Catching up on 5 months of Project Life scrapbooking in a week

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It can be done! Here’s how:

Step 1: Order photos

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Step 2: Divide photos into weeks or months (depending how you organize your scrapbook)

Step 3: Split photos by whether they are horizontally and vertically oriented.

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Step 4: Find small pockets of uninterrupted time. (I used two lunch breaks and 2 gaps between the end of the work day at 5pm and a 6:30 meeting.)
Step 5: Go go go! Don’t worry too much about what everything looks like, just get it done! (That’s the beauty of using a PL core kit, right? Everything is already color coordinated for you.)

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Step 6: Order last month’s photos as soon as the month is over so this doesn’t happen again!

 

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September Goals

Goals button

This summer was all about survival mode, but I am tentatively dipping my toes back into the water here at my beloved little blog, and of course that includes my monthly goals post. In the first draft of this post, I started by brainstorming all the goals that I might want to work on for the month, and I came up with over 15!  Umm…. that’s not good.  Apparently I’m a bit of a jack-rabbit when it comes to setting goals.  (You know, those runners that start out super fast, but they’re walking by the halfway point?)

I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I’m forcing myself to pick one area and really focus on it for the month.  My blog-friend Steph is hosting a Choose your Own Adventure goals challenge, so I decided to pick a simple goal that goes along with their theme for the month (September — fitness), and actually try to do it for 30 days, instead of letting my jack-rabbit brain go off in a million directions.

So here it is: a simple fitness goal for September. I want to walk or run for 30 minutes a day, and do Mutu ab exercises every day.  (There may be a sticker chart involved.)

I’ll report back at the beginning of October to let you know how I did!

Life According to Steph
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What I’m Into, August 2014

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer today to talk about what I’m into these days.  I’ve found a lot of great blogs through this link-up, so I’d really encourage you to check out some of the other links, too.  August – don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.  Here’s how I’ve been muddling through:

Wearing…my pjs for half the day on my work-at-home days!  I look like a total scrub, but it’s awesome to get up and get some work or blog stuff done early in the mornings instead of spending time getting ready.

“Reading”…audiobooks!  They are God’s gift to commuters.  I’m just finishing up The Book of Unknown Americans and getting ready to start The Night Circus.  If you’ve listened to one recently that you liked, let me know!

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Watching…my sad streak of having no time to watch TV continues, but my son’s latest obsession is Octonauts.  I secretly love it.  He has requested that I address him as Captain Barnacles, which is just ridiculous enough to make me laugh every time.  The “Creature report, creature report!” song at the end of each episode is awfully catchy, and anthromorphized turnips are way too cute.  (See that little yellow guy on the left side?)

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Listening…to Time for Three, a classical trio that plays non-classical music.  I don’t normally listen to music while I work, but I’ve found that I need a little background noise when I’m working at home and this instrumental stuff does the trick.

Fitness-ing…I’ve been really hit-or-miss with working out lately, but I ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago and did pretty well!  It just goes to show that you can’t judge yourself as a newbie against someone who’s been doing something for a long time.  I’ve been running on and off since I was in 7th grade, so it comes pretty naturally to me even when I haven’t been doing it too often.  Lifting weights on the other hand, is very new to me, so it’s really easy to get discouraged when I feel like I lose all my progress just by taking a few weeks off.

Thankful for…the teenage girls at our new church who love to play with my kids.  (The benefits of going to a church without too many small children — we’re quite a novelty!)  I’m pretty sure I’ll never have trouble finding a babysitter in this town.

Planning…how to fit in exercise and blogging to my new schedule.

Cooking…well, can I brag on my husband’s cooking a little bit?  He’s a really great cook but he hasn’t done much of the cooking for the family in the past few years.  Now that I’m getting home from work later, he has really stepped up and taken over cooking dinner (in addition to kid wrangling), so most nights that I commute, I walk in to the house and dinner is ready to eat!  Now if I could just get him to have a cocktail ready for me, I’d really be living the dream.

June & Ward we're not -- and that's a good thing!

June & Ward we’re not — and that’s a good thing!

Drinking…no, it is NOT pumpkin spice latte time yet! It’s been crazy hot this month (so many 100 degree days, ugh) so I’ve been drinking lots of water, nuun, and lemonade.

No PSL

Looking forward to…fall!  It’s my favorite season.  Pretty leaves, cool evenings, football tailgate parties, jeans and boots, I love it all.

