Friday, February 9, 2024

Another Floral Foray

I've shared before that I enjoy putting together floral arrangements to gift to friends and/or to enhance special occasions.  I am a complete amateur, but I am happy to help out when centerpieces are needed.  I've taken two "floral commissions" for special events at my daughter's school.  I get reimbursed for flowers, vases, ribbon and donate my time to put everything together. 

Most recently, I made arrangements for a reception honoring our school's 2024 Distinguished Graduate Award recipient.  It was a pleasure to spend a sunny February morning listening to my audiobook while arranging flowers and tying ribbons.

I am total amateur with zero access to wholesale flowers.  I can't make any guarantees about what the arrangements will look like since I just see what is available at Sam's Club and Jewel the day I am putting them together.  This time around, the Sam's roses looked like death so I had to make do at Jewel.  I printed labels with the school logo and the award winner's name on Avery's website and just stuck them on ribbons with a blank label on the back side to keep the sticker from attaching to the vase.

I thought the bright colors were a perfect winter pick-me-up, and it made me happy to imagine the award recipient and her family members being able to bring a vase of flowers home with them.

The school colors are royal blue and white, and I was so delighted by the gingham ribbon I found at Hobby Lobby.  That is also where I found the vases, which were fifty percent off.  If not for the discount, I would have used my favorite Dollar Tree vases.

Even if it's just for your own or your own family's enjoyment, I highly recommend treating yourself to flowers (grocery store or otherwise) when you can. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Before and After -- Plastic Container Hellscape

Anyone else drowning in plastic containers?  I already had plenty of Gladware and its generic grocery store equivalents.  Plus, I can't bring myself to toss the black ones with the clear lids that carry-out orders are packaged in.  

Where is your plastic hellscape located?  A drawer that's not quite big enough?  A corner of a pantry shelf?  Or maybe in a tricky corner cabinet complete with Lazy Susan...

Next question:  Do you store your plastic containers with or without their lids?  Or, have you never quite decided what the system is?  In that case, just shove containers, lids, and/or containers with lids on in there wherever they fit (or don't fit), even if it means that the Lazy Susan cannot rotate properly.  

Need to put some leftovers away?  No problem.  Spin (you may have to put your back into it) and dig and spin and dig and grope blindly for a container and a lid that fits it.  Promise yourself to deal with the situation later.

Later came this past week.  There was a speaker at my women's group meeting on Thursday.  Patricia Glosner from Perfectly Organized by Patricia shared some tips for home organizing.  One of them was that when addressing your plastic hellscape (my term, not hers), store all the lids in a separate basket.  Genius!  

First, I got everything out.  I recycled the containers with cracks and the containers and lids without matches.  In several cases, I had three containers and six lids that matched them.  I held on to four lids and recycled the rest.  

Then, I sorted the plastic containers by type and put them on the top shelf.  I put all the lids in two baskets on the bottom:  one for the smallest and largest lids, one for the medium-sized lids.  I also put a few items with lids on the bottom:  a plastic chip and dip, my Pampered chef microwave steamer strainer things, and a few specialty containers.

When I need a container, it is much easier to select the size I need from the top shelf and then to find a matching lid beneath.  Without a lot of extra effort, I can even pull the basket o' lids out and make my selection in bright light.

Can I keep this system going?  I hope so.  It was so satisfying to receive a practical, sensible tip that I could follow through on forty-five minutes after hearing it. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

24 in 24

I wrote about 5 things I wanted to do in December and, what do you know, I did those five things.  So, as I have seen Gretchen Rubin and others do, I am sharing a list of 24 things I'd like to do in 2024.  I hope I do them.  What's more, I hope reading this list inspires the 0-3 readers of this blog to make their own list for the year to come.  What I'm about to share isn't a list of lofty, hard core resolutions.  Some are a bit idealistic, others are just fun, still others involve places I've meant to go, try, experience.  May this year be the year that I get out there.

1.  Take an online painting class.  I take wonderful in person art classes at Michael Symber Studios in Elmhurst, IL and I plan to continue with those!  However, I follow and have grown fond of quite a few artists on Instagram.  Several offer online painting courses, and I'd like to give one a try.  One front-runner is this watercolor house portrait class by Elizabeth Wade.

2.  Walk the Steps at Swallow Cliff.  I heard about these when my son was preparing to go on a scout high adventure trip at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Some scouts walk these steps with their packs on for practice.  My son never did, but I have been meaning to visit the Steps at Swallow Cliff for over five years now.  

3.  Start and finish travel prints for empty family room wall.  This is a project that I'll be taking on at Michael Symber Studios this winter.  

