Friday, August 12, 2011

Thrift Score–A Mad House

Tuesday I had to be out and about early.  A lot earlier than normal.  When I finished my errands I thought I would make a stop at the local thrift.  I didn’t realize that I was arriving about six minutes before it opened.  Can you believe what I saw?

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I don’t know if it’s like this every morning but it was crazy!  It was like black Friday at the thrift store!  When they didn’t open right on time, people started banging on the door.  Elderly ladies were talking about not being able to get buggies!  It was a mad house I tell ya.  There must have been at least fifty people standing there!

I, of course, made a bee line for the furniture.  There was a couple of promising night stands, but I’m on strict orders of no more projects so I had to let those pass.  Next I hit the dishes.  I found a couple of plastic coffee cups.  Perfect for a play kitchen.  Then I buzzed over to my favorite spot, the craft section.  It was packed.  I was a little bummed by this because I didn’t expect it to be that popular.  I still got some good finds though.  Here is my loot!

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I think my total was $3.21.  The magnetic snaps were $.050 a piece.  A steal!

My favorite are these wooden spools.  I was so happy that they used tape and didn’t write on the wood!  I HATE it when they do that.  The one on the right is a nylon thread.

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Look at the delicious label on top. 

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And here is the bag of thread after I opened it. 

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I bought it because I saw these mixed in the bag.

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Mini wooden spools!  And look at the labels on top!  My favorite is below second from the left.  I even love the thread color. 

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The other spools aren’t too shabby either. 

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See the one on the bottom left?  It says Fruit of the Loom!  Most of these are Styrofoam with a couple plastic ones.  Not sure what to do with these.  Any suggestions? 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Snack Attack

Can you believe that it’s the time for school to be starting back?  While I’m ready to get rid of this heat, I almost didn’t realize that it was that time already! 

This year I am going to have to pack snacks, which I have never done before.  Oh, sure sure I’ve packed snacks for family use occasionally, but somehow when you have to pack it every day ( or three days a week) it adds on a little pressure. 

I’m relatively sure I can come up with healthy choices, but what to put it in became the dilemma.  I needed something non-breakable, easy to open, relatively inexpensive, and most importantly food safe!  It astonishes me how much food storage is still out there that doesn’t say BPA free! 

When I think of storing food there are two names that comes to mind, Pyrex and Ball.  I knew Pyrex wouldn’t work, but maybe Ball would.  I decided to try some Ball freezer jars!  I found two sizes at WM, and decided to give them both a try.

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I am so glad I did!  The smaller 8 oz size is perfect for cheese cubes, baby carrots, trail mix, and Freetos!  The bigger 16 oz is just the right size for bigger chips. 

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The only down side to this is that I am such a container freak that two packs of 5 of the 8 oz just isn’t enough.  When I had a coupon a couple of weeks back for $1.00 off I had to buy another pack . . . and still don’t think it’s enough. 

I’ve been debating the idea of making some reusable snack bags, but just couldn’t figure out how they would make things simpler.  Sure it would mean less packaging, but how in the world do you get all of the little left over food bits out of all the nooks and thread.  I think this is a much better solution.  And now we can make our own personal sized chip backs without buying the individual sized ones and a much higher price.  Totally justifies me buying more freezer jars right?

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Look What I Found at the Book Store

Here is book three on my night stand.  I haven’t gotten to it, yet but I’m really excited to crack it open.

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I was really surprised when I came up on this at a random big book book store.  I hardly ever buy new books.  My husband goes through them like . . . . well like I have no idea what.  Let’s just say he had totes in the basement that I’ve been trying to talk him into doing something with.  I could use that space to store all my cool stuff (he would read as junk), but I digress.

When I saw this at the big book store I decided it was worthy of a splurge.  See what is inside?

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One day people, one day . . . .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Reading

One of my favorite parts of summer has always been reading.  Every summer I would faithfully go to the local library and sign up for the summer reading program . . . even when I was in high school!  Yes I did! 

Summer reading was something that I really wanted to pass on to my family.  While I was at the library signing us up I noticed this  . . .

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You may have noticed from the lack of recipes or food related posts that I am not a foodie.  I can cook, but generally my clumsiness leads to too much of a mess, and since I HATE doing dishes . . . and there you go. 

One of the things I really wanted to see during a trip to the Smithsonian was Julia Child’s kitchen.  (If you go here you can take a virtual tour!)  I had heard that they took it apart bit by bit, cataloguing everything to rebuild it in the basement of the Smithsonian.  I just had to see it.

