Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happiness Project: March - Remembering Love

This month is all about remembering love. Remember to love the ones we're with. Not just my husband, but all my family. This month there are a lot of family birthdays which makes this month a great month to focus on  love.

I've broken my Remembering Love month down a little differently than Gretchen Rubin did in her book. Part of the Happiness Project is to do what works for you as an individual. It looks like this for me.

The Husband Project

Remember when I did the Husband Project? It was a fun exercise that didn't take a lot of effort and seeing the change in my husband made a huge difference to our relationship. We have a great relationship, happily married and completely in love. For me, the little tasks are just a way for me to remind us both how much I love him. A month is plenty of time to redo this project, or parts of it as a way to Remember Love. 

Stop word-vomiting

I am terrible at dumping my feelings/issues/grievances on people around me. It's far easier to complain than to the point out the good things that happen. I'm a pessimist by nature so complaining comes easy. I consider my sister an optimist. A lot of the time I dump my issues on her and let her point out the good things to me. While this is great, it can be draining on both of us. Frenchie, being the closest person in proximity to me in a safe environment gets the brunt of my complaints. I want to focus on journaling my frustrations rather than vocalizing them. 

Quit Nagging/He'll do it his way

If you're married, or live with someone (significant other, family, roommate) you've probably recognized that people do things differently. It's not the same way YOU would do things. Ever re-pack the dishwasher to fit more dishes? Ever ask several times for something to be done that really isn't urgent? I need to quit nagging. Just because Frenchie is doing something a different way than me, doesn't mean it's the wrong way. The key is to keep your comments to yourself. When something does get done, appreciate it. Say thank you and not follow it with a "but..." 

Focus on his Love Language

Before getting married, Frenchie and I both read The 5 Love Languages. As part of the Husband project, I'm going to try and incorporate his love language more often. It's a small thing that brings you closer together.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Resolutions - am I happier?

I wish I had a bigger update for week 3. I meant to do a lot of things this weekend. In all fairness, I had a great weekend without checking things off my list.

Getting ready for bed has now become habit. Frenchie has been a huge help on this one. He reminds me after I'm done teaching piano by asking if I'd like some tea and starts the kettle for me. That is my queue to go wash my face, put my pj's on and relax. It's become habit on the weekends as well which is great.

I'm officially more addicted to Barre than I was when I started. The 9am class is the perfect fit for me and I can feel myself getting stronger. The bands are perfect for my shoulder rehabilitation since I can decide for myself how much resistance to use.
My diet has changed for the better since modifying to cut gluten. It has been far easier than I thought it would be and I really think I'm healthier. The amount of vegetables we eat now and the creative meals we've been making, I feel like I'm getting a more well-rounded diet.
I've managed to cut out Starbucks more than I thought. I still slip and get one here or there. Going cold turkey for a week was enough to make me realize how bad I feel after having one.

The organization has come to a standstill. Other than hanging up a few pictures that are still sitting on the floor, I need a break from it. Everything looks "good enough" and for the spaces we rarely use, I'm happy with the way they are for now.

Nagging tasks are still nagging at me. The act of finding a seamstress either near my house in the evening (which is impossible for me to get to on a week night) or taking things downtown is something I'm just not willing to put much effort in to.

I think February was a good way to start my Happiness Project and I'm looking forward to moving on to March - Remembering Love. I really think that I've formed some good habits and there are definitely some things from February I'll continue on with.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recipe: Gluten-free Crêpe Dinner

I was in Crate & Barrel a while ago and bought a crêpe cookbook. The recipes looked delicious and it had a gluten-free crêpe recipe in it. On family day weekend, I wanted to try a recipe from it and boy did it turn out well. (And heated well for leftovers during the work week)
I was so happy to find a gluten-free crêpe recipe that we used the extras for breakfast the next day.

The recipes are from Crêpes: 50 Savoury and Sweet Recipes by Martha Holmberg

Rice Flour Crêpes

Makes about 12 8in crêpes

1 3/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plus 3 tbsp white (or brown) rice flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (plus more for the pan)

Put milk, eggs and salt in a blender. Blend for about 30s until smooth. 
Add rice flour. Blend until very smooth (about another 30s)
Pour in melted butter and blend for another 10s

Let batter rest for at least an hour at room temp or up to 12 hours in the fridge. Be sure to mix again before using as rice flour separates.

