The William Morris Project 2014 | Holiday Refrigerators

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The William Morris Project

Only a holiday, in this case Easter, can take a cluttered refrigerator and turn it into Monica’s closet. It never fails. I’m not fantastic when it comes to cleaning out the fridge. I have a friend who cleans out her fridge every week before going to the grocery store. Every week she washes the shelves, cleans out the drawers, and tosses out whatever needs tossing. She rarely has anything that needs tossing, as you can imagine. Insufferable organized clean person.

My fridge gets nowhere near that attention. There isn’t food molding or open cans of soup or raw meet dripping onto the vegetables, but yesterday, 3 days past Easter, it was a mess. (You can see the before picture on instagram.) Cramming the boxes of kale was the second to the last straw.

Clean Out, 4

The last straw was receiving my first order from Farm Fresh to You. I wasn’t about to stick all those vegetables in a cluttered fridge so they could get lost and spoil. I cleaned out the fridge, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Again. If I had a dime for every time I said that I could pay someone to declutter my house.

Clean Out, 2

So much better! I even decided to make use of the wine rack thing that I always said I would never use. I tried to use the soda tray, but I couldn’t figure out where it went. Both the wine rack and the soda tray may go back once we’re done with the wine and soda. Both reflect Easter shenanigans since we don’t drink wine or soda regularly.

Clean Out, 5

The Farm Fresh to You membership happened by accident. I opened the door to a solicitor and I signed up immediately. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, and I’m glad I did. I know I could get everything cheaper if I did the shopping on my own, but I also know that’s not something I will do. I need it delivered to my door, and I need the weight of picking out what to buy removed from my shoulders. I do best when I don’t have a lot of options and I’m a creative cook when I’m forced to use something before it spoils. If left to my own devices, I’d forget the days the farmer’s market was open or show up and buy the same thing over and over again.

My post on skincare motivated me to tackle my diet, which I’m sure contributes to my breakouts and rough complexion. Since the boys and I are on Easter vacation, I haven’t found bought Starbucks or snacks. I already feel better. I’m going to eat at home more, plan out breakfasts (my downfall), and try out some recipes. I’ve been resistant to cooking from recipes lately, which wouldn’t be a problem if I was making nice meals on my own. I swear, if I liked quesadillas, that’s what we would be eating every night.

I’m debating buying the Bountiful cookbook. I’ve heard amazing things about it, and Andrea made a goat cheese + lemon spread recipe from the book that was incredible. Any other healthy cookbooks you recommend? I know, I know. You’re going to recommend Gwyneth’s It’s All Good. Any book but that one, even though it completely changed Andrea’s life and by all accounts is fantastic. This is going to sound horrible, but I can’t stand Gwyneth Paltrow. She drives me stark raving mad. Everything is so sui generis with that woman. She doesn’t get a headache. She gets “light-headed” and fears she’s “having a stroke.” Heaven forbid the woman decides to divorce like the rest of the plebs. No, she has to “consciously uncouple” and access her “pain toolbox.”

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I can’t handle her. I really, really can’t. She’s beautiful, though, and her relationship with her father was touching. I’ll give her that. Gotta end on a positive note.

The William Morris Project: 2014 |I Love Boxes

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The William Morris Project

Spurred on by the success of my bill drawer re-do, I decided to revisit ” target=”_blank”>battery box and candle drawer, which took me two attempts to organize. More because it was boring more than anything else. Check out that original ‘before’ picture! What you don’t see in the last ‘after’ was the pile of candles (tapers, tea lights, etc.) that I squeezed into that small space on the right.

Drawers, 5

Having a battery box is an idea I took from my mom. She has always stored all her batteries in an old shoe box with BATTERIES spelled out in gold vinyl letters. It was so convenient to know exactly where to go for batteries because this was the age of Walkmans, “Ghetto” Blasters, and Nintendo Game & Watch. We used batteries. Hard. She still has the same box with the same letters, by the way.

Best thing I ever did was to implement the battery box. Everyone knows where to look if they need a battery. Even Nico! He knows where to go and he puts things back…most of the time. The only problem I had was with the loose batteries. Apparently, it completely and totally not safe? The jury is still out on this. Some people claim YOU CAN BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN, YOU FOOL! And other people are all, eh, just don’t store them loose next to other metal objects if you want to avoid a short.

Batteries Box, 1

I decided to take the cautious route (shocking) and store them in a plastic container from Michael’s. Everything I read on the internet aka “where everything is true,” said to top loose 9v batteries with electrical tape or duct tape. All other loose batteries should be taped loosely together to keep opposite ends from coming into contact. All batteries have the Cheese Touch.

If you think I’m opening up packages of new batteries and organizing them into slots and then wrapping them in tape, you are seriously high. This is for already opened battery packs only.

