Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jump Start next Christmas

Go ahead and buy Christmas Cards for next year. They're on sale now!

Save yourself time next year by attaching return address labels (if you're reasonable sure you won't be moving.) and writing the names of the recipients on the envelopes.

By the time next December rolls around, all you need to do is sign, seal, stamp and address.

Put you box of cards on the top of your Christmas Decorations so it'll be the first thing you see next year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Earthy friendly shipping

When it comes time to send those holiday gifts, don't forget to look for biodegradable peanuts. A few years ago I found these. They melt when they get wet. So they're super easy to get rid of and won't fill up the landfill.

Also, if you get a lot of packages, you may have noticed maybe places using air-bags to cushion the contents. If you have room to save that type of thing, it'd be a great recycling project come Christmas.

If you get packages each December (we get gifts from clients, family, friends) consider stacking the boxes in the garage and using them to send your gifts to others. And if they come with packing material, even better.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Email Management: A Necessary Evil

Today is a great day to organize your email. Seriously. Tackling this before the new year will let you start 2009 on the right foot, free and clear of email clutter.

In my quest to organize my accounts (yes, accounts...plural) I came across this blog post: The Monster Blog: Trying to Organize Your Email? Keep it Simple. I really, really like the idea of having only three folders to organize. Currently I have a dozen or more including to do, follow-up, saved, etc.

Yearly Folders

One thing that I've done for the last three years that I like is to have yearly folders. Sometimes I just need to clear out the ol inbox and stare at a clear blank box for a while...something about that sooths my mind, even if I have 10 items in my to do box. I really do try to keep clutter to a minimum though.

What is email clutter?

Subscriptions to magazines, ezines, catalogs, yahoogroups or anything that you get on a regular basis that you've read or haven't read or just don't intend to read. This is different from spam because you may have read the last issue, but just don't have time or interest to read this one.

Email clutter also comes in the forms of auto responses. Some services like PayPpal send autoresponses (though they're cutting down in 2009).

When you see email clutter just delete. But if you're not sure if you'll need it again, consider leaving/archiving/saving it.

More Tips

Here's an article with 10 more tips for conquering your inbox.

4 Tips from Microsoft about email organization

Five more tips including make decisions quickly and pick up the phone.

More to come

Obviously there are lots of other things you can do to be more efficient via email: using your email client to its full potential, plugins and extras that make life easier, an organized address book, signatures, etc. I'll talk about those more in 2009.


Today, concentrate on deleting the old, organizing and archiving and respondng to the new. Then clean out the inbox (by archiving or using a 2008 folder) and take a moment to breath easy. You're ready (at least until that next email comes in) for the New Year.

Green Wrapping

I'm still thinking of ways to be green in the coming year, especially next Christmas.

Instead of wrapping paper, I'm thinking of using newspaper. Black and white, with a minimum of pictures would look really lovely with a big red bow and some special little pick (both of which are reusable again the next year.)

Or craft paper, which would go into a compost pile. Again, big bow and perhaps a sprig of greenery or berries.

Or consider not wrapping at all. There are a variety of beautiful, sturdy boxes available these days that you can use year after year. Some simple need a lovely ribbon, others have ribbons built in. And best of all, these sturdy boxes make great storage during the rest of the year. Cherished ornaments, breakables, and ribbons will be well protected.

I found a blog that indicates it's okay to compost your wrapping paper, so that sounds like a good idea to me. Read it here. Don't forget to remove tape and any plastic ribbons and bows.

Speaking of ribbons and bows, it's raffia biodegradable? That'd be a great "garnish" for your gifts next year. Or any paper ribbon. Otherwise, recycle plastic, satin, or wired ribbons by using them again the following year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What to do with tissue paper

It's about this time each year when I look around and wonder what to do with the wrapping paper, boxes, and bags. Boxes and bags are usually recycled (as in stored and used next year). And wrapping paper, we ball it up, shoot hoops into the which point it fills up a landfill.

Thinking of being Green this year made me wonder if there isn't something else I can do with the tissue paper that's used to fill boxes and bags.

Turns out there is. I can put it in my compost heap. This is great news as my family loves bags and every box has tissue paper in it as well.

