Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finals Week & Weekly Goals

It is finally here...finals week!  Time to bring another semester of grad school to a close.  I'm wrapping things up on classes, but I have several research projects that are still in progress, so unfortunately my grad school goals will not disappear!  I am hoping, however, to find a bit more time to work on some house/baby projects.  But before I get into this week's goals, let's see how last week's goals went.

Update on Goals for 4/22

1.       Conduct 5 research interviews.  1 completed
2.       Complete public policy term paper.  Almost done!
3.       Transcribe completed interviews.  1 completed
4.       Compile mobile survey and email to Parent Panel. - Nope...oops!
5.       Write rough draft of channels term paper.  Done!

(If you are a parent of a child 12 or younger and would be interested in taking a few surveys per year for academic marketing research, please let me know!)

Wonder Wife-in-Training
6.       Complete 1 project around the house - entry nook. - Nope
7.       Go through 5 boxes in the basement and add to the 'get rid of' pile.  Yes!  
8.       Post 3 items to Craigslist.  Yes!
9.       Continue MSM's 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge. Yes!

10.    Complete 1 planning for baby project - homemade cloth wipes. - Nope.

This makes me feel like I was much more productive last week than I thought.  Hopefully that will continue this week!  

This Week's Goals 

1.       Conduct 3 research interviews. 
2.       Complete public policy term paper.
3.       Transcribe completed interviews. 
4.       Grade final projects & final exams.
5.       Complete channels term paper. 

(If you are a parent of a child 12 or younger and would be interested in taking a few surveys per year for academic marketing research, please let me know!)

Wonder Wife-in-Training
6.       Complete 1 project around the house - entry nook
7.       Go through 5 MORE boxes in the basement and add to the 'get rid of' pile.
8.       Donate to Goodwill. 
9.       Continue MSM's 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge & begin MSM's Clutter Busting Challenge

10.    Complete 1 planning for baby project - homemade cloth wipes.  

How did your weekly goals go?  If you are participating in the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge, were you up to the challenge?  

Golden Birthday

I took last weekend off from work and blogging for my birthday, so now I'm completely behind on both, but that's normal, right?

On Friday, my grad school department threw my husband and I a baby shower!  My parents and sister drove six hours from Oklahoma for it, too.  Both grandmas have been busy!  My mom and sister made an amazing quilt to match the nursery (and bumper pads coming soon), and my mother-in-law made a pretty white afghan that I think will be perfect for the Bean's baptism.  Other favorites include a swing (cute and functional) and the softest stuffed cow I could even imagine.  We are so blessed!  

My golden birthday was on Saturday.  27 on the 27th!  My incredible husband surprised not only me, but also my mom and sister with mani-pedi appointments that morning, which was awesome!  I just realized last week that I can no longer reach my toes well enough to paint them myself and had just informed him a couple days before that I would need his help.  The morning of pampering was so relaxing, and it was extra fun to have my mom and sister there, too!  (It was also when I realized that my wedding ring doesn't fit anymore as I tried to take it off before the paraffin hand treatment; it's now on a necklace and my finger feels naked.)

That evening my in-laws drove in and the whole family went out to eat Mexican at El Potrero in the trendy little area called the Haymarket.  Yum!!  It is so interesting to be the linchpin that brings two families together and to watch them interact with each other as they figure each other out.  It was a delicious dinner (even if the service was less than desirable), and we finished up with cake cones!  My favorite!  

After a fantastic birthday day, there was one more surprise in store for me.  I had assumed that the mani-pedi was my birthday gift from my husband, and I was thrilled with it!  I was wrong.  He also surprised me with an incredibly generous gift - the camera I had been wanting!  For years now, I have been trying to convince myself to splurge on a DSLR camera.  My non-digital (aka film) SLR is still much loved, but just not realistic considering how many photos I want to take.  So, my husband gifted me with a Canon T3i, exactly what I wanted!  Lucky for me, the lenses I owned for my film SLR actually work on the digital version.

