Sunday, September 9, 2012

Great Expectations

Ever since I have decided to give myself a break on my self-imposed "great expectations," I feel much more at ease with any progress I make in the house.  Before, I told myself that I must clean/pick-up/declutter for 15 minutes per day.  It sounds good in theory, but after being awake for 24+ hours and dragging my ass home after working 13+ of those hours, the last thing I'm going to do is clean for 15 minutes.  Just sayin'.  Other times, I'm just busy or otherwise occupied (Pinterest is a HUGE culprit.) and I just don't get around to doing much of anything.  Next thing I know, my house looks like a episode of "Hoarders:  The Beginning."

Since my epiphany and subsequent "line in the sand" post from Friday, I have made an effort to not expect too much out of myself.  It makes the feeling of failure much less acute and I can feel better on what DID get done and not focus on what DIDN'T.

Hopefully this new mindset will be more beneficial to me than such a regimented task list that I once imposed upon myself.

By the way, today I climbed on a kitchen chair and decluttered and cleaned the top of my fridge.  I also moved some items around in my kitchen that put them in a more sensible place.

I inherited some pieces of vintage pyrex/bakeware from my great-grandmother (which I originally had stored in a very accessible place in my kitchen) and a creepy looking cookie jar from my great-great aunt.  I adored both of these women and they were a true testament of strong, intelligent women.  I will never use the items that I inherited, yet I can't bring myself to sell/donate them.  So, I put them where they will not be in my way and I can keep them until I can figure out a use for them.

I also spent about an hour picking up and cleaning other random areas of the house.

I feel good about today and that is what matters.  :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Line in the Sand

Today, I draw the line in the sand.  Today I am done with expecting too much of myself.  It is great for me to have goals and dreams, but when I make my goals and dreams too far-fetched, I set myself up for failure and disappointment.

Let's take last month's blog posts for an example.  I believe that I had a total of seven blog posts and I haven't uploaded to the blog in weeks.  Why?  Because I felt overwhelmed.  I felt that if I couldn't do a great job, then I shouldn't even bother with trying.  I had some great ideas for blog posts and I even had a theme for this month.  I had set a tentative goal to blog 3 days a week, and I did pretty well until I got overwhelmed (and probably a little bit lazy).

All this "goal-setting" makes me feel good until I don't follow through and then I feel bad about myself.  I get these awesome ideas for things to do, or think of things that I should be doing and next thing I know, it's time to go to bed/work/do something else that I'm obligated to do.

So, how do I find out where my time goes?  I have a really good idea that a HUGE chunk of it goes to the Internet.  *I'm looking at you Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.*  I really enjoy spending time on the Internet, but as I check out all these uber-cool blogs, I see how lacking my home-based achievements are.

I have read hundreds of articles on time management and procrastination.  Every single one of them says to make a To-Do list and follow through on it.  Here's how that works for me:

0800--"I should make a to-do list for myself today!  That way I can get tons of stuff done!"
0810--"Okay, now that I have found my favorite pen and pad of paper I can write down all my tasks for today!"
0820--"Now that I have scribbled my tasks done, I see how messy and disorganized it looks.  Let me rewrite it so it looks pretty."  (Note to self:  The list looks disorganized because there are eleventy billion items on it!)
0830--"Much better!  Now, what should I do first?  Oh yes, let's gather the laundry and put some clothes in the washer.  While the washer is doing it's thing, I will create my menu plan for the next week and grocery list.  That way, I can go to the grocery store later today."
0840--"Wow!  I sure have a lot of yummy looking recipes on my Recipe board on Pinterest!  Let's take a look at some of them...."
1000--"Wow!  That went by quickly!  Let me just jot down some items that I know that I need from the store and I will just make a quick trip.  But first, what's going on in Facebook world?"
1145--"Yawn!  I'm sleepy.  I think I will take a nap and THEN get up and tackle my list...."

You get the point...

Before I know it, my husband is calling at 5:30 p.m. saying that he is on his way home and I haven't done the first productive thing.  Well, except make out my "menu plan."  Then I rush around the house trying to make it more presentable before Frank gets home and sees my lack of productiveness.  This process makes me feel lazy and useless, when I know that I'm not really that way.  I just expect too much out of myself and once I realize that I can't do it all, I give up altogether.

After thinking all of this through, I decided that today, September 7, 2012, is the last day that I'm going to look at the past and judge myself on it.  I'm drawing the line in the sand and I am starting from there!

In an effort to not overwhelm myself in "To-Do's," I am going to give myself a to-do list with a maximum of 5 items on it per day.  Once I have completed those items and I want to do more, more power to me.  But, if I can just get those 5 items done, then I can feel good about my progress for the day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, y'all!  I hope that everyone had a great weekend.  Frank and I had a semi-productive weekend.  We visited with family and decluttered our guestroom (AKA:  The Dumping Ground).  We even scheduled a yard sale for later this month.  Also, we discussed finances and talked about changes that we think need to be made around our home.  All in all, we had a very good weekend.

Back on subject now:  Menu planning has long been hailed as an important aspect of getting organized.  It certainly helps on the budget.  For me, half of the problem with supper is figuring out what to cook.  Menu planning gives you the guideline to go by.  More times than not I will change up my plan some.  On a night that I have spaghetti scheduled, I may feel more like tacos.  But, it is good to know that we have a PLAN.  Without further ado, here's this week's menu:

Monday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup (me) and BLTs (Frank)
Tuesday:  Tacos (me) and Breakfast for supper (Frank)
Wednesday:  Bertolli Shrimp Scampi with Linguine Pasta
Thursday:  Beef Roast with veggies
Friday:  You're On Your Own
Saturday:  Hamburger Steaks, Boiled Potatoes, mac and cheese
Sunday:  Chicken Salad on crackers

In the beginning of this week, you will notice that Frank and I are eating separate meals.  This is because I am working tonight and tomorrow night.  He can cook his own supper but I rely on quick, microwavable meals.

By the way, I will be linking up over at I'm a Organizing Junkie!  Go check out her blog, it's awesome!  Here's the link:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Cash Flow Plan

Every week or two I sit down with paper, pen, calculator, and vodka (just kidding...sorta) to sketch out our weekly cash flow plan.  During this little session I actually plot out the financial situation for the next week (or two).  I take into account any deposits that will be made and any bills that will be paid.  I also deduct any other anticipated expenses like groceries, gasoline, dinner out, etc.

What this plan does for me is see if I need to cut back spending somewhere (I'm looking at you, "entertainment and dining out" fund.) to ensure that I don't need to transfer money from savings.  Also, it will show me if there is money that will be extra that I can apply to debt payments or the Christmas fund.

