Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This will be a mishmash of a post, mostly because there are a number of very unrelated thoughts going on in my head at the moment. So consider yourself warned.

First up, two fix-it projects. Remember the under-the-counter lighting Mr. S installed a while back that he was so proud of? Well, one of the brackets that holds the cord up underneath the cabinets kept falling out. We'd stick it back up only to have it fall out again in a matter of days or hours. Mr. S assured me he was going to make a trip to the hardware store and pick up items to fix it...but then a week passed, and another one, and I got impatient. I also got creative.

To fix this problem (it is rather annoying to have an electric cord hanging down on your counter, after all), I grabbed a twist tie, a thumb tack, and a hammer. I folded the twist tie in half around the cord and twisted a few times to make a slightly loose loop. Then I put the two ends of the twist tie together, and twisted them to make another, smaller loop - smaller than the base of the thumb tack. I lifted the whole contraption up, moved the twist tie along the cord under the cabinet until it was in a spot to hold the cord up and off the counter. I placed the thumb tack into the middle of the empty loop and hammered that baby into place under the kitchen cabinets. Fixed in less than 5 minutes and didn't cost a dime!

The second fix-it project (I don't have pictures of - sorry!) involved the door handle on our bathroom door, which decided to fall off and not go back on. After at least a month and a half of 'just dealing with it,' Husband asked me to call our landlord to come fix it (and in the same breath mentioned it was likely something he could do himself, but what good is a landlord if you don't put him to use?). Personally, I'd rather do it myself if I can. So I did. We have a door that closes off the main living area from the hallway to the bathroom and bedroom. I noticed on the back of that door there was an 'extra' handle that matched the one on our bathroom door (but, oddly enough, not the one on the other side of the door it was originally on). I took the handle off the back of the hallway door and put it on the bathroom door instead, then took the old knob from the bathroom door and put it on the back of the door we rarely use. Genius!! Problem solved.

Alright now for something totally unrelated. Who wants to talk about chickens?
Source: Tom Curtis /
What? Yes, chickens. Husband been talking for some time now about wanting to raise chickens once we have a house. With a yard. To be perfectly honest, minus a few reservations I was mostly on board with the idea. I like knowing where my food comes from, how it was raised, and that it's healthy. Additionally, I enjoy animals and think the prospect of going out into my own back yard to get eggs for our home is pretty sweet. I'm slightly worried about bothering neighbors, and raccoons bothering a hen house. But then I read this post yesterday by Rachel from Memories of Mine to Thine and decided my hang-ups were way lame. You really should read her post - not only has she given significantly more thought to the subject (and done more research), she owns a brood of hens! After reading her post and watching the video she included, raising our own chickens is a no-brainer. But what to do in the meantime (because we don't have our own house, let alone a back yard yet)?

Rachel mentions some good options: checking out farmer's markets and building a relationship with the farmers there, Googling the brands carried at your grocery store to find out more about the source and ultimately finding a safe one. There was one she didn't mention, though, and that's Co-Ops. Here in MN, at least, farmer's markets are seasonal, but many of those very same farmers source eggs at the Co-Ops in town. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the Seward Co-Op has a great page explaining what a food cooperative is and how it works.) We aren't yet members of Co-Op, but there are a number close-by from which to choose.

For now, we'll be frequenting our neighborhood Co-Ops more regularly and purchasing all our eggs and meat there. It's a bit more expensive than our grocery store, but we don't buy that much meat. And more importantly, I'd rather pay more to support farming practices I agree with and have a better idea of where my food is coming from than continuing to overlook the problem. What do you think? Would you raise chickens?

I don't remember the last thing I was going to write about. I know it had something to do with another blog I'd read yesterday... Yeah. Not coming to me. So you're saved from one more random thing being added to this post. Has it cooled down where you are? It sure has here, and I'm enjoying the fall-like weather. I hope you are, too.

~ Ms. S

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Fairy Godmother

Normally, I'm not a superstitious person, and I rarely feel desperate for luck. But my phone interview proved to be a different boat. Having had two unsuccessful phone interviews prior to the one on Thursday, I kicked my rear in gear to prep for it and was totally exhausted by Wednesday night. I was also completely stressed out! So I popped Cinderella into the DVD player and pulled out my Disney Princess Coloring Book and colored pencils. (If you know me well, this is not strange.)

