Happy BELATED Birthday Sue : )

I love this weatherwane!

Today I celebrated my other friend Sue's belated birthday. We went to the Dunbar Tea Room in Sandwich for High Tea and it was delicious! High tea is so much fun because there is such a variety of sandwiches and desserts to eat all in one sitting. It was a great day catching up with my creative friend : )

Home grown cucumbers : )

What a nice treat! I stopped by my friend Sue's home to wish her luck at her new job that she starts tomorrow and she sent me home with 3 adorable cucumbers that she and her family grew in their own garden. I can't wait to slice them up and have them as a side dish or even all by themselves! : )

Shopping day in Wickford RI with one of the most patient men on the planet. : )

Where we started the day....The Wickford Diner. You can sit at the counter or in a booth. Delicious breakfast! : )

This is the window of the Mermaid's Purl Knit Shop. I wanted so desperately to take a picture of how beautifully the buttons are displayed in the shop, but was too shy to ask if I could!! There was such a colorful assortment of beads, yarn and buttons! Can't wait to go back with a project in mind. : )

This is the cutest little garden shop called, Jules. The owner is a painter, photographer and interior designer. Very cute things inside and very affordable. : )

Such a cute quaint town to shop and eat. Can't wait to visit during the holidays!!
And, I'll ask to take a picture of those buttons! : )

PS....I forgot a very important fact, It has a beautiful waterfront too!

I had to laugh : )

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to cash a check to get cash back so my son could go go-cart racing with his friends. Anyway, I needed to buy something in order to write the check, so I picked out a box of healthy granola bars and got in line. As I was was checking out I could not help but notice this kind of hippiesk man in line behind me and all of his healthy food choices. Greens, soy milk, plain yogurt, edamame (I had to look up the spelling for that one! : ) I started thinking as I walked out the door about how off track I have gotten with my eating habits. This past spring, I went on a pretty strict food plan while reading the book, "Total Health Makeover" by Marilu Henner. People would ask me, "Isn't she the Olymic gymnast?" "No" I would reply, "She was the actress on Taxi." : ) With no sugar, no wheat, no meat, no milk....my friends would ask, "What can you eat?" Actually, I could eat quite a bit. And I started to feel really good. But, just like many other habits I have tried to change, slowly but surely, I started to slip back into my old ways. When I walked out to my car in the parking lot, I thought about how tired I felt from all the sugar I had consumed earlier in the afternoon. I started with some healthy chocolate pudding. Well, it was all natural, with no artifical flavors : ) and then I had some ice-cream. I used the cute little pudding cup for it. I thought, I will have some ice-cream and put it in this cute little cup for portion control. I filled it 4 times. So, as I thought about my food intake in this sugar haze, I realized I need to detox, start again! Get healthy and get my energy back! I thought about all those healthy groceries that man had bought and thought I can do it too. Then, as I went to drive out of the parking lot, I stopped at the crosswalk to let the customers cross and there, low and behold was the healthy man, who inspired me to once again change my life, who's heathy habits forced me to take a good hard look at myself, and I had to laugh... as I watched him lighting up a cigarette!

I thought to myself, how many times had I done this before? You see someone and you assume that they have it all together, all their i's dotted and their t's crossed. As Don Miquel Ruiz writes in "The Four Agreements" Don't Make Assumptions. That is something I need to remember. We all have our habits, our struggles, our weaknesses, (mine being sugar and carbs, when it comes to food) that I suppose we all have trouble changing when we decide we want to. No one is perfect...I couldn't help but smile as I got on to the highway, letting myself off the hook and starting to talk a little bit kinder to myself : )

New Heartstone Cookie Jar : )

Thank you Maureen for my Heartstone Cookie Jar! You always find the best pieces to go with my dishes. Now I need to get busy baking to fill it up : )

I love the auction : )

I love going to the Auction in Sandwich. Not only is it fun to see all the treasures that are available, but the food is delicious. Even if I just get a cup of coffee and a homemade oatmeal cookie, I am set for a great evening. And, if I am lucky enough to get a seat, even better! : )

I love mail

After cleaning out my kitchen, I went to Catholic Charities to drop off some things that I didn't need any more. On my way out, my eye caught this adorable figurine to hold pens and pencils. (No, it is not a hummel, I checked underneath as soon as I saw it. Although it really does look like one!)

