A blog about "nothing"!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Patience is a virtue of which I have none!

I'm terrible about getting an idea in my head of something I would like to have and setting all sorts of specifics for that item.  Whenever I would get one of these ideas, my mom would always say "oh no, a white blouse".  Her saying went back to an outfit I bought for which I wanted a white blouse for, but not just any white blouse, it had be a certain style with certain features.  I took my poor husband (then boyfriend) to every store in the area, never finding the blouse I had in my mind.  Sometimes I'm still amazed that he married me after that experience.

I've wanted a bag for about a year that falls in to this category.  I was looking for a speedy/Boston bag, all leather, in either black, brown or british tan in a specific size, with a removable strap.  Nothing I've seen has been what I've been looking for, they have either been synthetic materials, overly decorated with studs or other embellishments, or way out of my price range.  I had just about given up my search when not too long ago I decided to stop at TJ Maxx.  I ALWAYS check out the handbag section there, they have some really nice ones and I've found some great deals.  I wasn't really looking that hard, when I found it--the bag that I had been looking for.  And the best part???  It was on clearance!!!

To make things even better, it was one of my favorite brands, Tignanello.  I've had several of their bags in the past and they are always very well made.  The original price on it was $139, TJMaxx original price was $79.99--marked down to $39!  I've seen bags made from synthetic materials sell for more than that, I couldn't believe that it was so cheap.  I really think that it was one that someone had received as a Christmas gift and returned recently because I frequent TJMaxx and had never seen it at full price, and I would have been more than happy to have paid the $79.99 for it as well.  Even the cashier commented on what a great deal it was.  (she must be a bag lover too!)  Once in a while patience pays off.  
The funny part of all of this is that morning I was wishing that I had a shower cap (long story) and as I was standing in line waiting to check out, guess what I spotted hanging there?  A good trip the whole way around.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What's on the telly?

We are in the midst of another polar votex--brrrr!!!  It is a whopping -2F as I type this, I am really getting sick of winter.  It's supposed to get worse before it gets better too.  When it's this cold, there isn't much you can do outside, so it's a great time to get caught up on your television watching.  Right now there is plenty to watch too, at least in our house.

On regular network programming, my favorite new show "The Blacklist" started up again after a month long hiatus over the holidays.  I've always liked James Spader and this role is probably one of his best.  The story line constantly has you wondering just who are the bad guys and who are the good guys!  I've been horribly disappointed with "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory", way too many repeats already, what the heck?!?!  On PBS we have "Downton Abbey"--I wasn't sure if I was going to watch it again since I already watched it when it aired in the UK, but I found myself sucked in.  Interestingly enough, I picked up on a detail in the first episode that I missed before, and now it changes my opinion of Barrow and Bates completely.  And how I can I forget the long awaited return of "Sherlock"!  My husband and I are definitely hooked, I wish we got more than just three episodes at a time.  I am still hoping for the return of Moriarty. 

Streaming has been a great way for us to watch things we haven't seen before, or shows we want to re-watch.  Heather started watching Dr. Who from the beginning of the series reboot, and I have only watched it here and there, so I started at that point myself.  I was not familiar at all with the 9th doctor--I absolutely loved him before it was over with and was really sad that he was only in one season.  I am now about halfway through season two.  In the spirit of Dr. Who, I also decided to re-watch "Torchwood" from the beginning again, this is one of my favorite shows of all time, and just recently the fourth season has been made available at no charge to Amazon Prime members (doing a little happy dance here!) so I will actually get to see some new stuff.  Gotta love Captain Jack!!!

I started watching the UK version of "Wallander", but decided to put it on hold until we are done watching Sherlock.  It has a similar theme to Sherlock, but a much slower pace and I am afraid if I try to watch them at the same time, I will find myself constantly comparing them, and that isn't fair, they are two completely different kinds of shows.  We finished the fourth season of "Doc Martin"--if you haven't watched this, you really must, it is Martin Clunes at his best along with a bunch of other quirky folks.  We will start the fifth season of that after Sherlock as well, hopefully by the time we are done with that season the sixth (and most recent) will be available for us to stream as part of Amazon Prime as well.

