May Lifestyle Challenge: For Mom

That Wife:
Mom flew in the day after Mother’s Day and since I knew she would be taking care of me for the next week due to my surgery, I thought I would try and treat her a little bit by taking her out to lunch and presenting her with flowers at the airport. Lunch was yum and the flowers lasted for over a week!


For Mother’s Day, I invited my mom over to my house. My husband and I made Southwest Turkey Burgers, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Tomato and Avocado Salad, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp. I gave my mom a tiny text bowl from Paloma’s Nest:


I basically made a cake based on my mum’s favourite recipe that she’s been unable to make since moving to Calgary and becoming gluten free, made it allergen free and surprised her with it. Needless to say, it didn’t last very long.


For this months Lifestyle Challenge

we “had” do something for our mom. No so easy at first… mom and I live far apart, we both have busy schedules, and Mother’s day was kind of painful as you know. I did go see mom last week and took her out to dinner. Still, it wasn’t the sweet thing I was looking to do for this challenge, I wanted it to be special. I am expecting mom any time now. She’s coming over, and she’ll spend the night so that we can go out early tomorrow, our day boating. I decided to get her little gifts and prepare her bed so when she walks in, this is what she’ll see:


Ms Snowflake

On May 16th, I graduated college for my mother. This may seem like a silly or selfish thing to have for the challenge, but it only recently became clear to me how important it was for me to do this for her.

Just two months ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was hard for me to deal with it being two hours away from home finishing up school, but I was able to be home for her surgery as it was during my spring break. With all the emotions the cancer was bringing up, I started counseling at my school. After my mother’s surgery, we all knew she would still have to go through chemotherapy to make sure the cancer was gone.

Once she started talking about when she would start treatment, she mentioned that she might not be able to make it to my graduation ceremony. I was absolutely stunned by this possibility, and became very upset. Of all the people I would like to have my graduation ceremony, I realized my mother was the most important, the person who had earned her right to be there more than anyone else.

I saw all the memories of my education flash before my eyes: my mother dropping me off for school from my first day of kindergarten all through high school, my mother telling me to get my slacker ass in shape during a parent-teacher conference in first grade, her filling out the endless emergency cards and other paperwork, coming to open houses, sitting in the front row of my drama performances, and so on and so on.

After the therapy sessions I had had and what I had come to terms with about myself and my relationship with my mother, I knew I had to tell her how I felt. The people in my family aren’t ones to express emotions too readily, but I was able to say the words to her over the phone, and she realized just how important she has been to me for my entire education, and my life.

In the end, the first treatment session got pushed back and my mother was able to make it to my commencement ceremony. And as much work as I had done those last five years of my education, it wouldn’t have happened without her overseeing all the years before.

April Lifestyle Challenge: Favorite Gratis Activity

That Wife

A trip to the library would have been free if I had stayed away from the used book store. 🙂



In the Favorite Gratis Activity Challenge, I have to go with my visits with the sheep and lambs. It’s great going to the dike, getting on and just walk among these animals, the babies sometimes just days old. I bring some bread and literally can stay for hours. On top of things, the surroundings are just great: water, happy people (who is not happy around newly born lambs), birds, grass, silence.



My favorite April activity? Riding my new bike! Luckily, for this challenge free is defined as “things you don’t spend money on to participate in right then,” so the cost of my new bike doesn’t count!

Without Adornment

I love walking. I’ve walked to school all the way until last year (Elementary, Junior High, High School and the first three years of university). I walk at lunch. I walk to counseling. I walk down a busy street after counseling to beat the bus to the next bus stop. I walk home from the train after work. Mr. Bean and I usually go for weekly walks around our community. So, it made sense that when I was out in Whitecourt with work, I would go for a walk during my free time.


Kate went to a taping of the Rachel Ray show! Read about her experience here.


Today I had absolutely nothing planned, the weather was lovely, and I decided it would be a perfect day to do one of my favorite things: ride my bike. My new year’s resolution was to enter a bike race, and in order to do that I’ve got to actually ride my bike. I haven’t been doing much of it lately because I’m busy and stuff and blah blah blah. But I rode today! My shoulders and legs will be sore tomorrow, but no pain no gain, right?


My “free” challenge this month is taking advantage of the fact that my fiance and I live on a beautiful little lake. I’m unemployed, so I don’t have a lot of money for extra’s. But we have beauty and nature practically in our front yard. I took this picture this morning right after sunrise.


On Good Friday, and after spending a night spending a lot of money seeing the Hannah Montana movie and going bowling, we (me, the roomie and her beau) dropped by the roomie’s beau’s home, whipped up some hot chocolate and took it to the park.


