You Never Know What You Are Going To Find In The Broom Closet

Monday, March 21, 2016

"B" is for Building - Framing Phase

We took a ride out to to the house the weekend. It seemed to pop up so quickly! The room framing was up so it was really exciting seeing everything come together and compare how it was set up in my mind during the planning process. The backyard view is better than I imagined.

Now I'm trying to use my imagination and vision it finished: dark roof, grey siding and light greyish stonework at the base.

Front of the house:

Back of house:

Starting to look like the picture :-) 

Monday, March 14, 2016

"B" is for Building - Basement Phase

January 2016 - we broke ground on the construction of our new home in Ottawa, WI. We plan to take you through a picture tour of the process. Here it is!

I know -- not much to look at right now. However, it was a big milestone in the project. These pictures means all the planning is coming to life! Exciting! 

When everything is complete we will have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch home totally approximately 1900 square feet. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Workout Motivation During the Cold Wisconsin Winter Months

Working out during the cold Wisconsin winters often becomes a daunting task. The ice-cold weather seems to stretch on f o r e v e r. Some days it is easier to crawl under a warm blanket with warm fuzzy socks than gear up for the chilly outdoors only to shed the layers once you hit the gym to then put the layers back on for the drive home. The trip alone seems exhausting enough and you haven’t even hopped on the treadmill yet!
This year, I decided I was in need of motivation. I wanted to be held accountable for my workout regimen, but not in a demanding personal trainer kind of way. Under my current work-out plan, or lack thereof, if I don’t make it to the gym for weeks nobody knows but me. I can turn a blind eye all I want so I came to the conclusion that I needed others to see my progress. I would feel a little embarrassed if my peers saw that I hadn’t exercised in three weeks, which happened in October. There began my thought process for workout motivation. {AND the fact that I had a destination wedding to attend at the end of April…so my motivation may have been a little selfish}

Over the past 5 months of the long WI winter I have come up with  monthly, what I label as, “challenges”. Before the month starts I send over an enticing e-mail inviting those friends and family members that I think might be interested that are also looking for workout motivation. Each month there is a goal to meet which varies depending on the challenge.  It is not designed to judge or ridicule for lack of workouts, but to provide support and encouragement to meet the monthly goal.  To my surprise it has really caught on.

I created a public spreadsheet by using Google docs, which I have set so others can edit it. Tracking workouts is the responsibility of the participant and it is on the honor system.  Once the link is bookmarked, s/he is good to go!

Here is the history of the challenges:

It started out pretty easy –
Nov/Dec Challenge (2 months) - Work-out for a total of 23 times (or more) before the end of the day on December 31st. To qualify the work-out must be at least 30 minutes or 2+ miles. This averages out to approx. 3x per week. Totally do-able!!
This may have been a little too ambitious with the holidays mixed in. Nobody met the goal. 
(O% Success Rate)

January 2012 Challenge (1 month) - Work-out for a total of 12 times (or more) before the end of the day on January 31st. To qualify the work-out must be at least 30 minutes or 2+ miles. This averages out to approx. 3x per week.
4 out of 5 participants met this goal and the 1 person that didn't came very close. 
(80% Success Rate)  

Then I switched up the challenges a little and even added a “Reward” –
Feb/Mar 2012 Challenge (2 months) - This challenge is a little more, well, challenging. We are switching things up a bit. Instead of clocking days of working out we are clocking minutes.

The Mission - 78 miles - Run from Milwaukee Art Museum to Madison State Capitol - well, not literally...
Here's the breakdown:
5 miles per hour is the average between a 6 mph run and 4 mph walk/jog.
15.6 hours - the amount of time in hours it would take to complete the mission. (78 miles / 5 mph)
936 minutes - the amount of minutes it will take to complete this mission (15.6 hrs x 60 mins/hr)

The Goal for February & March = log 936+ workout minutes.

