Monday, June 17, 2013

Web Address Change

You guys might notice that I haven't posted to this page in quite a while.   I just haven't had the chance to get any posts up in the past several weeks, and I'm not sure when or if I will be posting regularly in the near future.

Since I'm not using it all that much lately, and being the frugal minded person that I am, I just couldn't see paying to renew my current domain name (www.savingmyselfsilly.com).

I'm still using the blogger platform for my blog, so I am going to be reverting back to my old blogspot address (saving-myself-silly.blogspot.com) starting now.

If you are signed up for my email updates, you should still receive them in your email as usual, and if you follow me on facebook or twitter, none of that should change either.

I am sure that I will be posting here and there, but not regularly and probably not frequently for at least the foreseeable future, but I did not want to just disable the page and lose three years worth of posts containing information that might be helpful to someone.

Everything on my page should still work the same, so if there is a post that you had bookmarked under the old domain, you may use the search feature on my page and re-bookmark it with the correct blogspot address.

Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope that you all have a fabulous summer!

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Garden Update

Growing up, my whole family grew awesome gardens.  I suppose the South Louisiana soil is perfect for such things.  Ever since I moved to Texas, I have been trying my hand at gardening, without a whole lot of success.   I will have good luck with one type of plant in particular during one season, and not be able to get it to grow a bit the next year.   This year hardly any of the seeds that I planted came up.  I am having better luck with some plants that I bought, however.

I still have my container garden in pots along my side fence (which I always plant in early spring and forget that the tree above them will grow its leaves back...so it's a little more shady than would be ideal.)

A month or so ago, I drove up into my driveway from somewhere one night and noticed the neighbors across the street were throwing away two wooden pallets.  I had seen several ideas for pallet gardens on pinterest, so I made my husband go grab them.

I laid them out in my backyard along my old garden plot.  He filled them up with soil before I was able to tell him that I wanted to line them with newspapers, however, so I am having some trouble with grass and ivy (someone had English Ivy growing on our back fence and we have been battling it for 7 years now!) growing up from underneath.




I grew the leeks and lettuces from bases of produce from our Bountiful Baskets.  The leeks are still doing ok, but I am currently battling roly polys.   They've killed a lettuce, a couple celery, and my bok choy.  I'm not happy.    I did some reading up on natural ways to keep insects away and garlic, onions, and hot peppers seemed to be the key.   I planted garlic all around throughout the pallet and today i mixed up a concoction and spread all around and watered it down good, so *crosses fingers*.


I did have one garden highlight this morning:


I've got a tomato peeking out!  And it looks like my basil seeds are finally sprouting (that was one plant that did WELL last year, so I'm excited about that).


Did you plant anything this year?

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Monday, May 6, 2013

May Menu Plan Update

I told you last week about how I was trying to plan out the menu for the entire month of May.

Here was the original plan, in no particular order (crossed out the one's we've eaten):

To Cook:
Red Beans and Rice x2 (plus freeze)
Spaghetti x2 (plus freeze)
Tilapia
Cheddar Chicken x2 (plus freeze)
Chicken & Broccoli x2 (plus freeze)
Shrimp Alfredo
Chicken Pot Pie (plus freeze)
Tacos x2 (plus freeze)
Hamburgers (plus freeze)
Pork steak  (I will likely cook in bulk and freeze)
Potato Soup (plus freeze)
Pancakes x4 (we have this about once a week)
Eggs x2 (we usually do this on busy nights, and hubby doesn't eat eggs, so he finishes off some leftovers)

To Pull From Freezer:
Taco Quiche
Pork Chops
Cabbage Soup
Ham Soup
Italian Sausage Soup
Roast
Beef StewCabbage Casserole
Potato Soup



So here's how last week went:

Monday--had the tacos according to plan (also mixed up and seasoned more of the 15lbs of ground beef I'd bought and made burger patties and meatballs to freeze)
Tuesday--Spaghetti
Wednesday--Spaghetti again (and froze 5 more meals of sauce)
Thursday-stew from the freezer
Friday--Daughter's school showed Wreck-It Ralph and sold pizza/cookies/drinks for $2 per person so we did that
Saturday--Noticed El Rio Grande had T-Bones on sale for $2.99 per pound.  After the movie we were right there by the store and hubby wanted to see how they looked.  They looked good so we purchased enough for three family meals, grilled some on saturday (and made potato salad, so probably won't be making potato soup) and froze the rest.
Sunday--AWANA awards night at church and picnic afterward--church provided hotdogs.

10 burgers (2 meals), 2 bags of meatballs, 4 taco, and 5 spaghetti.  Including the 3 meals we ate from this already, thats 16 meals made in 2 days.


I'd not been remembering those two nights of eating away from home last week, and we will probably do at least one meal out with family visiting for my daughter's birthday next week.

But, this week should be pretty normal, so here are the meals from the list I plan to make this week:

Monday:  Red beans and rice  (put them on in the crock pot early this morning)
Tuesday:  Leftovers  (and freeze)
Wednesday:  Thawing large amount of chicken breast--Cheddar chicken (and freeze some)
Thursday:  Chicken Broccoli (and freeze some)
Friday:  Pork Steaks
Saturday:  Tilapia
Sunday:  Pancakes

Wow.   I just realized that I'm only putting stuff in the freezer this week, and not taking anything out.  I guess that's good to do on a pretty normal week.  And I'll probably be pulling out meals in duplicates with extra people here next week, so we will have to just see how the menu goes then.

What's your plan for the week?

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Monday, April 29, 2013

May Menu

I'm trying something a little bit different this month.   I'm going to try to plan out the meals we will eat for the entire month based on things that we have on hand and things that are on sale.  This morning I made a big trip to get some meats on sale at one of the local hispanic stores.  I spent just over $43 on 25lbs of beef and pork, as well as some cheap veggies, tomato sauce, and a 5lb bag of rice.  I will use this, along with items in my freezer, and will fill in side dishes from the produce we get from our Bountiful Baskets.

Here's the basket we got this weekend:



I plan to cook some meals and pull some meals from the freezer.  If you've been following long, you know that I can't seem to cook just one meal worth of food at a time, so the nights I do cook, we'll be eating AND adding back to the freezer.  Then I will use what I have in the freezer, and the extra deals I've picked up to plan another set of meals for next month.  That's the plan at least!


Here's the plan (in no particular order):

To Cook:
Red Beans and Rice x2 (plus freeze)
Spaghetti x2 (plus freeze)
Tilapia
Cheddar Chicken x2 (plus freeze)
Chicken & Broccoli x2 (plus freeze)
Shrimp Alfredo
Chicken Pot Pie (plus freeze)
Tacos x2 (plus freeze)
Hamburgers (plus freeze)
Pork steak  (I will likely cook in bulk and freeze)
Potato Soup (plus freeze)
Pancakes x4 (we have this about once a week)
Eggs x2 (we usually do this on busy nights, and hubby doesn't eat eggs, so he finishes off some leftovers)

To Pull From Freezer:
Taco Quiche
Pork Chops
Cabbage Soup
Ham Soup
Italian Sausage Soup
Roast
Beef Stew
Cabbage Casserole
Potato Soup



This plan will use up about half the meals already in my freezer, and add another roughly 25 to the freezer over the course of the month.  I like to keep about a month's worth in there at all times, so that will be perfect (plus I'm finishing off a lot of my cool weather food in time for summer).

