Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, four miles

4.06 miles @ 6:30 am
forty-three minutes, fifty-eight seconds

There is an excessive heat warning in our area for the entire week.

July 15, ten miles

10.47 miles @ 6:30 am
one hour, fifty nine minutes, forty seconds

I wanted to quit at about mile 7. I didn't. For one thing, I was still three miles from my car. That's why I make sur my route does not require me to pass my car because I am afraid I would quit.

Then, my gps watch showed I burned 1170 calories. That's motivating.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, five miles

five miles @ 6:30 am
53 minutes 23 seconds

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Door to door sales

We have had a lot of door to door solicitors lately. Each summer we have a handful but this summer it seems extreme.

This is problematic for a few reasons.

First, we have had a some bad experiences. More than once we have made purchases we later regretted.

Once, it was magazine subscriptions. I placed an order and then changed my mind. I requested the refund I thought I was "guaranteed." After a big hassle we only received part of our money back.

Another time one of my husbands students was selling Cutco knives. We spent over $300 that we didn't have on knives we didn't really need. (That was exactly door to door.)

Yet another time we had someone come by to offer us a free estimate on siding replacement. We told the young man that came to the door that the was no way we would be able to get our siding replaced anytime soon. (I had just stopped working to stay home with our daughter.) We made it clear, someone could come give us an estimate but we would not be buying anything. When the guy came to give the estimate he hadn't been given that information. He was giving us the hard sell. I'm sure the job of the person who came to the door was only to set appointments. He didn't care if we were going to buy siding or not.

Lastly, we had a Jehovah's Witness come by once. It was a young boy (maybe 12 years old.) In trying to be polite, my husband listened to what he had to say. In retrospect, he should have said we are already members of a church that we are happy with. Ever since then (and it has been a few years) this boy has been coming several times a year. He has his hand outs and says his spiel. Though it is harmless, it is still a hassle. (Not exactly a door to door sales but similar enough.)

In addition to our experiences, my husband and I both tend to be suckers. Send a young person to our door and it is hard for us to tell them no. For that reason, neither of us wants to be the one to hear the sales pitch. I try to avoid answering the door. That only deals with part of the issue. That still leaves my husband having to say no. Usually he does, but that is not guaranteed.

I came up with a family policy. We don't buy anything door to door. That is not exactly true. We will buy Girl Scout cookies and the occasional candy bar. For the most part, we don't buy door to door. We always have the option to but it is nice being able to say, "We don't buy door to door."

I am sharing this today because of a couple experiences I have had recently. The first happened a couple weeks ago when I arrived home from picking the kids up from summer school. As I pulled in the driveway, I saw a young woman waiting by my front door. I knew what was coming. She started in with her friendly banter, asking me questions, telling me what she was working toward, and explaining how she was going to earn her points. I feel sorry for those kids. They are out in the summer heat, trying to sell products to people that they don't need and usually don't want. This time was different than any other experiences I have had because this young lady had a severe speech impediment. She apologized for it and explained that this was to help her with her speech and communicatioin skills. I explained our policy and after trying a little longer, she left. This really irritated me. This company is using kids with disabilities to play on the emotions of people hoping they will buy a product because they feel sorry for these kids. I think it is dispicable.

A couple days ago we had another young woman come by and this time she had a foreign accent, which she apologized for. I again explained our policy and after trying to convince me to change my mind, she finally left. I refuse to reward companies who use these kinds of tactics. I feel sorry for these kids and would like to help them but will not help the company they are working for. I absolutely refuse to help a company profit who uses tactics as deplorable as these. I feel like they are taking advantage of these kids and their disabilities (or other disadvantages) and are trying to take advantage of me. I wish I could think of something else to do. These practices must be working, otherwise they wouldn't do it. So, I'm not falling for it, telling everyone I know about it, and sending it out into blogland hoping others will do the same.

I think it's a good policy to begin with. "We don't buy things from door to door salespeople." Period. No need to explain. These recent experiences have only validated my decision to implement that policy.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, ten miles

ten miles @ 6:45 am
one hour, 56 minutes

It was hot and I am tired. My running partner wants us to run a marathon in October. I don't see how we are going to do it. We would have to make the run we did today another time and half. Right now I'm thinking, "No, thanks." When I look at my GPS watch and it says we burned 1000 calories, though, that is pretty motivating.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 7, five miles

five miles @ 6:30 am
55 minutes, four seconds

July 5, four miles

four miles @ 6:30 am
43 minutes, 25 seconds

July 2, five and a half miles

five and a half miles @ 7:40 am
one hour, three minutes, thirty one seconds

I had to run without my running partner today, so I started much later than normal. It was blazing hot and I felt sick when I was finished. That is why I should run earlier. I also need to find some way to keep cool.

June 29, three and a half miles

three and a half miles @ 6:30 am
thirty seven minutes one second

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, seven miles

seven miles @ 7 am
one hour, 16 minutes, 40 seconds

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, five miles

five miles @ 6:30
53 minutes, 15 seconds

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21, five miles

five miles @ 6:30 am
between 50 & 55 minutes (we ran inside so I didn't have my gps watch plus we ran some on the treadmill and some on the track)

Monday, June 20, 2011

adjusting to summer

In my house, probably like most, there is some adjustment when summer comes. Schedules and routines have to be modified. For us, in addition to my children being off school and home, my husband is as well. I have had several friends say, "That must be nice to have him home all summer." I usually say, "Yeah." But I am thinking, "You would think that would be nice but it is not as great as it sounds."

Usually, there is a period of adjustment and then we all settle into being around each other all the time. Right now, we are still adjusting.

During the school year, my husband is gone a lot. Since I am home all day it often feels like it is the kids and I and then he sometimes joins the three of us. When the end of school comes, suddenly he is around all the time. We have our regular schedules and routines, the way we do things and then he is there throwing a wrench in things.

Then, in the fall we have another period of adjustment. For the past several years each fall has been a different adjustment. In addition to my husband going back to school, one year we had my daughter start preschool, two years later she started kindergarten (half-day) and my son started preschool, the next year she started first grade (full day), this year my son will start kindergarten (our district just switched to full day.) Fall has been a time of a lot of change for us. After this fall, things should start to feel a little more regular.

So far this summer, I haven't yet figured out the best schedule for us. This is the first year the kids have taken summer school so the first four weeks of summer have them gone in the mornings. When I was making our tentative schedule I figured it would be similar to last year. The kids would have morning jobs, we would have some kind of activity, some daily reading, etc. School starts at 8, so there is no time before school to do a morning job. School ends at 12 but we don't get back home until about 12:30. By the time we finish lunch it is already 1. I haven't been able to figure out where to fit in reading, activities, and jobs yet.

The other adjustment I am having to make is having my husband around all the time. As much as I love my husband and enjoy being around him, we are not used to being around each other so much. It can cause quite a bit of tension. Plus, I always think, this summer we are going to split the work 50-50. He is going to learn how to do everything around here. No more is the burden for so much going to be on me.

But, as usually happens, I am just glad to have him around more so I am less annoyed by what he doesn't do. I am less stressed overall because I don't watch other kids in the summer. Some of the burden of the work load is relieved simply because he is here to help with the kids, do some cooking, and help with the dishes. We are no where near 50-50, though.

I know some of it is my fault. We have fallen into the habit we do each summer, which is very much like what we do all year. I still do the majority around here. It is just easier to do things myself. I would prefer he do something with the kids so I can clean or organize. I prefer things be done my way and I get a sense of comfort and accomplishment having cleaned and organized. That doesn't help me in the long run, though. He still doesn't know what needs to be done around the house or how things need to be done. I think he thinks he is doing a great job because he does something. I think something is the minimum. We should be able to have this house really clean and organized with the two of us being home. Especially with the kids being gone all morning five days a week.

We don't have great communication. I've tried to have the conversation about what needs to be done. Since he truly has no idea of everything that needs to be done around here (I'll have to write about how I think his mother created this monster) he says he wants me to give him a list of things to do and he will do them. In reality, he doesn't want me to tell him what to do. He doesn't like feeling like I am bossing him around. He also doesn't like me telling him how to do something.

