Welcome Lilo to the family!

We have a new puppy!! Lilo is an adorable Yorkshire Terrier who is keeping us on our toes. Having her around is kind of like having a newborn and a toddler all at once.


She sleeps like a newborn….often and not always through the night, but she's getting better.  We are very focused on her inputs and outputs. How much is she eating and drinking? How productive is she when we take her outside? 


She is like a toddler that gets into everything. She explores her world with her mouth and tries to eat everything she finds. We have a baby gate up in the hall now so she doesn’t roam too far. We are busy exposing her to all of the new sights and sounds of her world. This includes getting her used to the sound of the vacuum and ice dispenser. She is not too sure about any of these things. 


She has been going on car rides too. We started this week with a quick drive around town with the whole family. Another day, we drove to a local drive through place to pick up some food. We even took a trip to go through the coffee drive through and she got her first puppaccino. It was almost bigger than she is, but she loved every lick that she could get. All of this meant that I felt comfortable taking her to the airport with me when I had to drop my husband off. Normally, I would have woken one of the teens to be on puppy watch, but this time, Lilo came with me. (Lucky teenagers got to sleep in!)  She did great, even on the ride home when it was just her and me. She is still shivering with nerves when we go in the car, but she’s relaxing enough to lay down and try to rest. This will get easier the more we practice.


She is so smart and is learning all kinds of new things every day. Sometimes she even tries to train us and we have to resist those sweet puppy dog eyes. One of her funny quirks is that whenever she hears any spray bottle working, she comes running. I guess that on her first days home with us, we used that sprayer a lot cleaning up her little messes. It cracks me up when I’m in the kitchen cleaning up, she’ll stop playing to see what I’m doing with that sprayer. I don’t think she realizes yet that the sprayer is not directly related to all things puppy.


I am so relieved that we have a home that is safe for this sweet puppy. She is totally able to lick all the spots I clean up without fear of her consuming dangerous chemicals. It’s a good thing too, because I feel like I clean up all the time. 


Having a puppy in the house is a lot like having a baby. She changes everything, but I would change nothing. She is the light of our lives and we are so blessed to be her family. 


She is our first dog, so I am very open to any and all advice you may have. I'm sure I will add some updates that are puppy related in the future as she is now part of the family. Comment below with your favorite puppy or dog parent tip. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

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Who Has Time For Sleep?

Who has time for sleep? 


A better question is, “Can you really afford to not get enough sleep?” 


When we are sleep deprived, our abilities to concentrate, think clearly and process memories is greatly reduced. Lack of sleep has been tied to a higher risk of certain diseases and medical conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death.


Are you getting enough sleep?


According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 

the ideal amount of sleep for adults is 7 hours or more for optimal health.

 Check out the study here. 


Now, genetics and other factors provide some variability in what is necessary for individuals, but doctors agree that getting more sleep, consistently, is important for our bodies to function properly as they were designed. Our bodies and minds need an opportunity to recharge so we can wake refreshed and alert. 


That all sounds great, but is it realistic? I mean, with kids, work, chores, and wind down time, who really gets enough sleep? I have been quite guilty of spending most of my life getting less than the optimal amount of sleep. Here’s the thing though...if we get enough sleep, we are more productive in our waking hours and can actually get enough sleep in most cases. 


Stick with me here.


If I actually get my seven hours of sleep that is recommended, I wake up less groggy. This means that I am able to sip my tea with a purpose and start my day faster than before. These added minutes may seem small, but they add up over the course of a whole day.  I am more focused at my job, which means I can complete more tasks from my to do list in a shorter amount of time. 


So, now that I understand the why, how do I accomplish this?


First, I may need to retrain my brain with some new routines. If your routine is to watch a series on Netflix, it can be hard to not just let it roll to the next episode. I am guilty of that way more times than I’d like to admit. I believe that true change starts with baby steps. Your goal is to get more sleep. Maybe the first thing you need to do is to actually set boundaries on your television watching. Maybe instead of watching endlessly, you start by checking the time on the clock when a new episode appears. This is the time to make a decision…..even if you really want to know what happens next. 


For me, I know that if I am going to get up at 7:00 in the morning, I need to start my bedtime routine by 10:30. This allows me enough time to wind down, do what needs to be done and be in bed ready to sleep by 11:30. You may think that sounds like a long time, but that includes my whole routine, plus some book reading time. (I have to apply that same clock check when I am reading and get to a new chapter.) 


Second, you need to build your nighttime routine that works for you. I have detailed mine over here, but what works for me may not work for you. 


