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Friday, July 7, 2017

The No-Brainer Purge:


20 Items to Get Rid of Right Now Without a Second Thought

If you're anything like me, de-cluttering is downright exhilarating. But knowing where to start can be a major mental roadblock. If you've got the urge to get some stuff out of the house, start with this list of items you can say goodbye to right now with little thought and no impunity.
1. Expired coupons. A good app to use might be Evernote, with a "delete" tag and deadline reminder so you can eliminate this paper clutter altogether. Read more here.
2. Old magazines. If you're keeping them to look back at later, you won't. If you're keeping them for your kids to use for collages, keep three, max.
3. Expired pantry items (canned goods, spices, etc.). Check your local food bank for donation guidelines.
5. Old/extra/excessive wrapping paper and supplies. If your stash tends to grow and sit, paring it down leaves you with less decision fatigue when it's time to wrap.
6. Excessive plastic and paper bags. They'll multiply again, trust me.
7. Broken things you've been meaning to repair. Take that pressure off yourself and breathe easier.
8. Old/extra/stained/torn linens. Chances are you never reach for those anyway.
9. Chipped dishes and mugs. They're fung shui energy stealers.
10. DVDs you know you'll never watch again. You won't waste your time on them; don't waste space on them either.
11. Duplicate kitchen tools. Keep only the ones you reach for when you have a choice.
12. Accessories you haven't worn in a year or more. It means you don't actually like them.
13. Take-out menus. They're all online. Free up that junk drawer real estate.
14. Extra boxes and empty storage containers. Professional organizers say you should buy containers specifically for what you know you need to store, not the other way around
15. Refills for items you no longer use. Examples include regular light bulbs after you've switched to LEDs, coffee filters for a pot you no longer own or use, or toothbrush head replacements for an electric toothbrush that kicked the bucket a long time ago.
16. Expired or compromised bike helmets. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that helmets should be replaced every five years or if they have been involved in any impact.
17. Expired medication. Use these guidelines for proper disposal.
18. Expired cosmetics. Components separate, ingredients lose their effectiveness, and fragrances can turn rancid. Don't put them on your body.
19. Old cell phones. Check out HopeLine, Cell Phones for Soldiers, and the FTC's guidelines for making sure your personal information is wiped clean.

20. Books that don't move you or that you haven't used for reference in three or more years. Editing your collection leaves you with an autobiographical shelf that's a distilled literary portrait of you — and makes room for new favorites.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Chic Peek : Upgrade

Hi everyone! 

Recently, I shared that we purchased our first home, and yes, it still feels surreal.  Now that we've been living here for over two and half months we decided to do some work on the front of our home. So, I wanted to share our landscaping improvements that we did on the Fourth of July.


We were pretty excited to spend this holiday working on our front garden. As you can see, it needed a little pick-me-up.


I mean... look at all those pine needles. They were everywhere.  ALL. THE. TIME.  They had to go.


We also rearranged some of the plants so they would compliment each other.


The boys having fun while mom and dad sweat their butts off.


HELLLOOO pretty new garden!  It was a lot of hard work, especially with 80% humidity, but definitely worth the end result.



Until next time...

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Social Book. Me. My friends. My life. My book.


With everyone and everything going digital in the world it means that most of us haven’t printed out photos in ages or have few pictures framed to show for all of the memories we’ve created.  I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to cherish family photos, vacations, holidays, and life events. And I’ve found the easiest, quickest, and perfect way to do it and it’s called My Social Book.


Everyone has a Facebook page or Instagram page (well most do), so it only makes sense to utilize this outlet to help us document memories for our family. My Social Book is a company that transforms your Instagram (or Facebook) timeline into a memory book. It’s completely customizable and you choose what types of posts you want included in the book. Don’t want to include posts others have shared on your page? No problem, you don’t have to! I decided to capture my Instagram page of shared family outings, life events, and silly snapshots of our daily lives.  Through My Social Book, I’ve been able to take those shared posts and create a memory book.


 And you want to know the best part of My Social Book? It's not time consuming like scrapbooking. Creating a My Social Book literally takes a few minutes, at most! If you are a busy person like me, this may be the answer to your prayers.  Pictured above are the two books that I’ve created so far. I began last year and have documented through 2013 so far. These books were kind of pricey, but can you really put a price on memories? 


I now pay more attention to the events and photos I share with my friends. I've always been big on capturing memories for my family and I am documenting our lives. My Social Book has been a true blessing for us and I’m so grateful to be able to capture and preserve memories in such an easy way. Also, they are completely customizable from the colors, to the styles and covers.


Below is a page documenting my time in Georgia with my cousins.


And here is the time Andrew's family was visiting and we took the kids to the Aquarium in New Orleans for the day.


Happy Documenting!


Until next time... 

Baby Shower.