I know I am not supposed to be accumulating things as I drop off items for charity, but I couldn't resist! After all, my favorite movie is You've got mail, and my heart does belong to a mailman. : )

Journaling about what's going well : )

My son baked brownies...
We used corn holders (which I found tucked in the back of the silverware drawer) for our corn on the cob...
99% of the time, there is not one dish in my kitchen sink!

In Regina Leeds book, One Year To An Organized Life, she has you commit to "Habits of the Month." In Chapter 1, January-Understanding Time Management-Working in the Kitchen, one of the habit's is to wash, dry and put dishes away after use.
Since our dish washer has gone kaputt, I have gotten into the habit of leaving dishes in the sink until I am eating ice-cream on a plate with a fork. But not lately! : ) Regina states in her book that, "Psychologists have found that repeating an action for twenty-one consecutive days turns it into a habit." But, changing habits can be so difficult. It is so easy to want to go back to your old comfortable ways. So, as I stated in my first post, she writes that you should keep an, "Organizing Journal." She writes, "Sitting down and putting your thoughts on paper can help you determine why you've had difficulty getting organized in the past."

The day that I bought Regina's book I also bought a journal. I have kept journals for as far back I can remember. I am fascinated with people's journals and how they keep them. I am a fan of Author/Illustrator, Susan Branch and remember seeing on her website a picture of her journal which looked as thick as a great novel. With her photographs and unique way of writing, it was such a creative keeper of memories.
As I have come to learn, journals are also very important to my family. My dad, who sadly passed away a little more than a year ago, also kept journals filled with daily memories to much of our surprise. Just recently, I got to see a page from one of my brother's journals, in which he very artistically, I must say, : ) illustrated an old country store front during his lunch break in among his notes about his day. My nephew, who is on a volunteering mission has been keeping a daily journal as well, documenting all that he is learning about his experience as he lends a hand to those in need. And my sister, who is one of the most creative people I know, has kept daily journal entries on fabric, to which she will transform into something beautiful.

I am a fan of a journal that opens up easily. Being a lefty, I am always bothered by the left side of a book as it collapses in on me while trying to write on the right-hand pages. Also, I love blank pages, so if I get the urge to doodle, which for me is often, I have a free open range.
A journal that has become a favorite of mine is Moleskine.® You can purchase these with lined or blank pages and the books open wide, so there is no fighting with pages for lefties. Also, they come is many sizes and range in number of pages to meet your writing and illustrating needs. : )

Very often I find that I don't finish a journal when I start writing in one, and end up not having a clue where I've kept the last journal when I get the urge to journal again. So, I end up finding blank pages in an old journal to write in only to find I started that journal in 1973! With no consistency with the dates, I end up buying a new journal only to not use it all up again. So, as I stood in line at the bookstore perusing the journal assortment to use for my, Organizing Journal, I thought about this habit of mine. Then, I happily found a Moleskone® journal that is fairly thin, (but come in a package of 3), and thought, "Perfect, this is a journal for me! I think I could fill up from beginning to end, and if I don't, I can start another one!"
I also have become a fan of Post it notes for bookmarks and taking notes with me on the run. But, that I will tell you about soon when I tell you about a great calendar I found!

Trash days....the ying and the yang of it.

I have started lately to love trash day, It's the getting ready for trash day that I don't love so much. On trash day, I make it a sort of competition with myself to see how much stuff I can get outside of my house and kind of gamble what the trash men will actually take. Sometimes, when I hear the truck coming, I run around my condo looking for any last minute items that I think I could chance, an old shade, a vacuum cleaner hose, what about an old broken table? Then I wait, hiding behind the curtain in the bathroom to see what pieces of trash make the cut. I am so overjoyed when it all goes...a clean slate. At least kind of, until the next week.

I imagine that if anyone watched me take bag after bag of trash out of my home in the course of a week, that it must be like watching 50 clowns getting out of a Volkswagen Bug at a circus. I remember a friend stopping by one day and commenting on all the trash barrels the ajoining condos, that I live at, had accumulated for the trash man. She was very surprised when I told her that all those barrels belonged to me!

