Musings of a Museum Fanatic: August 2020


7 Easy and Cheap Ways to Refresh Your Home

I've discovered that one of the downsides to owning your own home is that you want to make changes right away. Let's face it now that I can I want to update all the things right now! Even though both of us want to make updates to the house we are working hard to reduce expenses and stick to our budget with all the economic uncertainty happening. 

Even though we're sticking to our budget and cutting expenses there is no reason why we can't work on giving our home a fresh look. There are a number of things that you can do to change it up or update things on a budget. 

7 Easy and Cheap Ways to Refresh Your Home by Musings of a Museum Fanatic

Paint an accent wall
I feel like if you own a home you automatically have a bunch of half filled paint cans stored somewhere. It's like a right of passage or something. Use some of the paint you already have to give a room a fun pop of color. Don't have a collection of half filled paint cans yet? Check with a friend or family nearby maybe they have a fantastic color they're never going to use again. If you want to go totally new pick a smaller wall that won't use so much paint and buy it. 

Use decor you already have
Take stock of all the little knicknacks, photo frames, vases and any other pieces of decor you have in your home. Then think about switching them from where they are now to somewhere else. Maybe you've got a larger wall hanging in your bedroom try it out in the living room or even a hallway. Maybe you're like us and you've got a bunch of items that are taking up valuable flat space but could be hung up. Make a massive gallery wall and showcase all the memories. 

Add some greenery
Besides the health benefits of having plants around having something green in your home can make it feel like spring year round. A packet of seeds and a couple planters is pretty budget friendly. Or maybe you have a mom like mine who has a green thumb and is always giving you plant clippings to cultivate. Have a black thumb? Fake greenery and flowers have come a long way in the recent years. Make yourself a fabulous arrangement and move it around your house every few weeks to liven up a new area of the house. 

Rearrange everything
The easiest way to make your house feel completely different is to rearrange things. Maybe you've got a living room or family room with several chairs and couches. Try them out in a different configuration! Live in something with less space? Look at pieces of furniture that are up against the wall and change their placement. 

When we purchased a new mattress for the guest/craft/Pampered Chef room earlier this year we tried out a couple different arrangements. As you can see from the two photos just rotating the bed alone totally changed how that part of the room felt. Give it a go and be sure to share those before and after photos with all of us. 

Do a deep clean
When spring time hit our deck looked a hot mess. All of a sudden there was sap all over, trees were dropping leaves, squirrels were digging in a planter and little spiders were making their presence known. I actually got upset because the deck looked terrible. After Kevin helped me calm down he ended up cleaning the deck and guess what? It looked brand new! It was amazing what an actual deep clean did to the space. When you're deep cleaning I highly recommend doing a thorough dusting. 

Get rid of things
I'm sure this surprises no one but taking things out of your house can really make a difference as well. Maybe you want to use the KonMari method and really do some stuff purging. Or maybe you just realize that it's time for the pile in the corner to be given to Goodwill. Plus if you get rid of some stuff there will be more room for your rearrange furniture!

Actually put things away
Alright this is confession time. I've realized that I'm a piler. I pile things all over the place. If there is a flat space I usually pile stuff. Now don't be alarmed it's not hoarder bad piles but it could really be put away instead of accumulating. I'm the worst with our couches, I'm working on breaking that habit. When I get my act together and actually put everything away the clean couches make the space look totally different. Not only do they look different the feeling is different. So try putting away stuff that's left out and let your lovely furniture and decor be the star it's meant to be!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


6 Tricks to Help You Determine the Date of a Photograph

I've been working on scanning lots and lots of family photos the past few years. I've gotten so many scanned that I have a huge amount of photos I need to organize and identify. So since the beginning of 2020 I've made that a priority. The identifying of photographs is probably the toughest part. Especially when you don't have many people in your family to ask. 

Even if you don't have many people who might know the people or event in the photograph there are plenty of ways to help you narrow things down if not identify what's happening in the photograph. Here are 6 tricks that I use in my personal and professional identifying of photographs. 

What do you have the toughest time with when it comes to identifying photos?

Check for handwritten notes
This might seem obvious but sometimes you just don't think about it. A lot of times with much older photographs they would write notes on the back since it's made of material that's easier to write on. When photos started being printed on glossy photo paper I think we stopped writing on them as much because it was harder. Also if the photograph is in an envelope or container there might be some sort of note. It might be obvious but be sure to check the obvious just in case. 

