Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days {Day 31} Cleaning the Garage & The End

On this beautiful Halloween night, we cleaned the garage.  It was getting dark when we finished and straight into trick-or-treater time, but alas it is done.  And not only that, but this 31 Days is done!

This is going to be one of those before and afters where you have to use your imagination.  G started pulling everything out in the driveway before I got a chance to take a photo so this is a before that looks better than it should.

Everything lining the driveway

G in action, he did most of the work on this project.  Also, that dirty floor is shameful.

Keegan dressed up as a pumpkin patiently waiting for trick-or-treaters.

This is the after picture.  It was already dark.  Maybe I should have taken a picture of the pile of trash out for tomorrow.

We threw away tons of stuff and reorganized the rest.  I think the main problem with the garage was not putting things back in their proper places.  You set this here for now, and then that and before long it's just one long shelf of clutter.  

I don't know that I ever like how garages look but I'm happy with the progress we made.  In general, our house is feeling much lighter after these 31 days.  It's my car that is still overloaded with stuff waiting to distribute here and there.  

I hope you joined along with me cleaning out some things in the last month.  If you ever feel time is going by too fast, just commit to blogging every day for a month and it will feel like you are back in school again waiting for Christmas vacation.  

We will be back to regular blogging and Project 333 updates soon!  If there is anything in particular you liked hearing about, let me know.  Thanks so much to those of you who followed along.  It really made this month so much more fun.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days {Day 30} Manna From Heaven

I'm sure that everyone has heard the expression "manna from heaven".  It's part of our language to mean some unexpected gift that we may receive, maybe something that seems to miraculously appear.  

For a quick little Bible lesson, I want to tell you about the real manna from heaven.  When the Israelites escaped from Egypt through the Red Sea and after the plagues (more Bible lessons!), they were in the desert headed towards a new land.  Moses was leading them, but the people weren't happy.  They complained a lot about many things and food was one of them.  After all the miracles they saw, they still had trouble trusting the Lord.  

They ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their disobedience.  Before I used to judge them, and think how ungrateful they were.  That was before we went to Israel last year and were able to "wander" in the same desert for 4 hours.  At the end we were hot, hot, hot and our two big bottles of water were bone dry and our feet hurt.  We were tired from walking the rocks and rough terrain and started to grumble ourselves for the seemingly aimless route we took.  Our leader did this on purpose to show us a new perspective, that we are all human and maybe shouldn't be so quick to judge them.  

So what does manna from heaven have to do with simplicity?  Everything and I'm going to tell you why, but first read this:

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” Exodus 16:4-5

We may think that the Old Testament and especially manna from heaven doesn't apply to us today, but God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We can learn about His character through these stories.  God wanted the Israelites to rely on Him daily, to rely on His faithfulness.  They were not allowed to gather enough for two days and if they did it would rot, except for the Sabbath.  

If you read further, you will see that the Israelites even complained about the bread every morning, so God sent them meat every night.  God wanted to take care of them and He listened to their cries.

11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” Exodus 6:11-12

These thoughts about the character of God have resonated with me since that trip to Israel last April.  I started thinking about how much I depend on God for my daily needs.  How does my clutter and saving things for someday go against His plan for me.  Some people call hoarding, or just keeping things you don't need a "poverty mentality", which means that you don't believe that you will have what you need to get that particular thing when the time comes.  If I really think about it, you can even say that this is the absence of trusting God.

God is clear that He wants us to trust Him to provide our daily needs.  It was important that the Israelites followed that rule in that they not have any stored away for tomorrow.  How do I translate this into my life?  I don't feel that it has to be a direct, literal translation meaning that I can only have enough food in my pantry for that day.  I don't think I should expect to have one pair of shoes that don't wear out even though the Israelites shoes didn't wear out for 40 years.

I do think that I have to let go of things and trust God for tomorrow, which goes along with living generously.  I don't want to presume to speak for God, but I can see from reading the Bible that God wants my heart and He wants me to know that He will provide for me. He wants me to count on His faithfulness.  