Excited about…a work trip to Baltimore coming up next month.  This means three things: 1.  SLEEP!  Sweet, sweet uninterrupted sleep, how I covet thee.  2.  Mmm… seafood.  3.  I’m also hoping to meet up with at least one blogger friend while I’m there.  (And, oh yeah, 4.  I’ll learn tons about municipal law while I’m there, too, of course!)

Do you love fall, too?  What’s your favorite part about traveling for work?

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Finding my place in a new town

Ava Missouri MO Map professionally designed by GreatCitees.com and used under a creative commons license.

Slowly but surely, the move-that-will-not-end is nearing its end, so now it’s time for me to try to start finding where I fit in my new town.  Do you know what I mean?  When you’ve lived in a place for a long time, you know your way around, you know where you go to get groceries, your favorite restaurants, where to get a good cup of coffee, back roads, where to get your oil changed and your hair cut, your neighbor you can call to borrow a cup of flour, and a friend who will bring you ice cream when you’re having a bad day.

Now that I’ve moved, I have to find all those things all over again!  I know a lot of it will happen naturally as I spend more time here and get to know more people, but I feel like I should be doing something to speed the process along.  Here’s my plan:

I’m a runner:  find some local 5Ks to run in

I’m a cook: check out the local health food store (yes, there actually is one!)

I’m a mom: find some fun stuff for my kids to do… maybe fall soccer?

I’m a reader: check out the local library.  Also – Laura Ingalls Wilder lived less than 20 miles from here!  Gotta visit her house.

I love a good dinner out: try out some of the restaurants that people have recommended to me (even if it means I have to drive 30 minutes for really good pizza!

I’m a knitter/sew-er/crafter: I think there’s a quilt shop?  Must investigate.

I’m a friend: Stalk potential friends until they agree to hang out with me.  Wait… maybe that’s not such a good plan?

Clearly, making friends as an adult can be a little awkward.  How did you get to know your current best friends?

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The good and the bad — moving & commuting edition

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You guys… moving suuuuuuucks. But we are definitely on the downhill slope now. More stuff is in the new house than the old, and we are living full-time in the parsonage (and I’m commuting to work 3 days a week).

Even though life is pretty crazy right now, I thought I’d check in with a quick post inspired by Kim at Day with KT.

The good:  Our house is on the 39-acre church property, and our views are just gorgeous.  Here’s what I see out my front door!

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The bad:  No neighbors!  At our old house, we had really good friends who lived in the house right behind us and our kids were always going back and forth between our yards to play together.  I really miss that!

The good:  My two days of working from home are glorious.  I get so much done — no interruptions! — and no driving.

The bad:  On the days I don’t work from home?  I spend about 2 1/2 hours in the car getting to work and back.  Ouch.  (Although views like this on the way to work help!)

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The good:  We are unpacking as we go, and I feel pretty settled in the new house.

The bad:  Half our furniture, and everything from the attic and the garage, are still at the old house — how did we accumulate so much junk, and where is it all going to go?

What is good and bad in your world right now?

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Business casual capsule wardrobe, Summer 2014

Photo Credit: peddhapati via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: peddhapati via Compfight cc

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that will not go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be updated with seasonal pieces.This idea was popularised by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.

The term has come to refer to a collection of clothing which is designed using only interchangeable items, in order to maximise the number of outfits which can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colors.  Thanks Wikipedia!

Lately, I’ve noticed the worlds of fashion blogging and simple living joining forces, with bloggers creating stylish, interchangeable wardrobes from 10-37 pieces of clothing (that’s a pretty broad range, but I think it depends if you count shoes and other accessories).  I mentioned Unfancy and Kapachino in my last post, but Project 333 and even a Huffington Post columnist are getting into the game.

I was interested in trying out the capsule wardrobe concept because I hated the feeling of walking into my closet every morning and feeling like I had nothing to wear, and continually choosing the same few items.  Wouldn’t it be easier if I just pared down my wardrobe to only things I wanted to wear?  I decided on a whim in late June to try to create my own capsule wardrobe out of items I already owned.  My plan was to follow the Unfancy model of 37 items (9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, 15 tops, 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats).  I ended up going down to 27 items and not worrying about my shoes (since I wasn’t buying anything new anyway).  I searched the web and Pinterest for inspiration, and while I found lots of cute outfits, I wasn’t finding a lot for people who work in an office environment.  Should all my outfits be dressy?  What about casual Fridays?  And what about the weekend?  

