Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Like a Dog With Two Tails

So I rolled up my sleeves and cleaned out my dry sink, the cabinet where all my photo albums were "stuffed" inside.  It felt like the cabinet was overly unorganized because every time I had to get in there, stuff would fall out.  Loose photos, school papers to put in the girls' school books and random baby book things.  I was pleasantly surprised that once I got the first layer of stuff pulled out and placed in their respective books, my cabinet was already cleaned and organized.   It only took me a couple of hours to do the whole job and it would've taken me a lot less had I not taken the time to go down Memory Lane.  I started looking through albums and going through packages of 35 mm film photos.  I didn't realize that my albums were more up to date than I thought.  I have almost all my regular photos put in albums, but what overwhelms me is that I have about 9 years worth of digital photos that should be printed and put in albums.  5 or 6 years ago when I figured out how much that project would cost me at 9 cents a photo, it was around $600. 
What is most exciting thing about cleaning out that cabinet is I found a few scrapbooks that I've had for years and had forgotten about.  Someone had given me a baby scrapbook for Ellen when she was born.  I started it, got only one page done but I remember being so stressed out about my chances of ruining the book, I couldn't finish it. So I figured now was the time as any to get it done.  While I was waiting on photos to be delivered to finish that scrapbook, I started the other one for Marcella.  Oddly enough, the theme for this scrapbook was called "Marcella".  How fitting.  Again, my stress level rose as I was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing.  After I went to the store to buy the proper tape and glue, I couldn't enjoy the process of scrapbooking because I was so worried about wasting the pages and finishing the book with plain white pages.  So back to the store I went and bought a booklet of printed pages that matched the theme as best as I could.  This book was so old, that refills were no longer available.  Then I raided my daughter-in-law's scrapbook tools and all of a sudden, I was really enjoying my time assembling my first scrapbook.
Needless to say, my kitchen table was taken hostage for over two weeks as I worked on these scrapbooks.  Late nights, early mornings and a few minutes here and there during nap times, I was working on those babies!  I've been bitten by the scrapbook bug!  I have one more scrapbook left to do and I have no idea what theme to do with it.  Instead of journaling, this book has buttons where you can record your voice about the photos.  It's got a basic floral theme and no embellishments, just stickers... I think.  Please comment ideas for me!
It was really nice going down Memory Lane while I was working on these scrapbooks, but I often found myself feeling depressed.  I realized that Ellen's babyhood flew by way too fast, that I didn't even remember most of the memories with her until I saw the photos.  I know that's normal, people say, that with your first child, you remember every detail and the more children you have, the faster time flies and less you remember.  But at the end of the day, once the scrapbooks were done, it was nice sitting one-on-one with each of my daughters and going through their very own scrapbook of their first two years of their lives.
Teaching responsibility

I love how my girls are so honest.  Ellen came home from school last week with a very worried look on her face.  She told me she got in trouble for running around in the library.  She lost one rotation to go to the library and has to choose a classroom book instead.  At first she didn't try to cover up her story and sugar coat it nor did she try to blame her friend she was with.  The teacher sent home a note and basically confirmed exactly what Ellen had told me.  Then the tears came.  She was so worried that I would be mad at her and even more worried that Daddy would yell at her.  I simply said that I wasn't mad at her but if she did it again, then I would be upset with her.  I told her we all learn from our mistakes, even grown ups.  How else would we learn if we were perfect all the time?  She decided to write a sorry note to the librarian.
In case you can't read it:  "Dear Miss L and Miss B.  I am sorry I was running in the library.  I won't do it again.  Love Ellen"
I'm so proud of her.
Grandma Again!!!
I finally got to meet my newest granddaughter, Elliana.  She is four months old, just a few days older than Camden, my newest grandson.  That's Haley, her mom and my stepson's girlfriend.  

 Isn't she the cutest???
This frigid artic weather is killing me.  I've mimicked a snake's life by gorging large amounts of food, lounging around promoting a very slow digestion and peeling scaly skin.  My jeans barely fit me anymore and I feel well.... icky.  Groundhog day is coming around the corner and I vow every year to shoot the rodent.  It doesn't matter if he sees his shadow or not.  There's ALWAYS at least six more weeks of Winter.  Spring doesn't come until the end of March.  Duh!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Clean Closet

I did it.  I fought myself all the way, but like I said before,

"If you don't feel like doing something, start doing it anyway and eventually you'll feel like doing it and before you know it, it'll be done."

