat, and lung burns; causes
Drain cleaner- toxic; causes skin burns; causes liver and kidney
Oven cleaner - toxic; causes skin, throat and lung burns.
Window Cleaner- toxic; causes cns disorders; causes liver and kidney
Floor/Furniture polish - toxic causes cns disorders, may cause lung
Spot remover- toxic; may cause cancer, may cause liver damage.
All Purpose Cleaner - causes eye damage; irritates nose, throat and
Toilet bowl cleaner - very toxic; causes skin, nose, throat and lung
Chlorinated scouring powder- toxic; highly irritating to nose, throat
and lungs.
Dishwasher Detergent - toxic; causes eye injuries, damage to mucous
membranes and throat.
As I said just a few.

One Common Ingredient

Although it would take a second book to cover all the ingredients
commonly used in the products above, I want to let you know about one,
formaldehyde, as an example. Formaldehyde is used frequently in both
cleaning and personal care products because it is a cheap
preservative. The following information is taken from a Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which , by law, must be supplied to anyone
who uses any chemical product in the workplace. The MSDS for
formaldehyde warns: Suspected carcinogen; may be fatal if inhaled,
swallowed, or absorbed through the skin; causes burns; inhalation can
cause spasms; edema (fluid buildup) of the larynx and bronchi, and
chemical pneumonitis, extremely destructive to the tissue of the
mucous membrane. All these symptoms and more are caused by
formaldehyde. Yet manufacturers can put formaldehyde in shampoo and
not list it as an ingredient! You will be shocked to learn that
formaldehyde is a common ingredient in baby shampoo, bubble bath,
deodorants, perfume, cologne, hair dye, mouthwash, toothpaste, hair
spray and many other personal care items.

Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen. If all cancers start with the
abnormal growth of just one cell, then why allow any amount into or
onto your body?

Toxic Chemicals and the Human Body

Your body is a very complex, very fragile system of chemical reactions
and electrical impulses. When you consider a single cell breathes,
uses energy, and releases waste much like your whole body does, you
can begin to understand how even small amounts of harmful chemicals
can affect the performance of the body's processes. Chemicals enter
the human body in three ways: ingestion, inhalation, and absorption.

Ingestion brings to mind the image of a young child opening the
cabinet under the sink and drinking something deadly. Well, each year
nearly 1.5 million accidental ingestions of poisons are reported to
U.S. Poison Control Centers. The majority of the victims are under the
age of twelve and have swallowed a cleaning or personal care product.
It amazes me how many deadly chemicals are stored under sinks or on
bathroom counters and bathtubs within easy reach of young children.

It may surprise you to learn that poisoning by inhalation is more
common, and can be much more harmful, than ingestion. When something
harmful is swallowed, the stomach actually begins breaking down and
neutralizing the poison before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
However, when you inhale toxic fumes, the poisons go directly into the
bloodstream and quickly travel to organs like the brain, heart, liver
and kidneys. Many products give off toxic vapors which can irritate
your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and give you headaches, muscle
aches, and sinus infections. The process of releasing vapors into the
air is called outgassing. Outgassing occurs even when a chemical is
tightly sealed in its container. If you doubt this, simply walk down
the cleaning aisle at your local grocery store, and notice how
strongly it smells of toxic vapors, even though the containers are
sealed tight.


Most people never guess this.

Finally, you need to realize the potential threat absorption poses.
One square centimeter of skin (less than the size of a dime), contains
3 million cells, four yards of nerves, one yard of blood vessels, and
one hundred sweat glands. We've all heard the ads for nicotine patches
and analgesic creams. These medicines work by being absorbed into the
bloodstream through the skin. Even some heart medicines are
administered through trans dermal (through the skin) patches. Any
chemical that touches the skin can be absorbed and spread throughout
the body. This can even happen when you come in contact with a surface
that was treated with a chemical days or even weeks earlier. I had no
idea that my children could be harmed by crawling across the kitchen
floor we had just cleaned. I thought that we were being conscientious,
not reckless.

