Monday, March 5, 2012

I've Moved!

After much thought and research, I've moved to WordPress. Here's my new home: Chapter Four. (Yes, the name's the same.)

All my old Blogger posts have been moved over to my new site, and I hope to even import all my old stuff from LiveJournal before too much longer.

I like the fresh look of my new blog, and I hope you'll enjoy the change!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Since it's Leap Day! I'd like to spend my bonus day this year smiling - or better yet, laughing. How about you?

I'm linking up at The Vintage Apple today for Oh, How Pinteresting! Wednesday.

I'll start off with a few cute animals...

Let's get warmed up with a little smile first. Isn't this little penguin adorable? He looks like he's smiling, too.

I love giraffes! They're my favorite animal, hands down. Isn't this little guy cute? He sure brightens my day!

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Get ready for a belly laugh as you check out this crazy llama. I laugh out loud every time I look at it!

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Baby pictures make me smile, too. These are too cute.

Then they grow up some...

Last one, I promise. In honor of my Wednesday night Zumba class...

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Hahahahahahaha! Have a great Leap Day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Falling Behind

Last week was really busy with me working on taxes, working on a jewelry order, and taking a fun day to take four boys to the zoo and basketball practice. That left little time for working in the refrigerator/freezer. I know, I know... Excuses, excuses...

Let's just say I took a week off from the organizing challenge and will get back on track this week. In fact, I've already tossed a few things already today. I know of a few more things that need to be trashed, then I'll start wiping down the shelves and drawers.

I did peek ahead at coming challenges, and I saw one for organizing coupons. Since I don't use coupons (for various reasons...), I can skip that week and jump ahead to the next - and be right on track again.

If I'm really good, I might finish last week's challenge and get right onto this week's: organizing recipes and cookbooks. Yes, that definitely needs to be done around here! If it has to wait until next week, though, that's okay too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jewelry Inspiration

It's "Oh, How Pinteresting!" Wednesday! Once again, I'm linking up with other Pinterest-lovers at The Vintage Apple to share what we've found lately.

I'm getting ready to get back to business with my jewelry-making, now that the holiday season and the boys' basketball season are over. Well, almost over. We have one more weekend of games, then it's back to my regular jewelry-making Saturdays again. I've enjoyed basketball, but I'm ready to get back to work!

I've found several things through Pinterest to inspire me - great ideas to try when I'm not feeling very inspired on my own.

I started working on soldering amoeba links for a necklace back in October, but seasonal busy-ness put a stop to that. And the price of the gauge of sterling silver I need to make the links is really high right now. I think I'll switch over to an amoeba bracelet, or maybe a necklace using a few amoeba chain components mixed with some beads or pearls... Anyway, if I want to sell any, they don't need to cost as much as it's looking like one amoeba necklace of a decent length will cost. Here's something similar to what I'm working on...

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Here's something I found intriguing: bracelets made with vintage earrings. I'm not much into wearing vintage stuff myself, but these are beautiful. And I know just the place to find what I'll need!

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Speaking of vintage, a pair of these would be a perfect complement to one of those bracelets!

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

And a necklace, too...

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

I love this idea of using coordinating components as a toggle instead of using traditional toggles, though there are some pretty ones out there. One like this would have to be an over-the-head piece, but I could work something similar that would be a front closure instead. I've got lots of ideas swirling now!

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Since I also stamp and punch metal, I've found several things I can make as "mommy" or "grandma" necklaces (or bracelets):

This one could be for moms, grandmothers, new brides, etc.

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

I like this one a little better...

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

But this one is my favorite. It's so sweet, and there are so many sentiments (or lines from children's books!) that could be used.

And these are just a few of the jewelry pieces that have given me inspiration! Looks like I have my work cut out for me! I'm ready!

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Meal Planning Template

I've been wanting to change up my meal-planning form that I hang on my refrigerator for several weeks now. I got tired of printing out a monthly calendar and writing in our meals for each week. I had to squeeze it all into one block, and most times I couldn't plan in advance for any side dishes because they just wouldn't fit.

I searched a little while on the Internet for meal-plan templates, but I couldn't really find what I was looking for. I decided to make my own. Using Excel (because the Numbers program was too complicated...), I made a two-week plan with enough space for me to write in main dishes and sides. At the bottom I left a place to list the dishes I have ingredients for, things that are ready-to-make. If there happens to be one or two little things I've forgotten to buy, I have a column to the right of that where I can write them down.

