Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Time to clean the coffee maker

I mentioned that I do things when they strike me... Like the coffee maker. One day you just look down and think, when was the last time I gave this thing a good cleaning.

I followed Real Simple's instructions. 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water. Run it through the coffee maker like usual. Then I run clean water through two more times. Then I put any parts that can go in the dishwasher in to wash, give everything else a wipe with a damp cloth. And done!

Monday, February 23, 2009

February's Word of the month: PLAN

As in Plan Ahead, Plan for Today, Plan for Tomorrow, Game Plan...

Up until a year ago I was one of those people who bounced (okay, crawled) out of bed and was off to do whatever needed doing. Unless...there was an important event that needed planning. Then I was all lists, calendars, schedules, notes, etc. But my day to day life was less structured and most of the time I didn't plan ahead, didn't prepare for things.

But then I got tired of showing up to family events without my camera or having forgotten to bring a card. So I started planning a head, just a little for those type things. What would I wear? Do I need to clean anything? Where is that great pair of shoes? Do I need to bring anything? Etc. My goal was to be one of those women that is so completely together. You know the one. Perfect hair, trimmed nails, nice outfit, on time with a smile and her camera in her purse. Yeah, I wanted to be her.

I'm not sure if I am her yet. But I sure am trying.

So this month's word is Plan. Plan for tomorrow, plan for today, plan for the unknown. Prepare yourself. Get ready early. If there are things you can plan ahead of time do it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My new greenhouse

Today, well, this week, I've totally been hooked on my new greenhouse. It's wonderful! Spacious (and yet small), warm and cozy for the plants.

Drop by Hooked on Houses and share what you're hooked on this week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Organizing the Pantry

Does anything feel better than an organized pantry? Okay, some things... but an organized pantry is high on my list. Here are a few tips & pics from my recent organizing adventure. And what an adventure it was. Let's just say that the pantry had gotten a little... full.

And the trash can isn't even in there!

The most frustrating thing about organizing a pantry? All the expired food that you've forgotten about. The next most frustrating thing? When you have boxes that are 3/4 empty!

But that's all part of the organizing process. I grabbed my trusty organizing tote (yes, I have a tote dedicated to helping me stay organized. I use one of those plastic totes with a handle and have 3 old "camping" mugs inside it to help the organizing tote, well, stay organized. You can't have an unorganized Organizational Tote, now can you? The mugs are plastic and therefore lightweight. Inside the tote I have have labels, lots and lots of 'em. Hanger thingy-ma-jigs from Post-it. Velcro ties, twist ties, pens, markers, tape, and ziplock baggies (in two sizes). Oh, and post its and my label maker... which seem to have crawled out of the tote in this pic: I grabbed my tote and got to work. I tossed out at least a dozen boxes. For that half bag of croutons I simply ripped the top off the box, folded the bag down several times and then put the box top over the folds and used a clothspin or two to hold everything shut. These bundles (yes, there were more than just croutons!) were then placed in a plastic basket, labels facing out! Ahh, organized as last.

But wait... what about that half empty box of rice that has no bag... and no hope of staying fresh without some help? Suction containers to the rescue.

I simply cut the back of the box off and taped it to the container. (Great package design, btw. i was able to cut the type and cooking instructions all at one time and it fit perfectly.)

Now...if I could just see everything in the back. It's not that I'm short, it's just that too many items are the same height and I only have one of those two shelf can organizer things. So until I can get more, I recycled the empty boxes. Yeah, remember the twelve from the trashcan? I also grabbed my stash of grocery bags. We keep these around for scooping kitty poo. So the empty box turned into this:

I taped it shut. And then it went to boost the back row:

See it there below the oatmeal, raw sugar packets and kosher salt? Another thing that I did was lay all unopened boxes on their side, label out. See them laying there on the left? That way I can see at a glance what is open and needs to be used and what is those two boxes of cake mix. *sigh*

The next level down is items we use most often...cans, oils, vinegars, etc.

I use those slim plastic tray/boxes to keep smaller like items together. This makes it super easy to grab items from the front of the shelf and see what's going on in the back.

Now you see them, now you don't:

On the next shelf down we have a plastic tub for snacks, breads, and chips. There's also a container for pasta.

On the shelf below that, oh boy, all my baking supplies. I organized those after the holiday baking frenzy.

And on the floor I have a cute basket for onions and potatoes.

So... now I need to take pictures of the back of the door, where I keep all my spices, but here's the after picture. A little tidier I think. It feels tidier!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Ahah Moment

I love Ahah moments... if I were in a cartoon, the lightbulb above my head would be burning bright right now.

It seems like I'm always needing a pen downstairs, and yet they never stay downstairs. They get shuffled to the bedroom or office or pocket book or, well, who knows where those critters run off to. Becuase they don't have a "home." But the point is, I have a plan. Well, I've had it for a while but the implementation wasn't so... there. The plan? To label food with a date as it comes into the house. You know how on baking soda boxes there's a spot where you can write down what date you need to change the box?

Pure brilliance!

So I thought, why don't I write the buy it date on boxes and cans and things that way I know when I got it, in case there's no expiration date. My problem has always been keeping a sharpie handy for the labeling. I was always faithful to those Baking Soda boxes though.

So my solution? My lightbulb moment?

I have a pen organizer with a magnet on it. I've had it forever! It's the kind you stick in your locker in highschool. And right now it's organizing markers on my desk. Not very handily, I might add. So I thought, why not actually stick it to the fridge and use it again! Yeah, such a dumb lightbulb moment. But I'm pleased b/c I'm reusing something I already have, using something for it's intended purpose, and solving a problem I've been having.

