Monday, March 30, 2009

How I Organize My Pictures

It's the end of another month so that means it's time for the Organizing Junkie's monthly round-up. This month we're organizing pictures and keepsakes, so I'm going to share my system for organizing all that stuff.

First of all, my dirty little secret lies in these two boxes. These are my Power Sort boxes and each of them is capable of holding 2,400 photos . . . and they're dang near full which means I have close to 4,800 photos in these innocent looking boxes.

Here's the first one and it's full of my mom's photos that I rescued and organized. My Mama Llama is hopelessly disorganized and it makes me crazy. She keeps asking me about them . . . "Jill, are you EVER going to do anything with my pictures?" No Mom, NE-VER.

I will though. It's part of my plan. The problem is that my plan, otherwise known as my TO DO LIST, has 18,267 other things on it as well.

This box is the back log of my life with Peanut Head before kids. I've been pretty good about staying on top of the photos since the monsters came along.

This is one of the 12 compartments from my Power Sort box. Each compartment holds 200 pictures up to 5x7 inches. I love these little compartments. They're genius. Before I had the Power Sort boxes, I had lots of the cute little photo storage boxes than you can pick up just about anywhere, but my pictures were always sliding underneath each other and getting mixed up after I organized them.

The Power Sort compartments keep the pictures contained and there isn't enough room for the pictures to slide down underneath each other. The other neat thing about them is that you can take one compartment with you if you're going to crop away from home, put a lid on it, and you're only taking the pictures you need instead of all of them.

The other cool feature is the straps on either side of the Power Sort box which keeps the lid secured to the box. I have dropped my Power Sort box before, you know I have, and the lid stayed on and all my pictures stayed put and organized. I can't say the same about my old picture organizing boxes. They were pretty though.

Here's my Power Sort Mini box. I use this one for the current albums I'm working on, and it has three compartments so it will hold 600 photos. I keep my bigger Power Sorts out of sight so they don't stress me out and cause me to think about my freakish backlog.

This is my File Mate. It's just an accordian type file, and it's where I keep things that are larger than 5x7 inches. If I put something in here, I make an index card with it's description and I file it in the Power Sort box with the corresponding picture(s) it belongs with to remind me to go and grab that item when I get to it. Someday.

Ideally, someday all my pictures will be in albums like this and I'll be caught up. I have two ongoing albums for each of my girls.

One of these is their school albums.

This is where I keep school pictures, class pictures, the first day of school, special happenings, awards, pictures of artwork, and handwriting samples.

I keep very little of my kids' artwork. They put it on their magnetic memo boards when they bring it home, and at the end of the month I take it all down and take pictures of it for their school albums. Then I get to throw it away without guilt.

The other album that I keep ongoing is a birthday album for each child.

In this album, I keep their birthday portraits from each year so I have a fun place to compare their changes from year to year. I also keep an ongoing record of their height and weight.

This album is also where all the pictures of their birthday parties go. I don't keep those pictures in the family album.

Here are all my completed traditional albums. I have a lot and they take up a lot of room. This is one of the reasons that I have moved to digital albums for our family album. At the end of each year, I have the family album/blog book printed and bound in a much skinnier book than one of these albums. If you want to see that, go here.

Finally, at the beginning of every year Peanut Head burns all of the previous year's pictures onto a CD and we keep it stored in a binder in our safe. Which reminds me, we haven't done last year yet. I guess we'd better get on that.

I hope I've given you some ideas for organizing and storing your own pictures. For more ideas, go to the Organizing Junkie.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spa Scott

Remember this creepy doll head? Well it's out again in an attempt to save Aunt Marcia, who arrived today from California, from Stinkerbell's royal spa treatment. Marcia will be with us for a week, hopefully enjoying much rest and enjoying her vacation.

Things are not looking good for her thus far. Temps are in the 30s which, to a Californian like Marcia, is quite unpleasant. When we got home with Aunt Marcia today, Zoe asked her if she wanted to come into the backyard and watch her swing on the swing set. Aunt Marcia replied "It's too cold, I'm going to stay inside."

Zoe's response was quick, "You could run around me for a bit and you would warm up real fast."

Maybe it's just the visual, but I found that hilarious. 