Next on my list to save for is a fixed 50mm lens for taking picture of the Bean when he arrives!

In the meantime, my mom was kind enough to take some informal maternity photos in our backyard on Sunday before they had to leave.

Impromptu after dinner photo :)

My favorite (except that my ring doesn't fit right now)

Hopefully by the end of the week, my posts will include photos with my new camera as soon as the giant, fancy memory cards arrives!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekly Goals for Dead Week

This week is what is fondly known as 'dead week' during which students are supposed to have a break from the norm in preparation for finals.  In case anyone was wondering, PhD students don't get a dead week!  But before I get into this week's goals, let's see how last week's goals went.

Update on Goals for 4/16

1.       Complete Dark Side of Interpersonal Communications term paper and presentation (due 4/16)  Will present tomorrow
2.       Conduct 4 research interviews.  3 done
3.       Transcribe completed interviews.  1 done
4.       Compile mobile survey and email to Parent Panel.  Not started
5.       Write rough draft of Public Policy term paper.  In progress

Wonder Wife-in-Training
6.       Complete 1 project around the house.  Not completed
7.       Go through 5 boxes in the basement and add to the 'get rid of' pile.   Not completed
8.       Post 5 items to Craigslist.  4 posted
9.       Continue 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge.

10.    Complete 1 planning for baby project.  Not started

Perhaps I set my goals for last week a bit high, but hey, I'm new at this weekly goals thing.  I don't think my goals for this week are more realistic than last week's, but maybe this week I'll be more productive!  Here's to hoping!  

This Week's Goals 

1.       Conduct 5 research interviews. 
2.       Complete public policy term paper.
3.       Transcribe completed interviews. 
4.       Compile mobile survey and email to Parent Panel. 
5.       Write rough draft of channels term paper. 

(If you are a parent of a child 12 or younger and would be interested in taking a few surveys per year for academic marketing research, please let me know!)

Wonder Wife-in-Training
6.       Complete 1 project around the house - entry nook
7.       Go through 5 boxes in the basement and add to the 'get rid of' pile.
8.       Post 3 items to Craigslist. 
9.       Continue MSM's 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge.

10.    Complete 1 planning for baby project - homemade cloth wipes.  

How did your weekly goals go?  If you are participating in the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge, were you up to the challenge?  

30-Day Housecleaning Challenge - Day 22

As the semester continues, I am finding that even devoting 15 minutes to cleaning everyday is a bit difficult as I'm desperately trying to focus on and write four 20+ page term papers.  Today we chose from a few tasks, so I picked to surface clean the living room and kitchen.  Given that one of my papers is due tomorrow (ahhh!), I literally set the timer for 15 minutes and did what I could in that time.  

Embarrassing Before!


My 15 minutes became 25 minutes when I started vacuuming and did not hear the timer go off.  Oops!  At least the dog hair is gone from the floor and couches now!  

Unfortunately, things were in such a disarray that other than loading and starting the dishwasher, I didn't get much cleaned up in the kitchen.  If I finish my paper at a decent time tonight, I'll finish surface cleaning the kitchen.  If not, then the Bean and I will be going straight to bed!  

On a side note, when is spring going to get here?  

How did you do on the challenge for today?  What are your goals for this week?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thanks to Our Frugal Happy Life

I won!  I won!

Do you ever go through life thinking that you never win anything?  I believe we all think that at some point or another.  Well, today is not that day for me ladies and gentlemen!

I want to give a special thanks and shout-out to Emily at Our Frugal Happy Life.

In her recent giveaway that partnered with Purex, I was a winner!  I can't wait to receive the coupons for 2 FREE bottle of Purex!

Thank you, Emily!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Haul of Frugal Finds

As we get ready for the Bean to arrive this summer, I've been trying to stock up on both normal essentials as well as baby essentials.  I imagine that shopping will be the last thing I have time for once the Bean is here.  

