Saturday, May 14, 2011

31 days to clean week 2

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

I won't bore you with all of this week's cleaning details. Instead I'll give you a quick easy iced coffee recipe (if you want to call it that). While I was cleaning out my pantry, I found a box of Folger's coffee sticks. I was throwing away quite a few things and this box almost made it to the trash, but I restrained myself. The coffee has a few more months until it expires, so I figured that is enough time to enjoy them. I don't drink coffee regularly, but sweet cold coffees are nice.

The instructions are simple. Empty the coffee stick into a tall drinking glass. Add only a tiny bit of hot water (enough to dissolve the coffee). Fill the rest with your choice of milk, then add chocolate syrup to taste. Stir and enjoy.

See? I told you it was easy! Instead of chocolate syrup (and sometimes even with it) I Will add some yummy international delight creamer on occasion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kid's Activities and Crafts

Summer is right around the corner! For many of us that means having kids around for 6 extra hours each day. I've compiled a list of fun crafts and activities that may come in handy...

Painted Rock Bees by Crafts by Amanda

Cardboard Tube Farm Animals also by Crafts by Amanda

or try Paper Roll Birthday Crowns by Creative Jewish Mom

Pom Pom bouquets also by Creative Jewish Mom

Friendship bracelet with homemade loom by Homemade Gifts Made Easy

Tic Tac Toe on Tile by Rainy Tuesday Morning

Lily Pad Hop game by Toddler Approved

Activity Bags by Walking by the Way

Other ideas:
Trails in local parks
outdoor scavenger hunts
let them run through sprinklers
playing with sparklers (if they're mature enough)
a bottle of bubbles
sidewalk chalk

Monday, May 9, 2011

My coupon organizer

The other day I shared some couponing blogs with you. Today I'd like to share my coupon organizer.

When I decided to start clipping coupons I knew I had to have a good way to keep them organized. I have dipped into couponing off and on and have tried various methods, but none of them worked for me.

I found Money Saving Mom's organizer and I tweaked it to fit my own needs. The first thing I had to do was resist buying a new container. I could have easily gotten a new one for under $3, but I really didn't want to spend any money at all. At home I found my green basket, which is perfect for me.

This is what it looks like when its filled and ready to go:

These are the papers that you saw on top:

I always keep my latest copy of Costco coupons in my basket. Inside of that I keep any restaurant coupons, car repair deals and other like things.

Other than that I keep circulars (this week I have two) and right now I have a booklet that goes to a specific store.

Inside of the up-to-date circular I keep coupons, like so:

When I get a new circular I look through it, then I try to match up coupons. If I find some good deals, I keep all of the coupons inside of my folded up circular. When I get to the store, I take the full circular along with the inserted coupons (sometimes I just take the whole basket in). Some stores have advertisements, but then you can't find the info in the store. I find it helpful to be able to look in the paper while I'm shopping.

Some weeks I may find more deals than others. Last week, for instance, I shopped at four stores, because I was able to match up lots of good deals, but this week I'm only going two places. In other words, I'm not loyal to any one place!

Ok, so if you are at my basket and you lift up that section of papers this is what you will see:
Crystal uses envelopes with a piece of cardstock sticking up. What I decided to do was use a half of a sheet of paper and fold it into a file folder shape. I like things to be more open and an envelope seemed to constricting to me! :)

Crystal was so kind as to write out all of the categories she uses. I think there's over 50! I combined a few, so I don't have quite that much, but it is definitely useful to have them broken down and alphabetized.

If you take one of my packets out this is what you will see:

This particular section (hair under the hygiene group) has quite a bit, but most of them just have a few. When you have just a few it makes it easy to find what you're looking for without taking too much time.

A few extra notes:
  • When I get coupons ready for a shopping trip I double check expiration dates
  • At the end of each month I go through all of my coupons and recycle the expired ones.
  • I file store coupons under their proper category. For example: if I get a Pampers coupon that is only good at Target, it goes in the diapers section NOT a special Target file.
  • I usually keep a pair of scissors in my basket.
I think that's it! Let me know of any tricks you have, too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you! I wouldn't enjoy this day without these guys:

Tabitha, our perfect child, with her mom (that's me!)

Seth, the one who has taught us the most in life.

Patricia, the biggest helper I can find.

Ian, our joy bringer.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Recently I've posted info on our frugal Easter gifts, Buzz Operation deal and even our trips to hardware stores for kid's workshops. Can you tell we've been trying to spend less?

Enoch and I would really like to get out of debt, so I've been trying to cut corners on our expenses. I started subscribing to the Sunday paper for the great price of $.59 a week. It is most definitely paying for itself as I easily use upwards of $10 a week on coupons.