While yes, I like things to be done a certain way, my standards are very low. It's not like Sleeping with the Enemy  where all the can labels have to be lined up. It's more like when you do the dishes, I don't want to have to come back into the kitchen and finish putting left over food in the fridge (yes, I have had to do that) or if you use a rag to wipe down the counters, please rinse it (tonight I picked up the rag and it was full of pizza sauce.)

I swing from being so irritated and tired of those same things happening over and over to thinking, "Really, is it that big of a deal?" On one hand, no it's not. On the other hand, yes it is. Those are the kinds of things that drive me over the edge during school. When we are not spending time together and he is not home, those are the things that build up. Now, they aren't that big of a deal. But, in about 6-8 months when he is gone several nights a week and a couple weekends in a row. They will be a very big deal.

I have no idea how to figure this out. What I have done to this point, has not worked. I need to get him to do more this summer and all year but I have to get him to do it without feeling like I am telling him what to do. I guess I also need to let go of some things. Which, I have done but I guess I can do more.

Here is what I think I am going to try...
I am going to ask him to do some job every day.

I have had him swish & swipe, I do ask him to empty the dishwasher, we take turns dropping the kids off and picking the kids up. Actually, that has been huge. I have been running a lot in the mornings. I get up and out the door before the kids get up and he has to feed them, get them dressed, and ready to leave. That is what I am going to try to do with things around the house. I am going to give him the same kinds of opportunities.

I am going to have to really be focused on doing that. I tend to revert back to what my mom always did (which I have written about before) try to make everything easy on my dad. Instead of requiring him to do his share she did everything she could so he wouldn't have to anything once he got home from work. It didn't matter whether she was home with little kids all day or if she was also working full-time. That is a hard habit to break though. When I think about it, I get frustrated not only at myself, but also at my husband. Now, he is no where near like my dad. He does do dishes without being asked, he does stuff with the kids, he will cook. But, he is also fine letting me do a lot more than he does.

We'll see how this works, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am the worst mom ever (the tooth fairy forgot to come to our house)

My daughter lost her seventh tooth yesterday. "Lost" is misleading. She actually yanked it out.

I forgot to leave her money...again.

Yep. This is not the first time the tooth fairy has forgotten to come to our house. It is like as soon as I walk out of her bedroom at night the thought flies right out of my head. (I thought I wrote about this before but my search didn't turn up a post about the tooth fairy. Maybe I just thought about it.)

She's lost seven teeth and I have forgotten at least three times.

Last time I told myself I was going to set something on my bed so I would see it before I turned in and would be reminded that there was something I needed to take care of. I forgot to do that, too.

The first time it happened she came into my bedroom a little upset saying the tooth fairy didn't come because her tooth was still under her pillow. I said maybe the tooth fairy let her keep the tooth because she wanted it so badly and we should go to look for the money. I took the money with me and put it under her bed so it looked like the money fell there. That seemed to work.

The next time it happened I was running when I realized I forgot to leave her money. My running partner had her phone so I called home. I think she was awake when I called so I told her that I asked the tooth fairy not to come because I had a special present for her since it was her golden tooth. (It was her sixth tooth and she was six.) I had picked up a Belle barbie for the tub and was waiting for a good time to give it to her. That worked well.

This morning she came in and said she didn't look in her tooth pillow because she wanted me to look with her. I'm wondering if she was testing me. Did she already look and know the tooth was there and wait to see if it would be gone when we went back in? I had gotten a gift for her because she is seven and lost her seventh tooth, another golden tooth. Actually, I had to pick it up yesterday because I wasn't expecting her to lose her tooth yet. She hasn't talked about a loose tooth at all. Last night when she went to bed she said nothing about a loose tooth. Lately, when she would talk about a tooth maybe being loose she would talk about it being another golden tooth and about the special gift last time. (When I accidentally started the golden tooth tradition I didn't think she would have a second golden tooth.) I had her stay in my room while I went to get the gift. I slipped into her room and hid the money (a quarter for each year of her age.) Again, the tooth fairy must have let her keep the tooth since she liked it so much. (She took care of it all day yesterday and brushed it before bed.) The money was under her mattress, right below where her pillow is, technically it was "under" her pillow.

How many times am I going to do this? I refuse to take full responsibility, though. My husband has never helped me with this. Not once has he reminded me to leave the money. My guess is he never thinks about it either. (Although, that probably is another issue entirely. The fact that I do almost everything like this that has to do with the kids.) I hope I get it together soon. This little girl is going to figure it out soon enough and I don't want it to be because of my screw up.

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another lesson in couponing

Another lesson in couponing. That's what I'm telling myself my latest venture to Walgreeens was. It was a learning experience. I'm doing that because if I let myself get annoyed because I made yet another mistake I'm going to take my coupon binder and chuck it out the window. I might bash it against the wall until it falls apart. Maybe I'll give it to my two year old Labradoodle and let him have at it.

Can you tell I'm a teeny bit frustrated?

Here's what happened. I went to Walgreens yesterday to try to score some free Bayer. I don't use Bayer but I was talking to my mom about couponing and when I mentioned Bayer was free with a coupon, sale, and register rewards she told me my dad takes Bayer every day. When I saw this Bayer deal at Walgreens I thought I'd stop in.

I had my coupons, found the items, and headed to check out. When I tried to use my $5 register rewards on a total of $5.48 it wouldn't take it. The cashier said the total was under $5 before taxes. I thought that couldn't be correct because I know our tax rate isn't that high. Maybe tax was paid on total before coupons, that doesn't seem right. Maybe it was because I was going to earn register rewards and the register deducts that when figuring the subtotal you can use register rewards on. I didn't ask because I had no confidence that the cashier would know. She might give me an answer like she knew but I wouldn't have completely been convinced she knew what she was talking about. So I paid with cash figuring I would use the register rewards later (I hope I need stuff from Walgreens before they expire!)

When I got back to the van I realized I only received $1 in register rewards instead of $1 for each Bayer offer (I bought two.) Right away I knew what I thought happened. There was probably a limit of one register reward per transaction. I looked in my ad (that was in the van in my coupon binder bag) and, yep, that was it. I should have known better. So, my free Bayer cost me $1. Grrr. OK, that is still a good deal for my mom & dad. I also had a rebate form at home where Bayer will send me a check for whatever I paid after the coupon. That made it a little better (though I could have used that in addition to receiving the register reward.) Plus, it was only one dollar. The monetary value isn't the point. It isthat I screwed up again.

That's not all. I later realized I wanted to get mac & cheese while I was there. Kraft mac & cheese was on sale for $.67 with a limit of three. If I had gotten those I would have been able to use my register rewards!!

I'm going to take a deep breath and try to forget it.

I don't like not doing things well and I don't feel like I am doing this well. I'm getting better though so I'm going to give myself a break. Plus, I am saving a fair amount of money so that should comfort me.

June16, three miles

Three miles @ 8 am
32 minutes 36 second

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer spending money for kids

With the summer, comes an increase in the amount of money spent on entertainment. I wanted to come up with a way to limit how much the kids spent each week.

It started a month or so ago with the ice cream truck. Every time that (damn) bell rings the kids look at me. Of course, I want to indulge them but I do not think it wise to say yes each time. In order for the kids to know whether it was a yes or no day without me having to make the decision each time, I decided I would buy from the truck once a week. If they wanted ice cream another day, they would have to use their own money. (I should write a post about how we do allowance.) That worked ok. The truck didn't come as often as I thought so I ended up buying it almost every time. Not really how I thought it would work.

After school got out, we started going to the water park where we have season passes. The food there is very reasonable. Plus, since we have season passes we get 20% off  at the concession stand. In the past, we would get a treat each time we went. We didn't go that often so it wasn't a big deal. This year I see us going more often. Again, I don't think it wise to allow them to have a treat each time since we will be going so frequently. Just like with the ice cream truck, I wanted the kids to know whether it was a yes day or no day without me making the decision each time. (It gets tiring being the bad guy.)

I told the kids they would each get $5/week for extra spending money during the summer. They could use it to buy a treat from the ice cream truck, treats at the water park, snacks at the movies, etc. My son asked if they could use it to buy toys and while that wasn't the original intent if they want to save it and forgo treats that was ok with me.

