September Goals

I probably shouldn’t be making lofty goals for myself right now, considering life with a 2 month old and a 2 year old. There’s a lot of stuff I need/would like to get done around here and it’s just not going to happen any time soon. Like, I never got to purging and organizing my attic. Like my washing machine needs a washing.  Apparently, that’s a thing. More urgently, my floors need mopping, our children’s book situation is out of control and these kids are growing out of all their clothes! The thing is, I can’t even get to the more urgent needs because the daily, basic needs are the most important and I’m just starting to stay on top of those.

I was thinking of all this today and mildly stressing about how much is not getting done around here as I unloaded last night’s dishes while making dinner.  And then it hit me!  Why don’t I just aim to do a couple of simple things every day. Simple things that might help me to get to the bigger things? So here they are, my two housekeeping goals for September:

1. Make our bed first thing in the morning.

2. Unload the dishwasher before I pour my morning coffee.

If I can manage to do these two simple things every day, it could open up a world of opportunities for tackling more to-do’s.  Or, more likely, it’ll just be 2 things I get to that I haven’t been good about in a long time.  But by the end of the month, I will have worked on these 2 simple goals and hopefully they will become habits.  And hopefully I will be able to make a couple of new goals next month. 🙂

Do any of you have any goals that you’re working on?

7QT Back to Reality

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary to share my 7 randoms.  You should too!

1. Well helloooo there! The Johnsons have been all over the place lately which is why I’ve been mostly absent on the blog.  But lucky for me and everyone, my sisters have been picking up the slack.  I’m loving Claire’s posts about her house renovations and (of course) her mouthy kiddos.  And Jane’s post yesterday on the trials and blessings of motherhood was exactly what I needed to read.  Everyone should just skip these takes and read their stuff. 😉

2. Last weekend (well, Thursday to Monday) we were in Minnesota for my friend Pam’s wedding.  Pam is my dearest, fiercest friend from college and beyond.  I was so thrilled when she called me last year to tell me about James, this guy she had met.  Talking to her, I could tell that a switch had flipped and James was the one.  They had a lovely wedding ceremony and the reception was at the fairgrounds in the town.  Pam even treated the bridal party and their significants to a pontoon boat ride on the lake in between the ceremony and the reception!  It was a lot of fun.


Don’t mind the photobombing first mate back there.

3. There were a few other Steubenville friends at the wedding, including Francine! IMG_1802We also met up with other college friends while we were in Minnesota. It was wonderful to just pick up where we left off so easily, even with kids in tow. Sometimes I worry that I’ll never have friends as close as college friends because we don’t have that shared background of living together.  And we don’t have the time anymore to spend with other people! Everyone has jobs and kids, and most significantly, different backgrounds.  It definitely takes more work and and time. I think it’s worth it, but it is so refreshing to get together with other Franciscan alum friends and just be.

4. Sigh.  Well, I have my work cut out for me since we came back.  For some reason, fall is the time of year that I really get the itch to clean and organize and purge.  I think it’s the teacher in me.  I have to get moving and doing things in the fall or I feel like a completely useless human being. The majority of our living space is reasonably clean most of the time, but there are crap zones in our house that have gotten more craptacular as time has gone on.  The spare bedroom is the main culprit. The worst part about the spare bedroom is the closet in that room is my closet, and the door broke. Of all the closets in the house! The hinge had been wonky the whole time we’ve been here and some time this summer it just gave way.  So that stinks.  The attic is a mess too.  Ugh.

Anyway, my plan of attack is this: make a list (and I hate hate hate making lists) of little tasks that need to be done, nothing huge, and just tackle them one by one.  I did one yesterday.  I finally cleaned the top of the fridge for the first time since we moved here two years ago!  Clearly, Suzy homemaker I am not.

5. To keep me company while I clean/organize/purge, I’ve been listening to Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.  It’s for a book club I’m a part of, and I have to have it finished by next Saturday.  I feel kinda like a cheater for listening to it… but here’s the thing: I’m a really slow reader.  I guess I’ve had two months to read the book, but I didn’t get on it right away and then it was the end of August and I knew I wouldn’t finish it on time.  So I decided to listen to it, since there are so many times during the day (dishes, cleaning, driving, running, dishes, dishes…) that I could be engaging my mind a little more.