I feel that this is a precarious subject that can lead to extremes.  I'm not an extreme person and am a big saver, so it makes me ponder my thoughts on that too.  I'm certainly not saying that it is wise to not save money and to expect food to appear on your lawn, although God could do that if He wanted to do so!  I will leave the subject with this, which leaves it with a matter of the heart again.  

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:31-34

This lesson makes me so happy that I have embraced Project 333 even more.  I am excited about the smaller wardrobe and feeling that I am being mindful of the needs I have now.  I hope that you can translate some of this into your daily life too.  Trusting God has never been easy, which I hope you will take comfort knowing that even the Israelites had that problem too.  Learning how God wanted to give them good things should make us feel more secure too.  


Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Days {Day 29} Simple Birthday Party

Last night I had a surprise party for Gustavo's birthday.  It was a lot of work trying to do the surprise element but it turned out perfectly!  He was surprised and kind of speechless really. I couldn't have done it without clever friends who found ways to distract him and lots of people who managed to not divulge the secret ahead of time.

He thought we were having a "Dinner for 8" that we often have as a rotating dinner with our group at church.  I could look like I was preparing for a dinner, but not a dinner for 42. Fortunately I had a tag team of two guys who helped me have the afternoon to prepare.  He went shooting with one and had a meeting about some software with the other.  I was worried he would be early but he was actually late!

I decided to order some Texas BBQ so that the main part of the meal was catered.  I bought canned baked beans which I doctored up and a lot of potato salad.  Two friends offered to make homemade macaroni and cheese and rolls which were great additions.  I threw in some hamburger buns and we had our chopped beef BBQ dinner with not a lot of prep time.

I wanted to spend most of my time on the cupcakes because that is what I love making the most.  We had chocolate with buttercream icing and spice cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I use box cake but always make homemade icing.  

I was contemplating my options for decorations because I wanted the house to look festive. I thought about doing those tissue paper pom poms, but decided against it.  I already mentioned that I added some simple fall updates and I also popped to TJ Maxx and got a yellow harvest color tablecloth.  In the end, I decided to make a homemade banner and felt it was sufficient party decor.  I followed this tutorial from Katydid and Kid and it worked out great. It took me about an hour to make and we just can use the happy birthday part over and over for future parties.  I am not the most crafty person so I was really proud of it.

Besides the food and decorations, I'm the most happy about all our friends and G's family that came and made the party a success.  They parked far away so he wouldn't suspect anything, they yelled surprise at just the right time and generally are just a fabulous group of people.  There were lots of children there which makes the party so much more special.  

Who else has pulled off a surprise party?  I loved giving one but I would hate receiving one. Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to do something crafty?  Even as I was picking out the scrapbook paper, I was thinking "This really isn't necessary.", but since I tried my hand at it I'm happy I can add another skill to my arsenal.  

P.S.  I was so busy that I didn't have time to take many pictures and I was really upset about that.  Also, my camera has continually disappointed me during these last 29 days.  If you have a recommendation for a starter fancy pants camera, please advise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days {Day 28} Minimal Makeup

I've always just had all my makeup out in the open or in my drawer so I could see all my selections.  Lately though, I just want to do the same thing every day.  I want to only have the things in front of me that work which means no experimenting and more saving time.  So I took a small selection of my makeup and I put the rest away.

I didn't do this for my Project 10 Pan, in fact it is sort of my rebellion from it.  After so long of trying to use up items whether I liked them or not, I thought, life is too short to be using colors I don't like right now.  So I selected exactly the combination that I loved the most, whether they are almost gone or not.  There will still be time later to use up or give away the other items, but today I carpe diem.

These are all my favorite products of the moment and produce a very simplified routine for me.

1.  Concealer:  Since I ran out, I am using my long forgotten Pan-Stik foundation for under my eyes and around my nose.  I forgot how much I love this!  They have stopped selling it in drugstores, but I can still buy it here.

2.  Powder:  Nars loose powder in Snow.  I use a brush and dust this all over my face.  When I use the PanStik, I don't need an all over foundation.

