Archive for the ‘what works for me’ Category

Since moving into our home last December, the third garage stall has been the unofficial dumping ground. We’ve slowly accumulated tons of stuff in there, and it was getting ridiculous.

Here is a shot of our garage as-of this Saturday morning.

The only attempt at organization were the three wire shelves across the back wall. Everything else is piled up, waiting to get run over. Don’t worry, those are also carpet remnants, snow saucers, and extra down-spouts there for the taking.

We had a gift card for Menards (thanks mom and dad!) so we started our hunt there. We discovered the Rubbermaid Fast-Track organization system. Consider our lives changed. AMAZING.

We started out with 2 of the 84″ tracks and a couple of the accessory hooks.

After loading up the bikes and some of the other tools, we realized we could use much more of the wall space. One trip back to Menards and we were all set. We picked up one more of the multi-purpose kits for the remaining wall space on the left.
On the bottom, we’ve got a hose hook holding up the fertilizer spreader, and two compact hooks (one for the cooler and one is empty). On the upper rail, we’ve got two multi-purpose hooks holding up tennis rackets and our bag-toss games. These hooks were great because they’re nice and long, and can hold quite a bit!
Over to the right we have two 84″ rails.
Up top we have one 3-handle hook (with brooms/rakes), a power-tool holder, and another multi-purpose hook (currently holding 2 shovels). Rounding out the top row is a utility hook and one of the two horizontal bike mounts that we got. 
On the lower rack we have just two pieces – another utility hook (holding the snow-saucers) and the other bike mount.
Total install only took 10 minutes to attach the tracks. Once those are on the attachments quickly attach and you can rearrange them easily to work for you. What took the most time was cleaning out the rest of the floor-space. I would HIGHLY recommend this system for it’s price, ease of installation, and the versatility. We’re already talking about adding more pieces with shelving to the rear wall.
Tips & Tricks for Installation/Arranging
– Stagger the two tracks if you plan on hanging anything long. You’ll see that the brooms/rakes take up quite a bit of space. By staggering our tracks a few feet apart, we were able to maximize our vertical space.
– If you’re looking to do it on a budget, the multi-purpose hooks and utility hooks are your best bet. They allow you to hang multiple things up on one fixture. 
– You do not need the tracks to utilize the system. Each fixture can be mounted straight into the wall. We chose to do the tracks because then we can easily rearrange if needed without re-drilling into the drywall.
Overall we’re pretty happy! One hard days work equals a nice and organized garage.

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Living in a big city; I’ve recently realized that I love Metro Transit. Minneapolis has it figured out. Before I “got on the bus” I had lots of fears of public transportation. I was afraid of getting off at the wrong spot, not managing the schedule, and having weird/random people be all up in my personal space. Now that I’ve been a regular rider for about a month, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Let me tell you the reality of Metro Transit. First let’s discuss the cost implications.

Annually, my bus pas costs me $650.32 (includes tax savings as it’s deducted from each paycheck pre-tax.) An additional $162/year on gas cost (driving to/from the park and ride) puts me at a total cost of $812/year.

When I was driving? I spent $2500 to park, and an additional $940/year on gas. A total of $3440 a year on just transportation! This alone is a difference in over $2600/year. *Note these are my best estimates with the help of a local “cost estimator” on our metro transit website. This may vary for you depending on the bus route/location!

Another big win? Safety! When I was driving downtown all day, I had to walk by myself to the parking ramp. Now Minneapolis is great, but we’ve got our share of crazies that hang out downtown too. Now that I’m taking the bus? I wait at my stop (with 20 other business professionals) and we all get on the bus together. The bus goes directly to the transit station, and I walk with a bus-load of people to my car. Also, my car has been in a monitored park-and-ride all day.

The biggest upside to taking the bus has absolutely been a more-relaxed commute. I’m letting someone else do the driving! During my 25 minute bus-ride I read books, catch-up on email, or even sometimes doze off on the way home! I’m not bumper-to-bumper on the interstate, being annoyed with the morning radio shows. Also, the bus to the suburbs is SWEET! We have a coach bus which is very comfortable. There’s plenty of room and I never feel that there’s not enough space for everyone. Much better than the rat-race that tends to be Minneapolis traffic!

Anyone else conquering their fear of public transportation? I realize that depending on your location its not an option for all of you, but check it out! I am officially “on the bus!”

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How did I go so long without this in my life? I’m always looking for a good, basic tee that I can wear. Enter: The Hanes basic tee. Now the one caveat? Buy the men’s version! I got a men’s small and it’s PERFECT!

David Beckham rocks it; why can’t I?

Here’s what I noticed. 
– The “v” is perfect with the men’s version. Sometimes with the women’s cuts, that V-Neck has you tip-toeing across the inappropriate line. This is great; and doesn’t require a tank underneath. 
– The 100% cotton is SO comfy. I also love that the sleeves & torso are a little longer than some of the women’s cuts. Again, why don’t people realize that “crack kills” and we don’t all want our derriere’s exposed!?!? I’ll never know. These are a longer cut and will flatter any body type.
The kicker? Total cost is $18.99 for 6; that’s only 3.16/shirt (at Target of course)! You can’t beat that anywhere! Go, now. Such a steal!

