Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Close Call.

It's almost May and I am literally within 24 hours of forgetting to post about one of the blogger gift exchanges I participated in last month. I really just have no idea where my brain has gone to recently. I might lose my head if it wasn't attached.

Like, I just have absolutely no idea where my head is recently.
I keep getting ideas for upcoming posts and then within two seconds I totally forget what they were.
Even if I was making every effort to write down my ideas, I couldn't write them down fast enough.


My brain needs to get out of Winter/laziness mode and get it's act together.
Anyway, in March I participated in the Covert Robin blogger gift exchange.
It's hosted by a ton of awesome bloggers.

Here they are....

Cassie, Clara Courtney, Jane, Jill, Karen, Kelley
Melissa, Rachael and Stephanie.

Whew. That's a lot of great blogs for you to go check out!
There are two major things that set this exchange apart from the other exchange I participated in in March. They were both awesome exchanges but this one was different because...

one. Your partner is a complete secret.  It's like secret Santa. 

In March!!! (need I say more?)

two. It's all homemade gifts!!

When I received the name of the person I would be sending to I started stalking their blog day and night.  I got my gift all ready and sent it out (more on that later) and prepared myself to wait for the gift I would receive.  As March rolled on in I waited and waited and one rainy, gloomy, ugly March day I had a surprise in my mailbox.

It was so perfect and exactly what I needed on a cold March day.  It was like a little bit of Springtime coming my way in the form of a package.  The name of my secret blogger partner is Melissa and she sent me the most fantastic things!!

First she sent me this really awesome pen roll up.  She found out that I was a teacher and decided this would be an appropriate gift.  She was completely right but now I need to hide it from Jeremie so he doesn't try and steal the pens she sent me.  

Here it is unrolled with all my new pens!!

She also sent me a pin book which is basically a little cloth book with felt pages for me to stick my pins in when I'm sewing.  Why have I never thought of this before?!? Genius.

I'm pretty confident this one is not homemade but it's still a fabulous gift.  
It's a teeny pocket size notebook which is perfect for jotting down blog notes AND it matches my pen roll up (kinda).

Finally, she sent me a neck warmer and a winter head band!!! 
I could not love these two things more. 
Melissa wrote that she was hoping I would have some time to wear them this year and of course, right after I got her package we had a streak of 70 degree weather.  
Oh well.  These will be the first two things I whip out next November. 

So I just had to share with you all about this awesome gift exchange.  
It was a great first secret blogger experience!
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wedding Weekend

It's Saturday and quite honestly, I couldn't be happier about it!
This week seemed so long and yet it flew by at the same time.

I officially have 8 weeks left of the school year.
8 weeks until summer vacation.
8 weeks until I can really relax.
8 weeks until I start my summer job which I seriously start looking forward to in February.
8 weeks until guaranteed summer weather. Beautiful, warm, green, bright glorious summer weather.
Can you tell I'm sick of Spring?
Maybe it's because we haven't really had a Spring.

Anyway, at this point in the school year I LIVE for my weekends.
Not only because it's a small taste of what's coming my way in 8 weeks but also because with some (kinda) nice weather I can finally start getting outside and doing the stuff I love like hiking and gardening and reading in the sun. And I'm extra super excited that it's Saturday because it's always a good excuse to talk about some wedding stuff with a wedding weekend post!!

If you've ever read some of my wedding weekend posts
like this one....
or this one....

You know that I loved every single detail about my wedding.
I mean, honestly, what girl doesn't?

But I didn't just love my wedding because I was getting married or I got to wear a big, white wedding dress. It was because I made every detail of my wedding super personal.
Everything at my wedding meant something to me. 
Because it represented something special, because I made it with my own two hands, because I spent so much time on it. 
You only get one wedding, right?

So I want to share with you one teeny tiny aspect of my wedding that made my day a little extra special. My table numbers.

Ok, they don't sound like anything special.
What's in a table number?
You print out a piece of paper with a big number, frame it and put it on the table, right?

Not me.

I had a pretty specific theme to my wedding.


And I knew I wanted everything in my wedding to fit in with that theme.
Apple centerpieces, apple colors, apple drinks, and you guessed it, apple table numbers.