3.  Blush:  Laura Mercier tint in Filtered Brown.  It is the ugliest color name ever for the most perfect rose brown.  It's my favorite blush for my fair skin.  It was also another long forgotten one that I'm happy I found again.

4.  Eyeshadow compacts:  I'm using a combination of two.  One is an old Mac quad called Tempt Me Tease Me.  I use all the colors except the green.  The other is a basic Bobbi Brown compact with Bone, Blonde and Smoke and I use all three colors.  The BB is such great quality, very silky.

5.  Mascara:  I'm using Opulash by Mac right now.  I didn't feel like ordering from 100% pure so I got this in a pinch.  It's a tubes mascara and I like it.

6.  Lip Liner:  Laura Mercier in Chesnut.  It's a little dark but it's almost gone so I'll carry on using it for now.

7.  Lipstick:  Mac Twig and Mac Spice is Nice.  One is almost gone and one is new.

8.  Lip Gloss:  Revlon Super Lustrous in Pink Whisper.  I really love these lip glosses.  There isn't any better at any price that I have tried.  I also have the same formula in Foiled in my purse.

9.  Eye Primer:  Laura Mercier eye basics in Peach.  This is really nice.  I had also neglected this in favor of my Mac Painterly Paint Pot, but I prefer this.

Update:  10.  Eye Liner:  Mac fluid liner in Dipdown.  I can't believe I forgot this one as I look so tired without it!

That is my everyday makeup routine.  I am still trying to use up products but I like not having too many options in my drawer.  I started to feel overwhelmed with all those colors-ha ha-first world problems!!  I have so much Mac, but as I figured out what would be my perfect routine for right now very little was Mac.  I feel like I got seduced into buying all these different colors to collect them, or I heard someone just loved them so much that I had to have it.  Once you take away the "sell" from a product, you are left with what actually looks good on you.  I'm happy to have this figured out for now.

How about you?  What is your makeup routine?  Do you have yours in a bag, in a drawer or maybe a storage chest?  What are your long forgotten but now favorite products?  I love writing about girly stuff!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days {Day 27} Simple Updates

Today is G's 30th Birthday!  Happy Birthday Gustavo!!

Because of the blessed event of my husband's birthday, we are having a party for him this weekend.  After my post on Simple Decorating, I decided to add a few more inexpensive elements.  I bought two bags of gourds for $4.99 each and distributed them through the house.

This is the dining room table with a simple tray of gourds and pumpkins.  My pictures are always crappy so sorry about that.  In person it looks better.

I also printed some new pictures to go in our gallery of frames in the living room.  I found a DIY monogram with a free download at The Wedding Chicks website and printed them.  You must go over there and see all their free DIY downloads.  Even if you're not getting married there are fun little projects for your house.  I used this one to get the little heart.  You can print them in many colors.

I put some of the little pumpkins all over the house and added the acorn dish to the tray on our ottoman.

That's all, just a few little things that don't cost much and add some fall feeling to your home.  What do you do to perk up or change things around in your house?  I'd love to have more simple and cheap ideas for the future.

31 Days {Day 26} A Simple Soap Tip

**Pardon the late posting.  I didn't have internet all day yesterday because we changed over to a new service.

Today I want to share with you something that I do that simplifies my life, and saves me time and money. In itself, it's actually very simple!  I buy huge containers of soap and refill them in my glass soap dispensers.  I got these at Target and have them all over the house.

The reason I started this is because I was looking for a soap that didn't have triclosan.  I read a lot of things that scared me about it and felt like plain soap would be enough to wash my hands.  It's not easy to find plain soap that isn't anti-bacterial so I get mine from Whole Foods.  I've tried the brand pictured below and it is the cheapest.  It works well but it doesn't smell that nice even though it says it's scented. Recently another brand was on sale and I decided to upgrade to Everyday Shea brand.  It smells like more than just soap. My favorite is Vanilla Mint.


At the risk of being totally contradictory, I also buy a huge bottle of hand sanitizer from Target.  We have little bottles in our car and I refill them.  This bottle has lasted me for a couple of years already.  Hand sanitizer does have the ingredient I'm trying to avoid but I only use it after I pump gas or something else where my hands feel dirty and I can't wash them.