Then after hearing rave reviews about the movie Julie/Julia, I decided to watch it but was disappointed.  I found the Julia parts really interesting so  thought I would like this too.  And it has not disappointed.  It is so interesting how life really  has not changed that much in the last 60ish years.  Julia and her pin pal discuss things like MSG, politics, and using the convince of frozen food verses making a healthy meal from scratch.  Sound familiar?  I’m enjoying it so much that I might have to read Julia’s  My Life in France. 

The next book on my night stand is Ronda Rich’s What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should).  You would think I really didn’t need to read this wouldn’t you? 

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I started out reading Ronda’s column in my local paper, and loved it.  LOVED.  IT.  I don’t know how many times her column would seem to shadow my own life.  I borrowed her book The Town That Came A-Courtin' from the library and fell in love with the characters.  I just had to read more Ronda. 

I was just a few chapters in when I had to put it down.  Not because I wasn’t enjoying it.  I was.  And not because I didn’t agree with it.  I did.  Mostly.  Not to give too much away, but Ronda says that Southern women must wear make-up.  Ok, ladies.  Confession time.  I would say 90% of the time I don’t wear make-up.  No foundation, no mascara, and absolutely no lipstick.  So it started me thinking.  Ronda says that you have to put your best foot forward, and always look your best.  And I agree.  I just feel more me without it.  But sometimes I have those down days, so maybe if I put on a little gloss I would feel better.  Or maybe I’m not really a “Southern Woman” . . . maybe I’m a Southern Country Woman . . . or an Appalachian Woman?  I’m sure she didn’t intend for this to cause inner reflection, but it has. 

By the way, today is Book Lover’s Day!  So what’s on your night stand?  Have you tried either of these books? 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Simplify Your Life Week: My Recipe Book

This is a project that I have been thinking about for a long time.  Every week I seemed to struggle with what to make for dinner.  I would comb through cook books trying to find something to make, and writing up elaborate shopping lists only to do it again the next week.  It just seemed like a big waste of time.  When I would ask Hubs for some suggestions  for dinner, the answer was always “I don’t know.  You know what we have.”  I thought how much easier it could be if I had some sort of menu to chose from, and then it hit me.  Why not have a single place to look for menu suggestions, and then an actual menu of things that we had the ingredients to? 

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I have all my favorite recipes in these Avery 76010 pouches.  They are like regular sheet protectors, but thicker and with a little flap over the top.   I really wanted to laminate, but it was just too expensive.  I found these on clearance at WM months ago.

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It took we a while to go through all my recipes and print them out.  I actually printed these onto cheap cardstock.  That way they are more sturdy.  I also like that I can attach little post-its  under the pouches to keep with the recipe.  Here are my notes so I will know how much good luck collards to by for the New Year.

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Other recipes jut got slipped right in the pouches.  Here is my Martha!

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This was clipped from Parade Magazine.  It’s Zac’s recipe for Campfire Chili.  It isn’t in a pouch, because I actually copied his whole cookbook and put it in here.  You can see it to the left.   Even though he had this great idea to print his on removable index cards, the book is just too nice to mess up.  And I am a messy cook.  Hence the need for pouches.

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I also put recipes that I have clipped, but haven’t tried in regular sheet protectors and put them in here too.   Makes me feel less committed.

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And here is the back of my book.  It’s a Vegetable & Fruit Storage cheat sheet.  Did you know that you can’t put apples next to lettuce?  Well I didn’t.  Or that squash went on the top shelf?  Well, I didn’t know that either.  I actually just made this, because it seems like I am forever throwing vegetables away.  So maybe this will make things simpler.  I sure hope so!

How do you meal plan and store your recipes?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simplify Your Life: the Kitchen

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I really think the heart of any home is in the kitchen.  And that’s why a lot of the projects that I have tackled have been in the kitchen. 

1.  Fridge Organization



When I saw this picture on Pinterest, I knew I had to do this!  I know when some people looked at this they thought it was a little OCD.  When I looked at it I though how great it would be to solve the Wurze-itat disease that my fridge seems to have.  You know, that cottage cheese that you just bought but you can’t seem to find until a week after the past due date because it was wedged in behind the leftovers.  Yeah that disease.  

I’m totally going to spare you the before picture of disorganized refrigerator, because it was in bad need of a cleaning out.  It wasn’t really that bad, but I think we’ve all seen the inside of a refrigerator.  But now look . . .

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(Que Angels singing)

Isn’t that much better.  I didn’t really need all the baskets like in the inspiration photo, mainly because it would take up more space then we have.  I did really like the idea of having all the sandwich accoutrement in a single basket.  It is SO much easier.  Highly recommend doing that if you fix a lot of sandwiches. 