The great thing about this mission is the longer the work out, the fewer times you have to do it!
30 minute workouts = 1 workout every 2 days
45 minute workout = 1 workout every 3 days
60 minute workout = 1 workout every 4 days

This is totally do-able!! Oh and the best part, the REWARD...Let's all meet for $5 bang, bang shrimp at Bonefish on Wed, April 4th and talk about tips, motivators, demotivators, etc...
This challenge is currently underway, but 6 out of 9 participants are on track to meet this goal. 
(67% Success Rate)

Next month I am going to switch things up a little  -
April 2012 Challenge (1 month) - The goal of this challenge is to see how many different forms of activities you can do in one month (and how often). All activities must take place a minimum of 15 minutes to count.
Goal: Exercise 16 days in April 2012
Different activities include, but are not limited to the following:
Walk, run (take your dog!), elliptical, stair master, boot camp, take a class (yoga, step aerobics), lifting weights, dance, inline skating, tennis, basketball, swimming, volleyball, Wii sports/fitness, jump roping, hula hooping, etc…
Prizes awarded under multiple categories such as
-              Person w/ the most variety of activities
-              Person who exercised the most amount of days
**If you exercise 4 times per week you will complete this challenge!**

Want to start something with your friends? I'd be happy to email over the materials that I have. Just e-mail a request to me at

Thanks for taking the time to read about my motivation project. What have you done for workout motivation?  Feel free to share your success stories!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unconventional Advice for Wedding Guests; Tips for Becoming the Best Guest Ever!!

I love weddings and truly consider it an honor when someone chooses to invite me (out of everybody they know) to be a part of one of the biggest days of their lives. Recently I was appalled by a series of events that made my jaw drop. I encountered some GUEST wedding etiquette that I considered to be extremely thoughtless…wedding faux pas. I’d like to take a moment to scrutinize the role of a guest at a wedding.

I was curious as to what was expected of the role as a wedding guest and went straight to explore more on the internet.  When I started my research I Googled quite extensively about guest “etiquette”. However, it wasn’t the information I was looking for. What I found was general, and quite frankly, boring information such as appropriate attire and such. I know it’s inappropriate to wear a t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap to a wedding (although I’ve witnessed them all…ON THE SAME MAN!!) I wasn’t interested in that. I wanted to find out more about the stuff that it is considered rude to discuss with other people. The taboo topics that people disagree about and you really only grumble about in front of close friends and family.  After some time, without finding the results I was looking for, I decided to put together my own tips on how to become the best wedding guest ever.

The ideas expressed in this posting are not all of my own. I decided to poll some former brides about actions that they find rude and inconsiderate that they have witnessed.  Their information is included in my posting.
Now, I do realize that you might not agree, you might even be offended, but it is meant for discussion and to open your eyes to a different point of view on Wedding Extreme Pet-Peeves.

Xtreme Peeve #1 – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Are you following proper guest etiquette?
Let’s start with the invitation. The way the invitation is addressed indicates who is invited:
- If the invitation is addressed in your name, it means only you.
- If the invitation is addressed in your name and a guest, you may bring one person, not several.
- If the invitation is addressed to your family, it means immediate family only.
- If the invitation requests “no gifts”, that kindly suggests monetary gifts.
- If the invitation requests “no children”, that means no kids.  :)
- A verbal RSVP is not okay. Send in the response card. It's not that hard.

RSVP in a timely fashion – prompt and prior to the due date. Nobody wants to chase down guests that “forgot” or “assumed you knew”. Many times there is a meal choice that needs to be submitted. Plus, there is a stamp on the return envelope for a reason.

If you are upset with your kids weren’t invited (or whatever the situation may be), then just don’t go. Don’t call up the bride and put her on the spot with the ultimatum that if the kids can’t come, then you can’t attend. Rude!

