Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - or is it?

Recently, Leah at agirlandaboy (one of my favorite blogs for those keeping track!) wrote about her Christmas traditions and thoughts about changing things up this year due to travel.  The comments were fascinating....  I kept going back to read more about what people do in their homes.

For better or for worse, I compare myself to others.  It's not my best personality trait, but I do it.   Is she a faster runner than me? (probably!)  How does s/he organize the pantry?  etc. etc. etc.  I think that is why I have a mild addiction to Pinterest and blogs in general.  I am curious.

Anyway---- Leah's post got me thinking about how we did Christmas when Al and I were kids, and how things have changed as we got older, but more accurately, since I got married and don't spend Christmas Eve or morning at 'home'  THE HORRORS

As kids, we used to all go to Christmas Eve Mass, presented by the children.  It was, and remains, very entertaining.  We then headed home to eat spaghetti and put the finishing touches on party set up- Mom has hosted the big family since I was in junior high.  (When we were tiny we ate spaghetti and I went to bed early knowing Santa would come.  I was exuberant, what can I say?)

Growing up, Santa wrapped our stuff in ‘santa paper’ and had different handwriting than any person's I have ever seen.  I swear, when I do have kids, my mother will be recruited for the gift tags.  Amazing!  The pile typically included two gifts per person, plus a themed stuff animal, from Santa.  My parents had a few gifts for us mixed in as well, and Al and I always got each other something at school's secret santa shop.  Stockings were hung on the fireplace, with each and every tiny little gift wrapped.  In Santa paper, of course.  Seriously.  My mom must have been cuckoo to have done that- but she did!

Being the Christmas Elf that I am, I always woke up first.  It was so early that it was still dark out.  I would sit in front of the tree for quite awhile waiting for Al to get up- or eventually would get her up myself, if she was super sleepy.  We would sit in front of the tree together looking at all the boxes and the wrapping paper and trying to determine what was in each one.  We didn't pick anything up or shake the boxes-- it was just gazing.

Once Mom and Dad were up, Al and I used to take turns opening gifts, so that we could see who got what.   I never minded alternating, although if we got the same gift, the person who went 2nd was definitely not surprised!  Oh well.

Our ‘big family’ gathering was – and remains- a free for all.  One or two people pass out gifts to everyone else seated in the room.   Al and I have taken on this role the past few years- which I enjoy! -but I sort of hate the buzz saw aspect of gift opening and sometimes wish people took turns. Then again when there are 25 people it would take hours, so maybe it’s more efficient this way?  I guess I have mixed feelings about how to open gifts with the same number of people active on a MLB roster.

I happen to know that Michael's Santa gifts were NOT wrapped which meant he and his sister had to stay out of the living room till their parents were awake. That would have KILLED me as a kid so in retrospect, I am glad ours were wrapped.

As I got older, I actually made brunch for my sister and parents.  I am not a chef.  Or even a cook.  I will bake you cookies or boil pasta but I just don't cook.  I probably could figure it out, but I have no desire. My husband enjoys it.  What can I say?  I am a lucky girl.

But Christmas was different..... I created delicious menus and was able to put my early bird self to work on Christmas morning and make breakfast while listening to Amy Grant or watching a movie.   That is one thing I actually miss now that we spend Christmas Eve and morning at my in-laws.    I miss making breakfast.  (Don't get me wrong, my mother-in-law's breakfast is fun and I am not all weepy here, just sayin')  Once we have our own nuclear family I am confident I will start this up again.

For the past few years our schedule has been as follows:
December 24: Church with my family, dinner with Michael's, play games
December 25: Morning presents with Michael's family, breakfast, presents with my [small] family, stay at Mom's for the big party, at which point Michael's family will join us again

It's sort of a whirlwind but we are lucky to be able to see both sets of parents relatively easily.

So there is a snapshot of what we have done, and what we do now.  After the requisite comparing via the blog comment section, I am still most fascinated by the wrapped or unwrapped gifts.

What are your Christmas traditions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Meet Oliver!

Last Saturday Michael noticed a cat in our yard roaming around.  Monday evening (December 3) we went to get the mail and the same cat came bounding up to us.  He started to purr and rub himself on our legs. Then he flopped in the street and did the 'roll over show belly' pose and kept purring.  We scratched his face and showered him with attention for a few minutes and then had to go inside.

As we walked back to the house, the kitty followed us.  He was sprinting and meowing and finally reached the porch when we did.   He longingly looked at the front door.  Michael asked "Should we let him in?" and sat on the porch to keep scratching his head.

We decided this would become moot if he belonged to someone.  I called my neighbor, who is an animal lover and knows what goes on in our neighborhood, to see if she knew his story.  "He is a stray, and has been around for 3 weeks.  Various people have been feeding him sporadically and he needs a home.  Can you and Michael adopt him?"

In a moment of weakness, we let him in the house.   We opened the door and he waltzed right in.  Coincidentally, I was working late that night.  I sent Michael to the pet store to buy a litter box, bowls, and some food.  During the time he was gone, the kitty slept - on my lap! - in my office while I worked.  It was the craziest thing...  he was immediately at home and comfortable.

Since he was a stray and an orphan cat, we are calling him Oliver- or Ollie for short.  My sister wondered if that was because he had a British accent, but I can say with confidence that his accent has not yet been determined.

Oliver is the friendliest cat I have ever met.  (Not exaggerating!  It's a little bit ridiculous.  He acts like a stalker sometimes)  Ollie enjoys being held, sitting on laps, purring, and rolling around.  He is very long and lean….. muscle-y and about 10 lbs.  The vet guesses he is about a year old…. not a kitten but his ears still look too big for his face.    He is very very cute and a schmoozer - he will not leave us alone for very long b/c he wants his face rubbed or wants to flop down next to us.  The photo above illustrates his behavior 95% of the day.

We were not planning on having a cat, but he found us so we will do our best to give him a nice home.

By the way... I was totally having a deja vu moment when a stray tabby cat showed up on the porch.  If only we had a basement where he could live before moving upstairs!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Party Like It's 1929 ?

My dear Ashley celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this month and to kick off the new decade in style, her husband Jason threw a 20's themed party.   Including costumes!

Jason arranged for Hannah and I to fly out to St. Louis for approximately 38 hours in order to "party like it's 1929" as Pannie was fond of saying.

