Crochet isn’t just for grandmas!

I am here to tell you that Crochet is not just for your grandmas anymore!  I have found a new hobby that I absolutely love.  I actually started teaching myself to crochet early last year, and I have completed so many projects this year.  I tend to stick with blankets because they are just a big square, so it’s hard to mess that up.  However, I have done a couple sweaters and scarves as well.  I even did a plaid pillow cover to match my Christmas tree this year. 

Is this something you have always wanted to learn?  Let me tell you it is easier than it looks.  There are so many wonderful Youtube channels out there that can teach you the basics of crochet.  I had no idea what I was doing, and while I could have gotten my grandmother to teach me (She has been an avid crocheter for years.) , teaching myself with tutorials was easier to do on my own time.  And I could watch the same video over and over and no one would get impatient with me.  Except for me.  

I suggest checking out some channels and learn some basic stitches before tackling anything too detailed.  My very first project was a blanket using large yarn (bulky weight) and doing simple double crochet over and over.  It took about a month of working on it a little here and there.  Now, I have completed 6 blankets, 2 sweaters, a few scarves, a hat, and a pillow cover.

Here are some great links for you to check out!

Bella Coco

Wool and the Gang

Melanie Ham

Crochet Crowd

Check out some of my crochet projects!  Please check my instagram for more great projects!  https://www.instagram.com/angelahop19/

New Year – Organization Resolution

It’s a brand new year, and every new year, we think up resolutions and tell ourselves “You will do this better this year.”  And then a month later, we are back in the same old routine.  Okay, that’s me anyway.  Last year, my resolution was to drop some pounds.  And, I actually did it.  Unfortunately, they found me not long after I lost them.  New habits are hard to make and old habits are hard to break.  So, this year, I am not really making a resolution.  I am just striving to get my life more organized.  I feel like my house is structured chaos or hidden hoarding.  Nah, it’s really not that bad.  But, I do know that I have junk hidden in places that I never go into, and I am ready to declutter.  I own the Marie Kondo (I think that is her name) book about keeping things that bring you joy, and getting rid of the things that don’t.  But, don’t forget to thank them first.  hahaha  I just can’t seem to get on board with the bare minimum in my house.  So, I am going to declutter and implement organization in a way that works for me.

1. PLANNER

My first step was actually started in 2017, and that was getting a planner and using it to keep track of bills, expenses, appointments, school functions, etc.  That brought on a whole new obsession known as the HAPPY PLANNER.  Yes, Mambi is the brand, and planning is their jam.  They have so many fun things for those that like stickers and such.  So, I hopped on the planner train, and now I get out my planner on the weekend and put cute stickers in it and plan my weeks.  It sounds so nutty, but it’s fun and it helps me keep track of things better.  the best part is you can customize it and make it fit your life.

2.  HOUSE DECLUTTER

This is my step that I am going to be working on for a while.  I am a tad overwhelmed by it all.  I have searched and googled organizational tips til I’m about ready to just burn the house down and start over.  KIDDING!  I have found a great blog that has an email list and she sends out great tips and a calendar with tasks.  This is the route I am taking because I can just focus on one thing and know that I will get to the rest later on.  This week is the kitchen, well, actually it is only a few things in the kitchen, but I am tackling the whole thing this coming weekend.  It is hard to just do one or two cabinets because I wamt to rework my entire kitchen.  I don’t have a pantry, so I have struggled with where to store everything, and the tupperware has been in every cabinet at one time, I think.  I haven’t quite found the right layout just yet, so I am cleaning out and unpacking the kitchen, so I can put things back that we actually use and hopefully put it in a more efficient space.  I am terrible at snapping pictures, but I will try my best to show you my end result.

3.  SAVING MONEY

I have a love-hate relationship with couponing and stockpiling.  I love the idea of saving money and never running out of things we need, however I hate having to look for the deals and figuring out which coupon works with what sale and where is the best place to get it.  ughhhhh So many deals, and so much time to figure it all out.  I haven’t quite come up with a system for this yet.  I have tried the all out couponing, hated it.   And I have tried making out my list, then looking for coupons that go with my list (not many ever match up this way).  This brings me to my next issue…..

