Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Make it Work Wednesday: Ways to simplify a chaotic home

I personally feel that the number 1 way to junk up your house, cause undue stress, and create an overwhelming pile of crap to deal with, comes from not having a proper mail-handling system.  Mail can come from the little box at the end of your driveway, or from your kids' backpacks.  Either way, it needs to be dealt with, and FAST.  It's a far bigger issue then just creating clutter when it's not attended to in a timely manner.  Improperly sorted mail leads to unpaid bills, lost documents, and really embarrassed kids when Mommy loses the field trip permission slip...  Not Cool.

So Here's what you do:
~Don't put it down unless you're putting it in its proper place.  Your mail doesn't just float into your house on its own.  You carry it there in your hot little hand, or you painstakingly dig it out of the rocks and dirt at the bottom of your son's joke.  So don't just put it down, put it where it belongs.
~Make a place where it all belongs.  For example, in my home, bills get opened pronto, the statement is tacked to the bulletin board in the kitchen, and the envelope and other fluff that comes with it is recycled.  There's a box on the counter for "Deal with it" stuff (the things that need to be taken care of because you're a grown-up, but maybe don't need to be addressed right that second) like the permission slip for an event at my kid's school that's not urgent because he's on vacation.  We also put the newspaper in there that shows up weekly whether we want it to or not.  When it's read, or if it's still sitting there when the next week's one gets here, it goes in the recycle bin or the wood stove, depending on the time of year.  The junk gets our address ripped off, and it gets thrown straight into the recycle bin.  At least if they're going to send all that wasted paper around, I can send it back somewhere that can make a coffee cup out of it (hopefully).
~Have a file cabinet somewhere in your house.  Your "file cabinet" can be a shoe box for all I care, but it should be a place where you can keep documents needed to file your taxes, that giant folder of paperwork you got from the dealership when you bought your car, the even bigger one you got from the bank when you bought your house (OK, maybe a shoe box won't cut it here), important medical records (not essential to keep track of every time you have a hangnail or the hick-ups, but a good idea to save things from major events like surgeries, broken bones, etc.), and a place where you keep the manuals for major appliances, tools, and anything else that's cheaper to repair then it is to replace.  Seriously, saving the manual for our vacuum cleaner saved us several hundred dollars.  We figured out that we could fix the whole "broken" vacuum with a $7 part.

The following pics are found images of great mail-sorting ideas...
Source: A window shutter re-purposed.

Source:  (these are magazine boxes, turned sideways, and screwed to the bottom of the shelf).  Genius.  
Source:  I like stuff that looks modern and vintage at the same time...

That's it.  No more hits on your credit score because of late payments on lost bills, no more forgotten field trip slips, no more piled up papers to sort through.  Get home, sort, file, done.  Now, go do it!

Postcard image found on The French Factrice.  Unknown original origin.  Mail pile image from Johnny Miller on Martha's site.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talk it Out Tuesday: How much tv do you let your kids watch?

Ah the evil ways of the television...
You name the violent, rude, unprofessional, juvenile, utterly atrocious act in the last several generations, and it has been blamed by many on TV.  Kind of interesting, since the TV is a totally inanimate object that, on it's own, really can do no harm what-so-ever (unless it should unnaturally "Transform," rip it's cord out of the wall and launch itself at you).  But yet it gets a pretty bad rap for causing all kinds of hate and discontent.  Not to mention it's ability to force-feed Bon-Bons into the mouths of entranced toddlers, causing an epidemic of child obesity....
Maybe you see where I'm going with this?  I don't think these are issues that can be blamed on a box with a picture in it.  The finger can quite easily be pointed at the supervising adult, however.  As terrifying as it may seem, there's a fair amount of responsibility involved in being a parent.  So how much screen time do you give your kids?  Do you have specific rules (not on school nights, not until homework is done, not ever)?  Do you supervise their viewing?

