February Update to Good Reads

It’s been a busy month, but here are some of the great books and movies that we enjoyed in February ….

 

Books:

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget (Crystal Paine): The author of one of my favorite Blogs (Money Saving Mom) puts many of her penny pinching ideas in book form. (Feb 2012)

Organized Simplicity (The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living) (Tsh Oxenreider): Another favorite Blogger (Tsh from Simple Mom) shares a 10-day plan for simplifying your house and clearing out the clutter to focus on the more meaningful parts. I will keep this book handy especially for all of the homemade cleaners and toiletries recipes that she shares in the Appendices. For an inside peek in to the process of writing this book, you can check out her post HERE. (Feb 2012)

 

Movies:

Downton Abbey (Season 2) - The captivating PBS series continues with lots of action and drama (and beautiful costumes and scenery to boot!) (Feb 2012)

The Help - a MUST-SEE movie about friendship, prejudice, and the value of every person set in 1960′s Mississippi (Feb 2012)

Moneyball - an interesting look at baseball and one man’s battle with himself and the system (Feb 2012)

 

If you are interested in learning more about some of the other books and movies that we’ve enjoyed, you can always click on the Good Reads page.

WFMW: Hide those Ugly Utility Shelves

Entryway Shelf Unit - BEFORE

I’m not really proud of the fact that I have a large utility shelf in my entryway.

I will readily admit it.

This “beauty” originally lived in our outside storage. Last summer, when we built permanent shelves, this unit became homeless. Ultimately, we planned for it to go in our attic. While it was waiting for a “lift”, it hung out near our front door.

After a few days, I discovered the wonder of having this shelf where it was. Shoe baskets now had a home. Items that needed to be delivered had a place to reside. On Sunday mornings, all of our Bibles and bags could gather together, ready to go out the door.

I started a closet rearranging project and found that there were boxes of pictures I needed to go through.

Where to put them, though?  *hmmm*

Yes!

The kids outdoor equipment?

You guessed it?

On the shelf.

All of this was fabulous. It looked, however, HIDEOUS.

I imagined greeting our guests, “Welcome to our home! Won’t you come in! Oh, don’t mind all the stuff right here that you’re walking past. It’s just all our stuff. Don’t mind that!”

That was NOT going to work.

A middle of the night *EUREKA* helped me to discover the amazing solution.

Voila ….

Entryway Shelf - AFTER

Target shower curtain: $25

Target shower curtain Hooks: $10

TOTAL: $35

Time needed: 15 min.

A beautiful, easy, quick, and versatile solution.

I will readily admit that you can do this MUCH cheaper than I did. This shower curtain happens to perfectly match the curtains in our living room, so I knew that I had to go with it. This specific curtain also complements the theme colors of our house. You could easily pick up fabric or a curtain from your local thrift store. They also tend to have curtain hooks, or you could use some cute ribbon.

I imagine you could use this same idea in bedrooms, playrooms, school rooms, and kitchens.

This setup gives me great flexibility. During the week, I can move the curtain to one side and we can easily access the stuff. It only takes a minute to hide it in the evening when Dad comes home, or when we are entertaining.

Another great perk, I still retain the flexibility of each item. The shelves can still go up to the attic one day, or even outside in storage if they need to. The shower curtain may one day go back to being a shower curtain. Who knows!

This definitely WORKS FOR ME!

Helpful Links:

Target Shower Curtains

Target Shower Curtain Hooks

HGTV Shower Curtain Ideas

 

For more great ideas, check out ….

WFMW: Use Coupon Doubling for a Cause

There are lots of resources out there to help with couponing these days. In fact, the whole practice is coming back in to vogue.

What if we started using those savings to help others?

Let me share with you how ….

Couponing can save you and your family hundreds of dollars each month. Recently, I participated in a local grocery store chains super double promotion. They doubled coupons up to $1.99 in value. We ended up saving about $50 all together with our coupons on items that we use everyday. The doubling is an added promotion over and above the value of the coupon.

Now, I’m not an extreme couponer. I do have a binder that I use, but I don’t go pursuing coupons. Other than the Sunday paper, we don’t go to extravagant lengths to get “deals”.

Here are some basic guidelines that I use to keep my couponing from getting out of hand:

  • Don’t clip what you won’t use. If it’s not something already in your house, then you probably don’t need to clip the coupon for it.
  • Don’t buy more than you can reasonably use in a 3-6 month period. Do you really need to buy it now if you aren’t going to use it in the near future?
  • Think about how much room you will need to store these goodies. Where are you going to put all of these things? Do you have room for extras?
  • Don’t let deals become a life priority. There are much more important things in life than getting a great coupon deal. I try not to let couponing take the place of taking care of my families’ needs.

