My Piano Playing Routine

imageIf you’ve read my blog at all before, you’ll know how much I rely on routines. Without routines, I feel lost, like I don’t have a game plan. This goes with my piano playing as well. I am one of those people with many interests, and I’ve given up on many hobbies before. I don’t want to quit piano, so I need to stay focused. My practice routine goes as follows:

I make a cup of coffee and head downstairs to the piano. I set my practice timer for 30 minutes and begin.

I play a few easy warm up pieces. I picked up Alfred’s Adult Sacred Hymns book and I love it. If you follow along with his course, it’s pretty easy and the music is beautiful.

Once I get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’, I use my main Alfred’s All In One Adult book. When I get to a new piece, I try to practice as slowly as I can. Sometimes, I play hands together, sometimes hands separate, depending on my mood. I isolate tricky bars and work them as much as I can. Another tip I learned is not to be afraid to look up a piece on YouTube. Since everyone is different, you can’t copy another performer. I’m a long way from worrying about that, but for where I am right now, it helps to see how a piece should sound, especially if I’m not familiar with it.

As a ‘cool down’, I review some old pieces, trying to make them as perfect as I possibly can.

I know from past experience I’m not the greatest at practicing. To offset this, I wake up early every morning and make myself a cup of coffee. I look forward to my coffee every morning, so I just don’t let myself have it unless I’m down at the piano. I’m really pleased by my motivation to play every day!

Now I just need a teacher.

What do you do to make a daily activity more pleasurable for yourself?

 

An Updated Look At Konmari

imageimageAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m still working on Konmari, from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven’t read it yet and you’re looking to declutter, you definitely should take a look at it. It’s like ‘extreme decluttering.’

Please forgive the terrible picture above. The baby was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up. I finally finished my closet. I got rid of so many purses,clothes, and shoes that what you see in my closet is for both fall/winter and spring/summer. The shoes you see hanging I admit are not all of my shoes– my most frequently worn shoes are in the basement– but I have cut down what I wear to just these. My necklaces are hanging there, too, so I can easily find a necklace that matches my outfit. Then my belts hang there– also for that reason. It’s such an easy location; since all my accessories are in the same place, it’s very grab-and-go!

Next on the list was my winter things. I wittled down my collection of hats and scarves to a few favorites, most of them hand-knitted and given to me by my mom or grandmother. I found my favorite gloves and made sure I knew where they were for this coming winter! Right now they’re hanging in the basement closet but we’ll probably move it upstairs when winter rolls around again. This should make winter mornings quick and easy.

I’m going through paperwork right now, which has proven to be a major slog. There’s just so much of it. And since we moved many things downstairs after we knew J would be here, it’s total chaos down there. I do feel much lighter and happier. I realized I was keeping so many things– including my friends’ fourth grade pictures! Who needs that?

We’ve been donating many things that we’ve gotten rid of and we held a garage sale at the beginning of July. We’ll continue to donate as we go, and may even hold another yard sale.

How do you typically get rid of things you don’t use anymore?

 

5 Friday Favorites

imageI’m still going through the 52 Ways to Change Your Life challenge but the last two weeks the challenge has been to check your calendar every night and to write things down immediately so you remember to do them. I don’t have much to write about because I do those things anyway.

So, I decided to do my 5 Friday favorites instead!

1. Dance Academy- anyone watching this show? It’s on Netflix currently. It’s an Australian show about a bunch of teenagers accepted to the best dance academy in the country. It’s chock full of drama, but I love watching the beautiful dancing. It makes me wish I had stuck with ballet longer, but it’s nice just watching it on TV.

2. Practicing piano- this has become part of my morning routine, and I love it. I wake up, do some chores, make myself a cup of coffee, and play piano. I love the concentration that it takes to get things just right, and am so proud of myself when I get down a new skill. I’m teaching myself at the moment, and I’m very happy with how it’s going. My goal is to eventually get a teacher because I know things aren’t perfect yet.

3. My kids- I’m really enjoying this season of life. It’s not always easy (J likes to stay up until 10 and wake up at 5:30) but so much is going on right now! R will be 2 in October and she’s learning so many new words (“No, mine” are her favorites. 😉 ) They told me today that J just rolled over– just shy of 4 months old. Things are about to get more challenging around here!