I instantly knew what my favorite free activity is – hanging out with my husband.  He travels a lot for work too, and whenever we are together we are both so happy just being in each other’s company – even if we are just washing dishes together.  On (Easter) Sunday we decided to do something together that we’d never done before – kayaking!  Since we are both know-it-alls, we spent the first 10 minutes trying to tell the other the best way to paddle – and then we spent the next several hours laughing.



I love being able to lay out on my lawn with a book on a sunny day.  At the beginning of April I was unsure if this would be plausible since we hadn’t seen too many sunny, warm days, but this past week has been beautiful and I had the pleasure of enjoying the sunshine, and my book, today!


I have a lot of favorite free activities, but heading up to the lake and riding on a sea scooter (Sea-Doo) is one of my new favorite things to do.  My new husband’s parents own a lake home and have a boat and sea scooter.  We have had a lot of fun going up to visit on the weekends and learning how to ride a sea scooter.  It’s free (for us) and a great way to go and spend time bonding with his family!


I love going to the popular tourist spots in Boston and Cambridge. My favorite is the freedom trail because it has a lot of history behind it, plus, its free. Even though I live in Cambridge, most of my time is spent studying or working. So, when possible, it’s always nice to take some time off and explore the area I live in. Being a tourist in your own city is convenient and fun!


My husband and I went to the ocean on Palm Sunday. A bit non-traditional, I suppose, but it actually fit in quite well with the celebratory feel of the day.


So, like Jenna, I love spending time at the library. I could be there for hours and hours and not even notice, just walking the stacks thinking about what to read. Didn’t want to be a copy cat, so here I am in a related, but maybe even better for me free activity: reading a good book. I’m reading A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel (who lives near me) and I have spent quite a few hours lost in this book. I love how the time goes by so quickly when you’re immersed in a story. And it was totally free!


I have many favourite free activities, but one I particularly enjoy is afternoons in the park with friends.


My “for free” activity is volunteering with the American Red Cross in Greater New York.  Here’s a photo of a CPR training that I did in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with high school-aged girl scouts, their mothers, and troop leaders. We got a grant from a state assemblymen to provide $4,000 of preparedness materials and classes, and I used part of that money to offer this Infant and Child CPR/AED class in a community center.  It was a really awesome way to spend time making my city a better place and connecting with new people.
Volunteering is fun, rewarding, educational, and FREE!  I’d suggest the Red Cross as a great point for people to start if they are looking to make a non-faith based commitment.


May Lifestyle Challenge: For Mom

Sometimes the best challenges are the ones you should do anyways. Like this month, in which I challenge you to let your mom know how much you love her. Some brief searching taught me that Mother’s Day is in May for most countries, so even my international readers should be able to participate without their mom asking “Why are you making such a fuss over me?”

Mother’s Day is a day to make a fuss over the one who raised you. So go make one.

That Mother and I on my wedding day.

Criteria For This Months Challenge:

1. Do something for you mom. Anything. Everything.

2. Tell us all about it. Take a picture of your card, gift, mom’s reaction, etc, if you can!

To sign up all you have to do is comment below. Remember, you have to sign up for each challenge separately by commenting on the appropriate post. I will add you to a weekly reminder email list, unless you specify otherwise in your comment. The last week of the month I ask that you email me your photos and description to share with everyone else.

April Lifestyle Challenge: Favorite Gratis Activity

On my birthday, I plan on taking a break from everything (ah the beauty of being self-employed), and doing whatever I want all day long. I’m going to do all of my favorite things, including take pictures, eat a cupcake (from Sprinkles), visit Whole Foods, and go to the library. Out of all of those things, going to the library/bookstore is my favorite. I don’t do it often, because I just don’t have the time. I walk in and end up browsing for hours.

I thought it would be fun to encourage all of you to budget the time this month to do one of your favorite things. The catch is, that it has to be something that’s free! Going to the library is free, so that will be mine. Yours could be picnicking, biking, tennis, visiting a museum, window shopping, baking, painting, going to the park with your kid(s), or whatever else tickles your fancy. This challenge will not only give us the chance to learn a little more about each other and what we love to do most, but also might spark some ideas for things we can do in our own neighborhoods for free.

Criteria For This Months Challenge:

1. Participate in your favorite free activity.

Note: For this challenge, we are going to define free as “things you don’t spend money on to participate in right then”. So if you want to play tennis at the country club you paid an annual membership fee for, we’ll count that activity as free because you didn’t have to break out your wallet for that specific trip.

2. Take a picture! (Always take a picture, it makes your contribution to the challenge much more interesting!)

To sign up all you have to do is comment below. Remember, you have to sign up for each challenge separately by commenting on the appropriate post. I will add you to a weekly reminder email list, unless you specify otherwise in your comment. The last week of the month I ask that you email me your photos and description to share with everyone else.