My daily watching is the UK soap "Coronation Street"--I got hooked on this last summer and right now there is an especially tough storyline going on.  As a friend of mine said "I don't watch now without a box of Kleenex handy".  That storyline is about to wrap in the next week or so, it has already aired in the UK and I've heard it is very hard to watch.  Oh no! 

We have a bunch of shows that are the "go to" shows on the weekend when there is nothing on--"Man vs Food", "Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe", "The Vicar of Dibley" (was sad to hear of actor Roger Lloyd Pack's passing recently), "Brad Meltzer's Decoded", "Absolutely Fabulous".  I wish our local PBS channel would quit doing so many pledge weekends, I am missing "This Old House" and "America's Test Kitchen"--although I have also found ways to stream old episodes of those. 

Last but not least, I started re-watching an old favorite show from the 1980's-90's--"Thirtysomething".  It's been fun remembering the characters as well as some of the clothing and technology (or lack of) of that era.   In my mind I keep wondering how you could reboot this show for current times and how much re-writing you would have to do.  For me it has special meaning too because one of the actresses (Patricia Wettig) grew up around here and is a friend of someone I know. 

What have you been watching?  Any recommendations?

Have a great weekend and if you are in the Eastern US and Canada--STAY WARM!

If you get this, I know you are a Torchwood fan!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

This is hard!

Still working at cleaning out stuff, I have our dining room almost finished.  It's been productive, I took several more boxes/bags of stuff to the Goodwill and I've sold a couple of things on Ebay.  I need to work on listing some more stuff this weekend, and next week I'm going to tackle the "junk" drawers and one last cupboard.  I don't think there is much to get rid of from those spaces, more a case of getting organized.  Making progress.  February I will work on the kitchen, I don't think there is quite as much to get rid of there, more of the getting organized as well. 

Several weeks ago I said I was really going to work hard at not going to thrift stores as often.  Last week I allowed myself a day to go check out two stores.  I did really well, I only bought three things--a pair of navy blue pants (which I did need), a new case for my iPod (a sort of need, massively unhappy with the one I had) and a package of Christmas invitations that I'm going to turn in to Christmas cards.  Not bad, and I was excited to find the iPod case, they are hard to find at stores around here for some reason. 

I'm having the hardest time avoiding the clearance sales for clothing, but so far, so good.  There are so many nice things at some great prices, but the truth is I really don't need anything, and it seems kind of silly given the fact that I'm working on losing weight.  By the time next season rolls around these things might not fit me.  I've already gotten rid of several items because they don't fit and have several more that are on the bubble.  So I'm trying to keep focused, telling myself it will be more fun to save the money and buy myself some new stuff in a new size later on.   

How are your new years goals coming along?  Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hints from.............."Not Heloise"

Anyone else remember that newspaper column?  Do they still publish it?  Sometimes they came up with some really good stuff and sometimes it was really hokey, but we all read it anyways, didn't we?

My first "hint" is something that happened by accident.  A couple of months ago I bought these kitchen wash rags:
What the heck was I thinking?  They are white---can you think of a worse thing to buy for a kitchen rag?  And then to make matters worse, they are microfiber.  I HATE microfiber, the feel of it drives me nuts, and it doesn't work for towels in any way shape or form for me.  I stuck them under the kitchen sink for the time being until I figured out what to do with them.  A couple of weeks ago an idea finally popped in to my head and it was brilliant!  Instead of using a traditional Swiffer cloth that you end up throwing away, use one of these.  Being white, I can see just how much crud I've picked up off the hard wood floor and being fabric, I can wash them.  Let me just say that they worked great for this purpose, they fit the old style traditional Swiffer perfectly and when I was done, I just tossed them in the laundry.  Score!
My other tip for the day is one I found on Pinterest.  I tried it yesterday on a batch of towels and I have to say I was impressed.  My towels have no odor at all to them now, they smell CLEAN.  I'm as guilty as the next guy for putting too much soap in when I wash towels, this really did take all of the soap out of them, I could tell just by looking in the rinse tub.  I'm going to gradually do all of our towels, thinking this would be a good thing to do once a year, and might try it on our comforters before I put them away at the end of the season.  I wonder what else it would work on?
Do you have any great cleaning tips to share?

