Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: homemaking

Home sweet home

I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction for the blog and what the content will look like in 2015. Thanks to your input, as well as what I’m finding myself interested in (and immersed in) lately, I have dozens of post ideas and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you guys in the coming months. 

One of the themes I’ll be covering is inviting you guys into my home more often. What I’m cooking, how I’m attempting to organize, thoughts on parenting and marriage and having pets, some finance stuff, and some of the home decorating projects I’m working on. I want to open that up instead of keeping it all to myself. 

I’m that generous. You’re welcome.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look in my house (with no pictures because I’m feeling exceptionally lazy. #sorrynotsorry):

There are shoes and cups and books and dog toys everywhere.

It’s pretty obvious a child lives here, too.

We have approximately 34243 iDevice chargers and 5 devices.

The kitchen counter is way too crowded with appliances, and there’s usually a cup in the sink (despite my efforts to prevent it).

Whenever I clean, it rains and basically defeats the purpose because muddy paws and shoes.


The beds are made.

The toilet seats are down. 

The floors are clean.

The mantle and blinds need to be dusted.

The walls aren’t covered in art; they’re covered in family pictures. Some are hand drawn.

They’re also in need of new paint.

The office is in desperate need of a professional organization.

The pantry could use some help, too.

The furniture is well loved.

The smell of candles or home cooking fill the house.

Sometimes the smoke detector goes off.

The TV is typically on (unless I’m home alone. Then there’s music).

We watch sports and crime shows and popular comedies and kids shows and lots and lots of movies. Sometimes we pretend to be smart and watch the news.

We treat our pets like they’re our children. If you don’t like them, don’t come over.

There are only 3 of us but sometimes, it sounds, and looks, like 47 people live here. 

We laugh a lot. We yell, too. Someone is usually talking. 

Our garage is the most hated place in the house. Except the basement. That’s worse. 

The laundry room is NEVER empty.

We lose things often. We usually find them. Sometimes we just give up and surrender to the item’s inevitable fate (probably eaten by a dog).

 

I’m sure there’s stuff I’m leaving out but now you know the truth: we’re about as close to normal as you can get so if you come over, you know what to expect. And when I do share pictures, you won’t be shocked at the sorry state of parts of my house. 

But I’m apologizing in advance.

Coming up tomorrow: my Thanksgiving thankfulness list.

 

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7 tips for handling stress

Although this is a new blog, I’ve been blogging for roughly 5 years. I bounce from blog to blog because I keep picking specific topics and then get bored with them. That’s probably why I finally decided on a lifestyle blog. I can talk about all of it!

The longest I stuck with one topic was 2 years when I had a personal finance site, Daily Money Shot, which I shuttered last year for several reasons. I then migrated the content over to another site that was intended to be my lifestyle blog and maybe I should have just made the pioneer project part of that site but I thought I could manage two so I started this one but honestly, I was completely wrong. I can only manage one and I do that poorly most days.

The one nice part, though, is that I have a ton of content sitting on that site and another one. And some of it is actually pretty good. And since it’s just sitting there, collecting internet dust which is way worse than regular dust because porn, I’ve decided that every so often, I’m going to share one of those posts on here. Repurposing, if you will (or cheating on content. Either way). And today is one of those days. 

You’re welcome. 

This post was originally written right after we moved last summer so the set up–the parts that caused my stress at the time–are different but the main point remains the same. Enjoy!

Sometimes, I just want to quit being an adult. Being responsible sucks a fat one and honestly, I get tired of it. I don’t want to clean, cook, work, pay bills, transport my child to school and there are days that the only motivation I have to do those things is not wanting the state to inconvenience my life by interfering in it. I worked for those people; I know how they operate. I want no part of it.

I usually get this way when my anxiety level reaches Code Red, and it’s been hanging around that level for about a month. Mostly due to moving. And it hasn’t calmed down since we moved because now I get to deal with:

He's laughing because his back hair was in my freezer. Not funny, Chewy. Not. Funny.

He’s laughing because his back hair was in my freezer. Not funny, Chewy. Not. Funny.