6. Speaking of engaging!  It’s been really hard to listen to this book!  Not because it’s not good, but because it’s been hard making my mind switch gears and really focus on what I’m listening to.  I’m going to cop out of the obvious (I’m a bad listener) and blame all the technology!  My mind is so used to multitasking, from watching tv and being on the internet at the same time, or listening to music while being on the internet… well, doing anything while being on the internet.  I’m so programed now to just gloss over everything to take in the maximum amount of information.  It’s been hard for me to settle and focus on what I’m listening to and to turn on my imagination while I’m listening.  There are so many other things floating around in my head!  Anyway, it’s been a good learning experience for me and I’m finally getting into the book. It takes place in Oxford!  I’ve been to there! Maybe after I’m done with it and we’ve had our book club I can do a little post on it.  I haven’t participated yet in Housewifespice’s What We’re Reading Wednesday because the thought of writing about books makes me revisit homeschool anxieties from doing Seton in high school. [And that’s not to say I had a bad homeschooling experience or a bad experience with Seton, I was just a bad homeschooler ;)]

7. SWITCHING GEARS. When I was in Costco today, I saw this:IMG_1803

So, of course, I immediately took a picture (duh) and sent it to my brother Jim, because that’s what you do when you see something gross.



Happy Weekend, everyone!

Rose’s Bedroom Post

Bear with my dark and blurry photos — it’s a point of pride for my husband that he actually got a higher grade in photography class in college than I did, considering that I was supposed to be an art major. In my defense, the sun rises on the other side of my house from my bedroom.

When we moved into this house last year, each bedroom featured a different shade of badly worn and stained plush carpeting. The one in our bedroom was forest green, with the same off-white flat painted walls and trim as the main living areas, though it was clear that underneath that the trim was a minty green, to coordinate with the carpet. (In our old master bedroom, I had to paint over lilac trim, which matched the purple walls, so this is apparently a thing.) I recently painted the walls a beigy gray…sort of.  I’m in a fight with Sherwin Williams over their enormous and expensive “samples” not actually matching with the full gallon. Twice. After I painted all the edges of the room with the sample. Anyway.

Wood floors were our first choice to replace the carpeting, but we had to go with a quick fix because the carpets were so gross, so we went with Berber-type white carpets in the bedrooms. Let’s break the rest down:

Pretty —

I love my Ikea pillows, a big splurge a few years ago which I have never ever regretted. I added the long accent pillow covered in gray striped linen after I made these shades:

I know they’re hard to see since they’re backlit, but they are DIY Roman shades (using this tutorial) made with decorator fabric on sale at JoAnn’s. It was surprisingly easy and I really love the result.

Paul bought me these lovely wooden jewelry boxes for Christmas a few years ago. They are actually handmade by inmates at the New Hampshire state prison in Concord. I think it’s great that the prisoners are able to learn skilled crafts and spend some of their time making beautiful things, and that we can support their rehabilitation by buying their creations.

Happy —

These pictures of me and Paul make me so happy. The big black and white one is our engagement photo, and the one tucked in the corner is one of our wedding photos, taken outside the Abbey Church at St. Anselm College just after our wedding, as the sun was going down. I love Paul’s smile (and, not gonna lie, my hair) in this picture.


This room is a work in progress, which is most obvious when it comes to the closet doors, which do not exist.Also real here is the fact that my children are constantly following me into my sanctuary and messing it up. Hence this next photo, of the security measures Paul felt he had to take to keep someone’s sticky fingers out of his stuff.

When I suggested he put a lock on this drawer because Ruthie kept opening it and pulling all his stuff out, I thought he’d put in one of the child safety latches we have all over the place, but he went for the big guns.

Blurry again, sorry! Both dressers in our bedroom are second-hand, this one from an estate sale in NY, and the other from a consignment store in NH. The chair is actually from my doctor’s office and it was f.r.e.e. He had two of these in his waiting room, and one day one of them disappeared and I actually asked them what had happened to it, because I’m weird like that. They told me one of the legs was broken, and that those chairs and a bunch of the other cool midcentury furniture in the office was from a retired doctor’s office and that my doctor had gotten all of it pretty much for free when he was setting up his practice. I decided it couldn’t hurt to tell them I’d love to take the other chair if they were ever going to get rid of it, and what do you know, a few months later they told me I could take it! It meant our dresser was moved off-center, but we still like how it looks, and I try to make sure it doesn’t just become a clothes depository.