4.  MEAL PLANNING

Okay, I absolutely love the idea of meal planning.  Coming home from work and then having to dig and find what you are going to cook for supper is the worst.  This is something I face weekly.  Making out a list and finding recipes sounds so easy doesn’t it?  Why is it so hard to do then?  It really isn’t.  Just take an hour on the weekend.  Sit down with a sheet of paper and pick 4 or 5 meals you enjoy.  Look in the kitchen and see what you need to prepare those meals.  Go to the store and get the things.  Not hard at all.  Still, I am terrible at this.  So, this is also on my list of things to work on.

5.  DEBT REDUCTION

DEBT.  Let’s face it, we all have it.  Dave Ramsey is the guru for this.  I can’t do the envelope thing.  I tried it and it just doesn’t work out for me.   But what does work is the debt snowball.  I have made a chart in my handy dandy planner listing out my debts and I can track it as I pay them down.  Just paying the minimums on the larger balances, and using all your extra payments on the smaller balances helps them get paid off faster.  It makes total sense.  Budgeting your dollars helps, too.  Pull up your bank account for last month and see how much you spent on groceries, gas, eating out.  It will shock your pants off!  Come up with a better budget and start packing a lunch, meal planning (which helps with couponing) and save money that can go towards paying off more debt.

These are my organization goals for the year, and I’m hoping I can do better at all of these things.  Good habits are hard to form, but hard work can pay off and life can be easier.  That’s my focus this year.

My review of Disney Circle

Who wishes there was a big OFF button on your wifi?  ME!! *raising hand*  Now there is something even better and it is called Disney Circle.  Now, let me just go ahead and put this here:

Disclaimer:  I am in no way a technology guru.  This is solely my opinion based on using the product and nothing else.

Okay, so now that you know I am not working in Silicon Valley, let me tell you about this wonderful little box that lets me rule my house like the Queen of wifi!  Seriously though, I needed a way to punish my kids when they are being unruly, and if yours are anything like mine, taking away the worldwide web will do it!  I got tired of saying, “Give me your phone, ipad, kindle, etc.”  Now, with a little app on my phone, I can revoke internet privileges in a flash.  I can also control when they go to bed since there is a special bedtime setting that turns it off and tells them “It’s your bedtime”.  I LOVE IT!!!

I ordered my Circle on Amazon here.  It was 99 bucks and here in a couple days thanks to Prime.  You set up each person in your house and then link the electronics that belong to them.  You can set a limit to how long they can use particular apps a day, set bedtimes, turn off all internet with one swipe, and so much more.  It looks like they are going to have a reward system in place, but it is not there just yet, where you can award time for chores and such.  I haven’t delved too deeply in it, but I love that I can control when and how long they have internet usage.

And another huge plus, is there is a parental control feature.  When you set up the user on Circle, you pick if they are a child, teen, or adult.  There are different filter settings based on each.  I haven’t tested it out to see if it actually works, but I plan to sit down with my son’s kindle and do some searches to see what happens.

 

I almost forgot….you can pull up their history!  Now, it isn’t really detailed (like it doesn’t show the actual website they were on) but it shows that they were on YouTube for 2 hours, and playing a game for an hour, etc.   That is a great way to see what they are doing without being extremely snoopy.  Let’s face it, we parents are going to search those histories every now and then on the device anyway.  I know I do.  There is way too much information out there!  Some parents don’t let their children on the internet without them being right there with them. But I am going to be honest here,  I ain’t got time for that!  It’s not that I don’t think it is important, though.

Share with me how you control your children’s internet habits.  I would love to hear it!  Tell me if you have Disney Circle, and if I am missing out on some key features!  I absolutely love this thing and would welcome some tips.

 

Walmart Grocery Pickup – You must try it today!