Helping One Family at a Time...=)

If you're not interested in Melaleuca, you can make wonderful household cleaners with vinegar, baking soda, lemon, tea tree oil... There are many websites that will give you recipes (some in my links). This is obviously better for your family's health but also saves a lot of money if done wisely.

As far as beauty products go, Melaleuca's have parabens, so buy that elsewhere. Parabens are linked to reproductive and breast cancers and are in most beauty products. When you read the ingredients, look for propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, etc. Stay the heck away from these. Also, they're known to dry out your skin. Since we're usually putting on lotion to moisturize it makes sense to avoid them for this reason, too. Many drugstore brands are made without parabens and your local health food store (or Super Supplements - they're only in WA and they don't sell on their website but I LOVE them!) carries many great products. Just be sure to still read the package - just because it says it's "All Natural" doesn't mean it is. Also, if there is not sodium laurel sulfate (a common skin irritant) included it will not lather like you're used to. It will still clean like anything else but it seems strange at first. Honestly, you may have to try a few brands before you find one you love, but it's worth it. Who wants cancer? Not me. ;-)

This website ranks beauty product brands and discusses common ingredients and why you'd want to avoid them. A great resource as you can search for the ones with the lowest risk rating and try that brand for yourself!

I love you all!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Weekly spending:

Monday: $0
Tuesday: Detergent - $5.14, Eggs and yogurt - $5.28
Wednesday: Michael's (yarn for Eli's b-day present and for 2 tank tops for me - oopsy) - $21.98 after some returns, Membership to Melaleuca - $14.50
Thursday: Matt's cigarettes - $5
Friday: Rockler (drill bit and spectacular "bookazine' about small homes with big functionality and style) - $10.53
Saturday: $0
Sunday: $0

Total = $62.43 ($156.68 left for the month's challenge)

Okay, not horrible but I didn't REALLY need a tank top, let alone two. I couldn't decide which color I liked better - I loved them both! You know, the yarn was only $6 per tank plus needles - pretty cheap for what will (hopefully) be a nice shirt. So, whatev, not that bad!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kitchen Counters are in!

Here's where we're at right now in the remodel at Matt's parents' house. It's really cruising along now but there is still a significant amount left to do. Need prayers for a speedy completion! I want to head for home on April 13th (Friday the 13th! Spooooky.). I've already started packing. :-)

Click on any pic for a larger view.

The island is so big it took SEVEN guys to carry it in.

The new undermount sink and pull-down gooseneck faucet.

Supersexy touch-control range with warming drawer, detailed settings, select-a-size burners, and a plug-in thermometer that shows the internal temp of your food on the digital display. (The lovely glass has since broken, but don't fret, it's getting fixed - I've said it before and I'll say it again: Murphy's Law applies to remodels 10x more than anything else.)

Pony wall entering the formal living room (as you can see, the drywall isn't finished...).

Granite shelf above double-sided gas fireplace - notice extravagant and rare plastic and painter's tape covering fireplace. ;-) There will be Tiberias Gold travertine tiles on hearth in the next couple of weeks.

Display shelf and curio cabinet (will have glass shelves soon). This new wall angle is in the center of the new angle created by the open dining room, kitchen, and family room.

The counters were fabricated by Straightline Imports in Martinez, CA - if anyone reading this is in that area, I HIGHLY recommend this company. They were the second cheapest of the five quotes we got, and the absolute best quality. The owner, Rick, was great to work with, as were the installers. This is the first company we've dealt with in the remodel that we've been entirely happy with.

The Tiffany-style pendant lamps.

We also have the 18" Tiberias Gold (problematic! Very brittle and each tile was a different thickness so the floor is uneven. Oy.) tile floor down (fyi - install tile before cabinetry if possible - we didn't for various reasons - much more time consuming and aggravating after the cabinet install). We still need to grout and do the last coat of sealer.

Here's Matt measuring it out so that I can cut the tiles for him...

...On this huge tile saw! It was easy to use and it sprays water when it cuts and it was a hot day so it was kind of like a noisy sprinkler that also coats your arms in wet tile "mud". Fun!

