Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 3

With Week 1 and Week 2 down, the planning has begun, the wish lists have been given to you, and you have your lists ready. Right?

If you don't, don't feel bad! You have plenty of time yet to get going!

This week we will be focusing on three things. None of them are very difficult, but all of them need some time to get accomplished. That means getting started now!

1. If any homemade gifts or stocking stuffers need to be started, start now. If you are doing anything like homemade extracts, jams, jellies, butters, vinegars, candles, or whatnot, start now. Anything that needs time to cure or develop flavor should be started now. Anything you can do now should be started so you are not stressed out later!

2. Now is also the time to start purchasing gifts. To make it easier on your budget and your wallet, start purchasing now. I have a few gifts already for Dane, one for Paige, and one for each of the girls. I also have a good deal of the stocking stuffers bought, but I do that all year. Don't forget to check out the clearance sections at the stores like Hobby Lobby or Target. A lot of great things have been picked there in the past!

3. Make your Christmas card list! I still do this, but I have scaled it back in the last few years. However, I love getting the cards in the mail so I still send them! If you are making cards, knowing how many to send now will save you time and trouble later.

That is it for this week! Not much, but enough to get started!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

(So sorry about the delay in this series! I will be back on track now!)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 2

(I was a bit busy this week and am a bit behind. Monday's frugal update will be next Monday! Thanks!)

With Week 1's Planning for Christmas, we got our holiday notebooks and our list of people we wanted to give presents to written in it. This week will be building upon it.

First, I want you to write your family traditions in your holiday notebooks. Anything you do for the holidays that your family loves to do, you love to do, food you love to make, and whatever else you consider a tradition. Think about what your family loves to do at the holidays.

Notice I use the word "love". If you have a family tradition that seems like a burden, reconsider that tradition. This is all about making the holidays fun, easier, frugal, and organized. If a tradition is a burden, it is becomes a chore and that is not what the holidays are about.

After writing down your traditions, make a list of things you need to make those traditions happen. Whether it be food, gifts, craft supplies, paper, printer ink, etc., write it down on the list. Also make notes for yourself on a calendar if you need to make appointments to do things, buy tickets, reminders to find out when events are happening, and whatnot.

Secondly, start working on wish lists from your family and kids. Honestly, these wish lists are a wondrous tool for me! I like having an idea about what to shop for. My kids still don't know what they are getting. I have diverted from their wish lists in the past, but I love the ideas about what to get them. They make my holiday shopping infinitely easier!

My kids search the internet, catalogs, store shelves, and question friends and myself about what they should put on the list for Christmas. I do tell them they can put whatever they like on their list because I also share these lists with grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, and cousins. Some things they list will never happen, but that hasn't stopped the request for a pony from showing up every year!

When the kids are done with their wish lists, store them in the notebook or stash them in your purse. You can even take a picture of them to store in your phone for quick access! I staple the wish lists in my notebook so I don't lose them!

Lastly, in your notebook, start jotting down gift ideas for the people on your shopping list. What do you want to give them? Do you have ideas already? Have you bought something for them already? Write it down! I get so busy that I forget what I have done! I am sure you do too so get those ideas on paper!

This should be plenty of things for everyone to get done! I can't wait until next week to get more done!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 1

As I mentioned in the Christmas in September post last week, we will be getting ready for Christmas one week at a time! We have plenty of time, we just need to get it planned!

This week we will be doing a couple of things. None of them are too difficult and will help you keep it altogether!

First, find yourself a notebook to write in. This can be anything that contains paper! You might want a small notebook that you can fit into your purse or a school notebook that is big enough to not lose. You can use an old notebook or a new notebook. Whatever floats your boat! Just make sure there is plenty of paper so you can keep multiple years in the notebook.

Next, in that notebook, I want you to write down anyone you need or want to buy Christmas presents for. If you have birthdays coming up, you may want to write down those too so you can keep the birthday gifts separate from Christmas gifts. Paige's birthday is right before Christmas so I find including her birthday keeps me sane and makes certain I have enough gifts for her.

