Archive for the ‘ Home & Garden ’ Category

What’s on your bookshelf?

photo (27)When we moved last year, many people thought I would be MOST excited about having a second bathroom after 10 years of sharing one among our family of four. They were wrong. I walked through this empty (at the time) front room with great light and declared that it was MINE (!) and I was going to finally have my library. What turned out even better than I had anticipated was that I found some great colors among my books and shelved them accordingly which I love. Below are some of my shelves and I’ll point out a few favorites among the titles.

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White Truffles in Winter & In Praise of Slowness

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Amazing Adventures of a Nobody & 168 Hours

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The Miracle & The Willoughbys

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The Chronicles of Harris Buck & Endangered Pleasures

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The Fairy Ring, Labor Day & God is in the Small Stuff

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Disneystrology & Where’d You Go Bernadette

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Destiny of the Republic & Sh*t My Dad Says

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My Stroke of Insight & Church Signs Across America

Of course there are piles of books and bookshelves in almost every other room including this stack next to my bed. Share with me what’s on your bookshelf or over at Modern Mrs. Darcy as part of a synchroblog today.

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What was I thinking?

foldersI’ve been on a bit of a purge lately as we move from one season to another. The area that I’m slowly wading though are the crazy amount of folders that have pages and pages of articles that I deemed so important that I ripped out (one dates back to 2004) and filed. Yesterday I managed to clear out the entire HOME folder. You know the one – dream rooms, decorating ideas, possible purchases and I’m cracking up at what I’ve found.

Apparently I was very into vintage fruit signs, curtains, water filtration systems, energy saving tips, video cameras strawberries& composting. I probably haven’t looked into this folder in over 5 years but I’ll catch you up. We moved into a new house last year and there are definitely no vintage fruit signs anywhere and they only curtains are in the guest room. (My mom most frequently stays there and she bought them herself). We drink water out of the faucet, definitely don’t follow energy saving guidelines (which we should) and the only videos I ever take are on my phone and of course they stay there as I forget to download them. The only thing we managed to start is composting and that’s simply because my son got into it and stays on top of it.

It’s interesting to me how quickly I’ve come to rely on the convenience and accessibility of evernote to organize what used to be my chaos of ripped out pages. If you’ve never used it before, I recommend checking it out. I’m able to keep track of all my varied interests and it doesn’t make me feel insecure like pinterest. Now onto my ‘GIFT IDEAS’ folder. That should be a hoot.

At Least I’m Reading

With 13 days left until the official Chinese New Year starts, here’s where I am with my preparations and resolutions. Once everything kicks in, I’ll update with much more detailed info.

Cooking More – I’ve tried 3 new recipes over the last week and 2 are keepers. Also, I’m getting better at remembering to thaw out my ‘make-ahead’ meals that I do on a semi-monthly basis at Time for Dinner.

Eat More Paleo / Blood Type O – Not so good. Having a difficult time at breakfast and damn those chips & salsa.

Get up earlier – I’m reading Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (ebook) and it’s a strong, persuasive argument for not hitting snooze. I also joined the Hello Mornings Challenge that started today and maybe tomorrow I’ll actually get up early for it.

Find an exercise to do 3/week – I carved out the time that I could go exercise, but so far haven’t made it out the door.

Read 43 books – 10 books so far. Okay I cheated and started counting on January 1 AND I read really fast AND I LOVE books. Next post, I’ll give my favorites from 2012.

Watch 15 Independent Films – 1 so far. I may have to partner this with spending quality time with husband as that’s harder to plan that I realized.

For the remaining ones, I’ve done zip, nada, nothing but that’s what so ingenious about this plan. When most people are already falling off the wagon with their resolutions, I’m just getting started! Anyone else with me?


The Year of The Snake

credit BBDesigns on etsy

For the first time ever, I am making a serious concerted effort to celebrate the Chinese New Year on February 10th, 2013. Truth be told, it will have given me 41 additional days to sort our my resolutions and goals for the year. January 1st arrived much too quickly and I didn’t want to make any knee jerk resolutions. According to ‘research’ people born in the Year of the Snake are reputed to be thoughtful and wise and to approach problems rationally and logically, seldom instinctively. While I was born in the year of the dog (we can find fault with many things and are noted for our sharp tongues), this particular snake year seems to be aligned with where I’m headed.

Life Simplified continues to be a great place for me to provide shortcuts, solutions and suggestions for living a more simplified life both here, facebook & on twitter. Moving forward, for this particular year, I’m also going to share my quest to follow through on the many goals, ideas, & resolutions that I always WANT to accomplish, but somehow (always) let slide.

In no particular order…

  • Cook more.
  • Eat more Paleo or Blood Type O foods/diet.
  • Prioritize husband / couple time.
  • Find an exercise that I will do 3/week.
  • Entire family to learn basic Spanish.
  • Read 43 books (tracking on
  • Watch 15 independent films.
  • Get up earlier, even if it’s 15 minutes.
  • Go to bed earlier, turn off bad TV.
  • Less screen time, more kid time.
  • Focus on positive, stay present.
Nothing like learning rocket science, but at least if it’s public, there’s more accountability. And what I’m really hoping is that this helps me direct my time as opposed to wondering where it went. What’s on your agenda for this forthcoming Chinese New Year? I’d love you to share any of your own shortcuts, solutions and suggestions for getting where you want to be! GOOD LUCK!