As if we didn't already know how much I love her... let the copious amounts of feathers, sequins, beads, head piece and general accessories I am wearing give you a hint.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Best Damn Band In The Land

Having been an Ohio State football fan for most of my life, I am also a huge fan of their band.  In fact, I have the OSU fight song as my phone ringer.  I didn't go there, but I am a sports junkie and grew up in northern Ohio.   Our NFL football team is not known for its postseason prowess, and I have been an avid Buckeye fan nearly my entire life.  It doesn't hurt that their record, overall, has been a helluva lot better than the Browns.  Happy Saturday, sad Sunday.  Welcome to Cleveland, guys.

But I digress.

The OSU band is also known as "The Best Damn Band In The Land" and though I am admittedly biased, I think this video proves the point.   I wish the TV stations showed the halftime shows.  The game ended up being a blowout, and I think the band is just as entertaining!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

An Actual E-mail Chain

Between my mother, my husband and I the morning we celebrated our 3rd anniversary

Mom: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!     ~:-)

Michael: Aye, it be!  Many thanks!  It also be international talk like a pirate day, arrrgh!

Me: I am married to a crazy person.

Mom: OMG!  I forgot it was Pirate Day!  In that case...
Avast me hearties!  Tis said that today marks ye 3 years of being wed.
Tis a great day for yon landlubbers.  Hoist the sails and raise the rum!
AARGH, indeed!
(looks like your mother is a crazy person, as well - LOL)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wall Hangings

In my opinion, photos of family and friends make the best art.    (That is in the Book of Jules.   When this blessed book is published, this sentiment will probably be worded as such: Use family photos and memorabilia while decorating in order to reduce clutter and enjoy and showcase your memories.)

Photos and memories personalize your home, make it look like you live there - instead of like you opened up the Pottery Barn catalog and dove in - and if you like your family and friends, your artwork will make you smile.   It's also rather inexpensive to order prints (or bother your mother and mother-in-law for theirs) and head to just about any store for some frames.   Especially when you compare your snapshots to a Picasso.  

As soon as you walk into our house, the stairs are to your right, and you see this collection climbing the railing and creeping on to the landing wall.   That's what I am talking about today.

Now, if you want to hang photos on a wall, in a grid or along the stairway, or in a haphazard fashion, there are many resources online to assist you.   The problem for me was none of them really showed me how to get exactly what I wanted.  

Thanks to my [at the time] new obsession with Pinterest, I had found examples of how I wanted to hang photos in my stairwell along the inclined stairs, but also on the landing.   My most favorite landing example featured many photos in various sizes, arranged in a sort of mirrored fashion left to right and top to bottom.  Exactly, to the millimeter, spaced apart.   Isn't it pretty?

I wanted to duplicate it exactly, but the wall of our landing wasn't big enough, so I improvised and took out the middle section.  (In some house, at some point in my life, I will do this exactly.  With the S!)  But what made me LOVE this wall so much was the fact that the frames all complimented each other and they were pretty much exactly the same width apart and make straight lines all the way across.   


I was not sure how to tackle the project, so I did what seemed logical in this situation: I called my dad.

Dad can fix just about anything, and he can build just about anything, too.   Basically, if you don't have a widget, he can build you one.   If you have a widget and it's broken, he can fix it.   What I am try to illustrate here, is that  he is very handy to have around for household projects.  I showed him this photo and told him I wanted to replicate the arrangement.   Dad is also an engineer, and about as OCD as I am about things, so he is pretty much the ideal source.

Here's what I got back from my dad

Each picture frame probably has a different distance from the top of the frame to the  point where the nail will be installed.  If you do the template approach, you can mark the template with the location of the nail, and make the nail holes using the template.

The engineering approach is to utilize the laser to set the location of the horizontal and vertical edges of each picture, and then establish the nail location by measuring the off set from the top and vertical edges and moving the laser per the offsets.  The attached EXCEL file gives a step-by-step pictorial explanation 

Y'all.    It is amazing!   I followed it to a T (well, first I bought a laser level) and after much measuring and re-measuring and pencil marks on the backs of the frames, look at what I got!   The angle is a bit weird because it's a small landing in the stairwell, and I had to stand at the top of the stairs to include everything in the shot.   But I am happy with it!    

And in case you wondered, there are a couple photos of my dad in here!

Morals of the story:

  • Family photos as artwork is still my favorite thing
  • My Dad can fix and build anything 
  • Including an OCD photo wall makes a house that much more Jules-like

What's your favorite way to personalize your space?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Three years ago today I looked like this: 

In the last 3 years I have not:
  • had hair that long or blond
  • been that tan
  • worn a dress that heavy
  • held a bouquet that ginormous and beautiful
  • been able to see so many people from all parts of our lives (family, childhood, college, etc) in one place
  • posed for so many photos in such a short time

I have, however, been as happy as I look in the above photo.

Cue the sap fest!    

Don't get me wrong: every minute of every day is not as wonderful as the entire day you get married.    But every day should make you happy as a couple.   You are happy that you got married, that you have lived a life together and will continue to build a life together.   The world is full of unknowns, but together, you will handle it and that makes it a lot less scary.

That's how I feel about the past three years we have officially, legally, been bound, and it's how I am approaching the future.   All I know is that the unknown is a lot more fun with a buddy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Funny Conversations

1) Magic Kingdom, Friday afternoon
Riding Big Thunder Mountain

We get into the train car and sit down.  Michael notices a water bottle left in the small pouch, conveniently in place to hold hats, sunglasses, and other items that you'd not like to fly out of the car while riding.  Michael removes the bottle to give to the nearest cast member

Michael: I found a water bottle here.

[meanwhile I put my sunglasses in the pouch]

Cast Member: Oh thank you!

[takes bottle and walks away]

Michael: And some sunglasses!

[reaching into the pouch and grabbing the glasses I just put in there]

Me: No!  Those are mine!

Michael: Never mind!

2) Dining Room Table, Friday evening
Playing Black Jack

Me: You win
Michael: What?
Me: You win.   You have 18
Michael:  No, I don't
Me: Yes you do.  Eleven plus seven equals eighteen
Michael:  Oh!   Aces are eleven!
Me: This might be more fun if you knew the values of all the cards
Michael: And if I knew how to add numbers.

3) Finishing up Dinner, Saturday evening

Me: You know what we should get at Target?
Michael: I do not know
Me: It's a beverage
Michael: At Starbucks?
Me: Yes.
Michael: A latte?
Me: More specifically.....
Michael: I don't know
Me: What time of year is it?
Michael: Oh.   A....... pumpkin..... gingerbread ?
Me: Right church, wrong pew.   Pumpkin spice.
Michael: Yeah.   That.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sorted Spices

Full disclosure: this idea did not come from me!   It comes from my germophobic sister.   Let me back up

Back in the mid 90s, Al decided to organize all of my mom's spices.  They were housed in an under-cabinet drawer that was an excellent use of space, but did not provide the chef (Mom) with a good view of the spice labels.   Well, the first row was fine, but the rest of the bottles were visible only from the top, and most lids look the same.   We should have known then that Alison was destined for a top-10 school.