Since I give four presents for each kid for Christmas and birthdays, I number four lines for each kid. That way I don't lose track of what I have bought or overlook something. I also add a "stocking done" on a line for each kid so I can keep track of that too.

This is what my notebook page looks like:


Nothing fancy, but works great! This is the format I have been using for a few years now with excellent results!

That is it! Very simple start! If you want to get a jump start on next week, start a new page and jot down ideas about what you want to give as gifts.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Christmas in September - What?!?!


 (From Christmas 2010 - My kids were so little!)

Time to start thinking about Christmas!

What that you say, Erica? Not ready for that Christmas thing!

Me neither, but let's get a positive attitude about it!

We have three months and two weeks until Christmas! I also have two birthdays in that time so a little more creative planning is involved. I like to think ahead about these things and get the ball rolling.

I have simplified Christmas to only giving my kids four gifts and a stocking stuffed full. This makes my shopping easier, but I still get to buy sixteen gifts total. Oy!

I have the kids' gifts broken up into four areas:
(1) Something to wear
(2) Something to read (usually about 3-4 books)
(3) Something they want
(4) Something they need

I ask nicely (maybe I mean demand) wish lists from all of them. That way I know what they want, especially the teenagers. They can be the tricky ones! This year I have a college student too. New territory for this mama! I have no idea what to buy for her!

If I want to make anything homemade, I need to start thinking about this now. Usually my grandma and the other women in my life get homemade gifts and gift baskets. I also want to make some homemade things for the stockings this year so I need to find ideas for that. I have a ton of ideas pinned already to my Pinterest board for gift ideas and craft ideas.

I also used to send out a picture of my kids altogether so everyone to see how much they have changed. I would like to get back to that! Maybe even send out Christmas cards....

And then, we do have to talk about the Christmas goodies. Can't forget about food! 

Christmas takes some planning and some doing. It can be done frugally and with a lot of considerate thought. Every week from now until Christmas, I will be doing a post to help you (and me!) get ready for Christmas whether it is to tackle the shopping, the crafting, the idea making, the scheduling, and the other things that take time at Christmas.

Are you ready? Are you with me? Yeah!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Friday, August 16, 2013

Weekend Ideas and To-Do's

I am feeling a little lost right now. We are looking at several big changes happening to us over the next week.

Four kids going three different directions.
College and high school.
Junior high school and elementary school at a completely new-to-us school district.
School starting next week.
A kid moving to college at the end of the week. 
A mama feeling a little frazzled over logistics and change.

Change happens, but I am not a fan of it for various reasons. However, my one way to cope with change is to get organized and get things accomplished. This weekend looks to be busy for almost everyone, but me!

Things to get done:

Clean the kitchen
Make lactose-free yogurt for Paige
Make a double batch of granola
Make a batch of cheese crackers
Make a triple batch of granola bars
Boil/Bake a dozen hard-boiled eggs
Mail out sold books
Clean up office floor
Hang up big calendar so everyone can write down reminders and happenings
Clear off bulletin boards in office
Get any college paperwork done that is left
Take pictures of plates to be sold
List more books on Ebay and Half.com
Look at and hopefully purchase a college dorm bed loft
Laundry (always!)

That sounds like plenty to me to get done. Hopefully it will get done!

What is on your plate for the weekend?

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Days In July

10 Days in July...that is how long my youngest two kids are going to be gone. My oldest two kids will hardly be home either between working at the camp, regular work, college orientation, and summer fun.

This already feels weird, but I will taking advantage of the time to do some projects in peace. I have several small and big projects to get done and I want to get started. I always have to have a list first, otherwise I will not remember what needs to be done.

The Kids Are Gone Project List

1. Change out the outlet in the living room. Cords just fall out when plugged in.

2. Clean and purge Paige's room. This will be a multi-day project.

3. Purge toys out of Dane's room. He has grown out of a lot of toys!

4. Fix the leg on the loveseat. Hopefully I can just fill in the leg and re-screw it onto the loveseat. Otherwise it will be bricks holding up that end.

5. Get some canning done. I have chicken stock, beef stock, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam to get done.

