Roller Blades and Helmets

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Basement or Garage, Blog

Organize your Roller Blades and Helmets

Does your garage look anything like this?  With roller blades and helmets all over the place?   This is a before photo of our garage prior to organizing the roller blades and helmets.

With nice weather comes roller blading, roller skating and kids playing outdoors. How many of you have a mess that looks something like this in the summer? Roller blades, helmets, knee and elbow pads everywhere?

I found this cool organizer at The Container Store to keep everything in its place. There are hooks so they can easily put each roller blade up themselves. Hooks for the helmets and a little basket area for their elbow and knee pads. You can also put a hockey stick down in the side to store that if you need to. Perfect.
I shopped around at several places for this for my client. I actually found The Container Store  to have better prices on these then Target ($39.99) . I was shocked. So shop around if this is something that you are thinking of getting.

Update: (Dec 30, 2011 – I have been unable to find these products online. If someone finds them, please let me know)

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How To Coupon!

Guest Blogger – Ellen from Thrifty & Chic Mom

Thrifty and Chic Mom

Ellen from Thrifty & Chic Mom is a blogger who I have had the privilege of meeting through our new local bloggers group. This is who is teaching me the art of “couponing”. I told her I did NOT want to use coupons…I really didn’t. I thought that I bought mostly generic and I saved more already than using coupons to buy name brand items!! (For those of you who haven’t read before I have been kicking and screaming as I learn this coupon method of saving money.) She told me, “Sandy, I never pay for toilet paper, I don’t pay for toothbrushes, I never pay more than a dollar for a name brand box of cereal.” I was like,”What?…Are you kidding? Please tell me no…I don’t want to do this!!!” But I am trying it and its not bad. It just takes some time, but I think once I get it down it will really be worth it. I am learning…but it is slow. I am thrilled because Ellen is going to put on a class locally to help us “coupon dummies” get the technique down. She has been featured on the local news several times and has it down. Her blog is one you want to follow if you want to save money.

Hi my name is Ellen and you can find me at Thrifty & Chic Mom.
I am thrilled today to share with you my money saving philosophy as it applies to coupons and hope it encourages you to take the plunge and start couponing and saving your family money.

As I continue on my journey of saving money and stretching my dollars farther I have slowly reshaped the way I shop and view my money. This attitude is constantly evolving but I am going to attempt to explain my thoughts, philosophy and methods in order to help you enjoy the benefits of saving money as I have.

This mainly refers to shopping grocery and household items but can be applied in other areas as well.

I regularly shop each week at 2 grocery store and 2 drug stores. Yes I know that is a lot of time and travel. This is only worth it if you have the stores all within a short distance and the time to do it. If you spend too much gas driving around the savings are not worth it. I am lucky and have Kroger, Giant Eagle, CVS and Walgreens all very close. Meijer is a bit farther but the deals are worth it for me to drive to.

Each week I look at the deals at my grocery stores and decide where I am going to shop at based on the store with the greatest number of applicable deals. All week I keep a running grocery list on my fridge which I update as I run out of basics. Then based on the items I have on hand and the deals running that week I make a meal plan and add the missing ingredients to my list. Next I take this list and add to it based on the items that are Great deals, these items are not necessarily for the upcoming week but are such a great price that they are to be stockpiled for the future.

I buy constantly for the future. By that I mean that by stocking up on items when they are on sale I already have them on hand when I need them. You should almost always buy when:

* it is a great deal
* you will use it at some time, now or in the future
* it is either non-perishable or freezer friendly
* it will not put you over your budget ( unless you have money to wiggle with)

If these criteria are met, buy as much as you can without blowing your budget. By stockpiling in this manner you will build a great supply to pull from in the future. This way you can plan your meals based on what you have and what is on sale. Planning your meals and shopping this way can drastically reduce your monthly bills.

A word of caution, if you wouldn’t buy it normally don’t buy it just because it is cheap. A great deal can suck you in but it doesn’t have to. For example I do not buy most snack foods. So even if cookies are very cheap I still do not buy them because it does not help me save money if I buy things I normally wouldn’t. I make snacks at home instead because it is cheaper and healthier for my family. Try to stick to your normal shopping list by saving money on those items you would usually buy, that is the best way to reduce your cost.

I also shop at both CVS and Walgreens for my household items and some grocery items. If the item is FREE I always get it ( as long as we will use it or it is good for donating). If it is cheap I check my stockpile and assess whether it is worth purchasing based on my future needs. Once again buying for the future is the key and not for now. Now should be already covered from past last weeks of shopping.

Hopefully this helps explain the way I shop and can help you develop your own shopping strategy. For more couponing and money saving advice please stop by Thrifty & Chic Mom.

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Avocado Salad Recipe

March 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Health & Safety



This week’s Gem of the Week goes to Heather from Just Doing My Best. She had presented a couple of good recipes. This is her Avocado salad. Did you know you can freeze avocados? I didn’t. Make sure you visit her blog and see what else she has been up to.