What did she do?

She put small stickers on each lid, with the spice name clearly printed.  Pull out the drawer, and see many many rows of spices, arranged alphabetically, and easily retrieved when viewing from above.  Genius.   It kind of looked like this:

Flash forward to my pantry earlier this year.   I had been using a small Lazy Susan (one of my favorite organizational tools of all time, I know, NERD ALERT) to keep the bottle corralled.  The problem was our collection had outgrown the turntable and I had some spices there, and others sort of lumped on a shelf.   It was turning into a mess, and I had to figure out a new plan.   This actually spun out of control into a pantry overhaul which I will address at a later date.

I wracked my brain and hopped onto Pinterest.    There are so many good ideas on that website!   But so many of them involved expensive systems that required me to decant all spices into identical jars, and/or attach a magnetic piece of metal on the door of a cabinet and stick magnets on the bottoms of the identical jars.

Don't get me wrong, I love identical jars.  But for me that was not practical and I am so not crafty, so there goes affixing anything to a cabinet door.   Then I remembered what my sister did many years ago for my mom.   I don't have a drawer deep enough to stand up all spice bottles, nor do I have a drawer in my pantry.    But I do have a Target nearby, and what does Target sell?   BASKETS!

Baskets are wonderful.   Do you know why?   They can usually be purchased at a reasonable price.   I have heard that even the Dollar Store has them!   They come in so many shapes and sizes and colors.   The crafty ones among us [my hand is not raised] can spray paint them or add liners or ... what else do you add to baskets?  My point is, you can dress them up for not too much money.  The selection is vast, and the item itself is practical and customizable.

What's not to love?

So, as you may have gathered from the above photo, I arranged all my spices on the counter to see how many I had so I could get the right size  (During this time I took inventory of other items and ended up buying several baskets of various sizes)   I also ordered these amazing labels from Amazon.   Alison used small square stickers that were probably originally intended for a garage sale, which she easily found at Drug Mart.   I am OCD so I wanted mine printed in a uniform font.  It is a sickness.

Once the labels arrived, I took my laptop into the kitchen and made labels for all my spices, printed them out, affixed them to the jars, and voila!   I have an easy way of taking inventory.

The most ironic part of all of this?   I don't cook.  Michael does.

What's your favorite way to organize spices?   Or a million similarly designed bottles?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Free Souvenir

Al and Sal were here this weekend and we had oodles of fun.   It goes without saying that there is more to say on the subject.    Until then, a teaser:

We all rode Star Tours at Hollywood Studios.   After the ride stopped, Alison noticed something rolling around in the seat in front of her.   She took a closer look and immediately grabbed it.   This is unusual; Al rarely touches unknown items for the germ factor alone.   It was obviously something good.

Turns out, a full travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer had been left behind by a previous rider.   Not only was it:

a) hand sanitizer [one of Al's top favorite products of all time]

but it also

b) was orange
c) smelled like tangerines
d) featured a creature that "looks like Mike Wazowski!"
e) would fit in her carry-on to take back with her
f) could be used to eradicate germs that may have been left behind by the previous owner (how ironic!)

Later in they day Al offered it to all 4 of us before sitting down to dinner.    After we all accepted - trust me, you may not say no- she announced

"This is the best free thing I have ever found in my entire life"

It doesn't take much. . . . we spent hours riding state-of-the-art attractions, and it's the germ-x that gets top billing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Palmolive: It's Not Just For Dishes

Michael was out of town for a couple of days.  Coincidentally, during the exact days Isaac was supposed to hit Florida, but then took a last minute hook about 4 states to the west.   A series of text messages are below.    I love that he entertains me several states away.   Hear that, single ladies?   Marry a man who can make you laugh.

Setting: Monday morning, hotel restaurant.  Before Michael's business meeting

M:  So I ate bacon and somehow tons of bacon grease splattered all over my pants.  But I remembered the Book of Jules and it says to use dish soap.   I borrowed soapy dish water from kitchen.  Has vastly improved the situation

J: Good thinking!  Use a napkin on your lap next time

A couple hours later

M: I met [the CEO]!

J: Oh boy!  I hope he didn't notice the bacon

Disclaimer: This is not my own personal tip, but one I remembered reading years ago.  It was probably in Good Housekeeping.   The logic being that dish soap cuts through grease on dishes-- and on all other materials.  I'm telling you, it works!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Batten Down the Hatches

The good news is that it looks like we will be spared the supreme wrath [and eye] of Isaac.  

The bad news is the next 48 hours are basically lots of rain and strong winds.   Hermit-like behaviors are certainly in the cards.  In order to prepare, we have done the following:

Moved the patio furniture into the garage

Moved the cars into the driveway 

(and not under the mediocre construction of the pergola, blocked by the tree in the photo)  

The irony is not lost on me that:
a) cars are more valuable than patio furniture and are out in the elements to be hit by debris and
b) my car went from parked under the pergola to PARKED UNDER A TREE.   Yeah Jules because that is safe.

Assembled hurricane food

  • Jumbo bag of trail mix that features protein and dried fruit [raisins] and chocolate for fun
  • Cans of Chef Boyardee pasta
  • Bottles of water
  • Baked a batch of brownies  (Why do I always bake when a storm approaches?)

Plugged in the 'old fashioned' wired phone

I am saying a prayer that our power stays on.... have I forgotten anything?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thinking of You: Part Two

Hospital stays aren't the only situation for which gift giving is appropriate.  One of my favorite gift-giving events is.... a new baby. Why?  Because everyone gets something different!

As I mentioned last week, flowers are never wrong.  But I try to be practical, and I figure new parents will appreciate anything you can send that makes their lives easier.  Flowers make it prettier, but the following items might make them happier

For the parents

Home-cooked dinner

If you live nearby: 
Take them dinner.   Freezer meals are the best because Mom and Dad can eat it now or later.   If the fridge is full now, the dish will take care of them next month.  My favorite options are stuffed shells or lasagna.   Both can be made meatless if needed, and all you need is a disposable tray or tiptop back for storage. Write the contents and baking instructions on the dish and you're set.   Throw in a loaf of bread - or even frozen garlic toast to make it more substantial.    I also include a salad kit and a container of Parmesan cheese and a baked item for dessert.  Cookies, a pie, etc.   Doesn't have to be homemade.  Anything will be appreciated.   If the parents drink - and Mom is not nursing- a bottle of wine might be fun.
If I see them, I sometimes include festive napkins or a checkered table cloth.    REALLY want to go the extra mile?  Throw in disposable plates and forks so they don't even have to do the dishes.