The first time we went to the water park they both spent their entire $5. It was difficult to watch and keep my mouth shut. I figured (like Love & Logic suggests) that this is a lesson better learned at their young age when the stakes are low ($5 each) than when they are older and the stakes are higher. First, they each bought an ice cream. Then they each bought a pretzel (which neither finished.) Lastly, they each bought a slushy drink, large of course. I reminded them once that this was their money for the entire week but let them decide how it was spent.

Unfortunately, this happened on a Thursday and the kids get their money for the week on Sunday. I was worried that the lesson would not be learned. They got to spend their entire $5 at one place and didn't have to experience not having money for something else. I told myself that we have a lot of time left this summer so even if they don't get it this time, there will be plenty of opportunity.

During dinner the following Sunday we hear the ice cream truck. Out of habit, the kids look at me. I told them they get their money for the week on Sunday if they want to spend it. Of course, they did. They ran outside while I got the money. We talked about the prices. I was so happy with what happened next. My son (age 5) bought one of the least expensive items. He bought one of the plain popsicles instead of one of the character ice cream guys. My daughter (age 7) didn't buy the least expensive, but she didn't buy the most expensive, either. I could see her looking at the prices trying to decide if the item was worth the price. Then, we went to the water park on Monday. They both bought a treat but they bought one. Today, we went to the water park for the second time this week. Again, they both bought a treat, but one. I know my daughter was looking at the prices because that was how she described what she wanted. "The dollar fifty one on the right."

What will be hard is if we do something else this week and they want to get a treat and ask me to get it for them. More likely instead of asking if I will get it for them they will say they will pay me back. I will have to be strong and say no. Sometimes that is easier said than done. We have a movie theatre where ticket prices are $1.50. We are talking about going to see Hop (again.) We always get popcorn at the movies. I know it will be a better lesson if I stick to the plan, but it won't be easy. They both have a little bit of money left so maybe they will be able to pool their funds and share.

So far, I am happy with this plan and it seems to be working the way I hoped. I'll have to try to remember to write about this at the end of the summer and give an update on how it worked the rest of the summer.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday. (Darn, I was thinking it was Tuesday night. It's already Wednesday. I'm number 207 on the list. I might have to link up again next week so I can get closer to the top.)

June 15, four miles

Four miles @ 7 am
44 minutes

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14, three miles

Three miles @ 6:45 am (in heavy rain, it wasn't raining when we began, though)
29 minutes 06 seconds

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11, Six miles

I realized that if you glance at my Training Mile training widget on the right side of my blog page you can't easily tell when I last ran. For my short runs, I have been running three miles several times a week but unless you look at my total miles it might look like that is the same three miles I ran last week.

For that reason, I am going to try to write a quick post on every run. Hopefully, that will make it easier to tell how often I am running, just in case someone might be motivated by that.

Today, six miles, one hour & four minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm so mad I am shaking

After I dropped my kids off at summer school, I stopped by Walgreens to score some more deals. I pulled in a parking spot and looked at the car next to mine. There was a baby sitting in the car, alone, with all the windows rolled up.

I didn't know what to do. Do I call 911 or try to get the baby out first? I started to look for my phone. We went to the water park yesterday and it was still in my swimming bag. I figured I needed to go into Walgreens and use their phone. As I was getting out of my van, I saw a woman come out of Walgreens and head my way. I started walking around the back and toward her car. I still wasn't sure what I was going to do.

Then I saw she was carrying a pack of cigarettes!!

I said, "I can't believe you left a baby in the car to buy a pack of cigarettes!"

She just looked at me.

I said, "Do you know how dangerous it is to leave a baby in a car?"

Her, "Yes, I do."

Me, "It is hotter in the car than it is out here."

Her, "But it's not hot now." (It was 82 degrees.)

Me, "If I had my phone, I would have called the cops."

Her, "Thanks!"

Then she drove away.

(By the way, the baby was still in an infant seat and forward facing. Idiot!)

I'm glad I said something because before I got out of the van I didn't know what I was going to say. Plus, I would have wanted to kick myself later if I didn't say something

After I finished in Walgreens, I realized my phone was in my van. The bag was still in the back. Darn!! I would have loved to call the cops on her and watched to see what they did.

I understand how much of an inconvenience and hassle it is to have to get the baby or seat out and lug it in and hook it back in. Too bad.

What if she would have had a heart attack, or fallen and hit her head, or a car hit her on her way out? That baby would have been left in a hot car and no one would have known he was in there.

The least she could have done was leave the windows open. The chances were greater that the baby would get sick from the heat than someone would have taken him. It still would not have been ok but at least the baby would have been in less danger. Of course, someone who thinks it is ok to leave a baby in a car isn't going to have the sense to do it in the least dangerous way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This coupon crap is going to drive me crazy!

OK, I have got to get this coupon thing figured out or I am going to go out of my mind.

I was very happy with my couponing the last couple weeks. I only use coupons for items I will use. I don't want to build a stockpile and I don't get things just because they are cheap or free.

Then I saw this post and I don't know what came over me. I knew I didn't want the body wash but the razor and shaving cream appealed to me. I went to Walgreens today with the intention of buying $30 of Gillette products and receiving $10 in register rewards. I had coupons so I thought that would lower my out of pocket cost and I had $6 in register rewards. I should have received $10 in register rewards for the Gillette products and an additional $5 for the razor (naturally, they were out of the razor in the picture but I thought the one I got was ok.)

I checked out and started to leave. I barely got out the door and realized I didn't get my register rewards. When I went back to the register the cashier said none printed out and called the manager for me. He said the $30 was after coupons. At the same time, I realized I had the wrong razor. He figured out a way to give me the $10 but said he couldn't do anything about the razor reward. I thought I could return everything but I would lose my coupons and register rewards. I needed to pick up my kids from summer school so I didn't really have time to deal with it. I was appreciative that the manager gave me the $10 so didn't feel like I could ask him for more. (I think I might try to exchange the razor for the correct one. I will probably have to go to a different Walgreens since once my Walgreens is out of something it doesn't usually get it back in stock before the end of the week.)

I still got a good deal on the products but none were products I would normally buy. I can substitute some of them for my regular shaving gel and my husband's deodorant so it's not a total waste.

Here is my plan:
I am going to start getting the paper again so I can have the ad in hand and be able to figure exactly what I am doing before I go to the store. (Seeing it online is just not the same for me. I need the paper in my hand.)

I am going to print out or write out the complete deal as it is stated on the blogs giving information about the deals ( and

I am going to stick with the plan to only use coupons on items I would normally buy!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Coupon Binder

A couple months ago I participated in the challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons about creating a coupon binder. You can see that post here. At the time I was not able to complete it. I have been working on it for the past couple weeks and am finally finished. I probably shouldn't say finished because I know it is a work in progress. I'm sure there are some things I will need to adjust but for now this is it.

At the end of the challenge I knew I wanted to change my divider categories. I only had five or six. I never did like the categories. I realized I only used those because they were the ones I used in my old coupon organizer. It was one of those about the size & shape of an envelope. When I used that it only had five or six sections so I had to come up with categories that would include everything I would have a coupon for.

I bought these dividers during back to school last year. They were supposed to be erasable. When I wrote on them you couldn't hardly see what I wrote. Plus, I never needed to erase. They had to go.
I found these cute pink ones. My favorite color is pink. I saw these a while back but didn't need dividers at the time. When I realized I needed dividers I went ahead and got the pink.

I used my label maker to print out labels and put them on the dividers.
Unfortunately, when I put the dividers in the binder you couldn't see the labels past the page protectors and baseball card sheets.
I liked the pink dividers so much I considered keeping them anyway, especially since I spent all that time making and placing the labels.

Then I realized how silly that was and headed to Office Depot.

Despite the fact that the Office Depot employee told me he didn't believe they carried any dividers that were specifically made to be extra-wide, I found these.
This time before I put the labels on I put the dividers in the binder to see how they would work.
Awesome, they will work.

I took the labels off the pink dividers and was able to place them on the new dividers.
I love it.

