I may be creative, I may be thrifty, but at my heart I am truly one thing: lazy. And wherever I can find opportunities to do so I employ strategies to save myself time and effort. Some of these are simple, but some you may not have thought of. And if you’ve got tips to share please do! I need all the help I can get

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  1. I keep lists on my phone. I have a running to do list, a list for upcoming blog post topics, and lots of lists of random things I want to remember. I use the basic notes app in my phone as a sort of all-purpose notebook. Not only do I have it with me and easily accessible at all times, but it’s searchable. No paper notebook can compete with that.
  2. I use a grocery list. Tying into the first point, I have a basic list on my phone of everything I buy regularly at the grocery store. Before going shopping, I copy and paste the list into a new note and go through my kitchen deleting whatever we don’t need. I have a similar system for shopping at Target (I go about once a month to stock up on some things that Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry). As I’m shopping I note in the list how much each item cost, which makes it easy to estimate my total before I get to the checkout.
  3. I shop on Amazon. I absolutely love having Amazon Prime. If I need just one or two things that I’m not even sure I could find at local big box stores, like, say, the perfect pedometer, I’ll just click over to Amazon and can pretty quickly compare prices and reviews and then get free two day shipping. The selection is amazing, the prices are good, and it saves me from making a trip to a crowded store where I’m likely to spend more money buying things I don’t need.
  4. I wear minimal makeup. My makeup bag is tiny and holds everything I need: some Bare Minerals powder and blush, a brush for each, one eyeliner, one eyeshadow, one lipstick, and one chapstick. I usually put my makeup on in the car.
  5. I never iron. Ironing is for the birds. If something looks like it will need frequent ironing I don’t buy it. Everything else I just hang or fold right out of the dryer. Sometimes it takes several rounds in the dryer before I manage to get to them while they’re still warm, but I very very rarely have any significant wrinkle issues.
  6. I do my banking online. Balancing your checkbook is sooooo 1999. And I recently signed up for Mint.com so we can keep an even closer eye on our spending (spoiler: we spend too much money on cable TV and going out to eat).
  7. I save my veggie scraps. I used to do this for compost, but I decided that composting is too much work for me. Now I save them in a giant freezer bag so that when fall rolls around and I want to make soup I can use them to make broth instead of having to plan ahead by having broth on hand or chicken bones available.
  8. Speaking of chicken, I buy it in bulk from Zaycon. And when I need to shred it I do so in my stand mixer. Throw cooked chicken in there with a paddle attachment, flip it onto low speed, and watch as the chicken gets shredded before your eyes.
  9. I automate wherever possible. I use automatic bill pay, use Dollar Shave Club to keep us stocked with fresh blades, and have reminders set on my phone for anything that can’t be automated further, like remembering to give Juliet her flea and heartworm medicine.

I’m amazed by all the conveniences modern technology offers. I can’t imagine what it was like to, say, plan a vacation or research a purchase before the internet. And don’t even get me started on smartphones! Those things are amazing. I admit that I look at mine too often, but it’s become such a helpful companion that I can’t imagine life without it.

Hello, my friends! We are in the throes of potty training over here and I am pooped (pun intended). Between all that time spent waiting patiently, taking deep breaths, and mustering enthusiasm I’ve been neglecting some things. Like, you know, putting on real clothes. When I get a break from constantly monitoring for any signs of bodily fluids all I want to do is sit down and immerse myself in something completely uninteresting to two year olds. Hence: Pinterest. And my favorite idea spotted on Pinterest this week is something so simple I can’t believe that it’s not more popular–stainless steel islands.

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The Design Files | Andrea Millar

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BHG

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House & Home | Michael Graydon

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Number Fifty-Three

Really more like a work table, a stainless island is just so practical. It’s less expensive than cabinetry plus countertops and more durable than pretty much any other surface, There’s a reason why these are a staple in restaurant kitchens. My current kitchen is too small for an island of any sort but I’m definitely tucking this idea away for our next house. If you’ve got a large kitchen this 3′x6′ table could be had for under $500. For smaller spaces this 2′x4′ version is only $159. The cheapest option, though, is probably to check out a local restaurant supply company. The only downside to stainless steel is that it does show a lot of fingerprints and smudges. I remember from my high school days working at Sonic that this stuff was awesome for cleaning the stainless surfaces. I’ve got a hunch that stainless appliances are on their way out, but hopefully stainless islands don’t see the same fate.