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I also have a smaller basket for dairy products because of the aforementioned problem.  This doesn’t take up a lot of room and I know exactly where my cottage cheese and sour cream is.  There is another small basket that now holds cucumbers.  Did you know those were suppose to go on the top shelf?

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2.  Writing Expiration Date on Food

A lot of people implement the first in first out system.  This is the same system that grocery and drug stores are suppose to follow.  It’s basically what it says, the older food (or first in) should be the product pulled to the front so it’s the first out.  This doesn’t really work for me, so I use a modified system.  The idea is sound, but the problem for me comes when I get behind in putting everything up in my pantry.  Or when I need to move things around to get more space.  Instead, I write the expiration date on the front or top of most of my food or over the counter medicines.  It really doesn’t take that long, and that way I am sure that I am grabbing the oldest first.  I can also see at a glance what I need to make sure I include in my meal planning to use up so no waste.  I highly recommend this.

Tomorrow I’ll post number three, my recipe Book.

So do you do any of these things in your kitchen?  Or do you have any helpful hints to keep things simplified in the kitchen?

Linked at The Frugal Homemaker

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Simplify Your Life Week!

 

Did you know this is Simply Your Life Week!  You may remember that I have been  trying to simplify things around me for a while now, so I was pretty excited when I realized this was coming up.  At first I thought about organizing tasks around the house and asking you guys to do it along with me.  But then I realized that it would be just too much work.  And not simple at all.  Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

I realized instead that I should just share some the things that I have been working on this summer that has seemed to be successful in helping me cut out waste,  in both time and space.

The first thing is my android phone.  I really wasn’t interested at all in getting a smart phone, until a friend of mine showed me how she could scan products to find where to get it the cheapest.  SOLD!  It’s hard to justify the cost of a smart phone and the data plan, especially to save a few bucks on juice boxes.  But after having it for a while I feel like this is worth the extra costs and here’s why:

1.  It’s a camera

2.  It’s an MP3 player

3.  It’s a kindle (albeit small)

4.  It’s a baby sitter/tutor – The loads of free downloadable games are a perfect child-distractor (especially great for grocery shopping and restaurants).  Extra bonus: A lot of the games are educational, like flash cards and tangrams  Huge Minus:  Can we say addiction?

5.  It’s a blog reader – Strangely enough it reduces the amount of time I spend on the computer!  When I have a few minutes I can click on the Google Blog Reader App and read a few at a time, without having to be tied to the computer.  And I am less likely to look at random stuff and get sucked in. 

So basically my android is like an electric Swiss army knife . . . it even comes with a flashlight.  But here is the kicker.  All of the above does make my purse a lot less cluttered, but my android does another function.  It helps me clean my house . . . . . . honest!  I’m not joking.  There is an app that I use called Checkmark.  It’s an app for making to-do lists.  Of course I use the free version, and  I have set it up on my phone with a list of repeating chores that I need to do every week.  I originally got the cleaning lists from Money Saving Mom and Real Simple but adapted it to my needs. 

My week of chores looks like this:

Monday

  • Clean Upstairs Bathroom
  • Clean Front Bathroom
  • Clean Master Bathroom
  • Sort Hot Spots

Tuesday

  • Disinfect Doorknobs and Light Switches
  • Dust
  • Vacuum Main Floor
  • Coupons

Wednesday

  • Wipe Out Refrigerator
  • Scrub and Disinfect Kitchen Sink
  • Swiffer Kitchen Floor
  • Wipe Down Outside of Refrigerator, Stove, & Dishwasher
  • Wipe Down Table and Chairs

Thursday

  • Laundry
  • Wash Upstairs Bedding
  • Wash Master Bedroom Bedding
  • Sort Hot Spots
  • Wipe Down Outside of Washer and Dryer

Friday – Catch Up Day before the Weekend

I also have Monthly reminders for other things like:

  • Clean & Deodorize Microwave – monthly on the second Wednesday
  • Wipe Down Fronts of Kitchen Cabinets – monthly on the second Wednesday
  • Dust Ceiling Fans – monthly on the first Tuesday
  • Vacuum and wipe air vents – monthly on the first Tuesday
  • Dust Molding – every 2 weeks on Tuesday
  • Clean Stove Burner Grates – every 2 weeks on Wednesday
  • Check Batteries in Fire Alarm – every 6 months on day 1
  • Flip mattresses – every 3 months on day 1

I know that home organization binders work for a lot of people, but for me it’s just too much to keep up with.  This way I can keep up with what I need to do, and I get the satisfaction of checking things off my list! 

So what do you guys do to simplify your life?  If you have a smart phone, do you have a favorite time saving app?