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Big Clean-Out!

I've mentioned several times that 2014 is going to be a year of organization.  I started working on it in 2013 and did okay, but there are some things that didn't get done.  We've lived in this house just over 3 years and quite frankly, some of this disorganization is driving me crazy!  NOW IS THE TIME!

One thing we are working on is getting an office area set up for my husband in our basement.  We are taking the area that we had designated for a family room (that we rarely ever use) and re-arranging it to accommodate this.  He needs a space where he can just do whatever, and I want my dining room back :)  Hopefully this weekend we will be making a couple of trips to the Goodwill to get rid of a couple of pieces of furniture we don't have room for. 

I've started cleaning out the dining room, listed a few things on Ebay and took a box of stuff to Goodwill yesterday.  I'm planning on doing some more in there today, fingers crossed that by this time next week I will be mostly done.  I also got a bag of clothes together and took it to Goodwill as well.  Lots more to go.  The kitchen will be next after the dining room.  One of my biggest complaints has always been having things of similar purpose scattered around the house.  It's not just an issue here, but was an issue in our other house.  We are getting there.

This morning I decided to tackle one of those things that I have been putting off since we moved--kitchen towels.  I am embarrassed to admit that I had an entire laundry basket FULL of kitchen towels.  And now that I have gone through them, I don't know why I had a laundry basket full?!?!?!?!  The majority of them were old, stained, faded, just yuck, and now I have a nice big bag of scrub rags.  WTF was I thinking?!?!   I have to instruct the hubby that if you use one of these towels out of the scrub rag bag, it is to go in to the trash.  I AM NOT WASHING THEM AGAIN.  I did find a couple of nice towels that I put away, but the bulk of what was in the basket was just shot. 

I have to say that I've found some interesting things as I've cleaned, but very little that I value enough to hang on to.  I think about an article I read a number of years ago on simplifying your life.  One of the words of advice was to take a box and put items in it that you are "on the fence" about keeping, then store the box away for 30 days.  At the end of the 30 days, get the box back out and see first off how well you can remember what is in the box.  Then get rid of it, particularly the items that you didn't remember putting in there in the first place.  One person said that one weekend when their spouse was away they did this.  The spouse was outraged--"Those things were important to me!".  They then asked the spouse if they could tell them exactly which items they had gotten rid of, and if they could, then they would get them back out.  They couldn't. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone!  We are finally out of the frigid weather, I am so glad.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Love this idea!

Sometime over the past year I came across a post on Pinterest that I really liked--instead of printing out all of those pictures taken over the past year, turn them in to an annual album.  I used to be a big scrapbooker, I have tons and tons of paper, tools, embellishments, but for whatever reason, I kind of got tired of it.  I have found ways to use all that stuff (for the most part) but I also had a computer full of pictures that never got any further than my hard drive.  I also have boxes of photos from my pre-scrapbooking days stored away.  I hated that idea.  And since I'm on a "reduce clutter" mission, the idea of putting a whole years worth of photos together in one place seemed like a terrific idea.

I waited until there was a good photo book sale at my favorite site and I got to work.  I decided to start with 2010 as I have scrapbooks from 2000 - 2007 completed, one from 2008 almost done and in 2009 I did several photo books and scrapbooks for various things.  I am already a bit OCD in how I store my photos on my computer, so that made it much easier to put these photos in chronological order for my photo album.  Once I got started on the first book, I was amazed at how easily it came together.  I have since completed three years, and 2013 is in process, I hope to finish it up in the next two weeks.  For me the longest part of the process is uploading all the photos to the website.  Now that I have a routine for this, I will just make a point of regularly uploading photos as we take them. 

