Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Fun Giveaway - Books and More


Ok, we all know how I love giveaways. You can get some really cool stuff by entering these giveaways. Right now 5 Minutes For Books is hosting a Summer Fun Giveaway. Here is there description:
From May 25 - June 7, we will be bringing you giveaways designed to help you get through the summer. We will feature books and games to keep you busy, resources for road-trips, and of course some great summer reading for you and the kids.
If this sounds interesting to you, take a minute to head over there and check out the giveaways. New ones are added every day through June 7th so keep heading back. Good luck, and if any of you win, be sure to let me know.

Eating From The Pantry - Week 4 Update

It's hard to believe that we're almost at the end of May and that we've basically reached the end of the Eating From the Pantry Challenge. During the month of May my goal is to eat more from our pantry and cut my grocery and household spending to $160. At the end of week three I had already spent $230.95 which put me $70.95 over budget.

This week I didn't do as well as I had hoped I would. We wound up spending about $40 at Costco on milk and produce. Then we spent about $10 at the grocery store on soda for a cookout we went to. Sorry I don't have the exact figures, but I can't seem to find the receipts.

So my end result is that I went approximately $120.95 over budget for the month. I obviously didn't do as well as I had hoped to, but since I did spend about $39.05 less then my regular monthly budget I didn't completely fail. My pantry and freezer both still have a ton of food. Since we are selling our home and buying a new one, I really need to work on eating from our stockpile. This is mainly so that we don't have to move it all. Plus it will allow us to save up some money for those unexpected expenses that seem to crop up when you move. So my plan is for us to continue eating from our pantry and I'm going to cut our weekly food budget down to $20. I know that this is a tight budget, but I do feel that it is reasonable when you consider the amount of food in my house. I will continue to post updates on our grocery spending until we get our house sold. Once we're in a new house our challenge will be rebuilding our stockpile, but that is a worry for later. For now I'm going to concentrate on the task at hand - cutting our grocery spending to the bare bones.

Head over to Learning The Frugal Life to see how she is doing with the May Eating From the Pantry Challenge and to find links to the other participants in this challenge. Do you think you're up to the challenge of eating from your pantry this month? If so, join us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Bolt, Strawberries and Pizza

Since I missed Wordless Wednesday last week, I decided to go ahead and post three pictures this week.

First up we have Pumpkin and her best friend, Bolt. Here she is watching the movie with her Bolt at her side. I can't believe she will actually sit down and watch this whole movie. She's seen it several times and she still loves it.
Next up we have Pumpkin enjoying her Serpico pizza. I think this is her favorite place to get pizza. She always gets the cheese, but sometimes mommy and daddy get the cheesesteak pizza, yum!

Finally, here is Pumpkin enjoying a delicious strawberry. There is nothing like a nice fresh strawberry. Delicious!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to:
5 Minutes For Mom and Mom Dot

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eating From the Pantry - Week 3 Update

Sorry this post is so late. I should have had it up on Friday. Well, we have now completed the third week of May's Eating From the Pantry Challenge. During the month of May my goal is to eat more from our pantry and cut my grocery and household spending to $160. At the end of week two I had already spent $229.83 which put me $69.83 over budget.

This week I was very good. We only stopped at the grocery store once and that was because we were out of bananas. Pumpkin needs her bananas so we had to go. At least we only got bananas and spent $1.12. Finally, a good week.

For week 4 I'm already over budget. I was bad and went to Costco again. Ugh! I need to stay out of that place until next month. Since we are now working on selling our home and buying a new one, I really need to work on eating from our stockpile. This is mainly so that we don't have to move it all. Plus it will allow us to save up some money for those unexpected expenses that seem to crop up when you move. It looks like it's going to be an interesting summer for us.

Head over to Learning The Frugal Life to see how she is doing with the May Eating From the Pantry Challenge and to find links to the other participants in this challenge. Do you think you're up to the challenge of eating from your pantry this month? If so, join us.

To Do Tuesday - May 26

There are times when my life seems to get overwhelming. When that happens I find that a To Do list can really help. So I've decided to join To-Do Tuesday over at Crazy Adventures in Parenting. It will be interesting to see how many items I actually accomplish each week Especially since I'm taking it easy on my list this week. Since this is my first week participating I didn't want to overwhelm myself.

Vacuum House
Put Pumpkin's Laundry Away
Daily Blog Posts
Clean out email inbox
Clean out Google Reader
Complete Menu Plan for the week

To see more To-Do Tuesday lists, head over to Crazy Adventures in Parenting.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog Link a Thon Links

I recently participated in a Blog Link a Thon over at Mom Dot. Here are the links to all of the blogs that participated. In the next few days I will try to visit at least most of these blogs. There are over 300 here so it may take awhile. If you get a chance you might want to check some out too. I'm sure there are some really good ones on here.


