Today I did 200 Squats

Yesterday I finished my 4 weeks to a more organized home challenge with a sparkling clean home and today I finished my 30 day squats challenge with some seriously sore legs. I did manage to do 200 squats without keeling over and dying, which I hadn’t thought possible at the beginning of this summer – and my legs are looking and feeling more toned.

And so I have finished both of my summer challenges and, much as I may try to avoid it, I now have a lot more time to prepare for the new school year – which starts tomorrow! Wish me luck – although we both know that my students are the ones who will need it.


We Painted a Rug

I’ve been wanting a new rug for the house for a while. A long while. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be in our budget any time soon, no matter how many times I make my husband drive me to Ikea and moon over rugs hoping he’ll agree that £160 is a bargain for the rug of my dreams. Hasn’t worked yet. This leaves me with the following options:

1. Get by without  a rug – doable, but sad

2. Secretly buy a rug and hope Terry doesn’t notice – not likely

3. Paint the existing rug we have into a rug that I like – lightbulb!

I found this dream living room on Apartment Therapy:


Dream rug
How gorgeous is that rug???

Unfortunately, that rug looks like it costs quite a bit of money. However, I soon spotted this tutorial on how to paint a rug and an idea for a DIY project was born. We had a white Ikea rug that we’d bought a few years previously and had put up when we got a black cat. We went to Home Base and bought a basic gray house paint in Urbanite gray and off we went.

First things first – Terry broke out the measuring tape and set off making those zig zags.

Terry using his mad measuring skills to mark out the pattern

Not long after, I began painting the pattern onto the rug. The first coat seemed a bit patchy, so we applied a second coat just to be safe.

While Terry continued to mark out the pattern, I began painting
All done – just need to wait for the paint to dry

Like any DIY project, we began with a lot of enthusiasm but halfway through wondered why on earth we didn’t just save up the money to buy a stupid rug in the first place. This is that point:

Halfway there….

This morning when we woke up, we pulled off the tape and were delighted to find this supercool rug in our living room!

After – designer rug or DIY?

In the words of This Little Miggy:

$30 rug, $6 in paint,  3.5 hours and a little elbow grease?
I’m sorry, but you just can’t beat that with a stick.

The End of 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home

Most of you know that I have been participating in a 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge where I do a set of cleaning tasks each day to, well, organize my shoebox. I haven’t managed to post in the past few days as I am just beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year and it is consuming me, but I’m taking a moment to post the last three days of challenges and a few thoughts:

Day 18:

1.Set the timer for 15 minutes and vacuum the main living areas of your home.

This can never seem to get done often enough

2. Vacuum your carpeted closets. Sweep or mop the floor in those closets without carpet. Remove all items from the closet floor and get rid of clutter, trash, and items that don’t belong in that closet.

Haha! No carpeted closets in this home = day off. Thanks tiny European homes!

3. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.


1 & 2: Notebooks – donate

3. Garlic press – donate

4. Sunglasses case – donate

5. Scissors – donate

Day 19:

1. Set the timer for 15 minutes and wipe down your windowsills and trim around your windows.

Not the most fun I’ve had all day….

2. Clean your windows and blinds and/or window treatments. If you want to get really ambitious, you can take the screens off (if you have screens) and clean the outside of your windows. Or, you can just use window cleaner and clean your windows on the inside. Dust or wash your blinds. Remove any washable window treatments and launder them.

This is yet another task that I haven’t done since I moved into this house. 18 months ago. I must say that I am really impressed with the difference that this (relatively) quick task made.

Before – not too bad, right?
Wrong! Ewww!!
After – what a difference a quick clean makes!

3. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.


1-3. Old bags – donate

4. Hanger – donate

5. Ice cube tray – donate

Day 20 – the end is here!:

1. Clean out and re-organize your medicine cupboard(s). Check expiration dates on medicines and dispose of any that are expired. 

We don’t have a medicine cupboard – we have a medicine box. It hasn’t really been looked at recently to I pulled it out. I threw away empty boxes and expired medications and cleaned it out. 