My table numbers were actually really simple.
Here's how they looked...

And here's how I made them:

one. I bought some mini apple crates at Michael's for a buck each. 

two. The crates were not a very pretty color.  They were just plain wood so I stained them to make them more rustic.

three. I painted the numbers and a different variety of apple onto each crate with plain old acrylic paint.

four. I threw in some fake fall leaves (also purchased at Michael's and originally in the form of a fall garland. I just ripped off the leaves) and some apples on top of the leaves.

My original plan for my wedding was to use real apples for everything and donate them to a soup kitchen after the wedding.  However, this would have meant buying a loooottttt of apples really close to my wedding and it would have probably cost a pretty penny.

I lucked out and found some fake apples, on clearance at the Christmas Tree Shop. 
Who would have thought?

So that's it.  They were pretty simple and they added a nice touch to my fall, apple themed wedding. 
Man, writing all of this really makes me miss the wedding planning process.  Not all the small, obnoxious details but definitely all the DIY stuff.

Anyone want me to do some DIY for their wedding? ;)
Happy Saturday everyone!
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's a Teachable Kind of Tuesday.

Calling all fellow teachers!!
Or people with kids!!
Or people who work in after school programs,
or tutor,
or babysit,
or work with kids in any way!!!

I have a brilliant idea for you, brought to you by Tuesday.
Tuesday is always a good day for a teachable moment, I think.

So, as a special education teacher the multiplication chart is 
probably the number one tool in my arsenal for math.
Keep in mind that I work with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.
If I was working with smaller kids I would probably say the 100s chart is number one.
But for my kids, it's definitely the multiplication chart.

I use it for all kinds of stuff.
Multiplication facts...obviously.
Division, especially long division.

So on and so forth.
I actually have about 7 multiplication charts placed around my kidney bean table so that each kid has one to use when they are working in math group.

I know that you're all probably thinking that a multiplication chart is not a groundbreaking advancement in teaching. It's actually been around for quite some time now, so what's the genius idea I was referring to?

If you tape a multiplication chart to a table or desk with packing tape,
or laminate the chart and tape it to the desk,
 the students can draw lines with dry erase marker to find what they are looking for.

For example, if they are looking for the answer to 9 x 9,
they can draw a line on each number until they meet.  
Then they know they have their answer at the intersection.

After they find the right answer they can just wipe the chart clean and move on to the next problem!

Some of my kids prefer to count down a certain number of rows
instead of trying to find where two numbers intersect.
For these students, they can simply put a dot in each number 
as they count down the number of rows they need.

So if they are looking for 8 x 9 
they know they need to count down 10 (because of the 0's row) rows in the 8's column.
When they've place 10 dots in the 8's column they know they've reached their answer.

It works really well and it takes some of the common mistakes out of using multiplication charts.
Before I let my kids do this they would often rush through it and end up with a wrong answer because they didn't follow the row straight across or they miscounted how many rows they needed to go down.
But this is basically foolproof - you can clearly see when you didn't draw a line straight with marker. 
And the kids think it's awesome because it's an excuse to use dry erase markers.
You know, just about the best thing ever?

So that's it! 
It's funny because technically one of my students actually came up with this idea.
I kinda laid the groundwork by taping down my multiplication charts and she just took out a marker one day and started using it to make it easier for her.

And voila!
A genius idea was born.
Ahh, what the minds of a 20-something teacher and an 11 year old student can come up with.
The possibilities are endless.
Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear Spring.

I'm writing to inform you that it is, in fact, your time of the year.
It seems to me that you are missing an awful lot of days this year.
We got to see you briefly, for a couple of days, but since then we haven't seen you at all.

Where are you, Spring?
Are you on vacation?
Or sick?

If so, it seems like quite a bit of time to be taking off,
especially since you only work 3 months out of the year.

At my job, I get 21 sick days and only 3 vacation days.
And I work 10 months out of the year!
I would think that since you work for such a short period of time,
you would get far less sick or vacation time than you've been taking this year.

Or maybe it's not that at all.
Maybe you didn't get the memo that we are already in April.
Believe it or not, it's April 22nd already.
The 20's tells us we're getting pretty close to May. 
I mean, really we can basically just count April as done. Over.
And when you look at it that way, you really have taken quite a long break from work.