Thanks to my Favorite Couponing Blogs, I've been able to find some great deals on easily stocked items like toothpaste and cereal.  This weekend, my couponing happened to focus on baby essentials, and I was able to add to my small stockpile of baby wipes and add some diaper cream as well from Target.  I also found a great area rug on clearance and curtains ($8.88 per panel!) on super sale at ShopKo for our living room.  '

Last, but not least, I was able to grab a couple more cloth diapers (to add to my stock) and a sleep sack at a garage sale sale that was shutting down for the weekend.  I was reading the guest post over at Money Saving Mom about stockpiling kids clothes through garage sales.  I love the idea because I love garage sales!  The one tip I've learned about garage sale shopping after years and years of going around each weekend with my mom or grandma is to offer slightly lower than you are willing to pay so that there is room for the seller to meet you in the middle.  

I also noticed some comments on the post about apps that will map the garage sale listings on Craigslist, which I'm planning to try out in the next couple of weeks and will review here.  

My Weekend Haul

1 Mohawk area rug (reg. $249.99) - On clearance at $62
4 Energy efficient curtains (reg. $19.99) - On sale at $8.88
4 Huggies wipes (reg. $2.39) - $0.50 each
2 Pampers wipes (reg. $2.39) - $1.00 each
2 Desitin tubes (reg. $3.59) - $2.00 each
2 cloth diapers (reg. ~$20) - $2.50 each
1 sleep sack (reg. ~$15) - $1.00

Total Paid       $111.52
Total Saved    $295.95

And how adorable is this little cowprint diaper!?!?

All pictured for $14, regularly ~$76.
So far I have just over $56 on 11 cloth diapers and accessories (i.e. wet bag & extra inserts), which is an average of $4.96 per diaper!  I love being frugal!  I just hope we like this cloth diapering thing.  If not, at least we haven't invested much!

Tomorrow I'm headed to a big consignment sale (last day = 1/2 price day) and "shopping" at a friend's who wants to regift a bunch of her baby stuff.  To me!  

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!  Should be a great day with church, bargaining, and finishing up term papers.

{Planning for the Bean} Prepping for Packing the Go-Bag

The hubby keeps saying that we need to get the "go"-bag packed...his version of the hospital bag.  I'm not sure when the right time to get it ready is, but sooner is better than later, right?  Plus, I'm pretty planning oriented, and I want to get this right!

I've been scouring the internet on Pinterest and mommy blogs for lists of what to include in the "go"-bag.  While there are a lot of similarities among lists, I've found that every mom has something a bit unique.  Also, I've found in my research that apparently we don't need one go-bag, but three...one for mommy, one for daddy, and one for the Bean.  Some people even suggest more bags like an Entertainment bag.  So, now I have to remember at least three things instead of one when we leave for the hospital?  Thank goodness our house is less than a mile down the road from the hospital, just in case I forget something!

Here are some examples of useful lists I've found so far: 

Workman Family (my favorite so far)

For me the essentials seem to be:
  1. The Birth Plan
  2. Glasses
  3. Peppermint oil (I usually use put it on my temples for headaches, but it seems like it might be relaxing in this situation, too.)
  4. Snacks (granola bars, fruit
  5. Going home outfits for me and the Bean
  6. Makeup/toiletries
  7. Camera/tablet
  8. Robe
  9. Flip flops
  10. Contact list
  11. Nursing pads

To purchase for the go bag:
  1. Nursing bras - any recommendations?
  2. Nightgown/nursing PJs - again any recommendations?

At the end of the day, I guess I'm just not sure what I NEED versus what might be slightly helpful.  The lists I've found are rather long.  Plus, do I really want three separate bags or just one bigger bag?  And I've read that some hospitals specifically allow, prohibit, and/or provide certain things like diapers, baby clothes, pacifiers, etc.  We are going to a birthing class at the hospital the first weekend in May, so I'm planning to find out all of the specifics then, but sheesh, does it have to be so complicated?

I'd love any suggestions from mommies who have been through this!

