Friday, December 13, 2013

Keeping It Together

I've had people ask me how I get it all done.  The honest answer is, I don't.  I have more to do than time to get it done. For example, my house still has pumpkins from Halloween on the front porch but since they are currently covered in snow they look just fine beside the inflatable Santa the Hubs put up.
In my defense, I have been working on managing my time a little better with this:

Meet Big Bertha. "She" is the Franklin Covey planner I picked up for less than $20 when the Office Max went out of business in our local shopping area. Originally I had an ARC Planner from Staples, but it was just too big (the pages were 8 1/2 x 11) and I needed a change.  

Because I have become somewhat obsessed with planners here recently - following blogs dedicated to Filofaxes, watching YouTube channels - (it's really quite pathetic on my part) I thought I would share what I have done with mine. If this isn't your thing you won't offend me if you stop reading and find something better to do with your time. :-)

This is the first page of my planner. Some stickie notes and family photos to helps me remember what's important in life. The "meat" of the planner is tough. (no pun intended) I have struggled with finding the right inserts to make it workable for me.
Here are the ones I'm using (and L.O.V.E.) right now:

They are from DIYFish on Etsy and you can find them through her blog here. I actually found them through Carie over at Dispatches From the Frat House. She did a great video on YouTube that really explained how to use them.  Here's the problem: I have to download them, print them, cut them apart, and hole punch them. As much as I love them, I don't have that kind of time these days.  Nor do I have the time (or energy) to locate someone who can do it for me. {sigh}
And truth be told, I don't really need an entire page for one day. I also like having my "To Do" list clipped in the rings because I'm more likely to look at it. So at the end of December I'll be moving on to another type of insert. Not because I don't love these but because of the labor required for me to put into them.

Big Bertha came with these inserts that were undated:

At first I thought I would like them. But as time went on I realized I need the days horizontally instead of vertically. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought this set from DayTimer:

Better, but I still don't like them.  See the blue column down the middle? It's supposed to be for time slots. I like having the lines to write on, but hate how it's broken up into columns. It did, however, come with these monthly inserts that I really like so it wasn't a total bust.

 Prior to each month there is a full page for writing down goals/plans/to-do's for that month.  Not sure how or if I'll use it, but we'll see how it plays out.

I really like this month on two pages.  It has lines for me to write (I tend to write uphill) and a column on the right for me to make notes.  For example, our personal property taxes are due in June so I was able to make notes in both May and June to remind myself to budget for that expense. 

I apologize that this is blurry but I'm too busy lazy to take another picture of it. This is for the end of the month. It's a spot for writing notes and memos. I think this will be good for recording the cute stuff Babycakes does throughout the month so that I can go back and put it in her scrapbook or baby book. That's my intention anyway.

This past week, I found some inserts called the Mom Planner refill (DayTimer again) that I think might work. They run from July through June so I was able to get them half-price and if I hate them I only have to deal with them until the end of June. I ordered them earlier this week so I expect their arrival in the mail any day now.  I'm hoping these will be "the ones."

I will tell you, I tried using Google calendar from my phone and laptop but it just didn't do it for me.  I have to physically write it down to remember it. Even with the reminders I still felt like I didn't know what was going in half the time.  I also tried Cozi but, again, didn't feel like I had a real grasp of what I needed to do.  I finally accepted that I'm a paper planner kinda gal. Sine that realization I feel like I am more organized (with my time anyway), I know what's coming up, and when who will be where. That's not to say I don't still overlook or forget things from time to time, but it happens a lot less than it used to happen!

So tell me, how do you stay organized?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Life As A Doctoral Candidate

I don't neglect my little corner of cyberspace intentionally, I just don't have a whole lot of time these days.  With the push to complete the first two chapters before the end of the semester, working full time, being a wife, and a mommy I just don't have a whole lot of time on my hands these days.
This is what my life has consisted of most of the day today.

And each night, after Babycakes goes to bed I'm usually here pounding away on the keyboard, reading research studies until my eyes feel like they are about to bleed.  I keep telling myself this will be worth it when I finish (right?).

But this isn't all that's been going on at Wilted Acres, even if it does feel like it some days.  Babycakes has gone from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a big girl bed.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry a little at this milestone.