  • Cleaning a filthy house. I seriously don’t understand how the previous owners lived the way they did. I found dog hair in the freezer, friends. In. The. Freezer.  And not a little bit of dog hair either. The entire bottom part of the freezer looked like Chewbacca’s back. Let’s not even discuss the mystery carpet stains.
  • Unpacking Moving Box Mountain. I thought moving and packing was bad. This is worse. I swear, our stuff multiplies because every time I think I’m done with a box or bag, more stuff magically appears. Minimalism sounds better every day.
  • Having no schedule. My daughter decided she wants to cheer. Okay, fine. However, the cheerleading practice schedule is ridiculous, changes last minute, and has thrown our entire lives into chaos so we can accommodate whatever whim her coach has that day. It’s also a freaking fortune. At least some of the other moms are nice.

    This is exactly what my face looks like when I open my wallet.

    This is exactly what my face looks like when I open my wallet.

  • Trying to figure out where all my money went. One day we had some. Now we don’t. I think I need to call in Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew to help on this one. Or maybe just balance my checkbook. I probably can’t afford Nancy Drew anyway.
  • Pet allergies. I’m not talking about us being allergic to our pets. I’m talking about my pets, specifically my dogs, having allergies. And the flare up that has caused my older dog to perpetually reside in the cone of shame and has caused us to open a surgicenter in our bathroom to deal with the semi-infected hotspot on his tail.

 
I know it’s hard not to wish you were me right about now but give it a try.

Anyway.

I know, in the grand scheme of things, nothing (save for maybe not knowing where the hell my money went and possibly the tail issue) is life threatening. I know it will subside and will return to whatever semblance of normal we’ve been able to scrape together and call “our life”. But for now, it just totally sucks. And I’d really like to make it somebody else’s problem.

Any takers?

Didn’t think so.

Which is why, amidst my bitching and complaining, I continue to plod through each problem. No one is going to fix it for me so I need to fix it myself (it’s called personal responsibility. I really wish some people would try it on for size, just to see if it fits). To do so, and not completely lose my mind or drink all the alcohol in my house, I’ve been following these steps (not necessarily in this order):

  • Breathe. Before I tackle any of these problems, I take a few deep breaths. Doing so helps me focus and concentrate on the situation before me.
  • Analyze the situation. Similar to prioritizing, I assess the mess and decide what’s the best starting point.
  • Set a goal. I know I can’t tackle everything at once. Instead, I pick one part to work on and focus solely on that until its done. Then I set a new goal and move on to that.
  • Work in blocks of time. I have to designate certain times of the day when I work on different tasks. It helps train my brain and get me in the mindset for those particular tasks. Having set hours makes it more bearable because I know there’s an end in sight.
  • Reward myself. If I finish a job or task before the allotted amount of time is over, I reward myself with a few rounds of Candy Crush (still up for debate: is this actually a reward?) or a few minutes on Pinterest. The reward is motivation to hurry up and get that stuff done.
  • Ask for, and accept, help. There are certain parts of this process I just cannot do myself. I know that. And if it’s going to get done, I need help. While asking for help is not one of my strengths, neither is living in a mess. So I ask for, and accept help, when I need it.
  • Tell myself it’s not forever. The problems I’m working through will not be here next year. And if they are, particularly Moving Box Mountain, I’m setting it on fire and calling it a day (note: I will not actually set my dog on fire. That’s sick and nothing to make a joke about). Knowing that these are temporary problems help get me through the particularly rough moments.

And if all that fails, there’s always this:

 stress

 
The system isn’t perfect. At all. I still may get sucked in by Pinterest more than I should and unpack boxes less than I should. I still try to do too many things by myself. I still feel like this is going to last for the foreseeable future. But following these steps, along with sleeping and exercising, have thwarted major anxiety attack.

And that? Is good.

Pioneer Project progress update #1

It's been awhile since I reported my pioneer project progress. So let's do that today.

Three or so months into the project and pretty much I can say this: I haven't done much. I do notice a difference in my determination and some internal traits but as far as accomplishing things, there's not much tangible proof, save for making butter, a mending basket, and using my crockpot (which is like my version of a pioneer stove).

Let's break it down.

Gardening

This is my husband's area. He busts his ass weekly, maintaining the garden. He's constantly thinking about how to improve it and maximize the results by weeding and rotating the plants and getting rid of the ones that aren't growing so the good ones have more space (we even have some volunteers from the previous owners but that just makes me think of The Hunger Games so I call those our Katniss plants). He even used grass clippings for mulch, which is both frugal and environmentally friendly. So pioneer win on that one. The plants we started indoors are kicking ass and now it's just a matter of watering and pruning and waiting for things to grow. Then I can start working on some pioneer food things like canning.