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This embarrassingly easy recipe came from my grandpa in Texas, whom I think is one of the best cooks ever.

Easiest Ever Avocado Salad

Coarsely dice 2 avocados and 3 small tomatoes and place in serving bowl. (I’ve used Roma and they work well because Roma’s have less liquid than some of the other varieties.) Then, coat the diced duo with Italian dressing. You will have to eyeball the amount, but you will not want to use too much. Just enough to coat.

It’s THAT easy. My kids like to eat avocado salad with tortilla chips, as they would guacamole, but it’s also great served by itself. The salad is extremely versatile so you can vary the quantity of fruits used based on the size of your family and personal preferences.

Heather
Join me for Share your Recipe Sunday. Add your name and recipe to Mr. Linky. Post it on your site with the Share your Recipe Button. You may win my Gem of the Week award. Be sure to pick up some other good recipes and come back each Sunday if you would like to add even more recipes!

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National Clutter Awareness Week


I just learned that the 4th week of March was National Clutter Awareness Week! (thank you @clutterdiet on twitter for making me aware of it.) The beginning of spring and spring cleaning does make sense for the perfect time to declutter.

The biggest reason for most people to have clutter is because you do not have a place for everything you own. So it gets set down on a table or desk and then just continues to accumulate, and accumulate and accumulate.
You may think..”I don’t have clutter”. But look around. Are the surfaces of your counters and side tables clear? Can you find the surface of your desk? If you can’t..then you too may be guilty. LOL….heck, we all are at some point!
If it is past a point that you can’t take 10 minutes and pick it up and put it away…then you may have a clutter problem.
Generally it is because we have more “stuff” than we have room for the “stuff”.The solution is simple – decrease the stuff. Simple. Right? No..it usually isn’t that simple.
Start small. Set a timer for 15 minutes and pick a small space. A junk drawer maybe, or small desk top. Think fast and don’t ponder on one item for more than a few seconds. (you have to “depersonalize” it)
Decide 1) Do I use it?
2) Do I need it?
3) Does it add value to this space?
4) What is the worse thing that will happen if I don’t have it?

Then you can decide if you need to keep it, can donate it or throw it away.
Give it a try.
Wouldn’t you rather work in an space like this instead of the above? (Yes it is the same space after we sorted, decluttered, painted and moved furniture.)

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The Container Store


I made a trip to The Container Store today to take advantage of the discount that Oprah and Peter Walsh are offering. I needed to get recycle bins, and wanted to see what other goodies I could find. I did find a magnetic paper towel holder and some cool little baskets with handles.
Loved the discount.


I just love this store. I am like a kid in a candy store (Oh..I love candy stores too!!)
It would be fun to go in there with a big gift certificate wouldn’t it?

Going into this store is always a good time for me!
Don’t always consider they have the highest prices, they don’t. I purchased roller blade hangers for the garage a couple of years ago and shopped at 3 different stores first before finally buying them here, because TCS had the best prices.
Many times you can find things to use around the house to do what you need, but when you can’t be sure to check them out first as they have great selection. Find what will work for you, then shop around to see if this is a good deal or not. (At least that is what I do)

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Stockpiling


Stockpiling is a bad word to a professional organizer. So why am I discussing it? Because that is evidently one of the keys to making the couponing valuable and saving you money down the road. To buy the items when they are at their cheapest and then using them when you need them.
With the economy at its worse in most of our lifetimes, there are some things that we all need to change.
For me it may be that stockpiling can change from a “dirty” word…to a “valuable” word.
Actually, I don’t mind a little stockpiling. I have no problem with having a back up peanut butter or ketchup.
But with the economy it may be something that needs to be done a little to help out the family budget.
I do think that it would be easy to get carried away though.
If you realistically as a family would never finish 24 boxes of cereal before the expiration date or bugs got into them…do not buy them!
**A “good deal” is not a “good deal” if that “good deal” ends up in the trash!
If you are able to get something almost free or very inexpensive and know you can’t use it or won’t use it – please locate a food bank or family in need near you and donate it.

Point #1
Make sure you have the space to put up some shelves that are safe from bugs and moisture.
Point #2
Only buy it if you can use it before the expiration date, or if you can donate it to someone who can use it within the time frame.
Point #3
Make sure that you keep your stockpile organized. First one “in” needs to be the first one “out”. So that you do not have things get expired. Put the newest items you buy of that product, behind the older ones.
Also be sure to know exactly what you have. Put “like” items with “like” items.
Point #4
Only buy items you know that you will use.

Couponing has been coined “addicting”. As with any “addition” it can go to extremes. Be sure to keep your stockpiling and “bargin” buying under control, so that it truly is saving your family money.