Once I put on some music, I kept on going.  I wish I had taken some pictures of my bedroom once I got everything out of the closet.  My husband came into the room and had to leave.  There was no room to move! 

I need more containers!  I could eliminate so much more out of our closet if I could get a couple large totes, but even our garage doesn't have room for those kinds of totes.  At least I can breathe when I go into the closet and not feel claustrophobic.

and.....  after:

You can't see in the photos, but on the right side of this picture, the shelf is completely clear.  How could I miss that in the picture????

It feels so good to have this closet done.  I threw away 2 1/2 large garbage bags, a full box of stuff, got rid of half my shoes and half of Jeff's shoes.  I even reorganized the girls' keepsake boxes.  It was fun going through their baby stuff and baby crafts.  I also found my old high school class of '95 sweatshirt.  Is it ever cool to wear those class shirts after you graduate??? 

Once I get going on my next project, cleaning out the dry sink and organizing photos and albums, I will free up another corner of my closet.  Is it weird to get excited about that?

Arctic Fun

When we got blasted with this arctic air, we were stuck inside for quite a while.  I didn't seem to mind, as you can tell from the pictures, we stayed in our pajamas for about four days.  This was right after Christmas break, so we started getting bored.  I saw a comment on Facebook about filling a balloon with water and food coloring and setting it outside.  When you pop the balloon you will have "tiny little colored ice balls".  This post explains how important it is to read directions thoroughly.  The comment didn't say, "wait until the balloons freeze and then pop."  No... honestly, with it being so so so so cold outside, I thought that once the balloon was popped, the colored water would instantly freeze and instantly create little frozen colored balls.  Right?  This post also shows how wild my imagination can fly.  The saying, "it sounded so much better in my head...." rings so true for me.  So here are our balloons:

After I explained to the kids that food coloring will stain, they insisted I go first.  Sadly, my balloon doesn't look so good.  Let me tell ya folks, yellow dye and snow just....  well, you know. 


So here's Marcella popping her balloon.  Did it freeze instantly?  No. *Sigh* But I did get a pretty cool picture in action:

Here's Ellen and her balloon.  I really wished I had red food coloring.  But the blue dye in the red balloon was pretty awesome.

 Pretty neat shot, huh?

Then we took squirt bottles and made art in the snow.  We were done after about 3 minutes.  It was about 0 degrees with a wind chill of about -35.  That's cold!

Then later that night, we threw hot water up in the air and made a big cloud.  We are still in debate whether the water came down in little ice balls (my theory of instant freezing still a bit shaky) or if it was the boiling water that sizzled on the ice below.   Either way, it was pretty cool!

Days like these, I have to remind myself why I still live in Ohio when I could be lving near the beach.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wish List and Goals

According to Google definitions, "happy" means:

  • Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
  • Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with someone or something.
  • Willingness to do something.
  • Feeling fortunate or convenient.

I've always been a happy person.  I usually find the positive in situations.  I find the glass half full. In the past, I've found contentment... for the most part.  I'm very satisfied with my life and where I am.  I am blessed.


Lately, I've felt like I've lost myself.  Perhaps it's about that time, after being a stay-at-home mom for 9 years, that I'm starting to re-evaluate my life.  I've always been considered as someone's mom, someone who is always there, who knows where lost items can be found, how to warm up leftovers, someone who can make anything into a craft, willing to play Barbies and make silly faces at babies.  Before I was all that, I was a professional interpreter, I went to college, managed a business office and went to business meetings where my opinions were wanted and valued. 

My brain is turning to mush.

I have become someone who can no longer simply multitask a phone call and dishes at the same time.  Someone who's any sliver of extra energy just went down the bleached toilet.  Someone who had to google how to make change and re-learn how to reduce fractions.

But all is not lost!

Above all, I AM happy.  Just the thought of going back to work is enough to send me hurling to the bathroom.  I have no desire to go back to work, or even go back to college, at least not right now.  I love taking care of my family.  I really don't mind doing the laundry and cooking dinner.... well, most of the time. 

So in search of myself, my insanity and finding who I've become in the last 10 years of my life, my Happiness Project continues....

