Help For a New You in Your New Year

It’s a New Year and you want a new you–or at least a few new habits.  I thought I’d share some posts from the past that always pick up speed at the first of they year.  They’ve all helped me with a new start, whether it be diet, exercise, finances or organization at one time or another. I don’t do all of these, all the time, but for the majority, they’ve stood the test of time.

 

Diet

 The Daniel Plan

The Daniel Fast

The Daniel Plan is not meant for long-term, but is a great way to jump-start a new healthy eating plan.  You eat fruits, veggies and nuts exclusively. I did it for 10 days as part of spiritual fast and truly felt better than ever.

AdvoCare

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You’re probably starting to see some AdvoCare 24 day challenge groups starting up for the year. After losing 6″ in just 24 days, I’m a believer. I felt better than I ever have on the challenge and continue to this day to take their supplements. In fact, just the other day I ran out of Spark and tried to replace it with coffee and it was a terrible failure.  I didn’t get the normal pick-me-up and was extremely sluggish in the afternoon. Spark and all its Vitamin B gives me long-lasting energy!

 

Exercise

T25

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I haven’t done a full review post on the T25 workout system, but it’s AMAZING. I completed the system last Spring and built more muscle in a month than I have in my entire life. It’s great that’s it’s only 25 minutes and it’s 4 different workouts so you’re never bored. I fell off the wagon when we got a new morning schedule in August, but when I do get a chance to exercise, this is what I do.

30 Day Shred

It’s a classic: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred is solid and great for beginners.

 

Finances

How to Stick to the Envelope System Without Cash

 

I’ve written a few times about the Envelope System that Dave Ramsey suggests.  Last year I wrote how you can alter the plan without using actual cash.

 

Organization

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Still, one of my favorite organizational tips is to buy seperate laundry baskets so you can pre-sort your clothes.  I’ll never go back!

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If you want to get organized with meal planning, without actually, you know, meal planning, here’s a post about how I shop just once a week without writing down a single thing!

Here’s how we moved our coats OUT of the hall closet and got more organized.

A tip on how to store your feminine products. Check #7 on this list. Yeah, I still can’t believe how this changed my life (or at least my bathroom).

 

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Here’s how we organized the girls’ Barbies.

 

 

Recipes

Easy-CheesyPotato-Soup

How about some easy cheesy potato soup for lunch one day instead of eating out?

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Or, add this Italian walnut salad and call it dinner!

 Or, save cooking time and make one of these super easy crock-pot recipes.

 

Whether you made yearly goals or not, I hope one of these helped you in some way and you’re having a great start to your new year!

 

How to Make a T-shirt Quilt

T-shirt quilts are certainly nothing new.  I think my mom still has all my T-shirts where she planned to make me one in high school *cough* over 18 years ago *cough*.

So I was cleaning out the kids clothes when we switched over the season recently and I nearly donated all of their T-shirts.  I remembered T-shirt quilts, though, and since I actually finished my first sewing project a few months ago, I felt like maybe I could tackle it.

And for those that follow my Facebook page (and the post title didn’t already spoil it for you J), you saw that I did indeed finish it!

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And listen, this was WAYYYY easier than that apron.  I wish I would have started with this.  If you can sew a straight line, then you’ll have no problem.

 

T-shirt quilt

 

The first thing you have to do is buy your supplies.  You’ll need:

  • T-shirts cut into 12” squares. I used 15 squares, but used some backs of T-shirts so it was really only about 13 actual shirts. You can also use “filler” pieces of other plain cotton if you’d like.
  • 2 yards of fleece fabric for the back.  Ideally you want to pick one that pulls out the colors in your shirts, but of course Emma just went with one she liked.
  • Fusible interfacing. It depends how many squares you’re going to use to how much you need, but we planned for 2 squares per yard, but ended up not needing the full 8 yards.  If you were careful you could get away with 3 per yard and only need 5 yards. This is exactly what we used, although I think we could have used something heavier.
  • Since I’m just a beginner, I also bought a kit with a cutting board and a rotary knifeHere is a similar one
  • Ball point needle for your machine.  I found mine at Target, but here is a similar pack.
  • And finally, Scott cut a 12” square out of plastic for me to use as a template for all the squares.  I felt like the clear was necessary so I could align the image within the square better. You can see it on the left side of this picture below.

 

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I followed this video for the sewing instructions.

