Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017 Home Organization Challenge- Week 1 & 2 : Kitchen & Pantry

Well, I did it!! Week 1 & 2 The Kitchen & Pantry are done!

Everything was pulled out, wiped down, sorted and re-organized. I got rid of a lot of unused things.... and a few things I used but during the clear out I found things that I liked more to replace the them.

So it was a LOT of work, but well worth the piece of mind I'm enjoying after the clear out-or "purge" as they call it in organization-land.
Below is the overall BEFORE photo and then the AFTERS of all the areas of my  postage stamp sized kitchen. (Don't mind the BEFORE mess- it's not always that bad- it was particularly bad that day because I had made lasagna and fresh baked bread and everything was out of place and before I cleaned up after eating.-I promise, I'm not that nasty.)
This floor- I detest it. That's it after 3 hours with bleach and a scrub brush and washcloth on my hands and knees. Upside- it hides actual dirty spots. Downside- it NEVER EVER looks CLEAN!

All Tidy.

This is my "Pantry".

Small appliance storage and hot and cold cereals.

New Fridge/Freezer. Just  a quick wipe-out and tidy for this.

I'm still looking for a storage solution for the K-cups. I did find one just thinking how to implement it.

The kitchen needs some serious upgrades and repairs. I'm not big on renting.

Our new beverage station. The canisters are from hubby's childhood kitchen and we treasure them.
I have moved the magnetic schedule to the side of the  fridge so it looks neater...... and as an added bonus we bought hubby a new computer station for his office and set it up, too.
It was tough!! It took  3 days longer than I thought it would, but as I did two weeks challenge it didn't take as long as it should have.

So- next weeks challenge room is the dining room. Another shared space as this is our Dining room/Living room and Launch Pad. Probably the tidiest room in the entire house most of the time.
So I'll have 3 weeks time to complete those 3 areas/one room. I figure it will take an entire week. Photos will follow

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Home Organization Challenge

Last week I joined a group called the 2017 Home Organization Challenge.

I actually got started on it Friday after work. There is a schedule outlined- 14 weeks- one week for each room/area. And there are checklists for each room/area as well.

Week 1 is the Kitchen... I didn't find the Challenge until it was almost over for Week 1 so was getting a late start, but since I have a postage stamp sized kitchen I thought it would take Friday evening to do- at the absolute worst- I'd have to finish it up on Saturday morning before heading out to run errands. Ermmmmmm.... not.

I'm still working on it. This is called a Challenge for a reason- it's certainly not a hit and miss quick clean. This is a PURGE and Deep Clean Challenge. All I have left to do is:
1) One small cabinet to clear out and organize.(this will be done Monday after work.)
2) My cabinet I keep my pots and pans in is always organized, but needs everything taking out and the shelves wiped down. (Tuesday after work.)
3) The wall behind the rubbish bin and the baseboards wiped down and the floor mopped.(Wednesday after work.)

Kitchen/Pantry will be done. I'll post before and after photos when each is completed.

The pantry was supposed to be Week 2 but as I dont have one and store all food in the kitchen I actually had two weeks to complete my kitchen.
I had some issues... Like cleaning between the spaces on each side of my cooker/stove and the cabinetry on each side. I have an apartment sized cooker in a full size cooker space. I ordered some silicone gap covers thinking that would solve the problem. It took me 3 hours to clean those aforementioned sides of cooker and cabinets, gas stove that cant me moved more than 2 inches to either side... it was a real challenge for sure. Then the gap fillers.... No matter how the  cooker was positioned, the fillers came up short. so now I have to figure it out. And I will....

On the bright side (if there IS one)- some of the positions I had to pretzel into trying to get to the hard to reach places to purge and clean made me glad I have been doing a bit of yoga in the past few weeks (albeit a minimum) and had made me think if I ever leave my job, there's a possibility of a career as a contortionist in the circus.
Then, on one of my breaks between chores, I learned that Barnum and Bailey is closing the act after 160+ years.
Well, damnation...there goes THAT idea.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Holiday Tale.....Part 4 The End

Well, when I got home 3 days later,  I decided I was going to go to the website to see about re-compensation for the delayed flights.

