Not In Jersey: February 2017 February 2017 - Not In Jersey

It’s Okay #151

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

It's Okay

Hey, It's Okay!

It’s okay…

…that last week I had some blog issues that you may have noticed. First my site wasn’t redirecting properly, then it went down all together, then I published the same post twice…oops. I started thinking (again) about moving my blog to wordpress but I think it’s too complicated and expensive at this point.

…that I really need to start entering my items for the consignment sale. I have most everything in the same place at this point, so it’s time to get going on hanging, entering, and tagging!

…that on Friday my neighbor found this adorable little dog with no collar. Since my neighbor had to go to work, my husband brought the dog to our house. Of course we fell in love with him! The shelter let me know that his name is Sammy and he found his owner!


…that last week I found out that my good friend and her daughter who is Gabbie’s good friend are coming in for Gabbie’s bat mitzvah. We are so excited!

…that we may be spending a bit of time in NJ this summer.

…that I’ve been watching the HBO series for Big Little Lies. Anyone else?

What’s okay with you this week?

Also linking up with:

Practice Reading and Writing with Ben the Rooster

Monday, February 27, 2017

Practice Reading and Writing with Ben the Rooster

I first heard about Ben the Rooster from Danielle’s blog when she shared her daughter’s experience receiving mail from Ben. My first reaction was that Simon would love that! My second thought was that it would be a great way for Simon and I to practice his reading and writing. Simon is 6 years old and in first grade. His reading seems to be on track for his age, but he is struggling with writing, and especially with spelling. Zachary also has issues with writing and I had been hoping Simon would not have these same issues. Simon is much more willing to practice writing than Zachary ever was and actually enjoys writing in a journal and writing little notes to me, so I had no doubt that he would be excited to reply when he got his first postcard from Ben the Rooster.

Ben the Rooster is a Barnyard Pen Pal for kids ages 2-8. With the help of his human friend Jason, a children’s writer from Atlanta, he sends kids two postcards each month about life on the farm. Each postcard is an activity, and parents receive an email about discussion ideas before each postcard arrives. 

In the first postcard you receive, Ben writes about what it means to be a pen pal and about his favorite hobby, which is reading. Parents can use this postcard to discuss being a pen pal with their children, as well as how the post office works, who brings the mail, how the mailman finds your house, and more. Because Ben mentions his favorite hobby, parents can also discuss the meaning of a hobby with their child.

Kids are encouraged to draw a picture of their favorite book on the enclosed postcard that is sent back to Ben. On the reverse side, they can write what they drew. Here is Simon’s attempt at spelling “Harry Potter.” I was not in the room with him while he did this, so he didn’t ask me for spelling help.

Simon was so excited that he insisted on mailing his reply back to Ben the Rooster immediately! I taught him how to put his postcard in our mailbox so that the mailman would take it. I was happy that the postcard came already stamped, so we could put it back in the mail right away.

Every day since he received his first postcard, Simon has been asking for his mail from his pen pal! I told him that the next postcard would come in two weeks, because postcards are mailed on the 1st and 16th of the month. As the time got closer for him to receive his 2nd postcard, he got even more excited! So you can imagine how happy he was when the postcard arrived!


This time, Ben the Rooster wrote about his trip to Mount Rushmore. He asked if we could name the presidents on Mt. Rushmore. Simon was able to identify Washington and Jefferson, who he says he learned about at school. Then he guessed that maybe one of the other presidents was Truman. (They are not – they are Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln!)

Ben asked the kids to draw him a picture of what it would look like if their faces were sculpted on a mountain. Here is what Simon came up with:

When I asked him to write what he drew, he came up with the name “Mt. Simon.” How cute is that?! He also wanted to tell Ben that he visited Truman’s house. I helped him with the spelling on this one. I just realized that we wrote “I went Truman’s house” instead of “I went TO Truman’s house!” We fixed that for the final version!

Ben the Rooster’s mission is to encourage all kids to love reading and to expand their imaginations. I love that getting these postcards helps Simon practice both reading and writing! Plus, he enjoys drawing! I bet you’re wondering how to sign up for this awesome program – each subscription includes 2 postcards per month, and you can pay month-to-month for $5 a month, or you can get 6 months for $27. Ben and Jason were kind enough to offer my readers their first month free with the code NOTINJERSEY.