Try some of these strategies to get yourself into sleep mode:

  • Journaling - Some people find that journaling before bed allows their brains a chance to unload the thoughts we have that have a tendency to swirl in our heads as we try to fall asleep. 

  • Reading - Escaping into a book for a few minutes before bed can be a great way to turn off the pressures of the day and prepare our bodies for sleep.

  • Put away your phone - The best thing to do at night is to plug in your phone in another room. For some of us that is not an option because we use it as an alarm. At the very least, put your phone on do not disturb. By doing this, you are not getting any of those notification dings or screen illuminations to pull you away from sleep mode. It is a slippery slope to “just check that notification” and pretty soon, you are scrolling through things that are not going to help you get to sleep. You can set favorite contacts to be able to break through in case of an emergency. 

  • Turn down your thermostat - We sleep better in a room that is cooler than we keep it during the day. According to Sleepfoundation.org, the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees. Setting your thermostat to 65 is a good starting point that you can adjust for your preferences. Cuddling up under the covers is much more comfortable if you are not overheating. I know that I surely toss and turn much more when I am too warm. I kick off those sheets and spend a ton of time just trying to get comfortable. When your bedroom is the right temperature for you, it is much easier to fall into dreamland. 

  • Use a diffuser - Set the tone in your room with aromatherapy. I like to diffuse a calming blend around 30 minutes before I want to be asleep. My favorite blend is shared in my nighttime routine post here

  • White noise - Do you need to have white noise in order to sleep? We always sleep with the television on low with a sleep timer so it will turn off. I know some people disagree with having a TV on at bedtime, but it works for us. You can use an app for white noise or get a noise machine like this one. We also keep a fan on which can be just the right amount of white noise, plus it keeps the temperature in our room down do it’s double duty. 



Finally, you need to work on consistency. Check this list for things you are already doing. Then choose one thing to add. After a time of consistently doing that one thing, add another until you have built your own nighttime routine that works for you and helps you get great sleep. It will take time and won’t happen overnight. You can make meaningful change if you are persistent. Great sleep is worth it!


Which of these tips is the easiest for you to implement? Tell me in the comments below. 


Looking for a great journal for jotting down your thoughts? Check out my Journaling Through the Year PDF download. It will get you started on the right foot. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

The Five Step Nighttime Routine That My Morning Self Adores

Having a simple nighttime routine gives my morning self all the feels. If I can set up my morning self for success, I will do it every time. She deserves it! By doing these steps, I can be the healthier less stressed version of myself living in a tidy home.


Step #1 Prep Meals for the Next Day


I generally start this step right after we clear the dinner dishes. When I worked outside the home, I would use the dinner leftovers to make my lunch to go to work the next day. The rest, would be fair game for my husband to consume at will. By portioning out what I wanted, we avoided any confusion that would mean I’d have to resort to something from the freezer that was a whole lot less nutritious. Now, I don’t go out much, but I will still portion out something that I love as leftovers for my lunch the next day.


If you are packing lunches for school, you can prep much of that the night before to streamline your morning. I would portion out lunch items into containers or bags ahead of time and either place right in the lunch bag or in the fridge, easy to grab in the morning. I found that doing this in the evening saved a lot of headaches in the morning.


Step #2 Empty the Sink


This step takes me way back to my FlyLady days. Did you ever do the FlyLady system to keep your house clean? I’m sure she’s still around, but that takes me back close to 20 years. One of her key principles is to shine your sink. The theory is that if your sink is clean, you are less likely to leave things sitting in it and more likely to just clean those dishes as you go. She’s not wrong! 


Before I head to bed each night, I empty out my sink. Sometimes that means just rinsing and putting in the dishwasher. Sometimes, that means I hand wash the pots and pans or snack bowls. Either way, I’m scanning our kitchen and great room for dishes that I can take care of now. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to the sink full of pots and dishes that were “soaking” from last night. Gross! Let’s face it, soaking a pan is really code for, I just didn’t want to put in the work to clean it. I have found that in most cases, if I clean a pan right away, it doesn’t actually require soaking. 


After my sink is clean, I check the dishwasher to see if it needs to be run. I love to start it at bedtime so we have clean dishes in the morning. In our family of 4, we run it about every 2-3 days. In some families, this will be a nightly event. We do a fair bit of hand washing throughout the day, so we don’t fill it up so quickly. Having the dishwasher clean in the morning means that I can unload it while my tea is steeping. For years, I avoided unloading the dishwasher as one of those chores I abhorred. I don’t know why. I finally did it while my tea timer was going and realized that it took less than 5 minutes. Silly me!