I use blogs and the weekly circulars to find the best deals. I was so excited to walk into a Rite Aid last week and come out with 2 pairs of nail clippers (which we needed) and tweezers. I only paid 39 cents out of pocket. These sort of scenarios are happening more and more.

I thought I'd share with you some of the blogs I keep in my Google reader. They help me find lots of good deals. They also inform you of freebies that companies send out, which are great to get in the mailbox, but on top of that, they even come with great coupons.

Here is a starter list of blogs worth looking into:
Do you have any good websites you'd like to share?

Friday, May 6, 2011

31 Days to Clean Week 1

This week started off strong for me... as do all new projects! I love the flexibility Joyful Mothering is giving us. We can do 5 days a week or we can do the full 7. I aimed for 7 and made it to 5 (maybe 6 if I get to do it tomorrow.)

Some of the tasks were easier, thanks to some recent cleaning. None of the jobs were difficult although I started losing steam a couple of days ago, making microwave cleaning a little more difficult than it should be.

Pictured is my list of reasons that I want a clean home. It is hanging inside a cabinet door... a place I can see it often.

And my list is....
         1. Hospitality
         2. Hygiene/Health
         3. Happiness

I wanted to keep it simple, so I could be reminded often... and so I can memorize it!

I'm linking this up to Joyful Mothering.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

6 Composting Tips

I've been trying to get the hang of composting for a little while and I've learned some tricks along the way.
Ian thought he'd taste the new dirt. It's not very good!

1. Don't use an indoor compost bin. The idea of reusing the same bin over and over without giving it a good scrub everyday makes me queasy. Instead, I keep a little dish (or a big one if I have a lot of scrapes) next to my work area and dump it in the compost bin 1-3 times a day. The dish goes into the sink and gets washed with all it's relatives.

2. Its ok to throw food away. When I first started composting I used to salvage all food scraps. Then we had a raccoon visitor, so I stopped composting for a while. Nowadays, I basically just use fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grinds and tea bags. All leftovers still hit the trash can. I even take breaks from composting. This week I threw away scraps for about 4 days. Then I picked up where I left off. The world still moves on!

3. Easy ways to keep your bin moist. I have two "tricks" for keeping my compost moist. Sometimes I fill my bowl (from tip #1) with water before I add it to the bin. Other times, I take the lid off on rainy days and let the rain do its work. See example:

4. Keep a stash of fall leaves. I gathered a lawn bag full of dead leaves in the spring. :) When there is a thin layer of food scraps in my compost bin, I cover them with a thin layer of the leaves. Compost bins are supposed to have layers of green and brown, so this makes that step much easier.

5. Have the kids help. They think its a fun chore! Even this tip can't be used all the time though! Notice where my daughter's face it? Well, we currently have lots of fruit flies in the bin (because the food scraps weren't fully covered with leaves!). When a child opens the bin you don't want them to have such an unpleasant surprise! Thankfully this isn't the case all of the time!
6. DON'T compost weeds. If you weed your garden, do not add the weeds to your compost bin. If you do, then you will have weeds growing in the dirt that you took the time to cultivate!

Composting gives me a little peace of mind. I feel like I'm adding just a little less to the landfills. I also look forward to a nice bounty of dirt... maybe one day I'll even grow something! What a concept for such a black thumb as myself!

I am linking this post to Smockity Frock's "How does your garden grow?"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Laundry lessons

Yesterday was one of those crazy "gotta-find-clothes-for-everyone" mornings. Believe me I do lots of laundry (usually at least two loads a day). But over the weekend I hadn't had much time to keep up. Sunday night I was able to wash one load.

Come Monday morning this is what I was thinking:
  • There has to be a clean pair of underwear for Patricia somewhere in this stack of clean clothes.
  • Seth can wear the same pants twice, right?
  • I'm sure glad kids don't mind wearing mismatching socks these days!
All the while I was kicking myself for not washing a "better" load of laundry the night before. Most of the load was bedding and not very useful on a frantic school day! Washing sheets almost made me feel like I needed to apologize. Have you ever felt like that?

These verses popped into my head:

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?" Matthew 16:6-9

The disciples forgot bread and they were afraid that the Lord would reprimand them for it. He didn't. Instead He basically said that He would supply all of their needs, even if they forget things sometimes.

The thought of it gave me peace during my rushed morning. The Lord wasn't mad at me for doing the "wrong" load of laundry. In the end everyone got off to school just fine and I was able to get quite a bit of dirty clothes cleaned throughout the day.

Its nice to have Scripture in your head and heart so the Lord can bring it to mind just when we need it.