4. Napping and nursing- J and I have done this as long as we can remember, but every afternoon we cuddle up in my bed while he cluster feeds and we nap off and on. I’ll miss this so much next week as I make the transition to going back to work! He is just so sweet.

5. Konmari- I’ve spoken of this before, but I fell off the wagon a few months ago when J was born. Who has time to purge with a new baby? I guess I have a desire to only deal with things I need and love and get a good system going before I go back to work. The more I declutter, the better I feel. We can probably have a new yard sale soon, ha.

What are you loving this week?

How To Organize A Pantry If You Have A Small Space

imageAnyone else dealing with a home with limited storage space? If so, I feel your pain. When my husband bought this house, he did not envision a wife and two kids joining him.

As a family of four, we do take up a bit more space.  One of the issues we’ve had is having room for our ever expanding pantry.

I have to give credit where it’s due. My husband had the idea to create a pantry on the back of the door. He bought some shelves at Lowe’s and finished the project in one afternoon.

If you’re also dealing with limited space, make sure you line things vertically. This gives you a lot more room to work from. Using the entire back of the door gave us a ton more room so we weren’t cramming things into a cupboard. This also helps you see what you have. If cans and noodles are crammed into any available space, you’ll be buying duplicates. Trust me on this one. Hence the two jars of peanut butter for a family that really doesn’t eat that much peanut butter.

To organize your pantry, group like with like. Today, as I was reorganizing, I created a lunch shelf with some easy grab and go options. I also discovered a TON of soy sauce. It’s so silly to have that much. Also, check your expiration dates. I found a few things with a ‘Best By’ date in 2011! Gross.

We did discover a few pros and cons. Pros first:

1. Working with vertical space gave us a ton more room. We can just fit more in there.

2. Like I’ve said a million times: it’s so much easier to see what you have, and what you don’t have. Like, we probably need more Pedialyte.

Cons:

1. Unfortunately, (again, small house issues) we had to put it on the back of our kitchen door, which is also the entrance to the basement and how we get upstairs from the backyard. Our toddler, R, can mess with things if we’re not careful. She’s pretty good, but she does need supervision. We wouldn’t let her alone around there anyway, because of the steps.

2. Your pantry items aren’t completely hidden like they would be in a cupboard. I’m an out of sight out of mind girl, so this works great for me. But if having things out drives you nuts, this might not be the best option for you.

3. It makes the door a bit heavier. This actually works in our favor since we have a toddler and she can’t open the door on her own, but this can be a downside. It hasn’t been too bad once we got used to it.

Well, that’s about it! Hope this gave you some inspiration, especially if you’re struggling with organizing small spaces or a home with limited storage space.

How do you organize your pantry? Let me know in the comments!

Yard Sale

imageThe past few weeks we’ve been working towards putting on a yard sale. We’re planning on doing it this weekend so we’re putting the finishing touches on everything. Last week we spent several hours folding, hanging, and organizing everything for sale. Now I’m working on making sure we’ve got some advertisements out and putting prices on things. I’m also working on making signs and making sure everything goes smoothly. I’ve actually never put on a yard sale so I’m not sure what to expect.

Have you  ever put on a yard sale? What tips do you have?

52 Habits- Laying Out Clothes The Night Before

imageThe next on the 52 Habits list is to lay out your clothes every night before bed. It’s a great habit I picked up on quite some time ago, since it saves time in the morning and ensures that you’re taking the time to find a matching outfit.

My husband has a strict work uniform, so I don’t worry about him, but I always lay out clothes for myself and the kids. No more rushed mornings when you realize you forgot to iron the pants you reached for, or realizing at the last minute the shirt you’d counted on wearing is actually in the laundry. The verdict is still out on whether or not setting out the breakfast dishes helps us in the morning, but this certainly does– and you need all the help you can get when dealing with a squirmy toddler!

Next on my list is to check my planner every night before bed. I’ve started doing it this week– more on that later.

Well, have a happy July 4 weekend! Hope it’s full of fireworks, friends, family, and fun.

imageI’ve thought a lot lately about how being organized has really helped me lately.