This process only takes ten minutes, give or take, but gives me a huge sense of reassurance that our week(s) will go smoothly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday...'er Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday y'all!  I have a busy day ahead of me so I need to get a move on!  We had a busy weekend and when I got off of work yesterday morning, I spent a few hours sitting at my cousin's house eating breakfast and visiting.  Once I got home, the pups of course were ready to play.  So, play we did.  Finally around 2:00 we were ready for our nap.  Know what time I got up from my "nap?"  About two hours ago (at 3 a.m.)!  Needless to say, I have plenty of energy right now so I want to hammer out my menu plan for y'all so I can start crossing items off my to-do list.  Without further ado:

Tuesday:  Swim Party and a finger foods potluck supper.  I am bringing my uber-yummy chicken salad sandwiches and maybe something sweet.
Wednesday:  Cowboy Casserole
Thursday:  You're On Your Own
Friday:  BLTs
Saturday:  Hamburger steaks, baked potatoes, apple pie enchiladas
Sunday:  Supper @ Mom and Dad's (Hopefully)   :)

PS--I will be linking up over at I'm a Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday!  You can check out Laura's awesome site here:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mail: Touch It Once Rule

In keeping with this week's general theme of organizing mail and bills.  I have decided to adopt the rule of Touch It Once.  I don't recall where I first read or heard about this rule, but it definitely makes perfect sense.

This afternoon, we had eight pieces of mail.  As soon as Frank brought it inside, I opened and dealt with each piece.  It took me four minutes to open all of the mail and distribute it to the appropriate holding area and file.  In fact, in that four minutes I even clipped the Kroger coupons that came in the mail and filed them!

Obviously it is not always appropriate to immediately open and file the mail when it comes in.  But dealing with it in a timely manner surely seems like it would help my system be more efficient.  It forces you to make decisions on your papers, thereby eliminating the need to handle papers multiple times.  I once read that most clutter is decisions that are waiting to be made. 

I hope that this attempt at starting a new habit is one that helps me simplify things around here!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Organizing Bills and Bill Payments

Bills.  Ugh.  They are an unfortunate part of life.  Each month like clockwork they show their sneering, ugly faces.  (At least that is how I see it.)  It is important for us as home managers to not only know what bills are coming out on a certain day, but to also know how much is going to be taken out of our accounts.  Yesterday, I introduced my new "tickler" file system.  Last night, I showed Frank how it works so that he can be a part of the organizational evolution in our home.

Once upon a time I had a difficult time figuring out how to organize my bills and maintain a bill paying schedule.  I would often forget if I paid so-and-so bill and would have to look back through my check register to see if I had already wrote the check for that statement.  Alas, things got so much easier once Frank and I started signing up for automatic withdrawals.  My only responsibility was making sure there was enough money in the checking account to cover the expense on the day it was withdrawn.  Easy peasy, right?  Wrong.

It is easy to "forget" that a payment is being made today.  Therefore, it is easy to overdraft your account.  It isn't as easy, however, to swallow that $30 overdraft charge.  It is so frustrating to overdraft your checking account and know that there is plenty of money sitting in a savings account that would have covered that amount!  Argh!  (I tend to keep very little extra money in our checking account.  I try to send any extra money to our savings for emergencies, Christmas, or vacations.)

Another problem with automatic withdrawals is that sometimes you don't receive a statement.  Currently, I have ten of my fifteen monthly bills automatically withdrawn from my checking account.  Only five of those billing companies send me any kind of notification (either through mail or e-mail) of what dollar amount will be deducted from my account.  Only seven of those fifteen bills never fluctuate a dime. 

This "Bill Due Dates" sheet keeps me informed of what money is going out and helps me see at a glance what bills have/have not been paid this month.  Also, for bills that are paid by automatic withdrawal, it helps me see if I have/have not deducted that amount from the checkbook.

I have seen all over the Internet where home managers have a printed monthly calendar that they sit down every month and write down the bills on the respective due dates...every. single.  month.  (Did I mention that they do this every single month?)  I am entirely too lazy busy to waste time doing that every month.  So how do I keep up with what's coming out of my accounts? With this handy-dandy table that I created in Microsoft Word:

So, here's how it Bill Paying Day works:

Disclaimer:  Ideally, all bills are collected in one central location.  In a perfect world, they are organized by due date.  (Yeah, right.)

Disclaimer #2:  Obviously I am not going to put my true Bill Due Dates sheet on the Internet for everyone to see.  I have used a generic form that will you the idea of how my system works.

I grab my Bill Due Dates sheet and write down any automatic payments from the transaction register that have been deducted from the checking account since I last sat down and paid bills.
  1. I "check off" on my Bill Due Dates sheet what I have just deducted from the checkbook.
  2. I then pay online any other bills that are due in the next week or so.
  3. I write the deducted amount in my transaction register and add a check mark in the appropriate column of my Bill Due Dates sheet.

In the pictures above, you will see that I have written numbers next to some of the companies.  This is the dollar amount that we pay every month to them.  This number never changes.  Also, you will see that the far left column is the day of the month that the payment is due.

This system has actually worked well for me for the last 18 months.  I keep this sheet in the folder with the bills that need to be paid, ensuring that it is accessible and easy to find.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mail, Paperwork, Clutter....Oh My!

I have blogged before about the importance of maintaining your systems.  Except, I tend to NOT listen to my own advice.  The problem?  I lose interest easily.  Seriously y'all, my home is full of unfinished projects that started with good intentions and excitement.  *Rolls eyes*

At any rate, I realized that I am going to have to make a system that not only functions easily, but is nice to look at.  Because, let's face it, I'm lazy but I like things purdy.  So, I have decided to implement the "43 folders" organizational technique.  I'm not going to go into detail about how it works, but rest assured that it is not as complicated as it looks...I think.  I will use this system for a month and see how it goes.  (You can easily do a Google search on "43 folders" and come up with eleventy billion results.)  So let's get this party started!

First things first, start with a refreshing beverage and delicious smelling candle...'cause atmosphere is e'rything yo.

 Next, gather all your supplies.  I collected a pen, pencil, marker, note cards for notes (I will explain more tomorrow), letter opener, and my trash can.  I also grabbed my overstuffed Inbox and all the mess that wouldn't fit in it that was overflowing onto the table beside it.  Ugh.  That's a lot of clutter.

