Friday, November 30, 2012


I promise this will be my last list of 25 things for a while.....but when I get an idea stuck in my head, I just have to go with it.  It came to me on Thanksgiving and I started making a mental list since then.

This list is 25 things I'm thankful for. 

Not the big my family, my friends, my job, my house, my health....those are givens. 

And those are the most important things which deserve much more credit than to just be put on some list along with some things which are much less deserving.

No, this is a very light, easy-breezy, somewhat shallow list.
Because every once in a while, I just want to write a post that is completely ridiculous.  In a good way.

Also....because I'm completely addicted to instagram and my iPhone (literally all of my IG pics have been taken on my beloved iPhone), each of the things on the list have made an appearance on my instagram posts.
(plug alert) 
Follow me on instagram (mlehan) to continue to learn about my favorite things!  :)

25 Things I'm Thankful For....

1. Of course...I had to start with this.  Best purchase ever. 
(okay, maybe a close second to my house)

2.  Games. 
We are a crazy game-obsessed family.

3. Killer Brownies.
So. good.

4. And what better to have after a killer brownie?
Okay, I literally didn't have this right after the brownie....these were taken weeks apart....honest!

5. Concerts.
Especially cheap ones with awesome performances.
Christina Perri = amazing!

6. Purses and jewelry.
Especially cheap ones that I get for almost free.

7. Sangria.
Happy hour.
Enough said.

8. Saving over a hundred bucks at the grocery store.
I might not be ready for Extreme Couponing, but I'm a pretty smart shopper. 

9. Nail polish.
As you can see, I have an OPI obsession.

10. Party bus fun.
Being a loyal fan, even when surrounded by "the enemies"-a.k.a. my friends.  :)
*I went with 20 plus Tigers fans on a bus to see the Sox play them in Detroit.  I was the only Sox fan....but I still had the best time!

11. A family tradition of making fun cupcakes- both adults and kids.
Loved these fish ones!

12. Sudoku.
Fountain Coke.

13. Makeup in the morning.
Shopping at night.
Could I be more of a cliche girl....really?

14. Sitting on the beach.
Doing nothing but listening to the waves, soaking in the sun, and drinking a bottle of Towne Club. 

15. Target.
Whatever you call's my own little piece of heaven.

16. My snooze button.
One of three that I love to abuse on a daily basis.

17. Cute jewelry ordered online.  One of many that I've bought this year.
I may need an intervention.

18. Old framed pictures of my family.  Like this wedding photo of my mom and dad. 

19. Good books.
And reading them at night before bed.

20. My headache-remedy kit.
Caffeine + Excedrin Migraine + chocolate!

21. Art.  And living in a town that promotes it.

22. Watching football.
Especially when it's with my BFF who I don't see nearly enough!

23. Reality TV shows.
One of my guilty pleasures.

24. Ah....another guilty pleasure.  (or two)
Iced capps and donuts from Tim Hortons.
25.  Freedom.
I know...I kind of snuck in that last one even though I said this would be a pretty "shallow" post. 
But, if I wasn't sappy, I wouldn't be me.  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

25....things i don't do.

Here's the companion piece to yesterday's post.....and more insight into my little quirks.

25 Things I Don't Do....

1. Drink coffee. Love the smell of it, actually enjoy the taste of it, but my stomach can not handle it. Yet, I can down cans and cans of pop with no problems. Crazy.

2. Use eyeliner, contacts, or eye drops.  Putting things into my eyes is not good. They water enough as it is!

3. Leave home without makeup on my face. Like, not even to walk to the mailbox.

4. Sew, crochet, or knit.   Someday, I might....seeing all the cute things my friends (and Mom) can make, I think it may be a summer project to learn!

5. Eat fast.....unless it's ice cream. I hate melting ice cream.

6. Like blow-drying my hair. I have thick hair, so it takes forever. Now you know why I fall back to the ponytail so often!

7. Go to bed without washing my face and brushing my teeth. It doesn't matter how tired I am, or how sick I am....I honestly can't remember the last time that I didn't.

8. Wake up without an alarm....actually, two or three alarms.   Except for this morning when I slept through all three of them.  I may have had a mini-heart attack.