Check for a date
Many newer photographs will be printed with a date stamp on them. I've found that even when I get photos printed from online places like Shutterfly and Snapfish they print dates on the photographs. If you're working with slides there should be a date printed on them as well. There have only been a few times where I've seen no dates on slides. You might get lucky and have a date in the handwritten note on the back too. 

Black and white v. color
This is another easy way to narrow down the time period of a photograph. You do need to be careful because during the 1950s is when color photographs start to become more affordable therefor more commonly used. 

Look at what are people wearing
After checking for the obvious what people are wearing is the next thing I look at in a photograph. This is really what tends to narrow it down considerably. Say you've got two black and white photos like the one below. You know since they're black and white that they're probably before the 1950s but you need to narrow it down. 

Looking at the photo on the left. Look at what the little girls are wearing. They have dresses with drop hems, tights and patent shoes. The little girl sitting on the mothers lap has boots that are common during the 1910s and 20s. Compare that to how the people in the photo on the right are dressed. The ladies are in outfits that are common during the 1940s. I know most of us have probably seen a movie or two with a World War 2 setting and you can see many outfits that look like what they're wearing. 

People's hairstyles and overall look
You can't really examine someone's outfit without noticing their hair and look as well. They usually go hand in hand when it comes to trends. Looking at the same photos you can see that people's overall look will confirm the time period. Like the ladies on the right. Their hair style helps confirm the 1940s time period. 

What else is in the photo
We become so concerned with the main focus of the photograph that we sometimes don't realize that there are clues in the background! Check out the photograph below. Now I know who is in the photos because there were notes on the envelope but I can see that's my uncle and my cousins when they were younger. 

Say I didn't know that or wanted to be able to tell how old they were. What would I be able to see that could help me identify that? Check out the TV in the background. I bet we could hazard a pretty good guess or you could even try to figure out the exact model with some good sleuthing. There are some other things in the background including another photograph. That's actually a photo of my Dad on the TV! Maybe I know the date of that photograph or I could tell by his very obvious 1970s hair style!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats

A couple weeks ago I started an out of the box challenge on my Pampered Chef business page. So many of us buy a Pampered Chef or other kitchen tool with the best intentions of using it all the time. Only to have it remain in our cabinet, drawer or even worse the box for months or even years. Even as a consultant I'm totally guilty of this! 

I thought it would be fun to challenge everyone and myself to use one tool that we haven't used yet or is under utilized. Last week I made these super fun Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats using a few products that I hadn't even taken out of the plastic yet! 

Want to join in the challenge or at least check out what I've been up to? Head over and like my Pampered Chef business page.

Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats

1½ lbs. 90–95% lean ground beef
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

2 cups mashed potatoes

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the beef, bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce, and the remaining meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well combined.

3. Use the Large Scoop to add about 2 scoops of the meat mixture into each well of the Mini Loaf Pan. Press the meat down and use the rectangular Boat Press to create a well.

4. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to 160°F. (Some grease may surface. Use a paper towel to remove the grease.)

5. Rinse the rectangular press and carefully press the hot meatloaves immediately after removing them from the oven. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan.

6. Brush the remaining barbecue sauce onto each meatloaf using the Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush and fill the wells with mashed potatoes.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


How to Stay Healthy When You Work a Desk Job

Working at a desk job full-time can be pretty rough on your health. Since most of us are still working from home for extended periods of time I think it's only exasperated the issue. I know I've been guilty of bad health habits when it comes to working at a desk (or dining room table right now) all day. Do you work at a desk?

Working at a desk job is not as easy as it sounds there are a lot of different health issues you should be concerned. Here are 8 ways to keep yourself healthier when you're working at a desk all day. 

Posture is one of those health benefits that I think most of us forget about. It's probably one of the simplest changes we can make to keep healthy. Having good posture can keep your body pain free when you're sitting for so long. If you have bad posture for 8 hours or more a day it can lead to issues in your neck, shoulders and back later in life. I know I've caught myself at the end of the day with neck pain and realized that I was hunched and had my neck stretched most of the day. It was not fun!