Then, I sorted my mess into nine piles, er, categories. This made the process of dealing with each item quick and painless. My categories were:
  1. Put Away/Actionable (Do Now).
  2. To File.
  3. Actionable (Filed by Date). <-- It's a 43 Folders/GTD thing.
  4. Receipts that need to be entered into the check register.
  5. To Shred.
  6. To Read (Magazines, Catalogs, etc).
  7. Coupons to filed.
  8. Bills to be paid.
  9. Trash.
Once I was finished sorting, I:
  • Put bills in my "Bills to be Paid" folder.
  • Put anything that needed to be filed in my "To File" folder.
  • Placed any receipts into my "Receipt" basket to be dealt with later.
  • Put any actionable item that needs to filed in my 43 folders category in the appropriate day.
  • Brought the "To Read" pile to the living room for me to browse tonight when I'm vegging on the couch.
  • Put the coupons in their little expandable file.
  • Shredded the "To Shred" pile.
  • And trashed the trash.
This is my New and Improved Inbox.  This inbox will house my 43 folders, plus bills that need to be paid, items that need to be filed, our budget/cash flow plan, anything that is "Holding" at the moment (Still not sure if this is going to be needed or not...), the cash for our "cash only" budget, a notebook, a letter opener, and writing utensils.  Pretty, huh?!?

From start to finish, this process took me about 45 minutes (including picture-taking).  I hope that this new system will be more conducive to our needs.  Now that I have the bulk of the back-log taken care of, I can start processing new items as soon as they enter the house.  I will also show Frank how this system works so he can also use it as well.

Now, off to take care of the bulging "To File" folder.  Later, y'all!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Theme Month Intro

Happy August, y'all!  Before we know it, we will be dusting off our "witchy" Halloween decorations!  I cannot wait until Fall.  I feel so ALIVE and energized during that time of year.  And I like hoodies.  :)

Anywoo, over the last few weeks, I have been trying to brainstorm different directions that my blog could take.  Do I want to continue to use it as a personal diary/place to spill random thoughts and observations about my journey to organization?  Do I want to instead focus more on making the process of learning to organize more fun?  Do I want to expand and grow my blog?  My answer?  Yes.  Yes to all those above questions.

I know if I continue to chronicle my journey here, I would feel more obligated to continue keeping my systems in place.  It's like a checks and balances system for me.  But, I know if I don't make the process of learning to maintain organizational systems fun, then I will totally abandon it.  (Like every other time I have attempt to "do it right this time.")  Therefore, I decided to invite all of y'all that read my blog to join me as I find out what works (and what doesn't) in what I am calling:


Catchy, huh?

I have decided that for the next five months, I will have a special and specific theme that I/we will be working on.  My goal is for my house to be more organized and clean by the time the holidays roll around this year.  This way, my loved ones and I can focus on traditions and activities that are special to us.

For August I will be focusing on mail, paperwork, filing, and finances.  I have made up spreadsheets and nifty tables that I will be glad to share with y'all.

Get excited, people!  It's gonna be a GREAT month!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday!  I'm linking up at orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday this week.

Lately I have been slacking on the menu planning.  However, I can say that Frank and I have decreased our eating out drastically in the last three weeks.  In an effort to trim our budget, we have been trying to eat from our pantry and (ever-dwindling) stockpile.  It has been nice to see more space being made in our overstuffed pantry and to see more dollars in the checking account.

The effort to eat at home and to eat from the pantry had improved our budget enough to where I could pay an extra $200 on our main credit card balance this month!  In fact, the last three weeks, I have only been to the store three times.  Each time I bought staples (bread, milk, cheese, etc) and a few other random items to fill in the holes for recipes I had for the week.  It was so nice to pay that extra money towards the credit card!  Take that, US Bank!

Anyways, time to return to today's subject:  menu planning.  This week's menu is as follows:

Monday:  Dining out at a local mexican resturant.  (No money out of pocket though, my family is taking me out for my birthday dinner!)

Tuesday:  Cowboy casserole

Wednesday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Something drive-through

Saturday:  Eating with the family--might try a new recipe for my Mom.  She's a diabetic and needs a more expansive "healthy eating" recipe collection.

Sunday:  Cheesy Brocolli Chicken Foil Packs  (You can find the recipe for this on Pinterest.  Just search "Throw in the oven chicken packs."  Or just click here: )

That just about covers it!  I hope y'all have a great week and thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to...ME! And thoughts on infertility...

Today, I am 29 years old.  I can't believe it.  Part of me feels like I should still be riding around in my '93 Mustang, blaring "Baby Got Back."  (Who am I kidding?  I still bump to "Baby Got Back," I just do it in a Camry.)  Still, I just don't feel like I am old enough to be an adult, let alone be in my last year of my twenties.

Sure, I have owned my own home for almost 10 years.  I have a good job.  I have a great family.  But, I know that my life is "missing something."  Expanding upon this week's earlier post about being honest with myself, I figure now is as good as any time to tell the blogosphere about my "missing something." 

I have a fertility condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrown (PCOS).  It is a pretty common condition that results in high insulin levels in the female.  The high insulin levels, and subsequent high testosterone levels, make it difficult for the woman to ovulate.  Ovulation is THE most important step in getting pregnant...well, except for that whole "conception" part.  Anywho, I self-diagnosed myself with PCOS with the help of a friend (Hey, Amanda!) and I was later officially diagnosed by a physician.

In the last six years, I have seen fertility specialists (also called "reproductive endocrinologists"), taken fertility drugs, had a cervical dilation performed, had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), had one artificial insemination, and dozens of other tests and lab work performed.  Still no baby.  Clomid (the fertility drug that I took for eight months), made me a raging "B" and it made my hair fall out.  The cervical dilation hurt like hell.  And the monthly visits from Mother Nature were reminders of my unwelcome failures.

At any rate, when I pictured my life as a 20something, children were definitely in the picture.  I would have never imagined that I would be "That Girl."  The infertile one.  The one who, when people find out about her hardship, they frown politely and tsk-tsk at her unfortunate hand of cards.

Know what can make you feel like a failure faster than anything? Being infertile and working in a mother-baby unit. Okay, so maybe I'm not "infertile," but after six solid years of trying to conceive, it sure can feel like a barren wasteland south of my belly-button.

Even worse than the tsk-tskers, are the ones who think they know where I'm coming from, just because they tried to get pregnant for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!  Oh, the horror!

The fertility rollercoaster ride of the last six years has been exhausting to me and my marriage.  Although, it would be one boring rollercoaster considering the only "highs" that we have had are when we finally found the Clomid dose that made me ovulate and the one time (two months ago) when we had a positive pregnancy test...a false positive.  The rest of the rollercoaster ride has been one long "low" valley.