My Cleaning Personality & 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge Update

The Pick-Up Artist

Your house looks magazine-ready. Upon closer inspection … (You hate those, don't you?). If only you could shift even some of that impressive neatnik focus off crooked picture frames and onto, say, dusty door frames. You find yourself putting a lot of time into cleaning but feel like the results aren't visible. 

What is your cleaning personality?  Find out at bhg.com.

30-Day Housecleaning Challenge: Days 17 & 18

I caught up on Days 17 and 18 today for Money Saving Mom's 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge.  The past few days I have just been exhausted, which is really no excuse for not spending the 20 minutes or so it would take to get these tasks done each day.  Nonetheless, I'm going to go ahead and claim that it's the pregnancy that is kicking my butt!  

For Day 17, I sanitized all of our door handles around the house.  When I'm surface cleaning on any other day, I usually clean handles and door frames anyways, so I wasn't too worried about devoting an entire day's work to cleaning them.  Instead I just sanitized.

For Day 18, I chose to clean and organize the refrigerator and freezer.  I recently reorganized our pantry, so I will update that again next month (since I plan/hope to continue the schedule after April is over).  Cleaning out the fridge and freezer involved trashing a few expired items, cleaning shelves, and reorganizing.  I have to say, I think they both look great now!  The fridge shelves are now organized into dairy, beverages, and other and then cooking, condiments, sandwich condiments, Asian/other, and jellies and salad dressings in the door.  I'm trying to figure out a way to label the door shelves in a way that can be easily removed when we move out of the rental house since I'm not sure we will successfully remember the shelf themes without labels.  Any ideas??  




Tomorrow I'll be dedicating my day to research and schoolwork.  Wish me luck on finishing my term papers!  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

30-Day Housecleaning Challenge Day 16 & Request for Advice

We just crossed the halfway mark for the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom!  So, I feel as if I should assess my overall progress thus far.  I've completed 10 days/tasks for the challenge.   I'm taking this out of 12 total since we are taking weekend breaks.  Today's task was to clean the bathrooms.  

I failed at today's task completely.

Yesterday I found out that I have been blessed out of some unfortunate circumstances for my end of semester school work.  Several of my classes have been cancelled, deadlines extended, and presentations cancelled/postponed.  All in all these are incredible blessings considering the general stress of semester end combined with being pregnant (and rarely being able to sleep) on top of it all. 

My husband finished one of his last papers for school today, so instead of working through the evening as I usually do, I decided to skip it all this evening.  In place of work was cuddle time with the hubby, while catching up on Dr. Who episodes.  Nothing fancy, but it was a perfect evening.  

Tomorrow it will be back to the grind, I will try to catch up on the housecleaning challenge.  

In other news, I have to put a call out for help from the blogosphere community.  My hubby's jeans tend to rip around the back pocket area.  Usually I use iron on denim patches to fix the issue, but I recently added a patch to a pair of jeans, and less than a week later, the patch has completely fallen off and the rip is now bigger than before.  

Any recommendations for mending or patching a rip around the back pocket area??  Does anyone know if the iron on patches 'expire'?  

Since I don't use them often, it had been sitting in a drawer for a year or so.  Advice would be much appreciated!  Thanks!

Continuing the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge - Day 15

It's the beginning of a new week, and the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom continues.

For Day 15 of the Challenge, the task is to clean in the living room and kitchen.  Yesterday my husband's parents visited for Sunday dinner, so I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up yesterday, which makes today much easier.  A quick check of living room showed me that it survived a whole day and did not require any cleaning today.  Yay!  The kitchen is another story.  It is still in better shape than when I started cleaning this weekend, but there are some dishes that need done and put away, counters to whip off, etc.  Spending 15 minutes yielded a pretty decent result.  

Now I just need to tackle the filing system, so I can begin to work through the paper clutter.

