Showing posts with label organizing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organizing. Show all posts

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making a Budget: No One Wants To, But We Need To!

In the 13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year post, point #13 was to find someone to be an accountability partner for spending and budget making ideas.

Before you can look for an accountability partner, you need to do something first. You need to make a budget.

I know, I know. Making a budget is really, really, really hard. 

I know because I struggle with it too. However, I am determined to make a budget this year, adjust it when necessary, and stick to it. I have to give my money a place to go and I have to keep a tighter eye on where it is going.

Making a budget is not an overnight project. You need to look at the last 2-3 months and determine your expenses (bills, groceries, gas, etc.). How much, where, and frequency of money being spent is all things that need to be noted. How much money you make and frequency of money being paid to you needs to be noted. From these things, make a budget.

You can use a computer program or go low-tech (like me) and use a notebook or a planner. Just so your budget is not in your head, but on paper or saved on a file. Seeing it on paper makes your budget real to you. Keeping it in your head means that your budget is abstract and easily adjusted to what whims can suddenly take place.

Now, will this budget work exactly for the next and every month? Yes and no.

If you have expenses that are the same every month, never vary, and no surprises occur, you will be golden. If you are like me, you will have expenses that change all the time, your kids will surprise you with new needs (thank you to schools), and can change mid-month. You will pull your hair in frustration or find the need to go target shooting.

However, sit back and breathe deeply. Write every month down. Write down what expenses are the same every month. Estimate what you need to until you know the definite amount. You will have to adjust your budget for new things. You might find places you don't spend as much as you thought. You might have places you spend way more than you should. The next few months will be an adjustment period.

Make sure every dollar is accounted for in the budget. Dave Ramsey suggests this and he is right. Even if the dollar is in savings, it is accounted for. If you have a budget surplus, put the surplus in savings so you have that for surprises that may occur down the road. Make categories for clothing, repairs, gifts, etc. and allot money to

Pretty soon, you will have a working budget. I promise.

Having a budget though requires something else from you. Self-discipline and self-control. I can feel some of you cringing already. That is okay. I am too. This is where you may need and should have a budget accountability partner.

What is a budget accountability partner? Someone you can trust to bounce ideas off of, cry on their shoulder when the budget is not responding to your needs/wants, and someone who will help you take a cold, hard look at it.

Make sure your budget accountability partner is someone you trust. A spouse, significant other, parent, family, or really good friend are all good candidates. If you are married and both of you have trouble with the budget, finding a parent, sibling, or really good friend would be good. Some people do find it beneficial to find a professional to help them be accountable and that is fine too. Whatever it takes for you to make your budget work!

I feel this year will be a year that our money will have to go farther and farther yet. Now is the time to take charge of your money, make it go farther, and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,

Friday, January 2, 2015

13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year!

A new year and new goals! Yes! One of my goals for the year is to live as frugal of a life as possible. What I was really saying is that we are going on a spending fast. We literally will be cutting back expenses and saving money as much as possible. My finances are not where I want them to be and I need to change that.

What will I be doing to save money in the new year? 

1. Unsubscribe to all or all but a few (3-4) emails a day that encourage me to part with my money. Most of the time, I just delete the emails before I read them, but I have moments of weakness and click on them. No more!

2. Commit to spending no money for anything not on the goals list, that is frivolous, or unnecessary. 

3. Write out your goals to know where the money needs to go and what needs to save for. Where does your money need to go? What are your goals for the year? Think about the areas of the home/homestead, prepping, financial, gardening, and kids. Set a plan for those goals and how to attain them. Check out my goals here! 

4. Commit to becoming debt free. This is a hard one. I know first hand and am still struggling to become debt free.

5. Spend less than what is earned. Easier said than done, but self-discipline is crucial.

6. Learn to live on cash. 

7. Talk yourself out of purchases.

8. Subscribe to frugally-minded blogs and newsletters for encouragement. 

9. Look for money making opportunities to help pay for projects or pay towards debt. 

10. Learn to live without things. "Make do, do without, use it up, wear it out!"

11. Stretch a dollar and make your money go as far as possible. 

12. Give yourself some grace. Life is unpredictable and some things are out of our control. Pick yourself back up and get back on track.