Step #3 Clean Your Face


When I retire to my room at night, I start getting ready for bed by washing my face. It’s my way of washing off the day and taking care of my skin. From taking off my makeup (when I wear it) to cleansing my skin, to moisturizing, I love this part of my routine. It is like a little mini spa treatment every day. Sometimes, I even throw in a little bid of jade roller time with my favorite beauty serum. Heavenly!


When you clean your face at night, you wash away the toxins that have accumulated on your skin throughout the day from the environment and products that you have encountered. You are also cleansing your pores and allowing your skin cells to regenerate overnight. Plus, this is the perfect time to let all your favorite lotions and potions soak in and do their thing. 


Step #4 Set Out Your Clothes


One of the easiest ways to improve your morning is to set out your clothes for the next day. I love to set out my outfit for the day the night before. Actually, when I was working outside the home, I would plan out my whole week’s clothes by hanging things in order in my closet. Sometimes, I would swap things around based on the weather or my mood, but I at least had a plan. Now, I still set out what I plan to wear. It is a habit that has taken hold quite strongly in me. 


This is a great strategy for kids too. By setting out clothes the night before you can eliminate all kinds of debate in the morning. Involving kids in this process helps too, even if it is just deciding between the red or grey shirt to go with those pants. They are empowered and you have a happier home.


Step #5 Start a Diffuser


My bedtime routine would not be complete without running a diffuser in my bedroom. It sets the stage for relaxation and helps promote good sleep. Getting adequate sleep at night improves our overall health and wellbeing. I like to set the tone in my room as soon as I retire for the night. I start my diffuser, then, I do all the other things in my room. Now, if you are not an essential oils person, I get it. I didn’t include this step earlier, because I know that some people are just not interested in a diffuser. That’s cool. I actually have some great linen sprays and roller blends that I use when I can’t have my diffuser with me. The effect is similar in that you are preparing the space for sleep. 


I tend to go in fits and starts with bedtime diffuser recipes. I will use one over and over, then shift to another one. I mix up all kinds of things on the fly depending on what I feel like I need. It is really a personal thing for what you prefer and what works best for you. What works best for me may not work for you. That’s the funny thing about essential oils. It can be a very personal experience. Thankfully, there are many options to choose from. You just need to be willing to give it a try. The following is one of my favorite nighttime diffuser recipes. I have more where this comes from, just send me a message and I can share more. 


Sleepytime Diffuser Blend

Ingredients
  • 3 drops Lavender
  • 3 drops Cedarwood
  • 3 drops Stress Away

Instructions
Start in bedroom diffuser 15-20 minutes before bedtime.



By following these easy steps, my morning self can hit the ground running, ready to conquer whatever the day has in store. I can’t control everything, but I can control these things and I have found I am much happier for it. 


What is something on your “never miss” nighttime routine list? What do you do every night to give yourself a leg up? Share in the comments below.


Not all essential oils are created equally. If you want to know what I use, send me a message and I can fill you in on the only oils I trust for my family. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

New Home Projects To Solve All the Storage Problems

Moving is never dull. With a local move, we were able to get most of our things moved ourselves, with the help of local family members. God bless them! The big stuff with big stairs from the other house required the help of amazing local movers.


Amazingly, 3 days after the movers left, we were socked in with snow surrounding us. We are ever grateful that we chose to move in the week we did. The little rain we endured during our move weekend was nothing compared to the week that followed. 


We are filling our days with projects around here in our new home. I am unpacking in fits and starts. We are loving our gorgeous new home. It is amazing in almost every way…..except for storage. We are just getting started with some great storage solutions and I’m sure they will evolve even more as we live in the space even longer.


My office/craft room is in the “formal dining room” of this home because we are just not those people right now. I am slowly adding storage pieces here because there is no closet or built in shelves to hide all my crap treasures for crafting. As I add more solutions, I can unpack more things into their forever home. It is beginning to fill out and I love it! I always dreamed of having my own space for all the things and I don’t even mind my hubby stealing my comfy chair to work on his laptop when I’m at my computer. 


We have “just enough” counter space in the kitchen for what we need, but that means that we need other places to put things like the coffee pot, electric kettle rice cooker and pressure cooker that we use daily or every other day. Enter this gorgeous hutch from Costco which was delivered yesterday. It is the extension of my kitchen cabinets and counter that I didn’t even know I needed. We are expecting a kitchen cart delivery in the next day or so to tuck between the hutch and our kitchen counter that will actually house the cooking electrics. We also added an over the door “spice rack” for the inside of our pantry door because this family of four is just not accustomed to a tiny pantry. It holds everything from spices to oils to syrup to ramen to sprinkles. 