A while back, I saw friends that live elsewhere posting about picking up their groceries at Walmart and how awesome ot was.  I WAS SO JEALOUS! I thought we would never get that grocery pickup service at our store because they could barely keep the shelves stocked, much less shop for people!  Well much to my surprise and disbelief, I went to Walmart one day and lo and behold, orange “Pickup” signs and special parking spaces!  I waited a few weeks before I tried it out so they could work out the kinks.

If your store has this service, go right now and setup an account!  Get the app on your phone and start filling up your cart.  Use this link right here!  I get a little referral credit when you do!  You can set up your own referral and tell all your friends about it, too!

http://r.wmt.co/gpSdu

So, how does it work?  Okay, so you can login to the website or use the app.  You just search for the items you need and add it to your cart.  Once you get to $30.00, go ahead and reserve your pickup time.  That is going to vary by location, but for example, my store is about 4 days out.  So, yesterday (a Thursday) I started my cart and the first available pickup was on Monday.  You just have to plan ahead and start your order early.  The best part about it is that you don’t have to know everything you are going to need right then.  Once you have your time reserved, you can add more things to your cart up until a few hours before you pickup.

I have to tell you that I was very skeptical about ordering produce, meat, and dairy items.  I am picky about choosing my meat and produce.  And dairy items, I always look for the one that has the date furthest out.  Well, the first order I placed, I bit the bullet and ordered several things just so I could see how they did.  I was very pleased with it.  Another great feature is being able to check the box for “Substitute items”.  Say for example that you order Sam’s Choice cream cheese, and when they go to pull your order, they are out of it on the shelf.  If you have the box checked, they will pull a similar, but better brand for you.  You pay the same price as the Sam’s Choice brand!  The guy that brought my groceries out said they never substitute for a lower priced brand.  They always try to do same or better.  Now, if they are out of an item and you don’t have the boxed checked, then they don’t pull anything and it gets deducted from your order.  That is a nice feature because there are some things that I wouldn’t mind switching out, but some I really am brand loyal.

So, that’s really all there is to it.  You place your order online and arrive during your pickup time and park in the designated area.  You can checkin on the app to let them know you are there or call the number on the sign.  They come out and load your groceries for you, tell you about any out of stock items or substitutions and you are on your way.  It is the easiest and quickest grocery shopping I have ever done, especially at Walmart.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

Also, if you meal plan, this is absolutely awesome.  You can plan out your menu and check your kitchen to see what you need so you don’t buy things you already have.  Add your ingredients to your cart and pickup!  HOLY GROCERY SHOPPING BATMAN!  It truly is a game changer.

Meal Planning Made Simple

Hallway Drop Zone DIY

I have had a hallway that is right beside my door to the garage that i have wanted to do something with.  My kids needed a drop zone for backpacks and jackets, so I had to find a good way to handle that. After searching for inspiration, I found this picture on Pinterest.

It looked very similar to my hallway and just what I needed.  I sent my husband to Lowe’s for a board, screws and stain.  I went to Hobby Lobby and found hooks (on sale for half off) and a nice sign.

We cut and stained the board outside in the garage, then took it in to screw into the studs.  We mounted the hooks on studs as well, so that the weight from backpacks would be supported.  Last, we hung the sign, and Whalaaa!  Drop zone complete!

You will notice that I didn’t do a shelf.  My hallway is too narrow for that, so I got hooks that pointed up instead of out, too.  I didn’t want to feel like I would run into it.  I really love it though.  We hang jackets, purses, whatever we need to have closeby the door.  Pretty and functional!

Meal Planning Made Simple

Every day I come home from work and get in the door, I hear “I’m hungry, what’s for supper?” I hate thinking up what we are eating that night and trying to come up with something by digging through the freezer and cabinets. It also doesn’t help that I have one extremely picky eater. I have started to come up with a meal plan before I grocery shop. I know it isn’t a novel idea, and there are far better blogs you can read about meal planning. But, I’m doing what works for me, and I’m hoping to get better at it as I go along. Now, it won’t be fancy and every meal won’t be planned out. I’m just getting started, so bear with me.