Heat an 8in pan over medium-high heat. (hot enough for water to sizzle on contact)
Use a folder paper towel to spread about 1/2 tsp butter around the interior of the pan. It should sizzle but not turn instantly brown.
Pour 1/4 cup of batter (I used 1/3 cup) in the center of the pan, at the same time lift the pan from the heat and tilt/turn in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom.
Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan. 30s to 1 min.
To check for color, use a slim spatula to lift up an edge to look underneath. If it's brown, flip it over.
Cook 30s on second side.
Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate and continue.

Storing in freezer:
Put parchment or wax paper in between each crêpe. Put stack into large zip-loc freezer bag.
Will last 1 month.

Fridge - will last 2 days.
To thaw, let the stack sit at room temperature.

Roasted Maple-Thyme Butternut Squash, Stilton or Feta and Hazelnuts

For Praline Hazelnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
pinch salt
1/3 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts

For roasted hazelnuts
1/2 hazelnuts
pinch sea salt (or salt)

For Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (I skipped this)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh thyme (2 tsp dried)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 tsp salt
ground pepper

Feta or stilton cheese or blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350. rack in the middle
Praline Hazelnuts
Butter 8x11 piece of aluminum foil

Combine sugar, water and salt in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Let mixture cook undisturbed until the sugar begins to turn a light amber colour. (about 6 - 8 minutes)
Stir in hazelnuts and cook, stirring until caramel becomes a dark, rich amber colour (a minute or so)
Immediately remove the skillet from the heat and pour the praline onto the foil.
Let it cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes)

Break the praline into pieces and then chop finely.

Roasted Hazelnuts
Put the hazelnuts on a medium rimmed baking sheet and roast them in the oven, stirring often, until golden brown. about 5 - 8 minutes
Transfer to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Toss in salt and put in bowl for later.

Roasted Butternut Squash
Increase oven to 400
Generously oil a 9x13 shallow baking dish
Combine squash, shallot, garlic, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt and 4-5 grinds of a pepper in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Transfer to baking dish and roast, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Squash should be warm and tender but not squishy.

Reduce heat to 300 and put crêpes in oven to heat. No more than 10 minutes.

Lay crêpes on a plate.
Spoon some of the roasted squash in a think horizontal line across the crepe.
Sprinkle with cheese and roasted hazelnuts.
wrap crêpe in a cone shape.
Top with Praline and more hazelnuts.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February Resolutions Week 2

Taking Care of my Body & Mind
As of February 13th I gave up going to Starbucks for coffee a Caramel Macchiato. For real! (I may have slipped this past weekend...) I haven't really missed it. I still go for a walk with my coworkers as I believe that was a big part of going all the time. "Coffee" is usually a social thing for me, so it is taking a lot of will power to not buy one when I'm there, but I'm proud of myself for cutting that part out. I actually feel better.

As part of the mind-body connection, I also challenged myself to give up Starbucks for the duration of Lent. As well as pray every day. My goal is to pray on my walk/run in the morning or on the walk to the bus. I'm always so rushed and running that I'm making extra time to walk and be present.

Mardis Gras precedes Lent so I had a a Starbucks to indulge one last time on Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday  was the start of the Lent season. I went to Mass at lunch to a church that is nearby. It was PACKED! I was lucky enough to get in the door but there was people standing on the sidewalk behind me. It thrills my soul to see so many people gathering.

I have gone to Barre class twice since my last check in. I absolutely love it! Check out this review for all the details. I am so excited to have this class to go to. Not only is it a great workout, but the upper body portion is great rehabilitation for my shoulder and back. I've booked myself in for the next 2 weeks. Getting up for a 9:00am workout class is a great way to start the weekend. I can easily stop on the way home at the farmer's market to pick up groceries for the weekend/week.

I haven't been keeping up with my running this past week. I was incredibly sick with a cold from Wednesday up until today (it's still hanging around). Running when you can't breathe and it's cold out is a mess and difficult. Hopefully this week I can get back to you.
I officially signed up for my 5K in May! only 96 days left to get in run shape. As in, actually run 5K at least once before I have to do it on race day.

My email archiving is slowly coming. I have successfully deleted 3 folders of information that was once important, but doesn't make a lick of difference in my life now. Things that are either there for nostalgic purposes I've archived. Another email task I took on was from my phone. I don't need to keep more than 7 - 14 days worth of email on my phone. I've cut it to 14, but even that seems like a bit much. If I don't reply to it right away, I will get to it within a week.