Two of my three alarms...the other is on my cell phone!

9. Vacuum enough. Or sweep, mop, or wash my floors enough. Just not my favorite chore. Please just ignore my floors if you're ever at my house. It will make me feel much better.

Evidence that I own a vacuum....but how often I use it is the issue!

10. Understand how running "clears your mind". Maybe I don't give it enough time, but all I can think of was how hard it long have I been doing much longer can I make, my lungs hurt.....geez, I'm on the verge of hyperventilating...yeah, not fun or relaxing.

11. Like throwing stuff away. I'm an "organized packrat"....but I also like to give away and donate things I don't want or need anymore. So don't worry, I'm not going to be on hoarders.

Before the garage sale this summer.....piles and piles of stuff!

12. Leave work without my desk/counter/tables being cleared and organized. Yes, I'm an organization freak. You should see my binder collection. Scary.

13. Ever desire getting a pedicure. Or full body massage. I know, all you ladies are probably thinking I'm insane right now, but I'm way too ticklish. And I think feet are kind of gross.

14. Like being barefoot. I just love socks. And see #13.

15. Say goodbye to my mom without telling her I love her.

Love you, Mimzy!

16. Wear leather watches, bracelets, sandals, or shoes without socks. Unless I want to break out into an uncontrollably itchy rash. So annoying to have this skin allergy because there are a lot of cute shoes I just can't wear...and leather bracelets....and watches.  (I know...poor me.)

17. Understand the allure of watching race car driving. Or golf.

18. Iron. I own a small iron and ironing board, but I think I've used them once. Either I don't have anything that needs to be ironed, or I just don't care enough.

19. Smoke. Never have, never will.

20. Enjoy talking on the phone for long periods of time. I love talking to people in person, and could do that for hours, but for some reason on the phone is not fun to me.

21. Have any piercings. The ones in my ears closed up, and I've never gotten around to getting them pierced again. With my obsession over accessories, you would think I'd get on that!   My first experience with getting my ears pierced was not a good one...just ask my mom about that.

22. Like to use my air conditioning. I hate the stale, cold air. I do give in on those 95 degree-and-humid days in the summer, but otherwise I open all the windows, set the fans, and deal with it.

Yeah, I "caved" and used the A/C during this heat wave!

23.  Make it through most movies without shedding a tear.  Seriously....even the action movies get me at some point.  And when I see an actually "tear jerker" movie.....well, that's just a scary sight when I leave the theater.

24. Wash my car. I've brought it to a car wash place a couple times, but other than that it's just neglected. I don't keep trash in the car though.....just lots of dirt and dust!  I did take my car in for its yearly cleaning this week.....and took an instagram picture to commemorate this occasion.  :)

25. Take anything for granted. I realize we all feel like there's "more" for us, but I know I'm lucky to have the family, friends, job, and life that I have been given.

(I know.....but I had to end on a sappy note.  That's just how awesome I am.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

25 Things I Do.

Last year around this time I wrote a couple Facebook "notes" which looking back were really like pseudo-blog posts.  They were inspired by another blog I follow that had two "list" posts, and I couldn't help but join in on the list making. 

If you haven't figured it out already....I love making lists. 

So, I'm going to repost those two lists. 

Because this is my 25th post since starting my blog.
And each the lists have 25 items.
And I have another list brewing in my head but don't have the time to finish it tonight.  :)

I did make a few tweaks to the list, because the writing teacher in me knows the importance of revising and editing....and I like to practice what I preach.

25 Things I Do....

1. Make my bed every morning. Even when I'm running late.

2.  Go through more Kleenex every day than a normal person.  Allergies + my dad's genes= I'm cursed with a runny nose. 

3. Self-diagnose. So far, I think I have/had seasonal allergies, psoriasis, plantar fasciitis, and a pinched nerve. And none of these have been told to me by an actual medical professional. I just love google and web md. And avoiding the doctor.

4. Collect purses....and wallets.....and necklaces....and rings....and watches....and hats....and scarves. I'm accessory-obsessed. If my ears were still pierced, I'm sure that would be on my list.