Here’s my new meal planning routine in a nutshell.
1. Check Pinterest for recipes — just enough for 5 meals. I know there are 7 days in a week, but I know I won’t cook every single night. So, instead of writing down 7 recipes and buying ingredients for those meals, I’m doing 5. That way I’m not setting myself up for failure. Make a “This Week’s Menu” board to pin those recipes to for later.

2. Make out my grocery list as I save my recipes.  Once the list is made out, check the kitchen and mark off the things I already have on hand. I do love using printable grocery lists that organize your items by category. You can print these out here and here.

3.  Check coupons.com for any coupons I can use to buy what is on my list.  Usually I can find one or two coupons, which doesn’t seem like much, but every little bit adds up.  Now, if you do stockpiling and couponing, don’t try to shop for weekly groceries in the same trip (unless you are organized and not easily overwhelmed—-not me)

4.  Figure out what meal you are going to eat on what day.  I find that if I assign a recipe to a certain day, I am more likely to follow thru.  It is too easy to go buy groceries and make the plan, then decide to not feel like it that day and just pop a pizza in the oven.   Or am I only one that does this?   Make a cute menu board and post the plan for all to see.  If the kids are excited about Taco night, then they will make sure you follow thru, too.

So, this is a fairly simple thing.  There are lots of blogs out there that post weekly menus with recipes and meal plans that you can subscribe to.  Those are great if you want to try out new recipes and not have to put a lot of thought into it.   It just hasn’t worked out that well for me because of my picky eaters.  I do better finding my own recipes.  Now, I just got into planners and so I purchased a Happy Planner Recipe Book.  I am adding recipes to that book that we have made and really enjoy.  My goal is to get it full of things we like and then not have to go hunting down recipes all the time.  Instead I will just flip open my book and pick a few.  You can also just print out the recipes you find and stick them in a binder.  Put numbers on each one and then when you make out your meal plan for the week, write the number beside it and you will know just where to find the recipe.

Just for the heck of it, here are some of my favorite recipe blogs or websites I check often.

 

UPDATE:  I have started using Walmart grocery pickup!! Huge timesaver!! Check out my review here!  Walmart Grocery Pickup – You must try it today!

 

Project Life – Easy Albums with lots of Scrapbook Style

I have recently gotten a MAMBI Happy Planner and entered the planner realm.  That is a whole other post that I am preparing for you, so  watch for lots of information and things I’ve learned thus far.  So, the other day while at JoAnn checking out what they had for my planner, I stumbled upon this wonderful thing called Project Life.  I don’t know how I missed the boat on this, and I’m shocked that I haven’t heard anything about it.  In case you don’t know what it is or have never heard of it, I’m here to fill you in.  Project Life is this wonderful system for making photo albums.  I used to scrapbook back in the day (raise your hand if you hoarded stickers and die cuts like me), but I haven’t picked up a scrapbook in quite some time.  I went crazy with it when my daughter was a baby (almost 12 years ago), so she has two very nicely decorated scrapbooks.  Fast forward 5 years when my son was born and guess what?  He doesn’t have the first photo album.  Yes, I’m a bad mom.

So, what do I do with photos now?  Well there are a lot on my phone and computer.  Facebook. etc….. Our electronic devices make it so easy to snap a picture and never print it out.  Well, I’m not doing it anymore since Project Life came into my world.  I cannot wait to show you my first album.  I plan to spend a good bit of time over this weekend finding all my photos, which are scattered all around the house (school pictures, baseball, etc.  – Ones that I had to order printed) and pulling together a few pages.  I also will need to print some from my phone and computer, but Walgreens or CVS can print photos for you from their website pretty cheaply, or I can always print at home.  However, my printer isn’t all that great, so I plan to stick with a printing service.