Of course, there is no fashion police, so after some internal debate, I just made up my own rules.  I would create a wardrobe of items that I could wear for work or weekends, but super-casual wear like workout clothes, pjs, lounge pants, etc. wouldn’t count.

The wardrobe I ended up with isn’t perfect — between maternity wear and post-maternity wear taking up so much of my clothing for the last 4 years, I haven’t done the best job keeping my wardrobe current with basics like non-pit-stained white shirts and trendier stuff like longer t-shirts, new jeans, etc.  Also — these are crappy iphone photos that I snapped in a hurry and the clothes are wrinkly.  This is real life, not a professional photo shoot, right?

Also, something I’ve noticed about my capsule as compared to most I’ve seen online?  I love color and pattern.  Wearing a bright yellow sweater or kelly green pants just makes my day.  Working these items into a very small wardrobe that’s supposed to be all interchangeable poses an interesting challenge.  Here’s what I came up with.

First up – t-shirts.  Some casual, some dressier.  Some I’ve owned for years and others are new-ish.  I ended up hating and rarely wearing that white one with the lace trim since I felt like the horizontal stripes highlighted my pooch.  And that printed bicycle tee doesn’t look like much on the hangar, but I’ve probably worn it once a week all summer and I get tons of compliments on it.  (From JC Penney, no less!)

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Next… “fancier” shirts — ones with collars, basically, plus a 3/4 sleeve cardi (I love yellow!) and a short sleeve knit sweater that I made myself.  (Sadly it’s too short for current styles… I shouldn’t have included it but how do you get rid of a lace sweater you knit on size 2 needles?)  I would wear all of these for work… hopefully after they’d been ironed.wpid-IMG_3619.jpg

 Bottoms — I bought a lot of “crazy pants” (patterns and bright colors) on a shopping trip with my mom after I was mostly back to pre-pregnancy size, so that’s what I used in my capsule.  These are not exactly the kind of classic pieces that a capsule wardrobe was meant to be built upon, but I’ve been wearing them a lot nonetheless!

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Skirts!  (Not pictured are a couple of pairs of shorts that I wear on the weekends.)  I love the cut of that gray A-line skirt but dang the fabric is wrinkly… something to keep in mind when you’re going to be wearing the same stuff over and over!

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Last but not least – dresses, a suit, and some blouses.  I am a lawyer after all, I do have to dress up on occasion.  I chose my “summery-est” suit, mostly because I thought I could also break it up and wear the jacket and pants as separates.  But let’s be honest, it’s way too hot to wear a jacket unless I need to be in a suit.  (Isn’t that blue and green dress adorable?  It’s from Stitch Fix and I love it.  Excellent post-partum-pooch hiding style.)

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So – that’s my capsule wardrobe!  I will definitely be doing this again for fall, hopefully with a well-timed shopping trip to fill in a few gaps and add a few updates/trendy pieces.

Lessons learned:

  • This was pretty easy for me because I was already used to wearing a relatively small number of clothes.  I hated spending money on maternity clothes so I just wore them over and over.
  • Most of my clothes are from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Old Navy, and a smattering of Stitch Fix and other internet purchases.  Quality matters!  I have a basic black t-shirt from Banana Republic that looks as good as new, while the Old Navy and Loft stuff shows its age a lot more quickly.  It’s definitely worth watching the sale rack to get the higher quality clothes.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the dress!  Just one item in a limited wardrobe and it’s all you have to wear for the day.  Throw a jacket, cardigan, or unbuttoned blouse over it for a completely different look.
  • Sometimes you have to break the rules, and that’s okay.  My job duties changed recently and I’m required to wear suits more often than I used to — obviously I’m not going to wear the same suit over and over.  But luckily I’ve acquired a few over the years so I just wore those on the days I needed to dress up, then went back to my capsule for the rest of the week.
  • As limited as this wardrobe seems, I still find myself gravitating to my “favorites” — probably 10 or so pieces that I would wear over and over if I doing laundry were no object.
  • Accessories become a lot more fun when you wear the same clothes over and over.  I have enjoyed wearing more of my earrings and necklaces than normal, and I am pining after a new purse and some new shoes.
  • I included too many casual tops and not enough dressy ones. I have to dress up for work 5 days a week, so I need to make that a priority in my wardrobe.