Hmmmm . . . I guess you had to be there.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sesame Beef Stir Fry

I have a quick recipe for you today. I'm not a big red meat eater, but since we bought that cow back in the fall, I've been searching for recipes to use up some of that meat. Most of it is ground beef, which is easy to use, but I need some recipes for the rest of it. This is one I found that I really like. The best part is that it's quick to put together and it's good as leftovers.

Plus, aren't all those veggies just gorgeous?

Here's the recipe card so you can give it a try. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blogging for Dummies

I recently read this book, Blogging for Dummies. I like the Dummy series of books because they're easy to read and understand. I have a hard time keeping my eyes from glazing over and rolling back into my head when reading technical or historical information, so the format of these books is perfect for me. And okay, I'm a dummy too.

Before I started this blog, I had wanted to start a blog for a long time. The thing that held me back was that I thought I would have to know all sorts of technical gobbledy gook to be able to even attempt it. I even took a Web Pages for Beginners class, and still I was nervous because I didn't think I could load the thing onto my ISP or whatever it is you have to do to actually get it on the internet. I realize that Peanut Head could have helped me, but he gets tired of being roped into my little projects, and then I feel guilty.

It wasn't until Girl Genius, Janae, started a blog and told me how easy it was that I was able to jump in and just give it a try. Janae started with Blogger, so I started with Blogger. Honestly, I haven't looked back since that very first day back in June, and I'm so glad that I did it. I have Janae to thank for her enthusiasm and encouragement. Thanks, Janae!

If you want to start a Blogger blog, go here. You won't even believe how easy it is. Blogger walks you through the whole process. And it's free! And no, I'm not getting paid to tell you about it either. Blogger has no clue that I even exist.

So anyway, I started reading this book, months after I started my blog, in an attempt to learn more about blogging and see how I could make my blog better. There is still some technical information in this book that I didn't feel applied to me and my blogging needs, but I did learn a lot from reading it. And I think it really helped that I already had a blog so that I had some point of reference.

At one point this book talks about blog lurkers. A lurker is someone who looks at blogs, forums, and online discussions, but doesn't choose to participate in them. In spite of the fact that the word "lurk" sounds a little creepy, there's really nothing creepy about lurkers. Before I had a blog, I definitely fell into that category and honestly, I think it's a nice comfortable place to be. Anonymity is comfortable. In fact, according to this book, the vast majority of web users are actually lurkers.

Dang it, we're tired at the end of the day, don't ask us to type. Let me just veg and click, veg and click.

I'm okay with that. I'm just happy you're here. Don't get me wrong, I love comments just like the next person, but if you don't comment, I don't feel compelled to respond, which means I'm not stressing myself out further by my disgusting and increasingly out-of-control e-mail in box. See? Win-win. 

Either way, I'm intensely curious about how many lurkers I have out there, so I would like to ask you to please, for the love of chocolate, go over to my left side bar, under my picture, and just quickly answer my poll about your lurker/not lurker status. If you don't like chocolate, you're a freak, plain and simple, but I still want you to take my poll. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a freak too, just not that kind of freak . . . a broccoli hugger. Hey, you don't even have to type anything, just click. And it's anonymous. It doesn't get any better than that. Thanking you in advance. The Poll closed 4/1/09.

One of the fun things about starting and maintaining a blog, is tweaking it. There are an infinite number of gadgets and widgets and buttons that you can put on your blog. You can change the format of your blog template, mess with the colors, link to other websites, etc. One important point that I ran into in this book, as well as other Blogging information websites, is that you should keep a current copy of everything in your template in a text file and save it in a safe place on your computer so that you can go back to the original code if necessary.

In fact, I even have a print out of the html code for my blog because I'm paranoid. I have no idea what all that gobbledy gook means, but it makes my blog run so I keep it in case I ever need it. One time I did need it too. Back when I had a two-column template and I was coveting the three-column templates I was seeing all over the blogosphere, I screwed up my blog while trying to get said covetous template and I needed to copy and paste all that gobbledy gook back into my blog. Whew! Was I ever happy to have it. Please don't even ask me how I did the three-column template, just go here to get started on that little adventure.

Wait! Before you go there, go here to learn how to back up your template. Please.