Here's how it's handled in our house:
1.  We don't have cable television.  Before you go all "holy mother of deprivation!" on me, please know we're not even close to wanting to be that disconnected.  We have my husband's old laptop hooked up to the TV (in a way that only my tech-savvy hubby could have ever figured out), and we watch the programming that's available for free on the networks' websites, hulu, etc.  It's terrifying though to have a 7-year-old boy sitting on the couch in front of the World Wide Web.  So I have a "TV" folder bookmarked online that has kid-appropriate shows that I've pre-approved of.  The Kid is allowed to click things in that folder, and that folder ONLY.  If he clicks outside the folder, or goes anywhere else online without pre-approval, he's kicked of the couch for the rest of the evening.  We've done the same thing in the office with the desktop computer.  The Kid has a folder in the favorites with the games he likes (mostly on the LEGO site.  check it out.  it's awesome), and that's where he's allowed to cruise.

2.  No TV allowed before homework is done.  Why they get so much homework in 2nd grade is beyond me, but whatever...

3.  We limit to no more than 3 hours a day on weekends and school vacations.  I know 3 hours sounds like a lot, but it's one movie in the morning on a rainy day, and 2 episodes of Sponge Bob before dinner.  On a very rare occasion of wicked nasty weather outside and a Mommy that's feeling way under the weather inside, he might get to have a 2-in-a-row movie day.  And some days he doesn't watch any at all.  It evens itself out.

4.  I'm totally OK with using the television as an electronic babysitter (gasp!), within reason.  I don't think it's healthy for kiddos to be parked in front of it all day and night while parents do whatever they want and pretend their kids never happened.  I do however feel that it's completely appropriate for The Kid to enjoy a movie while Mommy writes a blog, clicks away on Pintrest, and chit chats with some buddies on Facebook.  I'm still within earshot should he fall off the couch in a fit of not being able to sit still, and it gives me some time to chill out and feel like a grown-up.  This benefits us both greatly in the long run.

Photo from Green Parenthood.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Manic Monday: Good (and bad) hairstyles for busy moms

Every Monday I'll be posting about fitness, fashion, and grooming for women with no time to be bothered with such things.  Today I'm going to start off by talking about your hair.  The beauty of the Internet is that I can talk to you about how to have pretty hair while mine looks like a bird nested in it sometime last week.  Do as I say, not as I do...

So let me take you through a few styles I've tried over the years.  Most stemmed from a celebrity inspiration (a photo of great hair I saw somewhere, and I had an "OK, just this one more time, I'll try something totally wrong for my hair-type and bet that it's going to work out" moment).  I'll share my blunders and successes with you so you don't have to suffer the pain of doing on your own.  You're welcome.

Inspiration photo:
What I really looked like?  Jamie Lee Curtis.  No joke.  I got in my car after leaving the salon, looked in my rear-view mirror to back out of my parking space and when, "holy shit!  Jamie Lee Curtis just Freaky Friday'd me!"   Now, don't get me wrong, Jamie Lee has it goin' still, but she's my Mom's age.  Not what I was shooting for.  In all fairness though, since this is a post about easy styles, this one was an absolute piece of cake.  Get up, rinse it in the sink, towel it off, go.  Really, that simple.  You do however, have to cut off all but about 2 inches of your hair to achieve such simplicity, and make pretty regular (every 4 weeks, instead of the usual 6 or 8) trips to the salon to maintain it.  That is exactly the reason that I'm letting mine grow out now.  Frequent trips to the salon mean frequent withdrawals from my bank account...

                                               Inspirational photo:  

What I looked like?  Cleopatra.  But I secretly kind of loved this haircut.  My hair is not pin straight, and definitely not curly, but has just enough of a little wave to take away from the sleekness of this style.  I don't have to tell you that blow drying your hair pin-straight every morning isn't practical for a busy Mom.  So I primarily stuck with pulling it into a ponytail, and only blow drying the bangs.  It gave kind of a sexy librarian look with not a lot of work.