Not to be nitpicky but…

Sadie & I, treatment #2

Okay, I get it. Well we got it & now I understand it. Lice, nits – the whole works and I’m not confident that I’ll ever quit itching. After 5 days, 4 treatments and 17 loads of laundry, we’re all clear but that is something I never want to go through again. Because I didn’t get much direction from doctor or pharmacist, I’m going to save you a lot of time and tell you what worked and didn’t…for us.

  • Nix Lice treatment – it’s pesticide for your hair?!? Recommended by pediatrician, but not for me.
  • Fairy Tales Hair Care- great online video (including Step 3 which is pouring yourself a glass of wine), decent lice treatment but really like their preventive spray which I will use EVERY day for the rest of my life. All natural, organic.
  • Quit Nits – smelled the best but not most effective
  • Lice MDBEST for getting rid of lice & nits
  • Tiny teeth metal comb at drugstore, better than any ‘included’ combs
  • Use lots of clips, do very small sections, comb every direction & wipe comb every time

On the up side, I got some serious quality time with both my kids. BIG talks that might not have happened and a lot of movie watching while we literally went through each other’s hair with fine toothed combs again & again & again… (“So happy for my husband who has been travelling since the whole mess started”, said no one ever).

UPDATE 1 WEEK LATER…Apparently none of the above completely worked but Lice Busters St. Louis did. Save yourself a lot of time, laundry and frustration by contacting them first. Wish I would’ve know about Lice Busters from the beginning. Thanks Libby & Susie.


What’s your time worth?

In one single encounter the other day, I believe that I made a choice that would make my mother & Laura Vanderkam proud, while simultaneously embarrassing my children (always a bonus). We were in the midst of another week where we all seemed to be running, coming & going. Recently I went back to work full time after 3 years of part-time work and we are all still adjusting.

While driving my daughter to soccer practice, I noticed a lawn care truck in front of a neighbor’s house. A seemingly nice man was putting away his mower when I shamelessly accosted him and asked if he had any time to cut our grass. Typically this falls into ‘husband’ category, not that this Kentucky girl hadn’t handled a SNAPPER mower on my childhood farm for MANY years, but said husband had been dealing with his own crazy work stuff and getting home late and exhausted. Lawn care is certainly not in our budget, but at this moment when our grass had gotten to an almost embarrassing level, I decided that I could shave some money from one budget line or work a few additional hours JUST TO GET IT DONE.

My kids says that in the heat of the moment that I told Ron Busken (Busken Lawn Care) that I loved him when he agreed to the task (I’m denying it) and off we sped to soccer. Read the rest of this entry

Obsessed with Oils

I tend to get overwhelmed about which oils to use for cooking or dressings so I was thrilled when Andrea Karim of WiseBread put together one of the most comprehensive articles on The Best Cooking Oils: For Your Heart & Wallet. It covers the gamut from extra virgin to avocado, coconut & peanut to name a few.

For further ‘research’ Vom Fass will turn anyone into an oil aficionado. Who knew that you could infuse orange, peperoncino, basil or chili to make a culinary master out of me? At your local store, you are able to sample dozens of these delicious oils in addition to a huge selection of Aged Balsamic Vinegars and Liqueurs , my favorite is the Latte Macchiato.

To finish off my oil obsession, I went in search of a fun dispenser / cruet. My top picks were from Folk Art Guild, Generate, & Red Candy.


Holiday Gift Ideas

As someone who revels in finding the right gift for the right person at every occasion, it’s really hard to come up with a condensed list at this time of year. So, for this post, I’m going to stick with a few favorite finds and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share books & ‘gifts that give back’ with you as well. Hopefully you’ll find something for everyone and if not, let me know! Also, take a quick look at my previous gift posts as some of my earlier favorites may be just the right one you’re looking for.
















Do you like me – I mean really “Like” me?

If you’re anything like me, you may follow different people or companies through a variety of avenues-  twitter,  RSSfeed, direct email or facebook. In case your main way of connecting with Life Simplified is something other than facebook, I wanted to share a few links with you that I had recently posted ‘over there’ as I’d hate for you to miss any great shortcuts, suggestions or solutions.

10 Days till Father’s Day

I know it’s cliche to link all things ‘grilling’ to the men but I’m happy to take a back seat in summer & let my husband take charge of dinner. Here’s a few things for grills / open fires that can keep it interesting…and me out of the kitchen!

Stainless Steel Branch Skewers – Shish kabobs are branching out with nine individual prongs, perfect for veggies, meat or marshmallows.

Rome’s Square Pie Iron (sandwich maker) – Simply place two pieces of buttered bread in the clam shell style compartment and stuff with preserves, cheese & meat, pie filling or whatever you want. Close the lid and toast.

Long Handle Salt & Pepper ShakerPerfect for those hard to reach areas on the grill and a patented extra long finger grip handle keeps your hand away from the heat.

School Pride Mustard – This sweet and hot mustard can be used as a dip or on top of (almost) anything grilled & better yet, get your favorite NCAA team on the label.

Swashbuckling BBQ Sword –  Grab him a mask and visualize Johnny Depp Read the rest of this entry