To start, I list the main dishes that I'm ready to cook at the bottom. As I put them in place on my two-week calendar, I check them off. If I realize I need something from the store in order to make something, I'll add it to the grocery list space and add that meal later in the calendar, with an asterisk beside it.

I like the way it looks, and I'm really hoping it'll work for me. Something else I've done is to print one page, then put it in a page protector sleeve. With that on my refrigerator, I can easily see what's planned for and wipe off and rewrite as I need to. When the two weeks are up, I can just wipe it all off and start over again without having to print out another form, wasting time, paper, and ink.

I made a PDF file and tried to upload it, but for some reason, I got an error message saying the file was corrupted or unusable. I'm not sure what that means exactly - or how I can change it so I can upload it later. I'll play around with the file and see if I can figure something out...

Organized Home Challenge #4: Refrigerator and Freezer

I'm still going strong with Challenge #1 (countertops and sinks). Well, okay, I've been great in the area of my sinks, but I have let the countertops slide a bit. I have a few things I need to put away. I went through some old magazines and clipped recipes, but I haven't put them in my recipe binders yet. And I washed out the canister and filter parts of my vacuum and they've been drying out for a few days now... I'll get all that put away today.

Last week's pantry challenge was fairly easy. I rearranged a few things and threw several things away. Then I went to the grocery store so my pantry wouldn't look so bare anymore. In the process, I came up with an idea I might like to use for my meal planning (but that challenge is 4 weeks away...). I guess I can try it out for the next few weeks and see if it's something I'd like to use more permanently. If not, no big deal. I can always switch again.

This week's challenge is getting the refrigerator and freezer cleaned out and organized. Again, I'm fairly organized in this area, but I do know of a few things I need to throw away. The biggie here is cleaning the refrigerator. I've wiped off the shelves from time to time, but I really need to take everything out and do a thorough cleaning. The pantry challenge only took me an hour; the refrigerator/freezer challenge is going to take several, likely spread out over a few days.

One of the steps is to declutter the front of the refrigerator. After this weekend, the boys' basketball schedules can be tossed, but the AWANA calendar needs to stay. And my current menu planner. I could find another place to keep our cell phone numbers for the sitter... And I really need to get rid of all those magnets on the side of the 'fridge. They're on the hidden side, but I don't use most of them.

Another of the steps is to reload the refrigerator and freezer according to zones, which I already do for the most part. Eggs, jellies, and Billy's snacks stay on the top shelf of the refrigerator. The next shelf is for condiments: mayonnaise, mustards, pickles, salad dressings, etc. (This is the main shelf that needs to be purged.) The next shelf is for opened box mixes (Bisquick, powdered milk for breads, etc.) and leftovers. The bottom shelf is where I keep most of my other bread-making ingredients (flours and yeast), as well as the rare leftover overflow.

My refrigerator drawers are also organized by type. The shallow top drawer holds apples, oranges (when we have them), carrot sticks, and mushrooms. The middle drawer is for leafy greens, peppers, onions, celery, etc. The bottom drawer is for lunch meats, cheese, and flour tortillas.

The door holds butter, milk, juice, other drinks, yogurt and/or pudding for the boys, and more condiments at the very bottom (ketchup, chocolate syrup, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, Louisiana hot sauce, etc.). I'm sure I have some things there that need to be thrown out! Out of sight, out of mind!

Then comes the freezer... I don't think that will be too hard. Most of what's in there is meat, which gets eaten pretty regularly. There are a few bags of frozen purple hull peas that are from the summer, but I want to be sure we eat them soon. (We enjoyed some not long ago. They are so good! I need to remember to buy some more salt pork for when I cook them again...) There's also lots of homemade chicken broth, but most of that's fresh as well. The only really old things I can think of are some mashed sweet potato from over a year ago and a package of crepes that came with us when we moved two and a half years ago. If we haven't eaten them by now...

The final step of the challenge is to develop a system of habits to maintain the organization. I already pay attention to what leftovers we have and make sure we eat them within a week. And I'm pretty good about throwing things out weekly. One idea I'd like to start using more regularly, maybe monthly, is to have an "eat out of the freezer and pantry" week. My pantry isn't very big, so most of what's in there gets cycled through pretty quickly, but sometimes things will stay in the freezer a while. This is something I'm turning over in my brain right now, something I'd like to work into my weekly meal-planning change. I'll noodle on it a while longer and maybe I'll have something worked out by the end of the week.