I haven't worked out the order yet, not even for this week, but I do intend to do tacos tonight.  I bought 15 lbs of ground beef today, and tortillas, plus I have plenty of lettuce and tomato from the basket.  I intend to split the beef into 5 lb chunks and make taco, spaghetti, burger/meatball mixture.

I'm going to be pretty busy in the kitchen over the next few weeks, but it will be worth it to get my freezers stocked back up!

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Last Minute Grocery Shopping: Saved 70%

Since I was feeling bad last week, I didn't make it out to any of the stores.  Today I realized that it had to be today, even though it was rainy and the temp was dropping rapidly.

First I went to Tom Thumb, aren't with a handful of store coupons (from the ad)/manufacturer coupons to stack.

Here's what I got at Tom Thumb:


Two Ken's @$0.99 each with store coupon--used 2 $1/1 =FREE
Two Danimals Crunchers @  $1.69 each--Used $1/2 printable= $1.19 each
Two Chex @  $0.99 each--Used $0.50/2 (doubled) = $0.49 each
Two Nature Valley @  $1.79 each--Used $0.50/2 (doubled) =  $1.29 each

Was a little bummed when I got to the store because only the Nature Valley Crunchy were included, and I prefer the sweet and salty variety, but I decided to give them a try anyway.

Total Shelf Price:  $25.32
Total Sale Price (After Store Coupon):  $10.92   (Already 57% savings)
Price Paid After Coupons:  $5.92  (77% Savings)

It also printed me a $5/$20 coupon good through the end of the month, so I'm hoping there's a good sale next week so I can make use of those extra savings!



Then it was off to Albertsons.  I grabbed a few Mega Items, and a few other things on my list, and then my coupons and I wandered around a bit, so I found a few things to buy that I had not intended to, but all good deals.

Here's what I grabbed:


There are two fuzzy impulse buys there in the foreground.   $9.99 slippers marked down to $2.49. I bought a size too big for each of my girls, and plan to keep them for stocking stuffers.  The little one was with me, but I told her she couldn't have them yet, and I'm betting she completely forgets before long.

I'm not going to itemize everything I bought in this trip, but I paid $30.57 in all, and my receipt says  I saved $64.92 so that means the shelf price of everything was $95.49, so I saved 68%.


All said today, I spent $36.49 on items that sale for $120.81, for an average of 70% saved at both stores.  That's right about where I like my savings rate to be when using coupons, and I was about to stock up on some snack items we've been without for quite some time around here.

Did you do any last minute shopping today?


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Fun Free App: Pocket Penguins

I like free apps  (ok, well I like free stuff in general...).  I download a lot of free apps just to see if I like them for my kids.   Most of them I delete immediately.  Some bore them after a few uses.

Yesterday, I found one that I think they will ask to use over and over.




This app is from the California Academy of Sciences, and it is a live camera feed with three different views of a penguin habitat.   

My little one and I just had the best time watching the penguins swim and play over breakfast.  :)

There are some drawbacks...at night...it's dark, so you can't see anything.  This morning it was plenty bright though.   

I haven't used it enough yet to learn when they are most active and when feeding times will be, but I can see my older one watching the clock with anticipation during the summer.

The link above goes to the Amazon appstore, and will download an Android version.   I'm not sure if there is an iphone/ipad version.   I tried searching the itunes store and found nothing, but it's very possibly user error.  ;)  If anyone finds it on there, feel free to leave a link in the comments. 

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Plan 4/22

My menu's have been very hit and miss lately.  Last weekend my family was all recovering from strep, and then I came down with it too, so last week we went day by day and have a lot of breakfast food.

We had gotten a basket of produce, and were able to work a lot of it into our meals (like we made banana bread pancakes that I had found on pinterest).  We did not order our Bountiful Basket this past week, so I'm still trying to use up a few items we have on hand, and scraping the pantry and freezer until payday (friday) and new basket (saturday).

Here was last week's produce basket:


Most of this just went into a big salad, of which we have about half a mixing bowl left in the fridge.  I basically have mushrooms, zucchini, and the anaheim peppers left to use, and some apples and oranges.


So here is the plan:

Monday:  Meatballs and mashed potatoes (both from freezer) and frozen peas.

Tuesday:  Crockpot Beef Stroganoff  (I have stew meat in the freezer.  I have mushrooms.  I have cans of cream soup that need to get used.)

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Ham and bean soup (in freezer)

Friday:  Tilapia and I will figure out some sides (hoping the anaheims will last until then...want to stuff with cream cheese and wrap in bacon.



I'm only planning until basket day this week.


I am also planning on making zucchini bread (never tried this before) and some homemade crescent roll dough to make pigs in blankets with some little smokies sausages I got on sale.  Those will freeze well (if we don't devour them all, which we likely will) and will be great for lunches/lunchboxes.

What's on your menu this week?

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Plan April 8-14

I made my menu plan last night, but I didn't post it.   I didn't post it because I knew I was going shopping today and I would likely decide to use some of the things I bought in my menu.  I didn't go ahead and plan to use the things I bought in menu because, hey, sometimes it doesn't work out like that.

Today it didn't.   I went to one of the local hispanic stores because they had a ton of good meat deals, including one on shrimp, which was a slight splurge for us, but considering they were peeled already, and the price would have been a good price even if they were not, we went ahead and got some.   I also intended to buy some ground beef and pork chops they had advertised, but in the store there were no signs for those in the meat department, so I left without them.   I also left with fresh warm tortillas, $0.99 bacon  (yeah I bought 8 packs) and $1.59 shredded cheese (ditto).

So I've changed my plans and we are having soft tacos tonight :)

I also have our produce basket we got on Saturday to work into our menu:




Monday:  Soft tacos (I intended to use the ground beef I was going to buy, but will thaw a chub of ground turkey instead.  I'm making pinto beans also, and we will use some of the lettuce and tomatoes on those.

Tuesday:  (tutoring)  Pulling a soup from the freezer

Wednesday:  (husband gone)  Pulling a beef stew from the freezer.

Thursday:  (I may be gone)  Pulling red beans from the freezer.

Friday:  Hamburgers (shaped and in the freezer) and fries (I still have a bag of red potatoes in the pantry also)

Saturday:  Shrimp Alfredo, I will add some mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and the small sweet peppers from the basket to the sauce, and have either salad (if any lettuce remains) or asparagus on the side.   I sauted last basket's asparagus in some fresh chopped garlic and olive oil in a skillet and it was awesome.  My favorite way yet (its a new veggie for us!)

