Monday, June 30, 2008

Conquer The Clutter Challenge


Won't you join in the fun of conquering your clutter during the month of July? I saw this over at The Happy Housewife blog. Toni is hosting this challenge on her other blog, Happy to be at home.

This past weekend I just so happened to have started on a de-cluttering campaign. I worked in my laundry room during several short sessions. This is the first room I see when I come home. Its kind of a combination laundry room and mud room and I have a pie safe used for a pantry in there. I've been feeling a little overwhelmed with housework and cooking so I thought if this room was welcoming I'd be less stressed out about my home.

These are the things I accomplished:

1. Cleaned out the "catch-all" basket which sits on top of the dryer. This is where all the odds and ends found in pockets go, as well as items from other parts of the house. I tossed out everything I could! Some of the things I threw away included "ID" pins my son had for college which he hasn't needed in 2 years, dried up flower bulbs, dried up and leaky pens, used ear plugs, etc. I also put some things where they belonged. Then I dusted and wiped down the outside of the washer and dryer. Its so nice to have only the little organized basket and one small container for change I find in pockets. This is the first thing I see when I come in the door from work. Now I just sit my pocketbook on there as I come in. Much less stressful!

2. I cleaned the entire floor area extra well. This is where our elderly dog stays most of the time so it always needs mopping! I threw away an old rug, and washed and dried the dog's bedding. I threw away the placemat I keep under his food and water dish because he always seems to miss the placemat and get the food on the floor anyway. I just as well clean the floor as to have to wash the placemat and the floor! I put newspaper under the dish which can be thrown away and replaced frequently.

3. I dusted the corners of the room, got all cobwebs down, dusted the door facings, etc, and the top of the pie safe and the shelf. I moved jackets that hang on the pegs to a closet until cooler weather comes back. I cleaned off the little table that sits under the shelf to be used for putting folded clothes and/or laundry baskets.

4. I cleaned out the closet which has all the cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, bottled water and my little yellow vac. I emptied the many bottles that had "just" a little bit of liquid left in them by combining all of each one into one spray bottle. I now have one bottle of "Shout" that's about full instead of 4 that won't spray at all because they're almost empty! I threw away everything that I don't use. I plan to purchase a small wicker type basket to go on the floor in there for the few dirty laundry items we accumulate from the kitchen. Every where else in the house has its own basket, such as each bedroom and bathroom.

5. I decluttered the cabinets located over the washer and dryer and straightened them out. They weren't too bad, but now look so much better.

6. Washed the inside and outside of the trashcan and the aluminum can recycle container and replaced the liners with new ones.

What I still need to do:

1. Move washer and dryer out from the wall and clean under them.

2. Clean on top of the cabinets. They are open on top and I'm afraid to even look! I'm sure there's dust as thick as snow up there!

I am reading a book from the library called:Amy Knapp's Family Organizing Handbook. Its great!

These are two nuggets I wanted to share:

1. Clean one cabinet a week. In 52 weeks you're sure to get around to all of them more than once or at least once. This is a great idea. Sort of like Flylady's babysteps.

2. Put newspaper on top of cabinets that are open. I have these in the laundry room. You can just throw them away and put new ones up there when they get dusty. You can also see what date is on the paper to know when you cleaned up there last.


My plans for the rest of the house are to TOSS, TOSS, TOSS! Room, by room. The next room is the living room/den area.

Happy Decluttering!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cheerful Obedience


This is a small excerpt of the devotion I read this morning:

.....everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak: Jeremiah 1:7

God must be sought and seen in His Providences; it is not our actions in themselves considered which please Him, but the spirit in which they are done....


This challenged me to ask myself: Am I cheerful in doing what I know God wants me to do? Or am I complaining and grumbling? I'm sure God is concerned with what we are doing, but even more with our attitudes in doing his Will!

These are the things I need to be more cheerful in:

1. Frugality
2. Organization
3. Cooking
4. Cleaning
5. Being a Caretaker
6. On the job (!)
7. Exercising
8. Devotions
9. When I don't have time for 1-8 above! LOL

With these things in mind these are some books I got from the library at lunch today:

1. Amy Knapp's Family Organizing Handbook. I scanned a few tips from the book and am already impressed with it. Can't wait to read some more!