As the movie started, I tried to decide on a picture to color. For some reason my mind immediately told me "You should color the picture of Cinderella trying on the glass slipper with the mice and birds cheering around her, because that slipper is like the job you're interviewing for - it's the perfect fit, you just have to make them see that, too." That's the pictured I colored while singing loudly along to "Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it's Cinderelly..." and all the other songs. :)

Throughout the movie I kept wishing I had my own fairy godmother who could accompany me to my interview. (My cellphone doesn't get great reception in our apartment, so I went to Mr. S's work place and used one of their empty rooms.) Then it occurred to me: I DO have a fairy godmother!! And she can totally come along!

This dear lady usually sits on my bookshelf, but it was terribly important she sit nearby during my phone interview on Thursday. Do I sound like a crazy person yet? I feel a little bit like one. Anyway, my fairy godmother traveled in my purse and perched on the desk in the empty office I was using. And a good thing, too! When my call came, it became clear I had been incorrectly informed about the position for which I was interviewing. To keep things simple: I applied for two jobs in the same department at the same place, but the positions are totally different. They were conducting phone interviews for both this week, and my scheduler had told me my phone interview was for one position when it was actually for the other. Whew! My fairy godmother waved her magic wand, muttered 'Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!' and helped me change my frame of reference.

Overall, the interview went well. It was nowhere near perfect, and since I'd spent my time preparing answers for a different position, my thoughts weren't quite as concise as I would have liked. Oh well! It is what it is. Hopefully I'll get a call about in-person interviews next week. That would make me feel a lot better.

Since the bathroom is clean and the dishes are done, I think I'm going to find another picture to color. Have you colored any pictures recently? If not, I highly recommend giving it a try.

~ Ms. S

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Phone Interviews

I know, I know. Another post seemingly having nothing whatsoever to do with organizing or cleaning. It's just that this is what has been consuming my week, so bear with me because, while it may not involve any cleaning (in fact, it has become a hinderance to it), it does involve organizing.

This is what I have been working on all week in preparation for tomorrow's phone interview for a position I really want. I've had two phone interviews so far for different positions and haven't made it onto the next round. This time I want it to be different. I found a website that lists common questions asked during a phone interview along with links to what they consider to be good answers. To prepare, I have been typing out my responses to nearly every question - even questions of a similar nature. I'm hoping this will help me keep my thoughts sorted out, minimize long pauses and 'um's, etc, as I plan on printing this out keeping it and a copy of my resume in front of me.

Fingers crossed.

Have you ever had a phone interview? What are your best tips?

~Ms. S

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This morning we got up early to meet some good friends for breakfast. They're here from out of town - well, a lot of friends are, actually. You see, there was a wedding on Sunday. Correction. There was a lovely wedding on Sunday of some dear friends which means a whole slew of college friends have been in town recently. Mr. S and I aren't complaining. Have I told you about our weekly potluck? I can't remember, so humor me.

Mr. S lived with some good friends his senior year of college, and a number of those friends (plus significant others) now gather every Thursday for a potluck dinner. Someone emails the group early in the week to "claim" hosting duties and generate a theme. (As a very random side note, we just lost power for no apparent reason. I love it when that happens, don't you?) Right. Anyway, over the course of the past (two years? I don't actually know how long this has been happening), some of the potluck crew has moved away for various reasons, but mostly grad school. Always, others have come along to replenish the numbers so that potluck regularly consists of about 18 people total.

The couple married on Sunday is part of the potluck crew, and is part of the original crew, I believe. Suffice it to say, many college friends were reunited this weekend. There was an epic potluck on Thursday with more people than ever, an engagement announced, a celebration of three other recent engagements (I know! Wedding explosion!!), lots of wedding talk by the ladies, lots of beer consumed by the gentlemen while avoiding the wedding talk, and general enjoyment of being surrounded by good friends again. Friday was the bachelorette party. Sunday was the wedding (so. much. fun.). Last night we gathered for a birthday party (same group, plus a few more) and to say goodbye to some of the potluck crew moving away. And then met with one of the couples for breakfast this morning. Whew! I didn't know we had it in us to be this social. But truly we wouldn't have it any other way.