If you live far away:
Send a spaghetti dinner.   Seriously, I do this all the time.   I buy a box of dry pasta in whatever shape I can find, a jar of sauce, a container of Parmesan, and a box of brownie mix.  Throw in the festive napkins if you have them.  Write a note to add a salad and enjoy.   I am telling you-  everyone loves this idea.    I do wrap the sauce in bubble wrap and stick it in a large ziptop just in case it breaks but I always use fill-air and packing materials and have had no issues so far.

Remember: dinner is clutter free!

Babysitting services

Again, if you live nearby, offer to sit with the baby for an hour while Mom showers or runs an errand.   Offer to treat the new parents to a movie night at the theater and watch the baby while they're out.  Make this a rain check.  They might not need you on day 4, but a few weeks later, when the dust has settled, it will be an a-ma-zing gift.

Gifts for baby

Shop the registry if you must.  Or if you know they need certain items.   But add something 'extra' to the gift.

My favorite extra is a CD of children's songs played on the piano.   I came across the CD years ago, but anything soft and relaxing will work for bedtime or nap time.   Classic songs without singing tend to grate on the nerves less than the typical 'kid' stuff.  (At least in my opinion!)

Consider including your favorite childhood book [with gift receipt in case they already have it!]   If you're close to the family, and/or are a bit of a ham, consider recording your voice reading the book.

Choose clothing or diapers in larger sizes.   The kid will be maxed out in tiny stuff to start.   No one buys baby stuff for the second 6 months of life.   See what you can find for 'later' which will come sooner than they think.  If baby is born in January, buy a clearance rack Christmas outfit for 12-18 months.   It will be adorable.

Gifts mostly for Mom

Anything that makes her feel pampered!

  • Babysitting services so she has time to do whatever she needs or wants to do during the day.  
  • Stop by for a visit so she has a grown up to talk to (especially nice if she's alone all day with the baby)
  • A day out [whenever she is ready] where you treat her to lunch and a pedicure
  • Comfy robe/socks/etc.
  • Audio book/download she can listen to at all hours.  Headphones = hands free and can take care of the baby
  • Fancy cosmetics or beauty items (lotion, shower gel, etc) she won't splurge on herself at this point!

What do you give to new babies and their parents?

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Despite our best intentions, life is not a bowl of cherries.  I like to think of myself as a 'glass is half full' kind of person, but there are little things and big things that come up and try to knock us off our game.   My boss shared the following inspiration with my team at work this week.  Talk about keeping everything in perspective!

Is life beating you up right now?  Does life seem unfair?  Are your tired of trying?  Are you ready to quit?

Before you do please continue reading below.  Imagine if the below events represented your life’s calendar of events.  At what point would you have given up?  Would you have persevered?  How would you respond to the following series of events if they all happened to you?   At what year in the list would you have quit?  

Year 1 Your younger brother died.
Year 5 Your family is forced out of your home and you are saved from drowning.
Year 6 Your Mother dies.
Year 7 You are kicked in the head by a horse.
Year 16 Your older sister dies.
Year 19 You fail in business.
Year 20 You are defeated in race for State Legislature.
Year 21 You fail again in business.
Year 22 You are now elected to  State Legislature.
Year 23 Your fiance dies.
Year 24 You suffer a nervous breakdown.
Year 25 Your marriage proposal is rejected.
Year 26 You are defeated for your state’s speaker of the House.
Year 28 You are defeated for Elector.
Year 31 You are defeated in your race for United States Congress.
Year 34 You are elected to the United States Congress.
Year 35 You are defeated again in race for the US Congress.
Year 37 You have a son die.
Year 41 You are defeated in your race for United States Senate.
Year 43 You are now defeated in your race for Vice President of the US.
Year 45 You are defeated again in your race for United States Senate.
Year  47 You are now elected President of the United States.
Year 51  You survived a bullet through your hat.

So how do your current problems stack up to this list?

Perseverance builds character and character hope.


Do any history buffs know which great leader in American History this list refers to?

Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thinking of You: Part One

Friends and family often come to me for advice on life's inevitable events.  Family triumphs, sadness, celebrations, etc.   In general, gifts should be practical and functional and clutter-free.

I don't claim to have all the answers but I can share what has worked for me in the past.  And by 'worked' I mean I have gotten positive feedback from these gifts.

Hospital Stay or Recovery

These folks will be trying to rest quietly either at the hospital or back at home

Flowers are a safe choice almost every time and also clutter free.   But flowers do not meet my practical and functional requirement.  And chances are, the patient will have received plenty of flowers from other well-wishers.  In my experience, thinking outside the box means a lot.    Your relationship with the person determines what type of gift you might give them.   You might know your sister's literary tastes more than your neighbor, but would still like to let your neighbor know you care.  I live far away from those I love, so I have to mail items, but if you are close by and can deliver it in person?  Even better!   And of course the gift of your time and friendship stopping by to visit is the most important.   Instead of flowers, consider:

  • Hand cream -if you live nearby, even offer to give her a manicure!
  • Audio book
  • Recording of a show - (My late aunt loved the Capital Steps so when she was ill I sent her a recording of their latest skits, available on amazon.   Sometimes being able to laugh a little bit makes a world of difference.)
  • Funny movies 
  • iPod loaded with music or podcasts
  • If you're on a tight budget, even a portable radio will be appreciated
  • Crossword puzzle book -and pencil!
  • Fluffy socks
  • Comfy PJ pants or robe [depending on the surgery] 
  • Food treat - homemade cookies, their favorite candy, etc. [depending on the surgery]

What are your favorite gift items for recovering patients?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


During the 2-week circus that was the Olympics (and I mean that in the most complimentary way!) I made a conscious effort to avoid news sites, such as Google News, CNN, and the official Olympic site as well.   The reason being, with London 5 hours ahead of me, events took place hours before NBC's [mediocre] coverage began.   Knowing events were finishing up in the afternoon locally - evening in London- I stayed off those websites.   I wanted to watch the drama unfold on TV later.