 

The basic steps are to:

  1. Cut the T-shirts in squares using the template and the rotary scissors
  2. Fuse the lining to the back with an iron
  3. Cut the lining around the fabric using the template again. Now that I think of it, you could probably cut the T-shirt and lining together.
  4. Arrange the T-shirt in the rows and columns you want.
  5. Sew the squares front to front in a row
  6. Sew the rows of fabric front to front to each other
  7. Pin and cut the back fabric the size of the front
  8. Sew the front and back front to front, leaving a gap to turn the blanket inside out
  9. Turn the blanket inside out
  10. Stitch up the opening
  11. Sew the edging
  12. Optionally, sew a top stitch between the squares or use yarn at each intersection and tie it.  Emma didn’t want me to do either of those

 

Whew, so that is a lot of steps, but none of it is hard.  As I’m learning with sewing, it’s a lot of prep work and a lot of patience and just a little bit of sewing.

But, as I’m also learning, the satisfaction you get from sewing your own project is priceless!

I loved seeing Emma wake up using the blanket. It’s fun to see her “wearing” all of her old T-shirts.

 

T-shirt quilt

 

Although, she did say she needed one more row and column of squares for it to really fit her.  This size is more like a toddler quilt than a tween quilt.

 

If you’ve made lots of quilts, I’d love to hear your tips!

Do you have a T-shirt quilt?  What would your quilt have on it? Racing shirts? Pageant shirts? Baseball shirts? Cheer shirts?  Tell me!

I’m not sure which T-shirts my mom kept but it probably includes volleyball, Show Choir and youth group!

How To Have Someone Clean Your Floors Every Single Night

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We have a problem in our house. We have beautiful, dark hardwoods and a yellow lab that sheds like he’s allergic to his hair.  It is an absolute nightmare trying to keep the floors clean.

Even our cleaning lady will vacuum, sweep and mop and then need to go over it again by the time she’s made it to the end of the house and back.  Dust bunnies congregate under chairs and tables and the couch.  Forget trying to sit on the floor for any activity.

I could vacuum with my beloved Dyson twice a day and still not feel like I was keeping up. And the sad part is, I am lucky to drag the vacuum out three times a week.

But, I think we have finally, finally found our solution.

Roomba.

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Roombas are nothing new, of course, but I would never pay the price for them and really, I wondered how well they really worked.

After switching from hardwoods to carpet, my friend sold her beloved Roomba at a fraction of the full price and I was happy to take it off her hands.  It was finally my chance to figure out if it was really worth it.  Could Roomba really help with all the Tucker hair?

Yes.  Yes, it can.

With a push of a button every night, Roomba goes on some sort of nonsensical path to vacuum our kitchen, dining, room, office and hallway, even traveling over all our rugs.  I haven’t yet figured out how it knows what to do. We didn’t program and as far as I can tell it isn’t learning our layout.  But, every single time, it seems to cover the majority of the floors in all the rooms.

The battery lasts for over an hour and it even cleans under the couch and all the chairs and tables!

I’ve been starting it in the evenings after the day is done and everyone moves to the bedrooms.  After it does its job, it somehow finds its way back to its base and docks itself to recharge. When I come out in the mornings, my floors are clean and Roomba is charged and ready for the next day.

It is nothing short of fabulous.

Now, it doesn’t do as good of a job as my Dyson.  It doesn’t seem to pick up fine dirt like sand and it misses dirt in some places.  But overall, it’s totally managing Tucker’s hair problem.

Now, I was very hesitant to post about this because of the cost of a Roomba.  It’s not cheap and I don’t think it’s worth the full price.  But, if you can find one on Craigslist or from a friend or have some gift cards you just can’t figure out what to do with or find one on a Black Friday sale or…you get what I’m saying.  Just pocket this little review and if you ever find one at a good deal, snatch it up and welcome back your sanity.

It works for me!

 

Check out other WFMW posts at WeAreThatFamily.com

I was not compensated in any way for this post, just wanted to share!

Create Your Own Punch List and Make Yourself Happy

I was reminded of a strange phenomenon this weekend and I wondered if you’ve seen it too.

My sister is in the midst of selling her house here in town.  She’s lived in her townhouse for, I don’t know, 10 years or something.  She’s had a lot of work done to the house over those years—new carpet and  new kitchen cabinets and what not.  She’s been given a few punch list items from the realtor before she puts it on the market.  She’s been working on them this past week to get them done—caulk the stairwell, pressure wash the porch, move a table from the hall to the living room. 

One task she had to do is put some pictures in a collage frame she had in her bedroom.  She’d hung the frame long ago but had never taken the time to put pictures in it.  She filled it full of pictures of her dogs.  She remarked to my mom, “Why didn’t I do that a long time ago, I could have enjoyed it all this time?”

She’s not the only punch-list bearing mover I’ve heard say something like that.  Our friends were moving last fall and put a frame around their mirror in their bathroom.  They remarked the same thing to us, “Why did we finally take the time to do that when we’re moving when we could have been enjoying it all this time?”

