The Balancing Act

The BUDGET

Budgets.  We all have them (right?), and some of us even stick to them (I can’t relate).  Luckily for me, I married a ‘saver.’  Each month I get an email from my husband.  Attached to the email is an Excel spreadsheet (snore), which I usually avoid opening if possible. I’ve heard that the spreadsheet shows how much we budget for certain spending categories vs. how much we actually spend.  You may have guessed that I’m rarely successful at staying ‘on budget,’ but I am trying to improve.  I’d really hate to get to the point of purchasing gift cards to Nordstrom at the grocery store to disguise the actual clothing expense from my husband (apparently that’s a thing in certain circles – you didn’t hear it from me).

Spending categories potentially on the chopping block (not making any promises):

  • Baby Gap – If I could only put Annabel to work as a Gap model, surely we’d get a discount on clothing?

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  • Lush Cosmetics – Just can’t get enough of those bath bombs! I’ve seen recipes online for making your own bath bombs, but we know how I feel about DIY…

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  • Home Goods – I could potentially open my own retail store with the amount of stuff I have stored up from this place (decorative pillows are my kryptonite).  Note to self: consider having  a garage sale to support my habit.
  • Amazon – I can have diapers periodically shipped to my door?  Can’t think of a reason not to!
  • Target – This category can’t go away completely, obviously – maybe just scaled back a little bit.

It’s going to be tough, but I guess anything is possible.  Good luck to you, Jeff. XO

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DIY

Hanging Planter Tutorial

DIY projects are so hot right now.  I blame this craze on the wealth of information available on sites like Pinterest, where users can post pictures and tutorials illustrating how ‘easy and fun’ it can be to make something from scratch.  That being said, I’d much rather shop around and buy something instead of make it myself.  My ideas never materialize the way I originally envision, and by the time I shell out the cash for the necessary materials, I can safely conclude that I may as well have left it to the professionals on Etsy in the first place.  With that being said, the “budget” (NOT my idea) doesn’t afford me with unlimited purchasing power (I guess that’s kind of the point).

As I recently mentioned in another post, I’ve  taken to stocking our house with plants.   Some get stored on shelves, others in pots on the floor, but my favorite is to hang them from the ceiling (partly because I like the look, but mostly because they are out of my reach – so I can’t be expected to water them…).   I’ve been keeping an eye out for a mid-century modern hanging planter – like Justina Blakeney’s (see here) – but one hasn’t found me quite yet, so I resorted to a DIY project.  After a quick internet search I came up with a few tutorials for a macramé planter and decided to give it a shot.  Here it is:

Materials: indoor potted plant, spray paint, yarn or rope, scissors, ceiling hook

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I went to Michael’s and found yarn that looked sturdy enough to hold the plant. I used yarn instead of rope because I liked the variety of options for color.

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Cut the rope to desired length (I wanted the planter to hang about 1.5 – 2 feet from the ceiling, so I cut lengths of ~3 ft. yarn).  You can use anywhere from 6-10 pieces of rope, depending on the size of your pot (make sure you have an even number of pieces).

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I also spray painted the pot gold to jazz it up a bit.  While the pot dried, I went about tying the yarn…which I don’t have a picture of…and I realize that’s an essential part of the tutorial…but I DO have a picture of my darling little helper (black and white filter applied to hide the fact that our grass is totally DEAD)!

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Here’s the gist of the tying method: start by tying all pieces of the yarn together in a knot (a few inches from one end).  Lay the yarn on a flat surface and separate the yarn pieces into pairs.  Tie each pair together in a knot a few inches from the big knot you started with.  Then, take one piece from each pair and tie it to a piece of the pair next to it (a few inches away from the knotted pair). Go around  the circle doing this until you are satisfied with the detail of the knots.   An illustrated explanation can be found here.

Insert your plant into the tangle, bringing all the ends together at the top.  Knot them around the ceiling hook.  You’ll have to arrange the leaves so they aren’t all mashed by the yarn.  I added a bit of washi tape to the ends of the dangling yarn for some added detail.