1. http://www.notalwayscharming.com/

2. Fairy Blog Mother

3. Crazy Adventures in Parenting

4. Engineer a Debt Free Life

5. Sweet ‘n’ Sassy Girls

6. Good Golly Miss Blondie

7. SavvySuzie

8. For The Love of Baby!

9. http://lovemy2dogs.blogspot.com/

10. Blessings Abound

11. Coupons, Deals and More

12. Hairstyles For Girls

13. http://www.thedivinemissmommy.com/

14. A latte in the morning

15. KiddiesCorner Deals

16. 3 Kids and Us Mom Blog

17. The Ohana Mama

18. Coupon Queens of Laurel Run

19. Today’s Journey

20. http://confessionsofahousewife.com/

21. My Charmed Life

22. http://www.doublebugs.com/

23. http://3boys1girlandadog.blogspot.com/

24. New Sue Review

25. Suzanne Calling

26. Just For Me…and You

27. Time Slides By

28. Babes and Kids

29. Declutter a Little Each Day

30. Grocery Savings for Real Families

31. Life Starring Ellie and Eve

32. So Cute Crafts

33. Brea’s Mommy

34. Are Muffins Just Ugly Cupcakes

35. It’s A Beauty Filled Life

36. The crazy suburban mom

37. Donna’s World

38. Momma’s Gone Over the Wall

39. Mommy’s Quiet Time

40. Joyce (Saving My Cents)

41. My Trendy Tykes

42. The Not-So-Blog

43. Confessions From HouseholdSix

44. SiPPyCuPSand FiNGerPriNTS

45. http://www.couponmommie.com/

46. http://www.crackersandchaos.blogspot.com/

47. Giftfully Simple

48. Just For Fun

49. Digital Mommy

50. Me And Craig

51. Parenting Princesses

52. http://mylastshredsofsanity.blogspot.com/

53. Inside My Head

54. Petit

55. My Love Lucy

56. FreckleBox personalized gift

57. Baby Lulu Dress

58. Blog 4 Mom

59. 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

60. Jolly Mom

61. My Life My Journey

62. Maman And Gourmand

63. http://jessmalexander.blogspot.com/

64. The POSHpreneur

65. A Blog of Goodies

66. Christy aka The Write Gal

67. LookWhatMomFound

68. Peanut Butter & Smelly’s Dad

69. Lucy

70. Angry Julie Monday

71. The Mogul Mom Blog

72. Angela

73. Deal-ectible Mommies

74. Christy’s Creations

75. Lisa

76. http://www.booksnboys.blogspot.com/

77. Wannabe Supermom

78. Thre Craft Momma

79. Internet Toddler

80. http://lifeisasandcastle.blogspot/

81. Kristen of La Dolce Vita

82. Cranberry Fries

83. http://www.mud-bug.com/

84. The Mom Buzz

85. http://nightowlmama.blogspot.com/

86. Frugal Mommy of 2 Girls

87. Mommy Cracked

88. EclecticBird

89. Mama Mentor

90. Moomettesgram’s Musings

91. Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews

92. Moomettesgram’s Favorite Recipes

93. Diaries of a Domestic Goddess

94. Go Graham Go!

95. NerdFamily Things

96. NerdFamily Blog

97. Making Money Keeping Money

98. NerdFamily Food

99. Flying Giggles & Lollipops

100. http://themorrisbunchblog.com/

101. http://www.simplybeingmommy.com/

102. A Kindred Spirit’s Thoughts

103. Two Of A Kind, Working On A Full House

104. D-Lo’s Lounge

105. Free Sample Freak

106. What Mommies Need

107. Mom of 2 Boys, Wife of 1

108. icefairy’s Treasure Chest

109. Cheaper Than Therapy

110. Therapeutic Reviews & Giveaways

111. Lily Bean Designs

112. Dirty Diaper Laundry

113. Dance Momma

114. JamericanSpice

115. Mombalance

116. A Pocket Full Of Buttons

117. Ordinary and Awesome

118. Reviews and Giveaways

119. Subjective Beauty

120. Tales From A Shopaholic Mommy

121. Mommiemayhem

122. IE Mommy

123. http://blasianbabynotes.blogspot.com/

124. Amber Woodward

125. Grammy Janet’s Place

126. Outnumbered 3 to 1

127. ShimmerMeBlue

128. Dev’s Favorite Giveaways

129. Joyful Money Saving

130. 1stopmom

131. A Modern Mama

132. PourSomeSugarOnMe

133. Fancast

134. Lollipop Baby

135. Lola & Ben

136. idoby2celebrants

137. Sue Jackson

138. Cackleberry Kids

139. Gifts By The Stars

140. Jemma

141. Handmade Kids

142. Ollie Rose

143. Babasfarmlife

144. Banquet Manager

145. Monkey’s Momma

146. This Mom Can Shop

147. EcoLabel Fundraising

148. Divine Chaos

149. baby kakes ink alphabet onesie

150. tee from recycle me

151. http://lizzie-q-homemaker.blogspot.com/

152. marla mandell bread (5/17)