That being said, I'm not asking for pity.  I'm not even asking for kind words of advice.  I am just being honest with myself (and the three whole people who read my blog).  My battle with inferility has caused mental clutter.  It has made me feel like an inadequate excuse for a woman.  The most basic task women were given, to procreate, is one that I cannot seem to do.  Yet, all I see are women who can do it...and do it often.  Even more frustrating are the "ladies" (a term that I am using loosely) that can seem to get pregnant by just looking at a random male cross-eyed.  But, that is still my burden to bear.  That is my mental clutter that I have to deal with.  I don't know how I am going to do it, but I am going to QUIT thinking of myself as a failure just because I can't do one thing.  I am going to focus on the other things that I am good at and continue to excel in them.  I am going to banish this mental clutter from my mind because I am a strong and smart woman.

Now, I just have to find that damn dustrag.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Updates and Decisions

I started this blog in an effort to be completely honest with myself about where my pitfalls arrive in the realm of my homelife and personal life.  The last few months have been full of decisions, heartache, overwhelming joy/relief, and lessons. 

My sister married on June 16 and it was a big headache but we pulled it off smoothly.  The weather was perfect for an outside wedding, the music was awesome, and she looked gorgeous.

Mid-May held the planning flurry of the wedding shower that I hosted for my sister and her fiance.  (All during finals, I might add.)

May also proved to me that I was, in fact, smart enough to continue making a 4.0 GPA in my college classes AND work full-time AND be a wife AND a mother to my precious fur-babies.  That being said...

In the month of June, I made a huge decision.  I quit school.  Honestly, it was just too much for me at the time.  I was letting my drive to make good grades interfere with other things that I consider to be very precious to me.  I let my housework, my blog (which actually motivates me to keep my house clean), and my loved ones slip...all in an effort to stay near the top of my classes in grades.

I was commuting over 12 hours a week, between school, work, and home/errands.  I was exhausted.  I saw a rift in my marriage start and I realized that at the end of two years (when I would be graduating college), I may not have a husband to celebrate my college degree with.  And what good is a college degree if I can't share it with the person who means most to me?  A marriage needs love, yes, but it also needs time for the husband and wife to be just that.  A husband and wife.  Frank and I needed time to be together and enjoy one another's prescence.  And with all the hats I was wearing, my "Nurse" hat and my "Student" hat were getting the most wear.  But, my "Wife" hat was getting awfully dusty.  Not to mention my "Daughter" hat, "Sister" hat, "Granddaughter" hat....

My decision to quit school is one that many people do not understand.  I keep receiving well-meaning words of advice that, frankly, I just don't care about.  Yes, I know that I am still young enough to return to school in the future.  (But, I doubt that it will happen.)  Yes, I know that at the end of two years, I will look back and think, "I could have been done by now."  But, what would I sacrifice to be able to call myself a RN?  Furthermore, I am no less of an intelligent person or a good nurse just because I am "just a LPN."  I know what is important to me and I know that I made the best decision for my family and I.

So, back to my first sentence in the blog post:

"I started this blog in an effort to be completely honest with myself about where my pitfalls arrive in the realm of my homelife and personal life."

The very definition of clutter is:  "A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble."  That is exactly what I felt my life was turning into these last four months...a confused and disordered state.  Sure, most people would say that "clutter" is just tangible things that are lying about in no particular order.  But, I disagree.  I think that anything that doesn't make you a better person or doesn't enrich your life is clutter.  Sure, a college degree would enrich my life.  But, at what expense?

Clutter can be anything.
  • The purse that you spent way too much money on that doesn't really meet your needs, yet you can't sell it in a yard sale for $5 because it cost you $50...and that's just not a good return on your money.
  • A crocheted throw that was made for you and your husband but is not, shall we say, your style.  At all.  Yet you feel obligated to keep it because someone close to you made it.
  • Your college education that is "expected" of you to complete, but you are afraid of the ultimate costs to your personal life if you continue.
The decision I made to quit school was a very difficult one for me.  I felt like I was letting everyone down by not continuing.  My brain was telling me something like this: 

"Heather, just keep pushing.  You have too much riding on this.  People expect more from you.  Don't let people down.  You made a B on that test?  What the hell is wrong with you?  You can do better than that!  Next time, don't sleep those two extra hours and study more.  Sleep is for sissies.  Weakness is for sissies.  Just keep pushing.  Push.  Push.  Push."

Now, who was I letting down?  All those people who should have my best interests at heart...or me?  Why did I feel like I had to keep juggling all my hats when I was so clearly unhappy.  And, what was this doing to my self-esteem?

I discussed my feelings with Frank and he told me that he supported any decision that I made.  By that point I knew my decision had already been made.  I was tossing my "Student" hat in the yard sale bin...along with my overpriced purse and that scratchy crocheted throw.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer classes

Summer classes started today.  I'm taking online Statistics.  *Cringe*

What was I thinking?!?

The end.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Buying in Bulk, Stockpiling, and Organization

Lately, I have been exploring the ideas of small-scale extreme couponing and stockpiling.  I have had some luck, but I seem to quickly run out of room in my small (1350 sq foot) home.  I have an extra bedroom that is never used by guests (maybe once a year?) and I contemplated the idea of buying some shelving units at Lowe's to house my stockpile.  The problem?  Those shelving units are almost $100.  Kinda of defeats the idea of "saving money" if I'm out over $100 before I even get started.

Also, because of my school and work schedules, I rarely cook.  In fact, the people of Domino's in the town where I work, know my voice by now.  They say, "Delivering to the Maternity Center? 2 medium hand-tossed pepperoni and one thin curst cheese?"  Do you want to know how much the total for that order is?  $14.65, plus the extra $1.35 I give as a tip.  Total:  $16.00.  I split the food with my coworker so I'm only out $8.  But, I could easily cook a meal for Frank, my coworker, and I for less than $8...with leftovers.

Clearly, eating out all the time isn't doing any favors for my waist line...not to mention my checkbook.  So, I have been researching freezer recipes and slow-cooker recipes in an effort to eat healthier (physically and financially).  I have made an overt effort to curb my grocery bill to reflect my healthier eating regimen.  I just don't know what to do with all the extra stuff I buy in the spirit of stockpiling!  How do I know when I have enough toothpaste?  And, how many bars of soap does a girl actually need?!?  Furthermore, wouldn't the whole point of stockpiling be in vain if I was throwing out food that was past its expiration date?

So, the question is:  How do I maintain a current stockpile?  How do I organize this stockpile so I can easily see what I have that needs to be used soon?  How do I store this stockpile in an attractive and functional way?

Ideas, anyone?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just a check in...

Hello!  It has been over two weeks since my last blog post.  I have been pretty busy lately but hopefully I will get a week or two of relative calm so I can do some projects around the house.  Last Sunday, I hosted a wedding shower for my sister and her fiance.  It surprised me how much work goes into something like that!  We had a cookout/wedding shower for 20 couples!!!  Great turnout.