Most of the inner workings of my blog, the really technical stuff, I don't understand at all. And I don't want to know. It's kind of like my car. I don't give a rat's hairy behind what makes it run, but I want to make sure it keeps running, so I keep up the maintenance it needs to ensure that I don't have any unpleasant surprises. I don't want to know what all that hoo ha means. Just tell me what I need to do and don't bore me with the details and we can both get on with our lives. Which is why sites like Blogging Basics 101 even exist. Maybe that sounds irresponsible, but seriously, you can go into a coma from information overload if you don't pick and choose what's going to take up valuable space in your cerebral cortex.

Sometimes I carry that purge thing a little too far. I purge a lot from my brain regularly. Some of it just tips its hat on its way through my brain, in one ear and out the other. No loitering allowed. It's not uncommon for Peanut Head and I to go back to a restaurant and I have to ask him what I ate the last time we were there. He's one of those disgusting people that remembers everything. Important stuff and not so important stuff. Except that he can't remember what I was wearing on our first date. Can you believe that? I will never let him forget it, either.

Blogging Basics 101: Where there are no stupid questions is my go to site for all my blogging related questions. Seriously, how can you not love that title? I can't tell you how much help I've gotten from this site. Sure, it's required that I have multiple windows open at a time while I read the instructions in two word increments, go back to my blog to compare, go back and re-read those two words, go back to my blog, go back again and read two more words, etc., until I've done what it was I went there to learn how to do. I do get the job done eventually though. 

Back to the Blogging for Dummies book. It even has a section about making money through blogging. I was surprised to find that there are people out there that actually make a living blogging. How cool is that? This book doesn't cover everything, but I did learn a lot about blogging by reading it.

Now, you could say that I didn't need a book to learn about blogging and I would have to agree with you. However, I'm the type of person that likes books. It must be the teacher in me. There's something about being able to hold a book, highlight important points and sometimes even make notes in the margins. It helps me to process the information. I love books so much, that when Peanut Head and I have date nights, they always end at Barnes & Noble. That might sound sad to you, but to us, it's bliss. In fact, I bought this book on one of our dates.

My recommendation is that you check out the Blogging Basics 101 site and keep it bookmarked for future questions that come up. Then, if and when you want to read a book about blogging, you might want to pick this one up.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Street Fighting Skillz for Girlz

This is my big sister, Jo Ann. This picture was taken sometime in the 80s. Like you can't tell. Jo Ann will tell you that her name is Jonni, and technically she did have it legally changed when she was an adult.

Yeah, whatever. No one else in our immediate family will refer to Jo Ann by her soap opera name, but all of her friends don't know her by anything else. Honestly, I can't even say her soap opera name without giggling, but that's beside the point.

The point of this post is that I learned my street fighting skills from my big sis. She's one big bad a*@. This is a family blog, so I just can't bring myself to spell it out. Plus my Mama Llama reads it and she would frown upon such language.

Anyway, Jo Ann has a bad temper and when she was a teenager, she had a real bad attitude to go with it. She's not the least bit concerned about exercising restraint either. Tick her off, be prepared to pay. It's that simple. Growing up, everyone was afraid of her. I think even my Mama Llama was afraid of her.

Everyone was afraid of Jo Ann not just because of her temper, but because she would regularly kick the butts of the bully boys in our neighborhood. We had some nasty boys in our neighborhood too, so there was lots of butt kicking to be done.

One time I was climbing the fence in our backyard and the nastiest boy in the neighborhood, Robbie, pulled my pants down. Thankfully Jo Ann was there. She smacked him to the ground and started beating the crap out of him. I can't even tell you how much my heart swelled with pride.

Robbie was crying and sputtering and she was all "You pervert!" [BAM BAM BAM] "You don't pull my sister's pants down!" [BAM BAM BAM] "You psycho sex maniac! Get out of here and don't come back!" He was all holding his arms up in the air, bleeding and saying "I'm sorry man, I'm sorry. I'll never do it again."

He was so lying though. He was incapable of learning his lesson. That boy was NAY-asty.

Then he hit puberty and he got real big. Thank goodness we moved away from the hood right about that time. I don't even want to know what became of him.

Jo Ann didn't just kick the butts of the nasty boys in the neighborhood. Pickle and I got our butts kicked too, although usually she didn't make us bleed. She was satisfied to stop at making us cry.