Daddy got her Minnie Mouse curtains and comforter set for her new room.  She is so proud of this accomplishment.  She loves to show everyone her big girl bed. 
You'll notice that there is no bedrail to keep her from falling out.  This is actually a trundle bed and can't accommodate a standard bed rail.  I went on Amazon to order something else but in reading the reviews I saw a lady who used a rolled up blanket.  I thought I would try it before shelling out forty bucks on something that may or may not work and was successful!  And yes, my kid is wearing Christmas pajamas.  She started in October - weeks before Halloween on this Christmas kick.  I'm pretty sure I could recite all of the words to Elmo's Christmas Countdown.  It was cute the first 87 times we watched it.  Now? Not so much.  

At the beginning of October I actually went away for an overnight trip for the first time since I had my appendix out in July, 2012.  This was the first time I had been away overnight since then.  I went on a knitting retreat with a group of fabulous ladies from my community.  I had a wonderful time and met a lot of new people! It was also a great weekend to go as we has beautiful weather and the mountain setting was very relaxing.  I'm looking forward to the next trip.  

For now, I must muddle through one more article before I relax with a bath and glass of wine before heading off to bed.  Until next time!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dissertation and Applesauce?

Totally random title, I know but that's how things seem to be rolling these days at Wilted Acres.  I have a meeting this week with my dissertation chair and I am very disappointed in my progress up to this point.  Time is carved out each weekend but I just can't seem to get into a groove.  I've tried working on it each night but haven't been very good about that either.  In all honesty, I would love to throw in the towel but I can't.  I have too much riding on this.
One of the things the Hubs and I have started doing is "tag teaming" church.  I get up and take Babycakes to Sunday School while I attend my adult class.  Then Jeff comes to the worship service so I can leave at 11:00 and get started on the dissertation.  Here is the set-up I had going on yesterday when I came home.

Cleo the cat is SUCH a big helper.  She makes certain that she get some kitty love in while I work.  I know it looks like I'm watching a video - I was but I promise it was dissertation related. ;-)

When the Hubs and Babycakes arrived home from church we made lunch and sat down together.  In the process of making lunch, I noticed all of the apples we had accrued on the kitchen counter.  Living in an area that had a large supply of apples during this time of year, I seem to have an abundance.  Not wanting them to go bad I decided to go ahead and use them to make applesauce.

I decided I would share my stellar apple-sauce making skills with you all while I was at it!  The first thing you need to do is peel and slice your apples.  I had a variety but I like the sweeter ones for my sauce.  Today I had about 8-10 apples.  Once you have them peeled and sliced put them in a pot with some water in the bottom so they don't scorch. (I didn't measure this but it was probably 1/2 to 1 whole cup.)

photo 1.JPG

Then I covered them and cooked them on medium heat until they came to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and let them cook until soft.  I cooked mine about 20-30 minutes.  Next, you can mash them with a potato masher or blender if you want a less chunky sauce.  I like a little texture to mine so I just stirred it.

Then I added sugar to taste - in this case it was between 1/4-1/2 of a cup.  Again, it's to your taste and the amount of sugar you add will depend on your apples.  I've made it before and added no sugar.

After it cooked down and I stirred it it looked like this:
photo 2.JPG

The final step was to put it in a jar.  We have this SUPER sweet lady who live on our street who no longer cans, so she gave us all of her canning jars.  Some of them are antiques!  While I didn't go through the canning process for this small amount of applesauce it can be done.  (Not that I've done it with applesauce!) I have, however frozen it in individual portion sizes and just thawed it out under running water.  This was particularly popular when Babycakes was a baby (that seems a little redundant).

Any who... here is the final applesauce step.

photo 3.JPG

Seriously easy and not that expensive to do.  This can be done with basic kitchen supplies.  I do, however, happen to have a funnel especially for canning jars that I picked up at a yard sale for $0.50 a few years back.  Our local Wal-Mart also sells a plastic version.

So that was my Sunday here at Wilted Acres.  I'm sure you are all just about to pass out from the excitement.  Until next time...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Tasks Than Time These Days...