Also, the bloodwood floors are finished in the family room - still have the dining room and hallway to do install. Love the prefinished - went in so smooth and easy and without breathing nasty finish or stain.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

For my Nicklet

Being gone for six months, I have sudden attacks of homesickness, and I often have one particular person that would just LOVE to see today. Today my brother, Nick, is someone I really miss. He is so funny and wild and he always tells me I'm his best friend and he misses me "24/7". :'-)

Nick and Matt have been so close since the beginning - he was only three when Matt and I got together!

He's even weirder than me! That takes talent and effort. ;-)

Look at those eyelashes! If I didn't love him so much I'd steal them from him while he slept. ;-)

I know it's not practical, but I secretly hope he becomes a rock star.

An inside joke we have:
This is an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (a cartoon about an orphanage for imaginary friends that have been outgrown) that totally cracks us up. It's pretty weird and I don't know if anyone will think it's as funny as we do, but here it is. Hope you enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Inspiration from Tristan Prettyman

This year is set to be a big one - everyone I've talked to has their goals coming into focus and is reevaluating their lives and actively changing - so exciting! We all have what it takes to grab hold of our dreams, we just need to go after it! Pray for it and "believe it and receive it" as they say and it's yours! With that on my mind lately, I ran across these lyrics from dear sweet Tristan Prettyman (I love her! I wish she was my other best friend.) and they went right along with how things are flowing right now:

Taken from Always Feel This Way

So if you’re wishin on stars
You better go out and get it
Cause you if you want it bad enough
You won’t stop until you have it

Don’t let them tell you
what you can and cannot do
You’ve got to see it through
Like you always knew

It’d feel this way…

Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekly spending:

Monday: $0
Tuesday: Matt's cigarettes - $5
Wednesday: $0
Thursday: Matt bought tequila >:-( - $15
Friday: Sally Beauty (pumice stone and nail file - needed!) - $2.34
Saturday: $0
Sunday: $0

Total = $22.34 but I'd like to note that I only spent $2.34! ($199.77 left for the month's challenge)

Well if we keep it up we'll be able to stay under budget when take the train ride to the Santa Cruz boardwalk like I wanted! I looooooove Santa Cruz.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


So, how are you guys doing with the no-complaining challenge? So far on my best day I made it to 3:00pm without complaining... Hmmmm..... It's a work in progress, haha!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Kitchen Remodel Progress



Sorry, the lighting is a bit dark on the "Now" pix. Basically, at this point we have all the lower cabinets up, all the electrical and plumbing set up, and the counters should be arrive next Monday or so. Tomorrow we're working on the radiant heating and the tile flooring. We're also nearly finished on the wall restructuring and painting. This whole wall angle, pony wall, and and alcove is new (it used to be one long solid wall with two doors that separated the kitchen and family room from the rest of the house):

We just have the hardwood flooring installation, tile flooring, backsplash, upper cabinets, trimwork, touch up painting, a few light fixtures to install, painting in the sitting room, and this and that left to do, then it will be DONE! I'll load more pix when things look a little more finished (unfinished work is just not that pretty, y'know?). :-)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

These people are inspiring!

This challenge is not for me right now, considering we'll be moving into our first home this summer and all that, but amazingly inspirational! This group has committed to buy nothing new for the entire year. They have a yahoo group to keep accountable. It really is true that the consumerist culture we live in is terribly detrimental to the environment and damaging to our finances. They allow themselves to buy used, but nothing new (other than personal necessities). Wow!

This got me thinking about more easily attainable simplifying, so here are some links I found on the subject:

Complaint Free World update

Today was my first attempt at going complaint-free. I had to switch it once (sarcasm, oops) but I think I should've switched it a couple more times... Haha, tomorrow I'll be better.

The website where you order the bracelets said it'd take 2-5 weeks to get my bracelets, and after considering it further I decided I'd rather have something more subtle than a purple rubber band. So, I made my own. I used clear beads on clear elastic so it would be sorta "invisible' and wouldn't clash or draw attention to itself but still be easy to switch wrists when I complain. This is what it looks like:

I'd be glad to make more (tons of leftover beads!) for anyone challenging themselves to be complaint free!