6. Put together second set of shelves in the basement and organize the rest of the stuff on the floor.

7. Find shelves or reorganize my office for the books I am selling on eBay. They are taking over my office!

8. Clean up my office. It...is...a...very...very...very...messy room!

9. Put a deadlock on the back door. I have one for each of the doors, but I figure I better start one at a time.

10. Make candles. I have had the stuff to do this for a year, but never have gotten them done.

This list might sound ambitious and I will be over the moon if I even get half of it done! I will take pictures along the way and try to post daily what I have gotten done.

If you would like to join me on this "quest", please write in the comments what you plan to do! I would love to hear from all of you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What do you carry in your vehicle?


There are some things that everyone should do in my opinion. One is being prepared for anything no matter where you are. Where do you spend a good deal of time? For me, that time is spent in my vehicle or near my vehicle.

I like to carry certain items in my vehicles. Some things are just standard and you can find in almost every vehicle. Some things are because of a life lesson I was taught (kids puking comes to mind!). Some things are due to the fact that I am frugal and do not like to pay more at convenience stores/concession stands.

This list is not a comprehensive list. I have taken the advice of multiple lists and I still have things I want to add when I can afford them. I will include those items in the list too. Also take into consideration that I live in Iowa and need to think about winter conditions.

What do I consider standard carry items in vehicles?

* Jumper cables
* Ice Scraper
* Sleeping Bag and/or Blankets
* Maps and/or Atlas (try to find maps that have county blacktop roads on them)
* First Aid Kit including pain relievers
* Trash bags
* Plastic grocery sacks
* Bungee cords and Tie Down Straps
* Towing cable/strap
* Tire Repair Kit
* Baby Wipes and Multi-use Wipes
* Facial tissues and napkins
* Paper Towels
* Knives
* Means to protect yourself or buy yourself time
* Scissors
* Manual Can Opener
* Washclothes and Hand Towel
* Spare Tire, Jack, and some way to get the lug nuts off
* Pry Bar or Hammer (for breaking windows to get out of vehicles)
* Screwdriver (I suggest a multi-tip/all-in-one screwdriver so you have mulitple tips and sizes)
* Multi Tool or Multi Plier
* Flashlight
* Water
* Non-perishable food
* Personal items like sanitary items for women, toothpaste/brush, nail clippers/file, etc.
* Sunscreen and Bug Spray
* Umbrella
* Ponchos
* Coat/Jacket/Sweatshirt
* Gloves, Hats, and Scarves
* A Pair of Comfortable Shoes and Socks
* Cell Phone Charger
* Insurance Cards and Car Registration
* Paper and Pens
* Books and Magazines

As you can read, this list is not going to be suited to everyone. I find that we use or will use everything on this list. I also find that these items are necessary to almost any situation from emergency situations to sitting in the van waiting for kids to get done with practices and going to ball games. Everyone will have different things they will want to carry in their vehicles.

What would you suggest? Please comment below!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Common Sense Preparedness thumbnail

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once A Month Grocery Shopping


Do you hate grocery shopping? (Um, yes I do. If you like it, that's ok!)

Do you want to save time and effort? Do you want to save money and be frugal? Would you like to look into your pantry and see all the food you have to make a meal without thinking about it?

Of course you would!

Something I have been doing the last three months is doing my major grocery shopping only once a month. This has been such a blessing to me in the way of freeing up my time, being more organized, and creating less stress. I have been saving money because I am not in the grocery store every week and making impulse purchases every time I am there. I feel good knowing that I have at least a month's worth of groceries at home in case of emergencies.

I usually end with more than a month's worth of groceries because I plan for thirty days of meals, grab and go breakfasts during the week, and breakfast and lunches on the weekends. And y'all? We never eat that much and that often at home. We end up eating at a ball game almost once a week. If I am down to just one kid at home, we eat simpler meals like eggs and toast or leftovers.

Once a month grocery shopping is overwhelming at first unless you plan for it. The first thing I did with my planning is write down all the meals we like to eat. I made a list for lunches and suppers and a list for breakfasts with the thought that these can and will be used interchangeably. I went through my cookbooks and binders and wrote down my list. Some day I will get my list typed and I will share that list with you.

