Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding My Motivation

We have lived in this house for more than a month and yet there are too many things still unfinished. I know, getting settled in a house takes some time but, when I do have time, it's the motivation I am lacking. I'm the type of person who loves a neat, clean, well organized and well decorated home. But lately, when I see our piles of "I don't know what to do with this" stuff strewn across the living room, I get overwhelmed and walk away. I know that this is just avoiding the problem and it is by no means helping me solve the situation at all. Yet sometimes, I just can't bring myself to do anything about it.

Although, slowly but surely I am finding myself getting things done, little by little. This is how I am motivating myself to accomplish these seemingly overwhelming tasks.

Set a timer. When I look at a room and think about how much time it will take to get this room cleaned up, I definitely don't want to dive right in. I've been setting the timer on my phone for fifteen minutes. If I can take fifteen minutes to organize one drawer, empty one box or sort through one pile of papers I consider that an accomplishment. When my timer goes off I let myself flip through a magazine, read a chapter of a book, or check pinterest (for the millionth time.) BUT I've also found myself setting the timer again for another fifteen minutes. Once I've gotten over the mental hurdle of this is going to take a loooong time I'm on a roll, I get into the groove and I want to continue working and see what else I can accomplish.

Make a list. Yes, I am one of those people who writes out a to-do list with things I've already done just so I can cross them off, but I find that making a list really helps me focus. Once I write my list of all the things I want to get done, I re-write it with the most important thing at the top, the second most important thing after that, etc. This helps me focus on what really needs to get done and keeps me from being distracted. Another list making trick is to break down task into smaller pieces. Instead of "clean up the family room" I write clear clutter from family room, straighten pillows and fold blankets, wipe down windows, dust, vacuum. When I cross something off my list as done, am motivated to keep going because I want to cross off even more. It makes me want to have one of those really productive days. You know those days when you lay your head on the pillow at night and think, wow I made great use of my time today, I got a lot of things done, and I feel good about creating a peaceful home to live in. I love those days.

Play some tunes! I know I'm not the only one who loves to listen to music while they are working on a project, but sometimes I forget to turn it on. Music makes your time working feel like it is going faster, especially if it's music you can sing along to. Sometimes I fall into the trap of "oh I'll just turn on the TV for some background noise" but the TV is not just noise. It's a moving picture that draws me in like moth to a flame. In this scenario TV=bad, radio=good.

Ask someone to help you. My mom, sister, best friend and my husband all help me to get motivated. I find that having someone to bounce ideas off of is really help for when you're tackling an organization project (especially a big one like unpacking a whole house!) My mom came over for just a few hours after we moved in and I was so grateful for her help. Having her there helped me get some big things (moving a bookcase upstairs for example) done, and getting some of the big clutter out of the room helps bring the project down to size.

So that's what I've been up to lately. Cleaning, purging, finding things I forgot we had and realizing we've got some pretty cool stuff. What do you do to stay motivated?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

There are certain people in this world that like to keep the joy of Christmas between Thanksgiving and New Years. I am not one of those people. (Neither is the store where this photo was taken in August, but seeing their Christmas decorations up that early pretty much made my day.) I've already busted out the Christmas sheet music and have been playing Silent Night on the piano the past few evenings. My husband (who is one of the Thanksgiving to New Years people) tells me I'm going to "ruin Christmas" by getting excited so early. I tell him I need to start practicing on the piano now so I'm good at it by December 25th. He just smiles and kisses me on the forehead (because he's the best) and then I carry on with my practicing.

 I took piano lessons for twelve years and we (my sisters and I) would get our Christmas recital pieces in September, so it's actually weird for me to not be playing Christmas music already.

All this holiday music prep has me thinking I need to prep for other areas of the Christmas season as well. My first order of business is Christmas cards. We didn't send out Christmas cards last year because, truthfully I didn't get my act together in time. I'm changing this year by starting very early. I want to do photo cards and Walmart Photo Center has adorable holiday cards for only $0.28 each! My husband and I ordered our Save the Dates from Walmart and we were very please with how they turned out. (We only sent Save the Dates to close family instead of everyone for a mini money saving wedding tip.) Since we already know they are good quality, I want to get a new family picture and go ahead and order and address them before Thanksgiving. This way I can send them out right after Thanksgiving and that Christmas task can be checked off my list. Since we recently moved, not all of our family members have our new address so I'm thinking these cards will serve two purposes. The first being spreading Christmas cheer, the second being "oh hey we moved and here's our new address."

Our total for our cards should cost around $15 (not including postage) which in my opinion is a great deal compared to other photo card companies out there. I can't wait to put these together (and to try and get the cat to sit still for a picture.) "Plan ahead" is my motto for this season.

Merry Christmas!