AV Box, 1

Candle Box, 1

I transferred all our AV cords and chargers into a smaller plastic box. I did the same with our telephone equipment, though I should revisit that box and see if it’s necessary to keep the contents.

Boxes, 1

So much more room! Much better.

Let’s Talk About Home Financial Management!

Book Keeping

I’m done! I finished the curriculum committee report yesterday and then promptly took a nap. When I woke up, I finished the last of our taxes. Once again, I feel like life might be worth living.

This is the latest I’ve ever been with our taxes, and that’s because this is also the most unorganized I’ve ever been. Back in my previous life, when I had careers that involved numbers and law, I balanced our accounts to the penny using QuickBooks. I had an enormous adding machine and special pens and pretty office supplies. These days, all I have is an accordion file and pencils that need sharpening.

Home financial management isn’t pretty, but its necessary. This post won’t give you anything worth pinning if you’re the type of person who likes pretty pictures. But, if you’re like me and covet information and advice, I have a feeling this is a post that will be worth bookmarking. I want to know how you organize your bills, keep paperwork handy for taxes, and stay financially organized.

For example: thermal receipts. They fade. Even when stored in a cool, dry environment, they last about 5 years. I keep all my tax-deductible items for 7 years. My tax preparer told me that a faded receipt will no longer serve as proof of a deductible item. That makes sense, of course, but I don’t want to photocopy every single receipt we bring into the house. I’ve heard good things about receipt scanners, but those cost between $150-$350 for boring in a box. The Mister says there is now a NeatApp, which looks promising, but there aren’t many reviews available.

Surely there’s a way to handle all your finances in one spot? Preferably a spot that isn’t putting you at risk for identity theft? Banking, bills, receipts…possibly the most boring post I have ever written.

The William Morris Project 1014 | Chore Charts

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The William Morris Project

Landscape

A week ago last Sunday, Nico walked into the bathroom to brush his hair for church. He was wearing black dress shoes, which didn’t work with his khakis and simple collared shirt. I asked him to put on his regular church shoes. He went back into his room and not 10 seconds later, Mikey came in wearing similar dress shoes with a similar casual outfit. The problem–aside from looking ridiculous–was that the shoes looked 2 sizes too small. He was wearing Nico’s dress shoes.

“These are the only nice shoes I could find!”

Mikey couldn’t find his dress shoes because Nico was wearing them.

“Did either of you notice that your shoes didn’t fit? Mikey, did you notice your shoes were too small?! Nico, did you notice that your feet were slipping out of your shoes?!”

I mean, honestly. On closer inspection, Nico had clown feet and Mikey had really creepy satyr feet.

They both returned wearing scuffed school sneakers. “We can’t find our shoes!”

I was not pleased. I went through their shoe drawer and found a pair of slippers and one flip-flop. I opened their closet and found piles of toys and sporting gear. I wanted to stomp out of their bedroom but I slipped on an abandoned pile of Pokemon cards. I yelled from that second on until we pulled into the church driveway.

The boys are so messy if left to their own devices. Mikey has been held after school for the sole purpose of cleaning up his area. He has the dubious distinction of being the class’s “messiest boy.” Nico is a squirrel; tragedy is afoot when he isn’t surrounded by a nest of paper, art supplies, and stuffed animals. I get angry at them, but then I get angry at myself for getting upset.

I was so upset on Sunday that I finally sat down at my computer and vowed I would not get up until I found a chore chart system we could implement immediately. I bought something a month or so ago, but I did it quickly and misread the item description. It wasn’t what I wanted.

This time, I stay focused and struck gold.

Chores, 1

I bought the editable chore chart package from Paper & Oats for $5. That night, we had it filled out and ready to put into use. We held a “family meeting” and discussed expectations. The boys were familiar with all the chores since they are chores they should be doing anyway. Seeing it on paper was something altogether different.

The first question they had involved money. As in: how much. “None,” I said. “This isn’t a list of jobs–it’s a list of expectations. You don’t get paid for doing what is expected of you.”

Too harsh? Too bad!

Chores, 2

If they want money, they can volunteer to do some paid jobs, like organize Pokemon cards or clean out the closet. Each job has a rate, and they can do it all themselves or split the workload (and money). They can only collect the money if they finish their expected chores for the week. I had to put that disclaimer in immediately because I could see Mikey’s wheels spinning.

Chores, 3

Finally, they have a “dream big” sheet where they are awarded stickers when they go above and beyond around the house or show exceptionally good behavior or decision making. Mikey asked for his own PC and Nico asked for “a real red panda.”

When I pointed out that he would never, ever get a real red panda he looked at me the way all children do when shackled to an adult devoid of vision and optimism. He now wants “to Get a Real parakeet.”