More wedding day faux pas. It’s just out of courtesy. No, no, no:
-Talking on the phone
-Popping Gum
-Wearing a hat or sunglasses
-Being disruptive
-Arriving late
-Negative commentary. If you have a “Debbie Downer” opinion about the venue, food, cake, dress, etc… wait until you are in the privacy of your home to comment. You never know who might overhear.
- Don’t abuse open bar and drink too much resulting in making a fool of yourself or tossing your cookies- you are a representation of the newlyweds.

Now, if you have been asked and agreed to be a part of the wedding party the same guidelines apply to you and much more!

You are there for love and support…lots of support. You need to act excited (even if you’re not) and be involved (even if it isn’t exactly your thing). If you are asked for your opinion you give it (even if you don’t care) and don’t hold a grudge if your ideas aren’t used.
Each couple will need a different level of assistance. Some find the process extremely stressful and others enjoy it and may have many ideas that they need help sorting through. Whatever the situation, be there and offer help without complaint.

Bridesmaids (and I assume groomsmen too) must also help plan and lend a hand at any event associated with the wedding. Most commonly the bridal shower and bachelorette party, but assistance with the rehearsal, engagement party, addressing invitations, constructing favors, bridesmaid luncheon, and gift opening may also be asked of you. You must put forth your best effort to attend all events. Also, be prepared for anything! If you are asked to smash a mud pie in your face do so with a smile! (Ok, ok – that probably isn’t likely. You get the point.)

Most importantly, do not add any stress by spreading gossip or being difficult. Help out the bride and groom by encouraging a drama free environment.

For a pretty good list of wedding party responsibilities, please click here.

Xtreme Peeve #2 – No Ceremony, No Reception

We all know these guests. The people chose not to show up to the ceremony, but conveniently make a short appearance at dinner and then leave.  I started to ponder what the reason was for this. Is the ceremony too boring? Sometimes, but you can make it through.  One offender I approached about this said she would burn if she stepped foot into a church. Now I highly doubt that. Geez!
The marriage ceremony is the reason you are all gathering PEOPLE…to witness the love of 2 individuals be joined into a union and become a family. You are celebrating a marriage, not Chicken Cordon Bleu and Miller Lite. Why even show up at all then? To see the bride’s dress and critique the venue? I call that selfish.
Bottom line, if you can’t make a “sacrifice” (note the sarcasm) to show up and respectfully take part in the ceremony, then please don’t show up at all. No ceremony, no reception. It’s not ok.

Xtreme Peeve #3 – Give a Decent Gift (yep, I’m going to go there)

I know that people will debate all day on this one. Let me start by saying there are exceptions.  If immediate family such as parents, siblings, and grandparents are struggling financially, they are given the free pass on this one. After all, these people are of the outmost importance and should be there no matter what.

Brace yourself for it:

-Brides and grooms everywhere prefer money to actual gifts…
even the items listed on their registries.- 

Skip the photo frame and go straight to cold, green cash.
Now let’s face it, most guests will know about the wedding before the invitation arrives in the mail.  Family is usually the first to find out and you know how news travels.  Even if you aren’t told by the excited bride-and-groom-to-be directly, you will find out through another friend or family member or with the help of social networking like Facebook.  With the average engagement lasting around 1 year there is no excuse why you can’t stash away $5 a paycheck to give the bride and groom a decent gift.  You spend more than this at your favorite fast food restaurant.
Do you normally stuff $50 into a card and call it a day? $50 probably won’t even cover the meal for you and your date. 

Let’s do the math for 2 guests…

Average dinner amount                               $30 per person x 2 people = $60
Tap beer (not even open bar!)                      $10 per person x 2 people = $20
(2-3 beers/person at inflated wedding beer prices)                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                             Total   $80 bill to the bride and groom

You have already eaten and drank your way through an $80 bill and you haven’t given the couple anything to start their new life with (except debt). If there’s open bar or you drink a lot then you are inflating that bill even more.
I suggest that you give $100 per couple minimum (and many of the websites I read say give much more than that. Don’t believe me? Use this monetary gift calculator as a guide.) 
Be courteous and plan ahead! If you can’t afford to go then stay home instead of taking advantage of a “free dinner” because it is only free to the uncharitable guest.                              