Medicine ‘cupboard’ before – the lid didn’t even go on properly
After – a perfect fit!

2. Set the timer for at least 15 minutes and do something you really enjoy and that relaxes and rejuvenates you. If you need ideas, here are a few: read, write, call a friend, pray, exercise, bake, play with your children, laugh with your husband, stop by the bookstore and browse the book selection, work in the garden, or take a nap! Take some time to just stop and enjoy life today!

Today I painted a rug that I’ve been wanting to do. Pictures to follow!

3. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.


I had a few more than 5 things today as it’s the end of this whole expirement:

1. Teapot – donate

2&3. Shampoo bottles I had been saving to use for travel – recycle

4&5. Cups – donate

6. Keychain – donate

7. Homemade dreamcatcher – donate

And that’s it. I have officially finished my 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!!! At the end of it, my home is certainly cleaner and more organized and I enjoyed the challenge. I cleaned things that hadn’t been cleaned since we moved into our house – and possibly a long time before in some cases. I found that taking time to clean little things every day instead of one big clean at the weekend helped a lot and is something that I will look to keep going as the new school year begins.

Perhaps the best part of the challenge was finding 5 things a day to get rid of as I was constantly evaluating items’ places in our home and whether they deserved that space. Terry and I went to the charity shop this afternoon and donated over 100 items that previously occupied space in our home and I don’t miss a single one of them. The space that those 100 items took up has helped our home to look and feel more tidy and, to be honest, it has cleared up a lot of space emotionally.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to declutter and organize their home. Feel free to ask any questions and best of luck! Also, a special shout out to Taylor who I firmly believe is the only one of my friends to have actually read all 20 days of my cleaning challenge.

Month 6 Totals

It’s payday!!!! Can you believe it’s been 6 months since Terry and I decided to turn our lives around and pay off all of our debt? Neither can I. It’s flown by. Without further ado, I present our 6 month totals:

Mandi’s US Credit Card (I try to use this every time I go home to help maintain my US credit): $91.11 (£54.87)

Mandi’s Student Loans: $955.75 (£576.58)

Terry’s Credit Card: £678.58 ($1125.97)

Total paid off of our debts in August: £1310.03 ($2172.10)

6 Month total: £8457.71 ($14,023.31)

WOW!!!! If you had asked me at the beginning of this adventure how much I thought I could pay off of my loans in 6 months, this would most definitely not have been the answer. I probably would have guessed maybe £3000. It’s been a long 6 months, but I’m looking forward to paying off at least as much debt in the next 6 – and hopefully more!

£4165 paid off of Terry’s credit cards – almost halfway there!!

Free Blowout Day


When I got my hair cut in July, I booked an appointment for a blowout today with the same trainee as she needed to practice. I went in this morning and received a free blowout before coming home to get ready for school on Monday.

This is the best my hair has ever looked when working from home, for sure.

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home: Day 17

Today is Day 17 of my 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge:

1. Get dressed in something that makes you feel great

Polka dot skirt and a blue sweater – hello English summer!

2. Set the timer for 15 minutes and do a quick-clean of your bathroom.

Cleaned the bathroom yesterday, so today I focused on the shower doors

3. Clean out and reorganized your kitchen cupboards and pantry.

Did this last weekend after the Ikea run, check it out:

Before 1
After 1
Before 2
After 2

4. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.


 1. Glamour – gave to friend

2. Address book – donate

3. Random CD – donate

4. Glamour notebook – donate

5. Magazine stickers bought for when I thought I needed lots of stuff from magazines to be happy – donated with pleasure

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home: Day 16

It’s day 16 out of 20 (almost done!) of my 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge. This morning we had a good friend from work over for lunch – which helped save money on going out to lunch and also gave us some good quality time to catch up. We also got to pick a few things from our little garden to make the starter:

Starter made using homegrown tomatoes and basil – yum yum!