*Here is an example I just found at Milk Donor Mama, she talks about all she bought and how she did it and how much she saved. But what I think is great is at the end of the article she explains what her family will use, what her parents will use and then how she will donate the rest! Love it.
(photo found on photobucket – nope…not my stockpile…although those bags of chocolate sure look good!!)

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Life Doc Review

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Products for Organizing

Earthquake Readiness Plan

by 3Bay B Chicks

 

My guest post is from 3 Bay B Chics Blog.
The 3 Bay B Chicks are comprised of three long-time friends, Thuy, Kacey, and Francesca, who love their little corner of the world in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Their blog began as a way for friends to help one another remain sane after becoming parents. The three of them offer something a little different to the blogosphere each week. Kacey is the resident style expert, Thuy is the queen of bargains and tips, and Francesca writes mostly about her everyday experiences with her kids.

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As evidenced by my tendency to drive like an old lady, I have always been a cautious person. Since giving birth to our son, I’d like to think that my sense of cautiousness has taken a more focused and productive path. You see, my family lives in earthquake country in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Because both my husband and I commute across the Bay Bridge to work, I feel inclined to be even more prepared than the average person.

What does this mean exactly? For starters, I followed the guidelines at Ready.gov to prepare food and extra supplies that my family would need in case a natural disaster strikes. In addition, I took these extra steps:

Put an extra pair of shoes underneath our bed (next to the baseball bat) in case we need to run out of the house and there is shattered glass on the ground.
Packed an emergency kit for the car, complete with water, cash (cash is king!), extra change of clothing, coats, and trail mixes.
Assigned an out of state emergency contact because the network will be flooded with calls to the area.
Last, but not least, I created a “What To Do If I Die” file on the computer for my husband.

Okay, I know that last one sounds incredibly morbid, but as the one who takes care of all the paperwork at home, I thought my husband should know about the bills he’d need to pay, the numerous accounts to keep track of, where to find our son’s medical files, who our life insurance contact is, etc.

Basically, the computer file contains a rambling of all the things that my husband would need to address in the event that I pass. I did take care to also write beautiful and heartfelt notes to my family in the file. It’s not all instructive! J

In spite of my various disaster preparedness efforts, when I saw this Life.doc book on sale recently, I thought it might help me to organize my rambling thoughts a bit more.

The book is broken down into the following categories:

Emergency plan
Family basics
Medical history
Insurance
Finance
Legal issues
Contacts (housekeeper, babysitter, etc)

It is certainly a cute little book and, after investing the time to list all the insurance policies and bank account numbers, I felt so much better about our emergency preparedness. Once I completed the various forms, I also scanned them, encrypted the file, and e-mailed it to myself so that if I couldn’t grab the Life.doc book quickly, all would not be lost.

Though I must admit that my “What To Do If I Die” file worked well, filling out the Life.doc folder made me realize that I was missing lots of information. The book is definitely something that I could easily grab if I was running out of the house, as all of our information is now nicely consolidated in one place.

Now, if only I could plan for the little things in life, like dinner!!

-Thuy

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Zucchini Muffin Recipe

March 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Health & Safety

Recipe for Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Muffins!

My Gem of the Week award goes to Amy from Amy’s Finer Things. She has this yummy zucchini recipe for Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Muffins. I have zucchini coming out the ying yang right now from my garden and I am guessing a few of you do too! I did a little looking and she also has this great page of links to other zucchini recipes on her site. You will have to look at it. I would have used it for this post but she didn’t enter it in the Share my Recipe Sunday. I didn’t think she would mind if I used a 2nd link to her site to share these yummy looking recipes with you!
Amy says that her children ask for them. She thinks they should be considered cupcakes!
I know I am going to try them for sure!

I would love to have you join my Share My Recipe Sunday! Just pick out a recipe you love..hopefully that is simple and easy. Post the link on here. Pick up my button and post it on your site with the recipe and link it back to here.
My Mr. Linky is finally working again! Yeah!!
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Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Muffins

* 3 eggs, beaten
* 1 c. cooking oil
* 1 1/4 c. sugar
* 1 large package chocolate instant pudding
* 2 c. grated zucchini
* 2 tsp. vanilla
* 1 c. unbleached flour
* 2 c. whole wheat flour
* 1 tsp. soda
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

1. Beat eggs, oil, sugar, pudding mix, vanilla and zucchini together.
2. Blend dry ingredients and add to zucchini mixture; mix well.
3. Scoop into greased muffin tins.
4. Bake 17-20 minutes at 350°.

** Makes 2 1/2 dozen muffins. I made 2 dozen regular plus 1 dozen mini muffins.

** You could also grease two loaf pans and bake 1 hour at 350° for Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Bread.

 

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Ford Invited Bloggers to the Columbus Auto Show


I was among 7 bloggers who were invited to the Columbus Auto Show to see their new cars and be educated about them. My invite came from Christina whom I would like to thank for thinking of me. You can read my post on my review site Organize with Sandy Reviews.
Please also visit the blogs of the other 6 attendees.