Weekly spending:

Monday: $0
Tuesday: Michael's (supplies for b-day gifts for Sarah, Lindsey, and Sherry; Easter gift for Abigail; little thing for Dani's shower) - $8.21 after returning stuff from last week
Wednesday: $0
Thursday: Matt's cigarettes -$5.00
Friday: - (shipping and tax on Catch Phrase game) $8.08 after gift card, Tip at Olive Garden - $3 after gift card
Saturday: Michael's (supplies for Stacy's b-day present and "no complaining" bracelet for myself) - $11.33
Sunday: 6 greeting cards from outlet store - $1.28! Nice!

Total = $36.90 ($213.10 left for the month's challenge)

A decent start! Mostly gifts, and we had a lot of fun this week without spending much (partly due to gift cards, but we went to a lot of parks and whatnot). I think the library was a big part in fighting the spending urge this week because it feels a little like shopping - you go, look around, pick stuff out, bring it to the clerk, and you have something new (even if just for a couple weeks).

I'm actually really proud of myself this week because I had the shopping bug BAD. Seriously bad. In my old habits I could've gone a little nutsy but I fought it and kept my credit card holstered, despite being in three - yes three - malls this week, going to many many stores with my MIL, and being in close proximity to my favorite yarn store and clothing store twice. Woo! Go me! :-)

Friday, March 9, 2007


Matt and I saw 300 today -very visually impressive movie. Not much of a plot but it was very exciting. And kinda hunktastic. ;-) Seriously violent BUT there were a lot of half-naked Spartans, which is a nice change from the usual barrage of female skin (there were of course some breasts but much more pecs, woo-hoo!). Something for everyone; blood for the boys, six packs for the girls. I tried to post some pix here but it doesn't seem to be working so check out this link:

Oh my!

Haha, I'm going to be in so much trouble when Matt reads this post...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Check this out!

Dani emailed me this link and it's such a fun website! You type in a band, genre, or song that you like and they make a personalized radio station for you. Great way to hear about new bands!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Complaint Free World

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't Complain." -Maya Angelou

I ran across this in a magazine and it sounds like a fascinating challenge! Go complaint-free for 21 days in a row. If you slip and complain, criticize, gossip or use sarcasm, you start the count over. The church that came up with this idea has little purple bracelets that you switch to your other wrist when you catch yourself complaining and start the count over. I ordered bracelets for Matt and I and it should be interesting to see how it affects our habits. This fits well with my New Year's resolution to think and speak positively, so I'm going to wear the dorky bracelet and do my best! Will anyone else try it with me? :-)

Click here for free bracelet order form

Complaint Free Blog

Monday, March 5, 2007

Weekly spending:

Dani isn't competing this month because she just moved to her first house (Woo-Hoo! Go Dani!) and there are LOTS of expensive things she has to buy, so it isn't a fair competition this month. However, I want to keep logging my spending so I don't get off track (and hopefully she will attempt to out-frugal me again next month - right Dani?) so I'm going to challenge myself (and Matt) to spend less than $250 for the entire month of March. Our weekly average throughout this entire challenge so far has been $115.05, so we'll have to cut our spending in half to meet the goal. It will be tough but we can do it! So, starting this next week I will be ultrafrugal and log how much we've used of the $250 each week.

Monday: $0

Tuesday: Superhero postage stamps - $7.80, Target (2 shampoos, 2 cereals, gum for Matt, nail polish, and lingerie laundry bag) - $11.33 (Not bad considering I used to spend $12 on just shampoo!) I really wanted nail polish too. I only packed a sexy, brooding, and mysterious burgundy, which is great for winter, but now that it's spring I don't want my toes to be brooding and mysterious anymore. ;-)

Wednesday: Chocolate milk - $1.00, Michael's (supplies for Lindsey's b-day gift, Dani's prize for last month, Evey's Easter gift, and Dani's bridal shower) - $14.52

Thursday: Matt's cigarettes ~ $5.00, Goodwill (work tee for Matt) - $1.99

Friday: $0

Saturday: Scharffen Berger chocolate - $10.24 - oops! REALLY good though!

Sunday: $0

Total = $51.88