I remember one time when we were teenagers, rolling around on the floor, wrestling for the chance to pick the t.v. channel. I wanted to watch Gilligan's Island and she wanted to watch Star Trek. Oh geez, she was the biggest Star Trek freak and I hated Star Trek. Captain Kirk was just so exhausting to watch because it took him 15 minutes to complete a simple sentence. Puh-leeze, not Star Trek again. Jo Ann even went to a Star Trek Convention once, she was that into it. Talk about a Freak Fest. Anyway, we were out for blood and I rolled her over to pin her, and in the process I slammed her head up against the corner of one of the kitchen cabinets.

The next thing I knew she was clutching her head and bleeding all over the place. Head injuries bleed a lot, who knew? I should probably mention that although my sister was tough, she was kind of a whimp when it came to blood and things like having the tangles combed out of her hair. Oh man, she would scream. So she discovered that she was bleeding and she gets even madder, but panicky at the same time. "You bleep, you bleeping made me bleed. You bleep bleep." I was all "Yeah! Score!" But then it registered that now she was going to really make me pay, and I was going to be the one bleeding next. Lucky for me, she had to go to the hospital for stitches so the butt kicking was put on hold. Whew!

I would like to say that I got to enjoy Gilligan's Island and bask in the joy of my victory, but I was too panicked that she was going to KILL ME when she got home. And they were probably going to have to shave part of her head for the stitches, so she was going to be even more ticked off. Yep, I was dead meat.

I had like three hours to obsess over my butt kicking. I called all my friends to get their opinion, and they all said I was going to get my butt kicked too. "Hide. Hide well." they said.

So my mom pulls into the driveway with my sister, and I start running back and forth, trying to find a hiding place, deciding that each one wasn't good enough, then running out to find another one. I was a mess. A big ol' chicken butt mess.

It was all very anticlimactic though, because my sister walked in the door with my mom and she had a headache. She had a headache. Can you believe my luck? I live to fight another day. Yes!

The next day Jo Ann had cooled down considerably, but she still had a reputation to uphold so she was all "I am still going to get you, you bleep."

That's all I remember. I don't recall getting a butt kicking, but maybe it was so traumatic that I just blocked it from my memory.

In the interest of passing on some of my excellent street fighting skills to our girls, we started coaching them young.

In this picture Zoe is three and Annika is one. We were chanting "Get her Annie! Get her!"

All that rolie polie-ness tends to roll right off the target.

That's okay, Annie's still able to connect one.

When Annika turned three and Zoe was five, we started them in Tiny Tiger Karate lessons. We want to make sure that when they go on a date, they can back up their NOs with a little can of whoop a#$.

Here they are bowing in, preparing to give a little demonstration.

Annika is a little like Jo Ann. She's serious about her whoopings. Her favorite part of karate is the kicks. She likes to do them fast and she doesn't know her strength. Or maybe she does.

Zoe is our Delicate Flower and every injury is magnified tenfold on the Pain Meter and its corresponding Attention Seeking Scale.

They look like they're having fun here though, don't they?

Oops. Spoke too soon.

I love Annika's face here. Zoe was all "WAAAAAAAAH!" and Annika looks like she's thinking "Oopsie." In fact, I'm pretty sure she was. She knows what a Drama Llama Zoe is so I think she was just waiting to see if there was going to be any blood to follow up with all that racket. She probably thought blood would have been super cool.

No blood though, just drama.


I love this. They still have to bow out, but can you see that look on Zoe's face? Girlfriend knows how to hold a grudge. She talks through her gritted teeth and I can just hear her, "Anni-KA! You are such a meaner! That wasn't very nice!"

I don't know if we're going to be able to instill some street fighting skillz into Zoe Bug, but I think our work is done with Stinkerbell.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Winner

Wow! This contest resulted in the most comments I've ever had on this blog. Maybe I should do this type of thing more often, eh?

I don't want to torture you so I'm going to go ahead and just tell you. The winner of the Spring Clean Year 'Round box is 

 #47 -  Shiloh and Bob Willey

E-mail me at to give me your address. Congratulations!

Now, a couple of you suggested that Ter should win because she's had such a rough year. Since I can't, in good conscience, rig the contest, I decided to make her a little box of her own.

What do you think? It's smaller than the Spring Clean Year 'Round box and it's not the same. I've made different chore cards because, again, in good conscience I couldn't just copy the original since it is something I purchased. My intent in holding this little contest was to support another work-at-home mom and share a great little system with you.