That is my simple tip for today.  It's something that doesn't seem like a big deal but a lot of thought actually went in to going this route.  I don't have to hassle with running out of soap and spending loads of money at Bath & Body Works.  It's a little thing that keeps my house running smoothly because I don't have to worry about running out if I have my under the sink bottles for refill.  Nothing says I love you like extra toilet paper and soap in the bathroom.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days {Day 25} Simplify Your Inbox

I wish I could write today and tell you that I have my cluttered inbox solution all figured out but I don't.  I ruthlessly deleted emails yesterday and I still have a lot that I won't delete yet. There are things in progress and things that I'll read later and things that I liked reading, etc.

However I have made progress and I'm pressing the unsubscribe button more and more.  When that email comes into my box, instead of just deleting it, I am going to the source.  Sometimes it takes a minute but it's so worth it.  That doesn't mean unsubscribe to my blog though!

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that was on Twitter and I found it very thought provoking.  It dealt with the fact that we are using the amount of emails, voice mails, twitters, etc. to find our value and feed our busyness.  We feel important and needed because of the quantity of electronic clutter calling our name.  It's sounds silly, but is it?

I've thought more and more about it, and I don't want to find my value in the busyness of checking emails that aren't important to me.  Too often I forget to answer an email from an actual person because the junk subscriptions pile up behind it.

I'm going to link to this article and I encourage you to challenge yourself in the same way.

You are Important without Technology

What do you all do to control the amount of emails that accumulate?  I find it hardest to delete nice messages from people.  I have this dream scenario that I wake up and all that is in my inbox is relevant to that day.  I don't think that is going to happen any time soon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days {Day 24} A Cluttered Closet

*This is my 201st Post Ever!  Yay!

Today I decided to clean out our laundry room closet.  Cleaning out miscellaneous closets are infinitely more annoying because it's as if none of the stuff really belongs there.  It was full of my party supplies, papers, wedding china, stuff to donate and recycling.  The coats live there too but I left them alone since it is called a coat closet.

Main Objective:  Make Room for Bike in Closet

The reason I needed to clean this closet is because I actually need the space in there to make room  for G's road bike, which has taken up residence in our entryway since June.  Since it was so expensive, he didn't want to put it in the garage, AKA the place where our expensive trimmer got stolen.  The closet was full and what I didn't want to do was redistribute this crap to other parts of the house.  This is not a before picture, more like a middle picture.

The two Ikea tables stacked on top of each other is my makeshift shelving system.  They used to be our nightstands so I repurposed them here.  The top shelf holds our party supplies, the middle shelf drinks for parties, and the floor holds paper towels, bleach and vinegar.  Without further ado, this was how it went down today.

1. I went through all the files and weeded out appliance manuals that I really don't need.  I can google almost anything that I have to find.  Some of those things are taking up a lot of space, like a recipe book that came with the Kitchen-Aid mixer that I will never use, among other instruction manuals.

2.  I had a box of china from our wedding that I don't usually need since we don't usually serve more than 6 people. I decided to wash it all and find a place in the cabinets for it.  That led to another little project which involved rearranging the cabinets better so all the dishes fit.

3.  Decide what to do with the other files that I have to keep.  This led me to our bedroom file box to clean out the files there, which was quite the chore.  I reorganized all the files and relabeled them.  I sorted the papers into recycling and shredding.  My shredder conks out quickly so I have to stop often and wait for it to recover.  If I took a picture you would see a big pile of papers.

A side note:  I recently canceled a disability policy I had since I was working as a mortgage broker.  When I stopped working a few years ago I asked them if it would still pay with me being unemployed and they told me yes, so I kept it.  Fast forward 4 years later and $65 a month, I called them again to check.  This time they actually checked and verified that if there is no income to replace, then there would be no payment.  Don't make a costly mistake like me.  Revisit all your financial decisions periodically.  Shredding all those policies made me cringe but also happy that I finally wised up and canceled them.