Let me offer up a piece of advice for you.... When you go on a trip take out your phone and take photos of each and every Boarding pass you are given. There is vital info on it that you will need in order to get said re-comp for delayed flights. My mistake was that I didn't take said photos of the boarding passes- and at each and every delay was given a new one and the old one was handed back to them.
Now the re-comp dept is asking for "more documentation to support my claim" and do I have it? I most certainly do not.
Lesson learned.


Okay, so back to the story.
The wildfires back home certainly gave us all a bit of a cough. I was sick just before going back home- as I wrote on here... and at first I thought that's what the cough was about- but it wasn't. The smoky air irritated my throat and lungs badly. And now- I'm just now getting over it. The cough, that is.
I still feel like I have jet lag. I've had no energy at all for the past few weeks. I still dont altho I can feel a BIT of it returning occasionally. I didn't even feel like putting up a Christmas tree or much decorations this year.  To begin with... this is all the Christmas decorating I could muster the energy for....
  Seriously, I am not joking. ZERO energy was had and I even had trouble mustering the energy to type Yule Log into the search to get this on the TV.

Then I decided- well, I'll get the stick-on decorations I brought from the States out of my luggage and do the entrance hall mirror. VERY small 5 minute job.... so I did that.... but after putting them on it looked naked, so later that evening I dug the reindeer and the bag o' snow out and put it and the little snow covered tree and two pine cones on the shelf below the mirror. (I did add a bit of silver tinsel around the mirror later on, but didn't get a photo of it completely finished.) The entrance hall at least had a BIT of Christmas Cheer for any Holiday visitors.

The Kitchen came next. I had two sparking wine bottle that had come with a delivery meal hubby and I had back around September. We're only occasional drinkers, so the sparking wine got tasted, was rejected as an utter waste of grapes, and poured down the sink in favor of something more palatable, and the bottles were put aside. I had an idea about something simple to do with them when I drained them, and Christmas was the time to do it. I had some red silver and green metallic curling ribbon in my goodie box, you know- the bits and bobs you don't quite have enough of to do anything major at the time, but too much to throw away and waste.... so I took the curling ribbon out. I peeled the labels off the wine bottles and it left a bit of the adhesive behind on the bottles which was perfect for what I had in mind. Then I unscrewed the caps, put the ribbons together and knotted them and put them in the neck of the bottle and then screwed the caps back on over them. (I may replace the screw on caps with actual corks if I can find some that will fit properly)... Then I just spiraled the ribbon round the bottles til I reached the bottom and then secured the ends to the underside with a bit of cello tape. A bit of short curling ribbon on the top and that was my kitchen window decoration sorted. I think I will get a couple more of those to do a little forest of them next year!!! With my little Christmas tins I usually put in the window or even just a bit of the plastic snow it will be whimsically cute.
Then I tackled the bedroom......
Just The stockings hung on the sides of the windows, red and white bedding, with my Christmas Quilt and red fleece throw on the foot of the bed and the small red sequined pillow in front of the pillow with white eyelet lace pillowcase.
 Then came the front door.....

That one was a breeze. Jingle Bells on curling ribbon garland with my red plaid scarf hung behind it. I wore the scarf to work every day- and when we got home I hung it back behind the bells.

Sometimes during the beginning of December we had went to the city and did a bit of a shop while we were there running errands, I had found a cute little rattan cone tree that was pre-lit and so I got it. It was originally going to be our "Christmas Tree" this year as I didn't feel up to putting up the 1500 tip artificial tree. So we got it home and this went on the shelf under the front window.
Then I found out that hubby wanted to host a NYE do with two couples we regularly do a Dinner and Board Games night with, so I had to do a bit of rearranging to bring in the table after Christmas, which currently was being used for hubby's Computer desk in the study/media room. Photo of where it went in a minute.
I had two unused Photo frames which I used to make a bit of Christmas with the top of a Christmas Card Box from a couple years ago....(The snow-scene on the right) and a collage of old Christmas Cards I had cut up to use for Christmas Gift Tags from years past...(The frame on the left)

and I put out a bit of Christmas do-dads on a couple of shelves...