I haven't been doing any special organizing projects around the house.  I have been doing good to just maintain what systems I already have in place.  The only real achievement that I did within the last two weeks was...I entered FIVE months worth of receipts into the checkbook.  It literally took me three hours, working non-stop, to get it all done!  I then set up a new system to deal with the dozens of receipts that enter our house on a monthly basis.  I hope to do a blog post on that system within the next month or so.

On a side note, I did clear my desk on Thursday night.  It actually has a clear surface now!  (Who knew?)  It is by no means "finished," but there's a huge improvement.

Hope y'all have a great day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Summer Break!

I know I haven't posted in...forever, but I have been busy with working and studying for finals.  And, well, Anatomy and Physiology grades have posted.  Guess who earned an A.  ME!!!!  I did a little happy dance around the office and then I realized that I only have 4 weeks of summer break before summer semester starts.  I'm taking Statistics this summer.  Yay.

I have alot going on between now and June, but I am optimistic that I can effectively juggle work, play, and home clutter control and maintenance.  :)

My main area that I want to work on this next month?  The office.  My desk is embarrasingly cluttered.  Seriously, I couldn't find something on there if I wanted to.  I would do a before/after post for the blog, but truthfully, I can't bring myself to take pictures of this space until after I get it lookin' purdy.

So, hopefully I will be back soon with more interesting posts, but for now, I just wanted to check in and say, "HI!!!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Junk Drawer

Today, in honor of my first official day in almost a week that I have been able to get up and move with some amount of consistently, I decided to organize the junk drawer in the kitchen.  In my opinion, everyone needs a junk drawer.  There are organized people out there who say that no one should ever have a junk drawer, closet, or room.  Blasphemy!  Everyone needs a spot to put those items that just don't quite have a dedicated home.  Thus, the junk drawer would be their new "dedicated home."  Maybe we should just rename the junk drawer:  "The I-Can't-Find-Anywhere-Else-To-Put-It Drawer."  There.  That should make the junk drawer nazis happy.  Get back on subject, Heather.

At any rate, I decided that it was long past time for my junk drawer to be "reevaluated."  Here's what it looked like:

After I took everything out of it and placed it on the counter, I had a pile that looked like this:

I then cleaned out the drawer very well.  (How did I manage to get crumbs in a drawer that I barely even use?)  And then I covered that horrendous blue liner with a nice, neutral tan shelf liner.

After fighting with the liner, and subsequently giving up on that last air bubble, I started sorting the items on the counter.  I trashed a lot of stuff, like plastic eating utensils, that I never use.  I moved some items to the craft room/office, like paint, paint chips, extra hardware that goes to my shelving unit in my office, and a couple different kinds of glue.

Lastly, I arranged some dollar store baskets in the drawer and started sorting!

On the upper left hand side of the picture, I have "coozies" for canned or bottled drinks.  Right below the coozies, are my kebob skewers.  I always keep packing tape and masking tape on hand.  In the upper right hand drawer is one of my many flashlights, my seed packets for this year's garden, and some ear plugs.  Below that are some random remotes, clothespins, Command hooks, nail clippers, lip balm, and a cell phone charger.

Doesn't it look so much better?!?  I challenge y'all to organize your junk drawers, too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

No more bedrest!

Yay!  No more bedrest for me!  I went to  my chiropractor today and he believes I have some tendon/ligament issues instead of the herniated disc issue.  The upside?  A speedier recovery!  The downside?  Nothing really helps the discomfort except for ice packs.

Today, I was able to be more active.  I went to class to take a test, came home and took a nap, paid a speeding ticket online (Did you know you could do that?  Amazing.), and went to the chiropractor.  By the time I was finished there, it was time for supper.  The moving around today has actually been nice.  I enjoyed the fresh air and actually getting to talk with people.

I have some plans tomorrow to work on my messy kitchen and dining room area, but that is about all I'm planning on actually accomplishing.  Supper will be via crock-pot.  My chiropractor advised me not to "over-do" my activity level, but he said that moving around some is better than bedrest for the tendon/ligament issue.  So, it looks like I will be working on Wednesday night!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 4 of Bedrest...

Today was day four of bedrest and I am going crazy!  I believe I have surfed every single website the internet has to offer.  On the upside, I have some ideas for some home improvement projects that I would like to try.  :)

Today I had yet another eye opening reason to maintain my daily, weekly, and monthly routines.  I lost...and then found...a check.  Last week, I purchased some items for my mother and she wrote me a check to pay me back.  The total was $50.  Somehow, I managed to misplace the check.  I don't know how I lost a check from Wednesday, but I did.  Not only did I lose the check but I kinda forgot about it.  (Who forgets about $50?!?)  Anyways, this afternoon I remembered that I had a check hanging around somewhere.  I looked in my usual places:  my car, my purse and wallet, the catch-all place in the kitchen and my bedroom, the trash can in the kitchen (ick!), etc.  Finally, as a last resort, I started going through all the papers on the kitchen table.  Amongst those papers on the table were:  2 Sunday papers, about 800 receipts (because I'm STILL trying to finish balancing the checkbook), my coupon binder (Penny), my work schedule, magazines and catalogs, used napkins from supper tonight, and my check.  YAY!

Moral of the story:  Don't just lay things in a place that you "won't forget."  Put those items where they go.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 3 of Bedrest

I have been "relaxing" since Thursday and I am so. freakin'. bored.  This bedrest is for the birds.  I want to get up and start moving around and working on the house.  At any rate, I'm getting caught up on my internet surfing and trashy romance novel reading.

Last night, my mom came over and brought barbecue and fixins' for supper.  Then, she washed two loads of laundry AND the mountain of dirty dishes that have been fermenting in my sink.  And she didn't even gag once.  (Bless her!)

Today, Frank finished working on the front flower beds.  However, we still need to buy about two more bags of mulch to thicken up the area around my new azelea bush.  I haven't seen the finished product yet but I'm sure it is beautiful.  I will upload a picture soon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Importance of a Routine

My lightbulb is clicking to the "ON" position.  I am finally understanding the importance of having a routine.  I have sorely neglected my Daily To-Dos (and weekly and monthly...).  In fact, I have been only doing the bare minimum for the last month or more.  I cannot explain why I have let this happen when I was doing such a good job previously.  Maybe the novelty of "getting organized" wore off.