At my job, I get evaluated on my performance.
If I go through the whole year and don't teach my kids a single thing, 
I'm pretty sure I would get fired.
Let alone not showing up to teach my kids for the whole year.

Don't get me wrong, I know your job must be hard.
But everyone else seems to be doing just fine.
The Sun is doing a great job, making our day a little longer with each passing sunset.

But not you, Spring.
You just seem to be out to lunch.
Today the highest temperature I saw on my thermometer was 51.
It was down to 49 by the time I got home from work.
Last night I seriously had to consider covering my cool weather crops.
There was ice on my car this morning.

I think I've made my point here, Spring.
Both you and I know what needs to be done.
There just can't be anymore excuses, no matter how high the pollen count is.
You need to come to work.

Truthfully it's hard to get anything done without you around.
And it's not just me who feels that way.
The trees can't seem to get their leaves on as quickly as usual.
The flowers can't seemed to have wake up.
The lettuce and broccoli that want your comfortable Spring air 
can't get any vegetables produced without you.

We've all had those mornings when it's hard to wake up.
But as you can see, when one member of the team slacks off,
it effects everyone in the office.

So let's get our act together here, Spring.
Wake up and smell help the roses bloom.
It may be hard to come back to work, but look on the bright side...
In a month and a half you'll be on vacation for another nine months!

Hope to see you soon.
Your friend,
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

So You Wanna Start A Compost Bin.

If you've ever thought about composting,
I know what you're thinking...

I enjoy doing natural things.
I enjoy doing things that could help the Earth.
I enjoy doing things that could improve my own life.
But I don't have all the time in the world.

And if you've ever done any research on composting you may have found out that it seems like an awful lot of work. Between researching and getting it started and actually doing the composting...
Who has time for all that?!  

About two years ago Jeremie and I wanted to start composting in our back yard.
It's more environmentally friendly - which we like.
And we have a garden so we knew that composting could help our crops.

So I started researching and I was so overwhelmed so quickly that I almost gave up on the idea.  
All these sites are throwing around the words nitrogen and carbon. Add these materials. Don't add these materials.  Buy this compost bin. Make sure you layer the materials in your compost bin properly.  Turn your compost.  Make sure your compost doesn't smell.  Add compost starter. Don't add compost starter. Make sure it gets enough heat. And water. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

So. Much. Information.

And contradicting information, at that.
What was I actually supposed to do? 
And if I did something wrong, was it going to be a complete fail?

So you know what we did? 
We took all the information we found and just winged it.  
And I'm here to tell you that it's really not that hard.  In fact, it's pretty damn easy.

Here are some simple steps to follow to make your own - nice and cheap - compost bin and what to do after you're compost bin is ready to go.

Step One
You'll need to get a large storage bin.  
Nothing fancy.  Just grab a cheap one from Target or Walmart.
It can be as big or small as you want it.  
Ours are 16 gallon bins. 

The first time we tried composting we got a ginormous bin thinking the more we could compost, the better.  But we failed to realize such a giant bin would be really hard impossible to move and turning the material inside would be extremely difficult.  It all worked out in the end but we decided to go a little smaller, and more manageable this time around.

Step Two

Drill 8 - 10 holes in the top and the bottom of your bin.
This allows for air to reach your compost, for moisture to get in, and for bugs to get in and work their natural magic to break down all that waste.

Step Three

Gather some leaves and layer them into the bottom of your bin.  
We also had some wood chips from trees that came down during Sandy and Irene and the Autumn Nor'Easter so we threw some of those in too.  You can use your storm damage wood chips if you have them, but use them sparingly.  Don't throw three pounds of wood in there because it won't turn out all that well.

Step Four

Fill your bin about a quarter to half full with top soil.  
You can get top soil in bags at Home Depot for super cheap. 
Like, less than 2 bucks.  
We needed about two and a half bags for our two compost bins.

Step Five

If you choose to use a compost starter make sure you follow the directions on the bag.  
We decided to use a compost starter this time because it just speeds up the process a little.
We had to add a layer of compost starter after our leaves and after our dirt layer and add a little water each time.
It's as simple as that.