I have a very, very small closet/shed in which I store my 5 trash barrels with covers, my Christmas tree stand, beach chairs, paint and all of the recyclable cans my neighbors collect for, mainly my son, for fun money...I also store all of my trash in there until trash day. It is quite a site. I try to get my trash ready late the night before the trash man comes, because of the fiasco I have to go through to get it all ready. I am too embarrassed in the light of day for my neighbors to see the ugly truth. I am beginning to see more and more how my lack of organization really does make me feel embarrassed, if not ashamed, of how out of control many things have gotten for me. I also realize again, where I am falling short as a mother. How can I expect my child to help out with certain chores, for example, this one, when in order to do the chore, it's as if I am asking my child to do it while stepping into a huge cobweb!
To shine a spotlight on the trash routine, here it is....First, I take out the beach chairs, then the Christmas tree stand, then all the little grocery store bags filled with various plastic bottles and soda cans, (One day the bottles and cans got so overwhelming, I filled up my car and redeemed the money myself. I believe I had over 450 of them that I had been moving back and forth!) then the barrel lids, then the barrels. Oh, and the trash. That's usually stuffed in an amongst all of these. I usually bring out a box of new trash bags so that I can double wrap any and all of the bags in case any of them started leaking....I then put back any barrels and covers not needed, the beach chairs, Christmas tree stand and bottles. (And then sadly, after the trash is picked up, I take it all out again to put the empty barrels back.)

All this taking out and putting back reminds me of when I was in college and I rented a space in a driveway. I rented space in a elderly woman's driveway with 2 other girls that had cars on campus. The only glitche was I was the only one with a stick shift that no one else knew how to drive. So, to solve this problem, I had to always park at the top of the driveway and the other girls parked behind me. When I wanted to leave to go to work, I had to move each one of their cars (I had an extra set of their keys) into the street, move my car out and then move their cars back in. When I came home, I had to move their cars out again into the street, move my car to the top of the driveway and then move their cars back behind mine. Now, doing this over a period of months and month either proves that I am a really patient person or crazy, or maybe a little bit of both! So, here I am, 25 years later, emulating the same thing, moving things out, moving things back, over and over and over and over. Yes, maybe just crazy! I have to say though, when I have all of the trash double bagged and in a trash barrel with their lids on tight all lined up for the trash man, I feel this great sense of accomplishment, like they are a row of birthday packages with neated curled bows ready for a party.

As I stated in my last post, the first chapter in Regina's book deals with the kitchen. I had lots of trash when I was done "tearing though" the kitchen. Funny, too, my son came home and said, "Mom, you tore through the kitchen." And I said, "That's just what the book said to do, I must be doing it right!" Well, as I dug though all my cabinets, I couldn't believe all the food that had expired. And, I truly thought I had at least looked at my food the last few months...How could I have spices that expired years ago? I also found something petrified... I thought it was a potato, but then I recalled that in my old apartment I had left some potatoes in a cabinet and totally forgot about them. One day I opened the cabinet and leapt back with a scream! There were what looked like trees growing in there! I had no idea that could happen from a potato!

Finally, as I continued to dig through, I found cans and cans of pumpkin. I used to make pumpkin bread for the Nation (as my sister has said) during the holidays when I was younger, but as the years have gone by, my intention is there, but my pumpkin bread baking has been dwindling. I hate when cans don't have dates and none of these did so, I thought, "Start fresh, toss it!" But, I felt bad on the morning of trash day when I heard from inside, the garbage man yell out something about my trash being so heavy....it must have been the pumpkin barrel. Sorry Mr. Trashman! I must remember to give him a Christmas card this year with a Dunkin's gift card and maybe a loaf of pumpkin bread.

PS. My dream, some day soon, when I am finished with Chapter 5, "Tackling the Hidden Areas: Attic, Basement, Garage, Laundry Room and Guest Room" in Regina Leeds, One Year to An Organized Life, is to call my son from the grocery store and say, "Please put out the trash." : )

A small milestone....