The filing cabinet in the office is slowly getting more organized. We went through a bunch of folders this weekend looking for one document (that never turned up) so it got a good clean out at the point. I have a pile of to-do now. Thankfully you can actually see the craft table again!

Nagging Task
My clothes hemming is still nagging at me. This weekend I WILL go through and decide if I actually need things hemmed or not. Sometimes it's not worth fixing.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Joyeux Mardi Gras!!

Today is Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday). Which means if I was on the ball and remembered, I would be making gluten-free pancakes or rice flour crepes. Sadly we are having taco salad and then I'm going to have wonderful Pecan Caramel frozen yogurt after I teach a piano lesson.

Part of my Happiness Project was to give up Starbucks for the month of February. Cut back on the sugary-caffeinated drinks for one month. In my first week I failed miserably at it. Over the weekend I only had regular coffee with frothed milk, made at home. Monday I skipped Starbucks and ended up with the biggest headache! Today I caved. Why is this relevant? Because it's Mardi Gras! The day of indulgence before Lent begins. Tomorrow though, 40 days of Lent begins!

Most people think of Lent as "give something up" which is part of the fasting, but it's also about doing something. Starting something spiritual. While I would love to say "I will go to Church every Sunday" I know I don't have the time to do that right now (you should see my to-do list for the next 4 months. eek!). While it's a lame excuse, it's mine and I stand behind it. Rather than make a commitment I can't keep, I plan to pray on my walk to the bus every morning. Not only will this make me slow down, it will also put me in a better frame of mind to start the day. Spending 5 minutes with God will be a nice conversation and force me to focus on the present.

I have found a Catholic Church downtown that has a noon mass tomorrow for Ash Wednesday. I'm very excited as I've always been busy with work or other commitments on Wednesdays. This time, I won't miss it. I'm sure my coworkers will wonder what is on my face when I get back from lunch.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Barre Body Studio - Killer workout

A friend of mine, Lauren,  loves ballet as much as I do. She couldn't find a class near her, but did find a Barre class. The one she attends is a Barre/Pilates class. For me, Barre was one of my favourite parts of ballet. It's where you worked your butt off and had the time to really isolate your muscles, feeling the burn. We didn't have any class like the one she was attending here until recently. While at Starbucks there was a sign for Barre Body Studio on the bulletin board. I snapped a picture so I could remember to look it up later.

The facility is beautiful. The room has beautiful floors, large mirrors, lots of light through the large windows and gorgeous exposed brick and ceiling. The change rooms have lockers (with key) and a couple showers. As well as a few private change rooms since the large area is unisex. (Yes, men CAN take barre class.) They have a quick access card scanner so you don't have to wait to sign in. Just scan your card and off you go!

After some research on their website, I signed up for a drop-in class early Saturday morning (9am!) to give it a try. I dragged my butt out of bed, drove to the studio (which is only 15 min from my house) and spent an hour sweating and turning my legs into jello. There are definitely some elements of ballet but you wouldn't have to know ballet at all in order to get a workout in this class. We used the barre, first and second position, plies and a few other ballet moves (again, you don't need to know ballet to get it.) After a good warm up that had my heart pumping we moved to the barre. The equivalent of squats and calf raises in different leg positions was intense. My legs were shaking and I was sweating. We moved into some upper body work with bands which is more my style, although there is a different class that uses weights. Chest, biceps, and triceps got a great workout through this section. Lastly we dig out some mats and work on our core. I would have liked a little more on this section, but that is simply a personal thing. I prefer my abs to my arms only because I am still in chiro and massage to get my arms into working order. We ended with a quick cool down and I had a giant smile leaving class.

I bought a 10 pack of classes and immediately signed up for next Saturday at 9. I even had a chance to talk to the instructor about my arm and back and she was great about telling me to just modify if I need. I know for sure I got an amazing workout from the class. Sunday I was incredibly sore, but it felt great! After some stretching a long slow walk I felt much looser.

