Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I officially started Christmas decorating last week.  Silly me decided to drag everything out of the attic the night before we left to visit family for Thanksgiving.  (Couldn't help it, I was in the Christmas spirit!) I've been a little late in posting the pictures because we didn't get back until last night.

So without further adieu, I present to you the beginnings of Christmas in the ALO house:

In my curio cabinet.  I will post more as I complete it.

This is a little area above the entry closet.

Outside (yes, I know the pumpkins and straw bale are still there!)
Inside the front door.

So that's a little taste of the Christmas decorating that's begun!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Faux Mantel- Sneak Peek

Yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving and I'm already talking Christmas.  Well, I already have my Christmas decorations up outside.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather a couple weekends ago and put some of the garland up outside (I'll post pics later).

Anyway, I wanted to give you a little peek at my faux mantel.  We don't have a fireplace, but we do have this ledge as you walk downstairs to our basement.  It will be perfect to treat as a mantel. My wonderful hubby finished planing a piece of barn wood and staining it this weekend.  The wood isn't secured yet, but once he does, I'm all over decorating it! 

Isn't this barn wood gorgeous?  This was FREE!  It came from my great grandmother's farm.  And the picture, well there is a very special story behind it that I'll share later.

All for now!

PS- I'm entering the Silhouette giveaway at Tatertots and Jello.  Wish me luck! There are so many projects I have planned that could definitely utilize this little guy. You can find out all about it here:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gift Idea for Moms

With the official start to Christmas shopping on the way, I'm sure many of you are starting to make your lists and check them twice.  I wanted to pass along a quick idea for a new mom (or any mom) on your list.

I ran across this book several months ago and thought it was great.  It's called a "One Line a Day".  The premise is to write down one line a day, every day, for five years.  It's available several places, but I got mine from Amazon.
One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book (Five Year Memory Book)

I bought one for each of my boys.  Currently, I only write in my 3 year old's because even though the baby changes every day, I keep track of the major milestones (rolling over, crawling, etc) in his baby book.  I like having this for my three year old because he amazes me every day with a new saying.  For example, the morning he said "Let's rock 'n roll" as we got ready to leave the house.  Or last night when he told me that he "was going to find a girl like me when he got bigger".  I just love reading these adorable quotes.  And since our family lives 4 hours away, it's a great reminder to tell the grandparents when we have our weekly chats.

Another idea for this book (or a journal) is to start it freshman year of high school.  You can write down all the little accomplishments (like getting an A on a trig test, scoring a goal in football) as well as thoughts for the recipient, then give it to them as a graduation present.

There are so many possibilities for this book.  I love mine and I'm sure any new mom would love it too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas Gift Organization Ideas

Hello Again!

With Black Friday and the official kick off to Christmas shopping just around the corner, I wanted to share some ideas on how I stay organized with all of the gift ideas, gifts, and receipts.

Organizing Gift Ideas:
I've spent so many years stressing out because I have no idea what to get people for the holidays or birthdays or special occasions. Is it just me, or do you have that problem too?  To help prevent unneeded stress, (Christmas shopping can be stressful enough!) I started an idea file.  This file is a collection of ideas from magazines or online. 

For the magazine 'finds', I tear out the page and place in a file accordion that's in our kitchen. There is a sleeve for each of the boys and the hubs.  Everyone else is lumped in one slot, but I'll attach a sticky note of who I'm thinking would enjoy the present.  You could easily designate the whole file accordion to just Christmas ideas if you have a lot of folks on your shopping list.

For online shopping, I will either print out the page and/or copy the link to my favorites.  And you guessed it, in my favorites, I've got it organized as well for each person in my family.  My kids are 3 and 2 months so I don't have to worry about them snooping, but I'll have to either protect the files or determined another method.  Lucky for me I've got a few years to find an alternative! :)

Then when it's time for that special occasion or Christmas, I go through the ideas and watch for sales.  Sometimes I'll be ahead of the game enough (like this year) where I've got most of the Christmas shopping completed well ahead of the Christmas rush. I'd like to think it's in part due to this 'idea file'. :)

Organizing Gifts:
Once you've purchased those gifts you've been scoping out all year, you'll need a way to organize so you can find just the present you're looking for as you run out the door.  I have several baskets in our guest bedroom where I store all of those gifts: 
      -- Basket A: my parents,brother, and sister.
      -- Basket B: my husband's side of the family
      -- Basket C: my dad's side of the family
      -- Basket D: my mom's side of the family
      -- Basket E: the kids
      -- Basket F: everyone else

(I separated out basket C and D because we always have Christmas for my mom's side the weekend after Thanksgiving, so it's easy to just grab the basket as we pack up instead of digging through the rest.)