Step Six

Mix up all your brown materials and place the bin in a place that gets some sun and some shade.  We have ours positioned right off our deck so we have easy access.  

Step Seven

Put a compost bucket in your kitchen so you have a convenient spot for all your compostables.
You'd be amazed at all the stuff you can compost, so do a little research and see what is and is not compostable.

Here are some of the sites I use:


Step Eight

You're ready to compost!
Throw some stuff in there and make sure you give it a turn with a shovel at least once a week.
 You might see other sites saying that you should layer evenly and make sure you have an equal amount of brown (carbon rich material) and green (nitrogen rich material) at all times.  Honestly, in my experience I have found that it doesn't matter all that much.  

We just take out our compost every day and throw it in the bin.  We give the compost a turn with a shovel at least once a week and everything is fine!  If you notice that you are putting a lot in your compost and you have more waste material than leaves and dirt, you could add another layer of leaves and dirt and continue.  

So that's it.
Super easy, cheap and natural.
If you're a gardener, I swear it works wonders.
I used our compost in our garden last year and my crops went crayyy - zeee.  

If you're so inclined, give it a try. 
I promise it's totally painless!
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bloglovin' Love.

I know what you're thinking right now...

No posts for a week and a half and now two posts in one day?!?
What's going on.  

But this one is going to be super quick.  
I just wanted to do a quick update to let everyone know that I finally set up my account so you can finally follow Siriusly Craftables on Bloglovin'!!

Follow on Bloglovin

All you need to do is click the little Bloglovin' link over in the right sidebar under all my social media icons and BAM you'll be following my little blog. Plus you'll have nothing to worry about when Google Reader is stolen from us later this year.

I've been on Bloglovin' for a while now (since the announcements started coming out that Google Reader would be no more) but I've been lazy about setting Siriusly Craftables up on it.  

Lazy seems to be my word of choice this month :(

Oh well.  Jump on over to Bloglovin' and follow me!
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Just Some Plain Old Updates.

I'm done.  Officially, 100%, completely done.

Of course I'm talking about my grad school class for this semester which is part of the reason I've been slacking so much on this here blog. I submitted my final assignment Sunday and now all I have to do is a one hour exam and I'll be all set.  

We've had lot's of excitement around here lately that I definitely want to catch you all up on.  Not the least of which is the fact that I am officially on spring break this week!  Woo!

I even made a spring break schedule for things like cleaning the house and getting yard work done.  Because let's face it, if it's not scheduled, it's not getting done.

But before I get started on all that fun stuff I have to take a second to mention the sadness I am feeling over the terrible events that happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday.  And the pain is doubled because it happened almost exactly four months after the terrible tragedy in my home town.  

What is this world country coming to?
How can we feel safe anywhere?  
How can we fix this?

There are so many questions that need answering and I really couldn't tell you where to start on anything.  In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with Boston and everyone who was affected by this senseless tragedy.  Four months ago, the world opened up and showed Newtown an incredible amount of support, warmth and love.  Let's do the same for Boston, now.  

They will need it to get through the months to come.

Moving away from all the sadness and on to some of the positive things that have happened recently.
Oh yes,  my spring break schedule!!

Here it is

Ok, in all seriousness it's nothing special. But hey, it'll get the job done.  On Sunday I'll be writing about what an awesome, productive week I had and it'll all be thanks to this spreadsheet.

So far I've accomplished everything I planned to do except fixing the garden fence and planting.  I'm blaming that on the fact that my schoolwork took longer than it was supposed to on Sunday and not the fact that I was being lazy in any way, shape or form.

In other news, I got my package from the Covert Robin exchange and I'll be posting about that soon.  My partner sent me so much awesome stuff I couldn't believe it!  

And my mom got a new dog!! After losing Jake a couple of months ago my mom was thinking maybe it was time to start looking around.  She wasn't sure if she was ready but a friend of mine who fosters for the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue got this awesome foster.  Her name was Bridgette and she's this cute little black lab.  Super sweet, good with just about anything you put in front of her... kids, small animals, cats, other dogs, the mail man, you name it, she likes it.