This our insane cat hanging out in the garden. Because why not.

Sewing/crocheting

One word–nothing. I have done nothing to improve my sewing. I even set a goal this month to sew a pillowcase and thankfully the month isn't over yet so I can get working on this. If I can get some pillowcases, napkins, and curtains done by summer's end, we'll call that a victory. And as far as crocheting, I am trying so, so hard on this one. I practice, watch YouTube tutorials, and it's just not getting better. I think I might just need to accept the fact that maybe I am not meant to do it. But not yet. I'm not giving up yet.

Homemaking stuff

In the early days if this project, I set a weekly schedule a la Ma Ingalls. I haven't been perfect with it but I'm definitely keeping to a stricter schedule than I had prior to the project, and I am getting more done. There have even been a couple of times I washed, dried, folded, and put away laundry all in the same day. Baby steps, friends. Baby steps. I have been getting better about having a weekly food prep and baking day, running errands on one day, and staying home more. That last part isn't a problem because home > public.

I still have a few home decorating projects I need to start/work on/finish but some of those involve going to a craft store and those places intimidate the shit out of me. I also don't have a tablecloth which is really more a reflection of my laziness than an inability to do things because how hard is it to order from Amazon? I want a tablecloth for various reasons but the pioneer reason is I love that Ma used hers to differentiate between an all purpose table and the dinner table. That's a fun, practical idea.

Miscellaneous

This past weekend we went to a strawberry festival. That's pioneer like, right? We're also trying to do a better job of heating/cooling the house with windows, fans, blankets, layers, curtains, and other non-electric sources. (Except the ceiling fans. Wow, do those make a big difference.) Composting is still in full effect yet I have still not bought supplies to make candles, soap, or beer.

If I had to grade our efforts thus far, I'd give us somewhere between needs improvement and satisfactory. I suppose it's better than we haven't done shit but as far as proving to myself that I could survive life as a pioneer, I'm not making good progress at all. On the bright side, at least I know how to fix it.

I should probably do that.

 

Making life easier FTW!

I have a post/rant planned for next month all about how we tend to romanticize and glorify and extol the benefits of the simple prairie life when in actuality, it really was anything but. For today, though, I am going to talk about how while modern life is not the simple life, there are a few things that help simplify it. Or at least make it easier.

I hope that makes sense.

Also, am I the only one who hears the phrase “the simple life” and automatically thinks of that terrible show with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie? (Please, for the love of all that is holy, tell me no, I am not the only one.)

I fear I'm digressing. So let's regroup and get back to the point I was trying to make which is that there are some things in my life–and probably yours, too–that can alleviate stress, free up some time, and make life a whole lot easier. Like:

  1. A crockpot. While I do love to cook, there are some days I just don't feel like it. Particularly on really hot days or days that I am exceptionally tired. Unfortunately, my family still likes to eat on those days. (When I worked in an office, my crockpot would have come in incredibly handy had I remembered to use it more.) Anyway. Going out to eat or getting takeout is not a frequent financial option right now so I have to cook. Enter the crockpot. I enjoy the fact that I can take 10 minutes in the morning, toss some raw ingredients in the pot, and let it go until dinner time. Saves time, saves money, and I don't really have to do much. It's basically the trifecta.
  2. Delay start features. On both my dishwasher and my washing maching, there is a delay start function. I love this. It means I can run the dishes while I sleep and don't have to endure the loud, helicopter takeoff sounds and for laundry, I can get an entire load (save for folding) done before my daughter even wakes up in the morning. It makes getting these unpleasant household chores done much more tolerable since a good portion of them are happening while I am asleep. It's pretty ideal.
  3. Auto bill pay. I balance my checkbook once a week and pay cash for pretty much everything. Having auto bill pay means that a) I don't have to keep track of a dozen due dates; b) don't have to manually login to a dozen accounts; and c) can keep to my once a week balancing schedule. It makes budgeting and planning so much easier and simpler and also? No late fees or stupid tax. The only time it becomes a pain is when I have my debit card number stolen (which happened recently) or a card expires. But that once every few years annoyance is totally worth the benefits.
  4. DVR. I don't know if it makes my life easier or just enables my TV watching habit, but DVR is one of my favorite inventions of the last few years. I love the fact that I no longer have to choose between two shows happening concurrently, and I love even more the fact that if I can't watch something, I can record it without having to screw with a machine or a tape. It also means that I can skip commercials (win!) and go to bed if something is on too late (bigger win!).
  5. }

