Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I've Decluttered Wednesday

Though I have been neglecting this blog, I have not been neglecting my decluttering! In the past 3 weeks I have decluttered a train table via Craigslist...

4 of these (the BIG totes!) filled with Jack's outgrown clothes left me via Ebay...

I had a garage sale with a friend, and got rid of a jogging stroller, a shoe rack, and oodles of toys & clothes.

I have been evaluating our furniture needs as well, and realized we didn't need a huge couch and 2 love seats, especially since we don't entertain large groups of people, and there's just the 3 of us, so out the big couch went! I also Freecycled a large end table that was used to store stuff we didn't need.

Now I did buy an antique dresser to go in the living room for Resweater storage, but it definitely takes up less space than the 8 foot couch & big end table!

In addition to all that, this week I have Freecycled a bag of clothes, a box full of toys, 2 step stools, some camping gear we weren't using, a box of sheets & misc bedding, and an old mixer.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I've decluttered Wednesday

I have neglected some things in the past few weeks, especially my jogging & decluttering. This is my decluttering excuse:

We have had 2 camping trips in the last 2 weeks (& have another one soon!), not to mention my son is starting school this week, so no extra time, but I am back in the saddle! I sold a large toy set through Craigslist today, this 2 foot high monstrosity of a toy :

... and I am Ebaying all the winter boy clothes that have been accumulating bins in the basement. I didn't have time to Ebay last year, but I don't have the space to not Ebay this year! Anyone need any boy's clothes? They are here! In addition to all the Ebaying, my friend is having a garage sale in 2 weeks, so I am joining her, and will be getting rid of even more! I am going to whip this house into shape this winter!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Handmade Insect Repellent

I have been buying natural insect repellent for years now, since we all know how toxic Deet is. I have been happy with the results of natural repellents, but in a bad summer we go through several bottles, especially since my husband works outdoors, and we frequently go camping. At $9 a bottle, that gets quite pricey for a family on a budget! I finally decided to research making my own. I started Googling and found many recipes, but they were all different. The 4 essential oils I saw again and again in the ingredients, were citronella, lemongrass, cedarwood, and lavender, so I ordered them. I ordered mine from Plantlife Natural Body Care, because I had a good coupon, but they have good prices & excellent customer service, but you can find essential oils like these in most health food stores. Since I wasn't sure how much of what to put in my spray bottle, I just added 10 drops of each of them, and poured vodka in the rest of the bottle. You can also use witch hazel or grain alcohol instead of the vodka. Rubbing alcohol is not as safe, and water will make the oils separate. It smells wonderful, I just tested it, and it works great! How do I know it works? I went by my raspberry patch (I always get swarmed by them there), and stood still. A mosquito hovered near my bare arm (where I sprayed), but didn't land, then finally landed on my shirt (where I didn't spray). I swatted that one, then another one came & did the same thing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Camper decorating

I've been a busy bee, redoing things in the camper. I made covers for the upholstery, curtains, and a couple of throw pillows (i'm changing one of them). Here are a few before/after pics. You can click on them to see them enlarged.

The dining area...

I still have the 2 small side cushions to make covers for. I ran out of material before I got to them, and have to get more.

My husband's in the process of making a removable rail for the top bunk, so my son can sleep up there. I'll post pics when he does.

Rather than create a thermal lining for the curtains, I just reused the old curtains as the liner.

Cute, eh? I still need to sand/paint the cabinet fronts, and my husband will be putting in wood floors. We had just enough left over wood flooring from when we had it installed in our family room. It will look sharp!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Running Things on Thursday

Sorry i've been mia. I was on vacation at the beginning of the month. Despite the heat & humidity, I kept up my running while I was on vacation... ran with the Dick Ponds Running store group the morning we left (around 4 miles before I started walking), and ran twice while I was in Wisconsin (just under 3 miles each run). After all 3 runs I had a pounding headache for the rest of the day. I took in plenty of electrolytes, plenty of sodium, got plenty of water before, during, and after running, and still the headaches. I have finally figured it out. It is just the heat. I don't handle heat well. Period.

Since we are in the middle of a heat wave, I haven't ran since we got back (a week & 1/2 ago), so I went to an indoor running track last night. It takes 11 1/2 laps to equal a mile, and I wanted to keep track, so I bought one of these to count the laps:

Totally low tech, but it does the job! I ran just over a 5k there, and no headache afterward :). I will just have to run when it's cooler out, or stay indoors from now on. Does this happen to anyone else?