1) Christina – A Mommy Story
2)Ellen – Thrifty Chic Mom
3)Lisa – Condo Blues
4)Cheryl – Being Cheryl
5)Dan – Dan On It
6)Tara – Deal Seeking Mom
Ellen is on the left and Christina on right


From left: Lisa, Cheryl, Dan and Tara


Then onto the Hyatt for a lovely lunch.


Click on my Review button to read my full review on Ford.

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Organizing your pantry for less

March 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, How To Organize, Kitchen

Does your messy pantry need some Organizing?


Denise from Musings from Mommyland asked me if I could help her with ideas for organizing her pantry.
I do not have a fancy pantry (one that you could drool over that all of us would love to have…you know, the kind that most of us could make into a home office.) and thought I could benefit many of you best by showing some of the inexpensive ways that you can add “space” to your pantry without having to spend an arm and a leg to do it.

These wire shelf additions can also be used on non wire shelving. Some of the ones on the top shelf and floor can be turned upside down and used to hang from a shelf also. Be creative.
If you have an idea you would like to me help out with, please let me know.
Thanks

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Peter Walsh

March 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Celebrities

Oprah and Peter Walsh

 


Oprah has started the Clutter Crew headed by Peter Walsh. He is an Organizing Great, I had the pleasure of meeting at my National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference last year.
He has partnered with Oprah and had a show on springtime organizing.
I have never seen a sale like this at The Container Store (really!!) I have seen some sales on their Elfa shelving, but never on everything in the store. I suggest you take advantage if you know of some specific things that you had planned to purchase anyway. (Don’t just buy because it is on sale)


I will put another link on my side bar. This promo is good through April 13th, 2009 if there is something that you were planning to purchase, this is a good way to do it.

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Baskets…add a little style for less

March 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Decorating, Products for Organizing


Before you buy and baskets or any form of organization items, make sure you have a reason to buy them. Don’t just buy something because it is on sale and you “think” you may be able to use it someday. That ends up adding to your clutter mess. Just because it is something that can be used to organized. If you aren’t using it for that purpose, then it adds to the problem.
If you are actively trying to find something to put your CD’s in or DVD, stationary etc.. Then you can many times find things on sale. I think I found these at the Flower Factory or Old Time Pottery. I know I didn’t pay much at all for them (like a couple dollars at most) and thought they really looked nice. With the photo boxes, you don’t have to use them for pictures if there is some other way you need to use them. If it is not for photos (because I am not sure they are archival safe) you can take a regular shoebox and cover it with contact paper and make your own storage box to use that looks nice. Just keep in mind you will not be able to see what is inside, so label well.
You can add a bit of style to some of your shelves, be organized and not spend much!

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Command Hooks by 3M

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Products for Organizing

Guest Post

by Jessica
Jessica has so graciously offered to write a post for me on the 3-M hooks she loves to use with all the cool ways she uses them! Please visit her blog called Lackadaisical Motivation Thanks so much Jessica!
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First of all, thanks so much to Sandy for featuring this post! Although I’m not nearly as organized as Sandy, I try my best and she’s already give me great ideas that I’ve incorporated into my life. I’m happy to share this post with others.
I love 3-M hooks. I use them to help create more space in all of my living places. With as much as I use them, I thought I’d share how I incorporate them into our lives….maybe you’ll love ‘em too! There are two great things about using them– they remove from the walls very easily (they don’t leave white residue that you have to Goo-Gone away) and the hooks come in different sizes, so they’re very versatile. They’re not very stylish, so I usually tuck them away inside a door, cabinet, or inside of a wall. I hang my bath towels, measuring cups, keys, bathrobes, belts, purses, jewelry, etc using the hooks.

I hang my measuring cups inside a cabinet door. They’re a weird shape and kinda big, but I love the cups, so hanging them inside the door keeps them accessible and frees up space.
I hang the dish towel inside the cabinet under the sink. Hanging it up dries it quickly and keeps us from using it as our hand towel.
I hang my apron in the little space between the fridge and the wall. Keeps it out of the way, yet easily accessible!

Also hanging on the side of the fridge is my flip chart that list important dates. Each month when I advance the calendar to the next month, I grab this chart and use it to add dates to the new month. Of course I use one of the small hooks to hang the chart on the side of the fridge!

When we lived in Omaha and had a small apartment, the coat closet was right next to the front door, so when we come in from outside, we just hang them right up when we hang our coats and dump our bags (purse/briefcase).

This is the hand towel I use every morning in the bathroom. I lay it out on the counter (to keep my eye shadow from dirtying up the counter top) and then use it wipe my hands after gelling my hair. Then, I hang it up on the wall.