In addition, I personally find it odd when people give according to what type of relationship they have with the bride and groom (again, there are some exceptions here).  I am going to give the same amount to my friend as I would my second cousin.  Have a norm or standard and give that to everybody.  

Finally, don’t approach the bride or groom and apologize repeatedly about “forgetting the card at home” and swearing that you will “drop it in the mail first thing” when secretly you didn’t have a card at all. The bride and groom will remember! I promise you this. Presumably this guest feels bad about the situation, but wants to play it off as an accident.  However, the newlyweds probably wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t brought it to their attention.  (If you are a future bride or groom and this happens to you, maybe you should follow up that you are concerned that the card might have gotten lost in the mail because you haven’t received it…kidding…or am I?)

Mini Peeves
  • People who say they will come and then don’t show & people who say they are not coming but show up anyway. Both equally annoying!

  • As stated before, proper wedding attire does NOT include jeans and a baseball cap.  Men – pants (yes-always pants) should be black, grey, or khaki and shirts should have some sort of collar.  Women – Pants (see above), dress, or skirt and dressy top should be clean and not show too much skin.  However, if the invitation says formal, it means it’s a formal affair, so wear something nicer than khakis and sneakers. Also, this probably applies more to the women, but never wear white as a guest...just don't.  The bride should be the only person in white.

  • Children - 1) Unless your kids have a close relationship to the bride or groom please leave them with a sitter. Weddings are an adult affair, especially the reception.  Nobody wants to see someone get behind the wheel after they have been drinking with children in the car.  Which brings me to 2) If the reception portion is kindly addressed as “adult only”, please don’t bring kids to the ceremony. Typically “adults only” means they prefer the entire event to be that way, but don’t want to seem too overbearing. 

  • Take only 1 favor unless otherwise directed to take more by the bride or groom.

  • Lastly, wedding crashers, although a great movie, are an absolute NO! It is inappropriate, rude, and disrespectful. Don't do it!

You Might be a Bad Guest If…
**Wedding day horror stories from real brides**

-At the reception, my mother told her brand new son-in-law (my husband) that she gives the marriage 6 months max!

-A guest wrote this in my card that contained the gift of money: “Contract: If not married for at least 5 years, gift must be returned”.

-One of our guests stole cash out of my purse at our wedding. We know who did it!  I didn't want to invite this person but my husband felt we needed to since they were great friends growing up.  I'm pretty sure they’re not going to be friends anymore.

-A drunken guest stumbled up to me at my wedding and thanked me for the free booze as he left right after his (steak) dinner.

-One of my bridesmaids (sister-in-law) has a terrible time management problem. She arrived so late to my wedding that we thought we were going to have to postpone the ceremony until she arrived. Luckily she arrived with 10 minutes to spare, but missed all the pre-wedding pictures.

Send your story to  and it could be featured here! Please include your full name, age, and city/state. You may request anonymity if you prefer. Submissions may be edited for clarity.

And to close up, a very fitting quote from “The Office”.

Meredith: Niagara Falls in October, hells yeah.
Pam: Do you think that you could send in your R.S.V.P. card?
Meredith: No. I’ll just tell you now. Easier.
Pam: Well, you have to choose a food option and there’s information in there about directions and lodging —
Meredith: I’ll just have whatever’s fanciest, unless there’s ribs and I’ll just get all the other information the day of. I’ll text you.
Pam: You are going to text me the morning of my wedding to ask for directions.
Meredith: Right.
Pam: And you will eat whatever is fanciest...
Meredith: Unless there’s ribs.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Jell-O!