With two lists.  One is to complete tasks I've wanted to do for a long time and always had an excuse not to conquer.  The other is my Wish List that will include things I wish to do; adventures. I don't have a schedule or a time frame to accomplish these things.  I feel that if I put a time limit on myself, interruptions, limited schedule availability and sometimes means (all reasons that can be out of my control) could result in failure; however, I do have a goal to complete all these tasks in this year.  

Conquer Household Goals

Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!
Clean out bedroom closet
15 minutes of agony
Clean out dry sink
Organize photo albums
Spring clean each room

My Happy List

Smile more
Be silly more
Learn to say "No"
Learn something new
Embark on new adventures
One-on-one time with my girls
Monthly date night with my hubby       

...Enjoy the process!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

80 Uses for Coconut Oil

As promised, here's my post about all the benefits of coconut oil. 

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can consume.  There are two types of coconut oil: 

Refined and unrefined

Refined coconut oil has been exposed to high heat to deodorize and remove the coconut scent and flavor.  At times, it's been partially hydrogenated, which then the coconut oil could contain trans fat. 

Unrefined coconut oil has been dried and mechanically expressed.  It's often labeled as "virgin" or "pure" coconut oil.  It goes under the least process, which holds its distinct coconut flavor and scent.

Which one to choose?  Choose unrefined if you want the fullest coconut flavor.  Choose refined when cooking at higher temperatures, such as frying or baking.  Either one is good for you, as long as you choose a brand that is non-hydrogenated, however the unrefined and virgin/pure coconut oil is the best option for health benefits.

Remember, coconut oil is still a fat.  It contains the highest level of fat than any other oil but when used in moderation, reaps many, many benefits.  Coconut oil has a shelf life of at least two years.  It doesn't need to be refrigerated.  It improves or reverses Alzheimer's' disease, improves type 1 and 2 diabetes, improves and heals many skin issues such as acne, fungus, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.  It boosts metabolism, energy, and improves hypothyroidism.  Coconut oil strengthens hair, kills lice and improves dandruff.  It is antibacterial, antioxidant, kills viruses, and promotes weight loss.

So here we go, 80 uses for coconut oil.  '*' indicates I've personally tried and/or used coconut oil for that particular use.

  1. *Great for cooking and baking.
  2. *Spread on toast instead of butter.
  3. *Rub into skin as a lotion.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth, add your favorite essential oil and mix.
  4. *A natural deodorant
  5. Makeup remover
  6. *Diaper rash cream
  7. *Relieves sun burns
  8. *Coffee creamer.  A tablespoon of coconut oil, dash of vanilla, 1 tsp butter (optional), mix in food processor until smooth and runny and add to hot coffee.  Surprisingly very good!
  9. *Lighten age spots
  10. Homemade mayo
  11. *Minimizes/prevents stretch marks
  12. Tropical massage oil
  13. *Deep nighttime moisturizer
  14. *Hair serum to tame frizz
  15. *Chapstick
  16. *Deep conditioner for hair - Melt oil and massage through dry hair.  Wrap hair in plastic wrap for one hour and wash and condition as usual.
  17. Cradle cap on baby - massage oil onto baby's head for a few minutes and rinse.
  18. *Rub onto feet after shower and put on socks.  Cures athlete's foot, fungus and cracked heels.
  19. In place of Lanolin cream for nursing moms to sooth chapped nipples after breastfeeding.
  20. *Reduces scars
  21. Make your own toothpaste
  22. Topically relieves yeast infection symptoms
  23. *Body scrub - mix equal parts with coarse sugar or sea salt
  24. Make your own sunscreen
  25. 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil everyday will help increase milk supply and fat content in breast milk.
  26. Healthy snack for kids - Try Wellness Mama's recipe for Coconut Clusters
  27. Kills lice - The process is very long but it works without chemicals.  Coconut
  28. Helps relieve allergy symptoms - rub a small amount inside the nose.
  29. *Helps improve insulin levels
  30. Homemade bug repellent lotion bars
  31. Lower bad cholesterol
  32. *Helps digestion
  33. May kill intestinal parasites or yeast
  34. Reduces appearance of varicose veins
  35. Personal lubricant
  36. Heals ear infections
  37. Softens real leather
  38. Tanning oil
  39. Sooths itch of chicken pox or poison ivy
  40. Increases absorption of calcium and magnesium
  41. Whitening toothpaste (or along with baking soda)
  42. Helpful with those with autism
  43. Homemade vapor rub
  44. Very beneficial to pregnant women and unborn child
  45. Relieves pain of hemorrhoids
  46. Boost circulation
  47. *Helps cuticles to grow
  48. Sooths heartburn or nausea
  49. Add to smoothies
  50. *Replace butter with coconut oil in steamed vegetables
  51. Heals cold sores
  52. Increases mental alertness
  53. Baby lotion
  54. *Anti-aging facial moisturizer
  55. Heals ringworm
  56. Improves Parkinson's disease
  57. Clears "brain fog" when taken regularly
  58. Add to pet's food for a healthy, shiny coat
  59. *Eases arthritis
  60. Relieves constipation
  61. Balances hormones
  62. Use in hundreds of recipes, try this link to get you started
  63. Coat air-pop popcorn with coconut oil instead of butter
  64. Someone posted that coconut oil cured her child's pink eye.
  65. Improves Alzheimer's disease
  66. Improves hypothyroidism
  67. Improves Types 1 and 2 diabetes
  68. Heals eczema and rosacea and psoriasis
  69. Improves dandruff
  70. Helps hair grow
  71. Antibacterial
  72. Antioxidant
  73. *Heals razor burn/bumps
  74. Lowers depression
  75. Lowers menopause symptoms
  76. A tablespoon of coconut oil and 4 drops or more of oregano oil taken twice a day will kill yeast, mold, and fungus infections. Improves dry mouth.
  77. Smooths wrinkles
  78. Improves thyroid function
  79. Possibly helps improves shingles
  80. Decreases appetite