A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Mama and Baby Levens with a baby shower brunch at The Chimney's. It was a lovely morning to get together and catch up also.  We all can't wait to meet the little girl (or boy)... since we don't know, but they'll soon be here to steal the show.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Feeling high tech.

I'm always looking for ways to spice up my blog and today I learned...




(photo credit to Carrie Loves)

I mean... c'mon.  Look how much better the before and after is when viewing from a mobile device.

Big thanks to Carrie Loves post with the coding on how to make your blog have a little more pop to it.  I love Carrie's blog! LOVE IT.  She designed the template for my website and helped with the coding to set me up.  I've used a few of her tips too along the way to add things here or there.  She makes it super simple to do yourself.  I hope everyone enjoys my changes as much as I do. 



Until next time...


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Life Lately.

I've been having one of those weeks. *coughmonthscough* Equal parts stress / exhaustion and gratefulness over here.  Emphasis on the grateful.  But... the week is half over!


Things have been hectic at work (no surprise there) and I had decided to take some time off of school, but then changed my mind.  I have four classes left... FOUR. I'm so close to the finish line I can taste it.  However, since I'm completely crazy I've decided to start looking into continuing my education in Network Security Technology once I complete my Bachelor's Degree in Marketing.  


You're probably thinking the same thing as me.  Why would you do this to yourself? You're close to the promise land. Well, I figure I needed a backup and technology seemed the right way to go since hey, that's my current career path. So let's have faith. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated since I'm sure I'll be having mini meltdowns while juggling school and work, but I'm determined to further my education. In the words of Rory Gilmore, "I'm going to kick butt."


Until next time...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One Month.


Honeymoon phase:
We've officially been in our new home for a month. ONE MONTH.  Moving from our tiny 700 sq. foot apartment to our 1,400 sq. foot house was more of an adjustment that I thought it would be.  The walls are still pretty bare. I have four items hung on the walls...tops.  Blank walls are a bit overwhelming (also, I don't want to put holes in the pretty painted walls).  By the time we left the apartment, I had decorated and organized nearly every inch of our space. I had routines and systems in place and felt like everything ran smoothly and efficiently.  Or as best as it could in such a confined space.
And then we moved.
I LOVE our new house! Love, love, LOVE it!! But like I said, there are a lot of unpainted walls, blank spaces, unorganized areas, undecorated rooms, routines that could use some work, etc. And I am so looking forward to working on all of those things as we continue to get settled in!! It just surprised me that I’ve kind of missed that “settled” feeling I had in the apartment.
Fighting the urge:
However, if I'm being honest, my OCD tendencies are struggling to fight the urge to get everything "done" right away.  I like order.  I like everything in its place.  So of course my first instinct when we moved in was to get everything done as quickly as possible. I wanted to organize and decorate all the things, and for some reason naive little me thought that I could do that in the first month we lived here. HA!
The truth is, it takes time to “get to know” a house. The space is laid out differently, the way you think you’ll use a room may end up being different from how you actually end up using it, the furniture arrangement you thought would be perfect actually isn’t ideal at all, etc. I am a planner for sure, but as much as I planned, there were things we learned from just living in our space that we wouldn’t have been able to figure out any other way.  

Because of this, I have tried to resist the urge to furnish and decorate every single room right away. Yes, there were some things that were necessities– we needed our bed, for example, and a new dryer, so we had to address those needs ASAP– but for the things that aren’t needed NOW, I’m trying not to make hasty decisions in the name of getting things “done” that I may regret later.
"Help me, I'm poor":
I knew that moving to a new house was going to involve some extra expenses, but I don’t think I anticipated exactly how many.  We had two sets of windows in our apartment... our new house has FIVE.  You're probably thinking three extra windows to cover, no biggie.  Well, blinds and curtains are expensive!  As I mentioned above, we also had to get a new dryer.  The one we got with the house needed to be replaced... which I quickly discovered after 4 loads of laundry.

Our new house has doors out to where a deck or patio could be, but no actual deck or patio, so we’ll need to add that ourselves, which will be a fairly large expense.  Also, we want to add some sort of fence... at some point.  We have barely done any painting yet, but when it comes time for that, that will be another expense. 
Little did I know:
Honestly, I thought organizing our new house would be a snap. I had good systems in place in our apartment, so I just thought that I’d do the exact same thing or similar in this house and we’d be good to go… not so much.
These cute baskets worked perfectly in our old apartment…not so much in the house!
There was little room under the sink in the bathroom vanity in the apartment, but we had a decent sized linen closet to store towels and other items. So while the under-the-sink space is larger in this house, it is set up differently. The apartment had six rows of shelves pictured above; the house has two sinks to store items under and also has a few drawers. As a result, the cute little drawer organizers that worked perfectly in the apartment, don’t work well at all here.
I could list several more examples, but all this to say, I’m ending up needing to rethink the pieces and systems I use to get organized, which isn’t something I expected to have to do.