5. Change my clothes almost immediately after I get home from work. I'm just like Mr. Rogers, only slightly more fashionable. And for those of you who have no clue who Mr. Rogers is, don't tell me. I'll just feel extremely old.

6. Always need some chapstick on me or nearby. I just hate having dry or chapped lips.

7. Use smiley faces in emails, facebook posts, and when I sign my name on things at school. And I'm not ashamed of it.  :)

8.  Drink a lot of caffeine everyday.  I'm trying to get better, and I've definitely cut down on the regular pop, but Cherry Coke Zero is my weakness.  And I still treat myself to a fountain Coke once in a while. 

9. Notice spelling and grammar mistakes almost right away, and get embarrassed when they're mine. But don't worry....I don't judge you if they're yours. I just want to fix them for you!

10. Stay up way too late, and always regret it a little in the morning. But obviously not enough to change it!

11. Love to chop, dice, slice.....basically any cooking prep. Plus, I love to cook. I love creating a meal, going off recipes but changing them up a little, and being creative. I just don't like the clean-up afterward.

12. Do a crossword, Sudoku, or other brainteasers before bed. When I actually get ready for bed at a decent time, I try to read....but I have a hard time stopping once I start, so usually a quick puzzle is what I'll end up doing.

13. Think thunderstorms are relaxing. I love falling to sleep to the sound of a good storm....

14. Try to do things myself whenever I can instead of hiring someone to do it. Or I just ask my mom to help me.   In fact, I've written a few posts about these DIY projects.

15.  Started a collection of retro and antique kitchen items.  Pyrex bowls are my weakness, but I also found an adorable spice rack this summer that fit perfectly into my redecorated kitchen!

16. Love being outdoors on vacation, but not unless I can sleep indoors. On a bed.

17. Own way more cookbooks, recipes, and cooking magazines than a normal person should want or need. I've also had a "summer project" to go through them, organize them, weed through them, etc....but that hasn't happened yet. And I still buy more.

18. Calculate everything in my checkbook in my head first.....then I go back and check it with a calculator. Really, do I need to do both? No, but I still do.

19. Have a slight obsession with fonts. (not really's borderline crazy)

20. Write myself reminder notes that I ignore.

21. Go to the movies A LOT. Hence, I have been given the "Celebrity Status" with the theater's rewards program.

22. Eat movie popcorn almost every time I go....but I do show self-control and only eat during the previews.

23. Read (obsess over) book series written for kids/tweens/teens.....yes, I'm talking about Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games. And I've been to those crazy movie marathons for them...nerd alert!

24. Will wear the same outfit on Saturdays that Michigan plays football. If they keep winning. If they lose, that outfit is out for the season. I'm just a tad superstitious.

25. Love the feel of cool sheets when you first get into bed, and move my feet around to find those cool spots if I can't fall asleep. Yet, I hate being cold. Go figure.

Tomorrow, I'll post my "25 Things I Don't Do" list. 
Until's one last smiley for good measure.   :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

my fave five

My freakish obsession with organization has inspired today's post...and this will most likely be a reoccurring topic on my blog.  Plus, I just love making (and reading) lists.

"My Fave Five" will be a list of five things that are favorites of mine related to a specific topic.  I'll probably write some more fave fives in the stay tuned.  :)

Of course, I did not create or invent these ideas, they are taken from a variety of places and times in my life, and these are not going to be mind-blowing, crazy tips....honestly, they may be pretty obvious.  I just know if I was looking for some new ways to stay organized, I wouldn't mind a reminder like this.  And who couldn't use a refresher once in a while?

So, here they are:

My Fave Five.....Organizing Tips

1.  Do It Now. 
The basic meaning of this is.....don't procrastinate.  Which is hard for a born-procrastinator like me.  However, I've learned that so many of the things I "put off until later" really don't take very long.  I wrote a post this summer that proves this to be true.