I also started a few other projects today including:

1. Revamping my entry nook into a home organization nook. 

I forgot to take a before photo, but the nook where we usually walk into our house from the side door had a keys jar, pretty wine bottle, and mini bookshelf turned into a photo holder.  Overall, it looked sorta cute, but was not functional except as a place to drop our keys on the way in.  The new plan will include a dry erase board, weekly calendar, mail/paper organizer, puppy leash holder, and key jar.  I wanted to put scrapbook paper in the frame that I'm turning into a dry erase board, but the width of the frame was causing problems.  Instead I found this awesome grey fabric at Hobby Lobby today!  A little bit more expensive, perhaps, but very easy to do without the hassle of figuring out paper measurements and such.  In progress, it looks like:

I can't wait to get everything finished and hung!

2. Making homemade baby wipes.

As I've mentioned, my husband and I are going to go on a cloth diapering adventure with our first baby.  The Bean is due in a couple of months, and as soon as school is done for the semester, I will be preparing for his arrival in full force.  In the meantime, I allow myself to get a bit distracted from schoolwork to search online for fun ideas, garage sale for cheap baby clothes and other awesome deals, and work on his farm-themed nursery.

Since we are going to be cloth diapering at least part of the time, I thought we might as well have some cloth wipes to go with the diapers.  Plus, there are so many recipes online for homemade solution for the cloth wipes!  

I wish I could say otherwise (and hopefully soon this will no longer be true), but I'm not particularly good at sewing.  If the machine is all set up, the I can work my way through, but if I have to set up a sewing machine on my own and get the thread all strung correctly, I'm in trouble.  In light of this, I plan for my first wipes to be no-sew wipes.  In other words, adorable flannel + pinking shears = wipes.  I can always go back later and adjust if needed, right?  

I purchased some clearance and remnant fabric today at Hobby Lobby.  (I love remnants since they are usually discounted 40-50%!)  Thomas the Train and ice cream cones!  Adorable, right!?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekly Goals

As I sit here thinking about all of the things I need to get done this week, my head has begun to feel like it's going to explode!  So, to keep things manageable, I'm going to narrow the list down to my Top 10 goals for the week.

And my long term goals for this month/semester/season/year are:

Wish me luck on making major progress before the Bean arrives!!


Friday, April 12, 2013

I {heart} Garage Sales!

Despite needing to focus on a term paper today, I decided to take a couple of hours to stop by a few garage sales.  I have been searching Craigslist for a few items, plus I'm in the market for baby supplies and garage sales seemed like they might offer better prices.  I struck out at most of the ones I stopped at, but at one I got lucky!  Tons of baby clothes and accessories!  I was thrilled!  The only negative was that the multiple families who were selling items clearly did not get together to price items, but simply priced them on their own.  This meant that I would find a cute outfit for fifty cents or less and the next one on the rack would be a similar item priced at three dollars.  Just a little pet peeve of mine, can't you tell? :)

But...I came home with a Halo sleep sack, another sleep sack, a cloth diaper liner (random, I know), a bottle, an accessory rack for the dishwasher, a newborn hat, mitts, a pair of adorable pants, and a mirror for the back seat of the car for (drum roll, please)...less than two dollars!  The total was $1.70 to be exact.  I love being frugal!  And the Bean is going to look so cute!

I'm definitely planning to go back tomorrow late afternoon and see if they are willing to make deals on what is left!  Wish me luck!

30-Day Housecleaning Challenge - Slacking on Day 12

Today for the 30-Day Housecleaning Challenge hosted by Money Saving Mom,  the task was to clean out closets.  For me, however, today was focused on a term paper for one of my last PhD classes ever, so I only got one closet cleaned.

The closet below is in the nursery, but since we live in such an old house with weird closets, it is currently used for my husband's small dresser, a few clothes I don't wear often, and new baby clothes we have received.  It's definitely a multipurpose closet.  The goal is to move all of my clothes elsewhere to make room for baby stuff!  I was able to put a few items in my donate/sell pile and otherwise reorganized the remaining items.  It's not perfect, but better than before, and it took less than 10 minutes!