153. ozone socks 5/15

154. Belly Bumps to Baby Hugs

155. Hip T

156. ThenComes Baby

157. Homemade Gourmet

158. Fresh Pure and Simple

159. MomDot Mom Blogs

160. MomDot Mom Reviews

161. Bloggers Give Charity

162. Organic Baby Resource

163. Potamus Prefers

164. The Army Wife

165. Through Hazel Eyes

166. Frugal Rhode Island Mama

167. Just Jingle

168. And Twins make 5!

169. Frugal Plus

170. Christie

171. What Happened To My House?

172. Miracles on Mama Street

173. Heck Of A Bunch

174. Blog Designs by Susan

175. mommy23monkeys

176. Hanna

177. Got Kids Need Valium

178. Womb At The INNSANE

179. Katie & Kimble Blog

180. http://adventuresofastayathomemom.com/

181. The Frugalicious Mommy

182. Penny Pinching Diva

183. Another day. Another thought or two

184. Beauty4Moms

185. http://www.evilflu.com/

186. Little Miss Julia

187. Mrs Zeee

188. Cheryl

189. Frazzle Dazzle SuperMom

190. Florida Mealtime Savers

191. Inspiration Station

192. Mommy’s Kitchen

193. Saving with MamaNordy

194. Saving SAHM Sanity

195. A Little Piece Of Perfect

196. Nodin’s Nest

197. Lil Miss Eco

198. Laryn Strickland

199. HeatherMama

200. The Gerber Babies Blog

201. WhateverSuccess

202. Women Who Win

203. http://theburbblog.com/

204. Happy Healthy Families

205. Sweeps4Bloggers

206. dramaqueensmum

207. The Mom Trap

208. Multitasking Mama

209. Mama Michies Musings

210. Little People Wealth

211. Belly Beyond

212. Kim Kihega

213. Mom Fuse

214. Juanita

215. Adopt a Do

216. On the Refriderator Door

217. Christine

218. Little Diva

219. My Household Junk

220. I’m Here….Really

221. http://greer5intexas.blogspot.com/

222. mary

223. http://www.nicolesnickels.net/

224. Lori Newman

225. http://kris-jay-caity-izzie.blogspot.com/

226. Debb

227. Shawn Ann’s World

228. Peke Moe -NZ made baby sleep sacks

229. A Simple Kinda LIfe

230. Sweet Serendipity

231. Bouncing Off The Walls

232. Jane Loedding

233. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

234. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

235. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

236. Musings from Me

237. Veronnica

238. The Adventures of Miss V

239. Mudd Kids

240. Mom Most Traveled family travel

241. Relishing the Dirt

242. Good, True and Beautiful

243. http://frugallivingandhavingfun.blogspot.com/

244. The Last Blog on Earth

245. A Wrestling Addicted Mommy

246. Rae

247. http://www.thesidelinesoflife.blogspot.com/

248. Dore’s Diaries

249. Blog by Donna

250. Lisette

251. Pillaging With Buffie

252. Mom of Faith

253. GODSOWN

254. flutterbyechronicles

255. shelley

256. Life In A House Of Blue

257. kristen

258. Alex the Fey Thriller Series

259. MamaCheaps!

260. Donalacasa

261. A Jewish Journey

262. http://learningtogetherhandinhand.blogspot.com/

263. BethinNC

264. Stuttering Shell

265. Don’t Blink

266. Life is Sweet

267. Lisa

268. http://www.sahmsue.com/

269. m.e (cathie)

270. Run DMT

271. Princess Ratbag

272. Michelle G

273. http://www.nathansfight.com/

274. Moody Mama Says

275. Laurie Ann

276. Cooking During Stolen Moments

277. A Simple Walk

278. Vanessa

279. middleagedmom

280. Ramblings Of A Wannabe Writer

281. Oh My Baby

282. Fordcast Sunny

283. Lisa Miller

284. http://www.thedivinemissmommy.com/

285. Bibs & Cribs {very cute stuff}

286. My Lil’ Budget Book

287. Misadventures in Baby Raising

288. My Mommy Said

289. Milk & Honey Mommy

290. Milk and Honey Mommy

291. Amy O’Neal

292. Parenting Children

293. A Girl And Her Life

294. MarieLynn Boutique Blog

295. Born Fabulous Boutique Blog

296. The Pitter Patter Boutique

297. Stephanie Deese

298. Brea’s Baby Boutique Blog

299. digiscrapping.net - Heather Manning

300. Kids Activities Blog

301. Two Little Whales Cloth Diapers & More

302. 3 boys & a dog

303. Karen ~Georgia Angel

304. http://mynotsohurriedlife.blogspot.com/

305. Shannon Blogs Here

306. A Virtuous Woman

307. Secrets of a Southern Kitchen

308. Dreamer

309. Lollipop Book Club

310. Mommie Daze Virtual Baby Shower

311. Heck Of A Bunch

312. MomSaves4U

313. Barely Domestic Mama

314. http://www.babylovingmama.com/

315. Professional Family Manager

316. Kathleen

317. Coaching The Family

318. Frugal Creativity

319. Easy Being Green

320. Dandelion Bubbles

321. Shelly aka The Attic Girl

322. Foxtoybox-Discovery Toys

323. http://beauty4moms.blogspot.com/

324. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

325. Playground for Parents

326. World of Discovery

327. http://andbabymakesfourperrine.blogspot.com/

329. A Little Bit Nutty

330. Mahayla’s Mommy

331. Mommy Goggles

332. The Shopping Mama

333. If I Could Escape . . .


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Big Announcement

Over this past weekend hubby and I came to a pretty big decision. We had been building to this, but we finally decided it was time. So last night we listed our house for sale and we are looking for a new one. In some ways it’s sad because this is the house we bought together and it’s the house that we brought our daughter home to. Then in other ways it’s exciting. I feel like we’re getting ready to start a new chapter in our life. We are hoping to actually get some land now. Right now we are in a townhouse with a minuscule yard. I grew up in a house that had several acres of land and was surrounded by woods that we could play in. While that is a little much for us I do hope to get at least a half acre so my daughter will have her own yard to play in and I will have enough space to have an actual garden.

This weekend we saw a house that we loved, but the sellers won’t accept a contingency on the sale of our house. So we’re still looking. It is possible that house would still be available once we get a contract on our house, but I’m not going to count on that. Besides, we could find something that we like even better and maybe even at a better price. Whatever we decide to buy, it will be the house we plan to stay in until retirement. Hubby and I both dislike moving and we want the stability of a long term home for our daughter. I believe that the house we are meant to have is out there waiting for us. We just need to find it and make it ours.

This whole situation is a bit stressful and is certainly keeping me busy. Yesterday I ran around most of the day cleaning up the house and decluttering. We put some of our stuff into storage so that our house will show well. And I’ve been donating some stuff to charity. I still need to go lock up my jewelry, camera and computer. And there is still some cleaning up to do. Ugh! I’m just hoping that we are able to sell out house fairly quickly and that we get a good price for it. The housing market is very different from when we bought our house.

Now you know my big news. I will try to keep with my posting and keep everyone updated on the status of our search and sale. If I disappear for a few days it’s probably because something is going on with the house, but I will be back. I love my blog way too much to neglect it for too long.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of May 18


This weekend was a bit crazy. We had some surprising events and will be having a very busy week this week. That’s why my menu plan is so late going up. I also don’t know how much I’ll be able to post this week. I will do my best, but we have a tight timetable to stick to for some events that are unfolding right now. Sorry I can’t say more right now, but I don’t want to jinx it. I know I said I would be trying some new recipes this week, but I won’t have time for that now. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

So here is my quick and dirty menu plan for the week.