And, they are longer than the plastic pages. Woo hoo.
I added something that I hope will help me keep my coupons within categories even more organized. For categories that include several sub-categories I want to keep like coupons with like coupons. For example, within Toiletries I want to keep the toothbrushes and toothpastes together and  make up coupons together, etc. I made a label to stick on the actual plastic page.
At first, I thought that might be a little much. For that reason I have not done this through the entire binder. I'll try it with these first and if I like it I will add more.

When deciding which categories to use I first checked Krazy Coupon Lady's suggestions. They didn't quite work for me. I looked at what my categories used to be and what coupons I collect most and created categories based on those things.

My categories are:
cans & jars
paper products

I know I have some that may overlap. We'll see how it works.

One thing Krazy Coupon Lady did that I want to eventually add is a table of contents that lists the categories (see here.) Actually, I might do mine a little differently. Her table of contents simply states the categories and then she has a page for the front of each section that explains what is in that section. I might combine the two in the table of contents. We'll see. I don't see that happening any time soon because I want to get started on my next project...

A price book. I have a price book but it needs to be updated and changed around. I want to have my price book because I need to know when a deal is really a good deal. For example, if I hear about a deal at Walgreens I need to know what that product would cost at Target, CVS, Walmart, and my local grocery stores. Plus, I could track sales cycles. (Who am I trying to kid, I don't see that part happening, but it could.)

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday, Org. Junkie's 52 Weeks,  A Bowl Full of Lemon's One Project at a Time, Organize with Sandy's Organizing Mission Monday, and Frugal Friday at Marsha's spot.

Reasons I will continue to coupon

Below are pictures of some of the items I have purchased recently using coupons. I check a couple websites/blogs for ways to combine sales and coupons for the greatest savings. My favorite is also known as Clippin' with Carrie. She lives in my area so I know the deals she finds are available close to my home. I also occasionally check

I paid between $.25 and $.50 for each of the above items. I know there are some people who are able to get these items for free but I am happy with what I was able to do. As of right now, I don't even buy a newspaper. My mom saves her coupon inserts for me and I print a few things off the internet. Considering how little I invest in couponing, I will take paying a quarter for a tube of toothpaste.

Everything in the picture below cost me $1.06. I used a coupon for the Systane, which was also on sale. I had extra care bucks (from CVS) to pay for most of it.

It's deals like this that will keep me going. As frustrated as I might sometimes get, I love a good (or great) deal.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Figuring out our new routine

I am completely out of whack right now. The kids and my husband are out of school and I am not watching other kids anymore. I have been so looking forward to getting to this point but haven't yet figured out our new routine. Today was the first day of summer school so hopefully we will settle into something soon.

I have several projects I want to do around the house. (paint the outside of the house?, regrout the hall bathroom floor, declutter/organize the laundry room, declutter/organize my daughter's room, purge, purge, & purge some more)

I'd like to write a blog post just about every day. (That hasn't happened so far.)

I'd like to get back on my cleaning schedule.

I want to do lots of stuff with the kids before the summer slips away.

Now that I have put it in the blog, I will have to be accountable for it. Let's see what I can do.

Another funny website--wave at the bus

I just found an adorable & funny website. Maybe adorable and funny don't seem to go together but I think that is what this is.

This couple's middle school aged son rode the bus to school for the first time this year. After the bus picks up their son, it drives down their street and passes right in front of their house. On the first day, the wife suggests they go out and wave to their son as the bus drives by the house to embarass him. It doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do, but it is my kind of humor. Actually, I think that is hysterical. "Let's go wave to him as the bus goes by so we can embarrass him."

After the first day the dad dresses in a different outfit every day for the entire year. That's the part that I think is adorable. That is a lot of work but something their kid will remember forever.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More reasons I hate couponing

I recently got back to couponing. I have had some success but have also been reminded of some of the reasons I got so frustrated that I quit couponing. Here are a couple of those reasons.

First, I would see advertised specials at Walgreens that combined with a coupon would be a great deal, maybe even free. Several times in a row I went into Walgreens for those items and they would be gone. I would try several Walgreens or visit the same Walgreens a couple times that week and still had no luck. That's annoying.

Second, are things like this...
I know I gave the cashier six coupons. I watched her scan each one. Sometimes at Target a coupon is scanned and the cashier has to press a button before it works. It also seems like sometimes the screen shows $0.00 but the discount shows on the receipt. (Maybe that is what happened and it shouldn't have, I don't know.)

I checked the receipt when I got to the van and saw that only five coupons were applied. I chose to buy some of the items only because of the combined sale, Target coupon, & manufacturer coupon savings. Some of the coupon savings are listed by the item, some are listed at the bottom. This means you can't tell which items some of the coupons applied to.

I could have gone back in to the customer service desk (and I thought about it.) I figured what they would do is go to the register I was at and either close it down or make people wait. They would have checked the coupons and saw that there was one I did not get credit for. We would then have had to go back to the customer service desk where they would have given me the value of the coupon. It was either $.75 or $1.00. That would have taken a long time. My time is more valuable than that. Let's say it would have taken ten minutes (and I think that is a minimum, I really think it would have taken much longer.) I'm going to spend ten minutes trying to get $.75 or $1.00? No, I don't think so. I decided not to go back in. The entire thing made me frustrated, though.

This leads to my last reason for thing couponing....

I'm not very good at it.

I have read a lot on blogs and in magazines and books about couponing but there are just some things I have had to learn on my own.

In general, I do not enjoy doing things I am not good at. Actually, I tend to avoid them. I am determined to get better at this, though. So, I'm working on it. (I'm planning on writing a post about my improved coupon binder this week.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rearranging my cabinets

Yesterday, I was baking my son's birthday cake for his party (which was today) so I needed to find ingredients that I don't use very often. That required me to get into an awkward cabinet. It is a cabinet in the corner of the kitchen, but it's not what I consider a corner cabinet. It's door isn't angled. Instead, the cabinet is super deep. It is very hard to get to anything at the back of the cabinet. I'd heard the tip about using a lazy susan in cabinets and gave it a try. It has worked out very well.

Here is what I saw when I opened the cabinet yesterday.
Having the lazy susan in the cabinet allows me to see what is in the back without having to take a bunch of stuff out. I don't remember what I was looking for, but I was looking a little more thoroughly than I normally do. (The stuff I use most often is the closest to the door.) I looked a little more closely and this is what I saw:
(I had to use the flash to really show what was in there.) If you look closely you can see the top of a box in the very back. That box is not on the lazy susan so I did not know what it was. I pulled everything out and this is what I found:
I must have bought the powdered milk for a recipe--which I must not have ever made because the box was unopened. The jar is marked for making your own salad dressing, which I have never done. I would never have looked for the powdered milk back there. So, if I needed it for another recipe, I would have bought more. I would have looked there for the jar but we received it as a wedding or shower gift (11 years ago) and have never used it so I probably would have never even looked for it.

When I put the stuff back there I guess I thought it was the best use of space because it is stuff I hardly ever (or never) use. Now I see that I might as well say good-bye to anything I put behind the lazy susan because I won't see it for a long while. I decided to make a small change to see if I could make it work a little better.

Here is what I did:
It is a very small change. I pushed the lazy susan back farther and brought the powdered milk up front.

The lazy susan turned just fine and I was still able to get what I needed off of it so I decided to check the top shelf.

Here is what I saw:
Looks pretty good. The lazy susan works great up here.

Here is what I couldn't see:
These items were behind the lazy susan. The oil and vinegar thing is another wedding/shower gift that has never been used. I have no idea why the matches were back there. My husband was looking for matches last fall when he was having issues with the grill and we couldn't find any (because I hid them.) Obviously not a good place for them because I would never (and didn't) look back there for them. The box contains cupcake liners, decorative icing, and Wilton icing color. Guess what I bought yesterday morning before I baked the cake?
Wilton black icing color. (It worked out because I ended up using what I already had in addition to what I bought, but still.)

So, I moved that lazy susan back also.
Not much of a difference as far as how the lazy susan works, but a big difference as far as how effectively the space gets used.