Sunday: Pancakes



I will also be attempting zucchini bread using the zucchini from the basket (never made that one before but i've heard it's good!), and I will be making up some freezer burritos and breakfast burritos using the rest of the tortillas I bought today.  Will be nice to have something different in the freezer.  It has been far too long since I've made any of those!

I think that will use up all of the veggies except the celery, which will probably get munched on with peanut butter, or I can always chop and freeze it.  The fruits will definitely get eaten.  I've ordered another basket for this Saturday (we usually do every other week) so I can't wait to see what we get and plan meals around it.


What will you be making this week?

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun Frugal Snack: Peanut Butter & Bananas

I've browsed around on Pinterest a lot and have pinned a ton of things.. a lot of pretty brilliant things!  There are some smart, creative people out in the world!  I love learning from them!

I especially love learning about new ways to not let things go to waste.  I hate waste.

I found this idea intriguing, and decided to give it a try.  It's one of those that you can't really mess up (we've all seen those pinterest experiment disasters, right???)

So I  had a couple of bananas that were past their prime.  I normally make banana bread, but my recipe needs 3, and I only had two.


First you slice them.  Then you spread peanut butter on them.  Then you stick them together.


You can eat them like this if you like (I think my older girl would have prefered them this way), or you can pop them in the freezer, which is what I did.

My younger girl, who could live on peanut butter, loved them.  My oldest I don't think cared much for the frozen texture.  My husband just said interesting.   I personally detest bananas, so I have no opinion on the matter.  ;)

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30 Day Home Cleaning Challenge: Day 4

Yesterday's challenge was to surface clean an extra room.  I had originally thought that I was going to clean up our office, but I had a slight change of plans. ;)

I made all my shopping lists intending to go shopping, and then decided that it was too late in the morning and too cold to start out, so I decided to go up to the elementary school and have lunch with my daughter.

Came back home, got my youngest all tucked in and napping, brewed some fresh hot coffee (I'd had some iced that morning and it just was not doing the trick! lol) and was ready to get to work!  Only it was already after 2pm!

I knew that my original plan to finish all the laundry, spend 15 minutes in the kitchen, and clean up the office were not going to happen.

I am happy to say that the laundry is DONE!  However, when I took a look at what was left to do in my kitchen, I noticed that one of my major remaining tasks was to straighten and wipe down my laundry cart.   You see, the far left side of my kitchen houses my washing machine, and my dryer is in the garage.

So, I don't have a laundry room, but two separate laundry areas.  I know it's a cop out, but yesterday I decided that my kitchen task was going to be one and the same as my extra room task.

Here's what I had to deal with:


Things had fallen over and not been uprighted, and otherwise just tossed and shoved into there.  Not that big of a deal, but sort of an eyesore in the kitchen.  What you can't see is that, because this sits amid my food preparation area, beneath all of that there always accumulates a layer of crumbs and gunk.  That cart even has 3 shelves, and yesterday I found a dried up piece of broccoli down on the bottom one.   I fail to even see how that is even possible!


Much better!  All wiped down and uprighted.   I moved some of the things causing the pile up issues back down to lower shelves...as the cart had been rolled out to retrieve them, but they had just been sat back on the top shelf.  I even found room for my box of Borax that had been living on the left edge of my washer.


Today's challenge task says to surface clean living room and kitchen.  I have a few toys to straighten up in the living room, and I've been pretty well keeping up with the kitchen all week, but I do need to clean out and wipe down inside my fridge in preparation for my Bountiful Basket we are picking up on Saturday morning.   And I will be making a large shopping excursion this morning.  A busy end to a busy week, but I'm pretty pleased with the progress I've made around here!

How is your challenge coming along?

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

30 Day House Cleaning Challenge: Day 3

Yesterday's challenge was to surface clean the bedrooms.   My husband had unknowingly helped me out with that Tuesday night by having my girls clean their rooms while I was away.

Our room was not looking so hot, however.   We had gotten pretty lazy with putting shoes away (mostly myself I admit).  Things had not gotten put away on the bookshelf properly, hangers were left on the floor.



Here is the cleaned space.


And here is the surprising part---That took me all of 5 minutes!  11 minutes total spent cleaning this room, and then vacuuming this room, oldest daughter's room, and hallway.  My husband was quite impressed!

I also washed all the bedding in our room and remade the bed.

Then I moved into the kitchen.  I said I would spend 15 minutes each day this week cleaning/decluttering in my kitchen, and I must admit that I'm running out of things to declutter....except for those ones that I just do not want to do....like the cabinet with all the plastic containers and scrubbing the fridge shelves  (ICK!).

Yesterday, I decided to rearrange and inventory the small over the fridge freezer.  I found that I had a lot more frozen fruit than I realize.   I do a really good job of preserving things before they spoil...but they never seem to make it out of the freezer.  I see some smoothies in our future!  I also straightened the things on top of the fridge and redid my dry erase calendar on the fridge and made it be April.  Not cleaning, I know, but it needed to be done.  ;)

Then there was mount laundry to tackle.

That poor little squished penguin.

That is 5 (!!) days worth (seriously...we emptied that basket on Saturday!), minus all the stuff that hangs, because I tend to hang that up right out the dryer, and of course not counting all the washed bedding.

I tried.  Really I did.   I was separating it all, tossing the towels and washcloths to my girls to fold because that is their job.  Somewhere in the midst of tossing laundry around into piles, something in my back got really angry at me*, and I ended up having to spend the rest of the evening on a heating pad in that freshly made bed.

I'm feeling a lot better today, and at least the towels are done, right?


Today's task is to surface clean an extra room.   I choose our office/guest room.  I won't be able to clean it completely because my husband has sort of turned the bed into a table for his grading papers, but I need to straighten up a bit and vacuum, and also vacuum the younger ones room (she was sleeping yesterday).

I'm going to make one more attempt at finishing up that laundry (adding today's load to it of course), and then maybe, just maybe, I can get back to my one complete load a day schedule.  The aftermath of headlice/bedwetting is brutal!

I am hoping to also get in my kitchen cleaning today, and also get some grocery shopping done.

How did your day go yesterday?


*Note:  I've had issues with my back on and off since a car accident in college.  I know my body has limits that I frequently ignore and later regret.  So no, I did not just happen to randomly hurt myself doing laundry. ;)  I've been pushing myself hard for three days now and it caught up with me, but I'm ready to go again!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

30 Day House Cleaning Challenge: Day 2

I told you yesterday that I have decided to blog along with the 30 Day House Cleaning Challenge.  Once again, I was far too tired to get this up last night, so here is a quick update on my progress for day 2.

Yesterday's task was to surface clean the bathrooms.  I have two bathrooms in my house, and I intended to give them both a quick wipe down, but I only got to the one in the hall...the kids bathroom.   Last I had checked it wasn't too bad.  Ever since I implemented my $2 basket system things have stayed pretty neat on the counter.