Yikes! They multiplied. You can't put those dang boxes together because they just can't behave.

Actually, I figured since I was going to be making one anyway, I might as well kill two birds with one stone and make one for one of my contest winners from this post

So, one of these boxes is for Ter from Canada, and the other one is for Amanda of Another Day in Diaperland.

Please e-mail me at with your addresses. Congratulations.

Here's a little peek inside the boxes I made. The chore cards are small, 2" x 4" but I think they are plenty big for their jobs.

Before I found Travis' Spring Clean Year 'Round system, I had a system of my own that wasn't working very well. It was the same general idea as the Spring Clean system, but it wasn't cute. I think because it wasn't cute, I didn't keep it out in plain view, so I didn't  use it. I also had tried the Fly Lady System, but I just couldn't stay on top of it during busier days and weeks, so I found that it wasn't flexible enough for me. Plus, I need another e-mail in my in box like I need a hole in my head. Plus, plus, I find her website incredibly confusing. Granted it's probably just because of my rabid Chihuahua attention span, but still.

I like spread sheets and all, so my skills are limited.

So, what I really like about the Spring Clean Year 'Round system is the flexibility. If you can't get to a chore on the day you had planned, you just move it to the next day when you think you will be able to get to it. You might think that it's just enabling procrastination, (my friend) but I've found that isn't the case. I have all my chores in one place now, written down, and I know that I have them scheduled so I don't have to be overwhelmed by thinking about the big picture and everything I have yet to do. I just focus on today with the knowledge that I will get to the other stuff, just not today. It's liberating.

So, having a peek at this Spring Cleaning system and getting some inspiration, I've had another go at my own system and spiffed it up a bit.

I used a rotary Rolodex for mine because of that rabid Chihuahua thing again. I tend to rush around, and as a result I'm always dropping things and knocking things over. This way, my chores are anchored so I don't 52 Pickup them all the time. Remember that game? It's a hoot. Not.

Can I just tell you how much fun I did not have making the Rolodex divider cards. It took FOR-EVER. The picture above is the smart way, with the exception of the pain in the rear tabs and that I don't think I would use staples again. I would just stick them on with my Tape Runner.

See, when I started making my own dividers, I had to cut out all those little notches with little itty bitty scissors.

And as I mentioned, the tabs were a whole 'nother problem. 

Until I got this from Melanie-Who-I-Almost-Killed-With-Pie.

It's a Round Tab Punch. I could have used this thing years ago and I'm so happy it lives at my house now.

Watch this . . . I punch my tab out . . .

Fold it in half and put some adhesive on the inside, and then sandwich my piece of divider card stock between it.


I digitally scrapbooked my chores. Of course. I put three to a 4x6 print and uploaded them to my local photo center. By printing them at a photo center, I save my own printer ink and I get a much better quality print. Waaaaaay better. And I even have a decent photo printer.

Then I just cut the chores apart.

Round the top corners so I won't stab my rabid Chihuahua fingers.

Then I used way more Tape Runner than I really needed on an actual Rododex card. I adhered my chore cards this way so that I wouldn't have to cut out all those dang Rolodex notches. I'm a cheater, and I never want to do that again.

Then I carefully lined up my chore on the Rolodex card. Some of them aren't super perfect.

And here are some of my chores.

I want you to know that I'm going to try to turn over a new leaf and dust more than my once a year whether it needs it or not system. But still, one room a week is my limit. 

I just thought this one up yesterday. It's one of those things that I'm always noticing and thinking I should do, but I just never get around to it. Now there's hope.

I have chore cards for cleaning the toilets once a week and the sinks and counters too, but this one is for all the rest of the bathroom. My goal is to not need a Hazmat suit to clean the bathrooms in the future.

I even made some blank cards for additional chores that I think up. I could go to Fly Lady to look for more, but I figure I'll start with this and add them as I need to.

Like this. I was filling the cat water yesterday and realized that this needed to be a chore. I just wrote it on there with a Fine-Point Sharpie.

If you want to purchase the Spring Clean Year 'Round system, click on the link and go get yourself one. They're $30 plus shipping.

So who's in the mood to clean now? Me neither.

Maybe after I finish off that box of Bon Bons that Peanut Head thinks I eat all day watching soaps while he's at work. He has no idea.