As excited as I was to move Jack out of the crib, I was a tiny bit heartbroken when I realized I’d soon be taking down the mobile I so lovingly created. I hated to just cast it aside.

I’ve got a plan to reuse the yarn balls, but first I tackled a smaller project: creating a piece of embroidery to fill the green painted hoop. I started working on it several weeks ago using a spare embroidery hoop, then just moved it over to the green one after we’d set up Jack’s new bed and taken down the mobile. My first attempt involved tracing an image of tree rings that I found online. When it was finished I wasn’t sure about the outcome so I texted a picture to my friend Lauren and asked what it looked like to her.

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So with that I started over, this time keeping it simpler. I used a backstitch for the rings and lettering and two rows of split stitches for the bark. And to avoid any unintentional resemblance to anatomy I stitched his name in the center instead of ever-narrowing rings. It’s supposed to look like his name was scrawled on a tree stump.

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The green and brown are perfect accents in his room.

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I love the addition of something round to the collection of items on his wall. I’d like to add something else to the right side but I’m not quite sure what yet.

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It’s kind of symbolic–the rings of a tree are a visual marker of growth and this is a space for a growing child to play and rest.

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It’s hung on the wall with a nail and secured in place with some museum putty. Since he’s not confined to the crib anymore I went ahead and added a bit of putty to everything else on the wall, too, just to make sure that he doesn’t accidentally pull something down and hurt himself when he’s in there alone.

I’ve been working on this embroidery project on and off since May so I’m thrilled to finally have it completed. Next project: stringing those yarn balls into a garland to hang from the ceiling!

Even though we’re not planning on selling for a few years, Nick and I want to start working on some of the things that need to be done before we can even think about putting our house on the market. There are some big ticket tasks, like a new roof and a fresh exterior paint job, and plenty of smaller ones, like this broken fence gate. In this photo it’s just propped into place (upside down!) to provide some privacy and deter trespassers. It was too heavy for me to move on my own and would often get knocked over by strong winds.

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We’ve been putting it off forever but we finally tackled fixing it this weekend. First we removed the old, rusty hardware.

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One of the reasons Nick had been dreading this task is that he thought he would have to hold the heavy gate in place while I attached the hinges, so he was pretty thrilled when I told him my plan to block it up with some scrap wood.

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These big hinges were about $5 each at Lowe’s. I had no idea what type was best suited to our circumstances so I just picked these.

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Luckily they were a cinch to install! We moved the location of the bottom hinge up a little so it would be better secured to the frame, and actually added a piece of scrap wood on the other side to reinforce it. I think the poor placement of that hinge might be what caused the old hardware to fail.

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With the hinges installed I added a new latch to the backside of the fence. Our neighborhood is not dangerous, but there are a fair amount of burglaries and so we prefer to keep our home on the secure side. We’ve never been robbed, knock on wood, though someone did try to kick in the back door once when we’d just moved in and didn’t have signs from the alarm company yet. A determined burglar could jump the fence or reach over to unlatch it, but this at least creates some resistance.

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And last but not least I installed a handle on the front. We actually didn’t think of this until after we’d fixed the gate, so I picked up the handle yesterday and installed it while Jack was napping. I shut the gate to see how it looked, then realized it had latched closed and the front door was locked. I had to drag a chair around from the front porch to reach over and unlatch the gate. This makes me wonder about how the guy who reads our electric meter will get back there, as well as the guy who mows our lawn. Perhaps I didn’t think this whole “backyard security” thing through. Do you think most men are tall enough to just reach over and unlatch it? It’s really amazing to me that in this day and age a person still comes out to literally look at my electric meter. He scared the crap out of me one time when I was in the backyard by myself. I could tell that he felt bad about it–he had actually called out to let me know he was there before I saw him, but I had my back to the gate and practically jumped right out of my chair when a strange man’s voice came from nowhere. Anyway, I digress. The handle makes it easier to pull the gate open when it’s unlatched.

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The other problem here is that the gate sticks big time. You have to really throw your shoulder into it to get it closed. Is there a magic way to fix that? A planer perhaps?