When I walked in yesterday morning, however, I had to call for back-up.  Namely, the three year old.   Apparently she felt she needed bathroom reading material (thus there was a stack of about 8 princess books on the counter) and also music (her toy keyboard was set up in front of the toilet) while she was doing water art (there were wet paintbrushes lined up along the side of the tub beside rubber duckies and naked Barbies).

I find that sometimes it's better just not to ask.  So I called her in there and had her return all those things to their proper place and pick up a few bath toys that were scattered on the floor while I wiped everything down and then I got the floor swept.

I also spent my 15 minutes decluttering in my kitchen like I said I was going to do all week.  In that time I was able to tackle the cups, the top of the hutch (meds and cereals are up there) and the utensil drawer.  The cups and utensils have been taking a hit lately since we've been having the girls help with unloading the dishwasher, but they are learning!

I didn't make it to that laundry pile yesterday though.  I made my husband bring it in from the garage last night so it was ready for me today.  He was very surprised to see that a stack up to my chest had accumulated just since last Friday when we all folded a basket the same size.   I'm pretty sure he thought we were doing about 2 weeks worth of laundry that day instead of 4-5 days worth.  Now he gets it!

I think the hardest thing for me is trying to tack on extra tasks while still keeping up with the normal everyday tasks that have to be done each and every day (dishes/laundry, etc.), especially when I have places to go!  I'm going to be gone this morning to a ladies Bible Study so I'm really going to have to make myself get stuff done when I get home after lunch.

Today's task is going to be to surface clean the bedrooms.  My lovely husband had both the girls straighten their rooms while I was off tutoring last night, so I will just have to tidy up our room, wash our sheets, and vacuum the three floors.  I am still going to try to spend 15 minutes tackling something in the kitchen, and conquer the laundry.  I'm thinking that might be saved for in front of the tv this evening.  ;)

Are you following along with this challenge?  How did it go yesterday?  What will you tackle today?

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

30 Day House Cleaning Challenge: Day 1

Yesterday, MoneySavingMom and a ton of other bloggers kicked off a 30 Day House Cleaning Challenge.  I was a little bit on the fence about if I wanted to blog along with it or not.  I've sort of taken a blogging hiatus lately, my mind being on my tutoring mostly.  But now that I'm doing less of that I wanted to get back to blogging, and I actually have tons of posts in mind to share with you.  But, I also am needing to whip my house back into shape!  So, I thought that blogging along with this would give *me* motivation to stick with it and get it done.

I meant to post this last night, but I was so motivated to get stuff done around here yesterday, I actually wore myself out and was so tired I totally forgot about posting this yesterday!  Oops!  I guess I'm off to a pretty good start on the challenge, but not the blogging!

Using this list, yesterday's task was to surface clean living room and kitchen.

My living room was not too bad, as we had just had a long tedious struggle over the weekend getting the girls to pick up their things off the floor.  I'm fairly convinced that past infancy (when small objects are obviously magnified), they become completely invisible to children's eyes!

So, all I had left to do in the living room was to vacuum.  But, oh.....the kitchen!

I told you in my menu/declutter plan yesterday that I planned to spend 15 minutes each day cleaning my kitchen.  Well, I decided to begin with just the surfaces yesterday (stick to the challenge, right?) but I figured it would take me a bit longer, so I turned on PBS, set my timer for 20 minutes, and set to work wiping things down--counters, cabinets, appliances.   When the timer went off, I was *nearly* finished wiping all the kitchen surfaces. I had just sprayed down the stove top with my homemade orange vinegar spray (posting soon) so I kept going and got that finished up, but I still had to do dishes (several that had to be hand washed as well) and then sweep and mop the kitchen.  

I got all of that accomplished, plus washing 4 loads of laundry (I have to fold it all today....and of course we had a bed wetting last night so there is more bedding to wash) and preparing our soup for tonight...its all in the pot in the fridge, I just have to pull it out and pop it on the stove!

So, I was busy, busy, busy yesterday!  But, it was well worth it when my oldest got home from school and walked into the kitchen for her snack and said "Wow!  I like how you have the kitchen all clean and organized!"

We were even able to have a little relaxing family time after dinner.   We took the girls and their Dollar Tree kites from their Easter baskets and went over to the park for a bit.


I think it was a fabulous start to the month of April, and so very refreshing after the rough few weeks we've had around here!

How did your day go?

Today's challenge is cleaning the bathrooms, but I still want to spend 15 minutes in my kitchen, and get my laundry folded, but I'm pretty tired after that 4am bedwetting escapade, so we will see how it goes.  I'm also challenging myself to not take naps during the day.  This might be a rough one!  LOL

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Plan (Yes! I Have One!) And Declutter Plan

It's been a rough few weeks around here.  Almost comical looking back on it.  Nothing majorly bad, just annoying and time consuming and incessant.


I'm glad to, at least seemingly, be getting a breather, and I am going to try to get back on top of things around here.  Seems like I've just been treading water since spring break.  

But it's a whole new month now.  I'm not sure why, but new months give me motivation.  It feels like a good time to make a fresh start, and when they start on a Monday, it just seems like a little voice from Heaven telling me that now is the time.

So I made a menu plan.  On Sunday night (which is always my intention that never seems to happen).  It's pretty simple, but that's a good thing.

Monday:  Saturday I made a pot of Great Northern Beans.  I've never cooked them, but I found them marked down at Aldi since their expiration date was approaching, so I decided to give them a try.   We liked them!  Which is good because I have a whole crock pot full!  We ate them over rice and with cornbread.  We will eat more tomorrow, and I will freeze the rest.

Tuesday:  I have some leftover grilled chicken leg quarters from friday.  I also have some veggies, including a large cabbage, that I need to use up.   I'm going to boil the chicken, pick the meat off for the soup, and use the stock from the bones as the base.  I found an intriguing chicken cabbage soup recipe on pinterest that I will attempt.

Wednesday:  Leftovers.  I sure hope it's good!  (Will freeze the rest.)

Thursday:  Pork chops (pre-cooked from freezer) and roasted cauliflower

Friday:  Spaghetti from freezer
  
Saturday:  Chicken Taco Quiche from freezer

Sunday:  Pancakes



I'm continuing my trend of adding a few things to the freezer while taking a few things out each week.   This allows me to only cook 2-3 nights each week and still keep a nice rotation of freezer meals.  I usually have over a month's worth at all times, but we've been eating from the freezer a lot, and I was down to 26 currently, but that is still very helpful on busy nights!


I was also trying to make a habit of doing 15 minutes of decluttering a day.  That habit got totally derailed!  I'm trying to get back on top of that this month.   This week I have not assigned specific tasks to days, but I intend to spend 15 minutes each day reorganizing my kitchen.  Things have gotten tossed around and need to be put back in order, so I will set my timer and get to work on a task.  If I finish before my timer, I will begin another until time runs out.   My kitchen should be looking pretty good by the end of the week!







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Friday, March 22, 2013

Getting Back To Couponing

I know I haven't posted in quite a while, and all I can say is what a wild few weeks!  Sometimes life just happens and you have to take a step back and deal with it.  I think the main thing was that I had taken on too many tutoring hours and that just made everything spiral out of hand.

