Sunday, April 28, 2013

Getting ready for summer!

I've never been really fond of our back yard. Since moving in, we've done a lot of work back there. The iron fence was covered in honeysuckle & obstructed the view of the yard, so we took that down. Bushes lined the pool & attracted bees & wasps, which aggravated us when we tried to swim, so we removed all those & opened all that up. I like it so much better. And we've had about 9 trees in the back removed, too. But, it's just been blah. Not really sure why I've never attempted to address this area, but this year, I am! I'm ready to tackle it bit by bit. And there's no budget to do that, so I'll have to get creative. Being creative is NOT my best asset.  Heck, it's not even an asset of mine.  Ha!   Nonetheless, I have decided to do my best beautifying this area. I plan on spending a lot of time out here this summer & I want it pretty. I like pretty. I love pretty! (Speaking of landscaping - our home was a Kaleidoscope home - the amount of landscaping out front was outrageous! They had planted so many bushes & plants & such, it was horrible. Pretty, but total overkill. We cleaned all that out & made it uniformed. Looks like a totally different yard than when we moved in. It was hard work, too! Maybe some day I can find before & after photos.)


I don't think I've ever shown photos of the back of our house! Here are a few of the pool area. We did some cleaning today in anticipation of summer. It really is a peaceful area - as a matter of fact, my oldest has been out back reading for the last hour or so. My kids love it out back & now I do, too.

This is the view looking at the back of our house. This year we'll be installing a ceiling fan under the patio, between the recessed lighting. I plan on hanging a flag, planting flowers after I spray paint my old planters, relocating my craft/spray paint table (I know, funny, huh) & hopefully find some sort of furniture to place under there. The plastic containers are full of pool toys & accessories, so they'll be empty soon. I want pretty under there. I also plan on hanging lights, which the kids will love at dark time. Not sure why the top step in the pool is brown - we have no clue what that is. Hubby's going to have to get in & scrub it off.

This is an outside door that leads into our downstairs bathroom. I think we've opened it twice in the 8.5 years we've lived here. I hate that little area & I hate how they did a patch in the pebble stone & it looks like crap. Due to previous foundation issues, that side of the house has lots of those little sloppy patches & they drive me crazy. In the photo above, you can see another one right behind the planter. I sure would love to get those smoothed out & redone. Maybe some day.

This is a pretty view. The entire left side of the iron fence is where the thick honeysuckle was. I remember after we moved in, I spent countless hours out there cutting vine by vine, trying to get it off. One day my husband walked out there & just pushed all of it over the side & it all fell off. Ha! Smart aleck. I want to remove those huge bushes up against the back fence, but my husband wants to keep them. I have no idea why they're there & I have no idea why they didn't take them all the way across the back.  My husband wants them to stay, so for now, they stay. The tall 'trees' behind them actually belong to our neighbors & they are Crape Myrtles! They are the largest, tallest Crape Myrtles I have ever seen! They are beautiful & bloom white.

Wouldn't this view look so much better if they had extended the bushes all the way across? We actually have a very large back yard. That whole side (on the right) extends all the way down the side & to the front. (Nice construction. Again.)  Our pool is very pretty & I'm learning to stop complaining about it. Because it is so old, it is a lot of work, a lot of repairs & a lot of money. At our previous homes, we have always designed our own pools & had them built. This one came with the house & has been a huge adjustment. That said, we are so blessed to have a pool & we all enjoy it so much.

The kids have just been dying to swim. The water is so ice cold! The weather here hasn't been consistently warm like it typically is, so it's taking longer to warm up. Today while playing, they asked to swim again. I obliged, knowing they wouldn't be in there long, & told them just to get in with their clothes on. This one jumped right in & the others followed. They swam for a good hour or so! I couldn't believe it. Kids truly are resilient.

