It’s the premiere of Dancing with the Stars!!

The day we’ve all been waiting for! Well, at least I have! It has been awhile since I’ve been so excited for the start of a DWTS. I love the cast – especially Jaleel White (as already noted!) and Maria Menunous.

8:03pm – And kicking off Season 14 of DWTS is Maria! I loved the montage – her laugh is hilarious!

8:06pm – She’s actually pretty good! Hooray!

8:08pm – And Bruno declares her delicious! I see 3 sevens coming.

8:10pm – Bingo!

8:14pm – Jack Wagner… as Becky says “So far, I’m not a fan.” He comes off as kinda an arrogant jerk. And looks a bit like David Bowie.

8:18pm – So, he’s doing ok. They always give the old guys the ballroom dances to start with instead of the latins. Makes sense, but would love to see him suffer! And, on a side note, I so want Anna’s dress!

8:19pm – Carrie Ann must have a soap fan – she’s doing her happy dance. Me…. meh. He’s ok, but not that great. Becky is predicting 7s and an 8 from Carrie Ann.

8:24pm – That’s crap! 2 8’s? No way!

8:25pm – Donald Driver and Peeta what?? Megatron? That’s it. She’s Peeta Megatron.

8:28pm – Becky: “I think she’s Australian” Lisa: “No, I’m pretty sure she’s decepticon” David (Becky’s hubby): “What does she turn into?”

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Organizing your entryway

IMG_3558beforeIMG_3622afterAfter an emotionally satisfying reorganization of my closet, I moved on to tackle the entry of my home. Some of you are probably lucky enough to have an entry hall, or some sort of entryway to your home. However, I have a door that opens into the living room. No entryway. So, I’ve had to make one.

When I moved in, I built a small shelf and attached knobs to it to make something to hang my coats on. I set it behind the door. It’s worked out great, but I started to use that space for everything. Soon hats and shoes and bags and everything started piling up behind the door.  A good place to put things, but it was starting to look cluttered.

My first order of business was to get a floor rack for placing shoes, hats and such. I happened to have some scrap wood to work with so I built mine. I built a shelf into mine and bought a few fabric boxes at Target to put my gloves and scarves in. Now I actually have a bit of an entryway, and somewhere to place my things.

There are a number of great things you can do to organize your entryway, whether you can build it yourself or not!

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Spring is almost here! It is not to late to start planting seeds for a home-grown vegetable garden!

When I was a kid, I hated my parents’ garden. Mostly because it restricted where I could play, required me to weed, and determined the direction in which I could blow dandelions. But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to love the feeling accomplishment found in growing my own vegetables. The accomplishment is even greater when I start those vegetable plants from seed. Sure, you can buy plants, but it is cheaper, more satisfying, and you’ll have more selection if you start from seed. (and no, that’s not a picture of my garden. Wish it was though!)

Each year, I find myself planting later than I should, but it is still not too late! You, too, can start your own vegetable garden!

Here’s what you need to start:

1. Seed starting kit. I like these. You can find them at all home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware), as well as many drug stores, Walmart/Target and other home stores.  They come in various sizes – from 9 – 72 pellet sizes. I also like them because you can keep the plastic container and buy pellet refills. But, if you don’t like that option, you can also purchase small pots and potting soil and start seeds that way.

2. Seeds. Determine what you want to grow and buy the seeds. Some people are picky about organic seeds, name brands etc. You can find most seeds in the stores listed above, or at local nurseries.

3. A way to label. Always mark your seeds somehow – whether drawing a grid on paper, or by writing on markers. Seedlings tend to look similar and unless you know the difference by sight, you’ll want to know what you’re growing!

4. Water and Light.  Keep your seedlings well lit and watered. More on this later.

Getting Started – When to Plant

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My dream has finally come true! DWTS Season 14 Cast Announcement

Since Season One back in 2005, my dear friend Becky and I have watched Dancing with the Stars religiously. Every year, as we wait for the new cast announcements, the conversation always turns to “Who would be in your dream cast?” And my answer, since day one, has always been Urkel. And today, my dream has come true:

STEVE URKEL IS ON THE CAST OF DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 14!!!

I am seriously so freakin excited, you can’t even believe! Ok, fine, so it’s really Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel (and in later seasons, when his muscles wouldn’t stop growing, Stefan Urquelle). I was so hopeful last year when I saw him starring (and dancing!) in Cee Lo Green’s video for “Cry Baby.” I love him! All I can hope for is that he doesn’t turn out to be a complete douche-canoe!

As for the rest of the cast… not bad! For the first time since Season 9 (with Donny Osmond), I’m actually really excited about this cast! Here are the rest of the stars, in order of how excited I am to have them on the show!