I must be the world's worst blogger.  I don't intentionally ignore my little piece of cyberspace, but these days I feel there is just an overwhelming amount of "stuff" to do and not enough time to get it all in during the 24 hours we are given in a day.
 Some folks can give up sleep.  Not me.  Less than 8 hours and I am just hateful. Ten hours is ideal but I MUST have eight hours of beauty sleep each night or I can't function the next day.  I wish I were wired so I could go on less but that simply isn't the case.
Rather than tell you all I have to do and how I hate that Fall = Stress for this Teacher/Student/Wife/Mama I will try and share the good stuff that has been going on here at Wilted Acres.
First off, I can't believe how BIG Babycakes is getting!  No longer a baby, she is blossoming into a beautiful little girl.

She is very independent and likes to give her Mama a run for her money some days.  But I just love that little face and her quirky sense of style.  The binky is a new thing.  Never wanted one as an infant but raises holy hell if she doesn't have one these days.  I may need to stock up on these things!

Recently, we went to visit my Dad at the last minute.  She loves her Poppa and he is equally smitten with her. She loves it when he takes her to the park so they can feed the ducks.  The above "selfie" we took on the little train that chugs around the park.  I was shocked that it was only $1 per person.  The little one had a blast as you can see. :-)

Cleo the cat has been helping me in my efforts to stay on top of things around here recently. I love this cat.  She is so patient with Babycakes and is so friendly.  Always up for a nuzzle or cuddle. :-)

I'm also about to embark upon a little bedroom update.  When the Hubs and I got married, we received a beautiful Shabby Chic duvet cover as a wedding gift.  Sadly, two dogs, one cat, and a toddler have left an impact...

The top picture shows the "original" side of the duvet.  I mended and mended but finally gave up the fight and just flipped it over to the other side.  Now the other side is starting to tear.  Since this cover (which I love, by the way) is no longer available I had to find something else.  I also wanted to get something a little less girly for the Hubs even though he told me to get what I wanted.
I decided to go with a solid blue that has textural stripes.  This would allow me to add some pattern with throw pillows.  Since the original bedskirt was pink, I went ahead and got a new one.

The duvet and bed skirt I bought at Kohl's.  The bedskirt is white eyelet lace (I'm not relinquishing all the girliness!).  I also went by Hobby Lobby and grabbed a few fabrics to make some pillows.  Here are some current pictures of our bedroom.  Any mess you see is mine.  The Hubs is much better about cleaning up after himself.

Hopefully I can find some time to stitch up the pillows and make the switch.  When that happens I'll post some "after" pics.  Until then, here is a little bit of Wilted Acres love...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Camping Trip From Hell

I didn't intend for it to be so long in between posts but life has been a little crazy around here.  A couple of weeks ago the hubs and I borrowed a friend's camper (and the big honkin' truck required to pull it!) to head out for a last hoo-rah before our summer came to an end.  Let me tell you, this is the way to camp!

We started out with high hopes. Babycakes was in the backseat chillaxin' while the Hubs was in the driver's seat...

As the official photographer and baby entertainer I was able to avoid driving the monstrosity RV down the interstate.  Which is a good thing since 45 minutes into the trip the driver's side mirror slammed into the side of the truck on the way down the road.  After a stop at the Ford place, the mirror was fixed and we were on our way.
Yep, those are zip ties holding the mirror on the truck.  Nothing like a bunch of rednecks to fix your car.  But I'm not complaining - it worked!
After this unscheduled stop we realized we were not going to get to the campground in time for dinner so we had dinner at a truck stop since they had the parking for the RV.  While we were there Babycakes got in touch with her country-side.

I'm pretty sure she wanted to take that hat out of the truck stop.

Once we arrived at the campground the Hubs got everything set up.  In the dark. With a cranky wife. And a cranky 2 year old. And a cranky wife.  The man deserves a medal.

They next morning we awoke to a (still) sick kid.  She had JUST finished up a second round of antibiotics for an ear infection that kept hanging around.  Now she appeared to have a sinus infection.  So we located an urgent care center that accepted pediatric patients and spent the whole day dealing trying to get her some medicine so she would start feeling better.  I would have to say it was one of the worst. days. ever.  The evening improved after Mommy  Babycakes had a nap.  The Hubs made steak and baked potatoes and we were able to visit with our friend Jack and his son Josh.  The food was a-maz-ing and Babycakes even showed off for our visitors!