  6. Online shopping. Living in the middle of nowhere, it's sometimes just a pain in the ass to get to a store. Also, I am lazy and sometimes just don't want to go to a store. Or the stores don't have what I am looking for (like my latest purchase, Essie I'm Using My Maiden Name). So I shop online. I can pick out exactly what I want, I don't have to contend with assholes in parking lots or in the stores, and I don't even need to wear pants. Plus, Amazon has a feature where you can set up recurring purchases that ship on a set day every month (good for household supplies like paper towels and dish soap) so you don't even have to remember to buy them. They just show up! I plan to utilize this in the future.

I'm a fan of pretty much anything that gets a task done the way I want it and with as little effort as possible. If it's one less thing I have to remember, it gets an A in my book. There are too many things I want to do to spend unnecessary time doing the things I have to.

How about you? What do you use in your life to make things simpler or easier?

42 things to do while watching TV

tv things

The other day, while looking through Pinterest, I saw yet another post spouting off about how TV is awful and a waste of time and the only way to be productive and engaged is if you just turn it off (the superior attitude she gave in the post is a whole separate topic and rant. Honestly, if you don’t want to watch TV, good for you. But please don’t condescend to those of us who do). While there might be some merit to what the post author was saying, I respectfully disagree with her. In fact, I believe there are plenty of things you can do while watching TV so you’re not just idly sitting on the couch (and if all you want to do is sit on the couch, go ahead. It’s your time, your life and you can do whatever you choose with it).

For instance:

Bloggy things

  1. Comment on other blogs or respond to comments on yours
  2. Write a post or two
  3. Optimize posts for Pinterest or SEO
  4. Check for dead or broken links
  5. Create an editorial calendar
  6. Schedule tweets and/or Facebook updates
  7. Create a new header or blog button
  8. Participate in a Twitter chat
  9. Help a new blogger (not sure how? I know a great program you can get involved in)
  10. Revise or update old posts to make them fresh
  11. Give your blog a facelift
  12. Do invoices for sponsorships, freelance work, ads, or services
  13. Finally start that eBook

 
Pioneer things

  1. Crochet, knit, sew, or mend something
  2. Map your garden
  3. Make soap or candles
  4. Prepare food (ex., pickles, bread, applesauce in the crockpot)
  5. Wash dishes
  6. Research essential oils or some alternative medicines that pioneers used
  7. Make homemade cleaners

time

Personal things

  1. Exercise (there are tons of workouts you can do during commercials or while watching a show. Or invent your own)
  2. Pay bills
  3. Fold laundry
  4. Batch cook or menu plan
  5. Read a magazine, a book, or create a reading list on GoodReads (while you’re at it, put some books on hold at the library or borrow some from the Kindle store)
  6. Do some online shopping
  7. Look for coupons (I do this with the Target Cartwheel app)
  8. Make a vision board
  9. Organize your Pinterest boards or actually make a project you’ve pinned
  10. Write out goals or a bucket list
  11. Plan/organize a party or family get-together
  12. Write thank you cards or cards in general
  13. Play a game
  14. Do a puzzle
  15. Create a workout, commuting, or road trip playlist or four
  16. Organize pictures
  17. Groom yourself–mani/pedi, dye your hair, face mask, remove your mustache (no judging here. You need to do what you need to do)
  18. Play with your pet
  19. Text a friend during a particularly interesting show and share the experience
  20. Clean the room you’re in
  21. Purge your closet or drawers
  22. Watch something helpful/educational like a TED talk or documentary 

The pioneers, from what I can tell, valued being productive over being busy. But they also enjoyed some downtime, particularly after a hard day of work. They relaxed with music, storytelling, and games; many of us relax with a TV show or two. But if you’re finding you’re hard pressed to get everything done in a day you need or want to, why not get some of it done while you’re in front of the TV?

What would you add to the list?