4.  I put the glass recycling in the car so I can take it next time I go that way.  Our recycling doesn't do glass and I can't throw them away.

5.  The bag of things that we are going to donate have some value which is why I've held off for so long.  I didn't know what to do with them.  I'm going to run everything I cleaned out today by a bunch of girls coming over tomorrow.  After that, I have to get them out of my house once and for all.  I need my closet back.

I don't have an after picture for you because I'm not totally done yet.  I'm still shredding papers as I type and there are still loads of things on our stairs.  Hopefully tomorrow this project will be complete.  The good news is that the bike is in the closet.

Mission Complete:  Road Bike has a Happy New Home

What big cleaning projects are you working on this month?  How often do you shred your files?  Have you made a costly mistake with insurance like I did?  Tell me how your month of October has been going.  Have you been inspired to clean out anything along the way?  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Days {Day 23} Living Generously

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 

15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

   18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

I believe that the Bible is completely relevant to the way we live today. Jesus' parable here can be applied to our culture in so many ways. I feel that we live with so many things that we plan to save up for the future but don't need.  I read this many times as I was writing this and I see that Jesus is not necessarily saying there is a problem with storing up the grain, but with being greedy with the grain.  We are called to be generous and not just hoard our possessions.
life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

Possessions are not life!  They shouldn't control your life or be the center of your life.  They shouldn't hold so much space in your heart that they squash out the important parts like family, friends and your missions, whatever they may be. 

The last part of the parable is sobering because we never know how long we have on this earth.  Death will happen to all of us and what we have collected and accumulated isn't going to matter, to us anyway.  Those things you might be holding on to for "someday" could be used now by someone who really needs them.  Take hold of that last verse and be generous to others, which is like being rich towards God.  I can't think of a better investment than that.  


Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Days {Day 22} Simplicity in Stationery

Source: None via AmyClaire on Pinterest

When I was in high school my Nanny informed me that I have to write thank you notes after receiving graduation presents.  I happily obliged and since then I have continued the ritual of a hand written thank you.

It was also her that got me started on my love of paper and stationery since she would buy me a box of Hallmark stationery every Christmas.  I am somewhat obsessed and have been known to linger a long time in any kind of paper store.  I always feel the quality of the paper before I buy it.  There is something about the way it feels on your fingers and eventually the way the pen glides over the paper.   The pen is another essential ingredient in letter writing and Le Pen is my favorite.  They come in so many pretty colors.

I wanted to show you just a couple of different cards and sets of paper that I have.  There is a selection of beautiful paper that I can use for thank you notes, Father's Day cards, baby shower cards, or just a thinking of you card.  I find that blank cards are the most multi-purpose but a design on the front can also be used for many occasions.

This is a pad of writing paper I got in France and the other a blank card and envelope set
 These would be for a personal note or a thank you card.  
A couple of sweet cards that have a special touch

Because I can use my stationery for every occasion, it means that I never need to buy a Hallmark card.  They are so expensive and you can buy Crane stationery for the price of a couple Hallmark cards which makes stationery a great investment.

I know that pre-written cards can be sweet or funny, but I much prefer to write a personalized note.  It takes practice and I'm sure you can read up on how to word things if you are at a loss.  In the end, I feel like my well thought out words are received much better and touch the heart a little bit more.  I don't think I need to elaborate on why an email is not the same.

To step up the game, you can also buy pretty stamps when you get the opportunity.  I've always thought that presentation is everything.  I love a well wrapped gift and a card in an envelope is no exception.  Yesterday G was about to use my Katharine Hepburn stamps on a bill he was sending and I informed him that those are my special stamps.  He said, "Oh, is it because she is Audrey Hepburn's sister?"  Um-hummm, now put them back.  I buy utilitarian stamps too for blah bill writing.  It's not necessary, but when they make a great stamp, I buy a couple of books for the future.

Even if you don't have a love for paper like me, you can buy a package of multi-colored cards at a craft store and use them in many ways.  A great benefit of having a box of cards on hand is that you don't have to make that last minute stop to buy one which will ultimately simplify your life in yet another way.

