Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ramblings on Friendships, holiday parties, and Christmas cheer

This year we hosted 1 and are attending 4 other Christmas parties, 3 of which are potlucks. One of my goals for this year was to work on friendships and creating solid friendships. I'm glad to say my husband and I have both done this and have expanded our circle slightly and strengthened our 1:1 bonds with individual friends.

My husband has been intentional about keeping in touch with a friend who is out of town for this year pursuing a new career. I have worked to keep in touch with visits, phone calls, and emails with my friends. Our refrigerator is filled with Christmas card love and my inboxes get emails and phone calls from friends most days of the week now.

We have struggled with forming really intimate friendships, learning how to entertain (our parents never did), and saying yes to others (we prefer to stay home and have quiet nights in). One of my goals this year was work on friendship and I really feel we've done that this year. The invitations, the daily check ins from others, and the holiday cards reflect the constant effort we have made to invest in relationships this year.

If you are struggling with making friends I encourage you to start small- reaching out to others, inviting them into your home, lending a helping hand, and intentionally creating small talk. Then try to say yes as much as possible to invitations and offers to get together (Even if you dont want to leave the house or do a certain activity). Finally, continue to nurture the relationships and keep your chin up even during the occasional poorly attended party or flopped get together.

Friends are a treasure and a blessing-- and I believe maintaining a true friendship takes work, despite how easy it looks on social media sometimes!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Cleanup Day 4: The bathrooms

I appear to be running out of steam for this challenge.

Today I worked on the bathrooms for a short time, probably less than 20 minutes.

I swept, I surface cleaned the counters and sinks, and I scrubbed the toilets.

I packed up the magazines from October and earlier and set them aside in a gift bag for a family member who enjoys them.

Then I took a shower/ran water all over the shower and called it a day.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Cleanup day 3: Smoke and Ashes

And I've now created a big smoky mess 2x in the past 24 hours... keep reading...

I'm glad to do the kitchen today as I follow along with Crystal's Christmas cleanup!
Why am I so glad to do the kitchen? Because I burned a dessert while reheating it (and not paying attention to the microwave) yesterday evening so I'd already gotten a head start by spending 20 minutes scrubbing the smoke smell out last night. 
Yup, still clean 18 hours later.

Is there anything better than running the fan and opening all the windows when its 10 degrees outside and watching your heat and fuel fly out the window? No, no I don't think so. Oh wait, there is, that delightful smell of smoke that lingers in the air all night long! It added a little something to our evening cocoa and egg nog while looking at the tree and listening to Christmas music... almost like we had a little fire going in the hearth. Except we didn't.

I began by loading the dirty dishes in AND AROUND the sink into the dishwasher.
And returning pans to cabinets.
Then I decided to try something novel... oven cleaning with the button on the oven. We've lived here 5 years and I've never tried this so I thought, oh, look at the button, why don't I give it a try. 

#LivingOnTheEdge #WildWednesdayAtHome #IfItsSmokyAgainTonightHeWon'tNotice

I panicked and lit a fresh Yankee candle (Balsam and Spruce) to hide the smoky smells that might be released (per the manual).
Then I wiped the counters, swept the floor, and cleaned the sink in a way that would make FlyLady proud. 
I quickly inventoried the fridge (we cleaned it thoroughly about 10 days ago so I didn't feel the need to pull everything out and scrub again) and made a rough meal plan for the next 2 weeks so we didn't do any unnecessary shopping and can stretch our grocery budget a bit this month. We're running out of money (and time) to finish our 2014 ROTH IRA contributions... we may not get my husband's done at all this year at this point. But anything I can set aside for it will help as I scramble to make a contribution for him by the end of January before we file our taxes!

The kitchen is smoking now... I'll try to come back later and post after photos and story of the oven but we've got a holiday party tonight so I may not have time til much later... in the meantime... better luck with your own kitchens ladies!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Clean for Christmas Day 2: White Christmas

Crystal  is hosting a 5 day group cleaning challenge on her blog. I participated yesterday and quick cleaned our bedroom (dusting, putting away laundry including 2 loads that had been sitting dried and folded for 3 days- yikes, making the bed, vacuuming, and lighting a candle to get it smelling fresh and clean!). All in all that took me about a half hour.

Crystal is going after her kids rooms today so I planned to tackle the laundry room. Because, you know, I put the laundry away yesterday so maybe I'll run the vacuum, light a candle, and call it a day in there right? Not quite.

The laundry room is a catch all at our place. And that includes excess stuff, a pantry/storage area, the donation stops and mailing supplies, and "projects". Oh, and plenty of grime and dirt because honestly, I don't clean in there often. It's the most neglected space in the house.