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On Living Alone–Part Two

I was pointed to an interesting article yesterday. The original article, from the New York Times, was modestly titled “One is the Quirkiest Number – The freedom, and perils, of living alone.” Of course, Gawker got right to the point, declaring “NYT reports that living alone makes you behave like an insane person.” Now, a couple months back, I wrote a post about my experience living alone for the first time, which has truly been an overall positive experience. After reading the NYT article, a friend suggested I write a counter-piece – so here we go.

First, to Gawker’s point, “insane” is a bit much. Here are the examples they give from the NYT article. None are terribly insane. A little odd maybe. And some are downright normal.

  • Running in place during TV commercials (a bit strange, but if I had an elliptical in front of my TV, I’d totally do that. Well, I’d say I did anyway. But would probably just hang my bra on it (see below))
  • Talking in conversational French to themselves (I’ve been known to talk to myself in Spanish. Just because I can)
  • Talking to their cats (Ok, here’s the thing. Cats have ears. That means they can hear. Which means talking to them is not strange. It is perfectly normal to talk to anything with ears. Now, you start talking to your sofa, then we have problems)
  • Using their dryers as dressers (I can’t judge. I’ve had my laundry basket full of clean clothes in my living room for a week. I’ve pulled all my undies from it this week – no clean ones in the drawers. You may call this lazy. I say to you with roommates/significant others: you’re just jealous!)
  • Leaving their bras on the kitchen counter (Hmm… I don’t clean my counters enough to agree with this. But the coffee table, couch, recliner, floor, night stand…)
  • Wearing special “home alone” outfits, such as “white flax bloomers that go down to my knee” (Ok, I don’t dress any different alone than when I was married. Am I wrong in thinking it’s normal for married people to hang around their houses in sweats and junky shirts? That’s why you get married – to not have to dress up anymore. What I enjoy most about living alone is that I can run around the house without clothes and not have to worry that I’m giving anyone “ideas” or having someone think I’m in the mood for “that” rather than just not being in the mood to wear clothes.)
  • Subsisting “largely on cereal” (Depends on the type. Lucky Charms? Crunch Berries? Or Bran Flakes?)
  • “Grazing” on “nuts and seeds” (Or Sour Patch Kids and Good N Plenty’s. Potato. Potahto.) Continue reading

Super cute spring wreath

Pinterest has become my new obsession. (follow me here) Recently, I came across the most adorable spring wreath and just HAD to make it for myself. This craft was originally posted by Patty Schaffer at P.S. Capture the Details. I have a feeling her blog is going to become a new favorite of mine.

Supplies Needed:

2 skeins of Fun Fur Yarn (can find at Michael’s or JoAnn’s)

8 or 10 inch floral foam wreath

Flowers (The original shows floral trim. I used silk flowers)

Ribbon

Pearlized pins to match your flowers

Any other embellishments you’d like

 

Instructions

The post really does a fantastic job of showing how to wrap the yarn around the wreath. In short, be sure to wrap the yarn tight and close, and give it a fluff every so often. This process will take awhile – it took me 2 hours to wrap mine. Put on a movie and get to it!

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Thrift Shop Mojo

I am a thrift store junkie. I remember when I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. Every summer, my family spend a week in Auburn, WA at Lake Tapps. Auburn had tons of thrift stores and we’d go each year to pick up clothes for the school year. So, I wasn’t the most fashionable kid in the school, but I learned to love the adventure. That love for thrift stores persists today. I’d say about half my shoes and clothes come from thrift stores – a handful of handbags too! It used to be a necessity for money reasons, but today, I can afford new clothes. But I am used to thrift pricing now. ($100 for jeans?! HA!) And honestly, I just love the challenge and the hunt for a great deal.

Thrifting has become trendy recently. One of my favorite blog sites, Hello Giggles, has a whole series of posts about thrifting. The new CBS show 2 Broke Girls (which I find funny, but all my friends think it sucks) had a hilarious episode where the street-smart broke girl took the former rich-bitch broke girl to the Goodwill. Especially in today’s economy, and with increased sensibilities to ‘green living’, thrifting is a fantastic money-saving, reduce/reuse/recycle option. All it takes is some common sense and a sense of adventure. With a dash of patience. And hand sanitizer.

Look for these

Clothes. This is the easiest category. I only own one pair of jeans that did not come from a thrift store. Most of my dresses (I have a lot!) are from thrift stores. You will need to try things on – especially jeans. I have to try on 15 pairs for every 2 I go home with. But I have some nice jeans – Hilfiger, DKNY – and not a single pair cost more than $9.99. I have found cute tops, great sweaters – never spending more than $15 for any item. Here are some of my faves:
IMG_3579b  IMG_3577IMG_3499b

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Organizing your closet

A while back, I came across this 31-day challenge to a better organized home on the cheap. While I love this idea, I just don’t have 31 days in a row to devote to organizing. As, I had noted in one of my very first posts, I truly believe that keeping your home clean and organized is key to being a successful homemaker – in fact, I listed it as number one! In all honesty, though, it is the one I have the hardest time with. I feel like I am always playing catch-up on the housecleaning. Last weekend, inspired by Deb’s post on closet audits, I decided it was time to tackle my closet. Let me share how I did it, and some helpful hints on how to keep your closet organized!