As you can see this is where the shelf that was under the window went.....

By this time Everyone was asking where my photos were of my decorating as I am know as the Mrs. Claus of the Known World. I plan all year long and sing Christmas songs all year too.... When word got out I wasn't doing the decorating thing in the style I usually do, people began becoming worried about my health and general state of mind.  Even my husband was concerned. and he's usually the eye roller when I start digging Christmas stuff out at the end of November. I think the "I'm not putting up a tree this year." is what finally did it for him. He actually asked me "Who are you and what the HELL have you done with my WIFE?" and told me he was actually starting to get concerned.

I was getting emails, Private Messages, phone calls and sit down conversations with people.... it was exhausting!!!  So one morning, I got up,  got my 6 ft Santa down from his perch on top of my armoire,  and put him in front of the window.
He's in 3 pieces, so much less effort to put him together than the big tree. I set him up, polished his boots, straightened his glasses and then put his Nice List in his hands.  Then I placed all our wrapped gifts on the floor around his feet. Then, I got out the LED twinkle lights, a strand of colored and a strand of white, twined them amongst the gifts and then bordered a strand of silver garland around the bottom of the gifts. I also put two of the straight backed chairs together and covered them with my Snowman themed throw to look like a North Pole themed Bench.

And finally, I  took out my Grandparents and Parents antique ornaments they had given me when they bought all new things for their trees. They had had them since the first year they were married and I treasure them!!! (My grandmother actually had them set on top of the rubbish bin to be set out the next day's garbage pick up but luckily she asked me to take something out and I saw them and asked her could I have them...) she asked me why in the world I would want them as they were old and faded and she and Grandfather had had them since their first Christmas together. I said "Because they are old and faded and because you and grandfather had them since your first Christmas together." Then When mom was buying things for her and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary Tree, (They were married on Christmas Day), I told her that I had Grandmother's old ones and she divided up the ones she had from her and Daddy's First Tree and gave them to each of us kids.
Anyway, I put those ornaments in a large Hurricane candle lamp my daughter had given me and Hubby for Christmas years ago- then filled it in with the Bag o' snow and put a few bits of sparkly ribbon on top.
And that was my Bare Minimum Decorating Done and Dusted.

Now mind you- this decorating I'm showing you went on over three week's time. I finished the last bit on Christmas Eve Eve.... December 23rd. This is the bare minimum and I usually do my all out big decorating - the whole shebang -over a weekend.

Luckily, we were invited to Hubby's  parents home for Christmas Dinner  and I didn't have to cook. I don't think I could have done it.

I think next Christmas I am going to go all out..... A real live tree- wreaths for the windows..... A gingerbread house. The Whole Shebang.  I miss the smells of Christmas and I think that's why all my Christmas Spirit has left me. I miss the smells. Evergreen...oranges, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger....Vanilla and Chocolate!!!!!

Ahhhh..... Yes Indeed.

Christmas 2017 will be vastly different.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Holiday Tale... Part 3

So.... to continue the story.....

So after the dinner was over, I stayed with mom for two more nights before Julie came by to pick me up for a short time at her home.
I got to sleep in my granddaughter's room. She has a very lovely bedroom to herself with a Princess bed, an armoire, two chests of drawers and a bookshelf. Not to mention a toy chest and various little girl essentials, the play kitchen, the baby doll stroller, the doll bed etc.....

Her bed was VERY comfortable and I defo slept like a Princess while I was there!

There are a few foodstuffs there I cant get here in the UK.... one being pimento cheese spread. 
So every morning, this was my breakfast.....
Yes- a cup of coffee with both milk AND Coffee Mate,  a pimento cheese sandwich and a tiny slice of pecan pie. Totally unhealthy, but ab-fab!!!! I enjoyed every second of it!!!
I had cube steak, mac & cheese, chili, biscuits, and all my favorite things I cant get here.