I'll probably tear it into strips and layer it in with other stuff from the kitchen and yard scraps. I'm actually excited to see how the compost turns out and equally excited to be recycling wrapping waste.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Product Review: St. Ives Olive Scrub

Rating: 4.5

I've been meaning to try this Olive scrub for a while now and recently found a good deal on it so I snapped it up. Overall, I really like it. It's smooth yet scrubby. I find some scrubs a little too abrasive. In other words, I want clean and exfoliating while leaving the skin on my face. The only reason I didn't give it a five is I have to wonder how much it cleans because it feels like putting a wonderful lotion on my skin. But I've only been using it for about a week.


Friday, December 19, 2008


Jasmine, our middle cat, was very interested in our Gingerbread house.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Tree

My parents came over this weekend and brought a few new ornaments (which I need to take a picture of...) But here's a picture me and the garland and our dining room.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Note to future new moms...

Early in your pregnancy write out a list of important names and phone numbers and stick it on the fridge, this way you won't forget to call people when important milestones happen, like say when you find our the gender of the baby or go into labor. I mean, you wouldn't want to forget to call your twin brother would you?! ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Time to Build a little Village

Or at the very least, a house...

I'm so excited to have time, energy and ingredients to build a gingerbread house this weekend.

Isn't that marvelous!? I just love the simplicity and cuteness.

As I was double checking what I'll need I thought I'd compile a list in case anyone else is searching.

Here's a photo gallery for inspiration.
And here's a step by step guide for building these mini cottages.

A royal icing recipe (so you can stick it all together):


* 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
* 4 1/2 teaspoons meringue powder*
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/4 cup warm water
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


In a large bowl, stir together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cream of tartar. Add warm water and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff. Makes about 2-1/2 cups icing.

*Test Kitchen Tip: Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized dried egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. Look for it in the baking aisle of your supermarket or at a specialty food store.

In case you need more inspiration, here's another beautiful gallery.

Gingerbread recipe:


* 1 cup shortening
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 cup molasses
* 2 eggs
* 2 tablespoons vinegar
* 5 cups all-purpose flour
* 6 16x12-inch pieces parchment paper
* Purchased canned white frostings
* Assorted purchased candies


1. In a very large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping bowl.

2. Beat in molasses, eggs, and vinegar until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in thirds. Cover; chill 3 hours.

3. Cut a 16x12-inch piece parchment paper in half crosswise. Place one of parchment halves on pastry cloth. Sprinkle parchment with flour.

4. Divide each piece of dough in half (you should have six). Place one piece of dough on parchment; roll to 1/8-inch thick. Using 8x5-1/2-inch cutter, cut into shape. Remove scraps; set aside. Lift dough and parchment; place on cookie sheet.

5. Bake in 375 degree F oven 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are browned. Slide cookie and parchment onto rack. Cool. Repeat with remaining dough and parchment, gathering cookie scraps together and rerolling.

6. When cool enough to handle, peel cookies from parchment paper. Decorate using frosting to attach candies. Makes 12 cookies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

You know what they say...

I so wanted to get my Christmas cards out the door by early December... it's the 10th, and i haven't even purchased/made them yet. I've been in bed since Dec. 1st with a terrible cold. I'm terribly behind. I hope I can get rid of this stupid bug soon so I can get some stuff done... my decorations are half up, thanks to hubby. Other than that..... blah...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christmas Cards... already?

Am I the only one thinking about christmas cards already? I'm determined to get them out the door at the very beginning of December (for a change)... and so, I'm thinking what do I want to do this year? Buy, make, design & make?

This one is pretty...

For more ideas...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

To Do: Packaging

Today as I was mopping the master bathroom I noticed that I had a lot of extra "packaging" stored in my linen closet. For instance the piece of cardboard that small hair clips come on. Nevermind the fact that I've used 3/4 of the clips and they're now stored elsewhere... that cardboard was still there. And so was the plastic bag holding lotion samples.

I have one of those over the door shoe organizers for my linen closet door and it stores all sorts of things. Hairspray, lotions, perfume, etc. So the fact that I have any extra packaging in there is...well, dumb. Taking up space.

So today's To Do item is to get rid of superfluous packaging. Be rid of it. Clear out space. Breathe easier my friends. :)

Look for superfluous packaging in your linen closet, pantry, under sinks, around your desk, in your nightstand, the garage, basement and laundry room.

Note to Self at Christmas time

Love these orange, cranberry, greenery & candle arrangements. Can't wait to make them... late november I'm thinking. ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Autumn Inspiration

If you're looking for Autumn Inspiration, check out this collection of pictures.