Dinners:

  • Sunday - Cereal
  • Monday - Hot Dogs and Mac & Cheese
  • Tuesday - Chicken Nuggets
  • Wednesday - Ham (carryover from Saturday)
  • Thursday - Omelets
  • Friday - Pizza
  • Saturday -Sandwiches

Breakfasts:

  1. Cereal
  2. Granola Bars
  3. Bananas
  4. Apples
  5. Yogurt

Lunches:

  1. Leftovers
  2. PB&J

To see more delicious menu plans, head over to Org Junkie for all the Menu Plan Monday links.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Avoiding Library Fines

This week I was very upset with myself when I saw that I had an overdue library book. The fine is $1.60 which I can certainly afford, but I hate having to pay fines. My library offers online access to your library card so you can easily see what books you have checked out, when they are due and what your fines are. You can also renew your books online. Since our trips to the library don’t have an assigned day my due dates are all over the place and can be hard to keep up with.

My solution to preventing future library fines is to review my card online every Monday. I setup a reminder in Google Calendar which will email me a reminder. Now, every Monday I will go online and see which books are due that week. I will automatically renew all books due in the coming week. This will prevent fines even if I don’t make it to the library. I will also keep a tote bag by the door where I will deposit all library materials that need to be returned. Now I can just grab that bag when I’m heading to the library instead of running all over the house gathering up books.

Since this is only the second time in my life that I’ve had a library fine I can’t be too upset, but I will still do everything I can to keep it from happening again. Especially now that Pumpkin loves the library and we are spending more time there.

To see more Frugal Friday tips, head over to Life As Mom.

Spring Cleaning Summary

Over the last two weeks I have done a lot of Spring Cleaning and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed it. I’m one of those people who isn’t crazy about the actual cleaning, but I love to organize and clean stuff out. It always feels so good to get rid of items you no longer need or want. And we can certainly use the space in our house. I am very glad that Simple Mom had her Spring Cleaning Party and that I decided to join.

While I didn’t manage to get everything done that I wanted to, I did get a very good start on it. Yesterday I posted a list of 13 areas in my home that I still need to clean out and organize. Last night I even managed to get started on that list. While my daughter was taking her bath I got our medicine cabinet cleaned out and organized. I actually had some medicine in there that had expired in 2006. Wow! I started cleaning under the bathroom sink, but it didn’t get finished. I will work on that some more during Pumpkin’s next bath.

My goal is to complete at least one item from my list a week. I figure at that rate I’ll get finished around the end of summer. That should be just in time to start it all again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I moved into my house, it’s that the need to purge “stuff” never ends. So to help keep me going with the cleaning and to hold me accountable, I plan to start doing a weekly post detailing what I have cleaned or organized that week. Along the way I will also be posting any tips and tricks I’ve found to help with organizing all the “stuff” that we do keep. And if you have any tips or tricks you want to share, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m always looking for new and better ways to organize.

How do you feel about cleaning and organizing? Is it something you dread or something you enjoy?

Eating From the Pantry - Week 2 Update

Well, we have now completed the second week of May's Eating From the Pantry Challenge. During the month of May my goal is to eat more from our pantry and cut my grocery and household spending to $160. At the end of week one I had already spent $72.46 and had $87.54 remaining.

This week I completely blew my budget. When I went to Costco I spent $157.37. That leaves me $69.83 over budget. Not good. And sadly, I know I can do better. There are two weeks left to this challenge and I need to stay out of the grocery store. I will pick up milk and produce if we need it but that is it. I must resist all sales! (Easier said then done)

On a more positive note, this week is the first week I can remember actually following my meal plan completely. So far we have eaten everything I planned and even had it on the night I planned. I was very tempted to just order a pizza yesterday because I really didn't feel like cooking, but I resisted and hubby even got home a little early and made dinner so it was almost ready when Pumpkin and I got home. He's such a good hubby! Tonight we're having dinner at my parent's house so I don't have to worry about cooking.

So, my goal for next week is going to be so stay out of the grocery store and to once again stick with my menu plan. If I can do this, we will be in good shape.

Head over to Learning The Frugal Life to see how she is doing with the May Eating From the Pantry Challenge and to find links to the other participants in this challenge. Do you think you're up to the challenge of eating from your pantry this month? If so, join us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

13 Areas I Still Need to Spring Clean


I have been working hard around my house for the last two weeks taking care of some Spring Cleaning. While I have accomplished a lot and my house is looking good, there are still areas that need to be cleaned out and decluttered. So for this week's Thursday Thirteen I decided to list out 13 areas in my house the still need to be cleaned out and reorganized. My plan is to get to at least one of these each week. With any luck I'll finish my Spring Cleaning before summer is over.

Here are the thirteen areas of my house that need to be cleaned and decluttered:

  1. My craft closet - This closet is literally packed full and has gotten completely disorganized. It's pure chaos in there anymore.
  2. Linen Closet - Another closet that is packed full. I need to go through and pull out the items we no longer need to make some space for what we do use.
  3. Pumpkin's Closet - This one isn't too bad, but I do need to straighten out the bins and inventory her fall and winter clothes so that I know what I need to buy yet. DONE!
  4. Bathroom Cabinets - Under my bathroom sink is a bit messy and the medicine cabinet hasn't been purged in at least two years. I think I will work on these during Pumpkin's next bath.
  5. Cabinet in Master Bedroom Closet - This is the cabinet where I store extra toiletries. Right now its packed full and overflowing into the closet. I need to straighten it up and get rid of some of the excess.
  6. Jewelry Boxes - I have three jewelry boxes right now. I would like to get down to two of them. There are quite a few pieces of jewelry that I no longer wear so I can do another purge here.
  7. Kitchen Cart - Pumpkin has "helped" me with this cart so it needs to be cleaned up and reorganized. DONE!
  8. Plastic Storage Containers - The cabinet where I store all my plastic containers has gotten out of control once again. It's time to make sure I have sets of containers and lids and get them all organized.
  9. Freezer - It's so full its hard to shut, but I'm not completely sure what all we have in there. Time for a clean out, organization and inventory.
  10. Pantry - I need to do another clean out and inventory. I like to do this at least quarterly and it has been neglected for the last few months.
  11. Basement Food Storage - I have extra food storage cabinets in my basement. These need to be cleaned up and organized. I want to make sure we don't have any out of date food and start using up anything that is getting close to its expiration date.
  12. Basement Book Shelves - I have a very large set of custom book shelves in my basement. The books and "stuff" on those shelves have gotten disorganized. I need to go through everything I get it reorganized.
  13. Toys - Enough said. Anyone with small children completely understands this one. I'm sure it will be a permanent fixture on my list until my daughter hits middle school. DONE for now!