My hours have calmed down now, and I am slowly but surely getting things back to normal around here (well, I was until my daughter got sent home with round 2 of headlice in 5 weeks time!  That caused a bit of extra laundry and time restraints!)

But, yes I am still around.  I am trying to refocus on my wise spending habits, as we had taken a detour through lack of menus and fast food drive throughs!  I've gotten all my coupons back in order, and for some reason that really helped me realize that there were really good deals to be had at the grocery stores this week!  (It's amazing what being familiar with your coupons will do!)

I was afraid I had completely forgotten how to use coupons it had been so long, but I think I did pretty well with an angry 3 year old in tow!

I went to two stores today:  Kroger and Albertsons.   I have been finding good milk markdowns when I go to Kroger, and today was no exception.   It wasn't necessarily a great "deal" today, as the mark down made the price the same as I would have paid at Aldi, but it saved me a trip to Aldi to get milk, so I was pleased.

Here is everything I got at Kroger:



I got 2 sets of mega items, plus a few other items we needed, and I spent $30.44 in all.   I thought that sounded a little high, but I was pleased still....until I just started looking over my receipt!  Those two jars of cheez whiz that you see marked for $0.35 each actually rang up for $4.29 each, so I was overcharged by nearly $8!  (I might have noticed had the angry three year old not been trying to grab candy!)  I will be going back down there to get my refund this afternoon!

After Kroger, I ran into Albertsons for a few of the frozen items they had on sale:


After coupons, I ended up paying just $5.89 for all of this.

I am stocked back up on fish sticks and chicken nuggets for a while, and I got them at below Aldi prices (that is my comparison these days).  I'm going to attempt to curb our late night pizza cravings with  frozen instead of Pizza Patron.  I've got some easy breakfast that will be a treat for the kids because we don't have them often and they are getting bored of the same old options.  I'm excited about my Silk because it's been soooo long since I've bought some, and I am ready for egg dying I do believe.

Did you get any good deals this week?

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Menu Plan Week 9--From The Freezer

I know I have been really quiet around here from quite some time.   It's just been crazy, hectic, busy, sickly times around here and a lot of balls got dropped along the way.   Well, ok...all of the balls got dropped along the way.   It feels like the whole month of February was one big flop around here, but I'm not going to worry about that.   I'm picking up and moving on.

A big part of moving on is picking back up on routines I had set in place.  One of those routines is making a menu plan.   I went the entirety of last week without a menu plan.  I did not like that.  Nope, nope, nope.

I had even gotten my bountiful basket last week, and haven't really known what to do with it:


We did have some salads and wraps, and I made 3 loaves of banana bread.

What really saved us was having a freezer full of meals.   I had been trying to plan easy meals for my husband to prepare while I was off tutoring...and last week that turned into...hey just grab something out the freezer ok?  I gotta run, bye!  But it worked.  We did eat out at Cici's on Friday night and pick up Sonic on the way home from Awana on Sunday, which is not ideal, but that's what happened....

So this week I'm trying to get back into forming a plan, but I'm also trying not to further overwhelm myself, because I have a lot of housework to catch up on and my mom is coming to stay with us on Saturday, so there's a little extra prep work involved in getting the room ready for her.

That being said, I'm keeping it pretty simple this week, and pulling from the freezer a lot (I've still got 34 meals ready to go in there!)

Monday:  I had bought some tortillas and tortilla chips and tri-colored peppers with the intention of thawing the chicken breast sometime this week and making fajitas.   Not gonna happen.  I will slice and freeze the peppers for when it does.

I decided to pull out the last tortilla soup tonight, and we will just have the chips and tortillas with that.   I even have frozen homemade salsa.

Tuesday:  I'll be tutoring.  They will pull a container of gumbo out of the freezer.

Wednesday:  Turkey Pot Pie

Thursday:  Italian Sausage Soup from the freezer and I will try to slice and fry up the small eggplant from our bountiful basket on the side.

Friday:  Tilapia  and a yet to be decided side dish

Saturday:  Burgers

Sunday:  Fried Fish and homemade fries  (I've still got a whole bag of small potatoes to use up from my basket).

I also need to use up the leeks.   I was considering just chopping them and freezer them in small portions until I needed them.  Has anyone ever tried this?  I have honestly never used a leek before, but they had a very strong oniony smell to me, so I assume that's about what they taste like.  I'm open to any advice or suggestions on that because I'm getting another basket on Saturday and they need to be out of the fridge by then.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Menu Plan Week 7 (And A Week 6 Recap)

You may have noticed that I skipped posting last weeks menu plan.  You may have even noticed that I pretty much skipped posting last week, period!

It was a pretty crazy week around here!  And mostly unexpected at that!

Let me give you a brief run down of what's been going on.

Last week:

  • Tax Refund Came  (Paid off last two payments on our Jeep!  Woohoo!)
Saturday:
  • Picked Up Produce Basket
Two cabbages, huge english cucumber, huge sweet potato, spinach, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, apples (3 lb bag plus 2 loose), 5 pears, bananas, and 13 blood oranges.

  • Begin Making Menu
  • Husband decides that he'd like me to end my no buying meat challenge early.
Monday:
  • Went shopping.  Bought 9lbs. of ground beef, 6lbs of pork chops, and 3 lbs. of tilapia for under $30.
  • Get home, put everything away, begin fixing lunch....my phone rings...
  • It's the school nurse....seems the head lice epidemic going around school has made it's way to my oldest  (yeah...she's got thick curly hair and is waist length when wet...)
  • Go get her.
  • Still determined to get cabbage rolls made that evening....begin boiling cabbages and peeling leaves.  
  • Husband gets home..leave him stuffing and rolling (one batch to eat and one more to freeze) and go to get lice shampoo.
  • Wash hair.  Comb Hair.
Tuesday:
  • More combing
  • Notice younger one is coughing a whole lot
Wednesday:
  • Return oldest to school
  • Bring youngest to doctor
She was not happy about it.

  • Tonsilitis
  • CVS for antibiotics
  • More freezer cooking  (rest of ground beef...burgers, meatballs, spaghetti sauce)
Thursday-Saturday:
  • Clean kitchen and attempt to catch up on 18 loads of laundry and bedsheets.
  • Antibiotics are upsetting little ones tummy.  =(
Sunday night:
  • When I dropped my kids off at Awana, I heard a hissing noise....
  • It was coming from my tire....=(

Add to all of that the 13+ hours I tutored last week, and you can understand why I didn't have a chance to get any posts up.   I did make a menu plan last week, and we actually did a really good job of sticking to it (besides grabbing Wendy's last night with all of the tire fiasco).

But today begins a totally new week, and I'm ready to get things back on track around here!

I will be restarting all of my habits I've been trying to form and keep up with because they totally tanked last week.