Would you ever try a capsule wardrobe?  What is one item of clothing that you would absolutely have to include?

 

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Managing a move with small kids

I haven’t been around this blog too much this summer, because I’ve been busy moving and getting settled into our new home and new town.  My blog-friend Jana offered to write a guest post that is chock-full of awesome advice for people in my situation.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did!

~ ~ ~

Last summer, after 9 years, my husband and I decided it was time to move out of our townhouse. We had been considering it for a couple of years but between the terrible school district we lived in and the…incident that happened in the house next door, we finally pulled the trigger and put our house on the market.

Thanks to a fantastic realtor, our house sold quickly and in less than 90 days, we were in our new home (the drama it took to get the new home is another discussion). In the year we’ve been here, the quality of our life has improved dramatically and I can’t believe we waiting as long as we did.

That said, I must confess that “unpleasant” is too soft of a word to describe the whole moving process. Especially when you take my then-6 year old daughter into consideration. When you’re moving yourself or just adults, it’s a fairly uncomplicated, albeit cumbersome, process. When you add children into the mix, you’re bringing on a whole set of extra circumstances that you need to prepare for.

And so you’re not caught off guard like I was, here’s a few situations and how to handle them:

Toys

If you have kids, you know how important their toys are. However, those toys? Also need to be packed and if you pack the wrong ones, you’re looking at a complete meltdown. And honestly, who wants to deal with the ensuing tantrum packing mermaid Barbie causes when you’re trying to pack an entire house? Not me. Probably not you, either.

To prevent that, have your kid help you pack their toys. Set a limit on how many they can keep out, explain that the toys are only being put away for a little bit and that they’ll see them again in the new house, and let them pick ones get packed last minute.

Mealtimes

Keeping a routine for the kids is rather difficult when you’re thrust into the chaos of moving. While they are more flexible than we sometimes give them credit for, it is still necessary to stick to somewhat of an eating schedule. Because there are few things worse than a hungry kid. And to save your budget, you also need to make sure that you’re not constantly going out to eat. Which is hard to do when your pots, pans, and dishes are packed away.

Although not ideal, for a few days, keep some prepackaged, microwaveable foods and single serve snacks in the house (even the shelf stable fruit cups and stuff can work), or keep a limited amount of stuff in the fridge, like fruit and cheese sticks. Use disposable dishes and silverware. Make an event out of it, like having a picnic on the floor. And, if you are going to bring in all the time, especially in the days leading up to the move, explain to the kids that this is a “special situation”. You don’t want them to come to expect this as the new normal!

Moving day

Whether you hire movers or do it yourself, there will come a day when your stuff needs to be moved. You’re also going to have a few hours when you’ll need to sign all that fun paperwork, like the mortgage documents. It’s a frustrating, exhausting time and you know what makes it even more frustrating and exhausting? Having kids underfoot the entire time.

If you can, send them to their daycare or hire a babysitter or leave the kids with a neighbor, friend, or family member for a few hours on moving day. This not only prevents the kids from getting underfoot while you’re, say, trying to move heavy bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs or moving a TV through a doorway, and therefore prevents injury, but it keeps them busy and occupied so you’re not having to stress about them (read: deal with their whining) and you can concentrate on moving.

Just make sure you’re budgeting for it, especially if you have pay someone. Moving comes with enough unexpected expenses; you don’t want this one to creep up on you too!

Another tip: keep your kids involved in the whole moving/selling/buying process. Even if they’re little, they still understand that something is changing and including them in the process makes it somewhat less stressful.

Moving is never easy, and moving with kids certainly throws another ball in the air. But if you manage it using some of these tips, it’ll make it that much easier.

How about you guys? Have you ever moved with small kids? What would you add to this list?

Jana Lynch is a blogger at Jana Says, mom, wife, animal lover, avid reader, newbie runner and runs the blog mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. Stop by and say hi to her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram!

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Sam at One Year

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At one year, Sam…

…Is finally crawling! No more lazybaby, now it’s time for the Sam show! He is hilarious — he loves to play fetch with little plastic bath toys, tossing them across the room then crawling to get them, repeat, repeat, repeat. Also, dumping out the dog’s water dish is super fun.