2. How to Clean Your Home Fast by Vicki Christian

3. The Best Freezer Cookbook by Jan Main

4. Heloise's Beauty Book

5. Strong Women Stay Slim by Miriam E. Nelson, PHD. This book focuses on strength training. I am doing well with my walking, but need some strength training for my upper body. I have been walking about 2 miles a day, most days. I am doing this for my health, to lose a little weight in my derriere and to have more energy for my hectic life!

6. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. This is an older book which I've heard about, but never read. I hope to get really into it for reading while Mama-sitting. LOL.

I've also come to the conclusion that I need to do more housework and cleaning at night than I'm used to doing. I normally am tired when I get home from work and although I'll cook a meal and do a few odds and ends in the house, its not enough for the schedule I'm keeping now.

Last night after I got home at about 7:00, I changed the sheets on one bed, did one load of laundry and cleaned 2 bathrooms. This is going to be such a head start on the weekend! I'm simply going to have to do two or three cleaning chores every night that I'm home, whether I feel like it or not. The secret is not to sit down. Once I stop, this train ain't leavin the station again that day!

Do you ever have the "poor me" syndrome? I do! When I get home from work I say, I'm tired and hungry and then I eat and sit. From now on I'm going to delay the eating and sitting until some chores are done!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Award!



I've won an award! It's called the Arte y Pico award. I received it from Melinda of The Nest Egg. Melinda always has such good posts on where to get the best deals and where to get coupons and free samples. I am honored that she felt my blog deserved an award.

These are the rules to accept the award:

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4.The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

So these are the five blogs I want to give the award to:

1. Little Pen Pen: Penny is a good friend and always has the sweetest posts. She loves quilting so we definitely have a lot in common. I call her my North Carolina blogger friend!

2. Organized Homemaking For Christ: This is another fellow North Carolinian that I just discovered and am so impressed with. I want to spend some time reading her blog when time will allow!

3. Elizabeth's Simple Journey: Elizabeth has got to be the best cook in her whole state. She makes delicious foods and healthy too! Her husband is one lucky fellow! She's also really organized and inspires me to get busy cleaning and organizing.

4. A Home With a Smile: Rhonda in OK has a great blog and we often think alike or are doing the same things even though hundreds of miles separate us. She is a great seamstress and has been doing such a great job doing "a year of savings". She always finds such great deals. We both love to sew and save money!

5. Happy Hearts at Home: Alexandra has a great blog that blends her every day faith with homemaking, money saving strategies and homeschooling. Many of her posts have a link to a very interesting and informative site or blog post.

Thanks Melinda for the award!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tagged!

I've been tagged by Melinda at the Nest Egg. I can tell by reading her post she is a very sweet person.

Here are my answers:

Name 5 kind things I do for myself:

1. Go to the library and get as many books as I want!
2. Recently "doing nothing" on my lunch break. This means I avoid running errands and try to get away from my desk to take a walk, or another enjoyable thing. (see no. 1).
3. Worry Less, breathe deeply when feeling stressed.
4. Doing my nails, plucking my eyebrows, applying lotion or anything that makes me feel feminine or pampered.
5. Use time spent staying with my mother to rest and read.


Name 5 kind things I do for my friends, children or spouse:

1. I try to cook each member of my family their favorite foods as much as possible.
2. I pack my grown son's lunch for work.
3. I take lunch to my sweetie when he is too busy to come home on Saturdays.
4. I send unexpected surprise packages to my daughter and her family in the mail.
5. I make handmade gifts for my friends at Christmas and make sure we remember my coworkers' birthdays at work.

Name 5 kind things I do for strangers:

1. Leave extra coupons under the edge of items in the grocery store I don't plan to buy.
2. Hold the door for who ever is coming behind me.
3. Offer help to those who look lost or need directions at the courthouse I work near.
4. I "try" to be polite and patient with people on the phone at work, even when they are not being nice to me.
5. Let other drivers in front of me when they are trying to get out into traffic.