Not being active
When I'm in the office I am always having to walk to the archive so I usually get in almost 10,000 steps during the work day. The first few weeks of working from home I realized I wasn't even breaking 3,000 a lot of days. That's not good! our bodies are just not meant to be sitting for that long of time. 

I started implementing some activity a few times an hour. For me I decided I'd get up and walk to another room of the house and do one small thing. So I'm getting more steps in as well as putting away some things or accomplishing something else small.  

Adding stretching to your movement is super beneficial when you're stuck in your chair most of the day. Kevin also works most of his day at his desk and he likes to start his day off with stretching. He says that if he does it in the morning and then a few times throughout the day his back is much better off. Take some time and even if you just do stretching in your chair you'll be thanking yourself for it later. 

Walk & talk
If you're in a call/meeting you should pace while you're talking. I know that with video calls it's not always possible but I bet there are some meetings where you can find time to pace and talk. I'm notorious with my family for putting in my earbuds and doing something around the house while we're talking. Maybe you can't do it during meetings but with all sorts of trainings being virtually maybe that's the time for you to listen and walk. 

Make time for breaks
From everything I've heard about working from home is that lots of people have gotten notoriously bad about making sure they take breaks. So not only have we been stuck in our chairs even more we're not breaking like we should be. Take time for breaks! Besides the fact that I think it's the law in a lot of states it's really beneficial for your health too!

Eat healthy foods
We all know that eating healthy foods is good for us. It's one of those no brainer things but it's definitely easier said than done. I know I'm guilty of it. It used to be the fact that there were always treats in the office but now if you're at home you've got access to your entire kitchen which might include several kinds of ice cream. 

Planning out your meals and snacks can give you flexibility to enjoy what you're eating but help you keep yourself on track. I've always been a good meal planner for my lunches when I went into the office but have slacked off since working from home. I've noticed that I've gotten sloppy about eating enough veggies during the day. 

Designate a work space
This is more for those of us who are working out of our homes right now. It's easy to have your work creep into other areas of your life if you don't have a designated spot. If it starts to creep that's when you've got unhealthy habits like working all the time popping up. Don't let it creep into other areas. I have taken over our little dining room as my work space. Maybe it's just a corner in a second bedroom or your family room. Just make sure that works stays in that spot!

Music makes everything better
Whether you love pop music, rock or country turning on your favorite tunes can make you feel amazing and happy. Figure out what tunes work best to brighten your mood. When your mood is brighter you are healthier. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


5 Tips to Start Budgeting

Taking on new habits can be tough especially when it's something as important as your finances. Budgeting can be an overwhelming thing to start. We've been budgeting consistently for over a year and I still feel like I'm figure it out! Don't let it overwhelm you to the point where you don't start. Here's 5 tips to get your started on your budgeting journey. 

Write it down
Budgeting doesn't work if it's all in your head. As much as we say we're going to remember and make sure we don't spend a ton this month it's really hard if you don't have it in writing. You don't have to create anything from scratch anymore if you don't want to. We've been using the EveryDollar budgeting app for the past year and it's worked great for us. Maybe you're an old school excel person. Figure out what works best and write down your budget each month.

Make it together
If you have a significant other make sure to sit down and work on the budget together. Budgeting doesn't work if it's just one of you who is ok with it. Make sure you both get on the same page with what you're going to be spending your money on that month. If you just need to worry about yourself all the better, hopefully it's a much faster conversation!

Use the previous month as a starting point
When Kevin and I sit down to make our budget with the new month we always look at the previous month. There are a lot of expenses like housing, internet and Netflix to name a few that are the same charge every month. Since these costs are the same it makes it easier to work on your budget next month. EveryDollar lets you pull over the previous months budget so you have less work to do which is super nice and I appreciate how it helps us cut down on the work.

Always be trimming
Part of the point of a budget is to see where you could be trimming and saving money. So obviously if you're not actively working to trim each month the budget isn't helping with your saving goal. Every month Kevin and I talk through our spending together and we each share our thoughts on how we spent our fun money. We work to see where we can spend less the next month. 

Track all your expenses
This seems pretty obvious but a lot of times people think that budgeting is just the big stuff. The small stuff adds up and it can add up fast. I'll admit in June when the craft stores opened back up there was a lot of great clearance. I went a little nuts and forgot some of the charges in our budget. Luckily I was still way under my fun money budget for the month but it could have been bad if I has spent more and not tracked it.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!