My mom was back and forth on what to do, again, not sure if she was really ready to move on from Jake but in the end they adopted her!  I'm very happy for them and for Bridgette who is now known as Callie.  She deserves a great home and now she has one!!

And my final positive news for now. 
 Wait for it.

We're getting our compost going again!!
I know. So exciting, right?

Well, sadly it is really exciting to me.  I just think that we really need to be doing more to help the Earth and one way to do that is to do things as naturally as possible.  We've done composting before but we made the fatal mistake of choosing a compost bin that was ginormous and then we couldn't turn the materials periodically like you're supposed to.

It all worked out and I think that the compost was part of the reason my garden grew like wildfire last summer.  So we're going to try it again (with some smaller bins) and see how it goes.  
Check back for some updates!

So, again, I'm sorry for the lack of attention lately but I'll get back into my normal routine now.
And if I don't, I won't have grad school as an excuse so shame on me!

That's all for now!

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Little Man.

A couple of months ago I did a post about my Sirius and how he was turning 4 years old.
Well, just the other day it happened again.  
My little man, who's actual name is Orion, turned 3 years old.

I'm pretty sure that means he's officially an adult now.
He's pretty much been an adult dog for a year and a half now, 
but I think since he's 3 now, I can't be in denial about it anymore.

It's all just happening too fast!
Stop growing!!
I guess I'll give them until 5, and then I'll be in total denial about how old they are. 
I'm pretty sure most women are in denial about THEIR age, but me?
No, I'm in denial about my dog's age.
Does this mean I have a problem?
Anyway, here's some of my favorite things about the Little Man.

Full Name:

Orion Hittenmark
You may remember that Sirius has a pretty ridiculous name.
Somehow, Orion never got any additional names.  
Maybe it's because he wasn't named for a Harry Potter character and because he didn't have a last name we had to hyphenate when we got married.
I dunno how Sirius ended up with a name that is eight words long and Orion only got two.


April 1st, 2010
We don't actually know Orion's birthday because he's a rescue. 
We estimated.
And we liked the fact that his birthday would be April fools day.

Super Dog.

Australian Shepherd and.....
Duck Tolling Retriever?
Great Pyrenees?
We have no idea.
Jeremie thinks it's Duck Toller and I could see that but the rescue told us Great Pyrenees.  
I can't see that one.  He's 55 pounds and not all that fluffy.


The Little Man
Mischief Man
Snuggles with his brother.

Hates loathes it when you blow a raspberry on him.
Loves to snuggle (when HE feels like it. Not when you feel like it).
Loves to give high-fives.
Loves Dad best.
Loves to make-out with Dad's face (I know this sounds kinda bad but Orion loves to give kisses to Jeremie and sometimes he just won't stop).
Will jump on the bed whether he was invited or not (including at 2 in the morning when we're so asleep that we don't even notice until we wake up in the morning. I'm pretty sure he's figured out that's how he can get away with sleeping on the bed).


Ummm...seriously, I don't think he has any. 

True Story:

So, imagine this:

It's the very first day we have Orion.  We truly didn't even plan on getting him.  We had been looking for another dog and my friend who fosters for a rescue out of the South texted me one night and said that she had the perfect puppy for us.  He would be here the next day and she picked him just for us and no one even knew they were ready for adoption yet! 

So the next day she brings him right over to our house and within minutes we had fallen in love with him.  We were able to keep him right away and we were about to find out just what we had gotten ourselves into.

It's just hours later and it's about time for dinner.  We soak our dog's food in water for about 30 min, before we put it down for them.  It helps with digestion.  Anyway, after I fill their bowls, Orion has officially figured out where we keep the food bin and he's figured out that he can use his nose to lift up the top of the food bin so he can get in and eat the food.  Again, we've had this dog for about 6 hours at this point and he's a 2 and a half month old puppy!!!

 We have a half wall that comes off our front door. It makes a little barrier between the entranceway and the living room.  Opposite that half wall is the closet where we keep the food.  So, I put up a gate at the end of our little entrance hallway so Orion can't get to the food bin.

Most dogs would give up there, right? 
Like, oh hey, I guess they won.  Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

Not Orion.