Now I can store a sharpie, pens, and even a letter opener on the far side of the fridge. (That way it's not visible unless you're deep in the kitchen.

Garden Journal 2/18/09

I did a little seed starting today. This past weekend I purchased a portable greenhouse, it's taken refuge in a corner of my kitchen near a bright window, above a heating grate. Since I did so much kitchen organizing yesterday, today it was the plants turn. I planted the last of my tulip bulbs in a few springish containers... I'll be sure to do this prior to, oh, February next year. Time just passed me by. I also can't wait to divide my bulbs. I'm getting so many since they've been in the ground about 3 years I think. See, this is why I need a journal. :)

So what did I plant today?

A mystery seed... it fell out of the seed packet into the container, but I think it may be Rock something or other. Rock Cress I think.
moss rose
sweet peas
black eyed susan
snap dragon
and grourds

I also found a great article on how to bring my poinsettias back for this Christmas, so I trimmed those back, watered a bit, and put them in the greenhouse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A welcoming doorway

I haven't had a chance to post any pictures from the flower show yet. We'd lost Pumpkin the day before, so it was hard to enjoy all the flowers. But I have something new to share with everyone...

A year or so ago we bought a new door lock kit for the front door and we put it up this weekend...nothing like procrastination. It looks fabulous. Now I need to repaint the rest of the door to look as fabulous.

Now this, this is not my front door. It is very inspirational though. It's got color and height. Texture.


Susie over at Bienvenue is talking about doors as well, well, first impressions and don't you think doors create first impressions.

How is your front door looking? Does it need a new coat of paint? A wreath? A new doormat? Speaking of, is the doormat centered? I just think a centered doormat makes everything look tidy, but doormats have a way of sliding around on my porch...

Here's another door for inspiration:


If you'd like to take a pic of your front door, I'd love to see it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Head start for hummingbirds

I do things when they strike me. Today, it's getting ready for the years hummingbirds. I'm sorry to say I neglected my dear little friends most of last year. This year, I'll be more prepared. I'm getting a jump start by cleaning their feeders again (since I left them out with my pots, oops) and I'm going to go ahead and mix a milk jug of food. I bought powder... b/c I could never remember if I had anynow, now I have plenty. Once the powder is gone, it's on to the premixed kind. I'm sure it costs more, but shortcuts are my friend. Premixed hummingbird food can be frozen ahead of time. It stores, thawed, for 2 weeks.

Loss and Blog Apathy

A little over two weeks ago my cat Pumpkin was run over behind our house. We always knew the road was there. We debated heavily on getting a fence. Since our animals never went back that far, and our backyard is all trees, we were leaning against not getting one. This was my garden kitty, as I call her. But now I see she was so much more. Out of our three kitties, she was the cuddliest. She was my first kitty. She was my buddy. She loved being outside with me, or inside, on my lap.

To say I'm devastated is putting it mildly. I'm amazed how much one can love 12 pounds of fuzz. I'm also amazed that having two other kitties has not helped this painful transition at all. The two of them together come no where close to filling Pumpkins paws. They're shy and not as cuddly. They have their moments. And they're very endearing... but they're just not Pumpkin.

I haven't felt like doing much of anything that reminded me of pumpkin... and gardening and organizing remind me of her. Because she was always there to lend a paw... even if it was just to act as a paper weight. :)

But my pantry desperately needs organizing, so I guess I have two new recruits to train. :) Stay tuned for pictures. I need to share the South Eastern Flower Show photos with you...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Video: Boost your relationship

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a great video on how to renew, boost, and revitalize your romantic relationship. Quick and helpful, so give it a watch and boost your relationship today.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Video: Help the Birds

Depending on where you're at in the world, you may notice birds heading north or to your birdfeeder. Here in the south, I like to feed the birds who've hung around all winter long.

So give it a go and enjoy your feathered friends.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Growing Potatoes

Mr. Husband and I had great success growing sweet potatoes last year so this year we have our sights set on regular potatoes. We can't wait!

As normal, I'm doing research to make sure everything goes smoothly and I thought I'd share a page that I found with plenty of info about growing potatoes.

It says potatoes like acidic soil (below a ph of 7) and I wanted a refresher on how to make my soil acidic. I found a whole page of ideas including mixing pine straw with the soil, using coffee grounds, or an acidic fertilizer. This afternoon will be a great time to take stock of what I have in my basement.

And as a side note, I found a neat video on how to plant shallots. I haven't had much...okay, any, luck with growing my own onions, so you can bet that you'll be seeing lots of tips around here about that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Looking for something to plant?

I found a really incredible webpage with dozens of pictures of plants. So if you have something in your garden you're wondering about, or just looking for something new to plant, check out these photos and names:

Monday, February 2, 2009

When to plant Gladiolas

Mr. Husband, Mom-in-Law and I went to the South Eastern Garden show this past Saturday and it was fabulous as usual. I'm totally ready to garden. I saw a good deal on gladiola bulbs at Lowes and brought those home.

I already had tulips and since Mom-In-Law bought us this awesome auger (that's it's name actually) we had no excuse here in Georgia to start planting bulbs. Let me say, Mr. Husband and I love the auger. It makes such quick work of planting.

As for when to plant the Glads... I was wondering that so I came up to the ol' computer and did some research. As soon as the ground can be worked. So I went ahead and planted a row of five. I'll do another row in 10 days, and so on. Constant blooms.

Thanks to this website for the info on Glads... if you've got Glad questions, check it out.