To see more Thursday Thirteen lists, head over to Happy to Be At Home.

Spring Cleaning the Master Bedroom

My bedroom is another room that seems to collect stuff. Although usually that "stuff" is baskets of laundry that need to be put away. I did take some time to work on cleaning out my Master Bedroom closet. I moved a cabinet that I had in there and moved my jewelry box into the closet. I like this setup so much better then what we had. Plus it allowed me to add a set of shelves to a corner of our room where I have some stuff displayed now. Here's a picture of my closet after I cleaned it out:

There are several bins in there that store some of the overflow from my stockpile. One bin is full of medicine and first aid type items. The other bin is full of personal care items like makeup, lip balm, face wash and so forth. I also have an open top bin just for orphaned socks. About once a month I go through this bin matching up what I can and cleaning it out. I didn't worry about going through the clothes because I just recently cleaned out our clothes. I have to say that I am happy with the way our closet is setup right now. Of course hubby hasn't seen it yet so who knows how he'll react.

Another item I had to clean out in my master bedroom is my perfume collection. You can see my purged collection in the picture. I have a thing for "smelly stuff" and tend to collect it. My previous, much larger, collection was housed in a small set of shelves. I had to clean it out though because Pumpkin kept getting in to it. So I went through and got rid of a whole shopping bag full of perfumes and body sprays. I will miss them, but there just wasn't a safe place for them anymore. So now I am limiting myself to whatever perfumes and body sprays fit on the tray on my night table. As you can see, it is already full. Oh how I love my perfume.

What Spring Cleaning have you done? To see more posts and tips to help you with your Spring Cleaning, head over to Simple Mom. Tomorrow is the last day of her Spring Cleaning Party, but I will still be working on cleaning out items around my house. It's a never ending process around here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free Music - Week of May 12

I've decided to move my free music posts to Wednesday evenings. It should be easier for me this way with the new schedule I am trying to keep. I love music and finding new artists is so much fun. To help you explore new music, here are the songs I found this week:

iTunes

  • Single of the Week - "Under Control" by Parachute
  • Discovery Download - "High Five Yourself" by Christian Finnegan
  • Video - "Wanted" by Jessie James
Walmart "Brand New Day" by Joshua Radin

Amazon Music The featured free songs at Amazon change each time you refresh the page so you'll have to head over there and check them out. They have the largest selection of free music I have seen from a reputable source. Click here and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the free songs.

CNET has a new free song featured every day. Plus you can look at some of their previously featured songs and still download them for free.

Blender now has their May Mix available here. It contains songs from 15 new bands, here's the list:

  • "Fitz & Dizzyspells" by Andrew Bird
  • "Me & Mary" by Arbouretum
  • "Paranoria" by The Death Set
  • "Lightworks" by Doom
  • "Anyango" by Extra Golden
  • "The Sun Main" by Fusion Unltd. feat. Little Broth
  • "Strictly Game" by Harlem Shakes
  • "The Mountain" by Heartless Bastards
  • "Yours Truly" by Jason Lytle
  • "Red Oak Way" by Lotus Plaza
  • "Help I'm Alive" by Metric
  • "Animal" by Miike Snow
  • "People Got A Lotta Nerve" by Neko Case
  • "Bitter Heart" by Zee Avi

That's all for this week's free music. Come back next Wednesday for another free music post.

Spring Cleaning My Desk

My work area consists of two desks right next to each other. This is the area where I work on my computer, pay bills and do pretty much anything else that needs to be done at a desk. As you can see in my before pictures the area had gotten a it out of control. For some reason my desk and office area seem to be the catch all place for assorted "stuff" that doesn't have a permanent home. I'm working on remedying that so if you have any suggestions for preventing another pile up in this area, please let me know.


I decided that this area was in desperate need of a spring cleaning. So I completely cleaned off all the surfaces. Some of the items did make it back on to the top of the writing desk, but nowhere near as many as were up there before. I even dusted off both desks.


It's so nice having a clean surface to work at now. I really hope to keep it that way. And honey, that means you can't go leaving your stuff on my desks anymore either.
I also kept track of the items from on and around my desk that I got rid of while cleaning up today. Here's the list:
  • 36 Magazines - These will go to my work where they will join the magazine swap.
  • 19 Books - These will go to the used bookstore to earn me a little extra money. Anything they don't buy will get donated to charity.
  • 8 Pairs of Children's Shoes - Off to charity
  • 5 Candle Holders - Off to charity
  • 1 DVD Burner - I'm going to try to sell this. If it doesn't sell, off to charity it goes.
  • 1 Small Box of Assorted Stuff - Off to charity
  • 1 Bag of Trash - This was a 13 gallon size kitchen bag. That's a lot of trash for this small area.

It definitely feels good to get rid of so much stuff that we haven't been using. It's just cluttering up our house and stressing me out whenever I try to work at my desk. So bye bye stuff.

To check out more Spring Cleaning posts, head over to Simple Mom.

To check out more posts on cleaning off a surface, head over to Organizing Junkie. Her monthly challenge is to clean off one surface in your house. From all the participants, five random winners will be selected to receive a copy of Gail Blanke's Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life. How cool is that?
You can find the monthly round up post with links to those who participated in Organizing Junkie's surface cleaning challenge here.

Wordless Wednesday - Chocolate Sampling


Someone found the sample cart at Costco that had little chocolate bars. Yummy!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom or Mom Dot.

The Perfect Start to the Weekend

Around here the weekdays are hectic and often very stressful. So when the weekend comes we like to relax as much as possible and not spend the whole weekend running around and stressed out.


