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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Garden Therapy: DIY projects

     I'm sure I'm not alone in starting to think about spring. Our snow had melted leaving the brown grass and bare trees staring back at me. But it didn't last for long and more snow came in the last couple days to cover the ground again. It will be a while yet before we'll be able to start planting anything. Maybe it's the same for you. So how about a couple DIY projects for the garden that you can do inside.

     I made the above birdbath a couple years ago for about $15. Can you guess what I used? A trip to the Goodwill store and I found a lamp and brass ornamental tray. By the way the lamp came with a shade, which I didn't need, so I just donated it back to them. Here's some before pictures.

     My husband removed the harp, socket and wires from the lamp. He then bolted the tray to the top using a little caulking to prevent leaking. I roughed up the surface with some sand paper then sprayed with primer. I used a stone textured spray paint for the final coat. It is decorated with glass tiles I bought at a craft store. It makes a perfect shallow bath for small birds and butterflies. We do put it in the shed for the winter, they can get pretty harsh here.

Here's a closer view of the top

     Another fun thing I created was from things I already had. A number of years ago I bought two solar butterfly lights. At night the lights would rotate colors and shine through the plastic butterflies. Over time the sun faded the butterflies and they really weren't very pretty anymore. But the lights still worked and I hated to throw them away. So what to do?

     I took an old CD disc and spray painted the non shiny side black. On the other side I glued flat clear floral stones, which I bought at the dollar store. I was then able to put the rubber piece, that held the butterflies in place, through the hole of the disc and mount it on the light.

 This is what it looks like during the day. Not only do I get lovely changing lights at night but I also have sparkles and rainbows during the day. Two for one.

     Here's a look at it at dusk. It changes from red to green to blue and back.

     I hope I've inspired you to make something pretty for your garden. As I look out my window at the snow I know underneath are lovely plants just waiting their turn. 

A thought to ponder: Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast, you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.                              Eddie Cantor

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That, Part Two

     Hopefully you've finished your decluttering. Now it's time to organize what's left. Organizing can be as simple or as complex as you would like. One of the simplest ways is to put like things together. This might seem like a no brainer  but it's surprising how many people don't get this concept. An example is my pantry. I put all cans of fruit together, pineapple with pineapple, peaches with peaches. The same for vegetables and everything else. I also make sure the front of the can or package is facing out. All of this takes no extra time when I'm putting away groceries. But it does save me time when I'm looking for a particular item or making out my grocery list. To me this is the main point of organizing, making the mundane things of life easier. If everything has a home and it's put there when not in use it can be easily found when needed.

     Take my herbs and spices for instance. I have quite a few and I have them on "lazy susans" in alphabetical order. Some might say this is over kill. But do you really want to spend time rummaging through a drawer or cupboard looking for the one you want. Maybe to find that it's almost gone because you forgot to write it on your list hanging on the refrigerator. 

     You do have a notepad on your frig that you can write down things you need at the store don't you?  Meal planning is another area that can be made easier. Unless you're lucky enough to have your own personal chef somebody has to plan meals and grocery shop. I think most of us have our old standby recipes that we make most of the time. We might try a new recipe here and there but for the most part we fall back on the old favorites. What I did was put my recipes in categories e.g. pasta, rice, beans, salads, etc. Then under the name of each recipe I listed the ingredients needed.  I don't put staples such as salt, flour, vinegar etc. These would be put on my refrigerator list when they are getting low.

     I grocery shop every two weeks. So I pull out my list of recipes and write down meals for two weeks. As I'm doing this I'm also writing the ingredients I'll need on my grocery list. I then add anything on my refrigerator list and take a quick look through my cupboards to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. In about thirty minutes I'm good for two weeks of meals. I might have to go to the store in between for some fresh things, but usually only once. I don't assign a day to my meals, I like to have the flexibility to decide what I feel like making. But I always know I'll have ingredients for 14 days of meals.
     I do like to try new recipes. I have to do something with all those food pins. If the recipe is a hit I paste it in my book and add it to my meal list. If not it goes in the trash. 
Three ring binder

     I don't love cleaning house but I do like a clean house. There are also other household chores that need to be done, like laundry, dishes. Everything can be divided into daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Also don't forget to delegate. There's no reason others in the household can't do a chore or two. I use the zone approach. You can learn more about this at: Flylady. I have modified her concept to fit my needs. You can write your plan out and put it in a notebook as she suggests, but another option is a handy App I found called - Home Routines. It's all about what works for you.

     Another big area that can bog us down is paper. That is: bills, receipts, insurance papers, basically any paper you need to keep for a short or long time.  I have file drawers with hanging file holders. They are labeled to fit my needs, e.g. Auto - purchase & registration, Auto - repairs, Insurance - auto, Insurance - home, Medical, Utilities, Taxes. You get the idea. I have made categories that work for us. If I have a receipt for new glasses, that's tax deductible, it goes in the tax folder. The water bill goes in my budget notebook, once paid it goes in the utilities folder. 

     It might take a little time to set up a file system if you don't already have one. But in the long run it will be worth the effort. It will save you time and headaches if you have a home for each piece of paper (sometimes that home is the trash). If your letting papers pile up on a desk or counter top it's just adding to your stress. Deal with paper as it comes through your hands, that way you don't miss paying a bill or some other important matter. 

     Remember being organized isn't a contest. It isn't about who does it better. It's about making your life easier. It's about customizing everyday activities to give you more time for the fun things in life. I have refined my system over time to work for me. Hopefully you can find some ideas and inspiration to get started on your organizational journey. 

A thought to ponder: If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"          John Wooden