They had gotten most of the outdoor lighting up before I arrived, only adding a bit here and there after I arrived, but more on that later...

My daughter got her indoor Christmas decorations out and started putting them up while I was there, too. There was a few things that had her stumped at to where they should go- but together we sorted it out.  I also got to go with the family on their annual Christmas tree hunt. Okay- so it wasn't out in the woods but at the local Christmas tree lot, but seeing as how I haven't been able to have a live tree in over 6 years it was every bit as exciting. Actually more so than going out in the woods cause I didn't have to walk as far nor did we have to chop it down. we just walked around and  looked at the height and shape and chose the one we wanted.
Once it was home and in the dining room(she has an open floor plan for the living/dining area) she and I were like coke addicts. We would start into the kitchen for a cup of coffee or a snack and stop mid-step, lean over, stick our faces close to the tree  and inhale to our hearts content.
That is the smell of Christmas.
And I have decided that next year I am having a real live tree come hell or high-water!!!! i'm doing Christmas MY way. Enough of this artificial Plastic Imitation Christmas. Maybe that's where my Christmas spirit went this year... it just forgot what a REAL Christmas is like. The sights, the smells, the sparkle and fun!!! Well, no more.

Anyway, So here is a bit of the decorating we did while I was there... and it's not everything she has put out, either.
On your mark....get set....GO!....

Oh Tannenbaum!!!


Rudolf!!! (Fiancee did NOT find that amusing.)

No idea why this was taken... Alyssa (4 year old Granddaughter) may have taken it while I was in the kitchen.  Not bad for a 4 year old if that is the case......

Daughter/Sister in law Kathy came by to visit and help too!


Another after.....


Le Tree

Le petite Trees....

My daughter has a flair for simple beauty!!

Randolf....Rudolf's brother. (again, boyfriend wasnt as amused as we were.)

I love her Village!!

Rudolf and his wreaths- probably won at the Reindeer Games.

Julie dreams of a silver and white Christmas theme one day- so I bought her a frosted white and silver glitter hurricane lamp with a spruce scented candle to put in it for her starter. We all have dreams!!!

Her Dining Tavbe!!

My Baby Girl having a quiet moment.....

So Pretty!!!

She keeps her Christmas Ribbon in this pretty display box!!! For some reason my flash refused to work in some spots...

This mirror has been sitting in her closet for ages because she couldn't find a place for it. It was meant to be a full length mirror, but we hung it horizontally and put the garland over it. Perfect!!

The one thing we didn't get done before I came home was decorate the tree. We did continue to "huff" it every time we passed it tho.

... to be continued.....

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Holiday Tale..... Part 2

 So...... I said, Mom had invited almost 70 people for Thanksgiving Dinner so we had bought three turkeys and a HUGE ham to roast. Let me tell you, Mom's house smelled like heaven!!!
Everyone that came brought at least one and sometimes more than one big family sized dish with them.... We have some AMAZING cooks in our family!!!
Almost everyone that was invited showed up and it was an amazing day! Bothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, girlfriends, boyfriends, grandpapas, exes... we were all there!! No, fusses, no squabbles, no fights. It was lovely for the most part.

After dinner, there was picking and grinning, games, stories sitting on the back porch and on the tailgates out in the back yard.
When it started getting late, there was hugs and kisses and promises to get together agin soon and Mom and Mom, Aunt Mary and I had the house to ourselves for the next two evenings. We talked about lots of things.... Old times, holidays past, how mom and dad met and how he proposed to her. Most of this storytelling and talking was done between the hours of 2am to 5am when mom liked to get up and go out on the porch to look for her deer. No joke.