Monday, January 6, 2014

Factors for My Happiness Project

It's so ironic that so many factors have played into my Happiness Project.  It would've been very easy for me to skip going to the early worship at church on Sunday.  I had to teach Sunday school and I do my best to attend the early worship when I have to teach so I don't miss out, but my hubby was home from work and we woke up with only an hour to get ready.  We had to take dinners over to my in-laws before we embarked on our afternoon plans, so our day started off super busy.  To my surprise, my hubby agreed to go to church with us and we made it to church in the nick of time.  What a treat!

While we were at church, the pastor was talking about creating goals to take care of ourselves, New Year's Resolutions, if you will.  We were invited to fill out a small form of what our intention(s) were, how we planned to accomplish those goals, how we were going to make ourselves accountable, and of course to pray about it.  I felt that if I blogged about my Happiness Project, someone, at least one person, could be encouraged by my project.  My blog became my accountability.  Now, God has become my accountability, too.  I filled out the form and turned it in.  Even though I would not back out on my own big idea, I really can't back out now that I've given my project to God.

Then the frigid cold weather invaded my world (factor #2).  Negative temperatures, dangerous wind chills of -25 and more has shut me inside my home.  What else is there to do????  CLEAN!  ORGANIZE! 

It's not that my Happiness Project is all about cleaning.  (my husband would have a sly comment about that statement.)  It's about getting my life organized, feeling back in control of the little things around me, creating adventures, making a wish list, learning something new and having something to look forward to.  When I finished cleaning the bathroom cabinet and reorganized it, I walked back into the bathroom and it felt like the room was bigger, brighter.... cleaner.  It's a mind-over-matter deal for me.  I can walk into the bathroom any time, any day and it always looked the same, afterall I don't always open the cabinet doors every time I go in there.  But today it was different because I KNEW it was clean and organized.  I stepped back and... I smiled!

For the first time in history, my kids' school district cancelled school again for tomorrow before 2:00 this afternoon.  I am seriously considering drinking a cup of coffee (which has been nine months by the way) tomorrow morning to skyrocket my energy so I can tackle my bedroom closet.  I went in there twice today and stared.  Feeling overwhelmed and suddenly unmotivated, I turned and walked right back out.  I think what hinders me from tackling that closet is the unknown time.  Realistically, it shouldn't take me forever to clean out the closet.  It's not THAT bad.  But my brain is trying to trick me into thinking it's going to take me ALL DAY to do.  What else am I going to do tomorrow being stuck inside the house all day?  So what if it takes me all day, right?