This was our bathroom door in Omaha (we had an apartment). We had three hooks we used to hang our bath towels on after we’d used them for the day. When we moved out, we just pulled off the sticky thingy and were done! No holes in the walls or doors. It was great!

Even though we own our home now, I don’t want to put holes in the doors, so I still use the hooks in our bathrooms to hang our robes.

In our closet, I use the hooks to hang my lingerie bag (keep the delicates separated from the rest of the laundry).

Here are some other random uses of hooks around our place:


And, quite possibly the most unique use for the hooks is how I hung my razor in the shower. I didn’t actually use the plastic hook, but the I did use the sticky strip that comes with a hook to attach my razor to the shower wall. Helps keep the razor dry and rust free!

You can find 3-M hooks at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, etc. They are typically found in the hardware departments.
Thank you, Sandy, for this opportunity!

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These can be found at The Container Store also.

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Cluttered in your Home = Cluttered in your Head

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, How To Organize, Time Managment

Clutter in your Home will cause Clutter in your Head

Clutter - we have all seen it, and chances are we all have it. Too much “stuff” for the space we have. What do you do with it? What do I keep, what do I give away? Where does it all go? Indecision on what and how and where to put everything is the source for the majority of people who have a problem with clutter.

How would you feel walking into this office to work? Relaxed, calm…ready to take on the world? I don’t think so. If you are anything like myself or most of the people I know (and no, they are not all professional organizers by the way) you would feel instant tension, stress and frustration.

Take this office for instance. The man who runs this home office began his business building homes and it took off so fast that the conversion from old bedroom to office never fully happened. He felt frustration everyday walking into this office to work. He couldn’t have clients come discuss house plans in his office because he was too embarrassed. There were bookshelves with baby books, wrapping paper from Christmas, out of season clothes in the office. (I could go on) This man happens to be very organized and neat but because of the situation and the fact that there are not 72 hours in one day…it over took him.

Clearing out the clutter, the extra “stuff” and “fluff” that you don’t need and use, can clear out our heads. It can give you a calm and peace. Too much stuff in our visual field can put too many thoughts in our head of other things. Say for instance you have to go into the spare room to water the plant. You walk in and see a huge mess of things; instead of walking directly over to water the plant you think, “Oh, there is the shelf sitting on the floor that I have to fix and I almost forgot that I have to move that box of books up to Tommy’s room. But wait I can not forget to get those pictures over to Grandma Millies! Now what did you go into that room for to begin with? Oh yes…to water the plant that is crowded on the desk and is almost dead.”

Our lives are so complex in this world. Mail, e-mail, bills, taxes, work, family, lessons, sports, more bills, poor economy, cooking, cleaning, more bills, etc…
We already have so many things floating around in our heads and we are trying to keep them straight that we need a place that can be “de-cluttered”, feel peaceful and be relaxed. If it isn’t our homes, where will it be?

I know it can seem completely over whelming trying to think about how to get rid of it, how do I begin? There are people who are actually trained to help you. I know that money is a major factor right now, and if you do not have the budget to hire a Professional Organizer (they actually go through things with you and help you make those decision and work out a plan as to how a system can work) you can still find many resources that are free to help you.

The internet is one major free bookstore!! There are articles and web sites and blogs to read mammoth amounts of information on and gleam ideas from. If you go to your local library there are books that you can read to help you on organizing. There are TV shows (although not realistic in the time frame it appears to transform a room or home in)you can still pick up tips from them.

Don’t try to do it all on your own. Make this a family project and work together to discover that living in a home with “less” can actually give you a lot “more” than you imagined.

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Coupon Organizer

March 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food

Couponing. I’m going to Try It


For those of you I have discussed this with you know that I am getting into this kicking and screaming! I have tried using coupons in the past and my theory has always been that I can save more money buying generic than using the coupons.
After a meet up with some other Columbus blogging moms I decided I had to try it. See, one of our moms is Ellen from Thrifty Chic Mom. She is a couponing queen. But get this…2 of the moms who are going to try and come to our next meet up (this was our first) are both huge into couponing too! (I think it is a sign Sandy…you HAVE to try this). They are Marcy from Stretching a Buck and Tara from Dealing Seeking Mom.
Ellen told me, “I never pay for toilet paper, I never pay for toothbrushes.” and she named a couple others…I was like, “What….How….huh????”

She gave us a little run down on how it works. (She has a tutorial on her site)
So I said I would try it. I knew I would have to make up a coupon notebook.(Kim from Crafty Mama of 4 did a guest post a couple weeks back about making up one, and Ellen also has one on her site.) That took me a most of Saturday to do. Make sure you get dividers that are wide enough to show past the edges of your baseball card holders. I also labeled my coupon pages at the bottom with a labeler to help divide them even better. Making it fast and easy to find your coupons will help in your over all experience.