I ran across an super cute idea a while back that I was just waiting to bust it out. My brother and sister-in-law was going to hold a birthday party for my niece/housewarming party and  I was beyond excited to bring this darling dish:
Jell-O Fruit Slices
I first ran across the idea because a friend of mine had done something similar with oranges and had it posted on her Facebook wall. I wanted to learn how to prepare it so I went to the internet to learn how. I ran across a great tutorial at Not Martha and knew it would be easier than it looked.
I decided to try to make the Jell-O look like watermelon slices, super cute for a summertime party! I hollowed out ½ a watermelon, prepared the Jigglers recipe on the box as instructed and poured it in the rind, balanced it all in bowl to avoid tipping, and put it in the fridge to set. VoilĂ , finished! (well…almost)

Now here is where I made my error so please learn from my mistake. Not Martha said  to place the fruit upside-down  when you cut it. However, she was working with smaller fruits. I did this with the watermelon and got through 4 “slices” before the weight of the remaining Jell-O caused it to plop out. Bummer! At least I know for next time. I decided to cut up the Jell-O that came unattached and placed it around the slices to be devoured.
People thought the Jell-O fruit was a neat idea. Maybe next time I’ll add booze to make them into Jell-O shot slices. Yummm!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Homemade Body Scrubs {Make Your Own & Save Money}

Below are instructions for how to make your own spa-quality scrubs for a fraction of the price. The good thing about making your own is you customize the fragrance and the ingredients that best suit your needs and preferences. These recipes are good for about once a week and offer a lot more exfoliation and moisturizing benefits. By scrubbing off the top layer of dead skin cells your skin will feel smoother, your moisturizer will penetrate easier and you will help prevent annoying ingrown hairs and body breakouts. The act of rubbing in circular motions, towards the heart also increases circulation.

I love using these scrubs right after I shave my legs. It makes them irresistibly soft and smooth!

Granular exfoliant options:
Salt: You can use sea salt, kosher salt, Epsom salts or just plain old table salt. I like to use table salt because it is cheaper and smaller grains mean you don't have to grind it yourself. Larger chunks of salt have irregular edges and are too scratchy for the skin so if you decide to use a larger salt be sure to grind it in a blender, food processor or coffee mill. All salts will have detoxifying and muscle-relaxing properties. The problem with salt is it will sting if you have any minor cuts or scratches you are not aware of. For this reason, never use a salt scrub after shaving, it will not feel nice! Also, in general the act of shaving is exfoliating (removing dead skin cells) so if you exfoliate before you shave you will get a closer shave and cut down on skin irritation. Also, the oil from the scrub can be used instead of shaving cream and will lubricate the blades of your razor. If you do not have sensitive skin you can use a sugar scrub after shaving if you want to keep the oil on your skin and skip moisturizer.

Sugar: You can use brown sugar, white (granulated) sugar or natural cane sugar. White sugar is probably the cheapest but will work the same as natural cane sugar. Brown sugar is gentler and has a warmer, yummier fragrance. Sugar scrubs in general are gentler than salt scrubs and don't really have muscle-relaxing qualities but the act of scrubbing in a circular motion does increase circulation.

Coffee: Coffee is granular and feels nice on the skin but the caffeine has added benefits. Applied topically coffee helps to redistribute fat cells and decrease the formation of cellulite. It also acts as a vasorestrictor, tightening and shrinking blood vessels thereby helping eliminate varicose veins. It has been used for years in spas in Hawaii and on the coast of Bali. Others: Oatmeal is very gentle and won't aggressively exfoliate but it is great if you have dry, itchy skin. Flax seed is also very lubricating for dry skin. Crushed almonds are very exfoliating as well but may be too much for sensitive skin. Yogurt and milk contain lactic acid which will dissolve skin cells and act as a non-granular exfoliant.