I was able to use up the cabbage (cabbage rolls), sweet potato (fries to go with our burgers), some of the spinach (put on the burgers instead of lettuce), half the cherry tomatoes (sliced in a pasta salad for lunch saturday) and about half of the fruit between snacks and lunch box.

So to use up the remaining produce, here is my plan for this week:

Monday:  Baked Pork Chops, baked potatoes  (I still have a bag of baking potatoes left from my previous basket), and sliced cucumbers.   I will bake all of the pork chops I bought last week, and freeze at least two portions.  

Tuesday:  Soup from freezer (I'm tutoring)
 
Wednesday:  Spaghetti Sauce (made and frozen last week) over spaghetti squash.   We've never tried this before so I hope we like it!

Thursday:  Quiche from freezer (I'm tutoring)

Friday:  Meatballs (made and frozen last week) and cauliflower mash  (never tried this before either)

Saturday:  Red Beans from freezer  (tutoring again)

Sunday:  Pancakes


I'm loving how getting these produce baskets is encouraging us to try new things, and we have liked just about everything I've made with the produce.   My girls get so excited to see what we get!

If you are interested in ordering a basket for yourself, you may visit the Bountiful Baskets website and see if there is a location near you.   Ordering begins at noon on Mondays for Saturday pick-up (friday night in some places) and lasts until Tuesday or until the site sells out.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Valentine's Day, Help Give Anthony A New Heart

Today is Valentine's Day, and I'm sure that if you go out in public anywhere today you are going to be inundated with images of hearts.   Hearts have become a symbol of love, and everybody loves to talk about love on Valentine's Day.

I don't want to discuss love today, but I do want to discuss hearts.  I am going to tell you about a young boy living in Marshall, TX who is in need of a new heart.  I do not normally post things of this nature, but this boy's story has touched my heart, and I am hoping that it will touch your heart as well.



This is Anthony.



From the outside, Anthony looks like any other 10-year-old boy. He is an honor roll student, is active in his local church, and loves soccer, Legos, Star Wars, and magic tricks. He is seemingly normal in every sense of the word.

But unlike most 10-year-old boys, Anthony has been fighting a relentless battle against congenital heart disease, enduring multiple surgeries and procedures, countless hospitalizations, and two life-threatening infections to his heart. His heart is now so compromised that no medicine, no catheterization, no surgery can help it. At the recommendation of his doctors at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, he is now waiting for a life-saving heart transplant.
You can read more about Anthony's story in this very heartfelt post from my dear blogger friend and personal friend of his family and also in this write up about him from the Marshall, TX newspaper.

Please watch this brief and heart felt message about Anthony from a good friend of his, and the daughter of my good friend and fellow blogger.



Like many families who are unable to shoulder the significant financial burden of transplant and the lifetime care it requires, Anthony’s family has entered into a relationship with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national non-profit organization which assists families in raising funds for transplant-related expenses. Funds are raised for COTA in honor of Anthony and can only be used for expenses directly related to his transplant related expenses. All gifts are tax deductible and 100% of the funds raised will be designated for his use.  

The family asks for your prayers and your help. Providing for Anthony’s medical future is not an option. It is a necessity.

My blogger friends and I are coming together today, February 14th, to ask for your help.   We are asking people to visit Anthony's donor page and GIVE $1.40.   That's it!  That is a very insignificant amount to most of us--half a cup of coffee from Starbucks!-- but it would mean so very much to Anthony and his family.

We are also asking that you share our posts.  Get the word out about Anthony to all of your friends.   Even if you can't give, help us make this go viral!

If you wish to keep up with Anthony's Story, you can do so by liking Anything For Anthony on facebook.


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Friday, February 8, 2013

Today's Shopping Trip: JCPenney And Kohl's

This morning, strangely, I was feeling like getting out of the house.  This is pretty unusual for me, and doubly so since I had not slept well.

But, I remembered that I had these....




That's $10/$25 to JCPenney (attached to inside cover of the advertisement book that came this past week) and $10/$30 to Kohl's (stuck to the front cover of my newspaper on Wednesday morning).

Now, I VERY rarely ever shop for clothing items, as it is just not in the budget most months, but as my husband was on top of things with the taxes, and filed them as soon as he received his last W2, and had it direct deposited, we were thrilled to find out that our refund came on Tuesday!

So, since we actually did have the funds at the moment, it seemed a shame to let these two coupons worth an extra $20 in savings go to waste!  I thought I would just ride over to these places and see what I could find.   I had been wanting to get some new shoes for my girls, and he was in need of some new polo shirts to wear to work.

I had browsed JCPenney's clearance on their website before I left, and I saw some cute shoes and winter coats very cheap, but I did not see anything of the sort in store.   In fact, I could not find anything at all for my girls at JCPenney, so I decided to browse around for myself and my husband.

I was able to find him 3 shirts marked down to just $5 each (two were originally $25 and one originally $14).  I also found two shirts for myself one was marked $4 and the other marked $6 (both originally $14).  I was thinking this would be perfectly $25 and I would be able to use my coupon.  However, the $6 shirt rang up $5 at the register, so I was $1 short.  I ended up tossing in an overpriced Godiva chocolate bar ($3) sitting near the register...

Here is what I got at JCPenney, minus the chocolate.  My total OOP including tax was $18.40.

Hard to tell, but there is a grey, green, and maroon shirt for my husband up top.

By the time we left there, it was nearly lunch time, and my little one wanted Cici's.   I obliged, since it was just down the street and we weren't done with our shopping escapades yet.  So there went most of my coupon savings from JCPenney, but I suppose that is alright.   We did have to eat!

Then we went over to Kohl's.   It took me a little less time there, since I had already shopped for the two of us, so I simply made a beeline for the shoes.   I found a cute pair of dress shoes for my oldest marked down for $8.99  (originally $44.99!)  I found a cute little pair of brown casual/dressy shoes for my little one marked down for $5.99 (originally $29.99!)   They had several sizes, so I took the advice of my good friend, and went ahead and bought the next size up as well!  Then I went over to the children's clothing department and finished off my $30 needed to use my coupon by grabbing a tutu skirt for the little one marked $4 (was $20), and a nightgown with sleepmask for the older one marked $6 (was $30).



My total OOP with tax there was $22.70, and according to my receipt, I saved $134!



In all today at both stores, I spent $41.10 on items that retail (not that I would ever pay that much!) for $246.97!  That's a total savings of $205.87!  So I guess a little splurge on lunch is justifiable!  ;)


Did you do any shopping today?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Albertsons Mega Sale: Saved 78%

Yesterday morning, after I had a glance at the new sale ads, I was spending my 15 minutes working on my coupons.  I was clipping the 1/27 SS, and noticed that there were coupons in there that matched with the Mega Sale going on at Albertsons this week.

Since I was already clipping the coupons, and since I was already heading down to the library, which is just another block or two away, I decided to leave a little bit early and run by Albertsons before the library.

I had made out my list of the 10 items I was going to get, and I brought only those coupons along.    I quickly grabbed the items and was on my way.