Here are a few tips from me when you go on your first adventure:
* Do not take kids if at all possible (especially three 8 year olds! LOL)
* Do not pick a New grocery store to do your first adventure out because it is
bigger and has better selection (DH idea). I didn’t know where anything was.
* Make sure you have it all planned out ahead of time. Do not try to figure out
what you are going to buy when you get there and then look for that coupon.
I did…and can’t imagine if I had not had it planned out.

I am not sure how much money I saved. I mean I know I used about $15 in coupons that came off at the end. The receipt said I saved $67 (with Kroger savings). But I also know I bought things I wouldn’t have. It will give us more food, for a longer time….so I guess that is good. I made sure things were less with sales and coupons than with generic. So that is all positive.
I still have to give this some time and feel like I get the system down before I can give it a full review. I have not tackled CVS or Walgreens yet. CVS seems even more confusing with the Extra Care Bucks.
We spent $199 (keep in mind we are buying for 7) which filled two carts (3 when bagged up). DH always likes to estimate what the total is when they are checking us out. He is usually pretty close. He guessed $280. (If you add that $67 he would have been close). He felt it was worth it. My decision is still out, but I will give it more time.
I am going to try and get some coupon resources on my site for you though. So watch for those. Coupon Queen I don’t see in my future, but you never know. I have heard this is addicting.
The kids were trying to figure out why in the world I was taking a picture of the groceries! LOL

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Organize Your Email

Organize Your Email

by Beth Davis

I asked Beth from Plus Size Mommy to be a guest blogger because she is such a wonderful person. I had the pleasure of meeting Beth at Blissdom 09. What a great time we all had! She and I had been twittering and she is always very nice and up lifting. Her blog is great with information and giveaways. Please make sure you visit her blog!
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When Organizer Sandy asked me to do a guest post on her blog, I was so honored. I had never been asked to do one before. I thought that this was so nice of her to ask me to write one. Then I started to think, wow, I am not a very organized person. I mean I have my things organized but it is by my own “system” that probably no one else could ever figure out.

My husband thinks I am nuts and he doesn’t understand how I ever find anything, but I always do. As a matter of fact, I think if I ever was “organized for real” I would probably not know where to find anything !!

So I kept thinking and thinking, what in the world I could post on an Organizers blog?
I asked around and got a lot of idea’s from people but the idea’s weren’t good enough. After all this IS my first guest blog and I wanted to be sure it was something special. So I kept asking my friend who you all know as @craftymamaof4 (Kim) what she thought. I had her thinking for me for a few days, and then she came up with a wonderful idea !!
Something I never really thought about as organizing but it definitely IS !

KEEPING YOUR INBOX ORGANIZED :

I keep my email organized. As a matter of fact, Kim told me I was the one who taught her how to do this, and that it has really made a difference in her inbox and she can find what she wants much easier. Now a lot of you may already do this, or know how to do this, and it is quite simple, but Kim, who to me is very computer savvy hadn’t done this until I mentioned it to her, so maybe a lot of you who could be doing this aren’t ?

Here is how to organize your email inbox. (I use yahoo email by the way, but I think it is possible to do this with any email system)

1. When you open your inbox there is a column on the left hand side that has
a. inbox
b.drafts
c. sent
d. spam
e. trash

2.Then if you go further down there is a place where you can add folders.

3.You should definitely set up a spam filter in within your email settings.This will screen out any unwanted mail and also helps t block viruses. I do check my spam folder from time to time though because somethings can get sent there that aren’t spam, especially if your waiting for an email that doesn’t/hasn’t come.

4.The drafts folder is where you can keep emails that might not be quite done or are needing more info. before you hit the send button. Hint: this is also a great way to vent!!
I have used this folder many a time to write an email if I am upset over something and I save it to drafts overnight, if when I wake back up I still feel I want to send it I do, but usually those get deleted because it was something I felt like saying but really shouldn’t and what a difference a day makes when your mad, lol It still feels good to write that down though, even if you go back and delete it.

5.The SENT and TRASH folders are self explainable, but the sent mail is useful to go back and refer to if you need something in the future.

.6. Now for the REAL organizing part. If you go to where you can add folders, under MY FOLDERS. You can make a folder for anything you want. for example, Kim told me she does a lot of surveys, but only when she feels like it and has time. So she created a survey folder, Tons of surveys come into your email everyday so now she has them all going into that “Survey” folder and it doesn’t clog up her normal emails. To do this you just have to tell it to put anything with “survey” in the subject line to go to that file.
I use this for Home Interiors, I buy home interiors a lot so my consultant sends me emails about sales and things, so all of them go into that designated file and when I get a chance I will go there and read them.
It is a wonderful system and really keeps your inbox organized well. ..

Thank you Sandy for asking me to do a guest post on your blog I am touched and honored you asked me to do this.