March Lifestyle Challenge Results: Spring Cleaning

I saved the best results post for last this time. Hands down, this is the most successful challenge so far. I think we’re going to have a hard time ever topping this one 🙂

This post is going to be a long one, because I just had to include the descriptions you all sent in along with your photos. Some of these are going to blow your mind. I could create my own TV show with these!

That Wife




I realize that this may look just as messy to some of you, but before this corner was filled with crap we weren’t using. Now it’s filled with things I do use! I can finally try my sewing machine out, and I have a “crafting corner”, and a photo corner! (Photo corner is my favorite part. I”m going to use my sewing machine and sew myself a cute little tablecloth and then I can store everything underneath the table when I am not using it.

Overall I made about $150 selling things on Craigslist, and took 4 huge garbage bags of clothes, shoes, and other miscellaneous unused items to Goodwill.



I wanted to include pictures, but I left my camera at my parents’ house over spring break. Anyway, after the breakup and my ex moving out, there was a lot that needed to be done. I took a bunch of stuff to Goodwill and took away countless bags of garbage and recycling. I ended up basically (re)decorating the entire place and it really feels great. I probably would’ve done it even without the challenge, but that gave me an extra boost!


Oooh, I totally didn’t take pictures, but we ended up doing a _major_spring clean of our little apartment, for a great cause: We’re planning to bring home a kitten – our first pet ever – on Monday, so together we swept/mopped the whole place over the course of two evenings, DH cleaned a bunch of junk out of our storage space (threw away one big garbage bag’s worth, and gave away another bag’s worth), and I did all kinds of organizing/dusting/tossing stuff out that should have happened months ago.


I didn’t take in any pictures, so I apologize for that. I was able to organize our small storage unit that contains not only a majority of our wedding gifts, but also decorations and such. I’m excited because I was able to somewhat label them so that I can put things actually into cupboards when we move into our newly purchased home next month. And maybe even use them! Yay!


Originally, my goal was to clear through a “box of crap” that has been hanging out between the bedroom and back door since we moved last August.  I did that rather quickly, and then still felt unsatisfied with the level of clutter I had reached, so I cleaned my desk.  This challenge could not have come at a better time for me – after spring break, I’m always starting to feel frantically panicked about finals, which start at the end of April, but I can’t start studying for finals until I clear off my desk.  I also wanted to clear off my sewing/craft table of my stamping supplies so I could pull out my sewing machine and finally start my latest project.  I recycled a ton of papers and magazines, filed the rest into their rightful spots, and finally got around to creating a space for wedding planning information in the vertical files to the left of my computer.  Don’t be fooled by what you see in the picture of my craft table and sewing machine – the “mess” that is there is because I cleared the surface and started my project (a chalk bag for rock climbing.)  I now feel more productive and ready to start the home stretch of the semester.


I planned on taking pictures yesterday to show you, but I can’t find my camera!!!  Whooops!!  I cleaned our “public areas” in the apartment–did a few loads of dishes, discovered our dining room table does have a top after I removed 2 months worth of mail, receipts & who knows what else, I scrubbed and disinfected the bathroom top to bottom AND folded the 3-4 loads of laundry that were living on our Ottoman between washing & wearing.  Wow, this makes my apartment sounds like a pig-sty…….shamefully, it was.  That’s Tax Season!!







I am not a pack rat by any means since my mom suffers hoarding issues but I did manage to dig in my clean and organized closet and cabinets and remove the attached. YAY for me.





Mrs. H-B


One of my secret shames is that I am a closet clutterer. I like to pretend that I’m very organized, but my systems usually end up in chaotic piles of crap all over the apartment. I wish I were able to maintain organization on a more consistent basis as clutter drives me crazy! Mr. H-B’s side is pretty clean, actually. The pile of papers all the way to the right includes bank statement from January 2008, because it’s been that long since I filed. I still haven’t finished filing papers yet, but the next picture shows a pretty good start.



So for the Lifestyle challenge, we got rid of some stuff. I don’t have a before and after, but here are the photos of stuff we got rid of:

Given to my sister since we got a new book shelf for our dining room a little while back.

These boxes had been sitting in our bedroom since October! Most of the items were souvenirs we got for my guy’s parents when we went to Maui. Some things in the boxes were meant to be Christmas presents for them, if you can believe it. Your challenge was just what we needed to get those boxes out of our room, and these presents on their way to the post office. And we got a corner back of our bedroom. The other amazing part? The boxes had been there so long that some mold had started to grow on the wall behind them. Really, I’m horrified by our bad manners, poor cleaning skills, and amazed by what procrastination can lead to. What a relief to have those items on their way.