What did I forget to avoid?  FACEBOOK!  Now, you would think that 'friends' would have the sense to avoid posting news stories to their status updates.   "Congratulations to the USA Women on winning gold" showed up on my newsfeed hours before.   I got so angry!   So I decided to avoid facebook like the plague until the games closed on Sunday.

It was actually pretty awesome.  Lately the updates I have been seeing on facebook are largely people complaining or trying to show off.   I enjoy the site for sharing photos and keeping up to date with friends who live far away but I enjoyed being 'removed' for awhile.    I figure if anyone really needs to get in touch with me, they have my email address and phone number and can get in touch 'the old fashioned way'

All in all I was glad I did it- if only for about 10 days.   Life continued to progress, and I was not spoiled once for the rest of the games!   I might have just been inspired as to what to give up for Lent in 2013. . . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Loyalty Cards

Besides clutter in dressers and closets, I am strangely annoyed by all the membership and customer cards that seem to pile up in various places.    Every store wants you to be a loyal customer.  In turn, they want to put you on an email list and give you a plastic card for your wallet and two more mini plastic cards.  Presumably so each person in your household can add the card to his or her key ring, and the lucky one gets to put an extra in his/her wallet too!   

In theory this is a good idea, but if you visit more than about 3 places with such a card, your keyring soon holds many more cards than keys, the cards get beat up because they slam against your keys while you drive, you can't find what you need, etc.   Drives me bananas.   (I realize that many places allow you to look up your account with a phone number or zip code, but I have moved many times and quite frankly cannot keep track of that.  The only numbers I know for sure - that do not change- are my Social Security and birthday)

So?  How do I deal with my loyalty cards? 

Unsurprisingly, with a binder (of course!) as well as a separate key ring that lives in my car.


I use a standard 3-ring binder and these magnificent sheet protectors sized for business cards.  I can easily slip all the wallet-sized club cards in the sleeves in whatever order I'd like.   In this case, I don't alphabetize but rather, categorize.   It lives in my desk, but keeping this in the car would also make sense to me.
  • TRAVEL-  All frequent flyer cards and our Parking Spot card, which we use when we fly, are kept together.  That's the page you see above.  
  • PHOTO IDs- Anything with a photo is kept together: my employee ID (yes I have one even though I am a remote employee!), membership cards, club membership cards for the amenities in our neighborhood, etc.
  • MALL STORE LOYALTY CARDS- Cards for retail establishments at the mall are kept together, so if I am making a trip over there, I can determine what card I might need in an instant.  Sephora loyalty card, this means you!  There are also a couple of eateries that are only at the mall, so I stick their Buy 9 sandwiches and get the 10th Free cards in this spot.  Personally, I don't go to the mall on a whim, so I don't need these extra cards in my wallet all the time.
  • STORE CREDIT CARDS- This includes mall credit cards - I do have a couple- as well as any gift cards we might have to spend!  

Key ring

The key ring is a cheap-o one that was part of a multiple package.   No fancy equipment here. Why do I use the key ring?  Some stops are less predictable than those listed above.  Namely, CVS or food destinations.  These cards are kept on the key ring and live in a cup holder in my car.  This way I can swing by and always have what I need.
  • CVS
  • Hallmark (I am a dork and would swing by any Hallmark for any reason, so it's in the car) 
  • Panera
  • Menchie's Yogurt
  • Library Card
*Note: Publix [grocery] does not have a shopper card but if they did, it would be in the car!

How do you organize your loyalty cards? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cool It: The Saga of our Air Conditioning

Disclaimer: This started out as a quick blog post about a blip in our mundane lives over the weekend.  It has turned into a saga, and all is documented below for our entertainment in the future.   But it is not entertaining right now.

Friday evening 

11:30 pm
Just about to fall asleep, Michael comments that it feels warm in our room.   I dismiss the comment, and fall asleep.  


8:00 am
Michael can say "I told you so" but we are too warm to argue.   Upstairs temperature check: 81 degrees.  It is August in Florida, y'all.   Daytime highs are usually about 90 degrees.   Without a heat index.    So we keep all the blackout curtains closed and turn the 3 bedroom ceiling fans on high.   It is all we can do, because it will keep getting hotter.   Contemplate going to Costco to buy wine and food for dinner later.

Later that morning
Call our trusty a/c folks and they can send out a technician to look at our upstairs a/c unit today.  Costco run is put on hold.  (Our house has 2 thermostats and 2 a/c units.   This can be helpful if one of them stops working; at least half the house is livable.)

2:30 pm
Carlos arrives and lets us know that our fan motor is broken, but it is an easy fix.  Excellent.  The thing is, Carlos has installed the last of the fan motors in his truck at his previous house.   Boo.    So he charges us for the service call and will be back later in the week to install the damn motor.   The curtains are still drawn, and the fans are still whirring.

3:40 pm
It starts to feel warm downstairs.   The thermostat reads 80 degrees.  Carlos has been gone less than an hour.  What the heck.   Our upstairs is still hot, and now the downstairs is about to match.    Michael checks the breakers.   All is well on that front.

Once again, he calls our trusty a/c folks to report an issue with the downstairs unit.  The rep on the phone has him check the breaker (done!) and then check the float switch.   Turns out there is water in the pipe which triggers the unit to shut off.  As per the phone assistant, water can be drained from the pipe so the switch is back on track.  Michael gets the turkey baster [which has been used one time for turkeys and now one time for a/c repair] and gets some water out.   Checks the wall unit.  The a/c kicks back on and we are set.   The unit needs maintenance, but at least we have a stop gap.  Walk out the door for Costco before 4 pm

6:00 pm
Home from Costco.   Thermostat reads 80 degrees again.   Michael gets the turkey baster again so he can remove excess water.   Evidently the first round was [very] temporary.   For those keeping track baster count = turkey: 1 a/c fixes: 2.  It works again so we seem to be set.

Settle in to the beautifully air conditioned downstairs.   Watch some Olympics and Alien, recorded off HBO.   Can't believe we haven't seen this movie!

11:15 pm
Go upstairs for bed.   Upstairs Temperature Check: 85 degrees.   We kick off all covers and lay on top of the fitted sheet.  We are sweating without moving a muscle.  We try to think of cold things like penguins and ice cream and snow storms.   That must not be an effective way of cooling down; we are still sweating.

It is too sticky to sleep, so we get the air mattress and extra sheets and head downstairs.   We inflate the air mattress in the middle of the living room, where it is - thankfully- still cool.