A couple ways you can implement this into your life....if you don't already do these....
*Take care of your mail the minute you come home- open all the envelopes, recycle whatever you can, put your bills to be paid where they belong (more about that later), and bring everything else where it needs to go.
*If you have a dishwasher, as soon as the dishes are done, put them away.  That way, your dishwasher will be ready for the dirty dishes to go right in after each meal.  On the same topic-- do all of your handwashing as soon as you put away your leftovers after cooking.  I've gotten SO much better at this recently.   Seriously, it's never taken me longer than 15 minutes to clean my kitchen when I stick to these two dishwashing "rules".
*If you see something that isn't where it supposed to be, and you keep ignoring it.....unless you have a magical fairy that comes and cleans your probably won't go away.  Which leads us to the next rule....

2.  Room to Room
This is kind of like multi-tasking on a basic level.  The idea of this tip is that when you're getting up to go from one room to another, decide if there is something that needs to be brought there.  If you're going from your living room to your kitchen, scan the room for any dishes or trash that can be brought there.  If you're going downstairs from upstairs, is there anything that can be returned to where it belongs?  This simple tip can save you time and keep you focused on staying organized.  Honestly, I do this almost every time I leave a I can attest to this!

3. Everything has a Place
Yes....this is probably the most obvious organization rule out there.  But honestly, it's probably the one that gives you the best results. 
*First, you need to have places to store things- closets, cabinets, storage bins, baskets, drawer dividers, etc.  These don't need to be expensive- but you will need to invest a little money in this step.  Check out Pinterest for some creative, cheap ideas with this!
*Second, these places need to be logical (or you will forget where you put something!).  The logical places should be the closest to where you'll use it.  Obvious, I know....but even an organized person like myself can forget this rule once in a while. 
*Lastly, whenever you get something new (whether you buy it yourself or you get something as a gift) decide where it will go when you're not using it...and put it there.  Depending on how often it is used, it might go in storage, or in the room where it will be used.

I heart baskets....great for purses, wallets, socks, belts, scarves, and other accessories. 

4.  Filing System
One area that I've always struggled with is paper organization.  I've really improved this over the past few years.....but I still find this is my biggest challenge. 
When you create your own system, you'll need to answer the following questions.  Where will it go once you open it?  How often will you pay the bills?  Where will your receipts, statements, and other reference pages be stored, and how?  If you clip coupons (like I do), how will you organize those?

So, here's an explanation of my system:
*I have a hanging file box with file folders labeled: To Do Now (for bills to pay, phone calls to make, orders to check on, etc.), To Do Later (for things I want to check out someday, but don't have a deadline).  I check the Do Now folder at least a couple times a week, and the Do Later folder a couple times a month.   The other folders I have are for things like: banking, credit cards, insurance, utilities, finances/taxes, car, medical/personal, and loans.  Those are just for filing away papers I may need to refer back to during the year.  I go through this once a year, usually at the end of December, and keep in large envelopes anything I may need to save for tax purposes.
*A metal organizer/mail station is perfect for keeping everything you need for working on your bills....envelopes, stamps, return address labels, calculators, pens, scissors, and other random items.
*I bought a plastic accordian-envelope to organize my receipts.  The one I bought has 12 sections and I labeled those with the months.  When I need to keep a receipt, I file it under the month that I bought the item in case I need to find it later.  Again, at the end of the year, I'll "clean out" this envelope and file away any receipts I need to keep in the large envelope.
*A couple sturdy organizing boxes with lids are great for things like manuals, warranties, and other large reference booklets that I rarely need to use. 

In the middle of organizing my paperwork this summer....the hanging file box, mail station, and storage boxes are all laid out and ready for me!
*And lastly, I have two small plastic envelopes for my coupons- one for grocery coupons (which I organize by expiration date instead of item) and another for coupons to other stores- restaurants, home stores, clothing stores, beauty stores, etc. I keep these in my junk drawer along with my folder of menus, take-out coupons, and coupon books.  Then, I just grab them when I'm ready to make my grocery list or head out to go shopping.