Use your Coupon Doubling for a Cause

We are giving the doubled portion of our take-home from this week’s grocery run to a family in our church that is adopting. This is an easy way for us to meet our goal of saving money, while at the same time helping a cause that we wholeheartedly support.

This week, we saved $50.00 in coupons . $25.00 of that was from the doubling promotion.

 

And if you want to see what a little money can do, read Ann Voskamp’s recent post from today about what giving is doing in Guatemala. (Post: Because saying Thank You can change the World)

If you are interested in helping others, here are some great links to get you started …

Show Hope (Adoption)

Compassion (Impoverished Children)

Samaritan’s Purse (Global Relief)

American Red Cross (Disaster Assistance)

Blood:Water Mission (Fresh water for those without)

International Justice Mission (Protecting the lives of those who are abused and oppressed)

or think of a personal cause or family that you could help

Some great sites for finding coupons include:
Money Saving Mom
Coupon.com
Southern Savers

Using my doubled coupons to help a cause I love, that definitely works for me!

For more great ideas, check out ….

Favorite Links for this week

There have been so many great, inspiring posts this week around the Internet.

Here is just a sampling of some that I have really enjoyed and want to pass on …

 

 

A Holy Experience: The 1 Habit Your New year Can’t Do Without

Money Saving Mom: Free Declutter and Organize Calendar for 2012 
Money Saving Mom: Ask the Readers: What are the best Ipod apps for Stay-at-Home Moms?
(This post, at least reading, had almost 170 comments of great apps that Moms are using to help make their lives easier. Many of these apps are available on the Droid as well as Ipod.)
Money Saving Mom: Free Audiobook: Knowing God by J.I. Packer (from Christian Audio.com)
Large Families on Purpose: Incentives & Rewards for Children’s Behavior
Desiring God: A New Year’s Plea Plan 
Happy Reading!

Weekend Links

 

Here are some weekend links for your encouragement ….

 

Keeping your Family Healthy During Cold and Flu Season (Keeper of the Home)
Scan Artist: Scan your way to an organized life (Simple Mom)
and my favorite ….
Find out how you can donate your unused Halloween Candy to Operation Gratitude (which sends care packages to our troops)

WFMW: Square food Containers

Sometimes it is the little things that make the difference. Sometimes, it is an intentional choice that reaps quite a harvest.
One day, the mess of lids that was my plastic food container assortment became unmanageable. I had every choice possible. There were small circles, big circles, big squares, little squares, rectangles of all sizes. And, to be sure, a few other weird and whacky lids for containers that we had picked up along the way.
And it hit me ….
Why not just stick to rectangle and squares?
Do you remember Tetris?
Squares and rectangles are meant to fit together like a quilt. They are the easiest shapes to put together. Think about the shape of your fridge or your pantry shelves. Think of all the lost space around … say a watermelon. How much of that watermelon is going to be eaten compared to how much space it takes up in the fridge?
Did you know that square containers store up to 25% more on a shelf than round containers in the same space? (according to Rubbermaid)
Could you use more space …
in your fridge?
in your pantry?
in your cabinets?
on your shelves?
Think about storage tubs, which almost entirely come in squares and rectangles. Why should our food storage be any different?
Squares and rectangles are easy to stack and organize.
And as an added bonus, some sets come with common lid sizes so that you can use the same lids on multiple size containers.
Where do I use my square containers?
  • In the pantry, for bulk food (like brown rice, cereal, etc)
  • In the cabinets, for snack foods (like nuts, crackers)
  • In the fridge, for leftovers
  • In the freezer, for food I’ve prepped ahead of time
  • In the school room, for supplies (like crayons, colored pencils, markers, calendar pieces, etc)
Where could you use some extra space by changing to a different shape container?
Helpful Links:

RubberMaid Food Storage

Tupperware

The Container Store

For more great ideas, check out ….

WFMW: The Power of Index Cards

I’m a list person. I readily confess it.

Since there’s no helping it,  I’m always trying to find a better way to organize and make my lists work for me.

Recently, I posted about a great online website called Evernote which really helps me organize my long term lists. HERE is my post on using Evernote to save your lists.

Everyday lists, though, are a completely different challenge.

I have found, dear friends, the power of index cards.

Why notecards?