What is this wonderful thing, you ask?  It is a photo album system called Pocket Scrapbooking, just for people that want cutesy scrapbooks, but don’t have the time or want-to to put it all together.  Or maybe you don’t want to go out and buy paper and stickers, and all the things you would need to create cute pages.  *RAISES HAND*  That’s totally me.  Project Life steps in and gives you albums with clear pages that have pockets in different layouts and sizes.  All you do is stick in your photos and some cute cards.  And Bam!  Cute page with minimal effort.  You can even get a sealer that will seal up the pockets so no pictures come sliding out when your kids want to take a look at their baby pics.

What do you have to buy?   An album, the clear pages, and cute cards that can also be journal cards (you write stuff about the pictures).  That really is all you need.  Of course there are a ton of styles for the albums and cards, but that’s good because you won’t get bored with it.  Have some great holiday photos at Christmas?  Get some cute cards with a holly jolly theme and you have awesome pages!  Where can you buy this awesomeness?  Well, I got started at JoAnn and spent only $34 for an album, a big box of pages, and a small pack of the cards.  It usually isn’t that inexpensive, but they had 40% off all papercrafting, and I had a $10 coupon from the website.  You can also grab these at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  I also learned that there are a few other brands out there that are interchangeable with Project Life, so you have more choices for the cards.

I’m going to leave the website for you to peruse, and I’ll be back with some pages to show you next week!!

Project Life®

 

Fashion Update – My Must Haves for Warmer Weather

I am not a fashion guru.  Let me repeat this.  I am not super stylish and certainly don’t claim to keep up with the latest trends.  My mommy fashion goals are to try to look my age, stay well covered, and look somewhat like I know what’s up.  So, with that warning in place, I wanted to do a fashion update.  This is a list of items I really want to add to my closet this Spring/Summer.  I hope it gives you some great ideas to start your warm weather wardrobe off right!

  •  New Sandals   – I don’t wear anything but sandals or flip flops when the weather  allows, so I really want to amp up my selection for this year.  I have some oldies that have seen better days, so I think it’s time to treat the feet.
  • Distressed Jeans  – These are super in style right now because I am seeing them everywhere I look.  I don’t want super ripped up jeans because they would kick my OCD into overdrive, but I would like some distressed jeans for super casual days.

  • Sheer sweater  – Sweaters are not for the hot weather of the South where I live, but the kind I’m talking about is the mesh-like, real hole-y kind.  I don’t like sleeveless tops much these days because I feel like my arms look pale and fatty, so I’d like one to wear with cute tanks or sleeveless tops so I feel less self-conscious.
  • Colored Cropped Pants  – I love great pastels for this, think coral and mint.  Pair with a cute top and sandals and you feel like you are ready for cruising.  That’s what it makes me think of anyways.

  • Tan handbag  – I need something to carry all season long.  Something that goes with everything and holds all my doo-dads.

 

  • Kimonos  –  I am not usually a floral loving person when it comes to clothes.  But, I am loving the flowy kimonos in tropical prints that give off a boho vibe.

Blue Apron – Yay or Nay to this meal subscription box?

I love the idea of subscription meal boxes.  I think it is such a great idea and obviously it is a very lucrative business because there are so many choices!  I have tried one other box in the past, Home Chef.  We were happy with it as well, so I have another of those boxes coming later this week.  This was the first time I’ve tried Blue Apron.  They sent me an email with a special discount, so I figured, hey, why not give it a try.  We got 3 meals for right round $30, so it was a pretty good buy.  Not only did we get all the groceries needed to make those meals, but we got more practice in the kitchen cooking things we never would have picked out on our own.

Blue Apron is much like other meal boxes, in that you go on their website and pick out the dishes you want them to send.  The selection at Blue Apron is okay.  There are only 6 recipes to choose from, and there is usually at least one chicken meal, one beef meal, a seafood dish, and a vegetarian option.  That way, all bases are covered.  I watched the menus for a couple of weeks before I found a week with 3 meals I thought we would enjoy.  We can be a little picky, so I wouldn’t be able to get a box every week because there just isn’t enough meals we would eat.  Not only that, but we couldn’t afford the regular price of a box (which is around $60).  I have more than two mouths to feed, so I need more food than they send for a meal.    However, if it was only me and my husband, I think we would be down with getting more boxes like the Blue Apron one.

