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!