Beth AKA PlusSizeMommy

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Organize Your Desk

March 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, Offices, Paper

A man’s desk is his domain? This was my dearest darlings desk and I am supposed to leave it alone. He knows where things are. But I have my limits ladies. I could stand it no longer. I had this plastic unit (the light from the window makes it a little difficult to see..but it has places on both sides to stand things up and horizon flat shelves in middle to lay papers.)that I was not using and thought it could help him out. There are many different desk top organizers that you can find, many very inexpensive to help sort your incoming and out going papers. You can find them in Office Max, The Container Store or Online Organizing (or any discount store) Just a few simple things and it can make all the difference in the world.

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Label Daddy Review


Label Daddy labels are great! I have been having fun finding new things to label. I have labeled the kids thermos for their lunch boxes, coats, sweatshirts, Under Armour, shoes and many other things. These are items that I really didn’t have a way other than with a sharpie to label before. (sharpies fade over time or sometimes even wash off) I do have to admit that I used the “shoe” labels on my computer bag and water bottle. They were designed to go in the sole (heel area) of your shoes. No more losing your band $60 tennis shoes for my kids!! (yes one did by the way)
These labels are dishwasher safe, microwave safe, washer and dryer safe. There are labels for clothing, shoes, large bags, outdoor trashcans, photos and more.
These labels are laminated to protect and they stick. They really really stick!!
I have sent them through the dishwasher without problems and also the washer and dryer. The only thing I noticed is that after they came through the washer and dryer it is just slightly wrinkled and not as smooth…but it is still stuck. I think it just molded a little to the fabric.

So many shirts are now going label free on their clothing lines all in the name of comfort. But when you have a system to label your children’s clothing and there is no where to put them…it is a little frustrating. But not now…Label Daddy to the rescue!! Under Armour is one example…there are no labels…but now at my house there is!!! (thank you Label Daddy)
I also have to put out a plug for the owners of Label Daddy..they are great to work with and have even sponsored a couple lucky bloggers to go to a blogging conference. You can feel good about the Daddies behind the company!

To purchase go to Label Daddy

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Organizing blueprints

March 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Closets, DIY, Offices


You don’t always have to have a lot of money to organize. You can use your imagination to help solve some problems.
This is an example of storage for some house blueprints that a client needed some storage for.
We simply took several narrow boxes that we were going to throw out and stacked them on top of each other to make some of his plans close at hand (but still achieve storage). I have to admit, although I would love to take credit for this solution…it was his wife who saw the boxes and figured it out. I think I would have been too concerned to offer boxes to many clients as a solution before that, but I realize that we all want low cost alternatives and worse they could say (other than “You cheap-o..I want another organizer!”) would be, “No, that doesn’t work for me”.
This is what we came up with for his office for the plans he was currently working on.
I had researched all kinds of products for him and there are many out there, both for long term and short term, but he was trying to keep expenses down. In his office he did opt for some storage cubbies that were a low cost alternative to the expensive drawer options that we looked at. He wanted some of his plans to lay flat, others rolled. It bothered me that they were sticking out, but he was alright with that and out of the options, this is what worked best for him, and what he chose.
There can be many low cost solutions that you can find for organizing, you do not always have to run to the store for everything. Here are just a few examples:

egg cartons – take the top off and use in desk drawer for paperclips, rubber bands..
candy trays (inside candy box) – jewelry, earrings, desk drawers..
check book box – inside “junk drawer” to organize little thing …
inside grid from a fruit (pears, apples) box – great sock organizer for drawer
Many many more….

What are some other ideas that you have used or can think of?

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Family Calendar

March 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Guest Post, Time Managment

Keep a Family Calendar To Help Organize Your Family

by Donna
My guest blogger this week is Donna from Stop and Visit the Zoo. This woman is amazing (and sweet!)…amazing that she even has time to get on the computer, let alone maintain a blog. She is the mother of 9 children (and one in heaven). Ok…but she has 2 sets of triplets! Two ladies!!
I have people tell me that I am amazing having 8 children..but 3 of mine are out of the house, and of the 5 I have at home, Dave’s kids (including his triplets) go to their mom’s every other week…so I feel like an impostor!! Be sure to check out how she manages her day….and notice the laundry! (And you thought you had a lot of laundry)

I want to thank Sandy for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger. Sandy, you and your site are definitely an inspiration for me on my organizing journey. I hope I can help others along their way too.

First of all hello everyone! I am Donna from Stop and Visit the Zoo. I have a large and unique family, 9 living children which include 2 sets of triplets. My oldest daughter, 17, is a senior in a science and math magnet program. She is currently working on her senior capstone project. This is a year long project that involves working with a local scientist and staying after school to do the required work. My 14 year old is a freshman at the local high school. She is in the International Baccaleurate program. Both of them are on their respective high school speech and debate teams, which also known as the Forensics Team. So they have a weekly practice and tournaments bi-weekly.