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Hubby came home this week and laid the smack down. Our house was an absolute disaster. He’s totally the clean freak and thank god for that. If it were up to me I’d leave stuff all around the house (and know exactly where it is by the way) and never really pick up after myself. You know those blogs where the chick gives you a homemade recipe for vinegar, lemon, and rat poison to clean your house? You won’t find that nonsense here. I’m lucky if I swipe the counters with a 409 wipe once a week. (yeah that’s right, once a week is fine in my book. You’re lucky it’s not once a month!)

This morning I was struck with a burst of energy (or insanity) and decided to finally put away the 2 heaping hampers of clothes. They’d been sitting, folded in my closet for probably 2 weeks. Then the best part is that all the dirty clothes began taking over the closet. A sane person would understand that this is the result of you’re hampers being otherwise occupied. Me? Not so much. So finally I gave in and put everything away today. It was awesome. In my closet I uncovered my missing volleyball kneepad (yeah that’s right, only one. I can never find both), my Joe Maur jersey, and also the smokin hot flannel/floor-length nightgown my grandma sewed me. All fantastic items to have uncovered.

If you’ve made it through this post I applaud you because
A: This post is ridiculous
B: I’m slightly embarrassed
C: You are a very loyal reader (THANK YOU!)

I’ll conclude with something that may actually be of value to you all. In the closet clean-up I figured out a way to finally organize my massive piles of scarves I’ve accumulated. Now that weather is finally above freezing here in Minnesota, it’s time to hang these guys up off the floor. This may seem super-simple, but here’s what I came up with. Tie those bad boys around a hanger!

Here’s the before: Look at those sad scarves, tossed into a heap in what’s supposed to be a sweater organizer. (I know what you’re thinking, why aren’t your sweaters in there? Well obviously those are folded on the floor……uhhh I annoy myself sometimes)

And now the beautiful after: Happy, straight, organized scarves.

Some of you may be real disappointed in this light-bulb moment of mine. For the non-domestic, wanna-be homemakers that I believe are still reading? You’re welcome. Now pick up your frickin scarves!!!

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When the last Pottery Barn catalog came in the mail, I was struck with a few thoughts.
1. Who can afford this?
2. I wish I could afford this
3. Where can I find something similar?

One of my favorites was this organizational system.

Swooning. Love the color of those walls. Love how everything has a place. Love that I somehow think this system will make my husband and I more organized! Now enter the price tag. For this entire system above, you’re looking at a mere $344. I think I’d be heading to divorce court if I went ahead with that purchase.

Enter: Bed Bath and Beyond’s wall-mount storage units.

 Oh the glory of a good knock-off. Here’s the breakdown of what I was able to find:

Monthly Dry Erase Calendar

Pottery Barn: $54                              Bed Bath & Beyond: $39.99

Mail Sorter
Pottery Barn: $54                                        Bed Bath & Beyond: $29.99
Additional Storage Unit
Pottery Barn: $54                    Bed Bath & Beyond: $29.99

Total Spent with Pottery Barn version of these 3 pieces? $182 (you have to buy one metal hanging bar as well)

My total with Bed Bath and Beyond? $99.97. Half as much! Plus, you can order online, then go into the store and utilize their 20% off coupons that are always in the paper. That will save you another $20 bringing your new total to $79.98

Ridiculous. Sorry Pottery Barn; you still haven’t convinced me you’re worth the mark up here! Plus, the calendar and 3-piece storage from Bed Bath & Beyond actually more storage space! Seems like a no-brainer!

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When we moved into our new house, we immediately set up 2 guest bedrooms. This is a bit of a must considering both sides of our family live out of town, and we frequently have out of town guests. There was an extra bedroom upstairs, and since my husband has taken over the entire lower-level of our home, I decided that I could jump all over this small 12×12 piece of heaven upstairs and make it my own. For Christmas, I got an awesome sewing machine that I set up on a real trashy card table that we had in the garage. It worked great, except for when I tried to sew faster than 3 stiches per minute. The entire table shook, resulting in crooked lines, broken needles, and pierced appendages. (not really, but the dramatic effect is a nice addition here)

I have big plans for this room, which will eventually be my little getaway in the house. The first thing to cross off the list was a new workspace. I checked out this one, but just wasn’t ready for such a big DIY project.

The concept was great though. Area on the right for sewing, plenty of storage on the left for supplies, stationery, etc. I did a little searching online and found the Ikea Expedit bookshelf/Desk combo.

The desk was only $50, and the bookshelf attachment was $69.99. It is surprisingly sturdy, and has TONS of storage. I put it together in about an hour, and it was really a simple solution. The bookshelf and desk are 2 separate pieces, so I know I’ll always have a spot for the bookshelf in my home somewhere! I actually purchased the 8-box shelf (instead of the 16 box shown above) just because I wasn’t sure I’d need all the space that the larger one offered.