Name 5 hobbies:

1. Sewing/quilting/crafts
2. Blogging
3. Couponing, thrifting, yardsaleing
4. Reading
5. Gardening

I tag:

Sort of Frugal
Hearts in Service
Happy Hearts at Home
Elizabeth's Simple Journey
Little Pen Pen

Weekend Update

I hope your weekend was good. Ours was as busy as could be. My daughter and grandbaby came while her husband was out of town. Little "D" is walking!!! My camera is coming and going, but I was able to get a few pictures before it went again!! AAAARRRRGGGGHH!!!


Fast with a baby "walker":



Unsteady with Mommie nearby:




What do you mean I can't open that cabinet door??!!!




This is the current view out my front door. If you've been reading my blog, you'll recognize the mailbox.






My mother is doing a little better. She is walking with our assistance and a walker, but cannot get up and walk by herself. My brothers took her out to eat at her favorite buffet restaurant Friday night. She is sad because of all the changes in her life, but some days I see the old "Mama" coming out. Our prayer and hope is that she'll ever so steadily return to her old self both physically and mentally. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Frugal Friday - Waste not, Want not

Happy Friday to you!

One of the most important frugal skills is to be ever watchful for waste. We all have a natural tendency to want more, more, more. Do we need more? Probably not.

There are so many areas that I need to simplify. I have too many clothes in the closet, too many leftovers in the refrigerator, too much clutter around the house, and you get the idea....

This is one reason I have been trying to limit my grocery shopping to twice a month. If I went to the grocery store every day, which I won't do of course, I would buy a buggy full without even thinking about it. Number 1, I would never be able to afford that!!!! Number 2, think of all the waste! By shopping less often, I make do with what I have on hand, reducing waste and saving money.

I need to wear the clothes I have. This is hard because I love new clothes!!! If I didn't buy any clothes for 2 or 3 years I'd have plenty. Right now my bottom half is a little larger than the clothes I have been wearing in the summer time the last few years. Sadly, a few of my very favorites are just hanging there because they are too tight. I am diligently working on this problem. But, even with this problem, I have plenty of clothes that do fit. Yes, buying new clothes is one area I really need to use self control in!!!

I have noticed that lots of people are very wasteful! They don't even notice their bad habits. I have been on a frugal quest for so many years out of necessity, that I have radar where waste is concerned.

I don't know about you, but I haven't noticed many people in our area that seem very concerned about the price of gas. Sure, we complain about it, but most people seem to be going about their regular routine as if there is no tomorrow. The gas stations are busy and the vehicles are BIG! We made a trip to the gas station and to the grocery store on Saturday. The gas station was packed. The grocery store was deserted. I don't get it! Old habits are hard to break, but we really need to use less gas for many reasons! Of course, this includes me! I'm guilty too.

So use your "waste" radar and be ever on the look out for it!

For more Frugal Friday tips go to the Biblical Womanhood Blog.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Monday Minute

LEARNING TO DO NOTHING

Friday I went for my annual check up. For most of my medical care I go to a Family Nurse Practitioner whom I really like. She will sit and talk, asking questions and answering questions as long as I need to. Its so easy to relate to another woman! She's a few years older than me, so knows what my body is up to! LOL

As part of her care she has written up a sheet, front and back, of things to do to be healthy. Of course it has all the standard items like quit smoking, use sunscreen, maintain a healthy weight, etc. Most of the items on the list I don't have a problem with.

BUT this one: MENTAL/SPIRITUAL: Love your neighbor as yourself. Learn to do nothing. Attend a worship service of your choice. Keep a journal. Smile...laugh often. Peace and harmony help promote wellness. Turmoil and chaos increase stress which can lead to illness.

Learn to do nothing.... Now that's an interesting point. I haven't just done "nothing" in I don't know when. Even if I'm stopping for a minute my mind is racing 100 mph thinking of what I need to be doing next, tomorrow, next week and it never ends. Every lunch hour has an errand (or 4) Every morning has a list.