Do it now

It's that time of year where things are cooling off and I'm not feeling so sluggish...and melted. Which makes me leap into organizing and decorating mode.

With the holidays set to begin any day now (the holiday may be weeks away but there's planning and decorating to be done people) there's lots to be done ahead of time.

So why not get a head start. Out with the old.

This article outlines 5 things that you should get rid of now. And I say, let's do it! I've already started on number one. I have a pile ready to donate in fact.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you got rid of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Fine Art of Letter Writing

I inherited a new piece of furniture this weekend. I'll post a picture later this week.

It's a secretary style desk and I've put it in our library. I'm so happy to finally a) have a "letter writing desk" and b) have a desk in the library. And the best part is, I can close it up so all my "stuff" is out of sight.

That said, I decided to see what online resources there are for letter writing and organizing your letter writing supplies. I have great intentions to write more snail mail. Not just birthdays and Christmas, but thank yous, thinking of yous, sympathy, and just because.

All too often I wait until the last minute and an ecard gets sent.

The sad truth is I have a card & special occasion organizer that I made to solve this very problem. I have a sheet protector for each month and a page printed with the numbers of that month. Anniversaries and Birthdays are written out. If I find a card for that person I put it in the sleeve with a Post it attached with a note of who the card is for.

Simple, huh? Yeah... not so much. Remembering to fill the card out, and actually sending seems to be a problem too.

So I'm working on another method to cure this madness. Write out all cards for that month on the first day of the month. If the card gets there a little early, well it's better than not at all...

This article explains how to create a letter writing "kit."

This post talks about keeping in touch and having a place for your stationary.

And this one discusses writing the perfect Christmas Letter. We've done it before and every year I think we should. So get an early start on it this year. I'm planning to start jotting down notes about important events from this year soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pre-weekend Organizing

I thought I'd show off my entry closet since I was so taken with this one over here.

On the top shelf I have two "bushel baskets" that store hats & gloves. They have a touch of Autumn decoration. :) And now they just need cute labels.

Hats & Gloves... with a little Autumn touch

Below that are jackets, a hanging shoe rack for my nicer shoes, and below that a shoe rack (from walmart, it's gorgeous dark wood) for everyday shoes.

More shoes

Jackets, Hats & Shoes, oh my

And on the closet door I have another shoe hangy thing, but this one stores scarves, doggy leashes, flashlights, etc. You can see more Autumn peeking out behind the door. :)

Scarves & things

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last years Thanksgiving Table

More sharies...

December2007 037

Each place setting included a charger, napkin, and apple... complete with "leaf." The leaves of course have everyone's name on them. The little "tent cards" have a piece of Thanksgiving trivia on them...something fun that kept us entertained. The centerpieces are pedestals from Southern Living Home, piled high with apples.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Thanksgiving is a big to-do at our house. Last year we had the family over (instead of traveling... bliss - I think so.)

Thought I'd share our Thanksgiving invite & menu:

Thanksgiving Invite & menu

December2007 127

Name that Flower

My dh wants to know what this is. We saw it at the Apple festival in Hendersonville, NC a few weeks ago.

Name that flower...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall Cleaning

I like this list of "Fall Cleaning." Martha is all about getting ready for winter. She's got some great tips for getting your garden ready but Penny has a good list for inside cleaning. I like to think of this time as the "getting ready for the holidays and being hunkered down inside for several months" month. Therefore, you need to do some deep cleaning.

The one thing I'd add to this list is cleaning your trashcans. I like to make sure mine get a good cleaning with baking soda and an old broom (and some strong hose action) once or twice a year.

Check out the list.

Cute Autumn Project

I saw the cutest thing on Our Cozy Nest and of course thought of the perfect spot for something similar in my house... but of course there was the question of "where do I get those?"

Wouldn't you know it... Nicole has instructions for making these sweet little pumpkins on her blog. Thanks Nicole. I'm off to the craft room to put some spare fabric to good(cute) use.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Notes to self

A few projects that I think are cute and I'd love to try my hand at.

Halloween sign, b/c i love signs: (must find bigger stencils)

Boo sign (to go with the harvest sign I made last year:

Adorable Boo pumpkins ( i carved Boo into real pumpkins 2 years ago, these would last longer):

Another cute Boo sign, are you seeing a pattern?