I can't wait to do it again! My legs and abs are going to be incredibly toned for summer!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

February Resolutions Week 1

As part of my happiness project, I wanted to do a weekly check to see how I'm doing.
February 1st I had grand plans of giving up coffee. Not caffeine, just coffee. It affects my stomach in a bad way and I need to quit drinking it. I got to work on, called up my coworkers, told them I'm weak and went to Starbucks. I don't know why it's so hard to quit :(

The weather finally warmed up, which means the ice on the sidewalks from people who don't shovel is finally melting enough to go for a run in the mornings and not risk breaking something or falling.
I'm up to Week 5 in the Couch to 5K again. This is great news and I feel like I'm actually improving. There is a loop near my house that I thought was a long way around the neighbourhood but it isn't.
I haven't managed to get to the gym to do my chiro exercises in a few weeks. I did however sign up for a Ballet Barre class at I'll review that later.

I've been doing really good getting ready for bed early. I find it super easy on weeknights since I'm either by myself while Frenchie plays hockey, or I am teaching piano lessons. As soon as my last student has backed out of the driveway, I bust out the pj's and make myself some tea. It's doing wonders for my sleep and anxiety.

I have started unsubscribing from newsletters that I usually just delete on a regular basis. If I really need the information I will actively search for it. I'll continue to go through newsletters as they come in. Facebook was kind enough to allow us to filter people so that has been really handy. I still need to go through the groups a little better as I feel like I'm missing some people.
Twitter is ok. I've redone my lists a little and stopped following a few accounts that were either not used anymore or I never looked at anyways.
Next will be to go through all my email. Saving emails that have pictures seems pointless. I plan to upload all my attached pictures to an online storage site and remove the extra email clutter.

Organizing is under way. I posted the storage room success at the beginning of February. You can see it's transformation here. I'm hoping to do the laundry room, the master closet and the spare bedroom closet this month.


Friday, February 8, 2013

7/30: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

Weird Things Customers Say in BookstoresWeird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read from February 06 to 07, 2013
Format: Hardcover

From Goodreads: Customer: Have you read every single book in here?

Bookseller: No, I can't say I have.

Customer: Well, you're not very good at your job, are you?

A simple Twitter question posed by John Cleese-"What is your pet peeve?" -inspired Jen Campbell to start a blog collecting all the ridiculous conversations overheard in her bookstore, everything from "Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?" to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; from "I've forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter" to "Excuse me ... is this book edible?"; and from "Can books conduct electricity?" to "My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that's ok... isn't it?"

If we didn't know it already, this irresistible book is proof positive that booksellers are heroes, the world over

Funny! I chuckled a lot reading this one. It is definitely a one sitting book.
Some of the stories make you wonder what the customer was on. Others make you appreciate that books are still popular. I really enjoyed the booksellers comments swathed in sarcasm.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

6/30: City of Bones By Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Read from February 01 to 06, 2013
Format: Ebook

From Goodreads: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end

Fantastic book! I devoured it and started the second one the next day. I couldn't put it down. The characters were well written and you really started to care for them all. I loved that even though this book is about good and evil, it wasn't based in one religion. It was a broad scope and didn't focus on a single one. I was riveted while reading the entire book from start to finish.

The world that Cassandra Clare built was beautiful. I could picture it very clearly. she provided just enough detail to not drag the story down but create this wonderful setting.

Clary was a great female character. She wasn't super whiny or annoying. She was thrown into a world she didn't know about and dealt with it well. She was focused on her mother and protecting those she loved. To find out her beloved city was hiding an entirely different world in plain sight was a lot to deal with.

Jace was a great character to balance. Sarcastic, protective and dangerous to himself and others. I liked that he was strong but knowing it was all a show to hide his pain. He had a lot revealed about and to him in the book and even though he is a Shadowhunter, a warrior, he is still a teenager with a lot to deal with.

The surrounding characters were rich as well. The descriptions were great, you really cared for them even if they were supporting roles. With a large cast as this book has, that's rare.

I realize that Valentine is the bad guy, but there is something about him I want to know more about. I have no idea what will happen in the rest of the series, but I want more of him in it. He seems like his heart was in the right place, but a turn of events led him down a dark path.

I will be reading the rest of this series and losing sleep staying up to finish them. Cassandra Clare is a fabulous writer and I'm sad it took me so long to get to her.

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Happy Birthday to Me!!


I'm still in my late 20's!

I'm off for lunch with my girlfriends today and then I have 2 piano lessons to teach in the evening. A spectacular dinner of leftovers because of a time crunch. Yes, I go all out for my birthday.
Saturday is when we'll actually celebrate. I'll be going to a Get together on the weekend with my family and best friend. Can't wait for cake! Frenchie ordered a Marble Slab cake for me. I'm not a fan of icing at all, so ice cream cake is perfect. Marble Slab > Dairy Queen. There is no comparison between the two really.