We also added a cabinet from IKEA with glass doors on top for pretty glasses to go right next to my wine fridge in my office. Yes, I have a wine fridge in my office and I think it’s the perfect spot! I kind of feel like I’m in an old timey movie and I can offer a beverage while making a high powered deal. Ha! The bottom of the cabinet has solid doors that hide some overflow from the tiny pantry.


I honestly have not even tackled my closet yet. My clothing needs are quite simple right now, so I have out what I need and there is no need for much variety. I’ll get there eventually, but it’s not a priority. 


I’m hoping this week to dig into more boxes with decor items to give our space a little more of a personal touch. I have to say, I’ve loved the simplicity of things around here for a couple of weeks. 


I’m also working on a family command center and will share that with you soon. It has taken a few weeks to see just where my family drops their things when we come home. Now, I have a plan to make it more functional and fabulous. I’ll share the details soon!


I’m just ready for the box piles to dwindle down and not have as many projects looming. We are loving life over here and can’t wait to share pictures of it all. 


Share with me your favorite storage hacks for your spaces. I’m dying to know what works for you. 


I am using my Yearly Planner to keep track of all of the appointments and deliveries for all of our projects and it is saving me from having post-it notes all over the place. I can’t seem to remember what day of the week it is anymore. Grab your own download of the Yearly Planner here


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Getting Dinner on the Table

I am a lazy mom. I admit it. I am all about looking for the easy button to manage keeping all of my humans alive. They need to be fed and I am in charge of that. Just because I am lazy doesn’t mean that I don’t care or place value on quality nutrition for my family. Enter these easy steps to make sure I get dinner on the table without too much fuss.



Make a plan. You will have a much harder time getting dinner on the table if you don’t know what is for dinner. Plan for your dinner early in the day so you can take away the guessing game later on. When you know what is for dinner, you can ensure you have everything on hand and eliminate frustration at dinner time. I go into detail about my meal planning strategy in this blog post where I share my favorite meal planning tool. 


Take shortcuts when you can. Go ahead and grab that pre sliced or shredded cheese if it makes your life easier. Pre chopped veggies can save your life, or at least your fingers. I am horrible with onions. I have tried every trick in the book and my best success is when I use my Pampered Chef Chopper that I have had for years. It recently broke from 2 decades of use and had to do something until I can get a new one. I have found that my grocery store has pre-chopped onions in the produce section of the store. If I want to have more finely chopped onions, I can chop them a bit more, but my time working with those onions is a lot less than if I started from scratch. 

 

Get the family involved. When my husband sees that we are doing tacos for dinner, he will grab the ground beef and brown it for me. When we are doing something with rice, he will start the rice in the rice cooker ahead of time for me. This frees me up to focus on the more detailed aspects of cooking, like measuring out ingredients, and following the steps of a recipe. One of my daughters loves to organize things and is awesome at lining up my ingredients for me. 


Pretend you are on a cooking show. You know how they have all their ingredients pre-measured and pre-chopped, ready to dump into the pan? You can do that too! I have a collection of small ramekins that serve me well in this endeavor. Why should we do this? For one, when you have all your ingredients lined up, you spend a lot less time going back and forth to the pantry or fridge when you are preparing a meal. It is so much easier to follow a recipe when you are able to just follow the directions without looking back at the ingredient list to double check if it was teaspoons or tablespoons. I literally line up all of my pre-measured ingredients in the order they fall in my recipe. Then I can just focus on making sure the pan is at the right temperature as I add my ingredients. I know that I have certainly overcooked things in the past because I was still chopping or measuring while the cooking was started. It just is not as efficient.


Be realistic.  I have found that I can only handle cooking with a recipe maybe two nights during the work week. What do I make the other nights? I make things that are easy and don’t require looking something up. You know, your staple family favorites like, pasta or frozen nuggets and fries or tacos. I am not a natural cook, but I’m working to change that by trying out recipes from Pinterest. I get exhausted easily when I am doing new things. If I do too much of that, I get overwhelmed and start to dread cooking. That is not a recipe for success. So, I sprinkle in those more labor intensive meals along with my autopilot types of meals during the week. The idea is that my newer recipe meals will eventually become autopilot meals for me, but until they do, I am not going to stress over it. 


You can do this! Make a plan, take shortcuts, get the family involved, pretend you are on a cooking show and be realistic. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

 
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