I signed myself up for my first 10k. It's in 2 weeks. I think i'll be ok, as long as it's not really hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Scamp has tv!

My husband installed a small flat screen in the Scamp, attached to a adjustable bracket, so it can face us while we sit at the table...

... or it can face Jack's bunk.

We don't plan to watch a whole lot of tv while camping, but it's nice to have it for a stretch of rainy days, etc.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the garden

My garden is flourishing! I have been picking a bowl of raspberries, a bowl of green beans, and a handful of cherry tomatoes (which Jack eats before we can get them in the house) each day. I love fresh food! The raspberries have been making our smoothies delish, and i'm freezing what we don't use for future smoothies. So far I have 2 full gallon sized baggies in the deep freezer :).

Here's my garden... melons on the far left, beans to the right of them, tomatoes to the right of the beans, and the peppers on the far right. The tomato plants are as tall as I am!

I love picking our snacks right off the vine!

Here's the raspberry area... i'm going to have to thin that out soon!

My melon plants have apparently decided they don't have enough room, and have started growing out of the garden.

I also have 2 small tomato plants that cropped up, that I never planted. Cool, eh?

So, how is your garden?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We have a Scamp!

We have our travel trailer! It's not easy to find a camper that a PT Cruiser can pull, but we did it! Meet our 1987 Scamp 13" travel trailer!

Ready for a virtual tour? On the far left end, when you walk in, is the table & benches. This also converts into a double bed.

On the wall, across from the door, is the kitchen with furnace (bottom left), fridge (bottom right), stove top (under the "wood" piece on the right), sink (on the left), under cabinet lights, drawer, and lots of little cabinets.

On the right side is the bunk beds. These are sturdier than they look, and we will be putting a bed rail up top for my son, just to be safe. The air conditioning unit is next to the bottom bunk. The bunk beds can convert into a "couch" (more like a bench) too, for more seating.

On the side opposite of the kitchen, next to the door, is the closet.

We will be doing lots of upgrades on this, so i'll post the updates as we go. What do you think? We already have 4 camping trips planned in the next month or so :).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Running Things on Thursday

On Saturday morning, I decided to push myself distance-wise. The farthest I have ran in the past is 4 miles. I ran over 5 1/2 miles! I didn't walk once. My pace was just under 11 1/2 minute miles, but considering there were a lot of hills, and it was the farthest i've gone by 1 & 1/2 miles, I did great! I think i'll join the "next step" group run at Dick Ponds on Saturday mornings now. I've always been hesitant to go, since they said they go 3-5 miles, and I wasn't sure I could keep up. Now I know that I can run that!
Monday was the walk-2-run group, and we did 30 minutes of alternating 5 minutes of running with 2 1/2 minutes of walking.
Wednesday I just had a hard time squeezing it in, but I made myself go after dinner (probably not the best time to run), so I only ran 2.35 miles (10 1/2 minute pace). It was hot & humid too.
I'll do a long run this week too.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We might be getting one of these...

... and i'm super excited! I'll post if/when I get it!

The rasberries are here!

Look what Jack got to eat with breakfast this morning! It won't be long until i'm harvesting a quart a day, and freezing some for next winter's smoothies!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Running Things on Thursday

I was pretty bad last week about pushing myself, but I got out there. On Friday or Sat morning (can't remember which), I did a short 2 mile run. It was hot & humid, and I had my son (5 1/2) in the jogging stroller, or I would have ran more. On Monday night, I went to my group Walk-2-Run at Dick Pond Athletics, and this week was alternating walking 3 minutes, and running 3 minutes. I decided to use it to build up my speed & endurance, so I ran fast (wish I had one of those GPS watches, so I know what pace I was running!) when we were running, and caught my breath when we were walking. A friend of mine (who in my mind is a weight loss expert) told me that alternating walking/running burns more fat than straight running (sounds good to me!), so yesterday I did alternates again. I walked 3 minutes, and ran like the wind for 3 minutes, alternating for 33 minutes. I mapped it out after I got home, and I went 3 miles, so that was 11 minute miles! Not bad for half of that being walking. I must have been going fast (for me) when I was running! I think my next run will be straight running for distance, and not speed.