Now that I am looking at the pictures I am not so sure I am going to like having to reach inside the cabinet to get to the items on the lazy susans. I know I tested them yesterday but we will see if I still like it when I am actually in the middle of cooking. Even if I don't like them so far back and decide to move them toward the front, I am still better off not having anything behind them.

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday and Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing (for both the using of the lazy susans as well as moving them so far back in this corner.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shaklee tip

Recently I mentioned my relatively new interest in Shaklee cleaning products. I am still planning on writing a post about my experience with Basic H2, Basic G, and Scour Off. I am also awaiting a shipment of Shaklee laundry products and will include those as well. I'm not ready to do that yet but I do have a Shaklee tip I want to share.

The Shaklee products I use come in concentrated liquid formulas. You buy a jug of the concentrate and then put it in a spray bottle with water. You combine a relatively small amount of the product to a much larger amount of water. For Basic G (I think) it is 16 ounces of water to 1/2 teaspoon of Basic G. At first I used a regular measuring spoon to measure the product and used a funnel to make sure it got in the small mouth of the spray bottle. I quickly became frustated with that because when I would measure the product it usually spilled out of the measuring spoon.

I came up with two solutions to remedy that:

Sometimes I use the medicine syringes and spoons I use when my kids need medicine. They were sitting in the utensil drawer rarely getting used.

I have also used a tiny measuring cup I have that measures teaspoons & tablespoons. The Shaklee spray bottles don't have measurements on the outside. So, I measure my water in my 2 cup measuring cup and pour the product into that. From there I use the funnel to pour it into the spray bottle.

Both of these solutions have worked great for me.

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shaklee-free membership

I plan on writing a post on my experience with Shaklee in the future. I am not ready to do that today but I did want to write about a special Shaklee is offering that expires tomorrow. Shaklee is offering free membership with $30 purchase. I learned about Shaklee earlier this year and had a great experience with Scour Off. I also use Basic H2 and Basic G for my general cleaning. I purchased some laundry products today and got my free membership, which gives me 15% off future purchases (I think forever.)

If you were considering trying Shaklee or considering joining, the time to do it is now. I have not priced it out, it does not look to be cheaper than what I can get at Target but I wanted to try it anyway. I might as well buy it when I can get the free membership so I will get 15% off anything I buy in the future.

I buy my Shaklee through Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons and she offers free shipping on your first purchase. Also, check out the Earth Day special. It offers some products I already had but if you are new to Shaklee it might be a good set of products to start with.

Roadside Assistance

Last week I was running some errands alone. I came to a stoplight at the end of an exit ramp and there was a man holding a sign requesting money. Actually, he was selling chocolate bars. His sign said he was down on his luck, was laid off, evicted, had a wife and two kids, and needed money for food and hotel. I am never sure what to do in those situations.

I don't know where I first heard the advice but I understood that you should not give money to people asking like that because it was likely they were lying and were going to use money for drugs or alcohol. Maybe that was a naïve or immature way to look at things but, for years that is what I did. I would sit in my car and ignore them. I never felt good about that. Once, though, I did roll down my window and give someone a $20 and when he smiled he looked mentally disabled. I really think he was one of those people with mental health issues that ends up homeless. That was years ago and I still am not sure if I did the right thing.

After that, I decided the advice I heard previously was right and I went back to not giving people in those situations money. That is pretty easy where I live. We very rarely see someone on the side of the road asking for money. I live in a suburban area just outside of a mid-sized midwestern city. I could go years without seeing that again. We do have a major league baseball team and if we go to a game, we are likely to either see someone asking for money or at least a homeless person.

As I said, I am not sure what to do.

Then there was the guy when we were in Chicago (in September 2009) who said he needed $20 to get his car out of something, we could come with him, his wife and kids were with the car. We were skeptical at the time that it was a scam but gave it to him anyway. After that trip I either heard about that scam or one similar. It only takes once for me to feel taken advantage of to turn me off from helping. It's like the saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

A couple things have happend recently that have again made me question again how I handle that situation.

First, I was in the UPS store making copies last year. As I was waiting to pay, an older gentleman left the store and the cashier said how sad it was and that he was homeless. I made some kind of sad face and said "Awww." and finished what I was doing. I didn't know what to do. There was another man in the store. I didn't hear exactly what his job was but it had something to do with an organization that could help the man. As I was getting into my van I saw them talking. I was glad the man got help. I wished I would've helped but I don't know what I should have done. Maybe buy him lunch? Would that have been insulting for me to offer? He wasn't even asking for anything.

Then, last summer my husband and I went to Miami for our anniversary. We were in an outdoor mall walking around with a ton of other people. The walkway was packed. There was a man in a wheelchair with no legs wheeling himself around asking for money. He was very unkempt, dirty hair and clothes and didn't really seem to be all there, though I didn't smell alcohol. Everyone just maneuvered around him. Including me and my husband. I felt horrible. Again, didn't know what to do. It was very possible he was scamming everyone and using his injury to make a profit. But it was also possible he was not.

I thought about those (and other encounters like that) and wondered what I would say if my kids asked why we weren't helping. I actually remember seeing someone at a different stoplight not terribly long ago and thinking, I hope the kids don't see him because I was afraid of that question. I try to teach them it is important to help others. They put part of their allowance aside for giving. Yet, we aren't helping someone right in front of us asking for help.

I decided that I was going to help when someone needed help. I would rather help someone who didn't need it than not help someone who really did. I would feel much better about myself and think it is a better lesson for my kids.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Stand up for what's right, even if you are standing alone." It doesn't exactly go with this situation but it is similar when everyone else is driving or walking by. It is just easier to pass the person by when everyone else is.

My first test was shortly after our trip. It was a blazing hot day and there was someone by the side of the road (I said we don't have that many encounters but I sure have a lot to talk about.) I didn't see him until right as I was going through the light and I couldn't stop. I turned into the CVS parking lot and bought a couple bottles of water and circled back around. By the time I got there, he was gone.

Back to the person on the side of the road the other day. I gave him some money (I think I had a five, a few ones, and a twenty or two--which was all also my grocery money-- so I gave him the five and ones.) When I handed it to him he said he didn't have enough candy bars. I told him I didn't want any and he said, "Thank you, I hope it comes back to you a thousand times." (Me, too.)

The other night, we went downtown to the ballgame. As we were heading to our van there was a man sitting with a sign and a cup soliciting money. I saw him long before we got to him. I got a couple dollars out of my pocket and was going to put it in his cup. As I got closer, I could see him more clearly. He was totally out of it, bloodshot eyes, staring straight ahead. I didn't give him the money.

I thought I knew what I was going to do. I thought giving money to everyone would be the best course of action. Giving the money to the guy selling candy bars felt like the right thing to do, especially since I saw no one else stop or offer money. I would not have felt right giving the money to the guy the other night. I guess I will have to look at each situation uniquely.

This is one of those situations where if someone would just tell me the right thing to do, I would do it. Instead it is up to me (as an adult and the parent) to decide for myself and I am not sure I made the right decision.

I am such an idiot!!

I just realized I left a gallon of milk in my van all night. And it was organic. So, that's six bucks down the drain. I hate that. Problems like that happen when my plans get derailed and I am not sure how to avoid those kinds of problems.

Last night I was supposed to go see my cousin's new baby. I was out running a different errand and found out the new mom wasn't allowed visitors because her blood pressure was too high. That meant I had some time to run to the grocery store.

I picked up a few things and headed home. I decided to run since I was going to be home early and my husband had already planned to doing bath and bedtime by himself. As I was running, I realized I never took the groceries in and there was ice cream in one of the bags! I picked up my pace, got the two bags out of the van, and put the ice cream in the freezer. For some reason, I didn't put away the rest of the groceries (which isn't like me.)

This morning I started to empty the bags and realized the bacon was left out overnight. I ran to my iPad and found enough people saying that cured bacon in an unopened package would be fine left out. I thought, "Whew, I almost wasted $4." Then, as I was making breakfast I saw the milk was low and thought, I should have gotten milk last night, wait, I did get milk last night. I went to the van and there it was, a full gallon of organic milk. Noooooooo!