Inspirational photo:

What I looked like?  I'll let you know in about 3 more years when my hair is finally this long again.  But if memory serves, I have pretty epic beach hair when I have the tolerance (about once every 10 years or so) to let my hair get this long (and if I actually make it to the beach during one of those times).  What I love about long hair is that it's kind of the best of both worlds.  If you want that up-out-of-your-face short-hair vibe, they make bobby pins and elastics for that.  If you can stand having it down and touching your neck (this is why mine never makes it to this length), then you just get out of the shower, towel it off, and let it do what it's going to do.  If you're the chick with the unruly curls, you'd probably kill a kitten to have forever-straightened locks.  And if you're the girl who uses a curling iron every single morning to achieve a nice wave, only to have it fall flat by the afternoon, you'd probably make that poor kitten suffer the same fate for some awesome curls.  Maybe that's why I want those beachy waves so badly; because I'm stuck in what seems like a forever-shaggy grow-out oblivion.  We're women.  It's in our nature to to think that what someone else has is better then what we're stuck with.  But please, Stop It!   If you want a simple style that's easy to maintain and can look great quickly, you have to learn to rock what you have.  I've never, ever, EVER been happier with the way I look then when I let my hair just do what it's going to do.  Maybe it's because I don't have to spend as much time fussing with it, so I'm overall much less stressed to begin with.  But spending less time pulling and tugging with a brush, using fewer products, not heat-styling as often really does make for some impressively (naturally) healthy-looking hair.  It is what it is ladies.  Just go with it...

Now, one last thing... If you're going to try something new, go ahead and use this bad boy first.  My mom and I wasted spent a ton of time last weekend messing with this, and it was way too much fun! What a life saver to be able to try on styles before you try the scissors.  Let me just tell you how awful I looked in Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw hair (duh, right?), and how happy I am that I figured that out before trying it out for real.  For real, I would have looked Like Weird Al.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hi there!

This is not me. this chick is way hotter, and there's no city skyline view here in vermont.  This is however what I envision when I think about urban farming; making great use of what little space you have, and lookin' good doin' it...
Welcome to my Pretty Clucked Up life.  I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and this brand-spankin'-new blog to you.  I'm Lindsey and this is where I'll be documenting my journey of being a stay-at-home mom and starting up a micro farm to help feed my family.

Topics that will be most frequently covered in this blog:
~Motherhood (speciffically the kind where I've quit my high-paying big-girl job to stay at home with my kid, and am terrified on a daily basis that I'm on the verge of only wearing sweatpants until the end of my days).
~Self-sufficiency, urban farming, and downright clever resourcefulness that gets me by.  Let me point out please that I am no expert on homesteading.  You'll have a front row seat as I discover what works, and what doesn't along the way.
~How my family gets by on only one paycheck now, and why we probably won't ever go back to the way it was with extra money in the bank.
~The ways I manage to still feel human, and slightly attractive when constantly surrounded by compost.
~Natural, planet-friendly solutions to keeping a clean house in a messy world.

Now let's chat about what this blog is not going to be about:
~Even though I think Martha Stewart is a domestic Goddess, this probably isn't going to be a blog she'd approve of.  I'm not going to be telling anyone how easy it is to make perfect looking cupcakes for 37 screaming 5-year-olds.  They're not going to care.  So, quite frankly, neither am I.
~I'm not going to tell you how I think you should live your life, raise your kids, or what kind of toilet paper you should buy.  Whichever kind you choose though, it needs to go on the roll so that the next available piece is coming over the top towards you, not away from you.  This is just the way it is, folks.
~This will not be your go-to place for fancy-schmancy recipes to get you on the next season of Top Chef.  I am more than happy however, to provide you with a few that are so easy even I can make them.
~I wildly dislike clowns, and therefore this will be the one and only mention of them in this blog.

Photo from

Thanks for stopping by,