Hmmmm. Learn to do nothing. I can do that! How about you!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Friday

Its been a while since I did a Frugal Friday Post! While this post is nothing earth shattering in the world of frugality, I wanted to list the ways I've been frugal, even under the stress of being a caretaker, during the last couple of weeks.

1. I had a couple of birthday and Father's Day gifts to buy. The economy has forced most retailers to offer very good sales and discounts. I was able to buy my sweetie several "nice" shorts for work and leisure at an extremely good price. I've never been able to find things for him at a thrift store or yard sale in the right size that looked nice, so finding clothing for him at an unbeatable sale in a retail store is the way to go.

2. I plan to keep an eye on the ever increasing sales for items to be used next year or for Christmas, etc. I would like to buy my grandson summer clearance clothing in the size he'll be in next summer, a 24 months size. I have a place to keep them until then. What a savings this will be. I've already seen very nice things at great prices. Its only June. They're bound to go much cheaper by the end of the summer!!!

3. I noticed that Bath and Body Works was having a 75% off clearance sale on their nice lotions, etc. I'm going to stock up on these for Christmas, stocking stuffers and other gifts.

4. I have managed to hang out a few loads of clothes. Its so hot now, it doesn't take them long to dry.

5. The stockpile I accumulated before Mama's stroke has been very convenient. I have plenty of hamburger in the freezer and canned goods for quick and frugal meals. I now see the necessity of a stockpile not only for saving money, but to have on hand in case of emergencies.

6. Being organized in my bill paying process has helped me to make sure I had no late charges, even when I don't have time to even think about such things.

7. We have been combining trips or avoiding as many trips as possible to save gas.

8. I have cut down the number of fast food meals I eat for lunch while at work. I've tried to bring a sandwich or soup. At the very least I limit what I buy to one sandwich or wrap and take advantage of the many coupons available.

9. We finished paying off our vehicle payment and ARE NOT GOING TO EVER BUY A VEHICLE THAT REQUIRES A PAYMENT AGAIN!!! (I hope:o) !)

10. We have been eating the garden produce my mother worked so hard to grow before her stroke. The veggies are so good, good for us, and at no charge.

For more Frugal Friday Posts please visit the Biblical Womanhood Blog!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Counting Our Blessings!

Among the many heart breaking happenings of the last two weeks, a bright spot... Two of my older brothers built my Mama a wheel chair ramp yesterday and so this morning she was able to be wheeled outside to look at her garden....

We have been eating the bounty of her work this past spring. Its way too hot for her to be out there working anyway, but I know its breaking her heart to know she can't work in it.... probably not any more this year, maybe never again....

You see she is a farm girl through and through. She was one of eleven children raised on a farm in the twenties, thirties and forties. All her brothers were away in the war and she "HAD" to help run the farm. No one was there to help her "papa" so she did it. She enjoyed it. Her sisters wanted to stay at the house and cook and clean, Mama wanted to help her Papa. When she was a tiny thing he would give her a little bucket and she would follow him around in the field and help him.

So even in the bad times, remember to count your blessings!

Monday, June 9, 2008

GIFT CLOSET ALERT

A great thing to stockpile in your gift closet are Bath and Body Works items and they are on sale right now during their annual Summer clearance sale. I stopped in at lunch to use a gift card and purchased several large lotions for $2.38 each as opposed to the original $9.50 price. There were lots of items for 75% off as well as 50% off and 5 for $1.00 small sizes, great for stocking stuffers. The sale lasts through June, but might get picked over pretty quick.

These items would make great gifts for those in the hospital, Christmas, birthdays or stocking stuffers. I plan to go back and get a few for my gift closet!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Update

First of all I'd like to say Happy Birthday to my wonderful, sweet daughter!!! This is a picture of her being held by her Great Grandmother in June of 1980.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!!! I LOVE YOU!!!



This is a picture of my mother holding my grandson. There are amazing similarities in the two pictures!



I would like to request continued prayers for my mother. Her stroke symptoms have gotten worse since she got home. She's very weak and sleepy. We are trying so hard to take care of her at home and we really need for her to start improving. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Operating in Crisis Mode

Hello everyone!

