Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Solo Flights

When it's your first solo rodeo, flying alone can be intimidating. I've flown alone and mostly alone (with a miniature companion who needs all the bells, whistles, and car seats) several times. That first solo flight was my second time on an airplane. It was stressful and I felt lost the entire time. Here are a few tips to help you find your in flight zen.

Organize your carry on for an easy TSA check.
In a nutshell: I basically pack for survival on every flight. I always insist on carrying my skin care regime. If I find myself trapped in an airport, the comfort of clean skin is necessary. Keep your liquids in easy to access location. Anything that must be removed from my bag, fits in an outside pocket, or within reach, without fully opening my suitcase.

Pack anything you need to remove from your person in your carry on.
I don't wear jewelry or belts through security to save time. My flight shoes have elastic "shoelaces" turning them into slip-ons. ("shoelaces" meaning just random craft elastic from storage because I haven't gotten around to buying these)

Electronics! What about them?
They can be heavy, or maybe you don't want to remove the extra items during security screenings. They can also be great multi-tasking boredom busters. (A possible reason were all addicted.) As electronics have gotten smaller, so has leg room. I suggest skipping the laptop and taking advantage of AmazonPrime and Netflix instant downloads on your phone/tablet. Episode binging and solo flights are 2 peas in a very small pod. With apps like Spotify, you can download playlists pre-flight, so you can discover new music in flight. You can also go old school with game aps (Snake, anyone?) and Kindle books. Of course, this is all given that you aren't planning to pay for in flight wi-fi. If you are, then throw it out the window (the advice, not the device). Whatever you decide, don't forget the external power bank. We have more than 1 power bank, but this is my favorite.

"Always keep clean underwear in your glovebox, in case you get into an accident."
My Grandmas life advice applies to flying. I always pack a change of clothes in my carry on. (Except for that time we were stranded overnight...) Even if I don't need to wear them, they work as blankets or something to sit on if all the seats in the terminal are taken. Don't sit directly on the floor, or you may end up needing that change of underwear.

We all have baggage.

It's possible to fly with just a carry on, but I prefer a crossbody personal bag as well. All the important documents are easier to access. I try to leave room in the carry on for extra junk. You know, food you didn't finish eating pre flight, random stuff you somehow accumulate, things from your carry on that became disorganized, but suddenly you have to board your flight with no time to fix things. I guess we could call it a scramble. Just toss everything in. It's kind of the same process when the plane lands. I'm not in the mood to put things back where they go, so it all gets scrambled. The empty space means it's the things and not my stress levels the end up a mess. (p.s. with baby in tow, I carry an extra pocket bag for the scramble, as there is no space left in anyone's carry on)

Advice from the professional.
Arrive early. It's better to spend your time waiting, than rushing.
Bring movies for the trip.
Get drunk before boarding! (Just kidding, he only said order one drink and stay close to the terminal).
When you get off the plane, follow the crowd to the baggage claim/exit.

The basics. I'll send you to this comprehensive article.

They key to surviving a solo flight is to buy yourself as much time as possible. That means getting through security quickly and accepting that snafus will happen. You're not the first or last passenger to feel overwhelmed. It just takes one flight to be a pro.

Happy Travels! xoxo

Friday, May 8, 2015

Organizing with Gift Bags

Hello there! Since I'm averaging about 1 post per month (maybe less?), it feels like a good time to update. "If you don't use it, you lose it" might not be true for The 40 Year Old Virgin, but it's definitely true for right brain activity. So here we are, with the monthly(ish) right brain writing exercise!

Our closets are tiny. When I search for inspirational images of tiny closets, they are all so much bigger then ours. (I want to know what these people are used to that makes them think their closets are small.) One of the first areas of the house that I started working on when we moved in was the his and hers master closets. Close to a year later, I'm still working on them, reorganizing something every week. Do you ever feel like organizing/cleaning/living hacks are unnecessarily complicated?