Before we went outside today, we did some cleaning upstairs. All ceiling fans got cleaned with hot water & soap. I hate when they get dusty & blow dust all around when in use. Yuck! I very much dislike dust. I also cleaned the bathroom upstairs. This is the bathroom 6 of us used every day for 2 years. I still can't get over it. Behind me is another itty room that houses the toilet & tub. They actually had a door on that room, separating the sink area from the toilet area. We removed the door - that space is too small to have a door on it. Even though I despise blue, this is a pretty bathroom.

And that is the tour for today! As much as this money pit has drained us & continues to do so, I really love the house. I wish we would have been able to renovate immediately after moving in (which was our goal), but life happens & renovating didn't. We'll get there. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Time to clean...your washing machine!

If you say that just right, it rhymes. I'm a rhymer. :)

Get ready, because here come some pretty candid photos. Not only are the candid, they are disgusting. I'm embarrassed to show you these, but I'm going to do it anyway.

In my defense, I do wipe down my machine. I have to. I have a fuzzy husband. I wipe down the inside, run my finger inside the lid & run my rag along the top of the basket. That gets really dirty. But obviously, I haven't been cleaning inside my machine like I should. My clothes are presorted the minute they enter my laundry room. Meaning, I'm a busy mom. When I need to do a load, I walk in, pick up the (presorted) basket, adjust my settings (I only adjust two settings, even though my machine has many - the water level & the temperature - very seldom do I use any other settings), turn on the machine, add my amazing detergent, a scoop of Borax (no idea why I add Borax - but I've done it for years & years now) & add my Nature Bright, if needed. I then toss in my clothes, shut the lid & leave. I actually love doing laundry. I take such pride in my family. I enjoy taking care of their clothes & having them look nice.

So lets get started.

One day a few weeks ago, I went to throw in a load. This time, for whatever reason, I had my glasses on. Typically, I never, ever do, but that's another blog post. Anyway, I opened my machine to load & noticed, well, some grime on the basket. A LOT of grime. Ew!! I have never noticed that before. Probably because a.) the lighting in there isn't the best & b.) I don't usually have my glasses on. My machine is almost 10 years old (I only buy Whirlpool for this very reason! They last & last for me!) & I will tell you right now, I have NEVER cleaned that grime! Wanna see?

Yuck! Here's another:

It was also on my agitator.

Time to get cleaning & get rid of that filth! So I filled a bucket with hot (as hot as I could stand it) water & Basic H, grabbed my rag & got cleaning.

(Check it. I started using that $10 bottle of Basic H on May 25th. Of last year. LOL I use it for everything & I still have quite a bit left!)

I wiped down my entire machine & then went to work on the grime. Well let me tell you. I guess that crap had been there so long, it wasn't budging! Ok. Time to pull out ol' faithful. Time for Scour Off!

Worked like a charm, as I knew it would. Scour Off is a thick, heavy duty scouring paste (replaces toxic Ajax/Comet/Bar Keepers powders - Scour Off sticks where you put it, no powder, no fumes, no toxins, no gross smells. It's made with cherry pits & smells like cherries!). I put some on the end of my scouring brush, added some hot, plain, clean water which I had now put in my bucket, & scrubbed. Effortlessly, the grime came right off.

Look at that. Perfect, just perfect. You'd never know my machine had grime build-up for almost 10 years! I am just tickled with the results. My machine looks almost brand new!

To get in the tight areas, I used a q-tip. I'll have this information in another post where I show you how I clean tiny spaces, but for now, I wanted to remove all dirt off & out of my machine. When I still had hot water & Basic H in my bucket, I dipped the q-tip in the hot, soapy water & went around the edges.

Yes, it works. Works every time, no matter what I'm cleaning. See? Ick.

So, after all the labor (haha), which took me a whopping 20 minutes at the most, my machine looks fab. And grime free! I'm a happy camper. Isn't that purdy?

(Pardon the dirt on the floor in front of my machine. My husband had done yard work & then he came in & tossed his filthy socks on the floor. Sweet.)