8:00 am
We wake up downstairs on the air mattress, which is still fully inflated!  Small victory there.   The temperature is still comfortable downstairs, despite Michael not fiddling around with the float switch overnight.  Upstairs temperature check: 86 degrees

Needless to say, we stay downstairs the entire morning and early afternoon, except to shower.   And even then the water stays on cold.   Do I have to tell you it does not feel the least bit cold?

2:15 pm
Torrential downpour outside.   This is good news!   Rain = clouds.   Clouds = NO SUN BEATING ON THE HOUSE.    Hallelujah.   Torrential downpours also come with a breeze.
Upstairs temperature check: 88 degrees (EIGHTY-EIGHT?!)

2:30 pm
We decide that breeze outside and no sun is a good time to open the windows.   Moving the air around will help, and the outside temperature is less than 88.  The breeze feels a-ma-zing.  We set towels on the window sills just in case the water comes in a little bit.

3:10 pm
The wind has shifted.   We run upstairs and close the eastern-facing windows to a crack so the carpets don't get soaked.
Upstairs check: 87 degrees

4:00 pm
Michael decides to check things out.  The eastern-facing bedrooms are coolish and the rain and breeze has died down.  So Michael decides to open the windows back up and have those fans blowing air down so 'cool' air gets to the hallway and hopefully down to our bedroom.
Upstairs temperature: 86 degrees

It is still roasting hot upstairs and looking like it won't get much better.  At this rate, I cannot work upstairs Monday morning.   Michael and I haul my computer and phone down to the dining room so I can work in a climate controlled area until the a/c guy comes Monday- hopefully in the earlier portion of the morning.
Upstairs temperature: 85 degrees

10:30 pm
Go to bed in the living room on the air mattress.  Again.  Luckily the float switch remains happy, so the downstairs is comfortable.   As comfortable as it can get, sleeping on a bouncy air mattress next to the couch and TV.


6:00 am
Wake up to go running.   Decide that running 4.5 miles is much more comfortable than one more second on the airbed.  Have I discovered a new trick for always wanting to jump out of bed and workout first thing?!

7:00 am
Back from running, head upstairs.
Upstairs temperature: 81 degrees
Shout downstairs to Michael "It's 81!  It is down to 81!"

7:30 am
Begin working in my dining room office

9:00 am
Michael calls the a/c folks to check on the status of our situation.   Turns out not only was Carlos out of fans in his truck, the company is out of stock too!   They are 'working with their vendor' to determine when they can obtain more.  They will call us back
Upstairs temperature: 84 degrees

Late that morning:
Float switch trips off again.   Michael drains the pipe with the trusty turkey baster.  Back on track.

11:00 am
Michael calls the a/c folks to check on the status of our situation- again.   Nothing new to report.  They will be in touch
Upstairs temperature: 85 degrees

12:50 pm
Michael calls again and uses the phrase "That is not helpful to me" on the phone.   It has been established that we can now order our part and they will "see" when a technician can come install it.

Approximately every 45 minutes during the afternoon
Downstairs a/c shuts off due to extra water in the pipe affecting the float switch.  You'll recall this started happening on Saturday.   It is getting more and more frequent.  Sigh.

5:00 pm
Michael calls the a/c folks once more to confirm that a tech will not be on the way today.  He asks for a time frame and is told they 'hope' the part arrives Tuesday.  Depending on the time it arrives, a tech can install it Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.
Upstairs temperature: 88 degrees

5:01 pm
Michael decides to go to Target to buy fans.  His theory being he can push cool air from downstairs up into the stairwell and then out into our bedroom.  Had we known the saga would continue this long, we obviously would have bought fans much sooner.   Now we know, and having fans in Florida just seems smart.

6:00 pm
Downpour of rain.  Clouds and breeze = no sun beating on the house.   YES!   Michael gets home and sets up fans.   I remind myself not to trip over any cords in the dining room or up the stairs.
Upstairs temperature: 87 degrees


7:00 pm
Michael goes up to check on the fan project
Upstairs temperature: 86 degrees

8:00 pm
Michael goes up to check on the fan project
Upstairs temperature: 85 degrees

8:30 pm
Downstairs float switch trips off again.  Michael is done with turkey baster.  Gets shop vac.  Decibel level in the house reaches that of a runway, what with the shop vac and the 2 fans blowing at high speed.   I continue to be a teensy bit warm.

9:00 pm
Michael goes up to check on the fan project. 
Upstairs temperature: 84 degrees

9:30 pm
Downstairs float switch trips off again.  Cue shop vac.

10:00 pm
I am tired and want to go to bed.   It's cool enough to try the real bed and not the air mattress.   I fall asleep in less than 5 minutes.
Upstairs temperature: 83 degrees


6:00 am
Wake up to go running.   Remind myself to be careful on the stairs because there are cords and fans blowing, etc.  Do not check thermostat

7:00 am
Get back.  Michael reports that the a/c downstairs shut off overnight (it was 79)  and he has used the shop vac on the pipe.  Downstairs still feels warm.  Upstairs temperature: 82 degrees

7:30 am
Time to start work.   I wear a bathing suit top while working in my makeshift dining room office.  Michael suggests that, based on my sartorial choices, I resemble someone living in a double wide trailer.   I shoot him a dirty look.

10:30 am
Put on a tank top- I have a video conference call with colleagues and do not think they want to see me in a bikini top.

Michael calls the a/c folks to check on our progress.   The part has been ordered and is scheduled to arrive 'either tonight or tomorow morning' and they will call us when the part comes in so it can be installed.


6:00 am
Wake up to go running.   Remind myself to be careful on the stairs because there are cords and fans blowing, etc.  Do not check thermostat upstairs but realize downstairs is still cool.  YES!  Made it through the night.

7:30 am
Time to start work.   With the downstairs a/c in full operation mode, I wear normal clothes again.

9:30 am
Still no word from a/c so Michael calls them.   A lovely representative informs us that yes the part has arrived and will be installed the next day.   Company policy is that parts are installed the day after they arrive.   Then, the rep notices that we have been out for quite some time.  Her next words are music to our ears: "I am going to send a runner out with your part so he can meet up with a technician in the field.   Then the technician will be out today.   It might be after 5, but he will be there"
Did you hear the Hallelujah Chorus?  Because I did.

12:20 pm
Michael receives a call from the a/c office letting us know a tech will be out between 12:30 and 1:00 pm.  I do a happy dance in the dining room.   I am still working downstairs, after all.

12:40 pm
Doorbell rings.  It is Carlos again!   YAY!  Carlos installs our new part for the upstairs a/c and performs maintenance on the pesky float switch downstairs.