1 image from

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5/30: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read from December 07, 2012 to February 04, 2013
Format: Ebook

From Goodreads: Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship "Godspeed." She expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before "Godspeed"'s scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed. 
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. "Godspeed"'s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir. 
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock "Godspeed"'s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again. 

I heard good things about this book. My sister raved about it so I picked it up in December and started it. It's taken me until now to finish reading it. It wasn't a bad book, it just didn't capture me like others do. It was well written, and I really enjoyed the alternating point of view of the characters Elder and Amy. It just wasn't for me. It wasn't the genre, or the content, it just wasn't that great in my opinion. I don't have plans to continue to the next book at all.

Elder is conflicted about what he believes, what he's told and what he sees. As the next in line ruler he has to decide how he wants to run the ship. Every day he finds out more and more lies and secrets and has to decide what to do with the knowledge. Is it better to keep the secrets? Tell the half-truth?

Amy is woken up before her time and struggles with her parents still being frozen and living on this ship. She isn't like the rest of the inhabitants and struggles to find peace. Stuggles to agree with what is happening to the people and what could happen to her.

I'm glad I read it. I liked the story line of deceit and lies and how no matter what, everything comes out in the end.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

4/30: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Format: Hardcover
Read from January 21 to 31, 2013

From Goodreads: Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.
She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.
She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.
In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Great second book for the series. I was excited to get back to seeing what was going to happen with Mara and Noah. After reading the first one, I believed she was not crazy, and there was definitely something going on supernaturally. At the beginning of The Evolution I wasn't so sure.

I was so frustrated! I wanted people to believe her, to stop making her out to be this insane teenager who was suicidal. Expertly written. As a reader, from Mara's perspective everything sort of makes sense for a while and then BAM you're not sure anymore. Real or not real? Expertly written.

I was begging for Hodkin to just tell me already!! The ending was actually a complete surprise to me. I definitely did not see the answer to my questions coming like they did. Threw me for a loop. Halfway through the book I wasn't sure if I was going to read the third book when it is released. After that ending, I'm waiting (impatiently) for the rest of the story.

Michelle Hodkin is definitely a writer to pay attention to.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Organization: The storage room

I wanted to do this list by the end of November 2012. That obviously didn't happen. With The Happiness Project, one of my goals for February is to clear out a space. It will definitely be an ongoing goal throughout the year, but the first one on the list was The Storage Room. We cheated a little and did it last weekend, but it worked out timing wise to get it done. One room a month will definitely make a big difference. And places like the Office will coincide with a few other resolutions I have in the next few months.

Front closet
Back closet
Master closet
Spare bedroom closet
Laundry Room
Storage Room

The basement storage room has been a nemesis of mine. I always have to look through a bunch of un-labeled boxes to find what I'm looking for. In the process of finding what I went for (yes I usually find it), I also find a ton of things that we either have never used, will never use, or didn't know we had. Bunch of old cables that neither of us remember what they go to? Empty boxes "just in case" we have to send something back that is definitely out of warranty by now? Sports equipment on 4 different shelves? Unorganized!
I spent a couple hours on a weekend down there by myself and after Christmas I had the opportunity to organize all the Christmas decorations while putting them away. After another hour or so with Frenchie on a weekend we finished it. The basement still needs a lot of work in other rooms and closets, but it's definitely a huge improvement. Some day the basement will be a TV room and play room rather than a gym and place to dump things we don't want upstairs.


Not too bad. I had gone through it a little bit here and there over the last year


Martha Stewart Dry Erase Labels are awesome for Rubbermaid bins.
The great thing is that I had all those bins lying around either empty of with a couple things in them. Repurpose useful items.
Never hurts to buy a little organization shelf if you need one. 
I love this one from Golf Town for our clubs and extras.

We also have an under the stair storage area for all the Christmas decorations, tree, wrapping stuff and non-Christmas wrapping things.


Empty boxes and overflowing bins. 


I always wanted a wreath bag (you can't see it) and a wrapping paper bag. Finally found them this year. 
More repurposed bins (with labels!)

Garage Sale Pile

The pile grows every time we do a room or a closet or a cupboard. I love it!
As much as I dislike sitting there all day, it is a good way to get rid of things that are still useful.