Once I had my lists ready, I made my grocery list. There are several ways one could do this. You can print off a master grocery list and make a list from there. You can make your own master grocery list. I don't use a master grocery list, but I can definitely see the benefit of using one! I start a list almost right after I make my once a month grocery trip. I write down what we ran out of, what we need more of, what I would like to have more on hand of, what I need to stockpile, and so on. Then I add to the list the ingredients for the meals I want to make for the month.

At this point, one would benefit from organizing the grocery list to the layout of the grocery store so one could get through the store faster and more efficiently. I will get to this point some day. Sigh.

Time to go to the store! I try to make this fun because, again, I really dislike grocery shopping. I have brought my children along because extra hands make the work easier, especially if you are shopping at Aldi's. I have brought a friend along and we made it into a girls' night out! One could take their spouse or significant other along and make it into a date night. Having someone else along makes the time go faster and gives me someone to bounce ideas off of.

Most of the time, my once a month grocery trip spans two stores. I like Aldi's because of the money I save there, but they do not carry everything on my list. I usually end up at Fresh Connections, Fareway, or Hy-Vee to finish off the grocery shopping. I know of people who go to Aldi's or the store of their preference and then just order the rest of their groceries online at places like Vitacost or Amazon.

I do usually end up making a small trip to the grocery store in the middle of the month for milk and produce. I will also go back to the grocery store if the store is having a super fabulous special going on and I want to take advantage of the deal. Lately, that hasn't been happening as much.

Once a month grocery shopping does take some planning in other ways. I always try to keep on hand the ingredients to make bars and cakes in case we are called upon to provide bars or a cake. We have gotten very good at making brownies and pumpkin bars from scratch. I also try to keep the ingredients to make a fruit salad in case we need a salad for anything. Keeping those ingredients on hand will keep you from running to the store and will save you money because you will not be using gas and you will be less likely to make impulse purchases while at the store.

Doing the once a month grocery shopping will take a few months to get the hang of it. I actually started this five months, but I struggled the first two months until I got my lists in order and became organized about shopping. I also had to get an understanding of what we used every month in the staples like flour, sugar, rice and oats so I could stay on top always having those things on hand. We make a lot of food from scratch so keeping the staples on hand is extremely important.

My hope is to help you simplify your life and free up your time so you can spend more of it doing things that you love and need to do to survive. I believe once a month grocery shopping is one of these things!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Do you have a list of meals?

I have resisted this idea for a long time. Making a list of meals that we make on a regular basis or that I would like to incorporate on a regular basis. I just didn't think it was necessary. I had many excuses for not doing this too. Excuses such as it was a waste of time, I try too many new recipes to have a consistent list, didn't see the benefit, etc.

After reading a few books in the last two weeks that emphasized having a list of meals, I began to see the wisdom and multiple benefits beyond just for organization's sake. Why I resisted this for so long baffles me now. This can take some time to do, but it is easy to start. I sat down and listed my favorite meals that I make. Then I asked my kids what meals they liked and could think of. Finally I turned to my cookbooks that I use the most and/or had tabs marking good recipes. This did not take me long at all.

The benefits of having a meal list are many:

1. Saving money: With your meal list, you can compare your list with what you have on hand and what is on sale at the grocery store that week. Then you can make your menu for the week and shop at the grocery store smartly. Having a meal list and menu plan helps you save money because you have a plan and will not be tempted to get take-out or eat-out nearly as often.

2. Saving sanity: Having a meal list will give you a game plan and save your sanity. You will not have hungry kids whining and complaining that they are hungry because you don't know what to make. Consult the meal list, pick a meal for the amount of time you have, and voila you have supper ready to go!

3. Food storage: By having a meal list, you will know what ingredients you can and will need to stock up for your food storage. Doing the stocking up little by little, you will be able to go to your pantry and know that you have the makings of a meal right at your fingertips.

4. Simplifying: Having a meal list and incorporating a menu plan keeps your life simple. You will come home from work and know exactly what you are making that night. If you stay at home, you will know at 4:30 what you are making and can get the meal started. Makes life so much easier!