To help get our weekend off to a good start we have a basic Saturday morning routine that we follow. When we all get up we have breakfast together as a family. After breakfast daddy and Pumpkin watch cartoons together while mommy gets time to herself for a relaxing morning. This is the only time that I actually get to take my time in the shower and as I get ready for the day. I enjoy this time and look forward to it every week.

Once mommy is ready, daddy and Pumpkin finish up whatever cartoon they were watching and mommy gets Pumpkin ready while daddy gets ready. Once we're all good to go we try to do something as a family. Sometimes we hit yard sales, sometimes we head to the park or library and sometimes we may even head to the mall. It all depends on the weather and what needs to be done. Our main goal for the day on Saturday is to enjoy our time together as a family and not stress ourselves out.

To read more Works For Me Wednesday tips, head over to We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pay It Forward

I found this post on Journey 2 Learn and thought that it looked like fun. What can I say, I'm feeling adventuous tonight. And I do consider myself a crafty person.

Creative people are adventurous! So, if you’re creative and would like to participate, please send me a comment and the first five people will receive something (handmade by me!) from me in the mail. In return, all you have to do is “pay it forward”- please see the rules, restrictions and limitations below.

Here are the rules, and happy posting!

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. But I hope you will. This will be something made from the heart.
  2. What I create will be just for you with love and good wishes. It will be made of actual materials, not of cyberspace.
  3. It will be done this year (2009).
  4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be!
  5. In return, all you need to do is cut and paste this text on your Blog (from “Creative People are…” and create five things for the first 5 people to respond to your post.
  6. Send your mailing address after I contact you.

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if you do not post on your own blog to pay this forward. Would love it if you could join in!!!

To help me in choosing what to make and send you, I will be reading through your blog to get an idea of your likes and dislikes so that I hope you get something that you will love!

So what are you waiting for? Get that comment in before someone beats you to it! It’s not everyday you get a free handmade gift in the mail. : )

Spring Cleaning Pumpkin's Room

Pumpkin's Room is one of the hardest for me to clean. This is simply because I usually do my cleaning while she is napping. Since I don't want to wake her, I can't clean her room while she's napping. So here is what her room looked like before I started cleaning. The basket of laundry is clean, I just hadn't found time to get it put away. Sad, I know.

And here are the after pictures. The foam board behind her changing table is there because she likes to pull at the wall decals. She already ripped Scooby so we put the board up. Once she is done with the changing table, we will remove the foam board and the decals will hopefully be safe.

And her dresser. This is another spot that tends to collect a lot of "stuff".


I am so glad that I was able to finally get some work done in Pumpkin's room. As part of the Spring Cleaning I also switched out her clothes. We had to move out the winter stuff and the stuff that was too small and bring in the stuff that fits and is good for spring and summer. We have a ton of clothes going in to storage now. Plus I finally got the humidifier and heater out of there.

I'm amazed at how many old toys and outgrown clothes we got out of Pumpkin's room. There are two tubs and one of those XXL Ziploc bags full of stuff heading to storage. And that doesn't include the stuff we got rid of. What is it with kid's stuff? I think it multiplies when nobody is looking.

To see more posts on Spring Cleaning and read what Simple Mom has to say about cleaning kids rooms, head over to Simple Mom.
To see more Tackle It Tuesday, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom.

Sewing a Bag From An Old Tshirt

Last week I finally had the class on learning how to use my new sewing machine. It was a lot of fun and got me excited about finally starting on my Top 10 Sewing Projects I Want to Complete list. The first thing I decided to make from my list was a bag out of an old tshirt. I found this shirt at Goodwill for a dollar. When I saw it I couldn't resist it because, well, its just so me.


Anyway, Saturday I took some time to sortof follow this tutorial on making the bag. I say sortof because it just seems to be against my nature to completely follow instructions. Anyway, you can see how the bag turned out by the picture. I love it and already started toting it around this weekend. I had to show it off to my family.

On Sunday, while I was at my parent's house I also picked up some patterns and some more material from my mom. (She has a HUGE collection of both). Plus I picked up a pattern, material and notions for another bag that I will be using as my new lunch bag once its complete. I'm so excited. I got the material on clearance. Oh how I love the clearance section at Joanns!

For more Talk About It Tuesday, head over to the Lazy Organizer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Redbox Rental - May 11 Only

The code for today's FREE Redbox rental is:

6A43JK

Remember that you can use this code once per debit/credit card, so if you have multiple cards, you can get multiple rentals. You can read about my previous experience using these codes here.

Come back every Monday for the weekly free rental code. This code expires at midnight tonight.

Spring Cleaning The Bathroom

My poor bathroom was a mess. This room tends to really get neglected and the "stuff" piles up on the counter. Here is a before picture. Try not to be too grossed out. We tend to leave the cleansers and all the other stuff that Pumpkin shouldn't get into in the bathroom because its the one room in the house with a safety on the door knob so she can't get in. You can see the results of that.
And here is the picture after about an hour of cleaning:

First I had to clean off the counter and put everything away. Some of the cleaners are still in there, but they have a new home in the cabinet. Then I scrubbed. My bathroom is now squeaky clean and I'm loving it. I actually told Hubby that he isn't allowed to use the bathroom because he will get it dirty. Yeah, not very practical of me, but I want to enjoy it as long as I can. And from now on I'm going to try and straighten up the bathroom when Pumpkin takes her baths. Hopefully that will work well for us.