5.   Baby Steps
Decluttering can be overwhelming if you either (a) hate doing it, (b) are a packrat, (c) have kids, or (d) are human.  Seriously though, I know there are some people who just naturally declutter their homes on a daily basis, and that is fantastic for them. Personally, I use my summer to do the bulk of my decluttering.  Then, as long as I follow the other four rules on house can stay fairly clutter-free.  Note: I said "fairly"....after all, I am human.
The idea of "baby steps" is to take one small area of your home (a drawer, a closet shelf, a cabinet, etc.) whenever you can find time.  Like I said, I do this over the summer.  Some people may find that one hour, one day a week works best to do this.  Others may want to set aside one day a month.  Whatever works for you, just make a plan to do it......or most likely you won't (see rule #1).

If you have any organization tips that you'd like to share, please comment below.  I'm always looking for new ideas to save time and make my life easier! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


On Friday, we had a Veteran's Day assembly at my school.  I was on the committee to organize and run the assembly this year- the first time for all three teachers in charge.   Thanks to the teachers who set the precedent before us, it wasn't a difficult assembly to plan, but based on the personal connection I had, it was a little difficult day for me.

Because my dad was a veteran.
And the assembly was on his birthday.
And he passed away when I was fourteen years old.

I'm not writing this post to ask for sympathy, for acknowledgement, or for attention.

I'm writing this to honor my dad.

After realizing how tough it was to talk about him on Friday morning in front of hundreds of people (my short speech may have been a little incoherent or awkward at some point), I realized that I need to talk about him more.  I need to share everything I loved and cherished about him......especially with those who never knew him.  I need to open up that part of myself a little more.  It's much easier to stay closed off to those things that make us uncomfortable, sad, nervous, or vulnerable.   Easy isn't always best, though.

So I was thinking about what I wanted to write about my dad, and it reminded me of something that my sister and I did after he passed away.  We decided to make a list of things that we didn't want to forget about him.  I searched through my storage bins tonight and found that list.....and I thought I'd share part of the list with you.  Some are so random and I find it funny that I thought those were important to remember, but these are all written by a teenage version of myself, so random is not surprising.  But these are all word-for-word what I wrote.

Just a little background so some of this makes sense-- my parents got divorced when I was young and my dad eventually moved into a mobile home park.  Even though I lived with my mom, they had joint custody and we were able to see my dad least every weekend.  So when I talk about "the trailer"-- that was my dad's house-- and I have many happy memories of the weekends we would spend with him there.

Remembering Dad....
*Dad was in the army.  He was in Louisville, Kentucky.  Dad and Jeff used to always argue about how to pronounce Louisville.
*He liked to watch sports, news, and game shows.  Even though he didn't enjoy most of the shows that I liked (comedy sitcoms, soaps), he still let me watch them when I was there.
*My dad's favorite movie was "Daddy Long Legs" with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. He watched it 50-60 times and I watched it 40-something times. I never get bored with it.
*On the first night in the trailer, I couldn't sleep.  When I got up, I walked past the "little room" where Dad was sleeping and he saw me and asked what was wrong.  I told him and he got up and got me a glass of Squirt and we talked for a while and then went to sleep.
*Dad used to sleep on the floor in the back bedroom on a mattress or sleeping bag next to the bed.  I usually would go on the side where he was because he would hold my hand at night. Even though I could tell this was uncomfortable sometimes, he still didn't seem to mind.
*We used to play lots of games, mostly card games and board games, on the weekends.
*Dad played lots of solitaire and drank lots of water in the morning before us kids got up.
*Dad would have to put both of his reading glasses on to read the newspaper.
*My dad always had a stuffed-up nose and he used handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex.
*Usually when Dad stopped off at the gas station, he'd let us get a treat.
*Dad used to always use a shoe horn to put on his shoes. For Christmas one year, I got him a shoe horn with a lint brush on it.  I still have it.
*He got laid off from CWC Textron when they went out of business.  He worked as an accountant in the office.
*On Father's Day and Christmas he didn't want us to get him presents unless they were very inexpensive (under $1).  Probably because after he got laid off from work he didn't have enough money to buy us presents.  But he gave us lots of love and the joy of being with him and you can't put a price on love and happiness.  It's priceless.   (seriously-- I wrote those exact words.  And now I'm crying.)
*My dad was 55 years old when he died.  I will never forget him, always love him, and remember all about him that I can remember.  (again.....a fourteen year old wrote this....I didn't realize how strong I was until now)

On this day, which is officially Veteran's Day.....I'm not only thankful for all veterans and the great sacrifice that they made or are making for our country, but most of all for the one I knew best and miss the most. 