13. Find some friends, significant other, and/or family to become an accountability partner. Find similar minded people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I talk about this and budgeting in this post!

Each month from here until December, I will be talking about each of these in great length.

Money is important, but should not rule our lives. Make this the year where you take back control!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Everyday Carry (EDC) Bag: Everyone Should Have One!

(Today's post is linked to a post from Are We Crazy, or Not! Hop on over there and check their post! They are very knowledgeable and give great ideas! You can also see what others carry in their EDC Bag.)

Everyday Carry (EDC) Bags are one of the most important items that a prepared person should have with them. They carry the most immediate things you need for an emergency as well as daily life things. 

EDC bags are not bug-out bags or get home bags. They are the bags you carry with you everywhere. You would have them with you at work, home, shopping, camping, and any where else you may go. As you can see, my EDC bag is also my purse. I carry a lot of things in my bag that are daily use items as well as emergency needs.

I choose my bag because of the size, the fact that the strap was long enough to carry cross-body as well as over the shoulder, and the pockets on the inside of the bag. My bag came from Thirty-One Gifts of all places, but was close to what I was looking for. You can find it here. The rest of what I carry in my EDC bag is listed below. 

Organizing Should Bag that is 11.5" x 9.5" x 1.5"
Billfold that carries my ID, cards, cash, checks, and pictures of the kids
Keys for home, car, and work. Key ring also has a mini Mag Lite and a mini dagger.
Small, basic first aid kit from Emergency Essentials
Feminine sanitation products
A condom in case I need to keep something dry
An Imodium tablet
Lip Balm (or 3)
Tea Bags
Dramamine since I can get motion sickness fairly easily
Notepad and multiple pens
Hand warmers
Two pocket knives
An old ID with 3-4 feet of duct tape wrapped around it
Hand Lotion
A hard candy or several
A small Mag Lite flashlight
A Multipurpose Tool - this one has 12 functions. I use it quite a bit
Missing, but usually have a small Bic lighter.

Everyone's EDC bag will look differently. I do not have a baby or young children to worry about so I don't have those items. When I did, I would carry a diaper, small pack of wipes, a small snack, and infant pain reliever.

Do you carry a EDC bag? What do you carry in it?

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!


Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway! has graciously agreed to sponsor a pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway to one of our loyal readers so they can get their food and water storage off the ground! Today you get the opportunity to win FOUR water bricks and FOUR food bricks! The Water Bricks can hold up to 3.5 Gallons of water, and are sturdy enough to stack up to 4 feet tall. They are small enough to slide under a bed, and light enough (even when full) to be easily carried with their handy handle. The Food Bricks are the same size as the water brick, but they are specifically designed to pack, stack, and store food. They interlock and stack perfectly with the waterbricks. Both bricks are made of heavy, durable, BPA-free food grade plastic. Food and Water Bricks are perfect for preparedness, disaster relief, or any outdoor activity like boating, rafting, camping, tailgating, and more, and you can enter to win your very own set of EIGHT food and water bricks (4 of each) today!

Meet the Bloggers Involved

Terms and Conditions

This Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway is sponsored by, and is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Nov. 17th at 6:00 am (CST) and ends on Sunday, Nov. 23th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (CST). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone!


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Do To Be Organized

I am not a naturally organized person. I don't carry around a planner because I forget to write things down in them or forget them altogether. I am a visual person and need to have my organization in front of my face or somewhere my eyes will see.

I use these tools to see where every one will be, where I need to be, what needs to be remembered, and for papers that cannot be lost.

My calendar and two of my lists

Large Desktop Calendar Hung Up on Office Door
- Everything gets written there so everyone can see it
- Everyone writes down their schedule - no exceptions!
- I use Command strips to keep it up

Google Calendar on my phone
- Reminders set up for bills, blog, and appointments

To Do Lists
- I live off of these things!
- Always one in my pocket or nearby
- I use them at work and at home
- I also leave a to do list for my kids so they know what needs to be done by them every day

Shopping Lists
- I write down what we are out of as well as the sales I am interested in

Bulletin Boards
- I have two in the office. One is for coupons, gift certificates, and the phone list. The second board is for permission slips, reminder papers from school, and any sport/music schedules.