It’s not the dream room, but I do like my little changes and pretty details, and I love keeping it clean and peaceful for myself and my husband.

{phfr} Bedroom Edition

I was so excited to take on Auntie Leila’s challenge to “pretty up and clean out” my bedroom this week!  Back when I was nesting (and productive for the first time ever in my life), I read all of Auntie Leila’s posts about the reasonably clean home.  First of all, can I just say how much I love that phrase, reasonably clean home?  It’s so perfect.  I’m not the most meticulous housekeeper and I actually don’t feel comfortable and happy in super clean, super organized, super sterile environments.  I need a little comfy chaos!  But my relaxed attitude often gets the better of me and I find myself stressing out about the mountains of to-dos that I have let pile up. But reasonably clean?  I can do that!

Anyway, back to the genius of Auntie Leila.  In her reasonably clean house posts, she suggests to start cleaning projects in your bedroom.  I found myself very inspired by the idea of showing love for your husband and reverence for your marriage by not letting your bedroom become the armpit of your home.  Just that thought helps me to hop to it in the morning (most mornings) and simply make my bed!

So, thank you, Auntie Leila for your inspiration and for this challenge!  Here are snapshots of my pretty, happy, funny, real bedroom.


We don’t have a very big bedroom, but I love it.  I really don’t know what people do with cavernous HGTV-approved master suites!  Do they have parties to use their seating area and big screen tv?


I’m not happy with the side-by-side dresser situation but it’s necessary and it works. One day, I’ll have a nice bureau with a mirror. One day…

Motivated by the bedroom challenge, I finally made this (very necessary) earring organizer.  Can you believe I’ve had the materials and idea for this project since last winter and I just haven’t gotten around to it?  It was so easy, it took me 20 minutes.  The things I put off, it’s shameful!  I plan on making a necklace organizer next.


Dave and I had a thing for Barry White back when we were dating…………….

I know.

To forever memorialize that time (and to embarrass and confuse our kids when they’re older) Dave had this frame engraved with the lyrics from a classic Barry song.



I clearly have some more jewelery organizing to do!  We also desperately need to refinish this dresser.  More projects to put off, yay!

Check out more pretty, happy, funny, real-ness at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Mouse in the House


What did I do to deserve this?

Ok, I know that there are far far worse things that could happen to me than having a little mouse in my house.  I have to remind myself of this repeatedly throughout the day when I start to hyperventilate thinking of that disgusting, dirty varmint scurrying around my kitchen at night leaving little poops on my kitchen table.

That’s right!!! On my kitchen table!!! How the heck did it get on my table??? It’s evil witchcraft I tell you.

When I saw the little poops on the table yesterday, I called Dave frantically at work and sputtered about “Mouse in the house… poop on table…going to die!!!!” Dave said, “Relax, we probably tracked the poop in from the mudroom, it’s not a big deal.”  !!!!!!!!  How does one track mouse poop onto the kitchen table?

On the upside, having a mouse in the house has made me really step it up in the cleaning department.  I’ve been keeping the floors, counters and table spotless and washing the dishes (no dishwasher; I’m number last!) right away so as to not give our little friend a reason to come out and scrounge.  Honestly, it’s taking a lot of humility just to admit that there was a mouse on my kitchen table because deep down inside me where doubts like to grow is a voice that’s telling me that it’s my fault that we have a mouse.  You are a bad at keeping house, Ellen.  The mouse is your punishment.  No, no, it couldn’t be because the house is over a hundred years old or (as Dave keeps telling me) mice just happen. The stupid thing is that these doubts keep me from actually buckling down and taking care of business, which in turn makes me doubt myself more.  I know that’s really the devil trying to get to me.  Poor mouse, I’m calling it the devil and really it’s helping me keep my house clean!

Anyway, in a roundabout way, this brings me to St. Anne; wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker extraordinaire.  It’s her feast day next week (July 26th) and I’m doing a novena to her to ask for help in my vocation.  There’s a part of the novena prayer that really applies to this situation with the mouse and with doubting myself: “Obtain for me the grace of never offending God, of fulfilling faithfully all the duties of my state of life, and of practicing all those virtues that are needful for my salvation.”

And please, St. Anne, help us get rid of the mouse!

*I’ll do Quick Takes tomorrow yous guys*