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Luckily for me, Annabel isn’t too picky about the craftsmanship of her hanging planter – I still have an eye out for something that looks a little less DIY!

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The Balancing Act

Clean House / Sanity / Kids

If you’re a friend or family member of mine, you’ve probably been annoyed at one time or another by my urge to keep things clean.  After a good day of house cleaning, I turn into a monster who follows my husband around with the vacuum and gets annoyed when he goes to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich…because I know he’s getting crumbs on the counter.  I’ve changed the password on our laptop to ‘cleanhands?’ so that Jeff can’t claim he forgot to wash up before surfing the web (which usually results in his brown fingerprints all over the pretty white keys).

Now, I’m not sure if  spotting stray drips of water on the floor from across the room is a trait I was born with, or if it is a learned skill, but I’m mature enough to admit that I’ve taken the act of maintaining a clean home to the next level.  At one point I’ve threatened to buy Jeff a pair of Crocs to wear as ‘house shoes,’ on account of the fact that his overly sweaty bare feet leave footprints on our shiny laminate flooring — we’re kind of getting to be like kids who pretend that the floor is hot lava and we’ll get burned if we step on it.

I was sure that once our daughter was born, I’d get over the compulsion to clean my house.  Wrong!  If anything, I’ve gotten a little bit worse.  I’ve recently started hanging plants around the house…to clean the air.   We can’t be breathing dirty air!  You get the picture.

In a recent conversation I had with a friend, she expressed the same frustration over keeping her house clean.  She also has a little one to run around after, and can certainly do without the stress that goes along with constant housekeeping.  She filled me in on a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Here it is:

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Now, you can only have 2!  

Forget about trying to keep your home clean, while also spending meaningful time with your children and still having time to invest on any sort of personal development — whether you’re into yoga, book club, or Bravo TV : ).

As it stands, I’m still wrestling between keeping a clean house and hanging onto my sanity.  Maybe when Annabel learns how to walk I’ll look into a pair of Crocs for her, too…

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Parenting

Breeding creativity

I’m admittedly hooked on anything Bravo TV has to offer.  The ladies of the Real Housewives franchise regularly come up in my daily conversations, and I sometimes learn important pieces of news on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (real news, like when Osama bin Laden was killed, for instance).

That being said, I don’t necessarily find my affection for the television a real problem in and of itself.  Enter my iPhone.  I consider myself sort of a late adopter of the iPhone.  When my husband finally presented me with this slick looking piece of technology for Christmas, I got started downloading apps.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, the list goes on.  I’m still getting used to navigating some of these social media sites (I can’t stop referring to hash-tags as pound signs, and even though I promised myself (and everyone else) I wouldn’t only post pictures of my kid all of the time, I challenge you to find a picture that doesn’t revolve around Annabel).

Taking all of this into consideration, I’ve found that I suddenly have the attention span of a goldfish.  The other night I caught myself browsing my Facebook newsfeed while simultaneously fast-forwarding through commercials on one of the shows I recorded on our DVR.  Am I really so constantly in need of stimulation that I can’t even fast-forward through a commercial without getting bored?  If the saying “boredom breeds creativity” rings true – I’m in trouble.

Now that I have a little one to think of, I’m going to need to start taking some steps to make our home a more fertile breeding ground for creativity.  There is no need to start Annabel down the same path on which I’ve found myself.  After doing some light research (during commercial breaks…when I’d run out of lives on Candy Crush), I found that the American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that exposure to TV before the age of 2 can have lasting harmful effects on our little ones’ development.  Even leaving the television on in the background can negatively impact a child’s reading skills, language development and short-term memory.

Things aren’t so bad around here that Annabel and I are in the habit of watching Top Chef together, but there is always room for improvement.  I’ll be trading in the background noise of the TV for the sounds of the ‘children’s indie’ station on Pandora (which, as it turns out, is now my husband’s new favorite).  Instead of getting lost in the depths of Pinterest to kill time while nursing, I’ll read a children’s book aloud.

Annabel already has a little personality all her own, and with all of the reality video footage I’m collecting these days, I’ll have enough material to start my own network soon!

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