Homemaking milestone

The FlyLady system has been helping so much (six weeks in) that I sat down at the computer today and wondered what I should do next. Normally I have a long list of emergencies to tackle. Today I have nothing. All my fires are put out. I still have a few urgent projects *ahem*file taxes*ahem* but nothing that’s considered an emergency.

I have hope that someday I’ll no longer be drowning under homemaking tasks. Yay FlyLady system!

Tomorrow!!!!

Tomorrow. I can finally say “we leave tomorrow.” Yesterday I was super excited. Today I feel nervous and want to throw up. This is such an emotional ride!

I’m still working down my to-do list. Yesterday I finally transplanted my avocado tree into a bigger pot. I was surprised how big the root ball had gotten. I would have taken a picture of it but I only have two hands!

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old pot

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old and new pots

The side benefit to transplanting the tree is that I could finally adjust it so that it grows straight up!

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lovely!

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I have no idea what this bug is but it was hanging out on our patio door when I got ready to come back inside. Pretty markings.

This morning I am headed to the grocery store. Our fridge is almost empty and we don’t have enough food to make it through today and tomorrow. I also need to pick up some staples for when we get back, as well as protein bars and snacks for the plane.

Yesterday we sorted through a pile of toys and activities to decide what we should take with us to Taiwan. At least my dining room table is half clean. Once I can get the clothes packed, I can pack the rest of these activities and finish cleaning off my table. This afternoon, after I take a nap, I will clean both bathrooms and then see what else needs to be done.

My prescription sunglasses are still not available, though I ordered them on July 3. I have to call and talk to the manager today to find out how they are going to fix this. I called twice last week and they just keep saying, “sorry, but they have not been delivered yet.” Yes, but I ordered them three weeks ago and I am going to Taiwan tomorrow. I’m also waiting to hear from the bank that they have our Taiwanese dollars available for pick up.

Nope, no stress! HA!

Cooking adventures

I finally finished deep cleaning my kitchen. It took way too long because I kept getting distracted by plane tickets, hotel reservations, shopping for our trip, and Candy Crush. Whoops! But I’m thrilled with the results.

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before

The entire kitchen has now been KonMarie’d, scrubbed, and organized.

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after

My husband was hankering after baked macaroni and cheese so I found a new recipe online and baked up a pan.

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It was so good!! I used panko instead of bread crumbs and it baked perfectly.

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We’ll definitely make the recipe again.

Deep cleaning and other goals

This week I decided it was time to get organized and get some things done. There isn’t much I want to accomplish before we travel to Taiwan, but I would like to deep clean my house. I want to come home to a clean and organized home. So I’ve set some daily goals for myself:

30 minutes of exercise (trying to lose a couple of pounds)
60 minutes of Chinese (trying to become a tiny bit closer to fluent)
30 minutes of organizing/cleaning (beyond my normal chores)

So far so good! I’ve exercised both yesterday and today. I studied yesterday for 62 minutes and have 45 more to go today. And I’ve done 30 minutes of cleaning both yesterday and today. Here are a couple pictures of my progress.

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after

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I’m not sure the before and after photos look terribly different, but I did get rid of a few things. I am keeping the KonMarie principle in mind as I clean. “Does this bring me joy? If so, keep it. If not, get rid of it.” I discarded some really old and ratty kitchen towels, outdated spices, and a few instruction manuals that are available online. And now all three of these cupboards are scrubbed down and organized.

If we have a few dollars extra before we leave, I’d like to buy a spice rack. My spices are almost all bulk purchases from Whole Foods so I have a ton of little baggies on the bottom shelf of my cabinet. It is a mess! It’s hard to cook because I have to pull out handfuls of baggies and sort through them to find the spice I’m looking for. I’m doing to do some research to see if the bulk spices are actually fresh or if I should just buy jarred. If I go to the bulk route, I want to buy glass jars to store what I purchase. If I go the jarred route, I want to toss out everything I have and buy the staples I need. Either way, I’d like to organize the spices so that I can start teaching my daughter how to cook.

Half an hour still until the Women’s World Cup game between Japan and Netherlands so I’m going to sneak in some Chinese studies before the game.

Happy cooking!

May wrap-up / June goal

May’s 30 day challenge has not actually ended. Yes, May is over but I got a late start to my cheesemaking and it took longer than I expected. The cheese will be ready to taste-test on Wednesday. At that point, we’ll decide if it’s edible. If so, we’ll be making pizza with it.

I’ve been thinking about June’s challenge and I don’t think I can set one. We are still hoping to travel to Taiwan at the end of July, though if the judge doesn’t issue first ruling soon, we may not be traveling until August. I have an overambitious list of things I want to accomplish before travel. I don’t think it’s wise to concentrate on just one challenge this month. Instead, I’ll be working my way down my list.

Here’s what I am hoping to accomplish before travel.

Packing test run
Finish KonMarie’ing my house
Deep clean my house
Write up a menu for the first two weeks home
Grocery shopping for all non-perishables for the above menu
Summer clothes shopping for Jeff, Cin-Ru, and myself
Plan the actual trip
Finish blog design and launch my new blog

And, I want to make decent sized strides in my Chinese ability. I did join a June mini-challenge to read Chinese materials for at least half an hour each day. This means something written by native Chinese speakers for native Chinese speakers, not for those learning Chinese. There is a huge difference. This is in addition to my normal flashcards and my writing attempts.

Looking at my list, I’d better get busy!