First, I feel like even my brain is less cluttered, if that makes any sense. I start each day with a plan, and even if I get off schedule, I can recalibrate easily and still show up on time to things. Because the minor things are taken care of with some preperation ahead of time, I feel like there’s more room in my head to solve more complicated things. For example, I brainstormed a way that I hope will keep me better organized at work.

I’m also on time to things. I like to time block and make my schedule for the day the night before. I put into my schedule my driving time so I’m early or right on time to things I sign up for.

I’ve been able to take time to practice piano. In the past, I’ve always said that with a toddler and newborn there’s not time to learn new things. As long as I make time early in the day when I first wake up, I can knock out about thirty minutes of practice a day (with coffee).

I pre-ordered The Passion Planner for next year. This planner is set up for time blocking and to realize what your goals are so you can set aside time to reach them. I really hope it’ll work for me!

I’m already started to see the benefits of being better organized. I hope you will also make it a goal to be better organized, too!

Recycling Bin Labels

imageHope everyone had a great weekend! We spent a rainy, dreary Saturday at the library picking out books. But that’s not what this post is about. I want to talk recycling!

We’re very guilty about not recycling at our house. I finally broke down and bought three recycling bins to help imageout our family. However, they didn’t come with labels so I decided to make my own!

I could have just used my label maker, but I wanted pictures so the kids could help put things in the correct bins, too. So I found pictures of each item and made signs using my word processor. Easy peasy.

Right now they’re stuck on there with regular Scotch tape, but I hope to get some more industrial strength stuff down the road to make them last longer.

All in all, it’s worked pretty well– no more trying to remember which bin is which, and I think it looks really good! Down the road, I hope this helps the kids learn how to recycle, too.

This post was linked up to here.

52 Habits- Setting Out Breakfast Dishes

imageI’m still following along with the 52 Habits To Change Your Life. This week was to set out the breakfast dishes the night before. After dinner, when we finished cleaning up, I’d set out the dishes and cereal, down to the K-cup I wanted for my coffee.

I’m not so sure how happy this made us. It just felt like an extra step, and my husband (who’s working, I’m not at the moment) says it didn’t really save him any time. I’ve started packing him lunches, and he did say that helped.

However, the verdict is still out on this one. I want to keep up the habit at least until I go back to work. Since my job is close to the daycare, it’s usually up to me to drop them off. If it gets us to daycare and me to work earlier, it’s worth it so we can all come home earlier.

Next week is to lay out your clothes the night before. I do this one already, but it’s a great habit to have.

 

How To Set Up A Daily Routine For Your Family

imageFirst of all, schedules are different than routines. Schedules are set up like, “At 7 am, I wake up, at 7:30 I eat breakfast”, etc. Routines are more flexible. They say, “First I wake up, then I get ready, then I get the kids ready…” Etc.

The fact of the matter is, things happen that throw off a schedule. You get sick, the kids get sick, your boss calls a last-minute meeting, etc. You have something really important scheduled for 10:30, but suddenly it’s already an hour past and you have to move on to the next thing on your schedule.

That’s why routines are so important. They allow some flexibility. Anyway, enough ranting. Here’s how to set up one that works.

1. Make a list of all the ‘hats’ you wear throughout your life. For example, I’m a mom, a wife, a co-worker, friend, and daughter. Then, add to your list the responsibilities you have under each hat. For example, I know my kids need to eat and be entertained. My husband needs time. I need to be on-time and a productive employee while I’m at work, etc.

2. Write down any regular things you must do throughout the week– for instance, do you go to church every Sunday? Do your kids have lessons or sports every Saturday? Make sure you add everything.

3. Another thing to keep in mind are your personal goals. Want to run a marathon? Learn to play a musical instrument? You’ll want to allot time every day to working towards your goals.

4. Start writing down each thing you have on the list and alloting time. Start with the things you have to do first, then add each thing you’d like to do with a rough estimate of how long it’ll take you. It’ll probably surprise you how much time you actually have. :)

Hope this helps! Let me know below if you have any questions or have anything to add!

 

–This post was linked up here.