4.  Do something with my @mileawhile photos.  I have an Instagram for tracking my walks and each walk includes a photo taken along the way.  I'd like to something with these photos.  I'm picturing a big collage poster that I can display in the basement.  Message me if you've made a collage from Instagram photos.  

5.  Take my family to a Brazilian steakhouse.  I mostly just want to watch my boys react to endless offerings of animal protein.  

6.  Take a walk at Lake Ellyn.  Twenty minutes away, and I've never seen this lake.  Actually, had never even heard of it until a dogsitter told me how much my dog enjoyed walking there.  My dog is not an enthusiastic walker so I gotta check this place out.

7.  Make the Greek Yogurt pizza dough... using the skinny pizza dough recipe from @mybizzykitchen. I won't tell you how many large containers of plain nonfat Greek yogurt I have purchased for this purpose and failed to follow through upon.   

8.  Make the Greek Yogurt jello thing.  I'm not even going to link it because it probably sounds so gross, but I need to try it.

9.  Develop the habit of bringing reusable grocery bags to the store.  I would love to stop dealing with flimsy plastic bags.  The space, the guilt, the annoyance.

10.  Learn five Lana Del Ray songs.  I don't mean like learn to play them on the guitar or piano or prepare for karaoke or anything.  I just mean, listen to these songs until I learn the words and have a sense of what they mean.  LDR is my oldest's favorite artist, and he has chosen the five songs for me.

11.  Eat at Riley's.  It's a bar/restaurant in my town.  I've been there once late night for a drink, but I'd like to eat there, finally, after a dozen years of living in Elmhurst, IL.

 12.  Meet my Peloton minutes goal.  I'm not going to say what it is, but I will say that it is more than double what I achieved this year on the Peloton platform.  I do track my outdoor walks through Peloton, lest you think I am a cycling fool.  

13.   Unsubscribe to 20 emails.  I've already unsubscribed to 45, NTB, but I will keep going.

14.  Visit the golf simulator five times.  Every winter I fear that I will totally forget how to play golf (do I even know how to play golf?).  Anyway, it does help me to pick up a club a few times between October and April.

15.  See three movies in the theater.  I love movies and buttered popcorn and giant Diet Cokes and reclining seats and being somewhere where I am not distracted by things I could/should do (fold laundry, empty dishwasher, stare mindlessly at phone).   

16.  Clean out "playroom."  I attacked this sloped-ceiling secret room during quarantine and, guess what, it is full of everyone's sh$t again.  

17.  Try five new recipes.  I mean dinner recipes.  Send me any ideas but keep in mind I have one child who does not eat sandwiches, one who won't touch pasta, and one who hates salmon.

18.  Make Marcie's cookies.  My friend Marcie made some delicious peanut butter m & m chocolate chip cookies, and I am still thinking about them.   

19.  Make a new variety of puppy chow.  I love the puppy chow I always make (and gift), but I'd like to expand my repertoire.

20.  Complete the cardinal paint-by-number.  I'm obsessed with cardinals.  They're all over my house.  I have a cardinal paint-by-number kit.  Have had it for years, in fact.  I'm going to paint it this year if all the paints in the kit aren't crusty and dried out.  

21.  Visit the Art Institute of Chicago.  I have not been there since my freshman year of college.  What?!  I took a screenshot of the "free days" as motivation, but it wouldn't kill me to pay either.  I'd love to get one of my kids to go with me, but it may be a tough sell.  

22.  Visit the National Museum and Shrine of St. Therese in Darien.   There is daily mass there at 11:30 am.  I can easily fit this into a weekday.

23.  Develop a greens habit.  I am talking about the green powder you mix with water that is supposed to help your gut, etc.  I have already dabbled here this month and ended up with some bloating and distress.  Yikes.  Plus, the brand of greens I bought tastes HORRIBLE.  However, I am going to circle back on this soon and start with fewer ounces.  

24.  Track added sugar.  I am figuring out what this looks like for me.  I need some controls/accountability in place so I don't go on a sugar bender (as I just did in December), but I know from experience that if I try to cut out sugar, the feelings of deprivation don't lead to good choices or results.  Feeling my way here.  

I also have a one-sentence guiding thought that I am working with for the year, but I'm going to keep that to myself for now.  If you've made a 24 for 24 list or chosen a word for the year or made a resolution or two, I'd love to hear all about it and to cheer you on.  If you're interested in getting in on any of my 24 for 24, let me know and I'll loop you in!

I am hoping to share my progress here for my 0-3 readers.