At any rate, here I am, stuck on bedrest.  Here's the backstory:

After school on Wednesday, I came home and started spreading some mulch in my front flower beds.  I stopped after about thirty minutes because the wind was blowing so badly that I couldn't keep my weed control tarp under control.  So, I came inside and took a shower.  My parents invited Frank and I over for supper and as I was sitting down in the chair...SNAP!  My back, for lack of a better word, snapped.  I had pretty intense pain for about thirty seconds and then it was just some dull, constant pressure in my lower back.  I ate supper and for a couple of hours, I was able to do normal things.  But, over time the pain kept getting worse.  I spent all day Thursday in the bed or in the recliner.  My back hurt whether I was sitting, reclining, or lying flat.  No anti-inflammatory medication helped.  Ben-Gay didn't help.  Heating pads and ice packs didn't help.  Nothing helped.  It hurt when I moved and it hurt when I was still.

So, this morning I wake up and can hardly move.  I knew that I had to go see the doctor.  I was diagnosed with a herniated disc.  My provider told me that it would take a week for my back to feel better and that in the meantime, I should be on bedrest.  I thought to myself, "A WEEK?!?  I can't spend a week on bedrest!  I have too much to do!"  I had already missed class today and now I have to call in sick to work all weekend?  Ugh.

So, what does this have to do with routine?  Well, I will tell ya.  I would be embarrassed if anyone saw the condition my house is in right now.  It is a wreck.  The dishwasher is full of dirty dishes and the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes.  The laundry situation is getting perilous.  The litterbox is full.  I don't know when I last swept.  Or mopped.  Or vacuumed.  And I still haven't balanced the checkbook!  If I had been keeping up with my routines, my home wouldn't look quite so disasterous right now.  Sure, it might be a little messy, but nothing near the nuclear mess it is right now.

I have pledged myself this:  "I WILL get this house in order.  I WILL catch up everything that I am running behind on.  I WILL forgive myself for letting it get this out of hand.  And I WILL complete this by May 1."

Since I am on bedrest with nothing else better to do, I guess now is as good as a time as any to make a list of all the things that need to be done around this house.  I will keep you posted on how this goes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sorting Mail

In an effort to prove to myself exactly how little time it takes to sort mail, I let my mail pile up to this.

 Now, keep in mind that this is was done purely for investigative purposes.  *Cough*

I believe that this pile accumulated over two weeks.  Amongst this pile of paper is multiple catalogs, magazines, bills, EOBs from insurance, reminders from the vet that my cat needs her shots, junk mail, and other miscellaneous items that need to be filed or otherwise dealt with.

The first thing I do is start opening the mail.  As I figure out what it is, I put it in the appropriate file or pile.  For example, the first item I opened was a credit card statement.  I filed the bill itself in my mesh file organizer under "Bills to Pay" and tossed the rest of the envelope and inserts into the trash.

Banking papers that come in go under "Banking-Holding."  These would be statements that I need to balance...we ALL know how good I am about that!

The "Holding" category in the mesh file organizer is for anything else that needs to be address soon, but I'm not quite ready to file into archival filing.  Usually, items only stay here for a couple weeks.

If I come across a magazine or catalog, it goes in the hanging file box under the appropriate tab.  Same thing for sale papers and coupons that come in the mail.  (I'm trying to make a habit of going through the coupon file once a week and sorting the coupons in my coupon binder.  AKA:  Penny)

It seemed to take forever to open and file all those pieces of paper, but it only took:

And my trash pile looked like this:

The pink paper pile to the left is the shred pile.

Now, in less than ten minutes, I filed and handled over two weeks of mail.  Why, oh why, do I procrastinate so much?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Folding Laundry Is Boring

I hate folding laundry.  It is not necessarily an unpleasant job, but it is mind-numbingly boring.  So boring, in fact, that I tend to wait until my "To Fold" pile looks like this:

I guestimate that this pile is five loads of laundry. 

Generally, after more than two loads pile up, I just don't see the use in even attempting to fold it.  So, I just keep piling and piling.  Then, one day when I'm searching for clean underwear, a clothing avalanche forces me to do something about it.

Today was that day.  Muttering under my breath, I moved the clothes from the laundry room to my bed and started plugging away at the pile.  The whole time I'm thinking that it will take me at least 45 minutes to completely sort, fold, and put away Mount Foldme.

Want to know how long it took?


Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I have a busy week this week, so my good ol' trusty Crock Pot is going to get a work out.

Monday:  Leftover Beef Roast from last night
Tuesday:  Ranch Pork Chops (made in Crock Pot) and mashed potatoes
Wednesday:  You're On Your Own
Thursday:  Salsa Chicken in the Crock Pot
Friday:  Spaghetti Casserole
Saturday:  You're On Your Own
Sunday:  Grilled Hot Dogs, Rotel and Chips

Yum.  Yum.  I am already excited about this week!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Timer CAN Help Prevent Procrastination

It has been well documented that I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator.  Sometimes, the procrastination has a lot to do with something that is tedious (balancing the checkbook) or sometimes it is something that I flat don’t want to do (pick up the house).  On Tuesday morning, I looked around the main living area of our house (which consists of the living room, dining room, and kitchen) and I noticed it was a bit of a wreck.  I honestly didn’t want to pick up those areas and I was rationalizing why I shouldn’t have to pick that area up.  My excuses included:

·         I’m too busy to stop and do those dishes right now.

·         No one is going to drop by and see this mess anyways.

·         I can pick it all up on Saturday, when I’m off.

·         Besides, it’s not that bad yet.

Why I think that I should wait until it looks like a bomb has went off in my house before I should start picking up is beyond me, but that is my slob nature.  That thinking is exactly why I have been trying to turn my thinking around.

In an effort to challenge myself, I decided to just pick up the darn living area.  But, I timed myself to see how long this whole process actually takes.  Here is what I found:
In 29 minutes and 42 seconds, I went from this:

To this:

Please ignore the receipts on the table.
I'm in the middle of trying to balance the
checkbook to current.  It is yet another
project that I'm insisting on procrastinating on.

In less than 30 minutes, I went from a cluttered, hot mess to something that I could be proud of.  Of course, in doing this little project, I was procrastinating studying for my test that I had on Wednesday...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eat that frog!

There is a saying in the "Time Management" world that goes, "Eat that frog!"  What it means is that every morning, you should eat a live frog.  Then, the worst part of your day is over.  Further broken down, it means that you should do your hardest tasks first during the day.  These tasks can be the hardest because they take the most time, are the most tedious, or because you simply don't want to do it.

Today, my frog is my checkbook.  As of last week, I hadn't balanced it since February 2011.  Over the course of the last week, however, I have balanced it up to August 2011.  My goal for this weekend is to be balanced up to October 2011.  It should only take about 90 minutes...but I loathe balancing the checkbook.  It is mind-numbing. 