Housecleaning Challenge
Housecleaning Challenge

On Day 8, I mentioned a new experiment for dealing with dog-related carpet odors.  I tested the vinegar and water method on a few areas then, and overall, I think it was a success.  I can smell the vinegar once in awhile, but not the puppy smells, so I call that effective.  Today I rolled out the method in the hallways and office where we've seemed to have the most issues.  I feel like there's a good chance my spot cleaning missed a few areas, thus the mass carpet cleaning.  I used my usual carpet shampoo with a bit of Nature's Miracle and a bit of vinegar in the detergent container and then a mixture of half very hot water and half vinegar in the water container of our carpet shampooer.  Shampooing and rinsing using the shampooer took much less time than getting down on my hands and knees trying to do spot cleaning.  The carpets are still drying, but I'm interested to see if the vinegar worked as a long-term solution to the odor problem.  I will likely sprinkle some baking soda and Glade Carpet Power (which smells fantastic) after everything has dried completely.  

Yesterday for Day 11, I only had to do minimal cleaning in the bathroom as they still looked great from a few days ago!  I was so excited!

With the end of the semester coming up and my in-laws coming over for Sunday dinner, I'm planning to continue the challenge through the weekend.  

If you missed any of my previous adventures during this 30-Day Challenge, you can check them out here:

Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock

I saw this on Facebook today and wanted to share.  I love reading different ideas and tips for creating and maintaining a successful, happy marriage. 

Here's the list of 60 Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock



3. Go on regular date nights

4. Hide notes in secret places

5. Go to bed at the same time

6. Listen to music together-share ear-buds

7. Buy him gifts he will love

8. Revitalize the romance with intimate dates

9. Wear shirts that tell the world you love your spouse

10. Praise your spouse to other people

11. Read a marriage devotional

12. Sleep in his t-shirts

13. Renew your vows privately with whispers and memories

14. Renew them publicly with cake and bubbly

15. Go away together at least once a year

For Women Only

16. Hang pictures of the two of you around your house

17. Make his favorite dessert

18. Make sex a priority

19. Spend time apart occasionally

20. Learn to enjoy something he loves

21. Surprise each other

22. Meet him at the door

23. Text each other from across the room

24. Set reminders on your phone to remember him/her throughout the week

25. Call him right now and tell him you appreciate him

For Men Only

26. Leave work on time and come home early

27. Engage every day in meaningful conversation

28. Compliment each other

29. Take one day a month to make your spouse your total focus

30. Argue fair: avoid these words “you always” and “you never”

31. Kiss every day

32. Find tangible ways to serve your mate without complaining

33. Forgive quickly

34. Be honest

35. Get on the same page: plan your budget together

36. Look your best as often as you can

37. Guard your marriage

38. Laugh together

39. When you are together-BE TOGETHER (take a break from phones, technology, etc)

40. Tell her she’s pretty, especially when she’s not feeling it


41. Make each other breakfast in bed

42. Do her chores for her

44. Get a couple’s massage or host your own privately

44. Dance together-soft music (both of you alone) or rocking music with the kids

45. Exercise together- hikes, bike riding, etc

46. Choose not to be annoyed by an irritating behavior/disappointment from your spouse

47. Thank your spouse often even for the least reason or gesture

48. Lay in bed together and stare into each other eyes, without talking

49. Learn something new together-take an art class, cooking lessons, etc

50. Leave a sweet comment on the Facebook wall

51. Support each other’s goals

52. Bring her flowers/gifts (even when she says they are too expensive)

53. Wear something your spouse loves

54. Share furniture-sit in his lap

55. Fight for your marriage

56. Make a point to eat dinner together most days of the week

57. Never let your spouse feel like they come second place to your career or any other 

58. Talk about your dreams and aspirations. Be supportive of each other and dream big 

59. Maintain a united front as your motto: Meaning- Me and you against the world

60. Speak well of your spouse

I think the sections for her and for him definitely can apply for both, I'm leaving the list as is for now.  This list reminds me that I've been wanting to hang some wedding photos in our living room for awhile.  The frames are purchased, I just need to order the photo enlargements.  I'll have to add that to my list for next week!

photo credit