I have to admit, one big reason I realized I need to get organized is because of the stress I have been feeling, and how every little project becomes a big project to me because of it....
Last night, as I was grocery shopping, my phone rang. It was my 13 year old son calling from home. He called to ask me if he could make cookies, slice and bake no less. Normally and honestly, this would have thrown me into a tizzy, a Lizzy Tizzy, thinking, "Ok, now...first, he'll have to take all of the pots and pans and lids, (some glass, which could break) out of the oven and put them all on the counter. Hopefully they won't all come crashing out from being overstuffed in there. Next, he will have to find a cookie sheet, and who knows where there is a cooling rack?? What about a pot holder?, I don't want him to burn himself. Finally there is no counter space to even put the cookies, with all that stuff on it, to slice and bake!! I know without a doubt, I would have said, "No, not right now, wait until I get home" (So, you can watch your mother in person become Lizzy Tizzy right before your eyes!) Sounds like tons of fun doesn't it??
Well, to my surprise, last night when he asked me, I thought about my kitchen and suddenly felt a calm and happy feeling and an unexpected sense of relief. One Year To An Organized Life is broken into chapters by month starting with January's, "Working on the Kitchen." Although it is summer, I decided to start with the first chapter when I bought this book a few weeks ago. It has taken me a few weeks to tackle my kitchen, but as I stood in the frozen food isle last night, I realized how much all that hard work paid off. My son told me he already had his cookie sheet out and he asked me if he needed to put anything on it? I told him if he wanted to use parchment paper it was in the drawer with the sandwich bags and aluminum foil(!) Next, I told him that there was a cooling rack in the cabinet in which he found the cookie sheet(!) He told me he had already preheated the oven, to which I breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing there were no longer any pots or pans or miscellaneous for that manner cooking in that preheated oven at this moment. And to boot, I had just cleaned the oven last week(!)
(I remember preheating my oven one Christmas Eve day to bake scones for my sister and niece only to realize I had forgotten to take out a plastic lid that I had stored in there. It had dripped all down the rungs of the oven rack....what a mess! No scones that Christmas Eve Day!)
Finally, I told my son where the pot holders were located (!) so he wouldn't burn himself.

....A small milestone, my son making slice and bake cookies. I realized though, most importantly, he will remember this moment, if he remembers it, as a moment of independence without his stressed out mother reacting as if he had asked me if he could make a cheesecake from scratch in a kitchen that always felt under construction.
Who knows? Now, with our clean kitchen, maybe he can make that next! : )

Getting organized....

I have accumulated things since forever. I have a few memories of my room as a child being neat with my collection of favorite nicknacks placed exactly where I wanted them on my shelf and my stuffed animals all comfortable on the rocking chair in my room. But, for the most part, I remember my room being a disaster and it has remained that way through college as well as adulthood. I remember my mom contemplating when I was little whether to get me a rug or a long winter jacket one Christmas. My brother said, "Why don't you get her the jacket because she will end up throwing it on the floor when she's not wearing it and it will serve both purposes!" lol
Today, I live in a 2 bedroom condo with no basement and no place to hide from my stuff! I have been feeling like a prisoner of all of my things as I try to navigate around my home, in and out, around and over, the time has come, I have got to get organized.
A few weeks ago, I went to the bookstore with a gift card in hand to search for a new book on getting organized. I came across a bright blue book with rubber ducks all in a row called, One Year To An Organized Life by Regina Leeds. I sat down with a cup of coffee to preview and as I read page after page, I thought this is the book for me : )
Regina gives you a year to make changes so you can "plan carefully and never once be overwhelmed." That is exactly how I have felt lately, overwhelmed...where you wonder how on earth can I begin to tackle all of my stuff and you give up before even trying...Well, with her book never far from me I have begun the process of tackling my life's accumulations so that I can feel free from clutter and more open to being creative (which I miss) and most importantly, ready for company in a moments notice : ) I am tired of saying, I would have you over but my house is a disaster or telling my son if your friend comes over you need to stay outside because the house is a mess...
My neighbor came over the other day to drop of cans which my son and I redeem for fun money and she peeked in and said, "Oh my?!, cleaning out??" I was so embarrassed!! All of our stuff, my stuff, from my last job, my car (which is being repaired) is in my hallway and unavoidable as you look in our door. These days are over! I am determined! There is so much I look forward to as tackle my clutter.
I truly look at this as taking a class in getting organized. Because I am changing lifelong habits I really need to visit what Regina says daily. She encourages you to have a journal, answering questions about why you think you operate in the manner in which you do etc...She also tells you to get a calendar and create a "dream board" in which you put pictures of what you want your home to look like....
Here I go...hope all this good information sticks : )