I hate picking out songs for my Ipod. I sit in front of Itunes, and my mind goes blank. I'm lucky if I can come up with 2 songs. When I saw this, I was thrilled, and bought it.

I am quite happy with it! There's a song or 2 in there that I don't like, but for the most part, the are all great running songs! There's a lot of them that are not songs that I would normally listen too, like if I were driving in my car, but are great for running to. I also highly recommend this Ting Tings album:

All of my favorite running songs are on this album, and I love the whole thing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I've Decluttered Wednesday

My niece-in-law-to-be had a garage sale this past weekend, and I gave her a bunch of stuff to sell. I told her to keep the money she made from it... I was just happy to have less clutter. It is a freeing feeling to hand over this much stuff! It was mostly clothes, with some misc. kitchen items, videos, toys mixed in. I have been brutal with myself, and am giving up everything I don't currently fit in, or currently wear. I even ran across an entire plastic tote of winter clothes that I didn't even know was in my basement this winter. I went an entire winter without missing any of it, so out it went!

I don't know if this counts as decluttering, but I turned some fabric that I bought a few years ago into this tablecloth & napkins.

Yes, it technically didn't leave the house, but it went from plastic-tote-basement-clutter to useful things that will be used on a regular basis. I'm going to count that as decluttering!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I've Decluttered Wednesday

Since we had a new furnace put in on Monday, it made us painfully aware of our basement stuff. We are still going through it all, but I think we peeled off another layer of the onion. What did I get rid of?

These 2 huge framed cork boards have been sitting in my basement for a few years. Years ago, I wanted a chalk board to mount to the wall for my son, but the person was selling it along with 2 cork boards for one price. I bought them all thinking that they'd be useful "some day", and in my basement they sat. They left me via Freecycle.

There were a few things my son outgrew a long time ago, a step stool, and some vintage toys. I also talked my son out of 4 foam weapons that he never played with. All gone, thanks to Freecycle!

Our bedroom is very small, and the furniture was making me feel closed in. I asked my husband to put the wardrobe in the basement to save space, but he said he should just get rid of some stuff he doesn't wear & fit everything else in his dresser. Great idea! It was sold via Craigslist, and now we have a LOT more room in the bedroom.

It's been a very productive week in our decluttering movement!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"There's a pig in my strawberry patch!", mulch, & more

My niece came by to get some raspberry plants from me, and brought her pet pig Soot with. My son & I were thrilled with the unexpected visit with him :) !

Earlier in the week, we had removed all the weeds (there were a lot) from along the fence, and planted our butterfly garden, all native to Illinois flowers that attract butterflies. Doesn't look like much now, but it will be fabulous when they are all in bloom!

Today was mulch day, and luckily I have a co-gardener all summer to help me! FYI, our city, like many others, offers free mulch that they get from the brush pickups & tree trimmings. We never pay for mulch. If you want free mulch, call your city & see if they do the same!

My son started reading just before preschool let out for the summer. He has been able to sound out words for a long time, but now he can read them (short phonetic words & common sight words), and he's pretty proud of himself (we are too!), so I want to keep up with it this summer. I want to keep it fun, so when he asked if he could have cookies for a snack this afternoon, I told him he could eat them after he read them. He read them, and ate them, with a smile :) . Thank you Trader Joe's for your awesome letter cookies!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some garage sale finds this weekend

The garage sales were few and far between this weekend, because of the overcast, and the threat of rain, but I managed to go to a few. This pin was my favorite find. It had the mark "JJ" on the back, so I Googled it (I love Google), and it turns out it's "A highly collectible brooch from the JJ Jonette Jewellery Company". I just think it's a really fun pin!

I swear I have some kind of good karma going on with garage sales, because it seems every time I need something, I find it! A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of staples for my stapler, and I found several boxes of them for a quarter. This week I was getting frustrated with my lack of bobbins for my sewing machine, and tired of running out of thread with each project. I was planning a trip to the sewing store this week for them, but for a mere 50 cents at a garage sale, I got 12 of them in a brand new package! I have already filled them all up with thread :).

My son is my favorite garage sale buddy. He gets as excited as I do, and he will keep going as long as there are sales! I love it when he finds great things for himself. His latest love is magic, so I was thrilled for him when he found this for 50 cents.

The previous owner didn't take good care of it, and all the cardboard pieces were not usable, but there were still 4 tricks that were intact. He is currently putting on a magic show for the dog :).