Factor #3:  I'm out of chocolate chips and cookies.  I have to stay busy tomorrow or else I'll end up baking something I shouldn't be eating.  I need to face it, I've eaten so many cookies these past few days, I'll need a support group for withdraw. And perhaps, if I tell everyone that I need to clean out my closet tomorrow, I can't let anyone down, right?  I just hope I remember to take before and after pictures!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Happiness Project 1/2/14

Of course, deciding to go against the grain for New Year's backfired on me, as my evil plans usually do.  My wonderful hubby called New Year's morning on his way home from work and asked if I wanted him to stop by the store to get a pork roast and sauerkraut.  How could I say no?  Afterall, it sounded good and we haven't had it since what, a year?  All my life, we've always put brand new pennies under our plates so we will never be poor in the New Year.  Since I was so determined to jinx my New Year to my benefit, I thought about NOT putting pennies under our plates, but since my daughter-in-law, grandkids and my in-laws were all over for dinner too, how could I deny them of the possibility of good fortune for the New Year?  I couldn't help it.... am I willing to take such chances????  I went ahead and found all the newest and shiniest pennies I could find and put one under each plate.

But I couldn't stop there. 

I'm so determined to be happy in the New Year and change my soul for the better, I asked Marcella to help me draw smiley faces and we added those under our plates as well.

With this new tradition, I decided to change "My Adventure 2014" to "My Happiness Project".   Sure, it would be nice to fill 2014 full of adventures and fun things to do, and full of adventures it will be, but my goal for this year is to improve myself and my soul.  If you're just now joining me on this journey, please read my first post about how this all came to be here.

So today, I got a new burst of energy (no thanks to coffee by the way!!!) and I became motivated to get my house in order first.  I figured an organized house, is an organized soul.  Sounds silly and I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who don't agree with that statement and could care less about their cluttered closets, but I will say how happy I feel when I stand in front of the refrigerator after a good cleaning and admire the crystal-clear glass shelves and neatly stacked containers and fresh produce and.... smile. 

My home is my domain.  If I don't like the way my home is, then I can't be a happy person.  (I do have to live here.) I used to be very good at mopping the kitchen floor and scrubbing the toilets every week but life lately prevents me from doing those things like I used to.  Now, those rooms only get cleaned when I can't stand it any longer.  Weeks could fly by and my socks start sticking to the kitchen floor, only then do I get motivated enough to do something about it.  That's when I can appreciate the job more.  I'll stand in the middle of my kitchen and admire the shiny floor, the uncluttered countertops and the fresh smell of Pine Sol and.... smile.

On a big "HOWEVER", I believe in starting big projects small.  My parents used to tell me when I was growing up, "If you don't feel like doing something, start doing it anyway and eventually you'll feel like doing it and before you know it, it'll be done."  How right they were when I decided to start small and clean out my smallest kitchen drawer.  I couldn't stand it any longer anyways.  So I began...

This is what it looked like before I started:

This is what it looked like when I got the first layer of note papers out of the way:

Yes, your eyes are not tricking you.  I'd bet I threw away about 20 pencils and pens.  That doesn't count the two big handfuls of pencils I threw out a couple months ago AND the stack of brand new pencils we added in with the Halloween candy to give away.

This is what it looks like now:
Ahhh!!!!  I made origami boxes to hold the stick glue and highlighters.  I wasn't about to start digging through my container cabinet to find an old container to do the same job.  (that would open up a whole other project I didn't know I was ready for).  And I stood back and... smiled!

As right as my parents often are, organizing that small kitchen drawer started a landslide.  I didn't stop there.  I re-organized my cabinet with all my plastic/Tupperware containers.  This is what it looked like before:

And this is what it looks like now:

I'm going to get tension rods and place them up high way in the back (where you can't see) and place lighter items on top of the rods, like a shelf for my bread baskets, etc.  I absolutely hate this cabinet.  It's far too deep and I can't reach far enough to get the lost items way in the back.  It's so much wasted space.

Then of course, I shifted over to the nearest cabinet and worked on that one, too.


You can't tell very well, but I moved quite a few items in the way back that I don't use often and put them up on a higher shelf. 

Then I opened my silverware drawer.  I'll spare you a picture.  It was pretty nasty.  So nasty that anyone who's eaten at my house lately would appreciate not knowing where their 'clean' silverware came from.  Let's just say, "Magic Eraser, you're my hero!"

And so, I stood back and admired my clutter-free cabinets in my kitchen and it felt like a weight has been lifted from my chest, and... I smiled!


I am still working on my Wish List for 2014 so please stay tuned.  My next project:  my bedroom closet.  Oh the dreaded fear of my bedroom closet!  But oh, it would make me so happy to see it all done!