Here are the things I grabbed:


Total Shelf Price:  $22.50
Total Sale Price:   $17.22 (minus $5 mega sale coupon = $12.22  Already 46% Savings.
Price Paid After Coupons:   $5.02   78% Savings

The cashier laughed when I showed her my list and that was exactly the price I had pre-calculated.  ;)

Albertsons has also begun it's Monopoly game once again.   I love the Monopoly game, not because I think I will win (but you never know!), but because sometimes those little blue game pieces contain coupons for FREE items, and sometimes they contain coupons for items that will be on sale at some point during the promotion (so hold onto them!)

This time, I only got one for 2 free game tokens, but that is just fine with me!  In the past, I have missed out on many weeks of this sale because I just did not have my coupons together, but right now I am almost completely finished getting all of my coupons clipped and filed into my binder, and I am going to be very intentional about shopping at Albertsons each week that I feel it is worthwhile so I can make the most of this promotion.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

7 Decluttering Tasks For The Week

Last week I showed you some of the progress I had made in my older daughter's room, and told you that I planned to spend this week working on their rooms a little bit more.

I did spend Monday - Friday working in their rooms and they were looking pretty good, though not quite finished.  I was VERY busy tutoring on Saturday afternoon so I did not get a chance to do any decluttering on Saturday.   I meant to double my time in my younger daughter's room on Sunday, but they had gotten all the stuffed animals down, and I had told them that we needed to get rid of some of those, and they had been bugging me to help them do that (why they were so eager to get rid of their toys is beyond me, but I'm not complaining).

They are pretty attached to most of the stuffed animals we have, and they also all have names, which I was not aware of (either that or my daughter was just making them up on the spot, which is also possible).  Even so, we were able to fill a garbage bag full of animals they were willing to part with.  19 in all that will be leaving the house!

I know this little task took up *at least* half an hour, but I still intended to go spend 15 minutes in the little one's room.   However, a more pressing need presented itself in the kitchen.  It was called "I had this food in a container to freeze and I cannot find a lid for it."  Thus organizing of the plastic container cabinet commenced.   No lid was found, but another suitable container was.

So this week, I return to their rooms.  

I have already done my task for today, which I think took me about 20-25 minutes.   I finished up sorting and putting away all of her toys, and then I vacuumed.

Tuesday and Wednesday I will tackle the younger one's dresser and closet.

I'm expecting to finish up all of that early on Wednesday and be able to move on to the older one's room and work on her dresser and closet for part of Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday I will begin the moving around of games and books that did not happen this past weekend.

This weekend, weather permitting, I will be working on tidying up the back yard.   I also want to get some gardening done, so I am hoping that it is a lovely weekend, but I will also be very busy tutoring again, so I might have to recruit some help from the rest of the family for this one.


I think that I've made this 15 minute daily cleaning task a solid habit of mine by this point, but I think it is about to get a little bit harder for me to keep it a habit, and that is just because I am running out of things that are in desperate need of decluttering.   I'm sure if I look around a little more closely then there will be plenty that jump out at me that have been there all along and I just choose not to see them. ;)


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Menu Plan Week 5: From The Freezer

I  made one tiny change in last week's menu.  I realized that my dishes that I normally make and freeze my casseroles in were the larger size that I had bought last time, so when I made my shepherd's pie, I knew I wouldn't be able to make a separate one to eat and one to freeze like I had originally planned, so I just make a big one and we had leftovers, so I am moving the gumbo to this week.   I was still able to put 2 containers of beef stew into the freezer.

I have now completely run out of dishes that have lids to freeze things in, so I am trying to clear some of those out of my freezer this week.  That means much less freezer cooking.   I am still making one pot of soup to use up some vegetables though.

This is going into week 5 of my no meat buying challenge, and my freezer is still staying well stocked.   All I really have left uncooked is a bunch of chicken, a bit of country style pork ribs, and some fish, though.  I might have to get creative with those, but I think I can make it happen.

I'm still trying to be very intentional about planning meals that are easy for my husband to pull together on nights when I am tutoring and he is having to juggle dinner, homework, and making his own lesson plans.

Here is the plan:

Monday:  Homemade pizza  (using up some bell peppers and some pepperoni I bought this week...that doesn't really count as meat, right?)

Tuesday:  Ham and Vegetable soup  (I'm tutoring, but it will be cooked and ready before I leave)

Wednesday:  Leftovers  (and freeze some...3-4 most likely)

Thursday:  I'm tutoring -Gumbo from the freezer.

Friday:  Potato Soup from the freezer

Saturday:  Spaghetti from the freezer

Sunday:  Awana night--hubby making pancakes  (he actually experimented with some egg filled ones last night that were not too bad...interesting for sure!)

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Friday, February 1, 2013

January Update And New Habits For February

At the beginning of January, I shared with you a few habits I was trying to form for the month.  I said that once I formed these habits, I would slowly add more things to my list.

Here is what I had listed for January:

1 load of dishes/laundry everyday:  (doing very well with this)
15 minutes of decluttering each day:  (doing very well with this also-you can read about my daughter's room and my bathroom)
Remove a like from facebook and unsubscribe from a newsletter for each of my 3 emails each day:  (This task has been completed for the most part.  I can see I have friends on facebook once again, and I was beginning to have to do some real searching for something that I was ok with unliking, so I think it's safe to stop that one.   Two of my email accounts have not gotten anything unsubscribable in days, and I just skim what comes in and take care of any that I don't need right away~hey, that sounds like a habit!.   My third email account will take some more time, though.  It's a "junk" account I've had for YEARS so I'm now focusing my attention on this one).
10 minutes a day on coupons:   (this is going really well.  I have gone through all of my older inserts and I am currently in the process of getting my binder back in functional order, so I am clipping the newer ones and filing them.  I have gotten through January 6th clipped and filed and I am doing one set of inserts a day (I have 2 copies of most) and then I'm done.  I expect to be all caught up on this (including those I get in the mean time) by mid february, and then I can devote my 10 minutes a day to planning trips.)
Bible and vitamin: (two things I said I'd been skipping for far too long.   I have been doing both, with the exception of a few missed days of each.   I am feeling much more energetic!)

For the month of February, I intend to keep up each of these habits, making any changes necessary, as well as attempt to add on the following:

Eat Breakfast:  I've been letting coffee count for WAY too long.
Exercise:   I've been dabbling with this and spending about 5 minutes playing around on my new exercise ball.  I know that I seriously NEED to stretch and strengthen my muscles because I'm far too young to have the pains that I have, so I'm trying to make this a priority.
Bedtime:  It needs to happen earlier.   I've been making progress for a few days, but then I will nap, or have late coffee and can't sleep, or get caught up in a book and stay up til 1:30.   One day this past week I went to bed at 9:30, and woke up at 5am feeling fabulous!  Both are a little earlier than necessary and I ended up crashing that afternoon, but its something I'm working toward.  I have a goal of 10:30 and 6, but going to bed that early goes against my very nature, so this is going to be a tough one for me.
Program Coffee Pot The Night Before:  It may seem silly, but those few minutes saved in the morning when it does happen are very lucrative!
Study:  Since I am tutoring these days, I thought I should spend some time brushing up on my knowledge.  I want to start out with about 15 minutes reading through a textbook each day, and perhaps expand to more if I see fit, but every little bit helps!