I hope this post didn’t end up sounding like a rant. I’m so, so grateful for our house and am LOVING the process of figuring out the ways to make it work best for us! Just sharing some surprises that came my way. 
Until next time...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Letterfolk.







(photo credit to Letterfolk for three middle images)

My letter board came in this week!!  I fell in love with Letterfolk on Instagram awhile back and decided to join in on the fun.  Which if I'm being honest, I need a little more fun in my life.  

My state of mind wasn't the best this past week.  Technically, everything around me is fine: The hubs and I are settling into our new home, we FINALLY have furniture (sorry dining room chairs, you weren't cutting it), our immediate family is healthy and happy, and I have a job. 

However, work has been pretty stressful. Like I can't remember the last time I wasn't stressed/overthinking/over-analyzing every move I make since 2017 kicked off.  I mean last year was somewhat stressful, but I have not felt in control of my life this year when it comes to my job.  Hoping things will change, but feeling a little discouraged lately. So chins up going forward and hoping things take a turn for the better.

Until next time...

Friday, April 21, 2017

It's official...


We bought a house!!  

We're so thankful to everyone who helped us to get to this point in our lives to do this.  A few months ago we started the search for our new home for our little family.  It was discouraging at times and I was scared absolutely out of my dang mind (and that's putting it lightly) wondering if we would ever find a home right for us. The point is... we did! 

This weekend we'll be moving into our new home and I can't pray enough for how truly blessed we are.  


Until next time...

Monday, March 20, 2017

10 Things You Could Get Rid of Today (and Never Miss).


After a while, you get so accustomed to seeing the things in your home that you tend to gloss over cluttered spaces because they seem normal. In preparation for moving into our new home I'm in the mood to purge... BIG TIME. So I thought I'd share and see if anyone else is guilty of storing any of these things that you don't want or need?

1. The stack of paper bags on top of your refrigerator or under the kitchen sink. The groceries are long gone; their day is done.
2. Sheet sets for sizes of mattress that you don't even own anymore. Is your linen closet keeping up with your furniture?
3. Any bottle in your bathroom that contains a product that didn't work for you. Why are you still storing that frizz-inducing shampoo?
4. Those couple of bowls or cups in your kitchen with tiny chips in the rim — It's not "still good" if you have to carefully decide where to place your mouth in order to prevent lip bleeding.
5. Shoes you bought on sale that pinch your toes.
6. The attachments for a vacuum you got rid of years ago.
7. The glass vase that your latest flower arrangement was delivered in. How many of those have you racked up by now?
8. That book you couldn't finish and that other book that you loved and devoured (pass it on to a friend and then discuss!).
9. Your second-string black cardigan. You always wear your favorite one anyway.
10. Multiple overnight bags or travel bags. 
Any of these strike a chord? If these specific examples don't apply to you, try thinking about decluttering by broader category:
·         Multiples
·         Clothes or products just that don't work for you
·         Equipment or accessories for activities you no longer do
·         Damaged things

Remember, you don't have to feel bad about wasting perfectly functional items if you donate them to people or organizations who really need them! Win win!

Until next time...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Don't compare your real life to my highlights reel"

How many times have you thought, “I wish that was me”? I wish I was going to Europe or the Caribbean. I wish my husband surprised me with roses at work to celebrate the first time he laid eyes on me. I wish I was rocking newer clothes instead of the same old things I have been wearing. 
If you’re on Facebook, it’s probably every day. After a while, you start to really hate seeing #blessed. It starts to feel like everyone else is living this amazing glamorous life, while you’re schlepping through trying to make ends meet, arguing with your husband about who should do the dishes. 
Well, I’m calling bull. 
Because I happen to know that for every one of those #blessed statuses, there’re a dozen moments of boredom, or arguing over dishes, or toddler tantrums in Target. Their life isn’t different from yours. They have the same problems, vulnerabilities, and secrets that you do.  
The best quote I've heard recently is ”Don’t compare your real life to my highlights reel”. Because that’s what Facebook is, It’s someone else’s highlights reel. I gave up Facebook last year for lent and I'm starting 2017 off that way also. NO FACEBOOK.  It takes a lot of work to break through the mind trap that is Facebook and learn to love and live your own life. 
There’s a problem with social media, movies, television, and romance novels. After a while, all of those lives seem to be real. And our life seems to pale in comparison. While each of those things can add something good into your life, if left unchecked, it can also make you compare yourself to others.When you’re constantly looking at others and wishing that was you, then you aren’t investing your time and energy into your own life. 
Limit time on Facebook (or anywhere you feel the urge to compare yourself) for two weeks to see if you feel better or worse. Just be you. Make a list of things you're thankful for. And realize you're viewing the highlight reel and turn it off. 

Until next time...