Two weeks in and the house looks so, so much better. The boys, I’ve realized, are just like me. They need a to-do list they can refer to throughout the day to keep them on track. They check their progress throughout the day and are often surprised when they see they forgot to feed the hermit crabs or put away their laundry. The Mister and I spend far less time nagging and feeling resentful. It’s been great, far better than I anticipated.

Although I orignally planned to hang the charts on a large cork board in our dining room, I think I’m going to keep them here in the kitchen. This way, they’re low enough for the boys to mark up during the week. I have them up with washi tape right now, but that’s only because I haven’t had the time to insert cork into the recesses of the cabinetry. It looks a little sloppy now, but once I get a minute to organize the area, I think it will look good.

My favorite bit of this chore chart adventure has been seeing the boys’ personalities shine through in something as simple as checking a box. Mikey uses the same pen to mark off each chore. He might switch it up from day to day, but all day his checks are consistent and in the same color. Nico doesn’t even use checks–or pens, for that matter. He makes smiley faces, cubes, paint splats, X’s, and, one day, doves. Perhaps they were parakeets.

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The William Morris Project 2014 | New Dishes

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The William Morris Project

Every week Mikey’s teacher has her students write a weekly journal entry to share with their parents. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but if I haven’t, there you go. The parents are supposed to reply to the journal entry with their own faults. Mikey consistently writes things like “I want another sleepover, mom! Please!!” or “I can’t believe Mrs. Francis benched us at recess for running on the jungle gym. I know we’re not supposed to, but we always do it! Teachers are no fun.” This week he made an impassioned plea about X-Box Live, X-Box Gold, and being friends with lots of people, but especially Stampylongnose. “I WILL DO ANYTHING TO BE HIS FRIEND, MOM!!!”

Oh, really now? I can’t wait to discuss Generation Like.

I responded to him about friends and social media and typical parent stuff that I don’t think was my best effort. My delivery sounded more negative than I liked, but I at least closed with “this is something we need to talk more about in person. Love, Mama.” I’m not sure what I will say about social media, because in a lot of ways it’s excellent. Like, for example, today’s post and my new dishes. That’s all thanks to social media.

Corelle, 1

I know I’ve been talking about buying new dishes for years now. It took longer than I anticipated because I had it in my head to buy 10″ dishes. Standard dishes these days measure 12″-14″, which was the size of a charger in the 1960s. Some researchers believe our increase in weight as a society has a lot to do with the increase in plate size because, visually, people like to eat their meals off a plate that is 70% full. (You can read more about the small plate movement here.) Years ago, when I lost 50 pounds and was on a very, very strict meal plan, I started eating off of our salad plates because my dinner looked sparse and pathetic off our hubcap plates. It’s a habit that’s stuck with me ever since. In fact, our whole family eats off the salad plates. The regular plates are enormous and heavy. So heavy! Plus, they are our wedding plates so there is crazing and cracking. I needed to replace them.

Corelle, 2

If we didn’t eat off the salad plates, we ate off our melamine party plates. They were much lighter and less fragile–important since the boys now do the dishes–and, after 14 years of daily use, our 12 salad plates had been reduced to 3.

Corelle, 3

I didn’t go on an insane search for the perfect dishes. I figured they would pop up eventually, though I did underestimate how difficult it would be to find plates in a smaller size. I was complaining about this on instagram when several people mentioned Corelle. They said everything I wanted to hear: light weight, durable, small in size. I looked around our area, found an outlet, and took the family with me to see if they approved. I thought I would get plain white ones, but no. They wanted something with a pattern. This grandma pattern, in my favorite blue and white, pleased everyone. Except maybe Nico. He wanted lime green ones.

Corelle, 7

Corelle, 6

Corelle, 5

Corelle, 4

Here you can see the difference in size! Amazing. I can stack all 10 pieces (that’s what we bought of each) and keep it in one area as opposed to before where I had to spread everything across all the cabinets to fit. Loading the dishwasher is now a dream.

Corelle, 9

According to my dishwasher manual, that small row is supposed to be for salad plates or bowls. Never have I been able to fit bowls in that spot.

Corelle, 8

What used to take up an entire cabinet now fits easily on two shelves with room to spare. As far as the quality, well, I wouldn’t serve Beef Wellington to the Queen on them, but they are fine for everyday use. Corelle is a glass/porcelain mix. They are thin, very light weight, and chip resistant. They can go in the dishwasher, microwave, and oven. They have a 3 year warranty, so if they break or chip or show any sign of damage, I can go to my nearest store for a new plate/bowl/whatever. My store doesn’t ask for a receipt, so the manager told me that really the warranty is for longer than 3 years.

I just sounded like a commercial. I’m still getting used to them and still selling myself! I felt really weird donating all our dishes today, but I know months from now I will look back and wonder why I waited so long.

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.