Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Favorite Rooms

I loved Grethen Rubin's book The Happiness Project. I loved it so much I choose it for my bookgroup pick when it was my turn. It was written by a woman who, by all accounts, had a pretty happy life, but felt like she wasn't appreciating the good things enough. So, she spent a year trying to be mindful of the things that would make her happier as well as appreciating the good things that often got overshadowed by day to day life. Since this was the whole reason I left my job and started a blog, this book really hit home for me.

For Christmas, Tim got me the sequel Happier At Home which is about Gretchen's new quest to make her home happier. I'm only on Chapter One but I already love it. One thing that hit me was when she said that you should really love your home and feel the most  comfortable there.

It immediately got me thinking about my favorite places in our house. Two immediately come to mind. First, I love my closet. Everytime I walk into it, I feel happy. I'm lucky enough to have a walk in closet but that's not what I love most. First, everything has its place. Now, is everything always in its place? Well, no...occasionally it looks like my closet exploded but for the most part, it is pretty organized. My clothes are arranged by like items (shirts, pants, skirts, etc) and then by color. It gives me the warm and fuzzies just seeing everything so organized. There are baskets for my purses and my favorite little bowls filled with jewelry. I have pictures of the kids when they were little, pictures of me with my running friends, pictures of Tim and I....feels good to be surrounded by my peeps.

Then I converted some shadow boxes into jewelry boxes. I covered the backs with tan linen and then put in little pegs for my necklaces to hang from. Those hang above my little white table that I got at Brimfield - it's shelf is filled with all my favorite books.

The other space that I love is my office. It's completely at the end of the house past our bedroom and bathroom. It occupys the space above the garage and it has two big windows that look over the backyard. There are trees all around so when I sit at my desk, it feels like I'm in a tree house. A few times I have looked out to see deer in the backyard which is always a treat.

The room is painted Nantucket Blue and again, is filled with my favorite things. One year for Mother's Day, Tim surprised me with my desk which has a wood top and antique white bottom. I absolutely love it. On top are some of my favorite pictures of the kids, the horseshoe that Tim painted pink & green for me as a homemade gift one Christmas, tons of little Lilly notepads and notebooks in a bowl that Jack made for me, and a little card I got from an Etsy vendor that said "I will be grateful for this day". I love that little card. It's a simple reminder to be thankful for all the little things that happen throughout the day.

I have pictures all around the room. Can you tell I love pictures? I have a picture of Mimi and Jack hugging at her first ballet recital when she is five. Next to it is her little tiny ballet shoe. Hard to believe that she was that little. I have a little side table that is covered with an antique tablecloth I found one year at Brimfield. I have a bulletin board with little notes, cards, and sayings that I love. And I should mention that everything has its place. Kind of a theme here. Walking into the office just makes me happy.

I think what I love about both spaces is that they are mine and no one really goes into them so they stay tidy. Unlike spaces like the mudroom which constantly has shoes thrown everywhere on the floor even though there is an organized shelving system in the closet. According to the kids, the shelves throw the shoes out....

So, yes, I like when things are in their spot and organized. I like when I walk in and realize I don't need to clean it up yet again, rather than enjoy the room itself. No work required. Just relaxation. I like that both spaces are filled with my favorite things. I feel these spaces really reflect who I am. Most other rooms in my house feel "unfinished"....I need a chair here, I don't like the "tchotchke"arrangment there, I need some curtains in here, etc. They will get there over time, but for now I am very appreciative of the spaces I have that I do love and make me a little giddy each time I walk into them. What's your favorite space in your house?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Everything In Its Place

Just like September makes me want to buy new school supplies for myself, December makes me want to organize everything so I start the year out fresh. It just feels good to make a fresh start each year...at least it does to me. I ran into my friend Michelle today and she mentioned how she had just started organizing her house room by room because the New Year made her want to get organized. We fellow Virgos stick together, like a pack of organized, anal dogs.

I was a bit under the weather between Christmas and New Year's so I didn't get as much done as I wanted to but I got enough done that I feel like I'm starting the new year out on the right foot.

First, I tackled that tupperware/water bottle cabinet. Oh. My. Lord. I couldn't stand it. Everytime I opened the cabinet stuff was falling out, I could never find a corresponding top to the tupperware, and there was way too much stuff in there. Pinterest to the rescue, of course! I ended up buying a small tupperware drawer system to contain all the little stuff - tupperware tops, water bottle tops, and odds and end stuff. I then weeded through all the tupperware, water bottles, and misc other stuff that was in there. Now, we have a completely organized system that makes everyone remark "This is working so good!" each time they open the cabinet.

From there I moved on to my pot drawer. My ears would bleed on a daily basis as I pulled pans out, tried to find pot lids, and threw things back in as I slammed the doors shut because there was no system. Enter a pot lid rack to the rescue. Now all the lids have a home, which left room to line up the pots and pans in a more organized fasion. Again, it is working out great.

Then came the wine/beer/koozie cabinet. Timmy & I love our koozies. I always bring a koozie with me to a party. First, my koozies are cute and you always look better with a cute koozie. And secondly, no one wants cold hands all night. Lastly, we tend to buy koozies from the places we travel to as a way to remember our favorite spots. So, as you can imagine, we have too many koozies. I corraled them all into a big basket so I just have to pull down the basket to select which ones we want to use. Then I threw out random wine glasses that we don't use anymore and organized all of our beer glasses together. It feels much more organized now. Bring on the wine and beer please.

Then I tackled the freezer. Nope....don't think I will need those frost bitten peas or the three frozen blueberries still in the bag. I had to clean it out so I could make room for all the food I was making that week. It feels so good to have an oraganized freezer...I know....it's weird.