For more posts about Spring Cleaning and too see what Simple Mom has to say about Spring Cleaning The Bathrooms, head over to Simple Mom.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 11


Hopefully things will be more or less back to normal this week. After eating out way too often last week we are now trying to avoid eating out for a bit. So I put more effort into my meal plan and making sure that we have everything ready to go for our week night dinners. Week nights are definitely our weakness and require a lot more planing. No new recipes this week, but I have a few selected for next week. Since I'm doing the May Eat From the Pantry Challenge I'm working on planning out my menu for the whole month. I'm well under way, but still have some days to fill in. Here's what I have for this week:

Dinners:

  • Sunday - Mother's Day Luncheon at Gram's
  • Monday - Spaghetti
  • Tuesday - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Herb Soup
  • Wednesday - Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Thursday - Pancakes and Sausage
  • Friday - Pulled Pork Nachos
  • Saturday -Ham and Veggies

Breakfasts:

  1. Cereal
  2. Granola Bars
  3. Bananas
  4. Apples
  5. Yogurt

Lunches:

  1. Leftovers
  2. PB&J

To see more delicious menu plans, head over to Org Junkie for all the Menu Plan Monday links.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Frugal Tip - Online Bill Paying and Statements

I've mentioned before how much I hate filing. So I've started enrolling in online bill paying and statements. I love this method because I don't have papers to file. I save an electronic version of my statement on my computer.

To keep those files organized I have them in folders by year and then the file names are the name of the company and the date of the bill. For example, my AT&T Bill for April would be saved as "ATT Bill 2009 04.pdf". This makes it easy for me to find the bills if I need them. I also save a pdf file of my confirmation of payment using the same file format, example "ATT Rcpt 2009 04.pdf". It's oh so easy and I don't have to file anything.

Another benefit of this method is that you aren't using a stamp to mail your payment. You may think oh, it's just a stamp, but keep in mind that one year of postage as $0.43 a month adds up to $5.16 a year. So this can add up really fast. Plus, if you pay for your checks you're saving money by not using a check.

For those of you that don't like going to each site and setting up your payments, some banks offer free online bill paying where they will mail the check for you. You still save the postage and a check. It's certainly worth checking in to.

Note: I used $0.43 as the postage rate above because that is what the new postage rate will be on Monday, May 11, 2009. So, if you do need stamps I suggest heading out and picking up a pack of Forever stamps before Monday.

Edit: Postage is actually up to $0.44 today (May 11th) I had the wrong rate. Aargh!

For more Frugal Friday tips, head over to Life As Mom.

Eating From the Pantry - Week 1 Update

Well, we have now completed the first week of May's Eating From the Pantry Challenge. During the month of May my goal is to eat more from our pantry and cut my grocery and household spending to $160.

This week we really didn't do as well as I had hoped. We had a crazy week where we wound up eating out one night and getting some snacks out another night ($18.57) and we did do some grocery shopping ($30.87). Plus I picked up some diapers for Pumpkin ($23.02). Our total household spending this week was $72.46 which only leaves us with $87.54 for the rest of the month. I'm thinking we aren't going to make this. We're one week in and I've already spent almost half the budget. Ugh!

Tomorrow I will be going to Costco and I'm thinking that after that trip we will only venture to the store for milk, bread and produce. If I can stick with that we just might make it. Of course I'll also need to make sure that we don't exceed our 2 gallon of milk a week limit. Last night we spent $3.49 for a gallon of milk which I can get at Costco for approximately $2.29. It killed me, but we were completely out of milk.

I have to say that I am amazed at the price differences I am finding between Costco and the local grocery stores. I know that there are still some items that I could get cheaper by buying them at the grocery store when they're on sale and I have a coupon, but that got to be such a hassle. We no longer have the grocery ads delivered to our house so I have to check all the sales online. We have 6 different grocery stores within a 5 mile radius of our house. It takes way too much time to check all those ads online. Then factor in time to match up the sales to coupons and then finally deciding which store to hit. It just isn't worth it. So for the rest of May I'm going to try sticking with shopping at Costco, the produce stand and drug stores. We'll see how it goes.

Now I need to go work on my menu plan for the rest of the month. I need to figure out just what items we need before I hit Costco tomorrow.

Head over to Learning The Frugal Life to see how she is doing with the May Eating From the Pantry Challenge and to find links to the other participants in this challenge. Do you think you're up to the challenge of eating from your pantry this month? If so, join us.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring Cleaning Day 4

I have been doing my Spring Cleaning the day before I post it. Since I work full time outside of the house it’s just easier for me that way. Well, yesterday I worked all day and immediately after work I had a class to attend. That means I didn’t get home until half an hour before I usually go to bed. There was no time for cleaning or blogging last night. I have some obligations tonight too so I don’t know that I’ll get much cleaning done tonight, but I will certainly try. I do have plans for getting some serious cleaning to be done this weekend so look for some more good spring cleaning posts and pictures next week.

All of this Spring Cleaning has even gotten me to do a little cleaning at work. Yesterday I took a few minutes to clean out two of my desk drawers. First was the drawer where all my pens, post-its, business cards and assorted small stuff get stored. That drawer was a mess. So I got rid of a few things and reorganized it. The drawer is so much neater now. I love it. The second drawer had lots of papers and envelopes. I was able to throw some of those out and got the rest organized. Now the drawer is a lot neater and I should be able to find what I need a lot easier now. There is still more cleaning to do, but I can’t exactly spend the whole day cleaning. I figured I would try to tackle a drawer every other day or so. It depends on how hectic each day is.

I also wanted to address some of the questions Simple Mom has posted as part of her Spring Cleaning Party.

Monday’s Question:

Am I feeling emotional about any of this stuff? If so, why? Do those knickknacks create your memories, or are they just things you happened to collect during those times on which you enjoy reflecting?
There are a few things I have that I do have an emotional attachment too. I feel that I am fairly normal in that sense. All in all, I don’t have an emotional attachment to most of my stuff. I’m not a big knickknack person as I don’t like to have a lot of things to dust around. I did like the idea that someone posted on Simple Mom’s site of keeping pictures of things you have an attachment to instead of the actual items. Depending on the item this may or may not work for you, but personally I am all for things that decrease the amount of clutter in my house.

Tuesday’s Question:
How easy or challenging it is for you to keep only those things that are either useful or beautiful to your family?
I don’t tend to hand on to things that are no longer useful to me. There have even been a few times where I have gotten rid of something an a few weeks later I could have used it. Still, we survived and worked around it in those situations. I don’t like having a lot of clutter in my house even though you can’t always tell that by looking at it. My husband saves things more then me, but he usually isn’t too bad.