Everyone has a frog.  What is yours?  Identify it and then put some salt on that sucker and have at it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Losing the Bottled Water Habit

Do you know what one of the most expensive (nonalcoholic) beverages is?  Bottled water.  It's crazy that people (like me) buy water.  I am currently making an effort to not buy any bottled water.  However, I live in the city and I do not like our tap water.  The solution?  This:

And this:

I bought the Brita Filtration Station at Wal-Mart for about $30.  I bought the Rubbermaid reusable water bottles at the Dollar Store for about $2 each.  I only bought two of the water bottles for now, but if this system seems to work, then I will buy more to keep in the refrigerator.

So, for about $35, I was able to make my own bottled water.  Frank and I usually drink at least 10 bottled waters during a week.  A 12 pack of Dasani is about $5...I think.  Anyways, this system should pay for itself in two months. 

The filter station is cool because it has a spigot for dispensing water into your glass.  We use that alot.  But those Rubbermaid water bottles are awesome!  I use some of the water from the filter station to fill up some ice cube trays ($1 for a 3 pack at Dollar General) and use the filtered water to make "filtered" ice cubes for my water!  Awesome.

On a side note, the filter station has a filter that should be replaced about every 3 months.  I'm not totally sure on the cost of the filter, but I would venture to guess that it is about $12-15.  For course, the "every 3 months" instruction is merely a suggestion.  :)  I will probably go at least 4 months before changing the filter...unless the water starts to taste funky.

What are some ways that y'all try to save money on beverages?  If Frank and I could ever learn to kick the soda habit, we will be WAY ahead!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In an effort to save money, I started making my own laundry detergent.  However, the more I researched laundry detergents, the more I realized that the companies who make laundry detergents are using unnecessary chemicals and use A LOT of water.  You are paying for so much water when you buy liquid laundry detergent in the store.

There are many different “recipes” for homemade detergent.  You can do liquid detergent or powder detergent.  I chose powder detergent, just because it has one less step in it.  I found this recipe on the internet somewhere.  But, all the recipes are basically the same.  Here’s the recipe I used:

½ cup Borax

1 cup Arm and Hammer WASHING Soda

1 bar grated soap*

¾ cup Purex Crystals FABRIC SOFTENER

*Soap:  On the internet, many people were using Fels Naptha soap.  I also read where some people use Ivory soap.  At first, I used ½ Jergens Original and ½ Dove Original Beauty Bar.  They seemed to do the job just fine.  The second batch I made, I used Ivory soap.  (I was able to buy 10 bars for $4.57 at Wal-Mart.)  The Ivory soap grates so much easier than the Dove or Jergens.  The more I have researched the Fels Naptha, I have found that you can get a bar of it at Wal-Mart for about $0.97.  But, Ivory is still cheaper.

To Make the Detergent:

All you do is grind up the soap using a cheese grater.  I bought a $3.25 one at the grocery store.  Then you add all the other ingredients.  Stir well.  Using a funnel (which I also had to buy:  $0.87), pour your mixture into a storage container.  We used a cleaned out ½ gallon milk jug.  When you are ready to do a load of laundry, just add 1-2 tbsp of powder to your washer (for top-loaders).  This recipe makes enough for 32 loads if you only use 1 tbsp.  I find that I tend to use 1 ½ tbsp per load…2 tbsp if the clothes are very soiled.

This mixture does not suds a lot, but it really does work well.  It leaves clothes with a subtly fresh scent that I really like.  I have not noticed any lingering residue and this seems to clean the clothes well.

The cost breakdown looks like this:

Borax:  $4.69—enough for 19 batches!

Washing Soda: $3.24—enough for 6 batches.

Purex:  $4.76—enough for 5 batches.

Soap:  $1.00—enough for 1 batch.

Some quick math tells me that my laundry detergent costs me $2.47 for 32 loads, again if you only use 1 tbsp.  That is just $0.08 per load.  Comparing that to the 25 load bottle of Gain that I bought at Dollar General for $5 the other day (which breaks down to $0.20 per load), I’d say that is quite a savings!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Menu Plan Tuesday!

So, I have been in a little of a funk lately.  I have totally been letting my Daily To-Do's pass me by.  For example, I don't think I have swept the floor in four or five days.  And the litterbox?  Yuck.  But, today is a new day and I'm getting back on track.  Today will be a busy day, but I WILL get everything I can done.  Anywho, without further ado, here's this week's menu.

Monday:  We went out to eat for my mom's birthday.
Tuesday:  Roast with veggies
Wednesday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup
Thursday:  You're On Your Own
Friday:  Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Saturday:  Hobo Packets
Sunday:  Eating at my parents house!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

After a five day hiatus, I am ready to resume my blogging and organizing.  Since it was Spring Break, I decided to actually take a day off.  *Gasp!*  Thursday was spent doing nothing but vegging out on the couch and watching television.  I took the pups to the kennel Thursday afternoon and then I went to the lake with my parents.  Frank came up on Friday at lunch because he had to work 1/2 a day.

Frank, my parents, and I worked on getting their lake property in ship shape.  We cut down four trees, burned leaves, and did some other maintenance tasks around the cabin.  I'm ready for summer!!!  When Frank and I came home yesterday afternoon, we got the pups and bathed them.  We changed the sheets on the bed and did four loads of laundry.  I also completed my daily tasks....except that whole studying 15 minutes a day thing.  (wink)

Late last night, I started feeling sick to my stomach and was awake a good bit of the night feeling terrible.  In the end, I decided not to go to school today.  I hate that I missed the day after Spring Break, but I felt awful.  I ended up sleeping the funk off and woke up after lunch feeling alot better.  And that brings me to today!  It's Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie and I will be linking up over there.

Monday:  You're On Your Own
Tuesday:  Frozen Pizza
Wednesday:  You're On Your Own
Thursday:  Either Beef Roast or out to eat Mexican with a friend
Friday:  Chicken Casserole and Green Beans
Saturday:  Grilled Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes
Sunday:  Whatever the hubby decides to cook.

This week is my very long, very tiring week.  I work tonight and tomorrow night and then I have class all day on Wednesday.  By the time I come dragging home, I have been up and going for over 24 hours.  However, I do plan on hitting the grocery store before I come home from work so that I don't have to do it on Thursday.  (That is, IF I get off at a decent time!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daily To-Do's...I may have made a mistake.

So, when I assigned my new daily task this Sunday, I wasn't taking into account that Spring Break started on Monday.  Maybe having a daily goal of studying 15 minutes per day wasn't the best idea.  Especially the day before Spring Break!  It looks like I won't be adding another task to my list come Sunday...