No, no.  Orion jumps up on the couch next to the half wall, continues to climb up onto the wall, walks down to the end of the half wall, jumps down and gets into the food bin.
Never even coming close to the gate.

It was at that exact moment that we knew two things:

We had a pretty smart little guy on our hands.
 His secondary name would be mischief man.

Yup, it took him all of six hours to acquire that nickname.  And now he's three years old and still our mischief man.  We couldn't love him more :)

Orion came from the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue which is based out of Tennessee.
Check out their website here:

Big Fluffies

They're a great rescue to support!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Can't Believe....

I've been on the look out for a couple of weeks now for some new link ups to jump into.
Partly because I'm looking for fun ideas to write about and partly because I love link ups!
Today I noticed that one of my favorite bloggers, Karla did a link up called

This link up comes from Robin at The Sunshine Diary
 It's funny because I stumbled upon her blog just recently and I stumbled upon it again today when I was looking for some info on this link up.  Needless to say it might be time to start reading her blog more often since I've accidentally found it twice in the last week and it's seems pretty awesome while I'm there.
This week, I Can't Believe...
I can't believe that...

 I've been such a terrible blogger lately.  I love my blog but most people wouldn't know that based on my most recent posts - or lack there of.
I can't believe that...

We bought a car two weeks ago.  Seriously, I'm still shocked.
I can't believe that....

My younger dog, Orion (Little Man) turned 3 the other day!
More on that to come.
I can't believe that...

I only have three weeks left of my grad school class for this semester. 
I'm pretty over it, so I'm ready to be done.
I can't believe that...

Spring break is a week and half away.
I can't believe that....
It's April and in my opinion, it still feels like winter!!
Pull yourself together, Mother Nature!
I can't believe that....
I'm finally on the 7th Harry Potter book.
 I'm kinda dreading the end though because I know that even though this is my second time through the whole series, I'm still gonna feel that sense of loss at the end.
I hate finishing a good book. Especially when it's part of a good series.
I can't believe that....
The hubs is house sitting allllll week and I miss him so much. 
 It's amazing how I can enjoying something so much and not really know it until I'm missing it.  Like, sleeping next to someone every night.  I'm ok once I'm asleep but that time before bed is just so lonely without him :( 
But hey, at least tomorrow is Thursday which means it's almost Friday.
And that means it's almost the weekend!
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Excuses, Excuses.

It's been about a month now that I've been struggling with some pretty serious writer's block.  
For a while I thought it was the March blues.
I saw other bloggers writing about the same thing and I thought for sure as soon as we had some decent weather, I'd be right back in the swing of things.

But we've had some decent weather now and guess what...

I still have nothing to write about!!!

I've finally come to the conclusion that it's 100% my fault.
I've been super lazy.  
Not to say that I NEVER have anything to do because honestly, I've been quite busy for the past few weeks.

New Car.
School work (I won't give you  link to that one because no one wants to be bored).

But I've certainly had some down time too.
I have this little pet peeve about people complaining about how busy they are and saying they can't get anything done because they're SOOOOOOOO busy when they really aren't.  

Unless you have kids or you're going to medical school, you're probably not THAT busy.
I'm guilty of it too.  
And let's face it,
It's a good excuse.

Maybe not a good excuse to give other people because they probably see right through it.  Like when we say we're late because there was traffic and everyone knows that there was no traffic because they got there the same way.
 But we think we're fooling ourselves when we say this.
And that's what counts.

Well, I'm going to stop it here. 

I'm. Not. That. Busy.

Sure, I have a house to take care of  and papers to grade and IEP's to write and dogs to walk and errands to run and a husband to spend time with and grad school work to get done.
But really, I'm not so busy that I can't get anything done.

That's the excuse I've been using for weeks to not blog as much as I should be.  I have had some writers block and it's been a problem.  But even when I do have an idea for a blog post, I've been putting it off. 

'Well, I'll just watch 30 min. of TV and then I'll write.'
'I'll just read a chapter, and then I'll write.'
'I'll write after dinner.'
'I've been so busy all day. I'll write tomorrow.'

No more excuses.
Today I get myself organized, motivated and back on track!

If anyone else has experienced this lack of motivation, I'd love to hear some suggestions of how to get back into the swing of things!
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