We spent the morning clearing the house up and finally got around to hanging up this US flag that we had hung on the window for the London Olympics – and then left there. It looks good in it’s new home over the stairs, don’t you think?


After lunch, I took a look at today’s 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home Challenge:

1.Get dressed in something that makes you feel great

Polka dot skirt and a grey tee shirt suit a rainy day like today

2. Set the timer for 15 minutes and quickly pick up your house and put things back into order after the weekend.

We had a friend coming over for lunch so spent about 30 minutes this morning straightening up and making the house more presentable

3. Clean your vents. If you have floor vents that can be removed, remove them and wash them in warm soapy water. Vacuum/clean any dirt or grime around the floor vent area and replace the vent. Use a vacuum attachment and/or a wet rag to dust/clean your other vents.

We don’t have vents – hip hip hooray for the day off!!

4. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.

1. Old pattern – donate 2-5. Blank notepads and notebooks – donate


We Went to Ikea

I know, I know, Ikea is like Swedish crack and should be avoided at all costs when not spending money, but let me explain:

As you are aware, I am in the midst of completing a 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home Challenge and yesterday, Terry and I cleaned the area above our cupboards and had a go at sorting out our kitchen cupboards. While on Pinterest, I noticed these under shelf baskets:


 and I immediately knew that they could help Terry and I organize our tiny kitchen. Does anywhere in Bicester sell them? Of course not, but Ikea does. So we set off to Ikea to pick some up. We needed 3 at £3 each, so we had a budget of £9. But it’s Ikea, and you always find something that you didn’t realize you needed. We picked up a few boxes to get above our kitchen cupboard sorted, some straws to make some bunting

Thanks again Pinterest!

 and a floating shelf to help me get my purses organized in the bedroom for a total of £34. We paid cash and I feel pretty content with our purchases as they will all help us to organize and decorate our tiny home on a tiny budget. 

Our haul:


We put some extra dishes and cookbooks in the boxes to give us some more space in our cupboards and organize the storage. 

All you need to make the bunting are some colorful straws and string
Before: clean, but blah
After: colorful bunting and storage make me smile!

We also spent some time making bunting for the kitchen using this tutorial. It adds such a lovely pop of color and it took us approximately 30 minutes and cost under £2. The kitchen looks a lot brighter now! Thoughts?

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home Days 14 & 15


Didn’t get around to posting yesterday, so here are days 14 & 15:

Day 14: 

1. Get dressed in something that makes you feel great

2. Set the timer for 15 minutes and clean the mirrors and glass doors in your house.

3. Clean out your utensil drawer(s) (those with serving spoons, ladles, spatulas, etc.) in the kitchen and your junk drawer(s). Take everything out, throw out the trash, get rid of extra clutter, wipe out the drawers, and re-organize the contents as you put them back in.

We don’t actually have a utensil drawer, we keep ours in a jug next to the stovetop – so that was easy! We do, however, have not one, but two junk drawers. We tidied these up a few weeks back and so this was a fairly easy task as it was just tidying one drawer. 

Our utensil ‘drawer’ didn’t really need to be sorted
Junk drawer 1 didn’t need any sorting at all – this is the before shot
Junk drawer 2 just needed a bit of tidying

4. Find 5 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.

1. Egg whisk – donate 2. Candle topper – donate 3. Magnet – donate 4 & 5. Lightbulbs – recycle

Day 15:

1.  Get dressed in something that makes you  feel great.

2. Set the timer for at least 15 minutes and do something you really enjoy and that relaxes and rejuvenates you.

Took an hour to catch up on The Mindy Project – LOVE that show!

3. Clean your computer. Wipe down the screen and keys with a damp cloth, organize files, delete emails, etc.

This is something that I haven’t actually taken the time to do since I bought the computer. In 2009. Is that bad??

Before – a bit grubby
After – so fresh and so clean!

4. Find 5 items to get rid of today.

Terry helped out by finding 5 things that he could get rid of.

1. Old binder – donate 2. Purchase order book – donate 3. Wallet – donate 4. Calculator – donate 5. iPhone case – donate