1:45 pm
Through some kind of magical Carlos math, he charges us less for both jobs that we were quoted to buy the original part and install it.   Not questioning it.   The a/c is working both upstairs and downstairs.   Hallelujah, indeed.

2:00 pm
Michael removes the fans from the stairwell and hallway

5:31 pm
I move my office from the dining room back upstairs where it belongs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School

August means one thing: Back to school sales!   Truth be told, it starts in July with newspaper inserts, which is a little bit crazy.   I don't have kids, and this time of year is no different in my own personal day-today.   But boy do I remember this time of year when I was a student- I was pumped!

I am not a shopper in general and never have been.  But drop me off in a Staples - specifically in the office supply section- and I will have a field day.  It started in middle school.   I looked forward to going in to the store and picking out [among other things] binders (one per course, different colors), a pack of rainbow sharpies, and my day planner.   You see, this was before everyone had digital gadgets in every pocket.   We had to write down all of our homework assignments on paper!  With a pen!   I feel old.

Once I found my planner, (which had many many requirements, mind you....  it took forever to find exactly what I wanted) I sat home and waited for our schedules to be mailed out.

When I initially found out which classes I was taking, I assigned each course a color.    That color corresponded to the binder in which I housed all papers and notes for that particular class.   The color also corresponded to the sharpie color I used when marking any and all assignments and tests for that course.   Finally, all highlights made within the planner (and within the text book) would be made in the same color.   Biology = green binder, green highlighter, green sharpie.

As soon as the schedule arrived, I spread out at the kitchen table with binders, sharpies, highlighters, and my DayPlanner and filled in every possible bit of information I could.   The schedule on the first page of the planner was color coded.  I could see at a glance where the 5 green Biology boxes were located and immediately knew when to head to the lab.   Science classes had final exams the first day of exam weeks.   Marked that on the calendar.   It was liberating!    I think my mother knew even when I was 12 years old, that I was a special organization case.

For the record, my color coding organizational ways continued in college, where I kept these same color schemes.   College may have been even more exciting because each class provided a semester long syllabus with each and every possible even included.  I honestly believe that my crazy methods helped me be a successful student for years.   When I publish The Book of Jules, there will be a chapter about schoolwork and organization.    They might not be the 'right' way to do things but they sure worked for me!

Despite not having anything to do with the typical back to school calendar, my heart still goes pitter-pat when I see the back to school ads.   My current batch of sharpies are still work just fine, and I have a few spare binders in the closet, but I really want to go to Staples.   Surely I should stop in and see what they have on sale this month.... maybe some post-its?  Can you ever have enough?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tribe in Tampa

Earlier this month we took an overnight trip to see our beloved Cleveland Indians take on the Tampa Bay Rays.   It was a nice break from the work week, and allowed us to see a new stadium while rooting for the Indians.   Below, a few highlights

We stayed at the Hotel Indigo, a boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg.

It's centrally located downtown, so we walked to Tropicana Field on Wednesday night, and were able to take advantage of the free stadium shuttle afterwards.

Check out the adorable rooms. . . .

I was smitten with the bedding and color scheme; you can barely see the checkered bed skirt and shams, which also included navy blue.   It was intense, but I liked it!

The halls were a bit busy, but again, it worked.   The building used to be a local inn back in the day, so it has a funny layout, and the folks who run it decide a quirky decor would be a good idea.

Initially known as the Heritage Inn, this building was built in the 1920.   I asked Michael to stand by the sign that explained it was one of the first hotels to offer a chilled ice water system to their guests.  Guests could refill the pitcher from their  room with chilled water before retiring for a relaxing night's sleep.   Naturally I tried to turn on the spout.   Michael explained that modern hotels featured ice machines and cold water in the bathrooms so this feature has been rendered obsolete.   Right.   Good call, Cornellie.

Time to go to the baseball game!   Tropicana field is a dome, so it's climate controlled and full of big lights. 

Our seats were very good; we were seated about 5 rows up on the third base side.  

Most importantly, I had a great view of my boyfriend, Michael Brantley, because he bats left handed.

The Tribe ended up winning the game, 10-6 overcoming shaky pitching.   Our section had a smattering of Cleveland fans, which made the end of the game that much more fun!  There was a bit of trash talking among some silly guys, but it's a sporting event.  What do you expect?

It was a late night, but we got back to our funky hotel room around 11:30 and were asleep around midnight.   The 3 am fire alarm (seriously!) was unwelcome.   We were jolted awake, only to stand outside in 80 degree heat and excessive humidity.   Thankfully there was no fire - especially because it took the 7 fire trucks more than 10 minutes to arrive.   Sheesh.  We were all allowed inside after about 30 minutes, but I was not amused.

We had a little free time the next morning so we went for a stroll along the bay.   I was evidently channeling my sister, because I came upon a stray kitty cat sleeping on a picnic table.   So I took a picture and talked to her.

We headed back to "The Trop," this time remembering to take a photo.   The sidewalk leading up to the stadium depicts fish and sting rays and other Florida motifs.   Just as you'd expect!

Since we got in so darn early, we took some time to explore the stadium.   The Sting Ray tank is a highlight but there was a crazy line, so we headed up to the 'bleachers' and got a birds eye view instead of walking right in front of them.   We even found a guy to take our picture with home plate behind us.

Sadly the Tribe was shut out 6-0 on Thursday afternoon.   We were glad to have had the opportunity to see our home team in a new stadium, and even happier to see them win one night.   Seeing any kind of live baseball is always a great way for the two of us to spend a few hours!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Opening Ceremonies

First things first- I did not find there to be a legitimate 'battle' between Mary Poppins and Voldemort.   I know MP is awesome, but her simple act of flying in would not scare him away.   Where was the action?  Liars!

One of the good things about the opening ceremonies is that despite not watching with all my friends and family, text messaging means we can still share thoughts in real time.   Highlights are below

Pannie: The first half hour can be summed up thusly: YAY ENGLAND!
Al: What the @#$% is this crap?

Mom: A storm knocked our our DirecTV right when the Red Queen appeared!
Ashley: Suffragettes!
Al: Danny Boyle is apparently on more drugs than a Soviet athlete
Mom: Matt is pissing me off
Al: Holy @#$%^# Germany!   Stick with designing cars, not clothes 
Mom: Dad needs a Nigerian hat

And finally, my favorite image of the night, courtesy of many facebook friends

Friday, July 27, 2012

Opening Ceremonies!

No surprise, but if you need to find me this evening, I will be on my couch watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics Games.    I will also be making fun of Bob Costas [a given] and texting Pannie about all sorts of things including, but not limited to, finding her a boyfriend with a crazy long last name.   With any luck I will also learn a new word in the process.   Last time it was 'sartorial'   Anyway.