I make mistakes all the time, no big deal. That's how we learn. I think I hate money mistakes most of all because I try to be so frugal. It will take quite a few coupons to make up for the $6 I just wasted. So, to make this not a complete, unnecessary loss, I am telling myself it is a lesson. I'm not sure what to do about the leaving the groceries in the van while I ran. Maybe on quick errands like that I should put the groceries right behind my seat instead of the way back? Maybe just be more aware when I run to the grocery store in the midst of other errands? I think the big lesson is

Always put away all groceries as soon as I take them in the house.

Maybe had I done that I would have realized that I left the milk in the back of the van and gotten it out before it was too late.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doing the dishes

I'm guessing I'm like most moms when I say I spend a lot of time doing dishes. Since I am home during the day I do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack dishes Every. Single. Day. I remember early on in my journey through motherhood thinking, "How many years of my life am I going to spend doing dishes?" Before I had my daughter I didn't really cook so when I started making family meals it was a huge change for me.

I have made peace with the fact that I must do dishes every day. I have lightened my load a bit by handing over the task of emptying the dishwasher to my children (most of the time.) Still, I spend so much time with my hands underwater I have this patch of eczema on my thumb I can't quite get rid of. Luckily, I have a dishwasher. I can't imagine not having one. I think I would really despise doing the dishes if I had to wash every dish by hand.

I have refined my technique a bit over the years. I have my special way of loading the dishwasher (don't you?) and while I would like to reload it my way when my husband puts the dishes in, I don't. (Really, if he could learn to do it my way, that'd be great. I'll keep dreaming.) I no longer put our expensive knives and wooden spoons in the dishwasher and will not put any new pots or pans in.

There is one easy tip that I learned from a friend that I am so happy to have found. (My friend doesn't even know. I just saw her do it one day and was like, duh!) For years I have used those dishwashing wands you fill with dishwashing liquid. I have not found one I am crazy about. Some don't let enough soap out, others always have a big spot where the soap is coming through.

My friend had her bottle of dishwashing liquid out and poured it directly on her sponge. Lightbulb. I didn't want my ugly bottle of dishwashing liquid out all the time but I knew I could work with that. Here is what I do:

I initially used Dawn foaming dishwashing liquid. In my effort to be more green I looked for an alternative. The Dawn may not have had harmful ingredients but when I found a Method dishwashing liquid with a pump I knew that was what I wanted to use. Plus, with the pump (both the Dawn and Method have pumps) I didn't have to keep picking up and putting down the bottle. Love it.

None of that addressed the issue of leaving the ugly bottle out. If you look closely in the picture you will notice that you can't see the bottle. What you see is an apron made for dishwasher bottles for this reason. Normally, I am not this cutsie. I would not have looked for something to go on the front of the bottle. I had this because (I am embarrassed to admit) I bought this off ebay thinking it was a full sized apron. Looking at it now, I am even questioning my judgement on that. Floral is not my style, I am much more a solid color girl. I can't remember exactly how it happened but my guess is that it was super cheap. (Shocking, I bought something super cheap and was disappointed by it. Will I never learn?)

That's it. Super simple but not something I came up with on my own. Though, I feel like I should have.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting back to it

I have had a busy, busy last few weeks. I've had several Girl Scout events (some I had to plan), extra kids at my house, softball practices and games, and my husband was busy at school with end of the year concerts and rehearsals, so I didn't have much help.

When I get busy like that a few things happen. My housework starts to fall off, fewer and fewer meals are planned or cooked, and I have less time for me. (This last part means less blogging. That was obvious last week because I had so few posts. It's not that I didn't have anything to write about, I have several posts half-written in my head.)

Things should slow down a bit now. Girls Scouts is pretty much over for the year. My husband's schedule opens up considerably. Schools is almost over, which means I will have less kids at my house.

I am ready to get back to it. Get back to cleaning, organizing, and taking care of my house. Get back to menu planning and cooking for my family. Get back to blogging!!

Things should gradually open up for me. I still have extra kids for a couple more weeks but after that freedom. (Just kidding. Sort of.) I hope to blog a lot this summer and make some additions to the blog. (Like adding my yearly cleaning calendar.)

Plus, I need to blog to keep me accountable for all the things I am trying to do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Screen time & my kids

I have a love/hate relationship when it come to tv and my kids.

I hate that if they could choose one thing to do, they may very well pick watch tv. I hate that I have to constantly monitor how much they watch. I hate that when they are watching tv they can barely be interrupted, even though they are almost watching a show they have seen before.

I love that if I really need to get something done, I can turn on the tv and know I won't be bothered until what they are watching is over.

We have one rule that we do not waiver from. The tv does not get turned on before school. Most days my daughter doesn't watch it after school either. In the afternoons my son watches some tv after lunch while I am getting things done around the house and while the two little ones I watch are napping. If I am not careful before I know it he will have had three hours of straight tv time.

While my kids mostly want to watch tv they do occasionally play games on pbs kids or on the iPad. Lately, when I would tell my son no more tv he would want to play on the iPad or computer. So, I introduced the concept of screen time and began to limit it. I decided four shows would be enough. That is a little under two hours. As I write it it sounds like a lot, but I've always been honest on this blog and that is honestly what I allow.

I wanted to come up with something that would help the kids see how much time they used and how much time they had left. I also wanted them to be able to keep track themselves. I know there are probably a ton of crafty ideas out there. I didn't have time to look for them. I wanted something quick. I figured I could come up with something better this summer if I need to.

This is what I did.
I took blue painter's tape and stuck it to the wall mounted file holder I have for each kid. I made a straight line marked with 15 minute intervals. After 60 minutes I started back at 15. At each 30 & 60 interval I also wrote what number show that would equal. (30 minutes would be 1 show, 60 minutes is 2 shows) I did it that way because that is usually how my kids watch tv. Instead of tracking their exact minutes it is based on shows. They do sometimes play games on the computer or iPad, that's why I also included the minutes. I used a little person shaped clip I already had that moves to show elapsed time.
It didn't take very much time to do but the second went even faster than the first. For the second I just placed the new piece of tape over the completed piece (see above.) I used a bookmark that was handy (I didn't even have to go get my ruler) to draw the line. Then, I marked the intervals by drawing a line on the new tape right under where the original marks were on the first piece.
As always, more practical than pretty.

It has worked great. It's amazing how quickly kids take to something like this. The first or second day my son walked over to his and moved the little guy on his own.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My husband is clueless.

I have refrained from writing a Marriage Monday post for a while because I didn't want this blog to become all about complaining about my husband. After my post yesterday and the comments I received, as well as discussions I have had with my friends, today is the day to get back to it.

First, I want to say. I love my husband very, very much. He is a great person. We are struggling, though. I want us to be better but I don't feel like he cares enough to do anything about it. So, getting my thoughts out is therapeutic for me and I think would be helpful for other women to see they are not alone.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I think some of us moms would be better off if there wasn't a day called "Mother's Day" because it just leads to disappointment. I know I am not the only one. Read the comments from yesterday's post. Plus, I have been talking to friends and it was no different for any of them. Are men really that clueless?

So, a couple weeks ago I told my husband not to spend a lot of money on me for Mother's Day. I wanted to get this Clarisonic face scrubber thing. It's expensive and I would otherwise not get it for myself. I figured I would get it for Mother's Day using my Discover points.

From my husband, I got nothing.

We did go out to breakfast (that's a treat for us.) As the day wore on I knew what happened. I said don't spend a lot of money, he heard don't get me anything. That's not what I said. Even if it was what I said, I didn't say do nothing for me. I didn't say spend no time or effort on me.

I am pretty low maintenance. I don't expect jewelry or something expensive. He could've said he would vacuum for me (see yesterday's post.) He could've asked what needed to be done around the house. Nope. I would've been happy with something that had to do with the kids. Have them paint a bowl or record their voices on a keychain. Help them make something for me. I really would be easy to please. But, many of those things require thinking ahead. That doesn't usually happen (another reason I feel like he doesn't care.)

After we put the kids to bed I told my husband, "I didn't say get me nothing, I said not to spend a lot of money." and headed to the bedroom. He came in and said, "I thought you said not to get you anything." I repeated myself. He went back to watching tv. That was it. No apology. No discussion. Really, that's it? You screw up Mother's Day and that's it.