I remember the last night I was there I woke up to find mom not in her bed. I got up and looked at the clock. 7:10am....I knocked on the bathroom doors- no mom......looked in the living room- no mom...... Kitchen & family mom. So, I go out to the porch and there she is.... so I sit down and we have a cup of coffee having a nice chat for quite a while and then I say, well, I suppose I should get started on your Christmas tree. Julie said she would be here around 9 or 10 so I dont have long to get it decorated.
Mom looked at me and chuckled and said "Now?"..... I said "Yeah- I imagine it's getting late. What time is it now?" She looked at her watch and said "It's 3:20am." 
I laughed and said "No it is not.... the clock on your bureau said it was 7:10 when I came out of the bedroom." She started laughing and said "That thing isn't right... it's never been set since it was put in there 3 years ago."

I just started laughing.... Here I was, up for over an hour, drinking COFFEE and chatting and it was only just after 3am. Well, I wasn't getting back to sleep after all that, for sure. So I head to the living room to get started. Mom insisted on going in there to keep me company, so I set her up on the sofa with a pillow and blanket so she could rest comfortably and nap while I worked. Around TRUE 7am Aunt Mary woke up and joined us.

By the time my Julie got there to pick me up Mom's Christmas tree was in front of the living room window, decorated and shining like a shining star, just the way mom wanted it.

Mom & Aunt Mary-

More in a while.....

The Holiday Tale.....Part 1

Well, it's taken longer than I wanted, but I'm finally at a point where I feel up to sharing my last few weeks with everyone.

I'll start with Thanksgiving.....

This is what I saw a LOT of during my trip home. I thought last visit home was bad with delays- well, it had NOTHING on this trip!! There was 2 delays getting to South Carolina. a 12 hour delay in Manchester UK before I even stepped foot on a plane.... then we missed the connection in Philly, so that was a 2 hour hotel stay before I had to be back at the airport for my early morning flight. Yes- you heard that right- 2 hour hotel stay. By the time I took the shuttle TO the hotel, got booked into a room(most of the plane passengers had missed connections so there was a LOT of booking....)  I had just enough time to take a nice long shower, then lie down and rest(not sleep) about 40 minutes before I had to head back to the airport for my 4:30am flight out. Once I got there, they tried to send me from Philly to Charlotte(fine) then to Greensboro before sending to Greenville . Ummmm no.  Somehow I managed to get a flight to Charlotte NC to Greenville SC without the Greensboro connection.... Some might call it a hissy-fit.... I prefer to refer to it as using my Southern Charm. I didn't care, I was going home to see my family- probably the last time I see my mom in person and I refused to take a chance on TWO more delays.
I had decided that after that debacle, if my daughter was waiting at the airport thru some miracle of God, (I didn't even know when I was going to get there, how the devil would anyone else?) then that would be fabulous- but if she wasn't, I wasn't even going to call her- I was going to take a taxi to her doorstep and surprise her.
When I finally arrived at GSP I was VERY surprised to find it had grown to about three times the size it was when I had been there a couple years ago. HUGE!!!!! So I meander my way around and finally find the escalator (the only thing that hadn't changed in the place!!!) and start down it.... There, standing at the bottom where there was no way I could miss her- stood my daughter and my little grand daughter!!! I hopped down the last couple of steps and grabbed my daughter and hugged her so tight!! Both of us were crying at that point. My granddaughter then stepped up and gave me a big hug and kiss and we went and got my luggage and headed to her house. When we got there we took a short nap and then we just sat and talked and talked and talked til it was time to go to bed. Well, we did go out to McD's for a McRib.
The next morning we loaded up and went to my mom's house where there was another tearful reunion. Julie(my daughter) and I got busy right away cleaning things up and starting to cook as mom had invited almost 70 people for Thanksgiving Dinner. A photo of Mom and I will continue later today with the Thanksgiving  part of The Holiday Tale.....(I swear I will continue today!)

Nephew Dennis and Brother Chuck

Mom & Sister Tee & Me

Me & Tee

A few of the kiddos out playing in the leaves...having a ball together.

The grownups catching up and keeping an eye out for the kiddos playing....

Me & My buddy- Uncle Freddie.

Julie(daughter) and me

Frank(my son), Julie & me

Dennis, Uncle Freddie, Doris and Chuck

Me & Frank

Frank & my nephew, Billy.

Aunt Mary & Mom

Me & Kathy, my daughter in law