The basket method is also great because once you've wrapped all of the presents you can put them back in the basket. Then you just grab the entire basket as you walk out the door...organized and efficient!

Organizing Receipts:
In conjunction with the gifts already purchased, I create a new file folder that is housed in the kitchen (our infamous 'drop zone') and when I get home from shopping, I put all of the receipts in there.  You could take it one step further and have a separate file folder for each 'basket', but I rarely have to access them so lumping them all together works for me.

I don't think any of my ideas are groundbreaking, but I wanted to share just in case you're already feeling a little frazzled.  There is now a little order in Christmas gift-giving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Organized Desk

Okay, so I'm starting out a little on the small side.  Baby steps, right?

This is my desk and office for work.  I work full time, but I'm home-based.  It's in our newly finished basement (which is still a work in progress, but I have big plans for it).

So it's not quite as bad as it usually is.  See, I just got this big, honking monitor from work.  (thanks entirely to my lovely co-workers who felt so bad that I worked off the tiny laptop monitor)  And since I had to make room for this big, honking piece of electrical equipment, my desk got cleared and all of the clutter got moved to everywhere it shouldn't be.

A little tour of what my desk currently comprises of:
a) big, honking monitor
b) laptop and docking station
c) phone
d) keyboard, mouse and wrist thingy to help with the carpal tunnel (it's seen better days so a new one is in my future)

You may notice the pictures on the desk.  I used to use this as my craft table (before I went home based) and several years ago the hubs got a piece of plastic to cover the desk and keep it nice while I crafted away.  I decided it was a little ho-hum so I added pictures underneath.  I've just left there because it keeps from having numerous picture frames on my desk of my chit-lins (although, now that I take notice, there aren't any pics of the chit-lins. I will be changing that!).

The green "shelf" was a little thriftiness.  I raided my husbands wood pile from the many remodeling projects we've completed around the house and painted it with spray paint.  (Krylon-Avacado).

I originally used a shoe organizer, but my docking station didn't fit under the first shelf and it made my monitor too high.  So much so that it was giving me headaches.  Going out and buying one wasn't really an option and most of them look so industrial and "office-y" that I just decided it best to make one.  I mean how hard can it be?

So the hubs came through and put this shelf together for me.  I could have done it, but I tend to not measure correctly/precisely and they just end up unlevel.  But maybe I'll get better! 

To get started decluttering and organizing, I first cleared everything off and cleaned the desk and chair with Shaklee Basic H. 

Have you guys tried Shaklee yet? It is awe-some.  I'm all about the non-toxic, green movement..and it's economical.  I've thought about trying to sell it on the side, but honestly, a girl can only take on so much!

Next, the fun part! I went through everything and organized.  I sorted, purged, and stored until I came up with this:


(Notice the Kenny sign?  Told ya I'm a little in love with him!)

Ahhhhh...a little order in the office!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Hello and welcome to my little slice of blogland. 

I've been contemplating starting a blog for some time not knowing if I can find the time in my life with a busy, full time job, 2 kids (3 and 2 months) and a long list of To Do's.  But it's because of the last reason I decided to do this.  I've been following several other blogs for some time and have quietly laughed, rejoiced, been inspired and sometimes cried along with these folks (yes, I said's a country thing).  There are so many great resources available that have inspired and put a kick in my pa-tooty motivated me to tackle my to do list and I want you follow along and make me accountable.

We'll get to know each other more over the course of this blog, but a few things you should know now:

1. First and foremost, I try to maintain a little order in my life, but with the boys in my life, it definitely proves to be challenging.  But I LOVE to organize!!!

2. I love Kenny Chesney.  There I said it!  It really has nothing to do with this blog, but I am sure when I go to get tickets for his tour next year- y'all will be the first to hear about it.

3. I love baskets.  I suppose this goes along with my love for organization.  My family makes fun of me because I have baskets everywhere.  They're just jealous.

4. I try super, duper hard to be as thrifty as possible when it comes to organizing and decorating my home.  I absolutely love to stalk follow blogs that share in this passion.  I mean, come on, who doesn't love saving money?

5. I am not always grammatically correct (kind of like politically correct, only with grammar).  So English teachers will want to avoid this blog. 
Well, now that you know the reasons why I started this blog and a little about me, I can get started sharing my life as I try to get a little order.