Wednesday’s Question:
What’s your style? As you’ve decluttered, cleaned, and organized, have you explored your different tastes in decor? I’m curious if you’ve enjoyed the more minimal look in your living room, with your surfaces emptier.

The d├ęcor in our house is an interesting blend of hubby’s tastes and mine. I like simple, traditional looks and hubby has added some interesting pieces to our collections. (Did you see the masks and sarcophagus in our living room?) All in all I like our look. Personally I don’t care for the surfaces to be minimal looking. I like it when a house has a lived in a feel. The model home look is fine for model homes, but I don’t want to live in that kind of environment.

Thursday’s Question:

What do you love about your kitchen? What one thing do you most want to change?
I love the size of my kitchen there is plenty of room to work and I also have a nice bay window in there so I get lots of natural light. The one thing that I most want to change is the amount of counter space and storage I have. To add some counter space and storage we wound up getting a kitchen cart. I love that I can roll it over to where I’m working and the back flips up for even more counter space, but I still don’t have enough storage. Since I tend to stockpile we have two cabinets and set of shelves where we have various long term food stuffs stored.

So how have you done on your spring cleaning this week? To see how others are doing and find more pictures, head over to Simple Mom’s Spring Cleaning Day 4 post.

13 Cards On My Key Ring

I just realized the other day that I have 13 of those little plastic cards on my key ring. So I figured for this Thursday Thirteen I would post the list. Now you guys will know where I shop.

And this picture is my actual key ring. You can see that I have a lot of keys too. Believe it or not I do actually use all of these keys except one. Most of them are keys for different things at work so I need them. I do keep my car key completly seperate from all these keys to prevent problems with my ignition. It's just much easier for me that way.

  1. Staples Rewards - For getting credit on all those empty ink cartridges from my printer.
  2. Best Buy Reward Zone - It's been months since I've used this. I'm just not a big fan of Best Buy so I don't shop there often.
  3. Redner's Pump Perks
  4. CVS Extra Care Card
  5. Super Fresh Club Fresh Card
  6. Borders Rewards - I don't thisnk I've ever used this one.
  7. Hallmark Gold Crown Card
  8. Weis Preferred Shoppers Card
  9. Petsmart Pet Perks Card - Another store I don't shop at very often, but we do stop there a couple times a year. With 2 dogs and a large fish tank there's usually some pet related item that we need.
  10. Ace Rewards - Hubby shops here more then me, but I do occasionally stop there and use the card.
  11. Food Lion MVP Card - I think I used this once about 5 years ago. This is another store that I don't care to shop at. After shopping at the one near my house I feel like I need a shower and who wants to buy food at a store like that?
  12. Giant Food Bonus Card
  13. Library Card - I love having my library card on my keyring. So handy.
This post shows me that I really need to pay more attention to my key ring. There are some cards on there that I haven't used in a years. I think I can safely get rid of those. So how many cards do you have on your key ring?

You can probably also tell by the fact that I have cards on here for 5 different grocery stores that I'm not loyal to any particular grocery store. I will shop at whatever store has the lowest prices on what I need that week. As long as the store doesn't leave me feeling dirty. I'm amazed that anyone shops at some stores. Yuck!

For more Thursday Thirteen, head over to Happy to be at Home. This week they have tips on how to keep your refrigerator clean. Plus you can check out all the other Thursday Thirteen posts.

Reusable Shopping Bags

A little over a month ago I won a set of RuMe Reusable Shopping bags at a giveaway over on Oh Brooke. I had looked at these bags before, but hadn't wanted to spend the money on them. I figured, hey I can get a reusable bag at the grocery store for $0.99 and it works just fine. Well, those do work just fine for my large grocery runs, but I love these bags too. They are great because they fold up and even have a Velcro strap to keep them compressed. When they're folded they fit perfectly in my purse. That makes these bags a breeze to carry with me for quick trips to the drugstore or even a quick run to the grocery store for some milk and bread.

These bags also state that they'll hold up to 50 pounds. Me, being the slightly wild person I am, decided to test that theory. So first I put my dog in one. He was fine so I decided to ahead and put my daughter in out. She loved it. The bag held her with no problem and she loved being lifted up in the bag. I wound up having to hide these bags from her so that she wouldn't want to play with them all the time.

For those of you that typically only use the flat bottom reusable bags you find at the grocery store, you may want to check out some of these bags that fold up to fit into your purse. If you're handy with a sewing machine you could make some for yourself. If you aren't, you could buy some from Delight.com (where mine came from) or other sources both online and off.

For more Things I Love Thursday, head over to the The Diaper Diaries.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning - The Living Room

I finally decided to do some Spring Cleaning in the Living Room. In case you didn't know it before, I do have a toddler so there are lots of toys in these pictures. The living room is her main play area as we spend most of our time on this level of the house. So, here are the before pictures of my living room.

Yeah, there were toys EVERYWHERE! My daughter is 17 months old so we are starting to work with her on putting her toys away, but she still doesn't get it. As a result, mommy and daddy wind up putting away most of the toys (or not).

Here are the after pictures:




Yes, there are still a lot of toys in our living room, but now they are all neatly put away. At least until my daughter wakes up again. Sigh! Sadly, this isn't even a third of her toys. We rotate her toys out so that she has an ever changing assortment. Luckily most of these toys were gifts or hand me downs. It does make for a hard time storing them all though. For now, we keep most of the toys in the toy box with some of the larger toys around the room. I think I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that our living room will be a play room for the next 10 years or so.

Have you done any Spring Cleaning this week? I have to say that I'm very glad that I'm getting things cleaned up around here. Even if they don't seem to stay clean for very long. We have a couple boxes ready to be donated and this week we filled our trash can. Thank goodness yesterday was trash day because I'm sure I will be getting rid of even more stuff as the week goes on.

To see more Spring Cleaning posts, head over to Simple Mom's Spring Cleaning Party Day 3 post.