So today I'm choosing to write about friends instead of telling you how miserably I've failed at keeping up with The Cleaning Schedule for the last week and a half. And we won't mention the bathroom - besides finding a spider in the shower! this morning! Eeek. Or the dishes I was supposed to do yesterday that are still sitting on the counter. Or, or, or. *However, I DID make the bed this morning!* Nope. I'm writing about friends because it feels good be surrounded by such wonderful people; because I'm sad about our friends who are moving away, though happy they'll be in the same city as our sisters so we'll see them more often; because I'm so happy for our friends who were married this weekend - their wedding was beautiful and they were so visibly happy; because I wish this entire group could all live in the same neighborhood so it could be kind of like college where you could always find a friend by walking across the hall, except we wouldn't be in dorms and we'd be more grown up (well, at least older). While the latter isn't likely to happen, I will continue to wish it. In the meantime, I will enjoy these moments when we are all together. Good friends can be hard to come by. We are lucky to have so many.

~ Ms. S 

ps - try as i might to find a photo of all of us (one does exist!), no one has yet uploaded it to facebook. once that happens, i will update this post with a photo - and hope no one in the group minds. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A little procrastination

Right now, I'm supposed to be working on a cover letter for Mr. S to proof-read tonight. The body is done with revisions made, but I have yet to write the intro and conclusion and reached a bit of a wall. So I decided to procrastinate a little bit and update you on life since my last post (which was only two days ago, you'll notice!).

Cleaning duties listed, whose turn it is to do dishes (color coordinated), and events for the week.

Let's take a little time to visit the Cleaning and Job Schedules. I haven't been great about keeping up with the daily cleaning. Part of this is because Monday's task is to clean the kitchen sink, counters, and dining room table. It was Husband's turn to do dishes on Monday and they didn't get done (note: this is merely a statement of fact rather than a passing of judgement), which meant our limited counter space and the sink were full of dishes. I determined these tasks could be lumped into another day this week thinking it would be yesterday when it was my turn to do dishes. For whatever reason, it didn't occur to me to do this yesterday, so instead I did a small load of dishes this morning and cleaned our dish drainer! 

The dish drainer project was long overdue. I filled our sink with hot water, some dish soap, and a couple splashes of bleach (probably about 1-2 Tb). Once the sink was full, in went the rack, the utensils holder, and the plastic tray. I let them soak for ~ 1 hour (mostly because I was working on other things and forgot about them), then scrubbed them with a rag until they were clean, and dried them before putting them back.

Sparkling clean and ready to dry some more dishes!

However, the dining room table DID get cleaned on Monday - mostly because that's where I've been conducting my great job search. Please note the sarcasm in the word 'great.' See last post if you're at all confused.

Yesterday was laundry day. Here's the deal with laundry in our building. You have to sign up for time slots. In theory it sounds excellent - you're guaranteed four hours of available wash and dry time/week. In practice it sucks. We used to be signed up for a two hour slot on two different days. Two hours was never enough time to get our laundry done, and our Saturday time was inconvenient. So we are now signed up for two back-to-back slots on Tuesdays from 6-10. Better, but not perfect.

Still damp and drying while spread over some chairs.

Last night, for instance, I had a church committee meeting at 7 (these meetings always last too long), and knew that pretty much shot my laundry time. So I took advantage of being of 'housewife' for the time being and did our laundry during the day when no one is signed up. I have to be honest - I did not wash the load of clothes that need cleaning (and have needed cleaning since our vacation for too long). Nope. Instead I washed our comforter which was starting to look...well...not white anymore. Out it came fresh and clean to join our new white sheets which were on sale at Target. :)

Now I have to tell the truth about another thing - the job schedule. While it worked fabulously on Monday - I spent ~ 30 minutes looking for jobs, put together a spreadsheet of jobs needing app materials, prioritized which ones needed to get done and when, and even managed to write a cover letter and get it sent off with my resume for one of the four jobs - I was an utter failure on Tuesday. This is the problem when you're the kind of person who is most productive when you're busy: when you don't have a job, there is no momentum to keep you going. And frankly, when you want a job as badly as I'd like one, it's easier to spend all day checking email endlessly hoping you'll have some news - any kind of news! So yesterday, Ms. S did not rock the house like Monday.