5. Family meals: By having a meal list, you can have a good, nutritious meal on the table and be able to spend quality, stress-free time with your family talking over your day. How wonderful!

6. Delegation: With your meal list and menu plan if you choose, your family can help you prepare meals. They will be able to see what meal to make and be able to start the meal or help you prepare the meal. Children as young as eight can be a help to you at preparing meals. Give them simple tasks and lead up to more difficult tasks as they get older. My 11 year old can make a meal on her own now. It is a great blessing!

I believe having a meal list will be a huge blessing for my family and help us with getting the most out of suppertime and lunchtime. I also believe having a menu list will help us in our preps because we will be able to store what food we make.

Thanks for reading! Have a great night!

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Re-evaluating Routines

I have been re-evaluating our household routines for the last few weeks. What I was doing was not working anymore. I have been following FlyLady for quite some time now. She has been wonderful for decluttering my house and getting into a routine. She believes in baby steps and that worked for me, especially after my divorce when I was trying to get my feet back under me again. I would highly recommend her for anyone wanting to declutter their home and start a household routine.

In this stage of life, I am finding that this no longer works for me or for our household. Not that we are done decluttering. We are never done decluttering. That is a constant with a household of our size. But only working on one room a week with a weekly cleaning of the house? That is just not working anymore.

However, I will keep the doing of one load of laundry a day. That has been a game changer at our house! This makes laundry day look a lot more attractive! Shining the sink will also be kept. Believe it or not, I feel better seeing a clean, shining sink every night before I go to bed.

I have been reading Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman. I love this book! She gives so much great advice on how to manage a large family. One of the things that she does is have a day set aside for different things. She does Laundry Day on Monday, Kitchen Day on Tuesday, Office Day on Wednesday, and so on.

This routine appeals to me on so many levels. I would know on what day I am going to do something. No more trying to fit this in or overdoing on one day. She still emphasizes doing a daily house clean up which we do already.

In addition to this, I enjoy and follow the Today's Small Thing that Mrs. Ridge posts daily at the Home Sanctuary blog. I love the fact that she finds things to do that I would never have thought of. Some days the Small Thing might be something done around the house and some days they might be something for just you! I will continue to do because they are fun!

Now I just need to figure out my routine. I have a tentative idea of what it will be. I am sure this will need tweaking. I also need to write down my goals for each of the days so I have a list to work from. I may not accomplish everything on the list, but having something to aim towards helps so much.

So here is what my days will look like:
Monday: Office Day
Tuesday: Kitchen Day
Wednesday: Cleaning Day
Thursday: Gardening Day (summer, fall), Project Day (winter, spring); may also be a catch-up day
Friday: Errand Day (groceries, stores, etc.)
Saturday: Laundry Day
Sunday: Rest Day (because I firmly believe we need a day to relax!)

I realize this will take some tweaking. With kids being in sports, some of these days will get switched around depending on the priorities of that week. But I think it is workable! Now to get a list of goals for each day written down and posted for me to look at!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Trying to Simply Life (And Not Being Very Successful)

The title says it all. I have been trying to simply life and I have not been very successful at it. I know I have areas I need to work on, but actually doing it has proven to be a bit difficult. Not because I don't want to, but because I am trying to depart from things that have been a part of me for a long time.

First of all, no matter how cliche it sounds, having a clean, decluttered, organized house will help you. I speak from experience. I don't mind a disorganized and chaotic house. I feel normal in them. But they do not help with my sense of peace and calm either. I get frustrated when I cannot find something. Having everything in its place leads to less frustration. Not having to dig my way through a bunch of clutter helps preserve my time (and sanity).

Am I perfect? Oh, no! My house is not the cleanest and gets very cluttered. When I start to feel cluttered in my mind and chaotic in my thinking, I know a good decluttering and cleaning session is in order. I feel better, my kids seem to be happier, and the house looks wonderful. While I try to do this all year long, time and schedule does not always allow it.