- lists of what items I need/want and what I have on inventory.
- I also use them for holiday shopping, gardening and homesteading to keep track of costs, produce, what worked and what didn't work.
- I use notebooks a lot because that is easier for me than continually updating a spreadsheet.

Pretty easy system for me! What do you like to use for organizing?

Thanks for reading,

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Inventory Your Food Storage

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that doesn't have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning, and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)

This is when I first put up these shelves. They are no longer this empty!

While prepping can cost you a lot of money, there are some very easy prepping things to do to keep you sane and your money to be spent a little more wisely. This week I am going to tackle inventorying the food storage.

Doing a food storage inventory can seem like a daunting task, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks:

1. Knowing what you have on hand to make meals.
2. Knowing what you need to stock up on.
3. Knowing what you need to can from the garden this year or even plant in the garden this year.
4. Having a concise list in case of disaster.
5. What you have been eating every day vs what you thought you would eat and haven't touched.

Pizza sauce and chicken can go together nicely, but for organizing, they need to be with other like things!

Making a food storage inventory can take time. When I do my food storage inventory, I use that time to reorganize my food storage so like foods are together for easier inventorying. The kids and I both are guilty of putting the food away in a "loosely organized" manner so when I inventory I make sure everything is together and nicely put away.

You should write down every item so you don't get too many items that you will barely use. You will be able to tell if you have a surplus in one area and a shortage in another area. You will be able to tell how many empty canning jars you have and what home canned items need to be consumed before the summer comes.

What to use to inventory? This is where you can get as high tech and as low tech as you wish. I just use a lined spiral notebook. I know people who have a program on the computer, have created an Excel worksheet or downloaded food storage sheets. Some people like to be highly organized in this area and they are pretty good at updating their food inventory weekly and monthly. However, I don't want you to get overwhelmed so just do what works for you.

None of the mentioned methods are right or wrong. You should just use whatever is comfortable for you, but always make sure you have a hard copy somewhere accessible. I keep my notebook with my food storage because I just find it easier to find and update if I need to. I will, at some point, put everything into a spreadsheet. I already have my freeze-dried and bucket storage in a spreadsheet.

Food storage inventory should be taken at least once a month. However, you may find it easier to only take inventory once a quarter or every six months. An easy way to remember to do this is to write a reminder on the calendar or set a reminder on your phone.

I hope this helps you! Please let me know in the comments what you do to inventory your food storage.

Thanks for reading,

(Updated 6/29/2018)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Frugal Friday: Clean Up Email Time!

Being frugal is not just for money. A lesson I have learned over the last year is that being frugal applies to all areas of life except for family and friends. The time you spend with them is priceless and cannot be overspent!

However, there is an area that has really come to my attention. My email. I was not being very frugal in the area of my email. The realization of how many emails I received in a day was staggering. I would open my email and have 60-80 unread emails. I would delete 20-30 emails right away. I would read through a few emails 'just because' and be disgusted I wasted my time reading them.

I would get emails for sales, for freebies, for places I like to shop at, four coupons, for products I like to use, and for things that perhaps I might be able to get something free from. Honestly, what a time waster! To be truly frugal, how I spend my time needs to be evaluated too.

A lot of those emails I got did not feed my mind, feed my soul, encourage me, or had the potential to do so. I had signed up for prepping sites that were just advertisements once I clicked their links. I had signed for a lot of the emails thinking they would be different or provide different deals and freebies, but they didn't. Plus, they also tempted me to spend money that I did not have or want to spend. I do not need any more temptation!

I decided to keep receiving emails that:
1. feed my mind in some way. I want to learn and be more knowledgeable. 
2. feed my soul or encourage me.
3. were places I very regularly shop at like the grocery store, Vitacost, and Amazon.
4. were legit deal, coupon, or freebie sites. I only kept four so far, but one of those may be heading to the chopping block soon for confusing tactics. Most of these sites are the same, but I have found some differences.