Organizing things makes me giddy with excitement. I like things to have their place, I like to know where things are when I'm looking for them...but most of all I like to spend my time doing things like game night or snowshoeing with my family rather than looking for lost things or slamming cabinets shut before everything falls out. What have you organized lately?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Every year we do something different to ring in the new year. Sometimes we host friends here, other times we have gone skiing, sometimes we go to a friend's house, and other times we are in bed by 10:00. I can tell you one thing....we don't allow confetti in the house anymore. One year my friend Margaret brought tons of confetti and at 11:58 she asked if we could throw it at midnight. I'll admit it...at that point I was in a "vulnerable state" and, of course, said yes. I literally was finding confetti in my house 3 years later....even on the second floor. Once I found a piece in my shower underneath a shampoo bottle. No. More. Confetti.

This year, we decided a few months ago that we were going to do our own thing. I had an idea that we would each take an hour of the night and plan something. The rules/guidelines were simple. You would have to do whatever that person chose for the hour..it wasn't optional to participate. And you had to approach it with a positive attitude. At the end of the night, we all agreed it was one of our favorite New Year's Eve. Here's what we did:

For my hour, I wanted to get outside. I was hoping for a walk but since we got about a foot of snow the other day, I choose snowshoeing at a local Audoboun. We had never been to this site before and we all agreed, we can't wait to go back to the Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick. We snowshoed for a little over an hour. It was the perfect weather....pretty cold (25 degrees) but you warmed up just enough that you weren't cold but you weren't breaking a sweat either.

After that we came home and all had the broccoli cheese soup I had made the day before. Yum! Then everyone took showers. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we have all been sick since Christmas...and we hadn't showered in two days so we all got clean and warmed up.

We then kind of did our own thing for about an hour or so....paperwork, cleaning our rooms, odds and ends....just kind of took time for ourselves. Then Tim lit a nice toasty fire and it was time to start the official hour by hour plan. We started out by making appetizers for dinner. One of our favorite things is to make apps and eat in the living room. I'm not sure why it is such a big deal for the kids but they ask all the time if we can eat in the living room...which I want to keep as a special occasion thing. Jack and Tim did some cooking and then Mimi and I made a few things. In the end we had a spread that was way too big for all of us but was yummy.

After dinner it was Tim's turn to pick something. He actually had two ideas so we discussed one of his ideas while we digested our food. We opened a family eBay account so we can sell stuff. Mimi has about 15 books that she has been wanting to sell, Jack has a bunch of video games, and we have all kinds of other treasures just sitting around that we don't use anymore. We decided that whatever money we make, it will go towards something fun on our next vacation. Open eBay account - Check!

Then it was Mimi's turn. She selected game hour. I tried not to go into apopletic shock when I saw the Clue game....that can go on forever. Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the Hall....No? Darnit! I silently thanked her for not choosing Monopoly or Life. It was very fun, of course. We also played Man Bites Dog which is a headline making card game. At the end she served the mocha expresso cupcakes she had made from her DC Cupcakes cookbook that she got on Christmas. They were great!

After that it was officially Tim's turn. We brought the WII into the living room and played Family Feud for a few rounds. Honestly, the WII hasn't come out in about a year so it was actually nice to see that get used again. The kids can't wait to play again tomorrow. I have to say, I'm looking forward to doing the ski jump myself!

After that we took a break and for Jack's turn we watched episodes of Impractical Jokers. Now, I will admit....some of the things they talk about/do are inappropriate but the beauty is my kids don't quite catch on to a lot of it. If you haven't seen this show...you need to watch an episode. I guarantee you will cry or cringe. Basically, four childhood friends dare each other to do/say things that they make up for one another. I would definitely say I'll do pretty much anything...but that was before I saw this show. Nope. I won't stick a stranger's toe in my mouth. Nope. I won't give a person a massage with my butt. Not gonna do it.

We went a little over on the time with Jack's hour because we were laughing so hard. But we got back on track and it was my turn again. I had printed out a template I found on Pinterest (of course) that can be used each year. It chronicles what you like to eat, do, and read that year. It also asks you to chronicle the best things that happened that year and the things you are looking forward to in the new year. We had a great time sharing our answers and we put then in our 2013 jar....which is another idea I got on Pinterest. Basically, you have a jar and each time you have a great memory or something fun you want to remember from 2013, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Next New Year's Eve, we'll open them as a family and remember the funny/great times throughout the year. We'll also fill out our new template and compare them from the year before.

In addition, I found an article in a magazine that said it was a Spanish tradition to eat 12 grapes on New Year's Eve to ring in good luck in the new year. So, I put 12 grapes in a champagne glass and we ate those as we all put in our ideas for where we are going to camp in 2013. Usually, we talk about this on Labor Day but for whatever reason, we didn't talk about it at that point this year. Typically, we come up with a list, I do a ton of research, and then I lay out an itinerary based on our interests. This year we all agreed that we were interested in the Wilmington NC beach area. In addition we talked about Disney, Deleware, Georgia Islands, Upstate NY, Alabama, Kentucky, and Beaufort/Charleston SC. We'll see where we land! Our maiden voyage for 2013 will be during April vacation...can't wait to see where that is!

We filled the rest of the hour with more Impractical Joker episodes and then we got the "gear" out. Hats, blowers, clackers, leis, marracas...it all came out. We counted down the New Year all snuggled together on the couch...5-4-3-2-1!! We took pictures of each other, kissed, and then decided this was one of our favorite New Year's Eve together.

We designed it based on what we liked to do, we spent the night with those we love, and we had a blast together. You can't beat ringing in the New Year that way! Happy New Year to each of you!!