You should definitely check out Ben’s Mailbox at his Instagram account – the pictures he shares are so cute. I love how some of the photos show Ben himself holding the kids’ mail! You can also connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Because Simon loved this first month of postcards so much, I definitely plan to sign up for him to receive more. How about you?

Linking Up With:
A Fresh Start on a Budgethellomonday

91 Day Declutter Challenge - Master Bedroom

Friday, February 24, 2017

Although the Declutter Challenge has been going on for 8 weeks already, I have not yet shared my progress from as far back as Week #5 – Master Bedroom!  I decided that I will also share my closet this week, but while I did declutter the master bathroom during week #6, I will share that together with the other bathrooms in the house at a later time.

Master Bedroom Reveal

Dresser Top – Before and After.
I have a really nice gold mirrored tray that was my grandmother’s. Prior to receiving it, I was using a Styrofoam tray that Gabbie decorated and gave to me as a Mother’s Day gift. As you can see, I had it piled up with scarves and such – mostly because I didn’t have any room in my closet to keep the scarves!

A closer look at how I store my jewelry – on the wall is a frame with hooks for longer necklaces, in the blue is a spray painted mug tree for shorter necklaces and bracelets, and the white Scottie dog is an earring display that a friend bought for me awhile back!

Nightstand – Before and After.
I had a bunch of old boxes that I needed to get rid of on the left side, and on the right was a painting I made over the summer. I finally found a place for it behind the books on the shelf!

Bench – Before and After.
The bench always becomes a place where we leave things – and even though in the after picture it’s cleared up, right now Dave has another shirt on there! I love this bench – here’s its story!

Drawers – Before.
I have a set of 6 drawers. The top right contains my underwear, so I didn’t take a photo! And the top left holds t-shirts, which I recently cleared out, so I didn’t need to go through them again. The drawers you see here are (top to bottom):
Gym Clothes
A Mess of things like Bathing Suits and Pajamas
Leggings and Tank Tops
More Pajamas and Tights.
As you can probably tell, the drawers were mostly so overstuffed that I could hardly open them!

Drawers – After
Here they are again from top to bottom:
Gym Clothes
Pajamas and Bathing Suits
Leggings and Tank Tops
Stockings and Tights – and I later moved my shorts out of the closet and into that bottom drawer.

It is so much easier to get out and put away my clothes with the drawers less stuffed full!

Next up, the closet.

Closet – Before
I’m kind of embarrassed to post these! I have clothes falling out everywhere! In the past I had knitted a lot of sweaters that I basically never wear, so that’s what was mostly taking up the top shelves here. I started by taking out everything that I no longer wear. There were a few things that had me wondering if now that I remembered them I’d actually wear them again, but I mostly got rid of those things too. I put everything into bags for donation and with everything removed, my closet looked almost completely different! Then I started reorganizing what was left.

Closet – After
I put most of my knitted items into containers because I want to keep them since I made them, but I don’t need to keep them out on display. The exception is the few scarves hanging on the top right. I sorted my shirts by putting cardigans and vests first, followed by long sleeves, followed by short sleeves. I will probably move the short sleeves to the middle in the summer time. I hung scarves in the areas that are too short to hang long items, plus there is a scarf hanger next to that for a few others. I hung my skirts where my shorts were previously and moved the shorts to the drawer. To the left outside of the photos are my dresses and longer sweaters, which were previously bunched on the shelves, along with scarves, jeans, skirts, and who knows what. I left jeans and a few longer skirts folded on the shelves – which by the way came with our house! On the bottom of the closet I have a shoe rack that I’ve had since I was growing up, and I moved several pairs of sandals and flip flops from under my bed and put them in the closet. I also vacuumed under the bed. I was going to take a picture of the piles of dust I removed, but it wasn’t very pleasant!

Bonus – I inspired Dave to clean out his closet too! He found this hat inside – I guess he felt it necessary to wear while decluttering!

More piles of clothes to donate!

What do you think of my bedroom reveal? How is your decluttering going?