What is your favorite way of writing and sending cards?  My Nanny that I mentioned above is a die-hard Hallmark buyer.  Even though I don't follow suit, I always love her cards.  My Mom would write me on some random piece of torn notebook paper.  I have every letter she ever sent me.  My Aunt Delores is the best card writer ever.  She is always sending just because cards and there is always a drawing and sweet note inside.  It's always a delight that she includes a piece of gum and a dollar bill for a glass of sweet tea.  Letters make great memories and who doesn't love to get some snail mail?

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days {Day 21} Simple Laundry Tip

Recently G and I were training for a 5k together in 100 degree heat.  There was a lot of laundry and it was really smelly.  I almost succumbed to buying commercial detergent just to get the scent.  Every time I went to buy it though, I couldn't justify the price.  I mean I make it for practically nothing and it lasts me months.

Besides that, one of the reasons I make my own is because I don't want the fragrance.  It makes me sneeze.  I experimented with a couple of different options, mainly vinegar and baking soda.

Plain vinegar
Plain Baking Soda

The main problem with the smells is getting them out of anything with the Coolmax fabric. It lingers and I heard I'm not the only one with that problem.  They even sell a special detergent for those fabrics.  I found that the vinegar alone really does the trick.  I probably dumped 1/2 cup in there during the washing cycle.  I have a regular washing machine so I don't know about HE machines.

This is where I store my washing powder

The recipe on an old paint chip is almost gone

 I usually don't use dryer sheets because I also use vinegar as a fabric softener.  But since I was dealing with a smelly situation, I decided to use these for good measure.  I only tear off half a sheet.  They really don't leave a scent on the clothing which is fine with me.

Do you have any laundry tricks to save money?  What about special ways to get stains from under the arms.  I haven't figured that one out yet.  Please help!

Here is "proof" that I did my 5k by the way!!  I ran the whole way and was so proud!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days {Day 20} Simplicity in Decorating

I am not the type of person who likes to decorate my house for every holiday.  I have three seasonal decor stages.  One is almost all the time and I use my beachy cottage decor.  The second lasts for about a month and is five pumpkins on our mantel where the starfish used to be.  I also have a couple more pumpkins that I place where I take out all the shells and starfish.  I also change out my periwinkle flowers for the goldy-green chrysanthemums.  The third is the Christmas decor which is what I have in the most abundance which is two bins full.

You can find lots of inspiration for decoration on other blogs but this is how I like to keep it simple.  This picture is of my little pumpkins.  It's simple but at least it looks like I made a little effort for the fall season.

What I like to do is try to keep the same basic structure and be able to add seasonal touches.  Those glass hurricane jars can be filled with ornaments for Christmas.  For Halloween or just fall they can be filled with candy corn, leaves or pumpkins.  It is super easy, not expensive and you don't have to store a lot of things that are out of season.

I also like to add natural elements that are free.  Maybe you have pine cones or nuts around your neighorhood that you can gather.  Branches look really cool in tall vases.  A bowl of cinnamon sticks are earthy looking and smell nice.

I realize that I am often alone in my thinking.  I really like holiday decor but storing boxes and boxes of items out of season is not something I want to do.  The other thing is that I don't like spending money on these doodads.  They are often kind of expensive and I never seem to justify the expense.  I would like to learn how to make some things though.  

These pictures have a lot of simple elements that I love.  What do you do for fall decor?  Are you an all out decorator or simple like me?  What are your favorite free ways to decorate?  I'm all ears on that one!

Source: None via Jackie on Pinterest

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days {Day 19} Online Rewards Programs

I'll be honest, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this one.  You see 3 years ago not long after I got married, I delved into the world of couponing.  I had a lot of time and wanted to see if it was worth the effort.  It took me a little while to realize that it wasn't.  

As I was reading all about how to make the most of your coupons, I discovered websites that offer you rewards.  I signed up for three.  It was free money for little effort I thought, so why not?