So all you do is measure and cut X number of rectangles out of cardboard? Then you perfectly fit them together so they don't fall over, decorate them because cardboard is ugly (and dirty) and somehow make them strong enough to not budge when full of stuff. Voila! Easy?

Maybe I just think it's complicated because that kind of diy never works out for me. My favorite organizers are gift bags. I hang them on walls, use them in drawers, place them on shelves, and use them as hat rests. They work anywhere, and they are pretty. The easiest way to get a finished edge and reinforce the sides of a bags is to simply fold the bag in on itself.

I take one corner, measure the height of the drawer and pinch it to mark where the fold will start. Then I proceed to fold in all the sides. Don't worry about making it straight, the bag kind of lets you know when it needs adjustment. The pics are confusing to follow. Their real purpose is to show you that it looks weird and wrong in the process. I am always sure the bag will end up destroyed, but that hasn't happened yet.

I was really excited to fit 3 drawers worth of stuff into 1 drawer. This is organizing necessities btw, not organized hoarding.

Wine bags stuffed half way with paper and folded over are perfect for hats!

Now that these drawers are fitted with gift bags and organized, there is a lot more room to breathe in my closet. After organizing the storage drawers, I wanted the outside to be just as pretty. You can probably guess, all I did was modpodge wrapping paper inside the fronts. I'm really good at taking before pictures of projects, that's why there's a picture of the DHs drawers standing in as a substitute. This was a fun organizing project to do with the baby around. Sometimes he undoes everything before I can finish, this time he sat quietly with a few decoy bags. I hope you enjoyed this little organizing hack as much as baby did!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Laundry Room Makeover!

I'm attempting to follow the 14 Week Organizing Challenge from A Bowl Full of Lemons. This is from week two: The Laundry Room. Our laundry room was such a catastrophe that I couldn't even begin the challenge without a complete overhaul. Each week, we usually end up with at least one extra load to wash from clothes that touched a surface in the room. Yada yada yada...You know how makeup addicts occasionally participate in no buys (they don't spend money on makeup for a set amount of time)? I took some inspiration from that and decided to redo the laundry room with what I could find in the garage. Using up some of that junk killed 2 birds (you know, with one stone). You probably don't care much for killing birds, so I'll move on to a list of how I brought life to the laundry room.
But first, a glimpse of what I had to work with.

1.Popcorn removed!
2.The ceiling and walls were painted. There is no way to scrub stains, especially grease, out of flat paint. Semi gloss was a better choice for a room that needs to stay clean. (I used a quart of white-labeled "chairs," um yeah not the color of our chairs-mixed with the remainder of our bedroom paint.)
3.In the end, every single surface was painted: the light fixture, tile grout(Polyblend grout renew), trim, shelves, even the clothing rod...seriously, everything. was. painted.
4.Those dingy baseboards? They weren't even attached to the wall! How did we not notice that right away? Anyways, attached and painted.
5.After removing the built-ins in my closet, I used one side as an extra utility shelf. That was taken down, cut in half, evened out and rehung as 2 separate shelves. This gave me a designated space for the paint that we do want to keep.
6.The clothing rod had mildew and it wasn't coming clean with sanding, sanding, and more sanding. Whitewashing it turned out beautifully. I topped it off with a finishing wax to smooth everything out.

7.You see the rack holding the cleaning tools? My dad made that for my junior high orchestra class. Just thought you'd like to know.
8.To make more room for clothes to air dry, I used a curtain rod we had sitting in a closet to store the empty hangers.
9.In addition to painting, everything had to be re-caulked. I went through 2 tubes of caulking! (Wait...why did we have 2 whole tubes sitting around? See what I mean about using up junk.)

10.Do you see that metal piece hanging on the wall? It was part of the screen door of the house my grandma grew up in, which her dad built. Just thought you'd like to know ;) Also thought you'd like to know, I just noticed it's possibly upside down.

11.The most exciting part is the counter for folding clothes that the LO has been wanting. I made that, as well as the support braces, from a piece of mdf that was used to support a mattress in an old bed frame. (Thanks for the counter, parental units!)
12. I even painted the canvas bins...seriously, we have so much leftover paint.