Hanging Clothes: As you can see from the ‘before’ picture, my hanging clothes are really not that bad off. But the shoes are a disaster, and the shelves on either side of the closet are just overloaded. First things first, I emptied my closet of the hanging clothes, one clothing type at a time. Skirts, shirts, pants, etc. I tried on nearly everything, and following Deb’s instructions, divided into piles: Keep, Toss, Fix and “how do I wear this?”  I’m pretty good at tossing items I no longer use. But I had a few surprises. Of the 19 skirts in my closet, I tossed 11! But nearly all the shirts stayed.

HELPFUL HINT #1: When hanging your clothes, the hangers you use are key. A year or so ago, I got rid of all my clunky plastic hangers and replaced them with thin, felted hangers. These are great for three reasons: One is that they take up so much less space in your closet. Second is that the felting on the hangers keeps your clothes from slipping off the hanger. No more need for those annoying ribbon hangers that seem to be attached to every piece of clothing nowadays. Third is that they’re just so much prettier!

HELPFUL HINT #2: As you can see from the pictures below, I have this great second-tier hanger. It provides a lower hanging bar for a second level of hanging clothes. I love this thing. Be sure to hang shorter clothes from it, so as to not block the shoes on the floor!

HELPFUL HINT #3: Many people have different ways of hanging their clothes – by color, by what they go with, etc. As for me, my clothes are hung by type. My shirts are all hung together. And in order of type of shirt. Sleeveless first, then short sleeve – first the t-shirts and knits, followed by button up. Same with the long-sleeve – t-shirts and knits, followed by button up. Then, the sweaters, cardigans and pullovers grouped together. This may seem a bit OCD, but this will help you so much when you’re putting your clothes away. And it will help you to always find what you’re looking for.

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You Got This, Girl! Replacing your outlets

Recently, I painted my bedroom a pale pink. As I admired my work, I realized that the dingy ivory electrical outlets looked just hideous. I knew I needed new, fresh, white outlets. I called my dad to see if he thought I could tackle this on my own. After a resounding ‘Of course’, I headed off to the hardware store.

IMG_3472Here are the basic supplies you will need to replace your outlets:

Outlets
Cover Plates
Screwdriver
Electrical Tape
Outlet Tester/Voltage Meter
Needle-nose pliers (pictured later)
Wire cutters (pictured later)

 

IMG_3475Step One: Turn off the power

Once you have all your supplies ready, shut off the breaker to cut off all power to the outlets. My mother, who has done wiring for years with my grandfather (who was an electrician) will actually do wiring with the power still on. That scares me, and is not recommended. The shock wont kill you, but it will hurt. And will put a dent in your pliers. So, just go turn off the breaker.

My breaker box is horribly labeled – I really can’t tell what connects to what. So, it’s a lot of trial and error to make sure the outlets are off. One way to test that your outlets are truly off is to plug in a lamp or an alarm clock. If it doesn’t turn on, the power is off and it is safe to work with. However, if you are working with switches also, you should get a voltage meter. You can get a simple tester for about $10, or more advanced ones for more. It is worth it. I thought I had turned off the breaker for all my outlets, and just happened to test this one to get a picture for this post. As you can see, it is live. I was lucky I tested it!

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(Not Extreme) Couponing

Regardless of your opinion of couponing, it is a notable ‘trend’ recently. Yes, coupons have been around forever, but with the TLC show ‘Extreme Couponing’, there is a lot more attention on it. From local church seminars on couponing to mom blog tutorials to CBS’s show 2 Broke Girls, couponing is more present than ever.

While I can’t imagine anyone being opposed to saving money, some folks are going to the extreme. Have you actually seen ‘Extreme Couponing’? I’ve seen a couple episodes and am equal parts impressed and appalled. These people have figured out how to get hundreds of dollars worth of groceries and supplies for tens of dollars. Sometimes free! Impressive. But they’re buying things they don’t need. I saw an episode where a guy had converted his entire garage into aisles of shelving for hundreds of bottles of shampoo, tubes of toothpaste, and dozens of other items he will never use. The episode did show him donating a few hundred packages of diapers or something that he managed to get for next to free – which is fantastic. But, for the most part, he was essentially hoarding. He had a collection of things he’ll never use. Honestly, I find it a bit disgusting.

With all that said, coupons have their place, and I do use them. The trick is to use coupons for things you actually use. Every week, most of us get a flyer with coupons in the mail. Occasionally, you’ll get a booklet from a local drug store, the monthly Val-Pak envelope of coupons, or grocery coupons.

Here are a few tips on how to use coupons effectively, without them taking over your life (or your garage!)

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