My middle four are in elementary school. One is in fifth grade, and other three are in third grade. The two boys are currently in Cub Scouts and the girls are Brownies. My oldest son will be moving up to Boy Scouts soon. Plus I have the three two year olds at home. Since they were born 10 weeks early, the currently have a monthly visit from the Infant and Toddler teacher to monitor their progress.

My husband Richard is a career fire fighter for a local county. He is currently assigned to the training academy, where he works four 10 hour days a week. I am blessed to be able to stay home with the children. Our parental activities include Richard being an officer in one of our church’s men groups. I belong to the affiliated woman’s chapter and also teach Faith Formation to the kindergartners on Monday nights. I am also the treasure of the elementary school’s PTA.

All of this background is to give you an idea that we are definitely a busy family. I am sure by now you are wondering how we manage it. The most important tool is our family calendar. We purchase a large desk blotter size one and hang it on the wall. This becomes our family’s communication center. My favorite saying is: If is not on the calendar it does not exist! So if one of the teens comes up to tell me about something they HAVE to today. If it is not already on the calendar, it is not a high priority. They learned very quickly to mark it on the calendar when they first hear of it.

Every night I look at the calendar and plan the next day. Are there appointments, meetings, events? I try to keep errands to Wednesday. For me it limits the time out of the house and makes for a smoother week. I check the menu for day and get the meat out or bring every thing upstairs and put it in the pantry. I do plan my menu out for the month. So anyone can tell what we are having and can fix it if I am not around

My oldest two daughters are out the door very early, high school starts at 7 AM here. My daughter in the magnet program is on the bus at 6:15 AM. They each have one morning chore. The oldest unloads the dishwasher and puts the dishes away. My 14 year old starts the 1st load of laundry.

What follows is the school year schedule. Most of the boy scout meeting are Monday evenings at 6:00 PM and the Girls Scout meetings are on Wednesdays so dinner those nights are a little earlier and quick and simple . During the summer, we are bit more relaxed. Stop laughing please. Yes, I can relax if I have to.

5:00 Oldest High schooler up
5:30 Richard up and off to work
6:00 AM Donna gets up, personal hygiene, devotional time, eat breakfast, computer if time allows, make sure 14 year is up
7:00 Get the middle four up, if they aren’t already up, they get dressed and eat.
7:30 Middle four do their morning chores. Straighten room, trash collected, etc.
7:30 Get the toddlers (the girls) up, dressed and fed
8:00 Finish breakfast clean up, reboot laundry
8:15 Load up the car to take the middle four to school, run errands on Wednesday
8:45 Back from school, if no errands
9:00 Play time with the girls
9:30 Reboot laundry, fold and put away laundry, morning cleaning. Start dinner in crockpot if using. Computer time for Donna.
10:30 More time with the girls, reading, playing, sometimes a video is played
11:15 Lunch time! Reboot laundry, fold, put away when the girls go up for nap
12:00 PM Girls down for nap.

This is when I can get the heavy cleaning I need to get done, done. Wash the floors, scrub the bathrooms. Or if I need to work upstairs, this is when I do it. I will do the pantry cleaning, closet organizing, etc. I may only get one or 2 shelves or drawers done, but it is done. Then I can get on the computer and play for a block of time

2:00 First high schooler home. She will check the laundry and reboot if there is any left, have a snack and then do her homework.
Between 2:30 and 3:00 Girls up from nap. Then weather permitting we will go on a walk or just play inside.
3:00 2nd high schooler home. She will do a laundry check and reboot if necessary. Snack and homework.
3:20 Leave to pick up the middle four. (The older two watch the girls while I do this)
3:45 Home from pick up., snack for the middle four
4:00 Homework. They sit at the kitchen table to do their homework while I start dinner preps. I can help them if they need it and I can get my work done too. After they are done, their book bags go into a basket in the garage. Then they can play for a bit either outside or in the house.
5:15 Evening chores. The children all have a job to do. It rotates through the days. Monday could be feed the pets, Tuesday is wipe down the bathrooms, Wednesday is trash detail, etc. Each day a different child is responsible for a different chore. Everything is posted so no one can say it is not my day.
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Dinner clean up and baths start
7:00 Evening family prayer time for those at home. Final chores for the day. Basement toy room picked up, rooms picked up. Make sure all the laundry is put away, etc
7:30 Girls bathed
8:00 Older set of triplets to bed
8:30 5th grader to bed
9:00 Girls to bed
9:30 High schoolers to their rooms for chill out time, finish up their home work, etc.
10:00 Lights out for High schoolers. Finish up any lingering things that need to get done, start dishwasher
10:30 Time I try to head to bed, some nights are later, much later

So that is our day. Do all days go as planned, heck no! More often than not only the bare minimum gets done. But I have an outline of what needs to get done. I know what I am working on in my house so it will eventually get done.

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