These are just a handful of things that I think will make life run a bit more smoothly for me right now and in the long run.

Do you have any things you are working on this month?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My $2 Bathroom Counter Organization

My house has two bathrooms, one in the hallway, and one in the master bedroom.   The one in the master bedroom is very tiny.  There is almost no counterspace left around the sink.  A few of our grooming tasks to get done in there, such as my husband's shaving so that the razor is not within the reach of little people, but for the most part, we all take care of our daily brushing and deodorizing and whatnot in the hall bathroom.

That means that a lot of things belonging to a lot of people get left in that bathroom.  That has usually meant a very messy countertop.  And try as I might to keep things neatly lined up and wiped down, it never lasted very long.

I'm going to share a very old picture with you (I had to search WAY back because there just aren't many dirty bathroom pictures taken, and I had not thought to snap one before I started), but in the years since not much has changed, sadly.   The child in this picture is now in 1st grade, but I've since had another one of these running about, and I've had the same scenario play out, so yeah...



What a messy sink!  (Cute kid though!  She had asked for privacy to go potty!  Ha!)  I was sick of it!  And my youngest is now old enough to know to put things where they go, so a couple weeks ago when I was cleaning this bathroom, I was brutal.   I was throwing away toiletries we were never going to use, some of which had even expired.  I decided only the necessities would stay.    But that was still looking pretty messy to me.

Then I had an idea that prompted a trip to the .99CentsOnly store.  I came back with baskets.  I was expecting to pay $1 each for them, but I actually found 3 packs for $1, so I paid $2 for 6 baskets.



Now we each have a basket on the counter.  We all know which basket belongs to us and we keep our stuff in our own basket.   We each have our own toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush (we can never find those in the mornings, and in cleaning I found enough to put one in each basket with leftovers!  Where have they all been hiding??)  We've got the shared handsoaps and mouthwash, but other than that everything is in the baskets.

It is still taking some training and practice on all of our parts.   The girls will bring a brush in the front to get me to help brush int he morning and we will leave it there.  They will leave their toothbrushes and toothpastes lying on the counter at times, but at least now when I ask them to put them away, "away" doesn't mean tossed on the counter at random.   Slowly, we are all getting there!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It Never Hurts To Ask! (Saved 100% At CVS)

I had taken a long break from CVS shopping.   All of my ECBs had expired, and I wasn't really looking forward to paying the OOP expenses to get myself started again with some fresh ECBs.  Then I happened to notice that I had enough MyPoints to request a $10 CVS gift card.   While I was waiting for it to arrive, I stopped by CVS one day to browse for something they did not have, but I scanned my card, and out popped $6 in ECBs.   I guess having to get 6 prescriptions filled when I had bronchitis after Thanksgiving during the double ECB event ended up having an advantage!

So yesterday when my gift card came in the mail, I was excited.   I was almost out of shampoo for my kids, and I wanted to stock up using the Suave deal.

I went to the store and picked up 6 bottles of the 2-in-1, which is all they had left, but it is the kind we like because we have bad tangles around here.   I had two $0.50/2 from Sunday that I used, so my total came out to $11 plus tax, and I used my $6 ECB.  I was left owing $5 plus tax, and would get back $4 in ECB.   Not a bad deal.

I still had my expired ECBs in my coupon folder with me though, and I had heard that some stores accepted expired ECBs so I thought I would just ask.  The worst that could happen would be they would say no.   And they did say no to two that had expired in October, but I had another $6 one that expired mid December that she said was new enough to use, so she put it in and it zero'd out my balance.   I walked away with 6 FREE bottles of shampoo and $4 in ECBs for next time, and haven't even touched my $10 gift card yet!  =)

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Monday, January 28, 2013

What 15 Minutes Can Do! + My 7 Decluttering Tasks

When I shared last week's task list with you, I told you that I planned to spend some time decluttering my oldest child's room near the end of the week.  It was pretty messy to begin with, but little did I know that my youngest, being ever the little munchkin, was going to sneak in there while her sister was at school and wreak ungodly amounts of havoc towards the beginning of the week.

When it happened, I thought it unfair to make my oldest clean it up, and felt it too overwhelming a task for my little one to handle alone, and since it was already slated on the docket for Friday-Sunday, I simply ignored the mess for a few days.  But the mess continued to grow.

Come Friday morning, this is what was staring back at me from that room:


Yes, I know.  I cringed, too!

I did the best thing I knew to do...I put it off and went grocery shopping (which I had also been putting off until payday, so in my defense that was a necessary task as well!)  But alas, no little fairies had come to my aid while we were out and about, so once I had fed us lunch and put the little one down for her nap, I got to work.

I worked absolutely as fast as I could.  My goal for that day was simply to clear some space that I could work with.

Here is what I was able to accomplish in just 15 minutes:
My poor little weenie dog doesn't even recognize the place!
I was pretty pleased with the progress I had made that first day.  The next day I did more of the same, I finished cleaning up everything that was on the floor.


It doesn't look like I got quite as much accomplished this day, but I had the girls pull everything out from under the bed and I also cleaned underneath the table on the left that you can't see behind the door.   I also did not miss the opportunity to vacuum!

I still had the far right corner that is not visible on either of these shots to tackle.   In that corner are the closet and bookshelf, both of which had their contents spewed about.


This is what I tackled on Sunday.  Now I will admit that when my 15 minute timer went off, i had stacks of books everywhere, so I set it again and did another 15 minutes this afternoon just to not be leaving a mess in her room because I knew my stacks would not get left alone!

So after 30 minutes today, here is what I'm left with:
Why yes, that is a Barbie car bookend!

It's looking pretty good in here after only 1 hour total spent cleaning over 3 days, but I'm still not done yet because...well, when I cleared the floor....this is what I did:




So here is my plan for the week:

Monday:  Quick clean the floor in the younger one's room  (yep...they moved their mess making in there, and it just needs to be dealt with, plus she decided she wanted to sleep on the floor so its all mixed in with her bedding!)

Tuesday-Thursday:   Work in the older one's room

Friday-Sunday:  Work in the younger one's room and begin relocating some games/puzzles/books.

We have cleared all the toys out and rearranged the living room, and so I want to move some of the family games into some living room shelving.  My youngest's room was a former office, so it has lots of shelving on the high wall that we've utilized for games and puzzles, but we've often wanted them while she was napping and weren't able to go in and get them, so now that we've made some room in the front I'll be moving them in there, and putting some books for her on those shelves.

I need to make room some some more books we were recently given on the older one's shelf  (they are currently in a box in the garage), so I'll be doing a lot of relocating of things at the end of the week.

What will you be working on this week?

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