Then, he slept on the couch. Didn't come tell me, just made himself comfy. I don't know what he was thinking. Did he think he was giving me some space? I think he was hiding.

Nothing like laying in my bed alone trying not to cry on Mother's Day.

I don't get it. How can he be so clueless? It just shows how little he knows me. We have been married almost 11 years. How does he not know me better?

All this happened after a big fight we had on Saturday. (Maybe I will write about that next week?) Perfect timing.

I have a lot more to say, I just can't do it right now.

More to come...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Typical Mother's Day

Hmm, no one in my house thinks it's odd I am vacuuming on Mother's Day. The seven year old and the four year old I can cut some slack. The other adult that resides in this house I can not.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New use for old thing--my baking soda sprinkler

In an effort to encourage being green, Jen at i heart organizing challenged her readers to repurpose something they already have and use it in a new way. Instead of buying something new, use what you have at home.

Here is what I came up with:
A baking soda sprinkler.

This is kind of double green. I used an old parmesan cheese canister to hold the baking soda I use to clean with.

In an effort to be greener I have started trying to use more natural cleaning products. I read over and over how awesome baking soda is for cleaning. I've tried it and so far, so good. Initially, I was lugging around a giant bag of baking soda when I was cleaning but knew I needed something else. Since I usually sprinkle the baking soda I thought this was my best option.

It is, as always, more practical than pretty.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April declutter & cleaning update

April was a big month for me for decluttering. A Bowl Full of Lemons recently held a weekly challenge about purging, so that is where it all started. Then, i heart organizing declared April as a month to purge and that kept me going. Here is how I did...

I started in the kitchen and purged (you can also see a post about it here)
salad spinner
seven expired cans of food
two food packets
Foreman grill
chip & dip dish
plastic bowl
paper plate holders
tea kettle
cookie jar
scent warmer thingy
lots miscellaneous items

From the master bedroom I purged (another post here)
at least...
four pair of pants
three shirts
five sweaters
three pair of shoes

From my daughter's room
two backpacks

From the office
4 Sesame street puzzles
1 Tinkerbell puzzle

From the basement
these two baskets (those were hard, I love baskets)

From the master bathroom (I haven't even written this post yet)
hair bands
yucky, old products
make up bag

Here is what I set out for the donation pick up:

This almost did me in:

Can you see who was peeking out at me? It is Ariel. Ariel was my daughter's favorite princess (and probably still is) but she is kind of over princesses now. It was hard enough to put the backpack in the donate pile as it was. Then, I saw this and almost took her back out.

I still want to get rid of a lot more this summer but I was pretty proud of myself for this much.

Now, to my April jobs.

As I was thinking about writing this post I was fully prepared to say I did none of my April jobs. Then, I looked at my April jobs calendar and saw that early in the month I had done several of the jobs. Also, the ones that are left are no big deal and I will easily be able to add those to May (or June:)

Hall bathroom-
door (yes)
light (yes)
baseboards (yes)

Master bathroom-
door (no)
vanity (no)
lights (no)
baseboards (no)

Lower bathroom-
light (yes)
picture (yes)
mirror (no)

Kids rooms-
headboard and footboard (no)
window (boy-yes, girl-no)
window sill (boy-yes, girl-no)

Ceiling fans-
family room (yes)
kitchen (yes)
dining area (yes)
master bedroom (yes)
office (no)

Not too bad considering I don't feel like I did anything this last week or two. I'm not exactly sure what the deal was. I guess it wasn't any one thing. Just lots of little things together.

I'm linking up to A Slob Comes Clean's April declutter update and i heart organizing.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another reason I quit couponing

I just remembered another reason I quit couponing. Last week, I earned CVS extra care bucks worth $7.99. I can't find the coupon. I cut if off the receipt and set it aside. I found it laying around and realized I should do something better with it. I can't remember why but I put it on the driver's seat in my mini-van. I knew I would see it when I got in and then put it in my purse. Unfortunately, my husband took my van this morning. Now, I have no idea where the coupon is. It's possible I put it somewhere when I got my purse out of the van but I have no idea. (My husband left early and I went back to bed.)

So, I bought Blink eye drops last week because it was going to be free and now I ended up spending $7 on it (I had a $1 coupon.) I use these drops but I didn't need to get any at this time. Luckily, I still have the receipt and if I don't find my bucks I will take the drops back.

What a pain!!

Still decluttering, now onto purses

I have mentioned before, I love bags. That includes all bags. Totes, gym bags, carry ons, make-up bags (see here for my Clinique free with purchase problem), reusable bags, purses, etc. There is one purse I have always wanted (and will probably always want because it is so expensive.) That is a Louis Vuitton doctor's bag (also known as a speedy.)

I never spend a huge amount of money on a purse (the reason I don't yet have my Louis) but relative to what I spend on other things it is not an insignificant amount. I usually buy one purse a year and since I use it every single day I don't feel too bad about it.

The problem is I have a hard time getting rid of things. That includes my purses. I have had a bin of purses in my laundry/storage room that are just taking up space. I don't think I have ever gotten into that bin and used a purse once I have retired it.

In this bin are the purses that were left after my huge purging last year. That means the ones in the bin mean more to me than the ones I already got rid of. That also means they are going to be harder to part with. Knowing that ahead of time helps put me in the right frame of mind.

I hold on to my purses for the same reasons I hold on to so many things. I spent money on them. There is nothing wrong with them. There is some kind of sentimental attachment to them. I think I could sell them on Craigslist or ebay and get some money for them. (Surely someone would want them, right?)

There are a couple problems to that thinking.

First, I live in a pretty modest sized house. As my kids get older the house seems to be shrinking. We really don't have room to store things we don't need.

Second, I have a lot of things I would like to list on ebay or Craigslist and don't usually do it.

Here are the purses that were in the bin.
It doesn't look like a huge amount. I have been reading some of the projects in Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organization and A Bowl Full of Lemons One Project at a Time and this is nothing compared to some of the stuff I have read. For me, though, it is too much.

I decided this was it. I was doing something about them.

I began this process when Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons held her weekly challenge about purging. I wasn't able to complete it at that time but then Jen at i heart organizing gave me more motivation with her March month of purging.

So, first I purged the ones I had no attachment to. There are three I got from my sister. She smokes and I never used any of them for that reason.

Then there was the green one.
It has some kind of stain on the bottom. It might be able to be cleaned off but I knew I wouldn't take care of it any time soon.

There was the one from Avon that looked much cuter in the catalog. (It is the black one with the buckle. I had been looking at Butler bags and this was advertised as one. Wasn't crazy about it. I was reminded why I don't usually buy purses from catalogs.)

That was five for the donation pile. Five easy decisions. Then it gets harder.

A couple years ago I was looking to get myself that Louis bag for Christmas. There was no way I could justify full price' so I checked ebay. Even used, the cost was prohibitive for me. Plus, there are a lot of things I will buy off ebay but I didn't think this kind of purse should be one of them. I couldn't be sure the purse was authentic or what kind of condition the purse was really in. If I was spending that kind of money I needed to be sure of those things.

Instead I bought myself several pink Liz Claiborne purses. I like Liz Claiborne purses and I thought I was getting great deals. I ended up spending too much money and wasn't crazy about any of them once I received them. (For the record, I am no longer buying purses from Avon or ebay.) Two of them are in the picture above.

The red purse has a little spot for a picture. I carried that purse when my daughter (my first born) was little so the picture in it is from her first year. I know that one is all about emotion and sentimentality.

I like the shape of the red, blue, brown, and yellow purses. There is nothing wrong with them. Either I just got tired of them or my needs changed. (That may be another reason I will never get my Louis, I get tired of my purse.) I want to think I will come back and use them but I probably won't, so they need to go.

I listed the ones I haven't donated on Craigslist. I thought they were very reasonably priced. I think I have $5 for the non-Liz and $10 for the Liz purses and a price break if more than one is purchases. I told myself that if they weren't gone by the end of the month I was going to donate them. That's today and I am not ready for that.