After the makeover, I still had to complete the to do list from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which wasn't so bad. Not being afraid to touch anything makes it easier to clean. Having a clean space makes it easier to organize. Finally, it was time to move everything back in and teach the baby how to fold clothes on his new counter. We're both really excited about that part! There are still a few ideas floating around, such as adding moulding to the front of the shelf to finish it, but that would be breaking the no buy rules. (Confession, I did buy a level and a hand saw, but I don't think tools qualify.)

P.s. In all the tutorials I found for building the shelf, no one mentioned what to do about the water valves. All of my inspirational laundry rooms looked as if they didn't water have valves. I decided to cut a 3 inch deep niche the width of the faucets to accommodate the space. It turned out well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Birthday Reflections

NYMags Science of Us posted an article this week about the final year of a decade. Whether you're 29, 39, 49...that last year is one of reflection and change. While some of the statistics covered are negative (I.e. higher rates of suicide), others involved pushing yourself and reassessing your life. This past year was especially tough. I thought struggling to cope was the result of becoming a parent, the newborn stages, and dealing with perinatal depression, not to forget moving in the middle of all that. I also spent the past year beating myself up over failing to accomplish any life goals.

As the year went by, the struggles brought change, good change. There's an inner peace in daily chaos, once you accept the chaos. "The meaning we ascribe to one decade ending and another beginning is another example of how much we value a “fresh start,” as the article stated, really signifies the importance of being able to let go and move forward. As you know, I've faced some demons in recent months. It wasn't a pretty year. I'm ready for the fresh start. Perhaps the events of this year really occurred because of the timing. It's the end of an era for sure. One which was anthemed by "I'm Afraid of Everyone." But it's also the beginning of a new stage. (Anthem to be determined)

Image via Design Love Fest

The hardships of 29 made it a year worth living because they allowed healing to start. Qué será, será. The only thing we truly control is our own actions. Those who chose to support me, not just in the past year, but at any point in time, are wonderful people. I might not spend as much time with some of them as I'd like, but all that matters is that they know how much their actions meant. How they inspired me to be a better person. The best thing you can do for another is accept them, even if you don't understand them. This is a lesson I hope to never forget.

So here's to 29. You sucked! And cheers to 30. I'm ready.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Gift Planner

Every year, I make so many lists that I forget who gets what or even what I already bought. It gets even more confusing because there are so many November and December birthdays. Sometimes, after planning gift purchases, I realize I forgot about all the birthdays. This might contribute to me being the worst gift giver in the family. It's time for a new game plan. Starting a tradition to keep in years to come simplifies the holidays. Personally, I've always love the traditional side of stockings. Stocking stuffer staples, like a new tube of chapstick, a pack of gum, and candy are one of the things that make it feel like Christmas. I took a few notes from my mom and made a list of what will go in our family stockings every year.

You have probably seen the wish list idea floating around Pinterest where kids fill out a list of needs and wants. I decided we could do a list of 6 things and buy maybe 3 or 4 items from the list. The other 2 or 3 will serve as ideas for birthdays.

I also needed a list to track purchases for extended family members. Now that the hard part, the organizing, is done it's time for the fun part, the shopping!
Download your own planners here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Favorites: Tater Tot Fashion

I love babies in grown up outerwear. The juxtaposition is just too cute to bear.

1. This little guy from Well Groomed is adorable!

2. This little girl from Vivi & Oli is so sweet with vintage accessories.

3. Babies in wellies!!! This look gets me every time. Surprisingly, I didn't think to buy Baby Huu newborn wellies just for the cuteness. Pinterest

4. What? Puppies are little ones too. Besides, not all dogs like the rain. Flickr

5. Where can I find this raincoat in my size? Not on the High Street

6. This image from Fancy.com has always been one of my fashion favorites, because of the coffee cup. It reminds me of my niece and nephew drinking their "coffee."