Here’s a little before/after of the new workspace.

The workspace up close….

You might remember the cloth bins from awhile ago, I posted about them here. They were $2.50 a few months ago in the Target $1 spot.  They currently hold all the different fabric and the drawers on the left are perfect for all the other supplies. I love that there’s a spot for everything, makes cleaning up a breeze! Also much sturdier operation than the old card table.
Next up for this room?
– Twin Bed
– Curtains
– Fun Chair/Ottoman for reading corner
– Pegboard/Bulletin Board to keep ideas and supplies above desk
My SUPER creative best friend Nikkee is coming down next weekend, and this is one of the projects I’m hoping to tackle while she’s here. I know she’ll have some amazing ideas to spruce up this space. It’s a work in progress but I already love being in there which is a great improvement!

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So back in January I set out to accomplish a lofty goal for 2010. I wanted to run 400 miles in one year. I thought now would be a good point to evaluate my progress. Today we’ve already passed 53 days of the year; which means 14.5% of the year is already over (insane way to look at it right?)

I’ve currently ran 48.8 miles already this year, which unfortunately puts me past 12.2% of my goal. Just short unfortunately :o( The month of January was horribly cold here in Minnesota, and I’m proud to say I braved the weather a few times to run outside. I’m praying for it to warm up because there have been a few near fatal accidents regarding me, icy sidewalks, and my overall lack of coordination. That being said; as the snow is melting and the love handles are growing…..it’s time to hit the pavement.

Since my “favorite things” posts seem to be rather popular, I thought I’d devote a little update to some of my must-have running gear. I’ve become a bit of a creature of habit, and swear that certain outfits and routines make me run faster. Take a look; these are some of my must-haves for hoofing it in Minnesota.

1. Killer Music
good music = good run. There are so may times where I feel like dying, and Lady Gaga kicks in telling me to “Just Dance” or put on my “Poker Face”. Girlfriend can sing, and if she weren’t too busy wearing unitards and hanging from the ceiling at awards shows I’m sure she would be a runner too. I use my iPhone, and have earbuds that go around the backs of my ears. The little white iPod headphones always fall out for some reason, but these work much better. Someday when I want to start acting like a real blogger I’ll link up my “workin out” mix. Prepare to be mesmerized by my running possee: (otherwise known as Fergie, Gwen, Britney, Christina, Pink, and Beyonce)

2. Dry-Fit Apparel
“Dry-Fit” is what I’ve commonly heard this material referred to. It’s that stretchy material that Under Armor is made out of. There’s a reason all the NFL players wear it when they’re playing in freezing temps. Even though they’re sweating their guts out, their bodies retain heat to keep them warm, yet they don’t overheat from their exercise. Some of my favorites are the C9 brand from Target. It’s more affordable than Nike and I find it to be even more comfortable. Plus a few times a year they reset the merchandise and it’s always in awesome colors. I’ve picked up so many great workout tops, sports bras and running shorts/pants here that it could warrant it’s own post. Note to readers? I haven’t rocked a running skirt yet. Supposedly their great but here’s my thought: if I wanted to wear a skort I’d go take a look at my second grade school photo and reminisce. But for now? The skort will stay back with my snap bracelets and slouch socks.

3. Digital Watch
Target yet again comes to the rescue here. When I first started running, I would run 8 minutes and walk for two. I ran two half marathons that way. While I wasn’t worried about my time (obviously since the rescue bus was right behind me in both races!), it allowed me to fall into a routine that was manageable for me. I picked up a small digital watch (around $10 at you guessed it; Target!) that has held up for the last three years. They have great colors, and the best part is that the watch band is velcro and stretchy. I don’t even feel it when it’s on, and I can also keep pace with myself really easily throughout the race. (Just another motivational plug here. If it takes you 6 minutes or 16 minutes to run a mile: YOU CAN DO IT! Running is you vs. yourself. Every bone in your body will tell you to rest but by breaking races up into smaller time chunks, you can run through one song, then walk through the next. You will eventually work through 2 songs, and then an entire CD. Ok, off my soap-box now but honestly, anyone can do it!)

4. Elastic Headbands
My hair is 70,000 lbs of a mess. It always falls out of ponytails, and a bad hair day can very easily annoy me enough to not go for a run. If I’m brushing hair out of my face every two minutes, I’m so annoyed that I might as well stop. Solution? Always keep it back with these hair bands. They are the best thing ever, and stay on my head through entire long runs. The elastic has little grippers on it that seem to work great with my hair. Obviously you know where I but these :o)

Those are really the core pieces I can’t live without. You’ve got tennis shoes in there too, but I just buy whatever’s on sale when I’m out. I’m not running full marathons and get a new pair about every year and half, but it works for me and they hold out. No major recommendations there.

There you have it; anyone else sticking to their New Years Resolution still? I find that it helps to acknowledge I’m a little behind. Just means I have to get at it again!

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