Improving the Living Room

Ways to Make Living Room Appear and Feel Bigger

Our house is pretty small, and although I think it's perfect because we are not living beyond our means, it does get a bit overwhelming when it feels like the walls are closing in on me. And part of the reason I get that sensation is that our house is filled with so much STUFF. I feel like I'm constantly downsizing our stuff, but it just keeps growing.


#1 – Reduce Furniture

One quick and easy way to make a living room appear and feel bigger is to reduce the amount of furniture. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but for us, it meant moving our old couch out of the living room. Hubbie was kind of against it initially because he though (correctly) that it really reduced the seating for when we have guests over. The reality is that we rarely have people over (ok, actually we probably have a few people over every weekend). So the reality is that when people come over, we typically congregate at the table to eat, drink, talk and play games.

My thinking is that if people want to relax in my living room, they can sit on our little ottoman or pull in a kitchen chair. We currently only have 2 adult recliners and M's little purple recliner. I think it should be fine. If it turns out to be terribly awkwards, I may rethink the whole thing and consider buying a loveseat or newer couch.

#2 – Remove the Exercise Equipment

So that would be a great way to clear space in your living room and make it feel bigger. For us, though, we moved our Elliptical IN from the garage to where the couch used to be. The Elliptical does take up less space, so it was still a spcially economical swap. 

…to be continued…


On another note of GSD:

I've been wanting to swap our old couch with our Elliptical for a while, and we finally did it today! It was an amazing feeling! As much as I love the old couch, it has unfortunately transformed into a landing station for clean clothes, toys and blankets. It's rarely cleared off and feels like just "one more job" to keep it in a cleared state. 

My Happy Lists - De-Cluttering

The couch is now in our garage and is a project for another day. But now we have the Elliptical in the living room so that we can do 30 minutes of cardio every day. No excuses!

My Happy Lists - De-Cluttering

Love it! Now we just need to get into a habit of hopping on regularly.

I am officially Gettin' S*&% DONE!

2014 Mantra: Gettin Shit Done!

So it may not be the most classy way of saying it, but my mantra for the New Year is officially “Gettin’ Shit Done” and I’m off to a pretty impressive start so far (for me). I hate to admit it, but I am lazy. Like, very lazy. But not this year. I’m crazy excited to see how much I can accomplish.


#1: Take Baby E’s swing down, put it in the garage, get out the swivel bouncer, wash it off and set it up.



Done and Done. This was kind of bittersweet as our little baby is growing up!

Gettin’ Shit Done!

DONE – Start a tradition of weekly date nights with daughter

Being a full-time working Mama outside of the house has been a challenge that I feel like I'm kicking butt at…except for my neverending longing to have more quality time with my family.

As Marion is now almost 2 1/2 years old, she is getting to be such a pleasure to spend time with. Because I work 40-60 hours per week, our time together is pretty limited. Up until now, I felt like I was balancing everything pretty well. Since Elliott was born a few months ago, though, my quality time with Marion has really decreased. It seems like our nights pretty much look like this:

  • I come home and dress down into comfy clothes
  • I breastfeed Elliott while Hubbie makes dinner and Marion plays
  • We eat dinner together at the table
  • I breastfeed Elliott again while Hubbie cleans up and Marion plays
  • I cuddle with Elliott while he takes a nap on me and Marion continues playing independently 
  • Hubbie and Marion start her nightly routine: milk, jammies, reading books
  • Hubbie takes Marion to bed while I breastfeed Elliott again
  • Hubbie and I hang out for a little bit before I head to bed
  • Hubbie gets some alone time while Elliott takes his nightly nap
  • Hubbie and Elliott go to bed

As you can see, not a ton of Mommy and Marion time. So as I was leaving work last night, I decided it was time to enact a weekly date night with my precious daughter. She is so much to hang out with! Hubbie was in full support so after I got home and fed Elliott, Marion and I headed out for some fun one-on-one time.

The great thing about Marion is that she has a blast doing ANYTHING, so for this first date I didn't need to get overly creative. Here's what we did:

  • Dollar Store Shopping
  • Dinner at Wendy's

It seems pretty simple (and maybe kind of low-class), but it was quite enjoyable. Marion rode around in the shopping cart, commenting on everything she saw and liked. She methodically would hold stuff we were going to buy before placing them behind her in the cart. And then dinner was a blast. Nothing too exciting – just spending some quality time talking together. She's the best, and I can't wait to have more Mommy/Daughter Dates with her. I suppose next time I may need to do something a little more creative, though. 

Improving One Choice at a Time

It's in my nature to think critically, and I am often internally criticizing myself. It goes a little something like this…


  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Do more crafts with my kids
  • Call my friends more often
  • Take more pictures
  • Write more
  • Lose excess weight
  • Stop gaining weight
  • De-clutter my home
  • Get organized
  • Be more productive 
  • Clean out my car
  • Finish the garage so I can park in there
  • Start using cloth baby wipes again
  • Organize the kids' clothes
  • Get the swing set up in the background 
  • And on
  • and on
  • and on


I mean, this running list of "shoulds" goes on and on and never quits in my brain. The result? A lot of guilt, disappointment, shame, and an overall sense of hopelessness. I'll never be able to get all of those things done. It's impossible. I'm just not the person I want to be.


So here's my NEW mantra:

I am improving ONE CHOICE at a time. 

Every minute I'm awake I have a choice: what to think, what to do, how to do it…and I will only improve by making choices that bring me closer to my vision of who I want to be. This is kind of embarrassing, but I'm hoping documenting some of these choices and successes will keep me going on my own path of making good choices. So here goes. Please don't judge me. But if this provides you even a little bit of inspiration, then fantastic.