Using these guidelines, I have unsubscribed to 15 different emails so far. I have more weeding to do, but some of those places I have unsubscribed to would send me 3-4 emails a day! Geez! My email is a little more pleasant to open up and read now.

Remember, frugality applies to all areas of life. If you are wasting time deleting or mindlessly reading emails, you are not being frugal with your time. Your time is a valuable resource!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

10 Totally Free Prepping Things To Do

This post is a part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Round Robin with Prepared Bloggers! Thank you for visiting!

I love prepping lists! I have so many printed out and filed in a binder so I can look at them. I get motivated from them and finds all sorts of ideas to get things done!

I am offering you today a list of 10 totally free prepping things to do. Some of the things will take only a few minutes to do, some will take a few hours, and some might take more time than that. You can do these things with your family or invite your friends over to do these things. The only thing that might not make this totally free is canning jars. However, I am assuming most of you have jars on hand!

10 Totally Free Prepping Items To Do

1. Learn to get around your house in the dark. Think about the days when you were a teenager and had to sneak in and out of your house without your parents hearing. You didn't do that? Oh. Moving on....

Learn your escape plan and be able to get around in the dark in case of no power or someone strange being in your house. This might mean you will have to clean your floors and move furniture so you can get around safely. Also, be sure your bag, purse, keys, phone, wallet, etc. is in one, logical place for you to find in the dark and get out safely.

2. Inventory your things. Do you know what you have? Where is it? What are you missing? You need to make an inventory of your prepping supplies and things with where the item is located. If the items can be easily located, you can respond to a situation or emergency much, much more quickly. This inventory should be for food, ammo, supplies, first aid supplies, etc. Everything should be inventoried.

3. Organize your food. Put your food together in logical groups: baking, vegetable, fruits, meats, spices, condiments, sauces, etc. Get even more specific than that - put all your salt together in one place, for example. Put items in plastic bags in glass jars so the food will last longer. Write the expiration dates clearly on the food items so you know to grab the oldest food first. Organize your food to have the oldest food in front and newest in the back or on the bottom. With everything organized, you can send your kids to get the food items you want without the stress of telling them 30,000 times where it is!

4. Can your meats. Look in your freezer and look at the meats that are easy to can. I like to can chicken, stew meat, ground meats, and turkey. If you lose power for multiple days, you can still have a good supply of meat to feed your family and reduce the waste of what you might lose. Meat is too expensive to waste!

5. Make a family preparedness plan. This is a good thing for the whole family can participate in. You need to decide where to go, where to meet, what to grab, how to act, and what to do. You need to make multiple plans in case that Plan A doesn't work, your family knows what to do otherwise. Make sure you also include emergency contacts, medical records, and an inventory of your household goods and keep them ALL in the same place.

6. Write out your priority/wish list. This one is my favorite to do and it keeps me focused! What do you want to get done around the property and house? What do you wish you could do or buy for your preparedness goals? Write down what you need to buy or make. Take this list shopping with you or keep it buy the computer in case you get a little money for those items. Dreaming and planning cost nothing!

7. Practice your skills! Practice those skills which you feel you need refining. Practice makes you better! If you feel your target shooting needs some practice, set up some cans on a fence post and start practicing! Fill a feed sack or a pet food bag with grass clipping or dead leaves. Get the bow and arrow out and start practicing! Need to get more comfortable with sewing? Get some material out and make a pillow while practicing making a straight seam. The possibilities are endless!

8. Complete projects! I have projects that I have all the stuff I need for the project, I just haven't done it. I have started projects and I haven't finished them. I have total confidence I am not the only one! Get your projects done!

9. Organize, clean out, put together your Every Day Carry (EDC) Bag. This can be your purse, a tote bag, backpack, or whatever you feel comfortable carrying with you in the car or everywhere you go. Everyone carries different things with them and most of what you carry depends on where you are at in life (baby, kids, no kids). I like to carry extra cash, flashlight, personal items, knife, scissors, pens/pencils, food, small first-aid kit, small sewing kit, gloves, hat, and other things I might need. This bag is what would be your go-to bag as well as your bag you grab if you need to walk anywhere due to car breakdowns, emergencies, etc.