My mother went home from the hospital late yesterday afternoon! She seems to be doing almost as good as she was before the stroke. She's a little weaker, and does have a tiny speech impediment. My siblings and I are trying to do all we can do and she will have a home health nurse coming in starting today.

My plan is to go before work, make her coffee and see what she might need. There are three of us children who live nearby who will be taking turns spending the night for a few days until she gets back into her regular routine. She insists that we don't need to do this, but we are a little worried about her being alone this soon after having a stroke. So my turn to spend the night is tonight. On the days I'm not spending the night I plan to go by after work. Its not much out of the way for me to go by there anyway.

I have been operating in crisis mode for over a week now and offer a few suggestions for those of you who are in crisis mode now or will be in the future. We all are there at one time or another!!!

1. Remember to take time for yourself. For me this has been to continue my morning devotional reading and I've been trying to walk for just 15 minutes on the treadmill in the mornings. I lose my appetite when under stress, so its a good time to take off a few pounds I've noticed creeping up.

2. My menu planning has been very helpful. The only problem is having time to cook the foods. During this time we have been eating very simple foods and a few frozen pizzas! Everyone in my household is an adult and they all know how to go to the store and get something to eat if there's nothing in the house! I've taken the attitude that they can look after themselves and they've done quite well.

3. Just do it!!! I've found that I'm kind of a baby about doing things I don't really want to do. Aren't we all!!!??? I would have rather stayed in bed a little later this morning, but as an act of service, love and gratitude I will do what ever I need to do for my Mama during this time of her life.

4. Its only a season. Everything will settle down soon. This season of my life and my Mama's isn't easy, but is a part of life that we must accept. I don't want this season to end.....

5. Let the less important things go. For me that has meant less blogging! Also less cleaning, cooking and sewing. There will be time for those things later.

6. Never hold your plans too tightly! Remember my grand, fancy organizing plans from about a week ago? LOL Be flexible!

Have a great Wednesday!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Frugal Gardening

My time and money for yard work has been limited this year, but I really love to have a few potted plants on my front and back porches. My hard working perennials take care of the yard for the most part. There are also a few plants that survive the winter in my pots.

On my way back from the hospital yesterday I stopped at Walmart to purchase a few plants to tuck into some of these already established pots. I felt that the prices were a little high.... $3.00 for one little petunia? As usual, I cruised the clearance section and found some pretty healthy plants marked down. I purchased Petunias for 50 cents, Sweet Potato Vines for $1.50, and large pots of Impatiens for $1.00. I divided each of the Impatiens into four plants.

So, when purchasing plants my advice would be to check the clearance area and also to purchase plants that can be divided into many plants. If you check the pots sometimes there will be 2 or 3 plants in there or it may be the type of plant that can just be pulled apart into several divisions. I have almost always divided any perennials I bought in the past before planting them.

This is a planter my daughter gave me for Mother's Day in 2007. It hangs off the outside of the railing on the front porch. The green and white variegated vine survived the winter. I tucked in around it 2 red petunias, a sweet potato vine and one of the divided impatiens. After the plants have grown some I feel this planter will be filled in beautifully!



This pots sits on the top step on the front porch and also had a surviving vine. I tucked some of the same plants around in it.




Our back porch is mostly shady, so the impatiens do really well back there. This pot has four of the plants I divided. My sweetie did some work on some old broken tomato cages to use in the pots on the back porch. The purpose of this is to deter our cats who love to sleep in the pots. I was able to make four nice sized pots for the back porch. When these plants grow a little they'll fill up the pot and end up huge by summer's end. I also tucked in a couple in some other established pots. One pot has hostas in it and the little impatiens will complement the hostas well.



I have impatiens on the back porch most every year and sometimes they reseed into the same pots and come up the following year. I need to keep that in mind at the end of the summer and try to help this process along. I love free plants!!!

Practice first.... Sew once!

I worked on the monogrammed bags I am making for Christmas gifts over the weekend.  I had already been successful with one bag.  The monogra...