Today, as you can see, I've been mildly and comfortably productive. And am hoping that this post will help with my writers block for my cover letters. Especially since finishing the one I'm currently working on means I get to reward myself by painting my nails. A little self-pampering never hurt anyone!

~ Ms. S

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just buckle down...

Since most of you reading this are family and friends, you know that I am in the midst of a frustrating job search. Frustrating because of its length (6 months, not that I'm keeping track), and because in that amount of time only two first-round phone interviews have come out of it. Possibly better results than others have had, but I'm getting impatient and itching to have a job to go to.

What does this have to do with cleaning/organizing? Well, very little and a lot at the same time. Very little because it is not at all related to home projects of any sort; a lot because I haven't had the motivation to DO much cleaning and organizing as I sit in front of the computer all day with my phone nearby waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Not very productive. Hence the formation of 'The Cleaning Schedule,' and now a 'Job Search Schedule.' Sometimes you just have to buckle down and tackle the problems head on, right?

In an attempt to maintain a few shreds of sanity, I will be giving myself an allotted amount of time each day to spend searching for new jobs, and an allotted amount of time for preparing necessary application materials, and finally, an end goal for turning in said materials. Gee, anyone else see the former project manager in me? The rest of my day, then, is free for me to tackle any chores from 'The Cleaning Schedule,' run errands, and finish projects that have been set aside for the time being. Here's today's schedule:

11:30 - Noon: find new jobs for which to apply
 - break for lunch -
1:00 - 2:30: work on materials for applications
Plus today's cleaning chore: scrub kitchen sink and counter, wipe down dining room table, and disinfect the dish drainer
Plus a quick errand for toilet paper - never a good thing to run out of entirely.

I'm not going to give myself tons of time for the application materials bit because I have a couple really good cover letters written already that make it fairly easy for me to piece things together. But I'll give myself enough time to write a draft of a new paragraph or two. We'll try this and see how it goes. The crazy heat isn't helping things. Thank goodness for our window unit and fans!

*Sorry for the lack of pictures. I haven't really been sure what to pair with these two 'schedule' posts, so I promise pictures in my next post.*

~ Ms. S

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cleaning Schedule

Alright, dear friends. Sometime ago I mentioned putting together a cleaning schedule to try out. Well, after much procrastination, I finally did it and will be putting it into effect this week. Before showing you precisely what the schedule is, let me share a little bit of my thought process that went into the making of 'The Cleaning Schedule.'

My natural tendency when it comes to cleaning is to wait for things to pile up and do everything at once. Generally, I think it's fair to say that 'deep cleaning' is what comes most easily. However, I've found that this approach to maintaining even our lovely little apartment just doesn't work. There's always something that needs to be done, and waiting for it to pile up for a purging session makes cleaning an incredibly daunting task. So I'm taking a que from my mother.

My mom stayed at home with my sister and I growing up, and in doing so, came up with a fairly regimented schedule that she still sticks to today. She did 'deep cleans' every-so-often, but they never took very long because she had a daily schedule of smaller things that helped keep tasks reasonable. Since I'm currently unemployed, I figured now would be the perfect time to get into the habit of doing things on a daily basis to continue even when I am employed. Without any further ado, here's 'The Cleaning Schedule.'

Mondays: Scrub kitchen sink, counters, and dining room table, and disinfect the dish rack
Tuesdays: Laundry
Wednesdays: Sweep and mop apartment (we have wood floors or tile throughout)
Thursdays: Clean bathroom
Fridays: Pick up clutter and file papers
Saturdays: Dust
Sundays: to be filled with whatever needs to be done, even if that's nothing
And most importantly: dishes every other day (with Husband taking the days opposite me)

I implemented the dishes schedule two weeks ago and it has been working quite well, though I've done most of the dishes this week - including everything from the potluck we hosted on Thursday. Not that I'm keeping track, or anything. :) But I'm quite excited for the rest of the schedule, too, as I'm hoping it helps us maintain a semblance of order without going crazy. My problem is, at least while I have lots of time on my hands, I'm much better at creating messes than getting rid of them.
Anyone else have that problem? It's terrible, let me tell you.

Do you have any kind of a cleaning/organizing schedule? 

~ Ms. S