It’s a strange phenomenon, isn’t it?  We are willing to live with the small stuff undone—for years—only to finally fix them for someone else.

I realize many times there are budget limitations. Sure, our hardwoods could probably be replaced at this point, but I don’t care to spend a few thousand dollars on it right now. 

Sometimes there are time restrictions.  I know mostly I’m just trying to keep up with the laundry and the blasted dust and dog hair lying on everything.  Who has time for the non-urgent stuff?

Most of the time money and time stop us, but I’d bet there are things around our house we could stop and do if we’d only first think of it and second, actually do.

After thinking on this this weekend, my mom suggested I finally add some artwork to some frames in Emma’s room.  They’ve been hanging in her room empty since we remodeled after the water leak last year.  My plan was to create beautiful customized artwork, each frame spelling out a letter in her name.  But I could never get around to it.

I batted around paying someone to paint four pieces of artwork, but I could never bring myself to pay for it.  When Mom finally suggested I should put her artwork in it, I was all in. 

 

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It wasn’t exactly what I envisioned, but we sure could enjoy it in the meantime. It was so much better than IKEA’s standard insert hung neatly 4 times over.  And really, I just love walking by and seeing her artwork in her room instead of mine.

Turns out it cost me zero dollars and 15 minutes.

While we’re in here, I don’t think I’ve shown you how her office space on the opposite wall evolved since finishing her crate bookcase.

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She just loves her school clock (IKEA).  And as you can see, I still have one more thing on my list in there—add a 4th frame.  I actually bought it and primed the frame and then it rained on it outside while it was drying and I had to trash it.

You could consider acting as your own realtor even if you’re not moving.  Go through each room and write down a punch list of things that need done.  Here are a few of mine that I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Put shoe molding down in the kitchen
  • Finish the crown molding in the kitchen
  • Touch up the paint in the office
  • Glue down the threshold molding to the bathroom
  • Fix the weather stripping thingie in the shower
  • Put Emma’s toilet paper holder back up
  • Hang the picture in Emma’s bathroom
  • Pressure wash the front of the house
  • Pressure wash the picnic tables

As you can see, even these things will take very little money and very little time.  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think of these things when we have a few minutes of downtime. A written punch list would certainly help.

I guess my point in all this is we should do some of these little things for ourselves as we can instead of waiting until we move.  Really, what sense does it make not to if budget and time allow? <- asking myself

Have you found this phenomenon to be true?  Tell me—what are a few things off the top of your head you could do?

My First Sewing Project – The Pattern and Fabric

One of my goals for this year is to complete one sewing project. We bought Emma a sewing machine for Christmas and while my goal for her is to complete her first project, I am doing one alongside her as well.

For those that don’t know me well, you should know my mom is a seamstress. She owns her own custom drapery and blinds business.  I’ve been around sewing my whole life.  We took some lessons but didn’t ever seem to catch onto it like her. I’m determined to get back on the proverbial horse and learn how to do this thang.

So, one afternoon my mom met me and the girls at Jo-Ann’s in Charlotte.  All we knew is we needed an easy pattern and some fabric and beyond that, we were clueless.  What pattern is actually easy?  What fabric will actually work with what pattern?  What other little thingies from the store will we need?  Basically, we were clueless.

Let me just say how totally overwhelming the fabric store is.  Not only are there many different types of fabrics but there are many different colors, with many different patterns in many different sizes.  And if you have to coordinate more than one fabric together, just…I can’t even. For this terrible decision maker it was like a nightmare.  Pick ALL THE FABRICS and make it look CUTE!  Now I know why people spend hours in fabric stores and are so very proud of their end products.

After much wandering around in circles looking like a deer in headlights, Lexi and I decided to both do this apron:

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Emma decided to make a cozy pajama set but that will have to wait for another post.

To make it easier (or maybe just fewer decisions) I’m not doing alternating fabrics.  Here’s the fabric I picked that will be the top and skirt.

 

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I wanted something that would coordinate with my interior colors so I can hang it on a hook in my kitchen and use it for decoration.  As you can see in the background, the colors are right up my usual alley.

 

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For the sash at the waist, I went with a coordinating orange that has a small pattern in it.

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And then, for the edging you use rick rack and I picked a red.

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So I think cute, right?

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The only problem?  No one told me I should maybe peek at the price tag.  Holy cow.  Once I master this, I could sell aprons for like $86 a piece!

 

Next steps are cutting out the pattern and then cutting out the fabric from the pattern.   And there’s the secret that no one tells you about sewing: it’s take a heckofalotof work to get to the sewing part.