Besides drooling over the male swimmers and guys on the track team (I'd drool over the gymnasts too but they're all at least 6" shorter than me) I will be anticipating this pomp and circumstance.

British literary characters?  Check!    Mary Poppins?  Voldemort?  BATTLING EACH OTHER?!?!   What in the world?

Fingers crossed that He Who Must Not Be Named gets his ass kicked by the magical nanny.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Travelers

It's Thursday which means... it's time for another installment of The Book of Jules.   You know, the post where I share my opinions with everyone else, whether on not they care about them.   This is the beauty of a blog to which only I post! 

Today's topic: TRAVELING

More specifically, air travel.   If you have traveled on an airplane any time in the past 10 years I can only assume you will agree with my sentiments that the traveling public, in general, is ignorant.   Frequent business travelers (hi Dad!) are likely exempt from the term traveling public, but I have seen a lot of crazy things.   Keep in mind I live in the most visited travel destination in the world.   Technically, no I do not live in Disney World, but we do share Orlando's airport.   When I fly, I fly with non-business travelers.   Large families with multiple generations results in strollers and balloons and Grandma not knowing she has to take off her coat and her shoes and God knows what else.

Here are some tips I am sure these kind people could benefit from knowing.  It goes without saying that it is not comprehensive, but speaks to commonly seen 'situations' here near The Mouse.

Wear comfortable clothing that is meant to be worn in public

I did not say pajamas or sweat pants.  Comfortable, public-appropriate clothing does exist, I promise.  I don't know when this happened, but as a culture, Americans seem to not give a hoot about their appearance, especially when traveling.  Comfort reigns.   I am all about being comfortable during long trips, but most of you are on a plane for 3-4 hours.  We are not flying to Beijing; we are flying from Chicago to Orlando.

Do not wear copious amounts of jewelry

There will be metal detectors at security.   You will forget about the 84 bracelets on your arm and waltz right through, and have to come back and take everything off.   Don't bother wearing them in the first place.   Trust me, they do not go with your sweatsuit anyway.

Know your group number

Many airlines board by zone or group number.   Familiarize yourself with this designation so you are not clogging up the works lingering at the jet way door while others go before you.  Relatedly, do not assume you are more important than everyone else and charge ahead to take your seat.   You will inevitably put your suitcase in the overhead bin above MY seat, which would have been vacant had you waited your turn.
If you are a family traveling with small children - and I swear I am often the only person who is NOT - do your homework.   Get the special family with kids boarding card so you can get settled.   Do not wait until you are at the gate and junior is hungry or covered in Chik-Fil-A sauce and crying for his Mickey balloon.

Do not walk down the aisle while dragging your [too wide] carry-on bag behind you

You will bump into everyone on both sides of the aisle.   Pick up the bag and carry it in front of you.  If it is too heavy to pick up, you have no business carrying it on and should just check it.  We all know you have checked other bags and the double jogging stroller even though everyone in your party is at best overweight and at worst asking for the seat belt extender (I am sorry but I see this all the time and it boggles the mind)

Do not pull on the back of my seat.  Ever.

But especially when you are getting up or sitting down or adjusting your iPad cover or assisting your child with his Nintendo DS or whatever the kids are using these days.

Stand back from the luggage carousel

Do not stand against the carousel with everyone in your family.  Take a few steps back, allow yourself, and others, a wider field of vision so we can all see what is coming 'round the bend.  When you see your suitcase with the Christmas ribbon on the handle, you may step forward to claim it.   Until that happens, send one parent with the kiddos to get an ice cream or something.  They are super excited that they are in Florida, but it does not take 8 people to get suitcases.

So- what drives you bananas when you travel?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up


  • Last minute dinner at the hard-to-get-a-reservation California Grill, complete with fireworks from our table.   This was our approximate view, though I obviously did not take the pic
  • Dinner was just after a much needed haircut.   I was a happy girl
  • Afternoon Costco run (because we all need 92 boxes of tissues)


  • Trip to Cocoa Beach
  • Altercation at McDonalds about the size and temperature of a latte
  • Air popped popcorn and wine during the baseball game


  • Animal Kingdom for 2.5 hours to ride all the best rides before the crowds and heat were unbearable
  • Delicious dinner
  • Molasses cookies & Irish coffee & the Sunday crossword

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to: Maximize Drawer Space

Messiness makes me twitch.  I color code, I organize, I try to keep things clean and orderly.  This is not news to anyone.

One area where chaos really bugs me is in drawers and closets.   Figuring out what to wear can be hard enough on a good day.  Throw in a messy drawer or wrinkled shirts and you are setting yourself up for trouble.

My issue with shelves and drawers is stacking.  I used to keep my tank tops in a stack in my closet.  The problem with that is the maintenance.   If I wanted a tank top halfway down the stack, I made a mess trying to get to it.  And if I was not not careful, the entire stack fell down.  A similar issue arrises with shirts are stacked in a drawer.  You can't see what you have and start rummaging.  Your drawer turns into a disaster, you have to refold your shirts and put them back.   Consequently, when I was living with stacks, I kept wearing the same few shirts living on the top of each pile.  That's dumb.

Awhile ago I decided I need to re-think my top folding situation and came up with the following.   I did not invent this method; it simply works for me.  By folding the shirts into squares and lining them up like file folders, I can easily see what I have.   They are still organized, but are arranged in such a way that I can see a logo or pattern on the shirt easily.   (You eagle eyes will notice in the top photo that tank tops on the left side are organized by color, but t-shirts are not.  They are organized by neck shape and print vs. solid.   Just because that works for me and how I get dressed!)  Incidentally, I find I can fit more shirts in each drawer using this method!  Very efficient.

Here's how to do it!

Start with an unfolded shirt

 Fold the shirt in half vertically (sleeve to sleeve and shoulder to shoulder) and if there's a print on one side, keep that visible.  If the print is allover or centered this won't be an issue.

Tuck the arms in so you have a nice neat rectangle

Fold the shirt in half top to bottom

Fold in half again to form a nice neat smaller rectangle

Put the shirt away!

Note: When I stick a shirt in the drawer, I put it in with the collar side down and facing the back of the drawer.   This way, the print on the front of the shirt is visible.   Less important with this design, but helpful for traditional shirts with centered logos, as you can see from the row of shirts on the far right.   I can easily see what the patterns are on all of these shirts and they are not in a stack!   So easy

How do you keep your clothing organized?