So I hope some of my readers will join me on this lifelong of adventure: IMPROVING ONE CHOICE AT A TIME. Stay tuned for future updates on all the rockin positive choices I'll be making!

So what's your next choice?

Garage Update 10/24/2013

A couple days ago I shared my List of Garage Projects. And yesterday, I had a plan to complete a few items on the list:

New Plan for Tonight

Ok, so what else can I work on tonight to cross a few of those projects of the list? I'm thinking…return the table saw to the mother-in-law. We should be able to do that! And get the 4 tires in the van for Tyler to drop off for recycling tomorrow. Oh, we could also break down a bunch of boxes tonight so he could take those, too! And maybe swing by and drop a small load of donation to St. Vincent's while we're out and about. That would complete 2 things on the list and prepare to complete 2 other things on the list!! 

It was pretty successful! We did NOT go return the table saw to the mother-in-law. I am now saving that for Friday when we drop M off there for a couple hours for babysitting (and also drop off a load of donations to St. Vincent''s).

What we did accomplish:

  • Goodbye Headboard & Footboard!! I posted it for free on Craigslist yesterday and someone came and picked it up last night. Done and done!
  • Tires in Van ready to get recycled!
  • Boxes broken down and ready to get recycled!

I call that a great success. Anytime we can actually cross something off a list = success!


My Everything/Forever List

That's it. I'm doing it. I'm making a list for "everything else" that's never going to be finished because I keep adding to it. Where does this list currently exist? In my head.

Yeah, like many women, I have the running list of everything I need to do, want to do, hope to do, just going on and on and on in my brain. Well, I'm tired of it. It's time to just put it on the list when I think of it (or when I get a second to write). Then I can stop thinking about it and start planning and doing, which sounds pretty appealing. 

Rules of the List

  • Number the list because it's fun
  • When an item is complete, "cross it off" the list 
    • Write a blog post about it and include at least ONE picture
  • Add the date the item went on the list
  • Add the date the item was completed


So here goes…My Everything/Forever List

  1. Make a list for a week of work lunches/snacks
  2. Start making hummus (10/23/13)
  3. Start using homemade wipes again (10/23/13)
  4. Re-read the Five Languages of Love (10/23/13)
  5. Design Elliott's birth announcement (he's only 3 months old already!) (10/23/13)
  6. Send pictures to Minnesota family monthly (10/23/13)
  7. Start a "Baby Mamas" group at work (10/23/13)
  8. Go the Seafood Buffet at the CDA Casino with friends (10/23/13)
  9. DONE on 10/23/2013! Go to luncheon and donate to Transition (10/23/13)
  10. Make a bigger breastmilk storage box for freezer (10/23/13)
  11. Redesign MyHappyLists blog (11/21/13)
  12. Write at least once per week (11/21/13)
  13. Start a tradition of weekly date nights with daughter (11/21/13)
  14. Experiment with different eczema treatments for Baby E and myself (11/21/13)
  15. Create a visual tracking at home for goals (exercise & chores) (11/21/13)


Simplify for Success

This list is for the things that will help me be more successful by simplifying tasks.

  1. Leave a bag of frozen berries at work (instead of bringing a cup every day and then not bringing them) (10/24/2013)

Reasons to Give to Transitions


Today I had the pleasure of attending the annual Transitions Luncheon again thanks to an invite from a co-worker. After enjoying my lunch, listening to some guest speakers and hearing the stories of a participant and alumnus of the various programs Transitions supports, I made a donation. Not a huge donation, but an amount I could afford to give. Even though my finances for my family are tight and stressful, I still live a life of luxury (cars that run, smart phones, eating out, television, Netflix, Internet…all pretty luxurious things), so I can clearly afford to make a donation and just skip a couple dinners out.

Why make a donation and support Transitions? 

  • Results: they actually help children and women end poverty and homelessness in Spokane!
  • They impact our community (which means YOU)
  • No one should be homeless
  • No one should live in poverty
  • Beacause you can
  • Did I mention that their programs work?

To learn more about Transitions and how you can help, visit their website: 


**Crossing this one off my Everything List**

Garage Update – 10/23/2013

Yesterday I shared my List of Garage Projects. 

Well, last night I attempted to cross off a few items. RESULT? Fail. Utter fail.

Sometimes, when I get my mind set on something and I hit a couple road blocks, I am extremely tempted to just give up on the whole thing (this may be one of the solid reasons I have not been able to park in our garage since buying our house three years ago).



Fail #1 – No Returning Wood Laminate

So we have 5 boxes of unused wood laminate flooring. Why? Because they encourage you to over-buy so you don't run short while installing it and because some of the pieces may be broken. So that's what I did, under the assumptiont that I could return said flooring less a "re-stocking" fee. Turns out I had to do that within 30 days of purchasing. Ha! We didn't even START installing it 30 days after purchasing it. What a joke. 

Now I have 5 boxes of flooring in the garage to store or figure out a new plan for them.


Fail #2 – Headboard does not fit in minivan

It would if we put the front row of seats down, but that involves taking the kids' carseats out, which for any of you that are parents, you know is like adding another project to the list. Agh. Now I need to come up with a new plan for the headboard, too.



FREE Queen Sized Headboard

New plan for the headboard: post it for free and let someone come pick it up. There is a small crack in it, but free is free and people love free, right? We'll see how it goes…


New Plan for Tonight

Ok, so what else can I work on tonight to cross a few of those projects of the list? I'm thinking…return the table saw to the mother-in-law. We should be able to do that! And get the 4 tires in the van for Tyler to drop off for recycling tomorrow. Oh, we could also break down a bunch of boxes tonight so he could take those, too! And maybe swing by and drop a small load of donation to St. Vincent's while we're out and about. That would complete 2 things on the list and prepare to complete 2 other things on the list!!