Saturday, June 11, 2011


My little strawberry patch has really taken off! Jack gets to eat these with his breakfast today :).

I can't wait for the raspberries! Last year, I got a quart a day, and there's more plants this year! Jack gets a bowl to eat each day, and I freeze the rest for future smoothies.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Running Things on Thursday

I started running through a local running store's Walk-2-Run program last year at this time. When I say I started, I mean that I started. I have never run in my life, not even in high school. I thought it was a funny that these people thought that I would one day run for 5 minutes straight. I have now run several 5ks, including a mud run. I have run for 4 miles. I have run for 40 minutes straight. Running is the only thing that has helped me lose weight, since my son was a baby, and it makes me feel good (after I run, not during, lol).

Yep! That's me!

Anyhow, I need to keep myself accountable, and also I want to learn more about it, so i'll be posting about running once a week. I'll start at Monday for this week, since I can't remember it all from last week (though I did do a 40 minute 4 mile run last week... my best time/longest distance!).

This week's runs (I won't run 2 days in a row):

Monday: Ran with the Walk-2-Run group, 30 minutes of running (the last day of the session). It was hot & humid.

Wednesday: I only ran 2.7 miles, but it was 90 degrees & humid, i'm still getting over a sinus infection, I have seasonal allergies, and I was pushing a 5 year old in a stroller. There was a lot of hills, and little shade. A great morning run, all things considered!

My face gets beet red after running, except for around my mouth... kind of like a reverse clown face. It's awful, but it always happens after running, even in the winter. I did some Googling & there may be a link between that & low blood pressure. I'll have to look into that more. I was also occasionally getting headaches after running (also, talked about being associated with low blood pressure, but not proven or fact). I thought it was the most likely culprit, not hydrating enough, but I weighed myself before & after running, and came back 6 oz. heavier. That means i'm taking in more than i'm sweating out, so i'm good there. I also read low sodium, from sweating, can cause that. The last week, I have been putting a little sea salt in my after run milk (can barely taste it), and I haven't had a headache. It could be coincidence, but I think i'll keep putting salt in my milk.

Any pearls of wisdom for a new runner?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I've Decluttered Wednesday!

I am on a mission to declutter my house. This will take a while. I'll post each week the items I decluttered, and that will help me stay accountable. I think I might re-read Peter Walsh's book, It's All Too Much. I read it a couple of years ago, and it really helped me change my mindset on my stuff. A couple of great blogs on decluttering, that inspire me, are 500 Things, which is a great daily read, and Cleaning Up The Clutter. I recently had a garage sale, and got rid of a lot of stuff. It felt great, but I feel like I only peeled one layer off of the onion. I want my house to flow, & be clutter free.

We live in a small 2 bedroom house, built in the 40's, so space is at a premium... no walk in closets, no coat closet, no pantry (well... sort of. We turned a tiny broom closet into a tiny pantry), no dining room, no eat in kitchen, one tiny closet-less bathroom... you get the message. I can't afford to store things that I do not use. It has got to go!

This week's gone items:

- child sized reclining armchair. This was super cute, but my son never sat in it, and stuff would accumulate on it. It took up 4 valuable square feet of floor space! Freecycle got it gone! Looked like this:

- Playmobil Pirate set. I bought it at a garage sale, but my son never played with. He relinquished it to Freecycle, and the lady who took the chair was happy to take the pirate set too. This is the set:

Next week I should have even more to report! I have gotten rid of a lot in the past 2 weeks, but that is just the beginning!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More garden updates!

Are you sick of my garden updates yet? No? Good! Today we went to an earth fair at the Green Earth Institute, and I bought some of my garden plants... some heirloom cherry tomatoes & sweet peppers. I bought several varieties, so I could see which ones I end up liking & make note of it for next year.

I still need to get my tomato plants from The Pure Gardener, my local organic garden center. I got my organic 7 heirloom seeds from them, as well as other garden necessities. Not only do they carry the best stuff, but they are master recyclists, and come up with the coolest ideas. One I saw, and borrowed, was lettuce in a colander... perfect for my spinach plants!

Hmmm... I still have a lot of space in my garden...

Time to get plantin'!

Now back on the inside of the house, the little wisps of dill that started to sprout died almost immediately :(. I'm going to try again, outdoors this time. As for chia kitty?...

I don't think this is what the picture on the box looked like. Hmmm.