Here are the meals we ordered:

Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry with Green Cabbage & Rice

Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf with Crispy Potatoes

Moroccan Chicken with Prunes & Brown Rice

First, let me say how impressed I was with the packaging of Blue Apron.  The box sat on my front porch for a few hours, which made me nervous.  I was very surprised when I opened it up and everything was still very cold.  They put it all in a cushioned insulated bag and there are cold packs on top and bottom of the meat.  The food was great, all measured out and labeled clearly.  I also liked that they send quality ingredients.  No GMO’s, hormone-free meat, and fresh vegetables.  The other great thing about Blue Apron is the recipe cards.  They break it down step by step, and it truly is so easy to follow along.

The first meal we prepared was the Shrimp Curry with Rice.  My husband nor I thought we would enjoy this meal.  We love shrimp, but neither of us like cabbage all that much, and curry is not in our diet at all.  So, it was a pleasant surprise that we really liked it.  I would say it was my favorite dish of the three.  My husband loves meatloaf, so that one was probably his favorite dish.  I also enjoyed it very much and I am not a big meatloaf lover.   The Moroccan Chicken was very flavorful and we enjoyed it as well, except that it was chicken thighs, which we really don’t prefer.  All in all, we enjoyed cooking the meals and using ingredients that we were unfamiliar with.  We brushed up on our chopping skills while we spent time cooking together in the kitchen.   The surprise of it all was pretty fun.  We never knew what it was going to taste like, and Blue Apron broadened our future recipe hunts.

My vote for Blue Apron:  YAY   

If you want to try some new recipes and tickle your taste buds, give it a try!  I don’t have another box scheduled right now, but I definitely will keep checking their menus.

https://www.blueapron.com/

 

 

 

Organizing Craft Spaces

Crafting Hoarder here…….  I love craft supplies and keep everything with hopes I can use it one day.

Here’s what I want to know…. How do you keep up with it all? Do you have craft rooms, spaces here and there throughout your house (<–That’s me), or are you one of those lucky ducks with a “She” Shed? I absolutely hate that term, but you know what I’m talking about.

So, in hopes to find some brilliant new ideas to store my crafty materials (cricut, vinyl, beads, crochet, lettering….. the list goes on and on), I have compiled some of my favorite finds. Maybe we can get better organized and spend more time on making whirly-bobs and thinga-ma-jigs.

Do you have a spare closet you can turn into a Craft Closet?  If you are lucky enough to answer “yes” to that question, I want to know…. where do you hide all your extra junk?  My house is very short on closets, so I don’t have this option.  The closets we have are full of clothes, shoes, extra pillows, boxes of preschool art, and other random junk.  I don’t have a hall closet or extra space for other stuff.  I wish I did though, because I love the Craft Closet ideas I found over at IHeart Organizing.  Seriously, the pictures are eye candy for the craft obsessed.  There is a perfect place for everything from wrapping paper to balls of yarn.  I’m green with envy.

 

iheartorganizing.com

Find a corner in your living room, an unused wall in the den, somewhere you can put a desk, maybe a shelf or two.  You have an instant craft space.  All it takes is a little imagination.  You can use just one wall unit, or make an L-shaped desk.  Decorate it to match the room to camouflage your crafting desk.  Hiding your materials in baskets or drawers cleans up the work area, so no one will ever know you sat there til midnight gluing googly eyes on a wreath for Halloween.  Instead it appears that you have a nice, clean spot to pay bills and answer your email list.  Here are some great links and pictures for inspiration.

thelittlegreenbean.com

 

 

Shanty2chic.com

  Okay, you have really hit the jackpot here.  If you have an unused shed or storage building outside, you better run and claim it for your craft haven before your husband loads in fishing gear or makes it a car shop.  I would absolutely love to have a separate space like this for all of my DIY projects and supplies.  Crafting time would be awesome time in one of these.  Check these out!

Little Yellow Bicycle