The next morning I was up before anyone else so I was able to enjoy some quiet time.  I loved it.  Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.

That morning, after breakfast, we went to the pool even though it was a little on the cool side.  (As a side note, the weather here has been freakishly unseasonably cool this summer)

Yep, that's me in all my porcelain white glory.  My 2-year-old tans better than I do.  

Anywho, later that afternoon we headed down to the Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Virginia.  Babycakes LOVES live music, especially if there is a banjo involved.  So we thought we would check it out and we were not disappointed.  I'll tell you, I'm not one for sitting around listening to bluegrass music.  But if you have the opportunity to see this thing it is pretty amazing.  We just went around to the different campers and heard TONS of great, live music.  Not all of it was bluegrass.  There was some folk and even some classical pieces.  Definitely an interesting experience I'd like to repeat again!

 Babycakes was obsessed with the yellow caution tape.  Now I know what to get her for Christmas...

At the end of the awesome day, however, my eye looked like this...

Yep, pink eye.  By the next day I also felt rotten and had it in both eyes.  It's a good thing we had planned to leave that day because I was really done with camping by this point.  We had planned to stop and visit some friends on the way home but skipped all stops and drove straight through.  Even Babycakes was done.

So while our last great summer excursion wasn't all that great it wasn't a total bust either.  Here is the conversation the Hubs and I had as we were leaving the campground:

Me:  Well, it wasn't the best trip but I'd be willing to try it in a couple of years when the baby is potty trained.  Maybe when she's 4?
Hubs:  I was thinking more like six years.  When she's 8.

Well said dear.  Well said.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Downsizing? Puh-Lease!!!

I love home organizing/decorating sites and blogs.  I think I would have been an interior designer if I hadn't gone into special education.  (Now there's a career link!)  However, one of the things that really irks me about home decorating is their definition of a "small space."  I'm sorry but a 1600 square foot house is NOT a small space in my record book.  Maybe if you have 4 or 5 kids but it's not a small space for a family of 2 or 3.  Ever.
The Hubs and I live in a house between 900 and 1000 square feet. With a 2 year old. And a cat. And the 2 year old's stuff.  Oh, and my stuff. The Hubs isn't allowed to have stuff. (Just kidding!)  My whole life I've wanted an old white farmhouse like the one my grandparents used to have.  Similar to this...

(image courtesy of Country

But when the Hubs and I started dating I quickly learned that the house he was in was it.  He does not want to move.  And now that I'm here I've grown to love our little house for our little family.  Granted some days it really feels like I live in something this size...

Unless it's time to clean and then it feels like this...

It's incredibly frustrating to hear the benefits of "downsizing" to a 1600 square foot house when I am trying very hard to make our cozy little house a little more homey and make our space feel a little bigger.  I realize we are probably not the norm.  I also realize I am incredibly jealous of those people who live in a "downsized" house of 1600 square feet.  But I have to remember there are people in our country who live in smaller quarters than do we, with a whole lot less.  So here are 10 reasons I love MY small house...

1. Less to clean.
2. Because it was built in the 1940s it is built like a tank.  No pine 2X4s in this place.  More like oak 2X8s.
3. Red oak trim throughout the house.  While it needs some TLC it is still beautiful at nearly 70 years old.
4. We had our wedding reception in the yard when we got married 4 years ago.

 5.  My sweet Jessie dog is buried in the yard.  She was my fur-baby for almost 16 years.

6. This is the only house Babycakes has ever known.  I kind of like the idea of her bringing her husband-to-be for dinner one day to the house she was raised in. (I know my participle is dangling but oh well.)
7.  We have great neighbors!  
8.  We live in a rural area but not so rural that I smell manure on a regular daily basis (Except when the farm up the road is sludging their fields.  That's just foul!).  
9. With 2 acres of land we have room to expand or to keep it as is for Babycakes to play.  My 2 Godchildren love to come over and run in the "field" (aka our yard).

10.  Even though I complain about the outdated kitchen flooring, the old metal kitchen cabinets, the leaking basement and lack of space it's our home.  It has charm and is a wonderful place to raise our daughter.  I'd be a big liar if I didn't say I wish we had more living space.  But I have to remember to take the time to reflect on the things I do love about our house.  Because as the saying goes, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."