I see that I have two options. First, I can give myself until the next time I have a donation pick up. (That may not happen because of this.) Second, I can give myself until the end of the summer to list sell them on ebay. (I need until the end of the summer because I don't see myself doing it right now. I haven't listed them because I worry I won't get to the post office in a timely enough manner. Now that I write that it seems ridiculous but I have to remind myself that I do not want to go to the post office with a 10 month old, two year old, and two four year olds. School ends in a month and I won't be watching any kids this summer. I'll be much more able to head to the post office.)

That's it, I've said it and now I have to follow through. I am going to give myself until the end of the summer. If I have a donation pick up before then I will send the brown and yellow bags because I don't see those selling on ebay. The Liz Claiborne purses will be listed on ebay and if they aren't sold by the time school starts they are being donated.

I am linking up to i Heart Organizing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I remember why I stopped couponing

This week I got my coupon binder back in order in response to A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge. (See here.) In addition to the challenge I was also inspired to resume couponing again by Extreme Couponing on TLC.

I have no interest in being an extreme couponer. There is no way I could spend that kind of time. I also have no interest in having that kind of stockpile. What intrigued me was that so many of them have products like toilet paper and toothpaste that they get free or almost free. That I would like to have.

Once my coupons were in order I looked at Clippin' with Carrie to check what was available at CVS, Walgreens, and Target. I wrote my lists and gathered my coupons. I planned to head to those stores this week.

On my first trip (on Monday) I headed to CVS and Walgreens. CVS was a success. (I only wanted one item.) Walgreens, on the other hand, only had one of the five items I wanted. That is frustrating. That is one of the reasons I stopped couponing. I'd check the couponing sites and get all my stuff together and then most of the products would be sold out. (The other reason is it takes so much flippin' time.)

At Target I had better results. I saved around $14 on $100 trip. For me, that's great. It is a score like this:
(This is the toothpaste I got for $.50.)

that will keep me couponing (at least for now.)

My skin

Just when I thought my skin was looking better my daughter says, "Mommy, what does it feel like to have those dots all over your face?"

Hmm, guess I don't look as good as I thought.

If I start thinking too highly of myself leave it to my kids to put me in my place.

Like when my son says, "Mommy, you looked pretty when your hair was long and yellow."

I say, "I don't look pretty now?" (Like how I fish for compliments from a four year old?)

He says, "You look a little pretty now but you were really pretty then."

The camo pants

Not too long ago I wrote about my closet clean out. (See here.) In that I mentioned my camo pants. I knew I needed to get them out of my room quickly or they were going to make it back into my closet.

I didn't get them out quickly enough.

In order to prove to myself that it was a good idea to keep them I decided I should wear them. I put them on intending to wear them for the entire day. I hated them. They were too tight in the rear and my thighs. They are going in my to donate pile.

So, I decided to try the second pair of camo pants in my closet. Hated them, too. Donate.

Finally, there was another pair of pants the same style as my camo pants. I tried them on as well. Hated them, too. Donate.

I think I have found a way to help clean out my closet. If I am trying to decide whether or not to keep an item I am going to require myself to wear it. That way I will know if it fits and if I have anything to wear it with.

My guess is that I am going to be able to eliminate many things from my closet. Had I not tried those pants on I would have kept them even though they didn't fit well.

Kitchen declutter

This month i Heart Organizing is hosting a month of purging. I was so excited to participate because I didn't quite purge as much as I wanted during A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge about purging.

As I have mentioned before I did some major purging last year. That is not to say I no longer need to purge. I feel like the purging I did last year was necessary but was also easy. We had so much junk in our house it was easy to get rid of a lot. Now though, as I purge and declutter the decisions are harder. For example, last year I got rid of several bags of clothes from my closet. That was easy. I had a lot of clothes I hadn't worn in a long time, if ever. I recently took another look at what was in there. I wasn't able to get rid of very much but I felt like the things I got rid of this time was much harder (see here.) Actually, I even put one thing back in (see here.)

One of the rooms Jen worked on was her kitchen. Just like in my closet, I had already purged lots of junk last year. I knew that there were several things that I probably should have included in that purge but I couldn't quite get myself
to let go. This time, I was much more ruthless. Here is what I removed:
These things were the first things I removed.

The tea kettle I have never used. I bought it when we got married (11 years ago) because I thought everyone needed one.

I used to use the George Foreman grill to make grilled cheese sandwiches when my daughter was little. I don't know why I started using this in the first place. I think I had some aversion to using the stove (I have written a lot about my issues in the kitchen.) It toasted the grilled cheese nicely but it smashed the sandwich, so I haven't used it in years.

The mixer thing is broken. I think I used it once many years ago and decided to try to use it again recently to make my daughter a smoothie. I took the blade thing off to clean it and couldn't figure out how to get it back on. I guess I thought if I left it in the cabinet long enough it would fix itself.

Those things were pretty easy.

This was not:
This is a salad spinner from Pampered Chef. It was not cheap but I bought it thinking I would make more salads if I had it. I didn't. Actually, I have never liked it. It's too big (takes up too much space to store.) It can't go in the dishwasher. Once I spun the lettuce the bowl was too big to use for the size salads I make. I liked the one I had prior to this. You could run the water through the spinner as you were spinning it. So, out this went.

I didn't really go through my drawers but as I was cooking one day I noticed these things:
The travel mug whose lid I can't find. (I was hoping I would come across it. My guess is that someone in my family put it away in the wrong spot.)

The sandwich sealer I got from my mom. She used to use it for my little brother and sister. I have never used it because I hate wasting all that bread.

The can tops that are supposed to keep soda from going flat (they don't.)

Several cookie cutters. (I don't think we have ever made cut out cookies here. My kids do that with our aunt. If we make cookies it is chocolate chip, my favorite. Plus, if we do make one day them we have lots, lots more.)

The mixer cup (with the white lid. That is the technical name, by the way. Mixer cup:) I think it is intended for mixing salad dressing. I have never made my own salad dressing so I tried to use it to mix formula. It does not close tightly so formula dripped out. (I've held on to this thing since our wedding--11 years--only to find out it doesn't work. That is an awesome lesson.)

Then there are these things:

These are all things I think I should get rid of but didn't. The smoothie maker takes up too much space and I recently got a smaller one that I like much better. The thing is the handle broke off so if I donate it, they will probably throw it out. I might offer it on freecycle.

There is nothing wrong with the glass bowls and the mixing bowls but I never use them. I have stainless and ceramic mixing bowls I use. I keep thinking these might be useful for some project with the kids. Plus, should you ever get rid of mixing bowls?

I've never used the bundt pan. My guess is I never will but shouldn't I have one?

We were given the pasta bowls as a wedding gift. We have never used them. I know I should let them go but can't. I keep thinking, now that I know they are there I will use them. I haven't.

My guess is all of these things will go in my next purge. Maybe I will offer them to my siblings or cousins. Maybe it would be easier if someone I know would takes them.

I didn't really clean out the pantry but found these things when I was figuring out my grocery list:

Nony at A Slob Comes Clean asks herself a question when decluttering. It is something like, "Where would I look for this item?" I would never have looked for the McDonalds croutons under the can organizer.

The other packet is for icing mix for a no bake stove my daughter has but we can no longer find a place to buy the cake mixes (thank goodness.)

The cans and jar are really embarassing.

They date back to 2006. That is the year my son was born. He is starting kindergarten this year. The artichoke hearts were really gross. There was something black & flaky coming out the bottom. Inside the hearts were dried out and black. It was actually kind of funny. The most recent of the cans was from June 2010.

Here are a couple more random things I decided to part with a few days later.
This is a cookie jar. It's cute enough but it is not something I bought. Actually, it something a friend gave me. This next part is embarrassing. She got it from her neighbors trash. Now, her neighbor was a friend of hers. But still. My friend hates to see perfectly good things in the trash. She offered it to me and I didn't have one so I took it (and cleaned it!) But I don't love it. And the ridges collect dust.

I am going to try to live by the motto, "If I don't love it, it's gone."

I don't love this, so good-bye.

This was given to me by the mother of the artist. Can you see the white dots? They aren't supposed to be there. They are flaws. Yet, I still felt like I needed to keep this and use it.

I'm done. I don't love it, it's gone.

I'm linking up to i Heart Organzing.