Small projects make a big difference

Today I wrapped up several small projects. First, I finally retrieved my CD out of my husband’s retired laptop. His old laptop is the only CD drive left in the house and I accidentally left the CD in the computer when I played it a week ago.

Then I scanned the photo that my grandma mailed to me last week. I’m sending the hard copy to my mom but wanted a scanned version for my photo albums.

This is me at 13 months’ of age. I actually rather like this photo!

Finally, I decluttered and rearranged the bookshelf in our dining room.

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after

I decluttered KonMarie style. (Which reminds me that I really need to write up a blog post about the book itself…) I pulled every item off the shelf and asked myself, “does this bring me joy?” If so, I put it back. If not, out it went. Sort of. I now have a growing pile downstairs of stuff that needs to be physically removed from my house.

I’m happy with the results! The top shelf holds my sponsorship notebooks where I keep all of the letters from the children we sponsor, my library books, and review books that I am in the middle of reading and reviewing. The second shelf now holds our Bibles and a row of children’s books. The first couple books are ones that we purchased for Cin-Ru. The rest are library books that I will be reading to better discern what we should actually buy.

The bottom shelf now holds some of Cin-Ru’s toys that require a table to be used. We intentionally chose not to purchase a desk or table for her bedroom. This way, she’ll be encouraged to spend time upstairs with the rest of the family instead of hiding out in her room. I thought it would be a good idea to move these types of toys upstairs so that she can pull something out and play at the dining room table with us instead of in her room without us. I still need to sort through the toys downstairs as I am sure there are more that I can bring upstairs. I’ll leave the dolls and some of the books downstairs.

I’m happy with my progress today! Now off to study Chinese so that I can actually talk to my daughter once we meet her in Taiwan.

Gimbap and oyster mushrooms

I’ve been having some motivation issues lately. A lack of motivation to blog, clean, study, etc. I’m not exactly sure what’s causing it but I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps and forcing myself to move forward. My wonderful husband cleaned the bathrooms for me today, which was so very much appreciated!

I started overhauling my menu planning and recipe book. Both have gotten very sloppy. Last week we added a new recipe to our rotation: gimbap!

We did “veganify” the recipe, leaving out the meat and the egg but adding in tofu. The rest we kept the same. This was our first time trying pickled radish (also known in Korean as danmuji). It was really good!

My mother-in-law bought me a mushroom farm for Christmas so today I got it started. I’ll be taking pictures every day to record the progress. It’s supposed to be ready for harvest on day 10. This particular farm will grow oyster mushrooms so I need to start looking for a recipe that highlights oyster mushrooms. I can’t wait!

Here’s to a productive week!

December Goals – Wrap up

The last week and a half of December were a complete wash as far as decluttering went. Our house is cleaner than it was but I still have plenty of work to do. I’m on the hold list at the library to borrow The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but it will definitely be awhile before it is available. I am hold number 125 on 73 copies of the book. Hopefully soon. A friend of mine said it’s a wonderful book and that her house is now cleaner than it’s been in years!

My Chinese studies have made some progress but slowed down over the holidays. I fell behind on my flashcards half way through my MIL’s visit, which was expected. No grammar progress this week but I’m still thrilled with my overall progress in December.

Totals for the month:

Grammar lessons – 9 completed
Time spent studying – 25.8 hours

I hope to make lots of progress in 2015 because I’m hoping our daughter will be home by this fall! The more I learn, the easier it will be to communicate with her. That is great motivation to keep pressing forward.

December Goals – Week Three

I don’t have any pictures of my decluttering work this week but hope to have some next week. I was able to finish the bookshelf upstairs in our dining room, as well as some other small things upstairs. I cleaned the bathroom downstairs but that doesn’t count toward my goal. My mother-in-law will be here in about five hours so I don’t expect I will get much more work done this week. I want to relax and enjoy my time with her. I am pleased with the progress I’ve made, though I still have a long way to go.

I did make huge progress with my Chinese study goal, though. I studied over 8.5 hours this week and completed three grammar lessons. I only have three more grammar lessons to complete before the end of the month in order to make my goal.

Totals for the month:

Grammar lessons – 9 out of 12
Study hours – 20.25

I don’t expect to keep up this pace all week, but hope to stay on top of my flashcards and at least make some forward progress. But if, just IF, I can be diligent about studying over the holidays, I will shatter my record of how many hours I’ve studied in one month (27 hours in September). Reachable goal or unattainable due to the holidays? We shall see!

December’s Goals – Week Two

I made progress last week on both of my December goals. First up was lots of cleaning and decluttering.

Here’s the wet bar, though we don’t use it for that. We actually turned the water off to this faucet. I’m so confused about why this was installed right next to the fireplace, but what do I know? I think the neighbors have a book case in this location, which I would love to have!

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I forgot to take a picture of our entertainment center before I started cleaning it. The top was covered with several stacks of paper, remotes, and five pumpkins! This picture gives an idea of how cluttered it was:

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And, for fun, we put the Advent calendar there for the remainder of the holiday season, along with Cin-Ru’s framed photo.

Here is my next project, to be tackled tomorrow.

Books, books, and more books
I also made some solid progress toward my Chinese goal (12 lessons completed before the end of the month). Last week I finished 2.5 lessons, which put me at 5.5/12 complete (I finished up the .5 lesson today). I studied 5.75 hours last week, which isn’t too shabby. I just hope I can stay on top of everything when my Mother-in-law arrives on Sunday!