  • Index cards are sturdy. They don’t tear as easily as regular paper and they don’t stick together. Even if a card gets wet, it’s not completely lost.
  • Index cards are limited in their space. Those of us who are list makers tend to over detail when  we write and notecards force you to simplify. Lists, thus, are cleaner and simpler because they have to be.
  • Index cards are super portable. Unlike paper, which may have to be folded, shoved and the like, cards fit nicely in most any pocket, pouch, purse, or bag.
  • Index cards come in different sizes and colors. I tend to like the 3×5 size because they are small and compact, but they come in lined, unlined, and various colors depending on your preferences.
  • Index cards are economical. You can buy a pack inexpensively, especially if you stock up during back-to-school sales.
  • They are recyclable, just like white paper. I’m not creating more trash by using index cards vs. paper.
  • Index cards can be filed easily. I have a box that sits on my kitchen counter where I put my notecards. I have all kinds of notecards, so I even have dividers to help me with my notecards.

What do you put on your notecards?

  • Everyday tasks that pop in my mind, but haven’t made it on my Master To Do list (which I keep on Evernotes).
  • Doctor’s Appointment Info: At every appointment, I carry an index card with the patient name (one of us), date, doctor, reason for the appointment, any important stats (weight, blood pressure, etc) and then notes on the appointment. It’s handy for the infants to be able to pull out of my box their card from their last wellness appointment and have it handy to see how they’ve grown and changed.
  • Mom Cards: I write down milestones, special moments in our family, and funny quotes from our everyday life on the index cards. These are great to pop out when I scrapbook. When I walk out the door to go to a scrapbooking event, I just grab a card or two from the time period that I will be working on so that I can recall important dates, quotes, memories, etc.
  • Scripture Verses. Some I might hand write and others I type up and print using Avery’s White Index Cards (5388).
  • Shopping Lists. I keep one card pre-labeled for the stores that we visit regularly (Target, BJ’s, etc) and then add to it throughout the week as needs crop up.
  • Tidbits out of books and magazines that I want to remember. When I start a book or magazine, I also start with a blank index card as my bookmark and as I run across pieces of wisdom, links, gift ideas, and things to look up on the computer, I jot them down.
  • Quotes that to remember.
  • Action Items. I take index cards to meetings and write down any “To Do” items. When I get home, I aim to get those things done that day so that I can trash the card. Any remaining items can be easily transferred to either Evernotes or saved with my other “To Do” notecards.

Helpful Links:

Avery Cards

24 Things you can do with an Index Card

The FlyLady (who used 3×5 notecards to revolutionize how she kept house)

WFMW: A Family Closet for a Small Family

If you’ve been reading my Blog this year, you might remember that in March, we did a big clean out of our master closet. It’s been absolutely wonderful to walk in each day and take a deep breath. If you missed it, HERE is the Project Simplify post.

Well,  things have changed again.

We’ve decided to make a family closet where all of the clothes are together.  Hubby, Mom, Emily and Logan all have their items in one place. Reed still has his clothes in his room. Funny enough, he could have joined the rest of us. There was plenty of room.

You might be asking “Why?”

I’m a big fan of large families. One day, I hope to guide a bunch of my own. Until then, though, I find that large families have so much to teach the rest of us. Those folks have got so many parts of life down to a science. Because they have to.

It seems that there are quite a few large families that share one big closet. Probably the most famous is the Duggars. (If you don’t know, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 kids) Just for fun, you have to check it out …

Duggar Family Closet

Duggar Family Closet

What is in our family closet?

  • Clothes for Hubby, Mom, DD1, and DS2
  • Mom’s shoes
  • Full dresser with 5 drawers – two for Hubby, Two for Mommy, one for kid’s undies/socks
  • Two small shelves of Hubby’s gym bag and shoes
  • Extra storage around the top

Here is what my “small” family of 5 has gained by using a family closet:

  • One stop for putting clothes away. I go straight from the laundry with everyone’s items and put them all away. Saved steps. Saved stops. Especially when you have little ones sleeping and you can’t go in their room, I always know that the master closet, where Hubby and I sleep, is available. If I’m up, it’s open. No piles waiting to be put away.
  • In the same turn, if I want to set out clothes for the next day, I can easily gather up everyone’s clothes the night before (regardless of what time it might be when I get to it!)
  • The kid’s gained a new play area. Is that a fort? hideout? pig pen? It’s always changing!
  • We save time by having one place to dress and undress at the beginning and end of the day.
  • All of the children’s clothes are no higher than their eye level. Everything they need (socks, undies, tops, and bottoms) are within arm’s reach for them. This wasn’t possible in their old closet.
  • As you can see from the picture above, there wasn’t much change in the feel of our closet. It doesn’t feel like everything is crammed in at all.
  • It helps us limit our clothing purchases. We intentionally try to have a small collection of clothes. We are trying to be mindful of the needs of many others around the world who have needs. Our saving money is limited, in a very small way, our demand. We can also turn around with our saved money and very easily direct it to needs (both local and global).

So here’s a pic of our new closet.

It definitely works for me!!

 

Check out other great tips on Works-for-Me-Wednesdays at We are THAT family.

 

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