10. Clean out your vehicles and check their fluids and tires. Anytime is a good time to vacuum out the vehicle and get the trash out of it. Wipe down the surfaces and organize what needs to stay in the vehicle. When you get down with that, check the fluid levels in the vehicles and check the tire pressure. Top off what needs to be topped off and pump up the tires if needed. Your vehicle needs to be ready to go anytime you are!

With winter and the weekend coming, now is a good time to get these things done! You will not spend any money if you don't want to. If you find yourself in a position where you might, see if you have anything that might work in its place! Be creative!

If you have anything to add, please comment below!

September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

September is National Preparedness Month #30DaysofPrep 2015

It's safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with. This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we've put together for later in the month. Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage


72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags


Thanks for reading!


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!

(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!

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!

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!

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
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!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Days in July Update

I told you all I would try to keep you updated on my progress in 10 Days in July project list. This has been going okay. I would like to be further along, but I am happy with where I am. I am at least getting something done!

The list:

The Kids Are Gone Project List

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

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.  **DONE**

5. Get some canning done. I have chicken stock, beef stock, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam to get done. **Chicken Stock and Chocolate Sauce are DONE**

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

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. room! **STARTED**

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.

Here is the progress picture update!

I got 10 quarts of chicken stock done. In a genius moment, I also canned up the frozen chicken stock from freezer so I could have more room in my freezer. Normally I only get 7 quarts when I make stock, but the addition of the frozen stock (heated up) I got 10 quarts.

I tried a new recipe for chocolate syrup/sauce. I wanted more of a syrup so I didn't cook the syrup as long. The kids love to add it to their milk! I doubled the recipe and made 8 half-pints. However, I already gave one away and have one in the fridge.

Here is my new basement shelves. Thanks to my dear friends who helped me get them done because these are 2-3 man project! This is my second set of shelves and I love them! I do have more to fill them, but this is what I got accomplished this morning. (sorry about the blurry picture!)

I didn't take a picture of the loveseat, but I ended up using bricks on the leg that broke. I tried to repair the leg of the loveseat, but it was too far gone.

What have you gotten accomplished with your project list?

Thanks for reading!

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. 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,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Simplify The Life and Mind: Home

Simplifying the life and mind is to get rid of the stuff not needed anymore. Needing less to live better.

When I talk about simplifying my life, I am not talking just about the material things I own. I am talking about the commitments I have, the obligations I try to meet, and the people in my life as well as our homes.

For now, I will talk about the home and things we have in it. As this series goes along, we will get to the rest of the simplifying of our lives. As you will see, this all flows together and one thing will lead to more.

In my home, the worse the house becomes, the worse I become. I become grouchy, disorganized, lazy, cluttered, emotional, and very frustrated. I like my house to be clean. Not a perfect clean, just a liveable clean. You will never see the dusting done every week and the dining room table totally cleared. But you will see things being picked up, put away, and cleared walkways. That is my goal every week.

What does your home look like? Is it something you can live with or is it cluttered with things?

Things can become the issue to simplified living. We have things that we become emotionally attached to for some reason or another. That can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. I always need to ask myself why I am attached to things. Too many things becomes a problem to living simply.

For example, my third daughter's room is a constant disaster. She is a collector of things. She finds a purpose for almost everything. While that can be an admirable trait, she is disorganized. She loses things very, very quickly. If she was clean and tidy, she would know that everything should have a place and put it there. If there is no space, the thing should find another home or she needs to discard something else. She could put something down and not be swallowed by the mess in her room.

Truth be told, my office could be considered a mess. I am constantly working on cleaning and organizing the desk and the room. I have learned to deal with the mail right away, to keep a big trash can in there under the desk, and not to keep even a piece a paper if I don't have a purpose for it. I do have a problem with getting things organized in a timely matter, but I try. Having it cleaned up and organized goes a long ways towards my sanity being intact.

So how can you apply this to your home? I have a few tips.

First thing I do is walk into a room and ask myself what bothers me about that room. Is it messy? Is it cluttered? Does it look like a museum of things? I will then proceed to mentally clean the room paying attention to all surfaces: floor, tables, furniture, shelves, counter tops  In the past, I have realized that I have way too many knickknacks, too many pillows, too many small appliances sitting out, too many cans and bottles on top of the  bathroom counter, too much furniture for one room, too many toys, etc.