Update: Due to budgetary cuts we are not sending Christmas cards out this year. It's important to have your priorities sorted out when it comes to budgeting and Christmas cards were not a priority this year. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Man, that's a good lookin' belt!

 This is a story of my favorite kind of wardrobe upgrade; the free kind.

The other day my husband and I were visiting his family. While we were there his mom asked him if he wanted a few things he left in his old room. She was kind of surprised that he didn't want the group nice belts he decided to leave behind. I took a closer look at them, and asked my hubby if we could take them home anyway. (I figured if they didn't fit him I could use them for some kind of craft, because after all, they are nice belts.)

When I got home I thought, I wonder if any of these would fit me? So, I tried one on and to my surprise it fit and it didn't look half bad. So I quick took a picture and sent it to my sister asking if this looked like a mans belt. She said the buckle was kind of big for a womans' belt but it didn't look bad. So then I asked her if it was an improvement over the belt I have been wearing. Which she agreed it was a most definitely an improvement over my current belt. (I had been wearing a faux leather black on one side, brown on the other belt and the sides were literally ripping apart from each other.) So with the green light from my sister, I tried on all of the other belts and was very happily pleased that they all fit. Most of them actually had smaller buckles than the one I showed my sister, so a women could easily make them work.

Here are my beautiful new belts!
The one I showed my sister is the black one in the middle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In this moment..

Right now I can smell cinnamon sugar apples cooling on the stove, I'm listening to country music (with a Christmas song shuffled in there every once in a while,) I can hear my husband talking to his friends over Xbox live, my cat is curled up in the corner of the living room, napping. When I'm finished writing this post I'm going to get myself a cup of those cinnamon sugar apples, put the laundry away and then read.

This is my idea of an absolutely perfect evening.

I'm feeling more settled in the house everyday (even though I still have plenty to do.) But this house is really starting to feel like home.

In this moment, I am happy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jewelry Re-fashion

What to do when you really want to update your jewelry collection but have zero money available? Take something you already own and rework it!

This was exactly my thought process when I will looking through my jewelry the other day. This piece was the target for a refashioning.

I simply took it apart, restrung the beads on three separate stings, braided the stings together, added a chain and a clasp to make it a little longer and voilĂ , a new necklace.

Now I'm eying all of my other jewelry pieces for my next victim I mean candidate for a refashion.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Write Your Shopping List When Using Cash

(Or for when you want to stay on budget when shopping with a card)

     If you haven’t been grocery shopping using cash lately, I highly recommend it. It changes your perspective on what you really need and what is an impulse purchase.
     The key to shopping with cash is deciding on what you’re going to buy before you go to the store and once you’re at the store sticking to your list (this is the most challenging tasks for me because I always remember a million things I forgot to put on the list when I get to the store.) Your list is the most important part of your trip, think of it as a permanent list, and do not stray from your shopping list.

     Writing a shopping list that allows you to stick to your budget is easy, just start with this:

1. Start with your normal shopping list. (I'm resisting saying "duh" here, but I guess I just did, ha!)
2. Next to each item on your list, write how much you think each item will cost. Your best guess is good enough. Try to guess high because it's always better to be under-budget than over-budget.
3. Add up your list and make sure you are within your budget. If you're over budget go through your list and decide what you don't need to buy.

Now you are equipped with a budget friendly grocery list. When you get to the store make sure each item is at or under the price you assigned to it.
What happens if you get to the store and an item that you planned on purchasing is more than the amount you assigned to it. Instead of going over budget try purchasing a smaller size or a different brand than you normally get. Whatever you do, do not buy something it if it above the price you set for it. If you’re using cash, when you get to the register you won’t have enough. If you’re using a credit or debit card you’ll be over budget again. I know that a few dollars here and there does not seem like much, but it’s the little things that add up to be big things, so you’ve got to make the little things count.
Whenever I write my list, I try to round up when assigning my prices. For example, I assigned $3.50 for a jar of peanut butter but when I got to the store I was pleasantly surprised that I can get peanut butter for $2.75. When I get to the checkout lane I usually end up spending less than I planned. Having extra money at the end of a shopping trip is always a good thing.
If you get to the store and realize that there is something that you absolutely need that you completely forgot to include during the list making process; get it, BUT take something else (at a similar price point) off your list. If you do not have money for both, you can’t buy both, it’s pretty simple really.
I hope this list making method helps at least a few of you out there stay within your budgeting goals.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Goal Fail

So maybe I shouldn't have written the goal "post three times a week" cause obviously I didn't fulfill it. But that doesn't mean I'm giving up! Today is a new days!

My husband and I spent most of the weekend unpacking.

Here is out little helper:

I definitely have more "decor" items then I thought I would. Now finding places for all of them will be the fun and tricky part. Can't wait.