At this point I stopped cleaning and went out to the main living area for reinforcements, namely a winter lager
An ipad with a holiday movie

Have you seen Christmas Belle? Cute and romantic with a bit of holiday fun. The perfect sort of chick flick to have playing in the background while you're cleaning.
While I didn't get to all the "projects" today I did begin with one major project. I've been wanting to paint my trim for a long time. And I had paint stored in the laundry room. So I tackled the trim.
And voila!

Once I had the first coat of paint on the trim, nearly 45 minutes had passed and I began to organize, vacuum, and pickup the laundry room. Check out that awful orange carpet. Someday I'll be able to afford to replace it but for now, the vacuum will have to be enough.
At this point I was 1.5 hours into my spree and had a stack of stuff put aside to giveaway or dispose of:
-a broken bowl
-a stainless steel toaster we have never used (we prefer the toaster oven) and are giving away to people we know who need a new one
-a tub of cleaning solution that was dried out and we never use
-the steam cleaner we are passing along to a family member
-a quart of paint (see below)
-several containers from various cleaning supplies around the house emptied and tossed

Another look at the stacks of stuff before:
And some afters:
Picnic supplies, entertaining stuff, candles, and large stock pans
Cooking stuff organized in a central area- yup, we use all four crockpots
All in all, a very productive afternoon!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Clean for Christmas Day 1: The Bedrooms

This fall I've kept the house in relatively good shape so cleanup each day this week should take less than an hour to keep my house in perfect shape! I'm linking up to Crystal who is also cleaning her house to post about it for accountability. Visit there for more before and after pics from others:

Today's task is the bedrooms.

The bed was unmade. And a hot mess.

The room needed some um, freshening. Bath and body balsam to the rescue.

And the floors hadn't been vacuumed in 10 days so it was time for those too... after just a bit of pickup.

All in all, a cleanup job complete in less than half an hour!

Also, I forgot to add that we recently made a trip to Goodwill so not much to giveaway. But I did throwaway- 2 nearly empty bath products (finished using during my evening shower!), a pair of socks with holes in the heels, and ring cleaning gel that was goopy and no longer usable.

It was so nice to go to bed in a clean room and read for an hour before sleep last night!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Today I thought I would share some of our family's Christmas traditions:

1) Hosting an annual holiday party 
2) Putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it together (somehow I tend to put my ornaments on the tree than my husband-- he is a reluctant but surprisingly cheery participant)
3) Listen to Christmas music many nights
4) Watch an entire collection of holiday movies, usually at a rate of 1 per night for nearly 2 months (vhs and dvd thank you very much!)
5) Sip cocoa and eggnog every night (This is so simple but we treasure this)
6) Send Christmas cards to friends and family
7) Decorate the house (minimally) with stockings, candles, seasonal plates, towels and napkins, and some meaningful tchotchkes collected over the years
8) Extended family Christmas dinner and gift exchange
9) Shoveling snow at 0430 am so we can go to work (oh wait, just my husband does this)
and finally...
10) Attend holiday parties with coworkers- usually several are offered and we attend 2 or 3 of them

Last year I shared my "Christmas Bucket List" and recognize I faced many of the same preparatory anxieties about gifts we gave and parties we planned but I notice they are lessened with each year. Family will say "You always prepare such thoughtful gifts" or friends will say "You put out an amazing spread of food and drink" and I recognize that the holidays really are about being with people you can show love and care towards and giving to others so that you may receive the blessing of having improved someone's life, if only for an evening. While everyone would love to give extravagant gifts and throw pinterest worthy parties-- many people really appreciate the effort and do not see the negatives as clearly as the host. It does not matter how many people attend your holiday party or how many parties you attend- your connections to others, even just a few good friends or family members, during this time of year can fill your heart and carry you through the difficult times.

And, if the biggest concern I face this Christmas is how stained my carpets are (someone reassure me that 3 years is not too long to wait for my wood floors-- I cannot wait!) then hallelujah, it's been another wonderful Christmas season!

Friday, November 28, 2014

November Goals

Send out invitations for holiday party
Finish purchasing food/decor for holiday party
Attend a family member's birthday party

List a load of stuff online to sell (opted to drop it off at Goodwill instead!)
Fill out application for insurance reimbursement
Receive tuition reimbursement 

Start a new exercise program
Quality time with husband 2 nights each week
Read 3-4 books (I read 10!)

Continue full-time work
Make an inquiry for internship this spring- moving this to December