I went to Ikea and got some organizing shelves (supposed to be for a bathroom I think) and organized my mess! I created a huge bag of clothes and shoes to donate and I can finally find things in my closet 🙂





So, I decided to clean out my tee shirt drawer. As you can see, it wouldn’t even close. Which is hilarious because i rarely wear tee shirts! So, i cleaned it out, now there is space for more – or maybe i’ll transfer to a smaller drawer! And you can see my three bags- one for the PTA thrift shop (we don’t have a goodwill here, but the PTA is what we use instead, all the proceeds go to the local schools), one for a friend’s kid – why did i think i could wear kids size Ts?, and one of old work shirts i’ll give to other employees.





After a few hours of work, it’s still a bit messy, but much more livable! Complete with one box for Goodwill! Now to find a way to reduce the number of sentimental items…


Click to enlarge an read GaTiger’s captions. I thought they were a hoot!




We started the “merging” process in December…then his parents moved and we inherited more “stuff”.  As you can see my “office” became a dumping ground since it was “out of sight”.  At right at 2-months to the wedding, I’m starting on some of my DIY projects….and I couldn’t find my supplies!  I actually forgot to take the “final product” photos before I left this week for a business trip.  However, all the boxes are gone (5 boxes to Goodwill and 3 organized craft boxes stored in the closet for easy access)….and the desk & shelves look really bare at the moment.  Now to work on getting a decent overhead light so I can work in the “office” without going blind. 🙂




Peach & Pearl



Before, it was where I dropped everything on my way in the door.  Now that it’s clean and organized, perhaps we’ll see some more DIY on Peach & Pearl



Newlywed Hostess

I Gave away loads of sheets still packaged and tablecloths to the Local Hannah Home/Kings Ranch Thrift Store. I also gave away two slide projectors, a screen, and a table top hair dryer.


I took a picture of the table as I started to gather the papers together before I sorted and dealt with all of the formal requests that were strewn about in all aspects of my life… it was BAD! I’m a borderline OCD neat-freak when it comes to organization. My job becomes much less stressful when I have a handle on literature, information, and notes that I’ve written down. Because I work from home and from my car most days – a lot of stuff accumulates. It had gotten so bad that I had just moved to another part of my house to work because I just couldn’t work with all of the little things that had accumulated over the last couple of months.

I decided for the lifestyle challenge to clean out my major work areas. The first step was my car – I didn’t take a before picture, but I have an after. It started out with a couple rolled 4 foot by 8 foot campaign signs in my backseat, rusted yard signs, and literature everywhere. Now it’s all organized and manageable for everything I need. I still need to give the trunk a little TLC, but it’s functional again.

The next part was cleaning off the kitchen table where I work most days. It started by looking like a printing press had spit out colorful political literature, stacks of forms, and business cards all over the table with my poor laptop getting nearly buried. Now – I have all of my literature bundled and in a box – easy to grab as I run to meetings and business cards I’ve received organized in a recipe box. I could very easily find anything in a matter of just a few seconds and I’m much more relieved about this.







Well, in our house we don’t have much storage. This is my desk. What a mess. You can see that I have been busy making wedding related projects: there is my first inspiration board pinned up and swatches of fabric samples. There is a cardboard tube of peacock feathers (and one on the desk for colour referencing). And lots and lots of clutter.

So I tidied up a bit, moved stuff, recycled a lot of paper, newspapers and magazines, put away some of my clothes that were hung on the chair and generally sorted out piles of things. I returned the tagine (just out of shot) to M’s brother and wife; I put a glass coffee table on free-cycle and gave it to a girl my age who thought it would be perfect for her flat.

But there wasn’t a lot I could do with the bookcase full of books and work from Law School. So I had to leave them in situ. Still, it looks a lot better.







I attacked three locations in hour house for this challenge: the living room that I cleaned but where I also rearranged the furniture, it’s now so much more open I regret not thinking about it earlier.
I cleaned up around the computer, and I rearrange and cleaned our closet, I have a big pile of clothes that will go either to consignment or to Goodwill whenever I find the time for it.
I also cleaned up my work… Changed job, for one that is a more guaranteed year round one. Not really part of the challenge, but it was a form of spring cleaning 😉


And finally, Jenna. Jenna wins the award for most drastic Spring cleaning change from That Wife. And not just because I really like her name. 🙂




The before picture is so embarrassing! I can’t believe we let the dining room get that bad. A lot of this stuff (even though you can’t tell just by looking) is related to gifts from our wedding (which was almost a year ago!). In particular, the white trash bags are full of packing peanuts that wedding gifts were shipped in. They are expensive to buy so we thought we would save them for when we move. They are now all stored in the rafters of the garage…finally! We can now actually eat at our dining room table and relax on the couch which we haven’t been able to do in a looooong time. Thanks for the challenge!!