I love the fact that I can use a favorite photo (or two or three) from that particular year to make the cover with, it not only is pretty but also serves as a quick reference/memory trigger.  I'm very much a visual person, so having a photo on the cover helps me to remember what else might be in a particular album.  I know, I'm weird ;)  They also make great coffee table books.  I've done a couple of them from special trips we've been on as well, and I'm hoping somewhere down the road to do a cookbook this way. 

As far as sites that offer this service--there are soooooo many.  I've used both Shutterfly and Snapfish and I've found that of those two, Snapfish offers the best color reproduction and their software is the easiest to use in addition to offering the most options.  I love the fact that you can select numerous themes and backgrounds as well as text and embellishments to accent your pages.  The Snapfish software also offers a variety of premade layouts to accommodate any number of pictures, or you can do your own thing if you feel like it.  It's all a matter of what you feel comfortable with.

See all those albums to the right of the picture--that's how I USED to do it.  Let's just say that the storage space is considerably reduced with one of these photo books.  A scrapbook album can get very thick before it's over with, and they weigh a ton.  Expense wise I would say it's probably cheaper overall as well, it may seem like a photo book initially is expensive, but if you add up the price of a scrapbook album, scrapbook paper, having all the photos printed, and any embellishments, you might be surprised.  Add in the time issue on top of all of that, and you may find that it is totally worth it, even if it does cost a couple of bucks more.  Photo printing websites are always running some sort of special deal, I've gotten in the habit of having an album at least started and partially finished so I can take advantage of those deals when they are available. 

Want to give it a try but not sure where to start?  I suggest picking a special event that you have a lot of pictures from--a wedding, a vacation, something you want to commemorate.  Several years ago we had a birthday celebration for my husband's grandmother, and one of the family members had scanned a large assortment of photos for that event documenting 90 years of grandma's life.  I was lucky enough to be one of those who got a copy of the CD she had burned of those photos, so I turned them in to an album to give to grandma and several other family members.  To say that the gift was a hit is putting it mildly, and now all of those pictures are in one place, making it easy to look at them. 

The other big plus--if you store these items at a site you regularly shop at, these projects can be stored indefinitely.  If something happens to your hard copy of the book, it is as simple as a couple of keystrokes to get a new copy made.  Be sure to check the website policies regarding photo and project storage first, these do vary from site to site, but to me it's a nice piece of mind.  I actually had one of my albums seriously damaged in shipping and it was so easy to have it replaced. 

Have fun!  And if you decide to give it a try, I would love to see what you come up with.  Just post a link in the comments section.  I will warn you though, it is completely addictive........

Friday, January 3, 2014

What's "New" With You???

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone has recovered from their celebrations and are back in the swing of things.  We are going through a bitter cold snap here in Western Pennsylvania, the temperature as I type this post is a whopping 5F.  We had snow most of yesterday, accumulating several inches.  Snow I can deal with, but I'm not a fan of bitter cold.  I'd better get used to it because we are stuck with it at least until the middle of next week, the high for Tuesday is going to be in the negative temperatures--brrrr!!!!!  I'm still hopeful they have it wrong. 

I am in the thick of a paperwork purge and organization, almost done.  I always feel better when I am done with that, I know it's something that I don't have to deal with for a whole year and I'm organized for doing the annual taxes.  For years it was one of those things I dreaded until I came up with a good system about 5 years ago, and now I have it down to a science. 

I decided I want to learn to do/try at least one new thing in 2014, maybe more than one.  My biggest issue is narrowing it down.  Learn to play guitar, join a gym, learn a new craft technique?  I discussed with a friend learning to knit, it's something we both want to learn how to do, but we also had a good laugh as neither of us needs to learn a new hobby (any of you in to crafts knows how THAT goes).  I know I don't want to join a gym in January, I'm not a patient person when it comes to dealing with throngs of people, so that one is definitely on the back burner.  I guess it's one of those things I'll "know when I see it". 

Stay warm everyone!  Have a great weekend!
"You expect me to go outside to pee in this cold?  Mom, you are so funny!!!"