Secondly, what is going on in your life? What commitments do you have that clutter your schedule or overtake your schedule? Are they there because you desire them to be there or are they there because others desire them to be there?

These are admittedly hard questions. This is where I have been struggling the most. I am busy with my kids' activities and I am delighted to be busy with their activities. Those are my main priorities in my schedule. But other things sneak up: selling Avon, being a part of two online coupon groups, my blog, working on being prepared, gardening, etc. You know, you understand. When I do not have enough time for everything, something has to go. Deciding that has been a painful process lately. I know what to let go, but making the commitment to do so is hard.

Having happy kids and good relationships with family and friends is my top priority. So I will be done selling Avon at the end of March. I don't have the time to commit to it and due to some of their new policies, they will make it difficult to continue to be a part of Avon. I will cut down to one online coupon group so I can give them my time more wholly. I love to write and be connected to you all so the blogging will continue. When asked to do other things, I will learn to consider carefully and say no with deliberate care.

As Spring and Summer comes, I want to be doing the things that I love and are not burdens. Hopefully, simplifying my life and using my time wisely will be the right things to do. And I have done the right things.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Erica's Official 2012 Bucket List

A bucket list, you say? You bet! I like life a little better if I have a list of things I would like to do and learn and see. I live pretty much day-to-day so this gives me ideas on what I want to accomplish.

To me, a bucket list is just not a wishlist, but a list of things I want to accomplish that seem a little out of reach at the moment. I need to put in the hard work, have discipline and focus, and a lot of fun trying to accomplish them.

Erica's Official 2012 Bucket List

1. Get my sewing machine fixed
2. Sew something like a skirt for Jordan.
3. Start a quilt
4. Go to Las Vegas. I have always wanted to.
5. Decorate the walls in my room.
6. Start using my fire pit more.
7. Take my kids on more day trips like to the aquarium in Dubuque and the Science Center in Des Moines.
8. Take the girls to the Renaissance Faire in Shakopee.
9. Read the Bible and the Story of God from start to finish.
10. Watch a NASCAR race in person.
11. Concentrate on being happy and grateful.
12. Learn to knit.
13. Work on being a better parent at home by being more involved.
14. Replace and paint the walls in the front entry and back entry of the house.
15. Work harder on looking for the good in others and only speaking well of others.
16. Finish the basement.
17. Expand my food pantry.
18. Purchase and put up curtains on every window in the house.
19. Can salsa and marinara sauce. Both seem a little intimidating.
20. Break my sugar and soda habits.

Join me in making your own bucket lists! You will be amazed at what you can think of!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Are you a goals person?

Are you a goals person? You know the type. They are able to set short-term and long-term goals. They are able to focus on those goals and actually accomplish them.

I am not this type of person. I never have been. I used to view goals as a way to let myself down because I would be upset if I did not accomplish them. And really, who needs that kind of stress anyway?

Well, I need to become that kind of person. This year, I did discover that to-do lists were actually a good thing. They gave me focus. They helped me remember what I needed to on a daily basis. They helped my memory out in ways that can only be imagined!

I realized that to-do lists are actually just short-term goals and I can accomplish them. If I don't get them done, no biggie. I just add them to tomorrow's list. It is all good.

This has helped my focus out in many ways. To-do lists have convinced me that I can set long-term goals as well as short-term goals. I have the focus and discipline to accomplish this. And maybe I don't have adult ADD. I was starting to wonder.

A huge benefit to setting goals and making to-do lists? I have found out I save money by doing this. What you say? I save money. I know what I need to buy now. I am looking for ways to make projects cheaper because I know they are goals I want to accomplish. I look at what I have first before I buy because I have researched my goals and I know what I need. I don't stand at Menards wondering what I need because I have a list.

Although I doubt that this will be cured altogether. I like wandering around Menards aimlessly. I get ideas that way.

I am starting to make lists for my goals. I want to share them with you to help you as well as me. You know what they say about accountability. With this blog, I consider myself to be accountable to you all. So that is what I will be doing for the next week. Sharing my goals, hopes and dreams.

Hopefully not setting myself up to fail. I can be good at that too.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

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