Moisturizing Options:
Once you pick your grain of choice you are ready to add in your oil. You will add enough oil to turn your grains into the perfect slushy mixture. Not too oily but not too dry, either. The mixture may separate in between uses so be sure to stir gently before you apply it. You can use many kinds of oil, including jojoba oil, safflower oil, apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, even olive or vegetable oil. Mineral Oil (aka baby oil) is not recommended because this will not penetrate into the skin like the other oils will. Mineral oil is pore-clogging and once it evaporates your skin may be left looking dryer than before you used it. Once you massage the mixture into your skin and rinse, the grains will be gone and the oil will make your skin soft and hydrated. If you don't like the feel of oil on your skin you can dip a loofah (one on a stick will work be the most convenient) into the oil then into your grain mixture. (you will have already put your fragrance and/or herbs or flowers into the grains) This will impart only a minimal amount of oil onto your skin but still be effective. If your skin is dry or itchy, avocado is very soothing and moisturizing and can be applied alone, mashed into a paste or added to your scrub. Save the pit for a natural massage tool to soothe achey or tense muscles.

Fragrance Options:
Your fragrance options are pretty much unlimited. You can use essential (aromatherapy) oils for an added emotional benefit or your favorite perfume oil. Perfume oils are too irritating for the face but are fine for the body. Possible Oils:
Vanilla: Great especially in the coffee or brown sugar scrub.
Orange, lime, tangerine or lemon: For an uplifting effect.
Rosemary, eucalyptus or peppermint: For clearing out the sinuses and stimulating the body
Cinnamon or clove: For improving circulation and adding a spicy kick to your scrub.
Rose, jasmine or ylang-ylang: for a romantic floral scrub.
Geranium: For balancing your mood.
Lavender: For promoting relaxation.
You can mix and match and create your own personal favorite blend!

Herb and flower options:
Adding herbs and flowers to your scrub will make it look more attractive, add additional exfoliation and can have other benefits as well. 
For example:
Shredded ginger will aid exfoliation.
Linden flower is great for soothing frayed nerves.
Comfrey is good for those with minor skin irritations.
Yarrow is a rnusle-soothing Chinese herb.
Lemon peel helps alleviate lethargy.
Orange peel or St. John's Wort helps ease minor depression. Lavender flowers will help promote relaxation. Ginseng will help energize and increase circulation.

Other Add-Ins:
Bentonite or kaolin (Cosmetic-grade) clay will help detoxify and purify the skin as will seaweed. Honey will add moisture and shredded soap will add eliminate the need for using additional soap either before or after your scrub. Baking soda will add a pleasant fizziness and help clarify the skin.

Saving Money:

Scrubs can be pretty costly. Usually scrubs come in nice glass or plastic jars which add greatly to the price. You can find your own decorative jars and definitely if you have a scrub in a nice jar at home just rinse it and reuse it with your own exfoliating concoction! 

Content from CancerLynx

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Save for College by Shopping Through UPromise…For Yourself or Someone Else!

Save for college by utilizing the money you are spending anyways. It is like free money!
UPromise is an easy way to save for college, whether it be for yourself, a child, niece, nephew, or grandchild! The money you earn from your everyday spending with Upromise partners goes directly into your Upromise account. You can choose to invest your earnings in a high-yield savings account or tax-deferred 529 plan; use it to pay down a student loan; or request a check at can be used for college or other expenses. 

The savings are kind of slow, but every little bit counts, right?!?

You can set up your own account or help me save by clicking my link (below) before you do any online shopping. Please be sure to bookmark the page so it's always easy to find.
I just reached $130! Woohoo! 

It's easy!
1. Search for the store you are going to buy from. The UPromise portal will link to that store. (Over 700 to choose from)
2.  Make an eligible purchase and pay any way you like
3.  Upromise savings are automatically deposited into your Upromise account...That's it!!

Parents out there: you have to do this!  Save for your kids education by doing almost nothing at all. Even you only save up for a semester or two worth of books, that is less you will have to pay for.  : )  
Even if you don't have kids yet, but plan to, you can set it up in your name and then switch it to a different beneficiary later on.

Tip: be sure to download the TurboSaver toolbar. It will notify you of potential online savings opportunities when searching the Internet.