The first one is called My Rewards, which is a total crap program.  I tried to look it up to put the link and it must have gone out of business.  I answered so many surveys trying to accumulate enough points to get what I wanted, the problem was I only wanted one thing they offered, which was a year's subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  The other options were Spanish Cosmopolitan and airline rewards for Alaskan Airlines among other enticing rewards.  When I got enough to get it, it disappeared from the selection.  Besides that, after I had over $50.00 in my account, they started reducing it because it was only good for a certain amount of time.  Complete scam and as soon as they started expiring my rewards, I deleted my account.

The second one is called Inbox Dollars.  It is a similar concept but you get mailed a check.  I've probably earned about $60 in almost 4 years.  Every email I open I get 2 cents.  Do you see why I am embarrassed now?  2 cents!!  You can also earn money faster by shopping and filling out surveys.  A survey might be 25 minutes and you earn $1.00.  I rarely did surveys and especially not the long ones.  No more though.  We are cutting off this idiot machine right now on Day 19.

The third one and really the easiest is called My Points.  All you do on this one is click through the email and close it.  I have never redeemed points on this one, but I just now have enough for a $100 gift card to a store I choose, like Williams Sonoma or West Elm.  I will also not be continuing to do this.  I kind of got used to clicking on the emails so it really didn't bother me to do it, but when I think about earning $25 a year for answering thousands of emails, ugh.  

I think that these rewards programs can have their place in someone's life.  If you are at home on the computer all the time, why not earn even a little money, especially if you have a limited income.  For me though, I have to cut this out of my life.  This is going to be a fruitful day of simplification.  I know this is going to help me with another goal which is getting my emails under control.

I'm still sticking to programs like Ebates, where I have gotten $211 cash back and Retail Me Not where you can get instant discounts on what you buy.  They are easy and don't take up much of your time.  

Please tell me I'm not the only one to fall for this.  Has anyone joined these or other programs?  What's your favorite way to save money or earn extra money?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days {Day 18} Pinterest to Simplify

Not that long ago if you talked about simplifying your inspiration ideas for decorating, dressing or cooking, you would be recommended to tear pages out of magazines and create your own personalized book of things you love.

I've had a couple of books like this and this is my current one.  It's really cool to have a book of things that I've loved over the years.  The thing that I notice is that my style doesn't change that much.  What I loved 5 years ago, for the most part I still love today.  There have been some shifts in decorating style though.  I used to like more antique and shabby chic look and now I like more simple, neutral but still cottage style.

The down side of this book is that I never take the time to look at it and never really have.  It was just something I did so I could pare down my collection of magazines.  I was tired of holding on to the whole thing for some article in there that I might read one day.

My binder from Target

An example of an article I tore out a long time ago.  I still love those things.

I have my book in my desk.  

It sure beats the stacks of magazines I used to have.

Another way that you could consolidate your ideas might be a bulletin board or a mood board.  I used to have a bulletin board but it wasn't working for me.

These are cool and I know they have their place for decorators.  They are great to pin fabrics to see how they look together.  But I am not a decorator and my bulletin board just looked messy and cluttered so it had to go.

In saying all this, I'm sure you've heard of what I'm going to tell you about.  It's Pinterest!  It's wonderful, inspiring, amazing and addicting!  It can help you simplify all your creative ideas into one place.  I love that you can steal other people's great ideas and follow their boards.  

I'll tell you an example of how I got inspired.  A couple of months ago I saw a cake on Pinterest and wanted to try it.  I signed up to make the cakes for a baby shower.  This is the picture I saw.

Ooooh, fancy!

And these are the cakes I did for the shower.

Not perfect but still impressive!

If you are like me and want to collect ideas somewhere, this is the place to do it.  It's easy, clean, organized and free!  You need an invitation to join and I can send you one.  I don't know how many I get but the first five people who ask me, I am certain I have that many.  

So who is on Pinterest already?  If you want to look me up, you can see mine here.  Let me know your thoughts.  Do you love the web for inspiration or prefer magazines?  Do you have your magazine file from years ago?  

Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

I'm linking up again with  Erika ,  Andrea  and  Narci  for the Friday Favorites!  I love reading everyone's favorites too! ...