Then I will go through that room, organizing and decluttering. For the kitchen I will look at what is sitting out on the counter. Sometimes we have small appliances sitting out that are not used daily. Find a place for them. I have cabinet where I stash mine at, but as you can guess, I had to clean that out first to make them fit. I have a lot of things in the kitchen that sit on the counters waiting to be put away in the basement or on the pantry shelves. I tackle that next. If I notice that my cabinets are cluttered, I will go through them and reorganize and get rid of unneeded items. Unbelievably, I can do this once a year and still get rid of a box of things.

Then I will clean the room paying attention to the surfaces of the room. Sometimes a problem comes up then that I didn't see before. Too many knickknacks, something the kids stash on a table behind something else, DVDs overflowing the shelves holding them, etc. I will declutter those items and keep cleaning.

Step back and take a look at your work.

Do you feel better? Do you like your sense of accomplishment? Do you feel calmer knowing that the room is clean and ready for you?

I love that feeling!

Simplifying life starts with you and your home. Starting with a calm, peaceful place for you to come home to will kick down the door to the rest of your life.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Decluttering Life and Mind

Lately I have been doing a lot of decluttering at home. As I alluded to in Monday's post, I have been noticing things. The more cluttered I am in mind, the worse the stress seems. If my house is really messy and very disorganized, I feel disorganized and sort of lost with what I need to do.

If I go through a pile of papers and deal with them, I feel better. If I clean, tidy, and organize a shelf, I feel better. I feel less stressed when I accomplish something. Going through a pile of papers is an accomplishment. Cleaning off a shelf is an accomplishment. Fixing the broken lampshade is an accomplishment.

I like feeling accomplished. It's good for my self.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a clean house. More times than not, I think we can be hard on ourselves about having a clean house and we unintentionally cause more stress. I can't have any more stress in my life. So having a perfectly clean house is not going to happen.

However, I like knowing where everything is. I like having a place for everything and for everything to be in place. When my house gets cluttered and disorganized, things are hard to find. I get stressed out, disorganized, and very cluttered in my mind. Then I tend to get angry and take that out on the people around me with unkind words and reactions. That is not the kind of home I want or life that I want to live.

What this all comes down to is the need to simplify. If I have too much stuff, too much clutter, and I struggle to find things, my life is not the simple life that I need to have. Part of living the simple life is being organized and getting rid of the clutter that intrudes on your life and mind.

I know people who have tons of things because of their jobs, hobbies, kids, and whatnot. You would never know they do because everything has a place and they are organized. They know they may need some tools and can find them right away. They have all the sports things put away and if that closet becomes too full, they declutter it and get rid of anything that is not needed anymore. Their lives are much more simple because they know where everything is and when they have no need of something anymore, they give it away.

That is the simplicity that I strive to achieve in my life. It is not difficult to get to this life. I will talk more about this next week.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Frugal Tip Friday: Pasta Leftovers

This week's frugal tip is an off-shoot of yesterday's post about Corn Casserole. In the tips and suggestions, I have listed one about using up the ends of pasta that are in boxes. I don't let these gems go to waste! This is still food and money spent. I have actually helped people clean out their food pantries and kitchens and they will throw these away. What?!?!

Don't do that! Let me help you!

Invest in one of these:

I use these containers a lot! They are so handy!  I don't use them for cereal either although I should. I use them for leftover pasta and chocolate chips. If I have a little bit left in the bottom of a box or bag of pasta, I will dump them into the container. Then I will use the pasta in dishes such as Corn Casserole and Cavatini where I don't care what the pasta in them looks like. Besides, the kids think it is fun to see all the different shapes!

If you don't want to pay full price for one of these cereal containers, you don't have to. I have bought several at garage sales and thrift shops. They can be found for less than a $1.00!

A word to the wise: do not mix your egg noodles with your regular pasta. They don't cook the same and sometimes cause soupy casseroles. Soupy casseroles are not a good thing.

Have a great day! Thanks for reading!

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

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!

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!