…Has 6 teeth (4 upper, 2 lower) and is still rockin’ an awesome underbite.

…Is very outgoing and silly.  He will exchange zerberts with you for 10 minutes straight.

…Is starting to be a little pickier about who he will let hold him.  Mom, Dad, Grandma and his normal babysitter are still ok.  Everyone else?  He’s not so sure.

…Had a fun birthday weekend with his cousins!  Ready for some pictures?

Playing in the creek

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Opening presents

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Eating cake   

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What more does a birthday boy need?!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re having a lovely weekend.  See you next week!

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What I’m Into, July 2014

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It’s the end of July… what a busy month for me: we moved and my baby turned one!  (I’ll have a birthday party post soon, I promise.)  Just to lighten things up around here, I thought I’d join in on the What I’m Into fun.  To see other posts like this, check out Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into link-up.

Wearing…my summer capsule wardrobe, inspired by the blogs Unfancy and Kapachino.  I created it almost exclusively out of clothes I already owned, and it is making it exceedingly clear to me that I need to go shopping!  But I’m trying to be good and hold out until fall.  (That’s part of the capsule wardrobe concept — you only shop 4 times a year.)  I really want to blog about it, because there isn’t a lot out there about capsule wardrobes for people who work in a business environment, but I haven’t quite figured out how to photograph everything.  I’ll work on it.

ListeningShazammed recently: Come Get It Bae, Pharrell Williams, I’m Ready, AJR. Favorite new podcast: Marriage Start-up.  Favorite radio show: Old School Lunch Hour…90′s rap and hip hop, need I say more?

Watching…When do people find time to watch TV?  Seriously… I’m not one of those no-TV snobs, I actually like TV!  I miss it.  Other than my beloved SYTYCD, I haven’t watched anything in weeks.  I never even finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black!

Reading…Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  Everyone raves about Crossing to Safety, but can I admit that I’m enjoying the other book more?  It just has a more compelling storyline.

Fitness-ing…I started Mutu recently to work on my diastasis recti (ab separation) problem.  It’s slow going, but I think it is helping.  I’ve also been taking advantage of the beautifully cool weather we’ve been having, and running a couple days a week on my lunch break.

Thankful for…my sister, who I can call or text about anything from figuring out what to make for dinner to major life-stress-freakouts.  She is awesome, and always calms me down with some practical and funny advice.

Planning…to move more of our stuff and get more permanently situated in our new home very soon, since my son will be starting preschool there in mid-August.

Cooking…lots of food on the grill, still loving my freezer meals, and these apple muffins!

Drinking…Mount Hagen Organic Cafe instant coffee.  Yes, I said instant.  Because of the two-house living situation that my husband and I are in right now, there are a lot of mornings when I’m the only coffee drinker in the house and it just seems like a waste to make a whole pot of coffee.  This stuff is amazingly good for instant coffee.  And it’s awesome for iced coffee, too.  I also started brewing kombucha again.  I need to get some juice to flavor it — it’s pretty strong straight up!

Looking forward to…working from home a couple of days a week starting very soon!  I think I’ll be super productive without so many interruptions at the office, and it will be awesome not to have to commute every single day.

What have you been into lately?

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Party planning

Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

So… my baby’s turning ONE next weekend. How in the heck did that happen? While I’m over here pondering the existential nature of time and my place in the universe, do you guys mind planning a birthday party for me? I seriously lack the party planning gene.  We’ve got both sets of grandparents coming in as well as 1-3 aunts/uncles and 2-5 cousins (all 7 and under).  Here’s what I think I need:

  • Cake (big brother says Sam wants a blueberry cake)
  • Decorations (I have a leftover “Happy birthday” banner from J’s party, some paper lanterns, and a fabric scrap garland – that’s festive, right?)
  • Lunch (preferably something easy to make for a crowd)
  • Birthday activity – I’m thinking I may just gather up all our outdoor toys and let the bigger kids loose outdoors… or maybe go to the pool?
  • Something else?  What am I forgetting?  (oh yeah… we’re also baptizing Sam this weekend.  He probably needs something to wear other than his standard Carter’s romper.  Argh.)

Have you hosted a party recently where you fed a crowd some delicious food?  Do you make a killer blueberry cake?  Hit me up with recipes, party planning ideas, etc.  (I refuse to look at Pinterest at this point — it will give me a panic attack.)

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