Love you, Dad.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

sloppy joes, sloppy, sloppy joes...

A few weeks ago, I won three spice blends from a company called The Zesty Moose....a contest on another blog I follow.  It's such a rare occurrence that I win anything-- so getting this package in the mail one day was super exciting.
With school keeping me pretty busy, I kind of forgot about these in my pantry.  Until yesterday.

I came back from a shopping trip with a ton of was a chilly, rainy day and I was in the mood for making soup. 

After making the minestrone, I had a few leftover ingredients and started brainstorming what to do with them.  I decided on sloppy joes....because (a) I bought some ground meat on sale, (b) it gave me a reason to try one of my spice blends and (c) I just love sloppy joes.

As seems to be the requirement for blog recipe posts, here is the requisite photo of ingredients:
ground meat (my package was just over a pound)
orange bell pepper (you could use any color)
tomato paste
can of crushed tomatoes (about 15 oz.)
dry red wine
worcestershire sauce
broth or stock (beef or veggie)
seasonings (more about that later)
A few things I've used in the past but weren't in this recipe...
My first step was to chop the veggies.  This is always my favorite step.  I have a crazy love for chopping.  If I ever decide to take on a second job, it will probably be as a sous chef.  :)
First, I chopped the onions.  And took a break halfway to wipe the tears from my eyes (and take this picture).  If you have any suggestion for how to cut an onion without tearing up, do share!
Next was the garlic.  Which, if you read my last post, is another one of my loves.
I grated a few cloves.  Don't forget to scrape the back of the grater!
For the bell pepper, I learned a new method of chopping it to waste less.
First, you chop off the top and bottom.  Then you cut out the middle ribs/seeds.  That way you can chop all of it without throwing away any of it with the stem/ribs!
After chopping the top and bottom, slice the middle section into thin strips.  Turn these and dice to the desired size.  I chopped mine pretty small for this recipe, to match the size of the onions.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil in a pan, and add the ground meat. 
Brown up the meat, and depending on what kind of meat you use, you may need to drain the extra fat.
I learned this great trick on Pinterest for draining fat with an easy clean up.  Line a bowl with some foil, and pour the fat into the foil.  Once it hardens, all you need to do is take the foil out and throw it away! 
Add the chopped veggies to the meat, and saute up a little while (I added another drizzle of oil). 
I buy my tomato paste in a tube when I know I won't be using an entire can.  I just squirted about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste into the pan and stirred it up until it was fragrant.
Next, I poured about a half cup of dry red wine in the mixture and cooked it out for a minute.
Next, a little worcestershire sauce...
And then the spice mix.  I started with a heaping teaspoon of it. 
This mix has a ton of fantastic flavor:  garlic salt, onion granules, minced garlic, chili powder, jalapeno powder, cilantro, cumin, lime powder, and tomato powder.
(I added another half teaspoon-full of it needed an extra kick!)
Finally, to give it that "sloppy" consistency, I added a can of crushed tomatoes.
I also added about a cup of veggie broth I had leftover from last night's soup.  To make sure I had every last bit out of the can of tomatoes, I "rinsed" out the can with the broth.  No picture of this....sorry.  I did take a picture of how sloppy it looked after all the ingredients were added:
Leave this simmering on the stove for as long as you want-- basically, until the consistency is what you want it to be.  This is what mine looked like when I was ready to eat.
(Oh, and I did add a few squirts of mustard and ketchup at one point.  I just couldn't resist adding a couple more ingredients!)
After toasting up a couple hamburger buns, I topped my bun with some sloppy goodness.
And just couldn't help myself.....a little shredded mozzarella was necessary.
Okay, not necessary.  But a really, really good idea.
With a side of some lightly salted potato chips (love them more than the regular-salted ones!), my comfort-food fix for the day was complete. 
Thanks again to Mom Colored Glasses for the giveaway, and to The Zesty Moose for the freebie!
I'm looking forward to trying out more new recipes with these fun spice mixes!  :)