Cute idea for my guestroom:

More inspiration... for your door

Came across another fab blog and another great tutorial for a neat front door decoration.. or back door. Check it out.

Halloween Tree?

Too cute. Stealing this idea too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A cute closet

Closets are one of those areas that I love to organize... cause i want to be able to find things later. So when I see someone take the time to paint and organize their closet, I say bravo!!!


I need baskets like this in my entry closet!

Fall Fairy and help neede

I need a little help... the fall decoration fairy came to our house last night, but I'm to the point where I want finishing touches put on things... starting with la fireplace.

Love our enormously tall living room. Hate, hate, hate decorating it, painting it, arranging furniture in it, and especially trying to put anything on the fireplace.

Last year I found a huge, beautiful branch in our yard and used it to provide height and color. It worked fabulous. but of course, I don't have the branch anymore. What to do, what to do...

I like the red of the painting up there, so i'm thinking perhaps... ding, ding, a large red painting? lol

Someone save me...

Fall Fireplace

Too Cute

I'm totally copycatting this idea just as soon as I get my hands on another tub of popcorn. Well done Marie!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Window Treatments

Up until now I've gotten buy with basic -crap- curtains from stores like target, walmart and pier one. They're crappy simply b/c they're cheap (which was what i wanted at the time) but over the years they've come apart in places and block out no light. They're basically just there for color. Not pretty-ness. Not to block out light or add privacy. And they don't even add much to the room, much less add the finishing touch.

So I'm on the hunt for curtains for most of my rooms. I can't tell you how exciting it is to scour the web for ideas.

So stay tuned for my "scrapbook" of ideas:

For the basement windows, and possibly the library window: this one

Such a cute idea

I wonder if it actually rolls....

One more wreath


Autumn Inspiration

If you can't tell, I'm in full on Autumn mode... my favorite time of year. I'm worried that I'm so busy I will miss it. So, here are a few of my inspirations.

Pumpkin Wreath

Found it here

An Autumn Porch

Found it here

Autumn Centerpiece

DIY instructions here

Fall Porch/Wreath

Love the urns of gourds and pumpkins. Will have to try that! More info...


from who knows where. Been super busy this year. And rather uninspired... until recently.

Moved my "craft closet" to the basement storage room. Revamped the storage room and now have a "craft room." Still in progress. Still being organized and sorted, oh my. But... I'm so excited. I've already been completing projects I've been "meaning to get to" for...ever! Like the scarecrow who's hat was falling off.... Hot glue gun located, plugged in, and that sucker was fixed. Talk about excited!

And I'm looking forward to Autumn and all sorts of projects, organizing, etc. I've been finding all sorts of wonderful blogs lately. And I really need to link them up so I don't lose them.

A couple of projects I've got my eye on...

* repainting the front door
* adding a new lock and handle to the front door
* getting the house pressure washed
* painting the front porch
* decorating the porch/deck for Autumn
* and making these adorable wreaths!

Instructions here

And this one...

More Information

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year, New You Challenge

Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday and commented on my wordless Wednesday photo. I loved that place, those sunrises. If I could live there, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I have a challenge for everyone. It's rather easy. A few times a year my desktop (on my computer) gets so cluttered with icons that it starts to drive me crazy. Since I always use the start button, there's really no need for me to have a billion icons on the desktop. So the challenge is... clean off, organize, and sort your icons on your desktop.

I have a few folders for things that I've saved to the desktop in the past that I'm not ready to get rid of yet. Like programs, documents, backups, etc. And then I have a select few icons that I do use.

Everything else must go. Or be organized into an appropriate folder. Then the remaining icons get organized by type, or however you want to do it.

Have fun. Be organized.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Taken in the white mountains, January 27, 2007

The birds are going ice skating...

I think I mentioned the new bird bath we got this past weekend. I didn't get a heater because I didn't think it freezes that much here in the south. The thermometer made a liar out of me today. :) 20 whole degrees. Brrrr.

Needless to say my birds are ice skating this morning. Hopefully it'll thaw quick. I suppose I could pour some warm water on top to speed things up.

I read something interesting the other day, now I feel like I need to look into it a little more. Birds (or some birds - need to find out which ones) eat dirt. Evidentially small dirt particles help them digest food. Weird huh?

Is it cold where you are?