Now put your glasses on & go peek in your machine. You never know what's been hiding in there!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My 'beefy-mac'.

Dani Johnson says it's crazy to go grocery shopping when you have food sitting in your pantry. Eat the food you have! Ok, then. I'm giving this a go. Tonight I pulled out a pound of hamburger meat & a box of whole-grain shell noodles. Now. What to do with it?

Tada! It was so simple & my kids, honest to pete, devoured it! It's hearty & inexpensive, too! Maybe $12-13? #winning!


1 lb. hamburger meat
1 13 oz. box of whole-grain pasta shells
1 can undrained Rotel (I use mild for my kids)
8 oz. (2 cups) mild cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook the pasta in one pot while cooking the hamburger meat in another. When meat is done, add Rotel. Simmer. Drain pasta & then add meat/Rotel. Pour in milk (I did not measure, but I added quite a bit for creaminess - maybe 3/4 of a cup or so) & add cheese a little at a time until well blended. Salt & pepper to taste.

Makes enough to feed 5 people! With some left over.

I'm sure there are a million variations you could use, but this is what I came up with on short notice. And I'll be doing it again. :)

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Desiring: Beautiful.

I'm discovering the more sophisticated (read: 'older') I become, the more I desire beauty. I desire peace, calmness, tranquility. I desire serenity. Love in abundance. In my home. In my yard. In my mind. In my heart. In my surroundings. In my life.

Some may think that's a pretty unrealistic goal, but it's mine. And I think it's completely attainable. I want my house immaculate. I want my yards to have beautiful curb appeal. We have so much clutter, still. Even though I'm weeding through it, we've accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. A lot of unnecessary stuff. I presume it will continue to be a work in progress for quite some time & that's ok. I want clutter-free. I want neat & orderly. Everywhere.

It doesn't take money to accomplish this goal. It takes time. Caring. Being grateful. Appreciating what you have & taking care of it. Learning to rid & sort through things as they enter, wherever that may be, & putting it where it belongs, right then. It involves not letting it enter at all, if it's not necessary, to begin with. Whether that be your home, your heart, your job. I desire happiness. Being content. Satisfaction.

I desire no negativity. No untruths. No falseness. I'm realizing those things truly have an unfavorable effect on me, so they aren't welcome. I don't have to 'accept' anything. I don't have to accept manipulating, deceitful, dishonest people. Whether that be acquaintances or family - I don't care. I wish them well but please, go away. Promptly. I think in life there will always be things that are upsetting. Little rants every now & then are to be expected. So do it. And then let it go. Move on.

(I snapped this photo on Saturday, when we visited a carnival. I took this with my iPhone. Love it.)

We've had a very busy last couple of weeks. I suppose, at times, busy will be unvoidable. I honestly believe that during chaos, it's possible to remain calm, to maintain order & just address one thing at a time. My to-do list is unbelievable. Ridiculous, really. Things I must do. Things I want to do. I tend to get overwhelmed & anxious. I'm going to release that. It'll get done. It always does. Stressing or worrying about it doesn't make things get done any quicker. So I no longer desire to spend my time fretting.

I have so many blog posts lined up. I'm going to continue blogging my 'Desiring: Beautiful' journey.

I want our beautiful home to be more beautiful. This involves organizing, continuing to declutter, cleaning, painting, freshening. Our house is not always spotless. It probably never will be, but that doesn't mean I won't continue to strive for it. Clean makes me happy. Pretty makes me happy. Reduces my stress. Provides me with contentment. *Clean & pretty does not mean expensive.

This weekend we were so busy & on the go. Our eating was not good. Not healthy. At times like this, it weighs very heavy on me. I don't like it. I desire to get more organized, more prioritized on healthy meals for us during busy times. We've made great strides in our eating. Now I need to refine it to include healthy meals when we are short on time. Another goal that is going to take planning, but again, is attainable.

I have a lot of work ahead of me. Because beautiful awaits.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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