On the upside, I have been working hard around the house this week.  Yesterday and today I spent a great deal of time catching up our checkbook.  I haven't balanced the checkbook since February 2011.  Nice.  Anyways, as of tonight, I have completed up to July 2011.  It's a slow process.  I was originally hoping to completely catch up the checkbook by Thursday afternoon (when we leave for the lake!!!).  But, it's not looking like that's going to happen because tomorrow I am going to do some grocery shopping specifically for freezer cooking (which I will also do tomorrow).

It looks I have my work cut out for me tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Laundry System

There are several different ways a person can take care of their laundry beast.  Some people choose to do one load a day and others may choose to do all of their laundry in one day.  While I see pros and cons of each, I prefer to do one load of laundry a day.  But, unfortunately, that set-up doesn’t work for me at this time.  The way my work and school schedules now go, I may not be home but a couple of hours in a 24 hour period of time.  When I do catch a few hours at home before I leave for work or school, the last thing I’m doing is laundry!  So, when this semester started, I switched from one load of laundry a day to one laundry day per week.  On that one day, I do all laundry.  From start to finish.  Bed linens, couch throws, bath towels and rags, cleaning rags, dishrags and clothes, clothes…all of it.  It takes me about 7 loads (which, incidentally, is most of the day), but at the end of the day, I’m done for a week.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Today is the official start to Spring Break!  YAY!  I'm off for the next 7 days and I refuse to even think about work.  However, I have lots to do around the house...but that's not work. :)

Since today is Monday, I'm linking up over at Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.  Here's what we are chowing down on this week:

Monday:  Queso Dip and Tortilla Chips (Yum)
Tuesday:  HB Helper, Frozen Corn, Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday:  Chicken and Dressing, Green Beans
Thursday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup
Friday and Saturday:  Goin' to the LAKE bay-beee!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday: New Task Day!

Wow!  What a difference a few weeks make!  I have never felt better...physically and emotionally.

Since it is Sunday, I will be assigning myself a new daily task.  So far, my daily tasks include:
  • Feed and water the critters.
  • Mail call.
  • Check planner/calendar.
  • Purge.
  • Litterbox.
  • Sweep.
For the most part, I have done an excellent job of keeping up with my daily tasks.  And even  my weekly tasks (but that's another set of blog posts).  I have decided that this week's new task will be to study at least 15 minutes a day.  After all, maintaining that 4.0 isn't going to happen all by itself.  *Wink*  Honestly, I don't think I have the willpower to study both Anatomy AND Lab for 15 minutes a day.  So, I may rotate them:  one day do anatomy and the next do lab.  Or maybe just split it up:  do 7 minutes each per day.  I don't know which will be best, but for now, at least I have a game plan. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feelin' Good Friday: Gratitude Journal

I believe that many times we take all of our blessings for granted.  We grumble about how often we have dirty dishes, but we should be thankful for those dirty dishes because that means we have food.  We gripe about the never-ending laundry that piles up, but that means that we have enough clothing to wear.  We moan and complain about how tough work was today, but that means that we have a job.  In today's economy, just having a job is a wonderful blessing.

Over time, we forget how truly blessed we are.  It's easy to do.  In an effort to not take "the little blessings" for granted, I try to write in my Gratitude Journal.  Each day, before I go to bed, I make a note of 3 to 5 different things that I am thankful for from that day.  I could write hundreds of things that I'm grateful for, but then I would never write in my journal.  *Grins*

It is a small task to write these few items down.  But looking back over time, it is nice to see that I, indeed, have a good life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: The $40 Grocery Bill Challenge

Good evening!  It’s Thrifty Thursday over here at The Clutter Diary.  This week I am challenging myself to pay only $40 for groceries.  We usually spend $80 or so on groceries and household items.  But, this week I decided to get a massage and a pedicure, so I need to make that money up somewhere.  I have decided that since my pantry looks like this:

It might be a good idea to use up some of the food I have stowed away in there.  After all, what good is it to have all this good food if I just keep adding crap to it?  I already have all the food I need to feed us until Monday, so I will grocery shop today for Monday-Friday next week.  It’s just easier to do that versus trying to go grocery shopping on Monday after I worked all weekend.

First thing I am going to do is go through my food storage areas and toss anything that is expired or just won’t get eaten.  Then, I am going to sort the food by category and reorganize the spaces for optimum functioning.  When you have a small kitchen like mine and a teensy tiny pantry, you just gotta make do with what ya got.  J

Here’s after I reorganized the pantry:

I was able to spend only $27 at the grocery store.  But, I predict the other $13 dollars to be used up next week, for a total of $40.  Now, that’s a nice little chunk of change that I saved over my usual grocery spending!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Way to Freshen the Linen Closet

Have you ever gotten a towel or set of sheets out of your linen closet and they smelled…less than fresh?  For some reason, my linen closet tends to have a musty smell in it.  My central unit vent return is right below the cabinet, so I don’t know if that has something to do with it or not.  Anyways, I was noticing that the linen closet made my clean linens smell somewhat musty.  Almost like they had been sitting in the washer too long, but I knew that they hadn’t.  I cleaned the closet, but they still had the weird odor.

I did some research on the internet and ran across tip that has made all the difference.  It was so simple that I thought that it surely wouldn’t work.  But it did.  The tip?  Put a dryer sheet in the cabinet with your linens.  Crazy, right?!?

Our linen cabinet has four shelves and I just put a dryer sheet on two of them.  It has made a dramatic difference.  The towels now smell dryer-fresh and our sheets have a pleasant scent that lasts for the entire week.

I also took this tip and used it for our closet and office closet.  In our office closet, I house all of our jackets.  In the winter, we tend to use the same jackets daily but I keep our dress jackets in the office closet.  Then, in the spring, I move all the jackets to the closet.  I put a small nail on the inner wall, the wall that you have to crane your neck to see, and I poked a dryer sheet right on that nail.  The jackets smell nice and fresh and I just routinely change the dryer sheet out anytime I think of it, maybe a couple times a year.  I did the same thing in our main closet, too!  It’s a pleasant scent that wafts out into the room whenever you open the closet door…and it makes me happy.  And I like being happy. J

Monday, February 27, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I know I have mentioned this before, but I have really started liking how menu planning on Sunday seems to set the "organized" mood for the whole week.  It's almost like "It's one more thing that I really don't have to worry about."  The only thing I have to remember is to take stuff out of the freezer about two days before we need it.  Done.  (I usually take two days worth of meals out at a time.)  Without further ado, here's this week's menu:

Monday:  Leftovers for Frank, I will likely eat out tonight.
Tuesday:  Pizza Casserole
Wednesday:  Ham and Cheese Hawaiian Rolls, French Fries
Thursday:  Sweat and Sour Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Friday:  Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Saturday:  Grilled Pork Chops, Mac and Cheese
Sunday:  You're On Your Own