Preparing For The New Year!

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Holidays & Special Events, How To Organize

New Start For New Year

I always love the New Year! It motivates me to make changes. Do I make resolutions? Yes – No – Kind of.  I make goals for the new year. I think goals are always good to have.

New Years

My goals for this year?

1) Lose weight (yes, I know.. everyone’s goals. Dave and I are joining Weight Watchers together.)
2) Exercise (although routine one .. right?)
3) Not work as many hours – now that is different, right? I’ve been working between 60-80 hours per week for a year an a half now with my social media job. I LOVE it… but my house, my health and my family have suffered.  I have to consciously not work so many hours, and because I love what I do, it’s difficult.

Those are my biggies.

What are some other things I like to do with the new year?

I like to clean up and clean out.  When that Christmas Tree and decorations come down, I like to get into other areas of the house and clean them up too.

Today I dove into the pantry, the refrigerator, my office, my paperwork, my tax information.

I make myself a check list for the new year. I use them for work, so made another one.   What is on it?

1) Weight
2) Exercise
3) Household jobs
4) Tracking food for each meal

There are a few other goals on the list. But I used excel, put the tasks I wanted to accomplish down the left side. Across the top I put the days of the week and I’ll check off as I do things.

What works best for you?  I don’t know.. that is up to each individual.  But I suggest the following:

1) Decide what goals you’d like to accomplish for the new year. Personal and business
2) Write them down
3) Make yourself some kind of check list. Documenting what you accomplish each day is helpful.
4) Prep other areas of your home, life to get ready.

Happy New Year!

 

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Gutzy Gear Backpack Straps and Patches

December 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Reviews & Giveaways, School

Kids Love Gutzy Gear Backpack Straps

I had the opportunity to have a Gutzy Gear home party and my triplets were so happy. I had a problem trying to get kids together with all the sports and sports schedules we have. It finally took a broken arm and Christmas break to get kids over here. lol

Gutzy Gear

I got all the straps ready to go. They come in single boxes, so you can purchase just one strap if that is what you’d prefer.

Gutzy Gear

The girls started out by coloring and making cards with some of the fun things that Gutzy Gear sent me.

girl party

The Gutzy gear patches come in packages of two. They have velcro on the back of them, and adhere to the straps easily.

gutzy gear patches

I opened all the rest of the packages so that they girls could pick out what they wanted. We spread them out on the table (so they wouldn’t all stick together from the velcro. lol)

gutzy gear

The straps go on easily. They just wrap around the backpack straps. They are padded and help to protect the kids straps, along with being decorative.

back packs

The littlest one, was more than eager to pick out her favorite patches. I started out by asking the girls all to pick out two patches they wanted. She quickly grabbed up six of her favorites! lol Her mom had to talk her into putting a couple back for the other girls. lol

gutzy gear

Her mom called me when they got home and told me again how excited the girls were with their Gutzy gear straps and patches. They were all very shy when they were here.

gutzy gear

Our second youngest participant, Amy’s @Happy4Deals youngest daughter was showing her mom what patches she liked, on the back of the package.

gutzy gear

After the kids decorated their book bags, we all ate some goodies!

cupcakes

Elise broke her arm at Basketball practice a couple weeks ago. She had her initial soft cast on with a sling. After the 2nd day with the sling on, she had a nasty red mark on the back of her neck from her sling strap. We were trying to figure out what we could do. She isn’t allowed to wear a turtle neck to school, so we were trying to figure out a way to protect her neck. I said, “Elise, I know what we can do!!  We have those Gutzy gear straps in there waiting for us to have our party. Let’s use one of those!”.

OMG.. it worked perfect!! No more red neck, she was so happy because it felt so much better.

broken arm

Of course we had to get a couple patches to decorate it! This was SOOOO perfect for this.

gutzy gear

Here are the party girls with all their decorated backpack straps.  Alex and Zach had them on their back packs, but I think in 6th grade they were just a little too conscious of their friends. One of the brothers of the other girls who came did bring his back pack too… and took two straps and patches, but didn’t join in the party.

I did see the Gutzy gear products in Target, last time I was there. They were in the aisle with luggage and back packs. You can also find them online on their Gutzy gear site. 

Gutzy Gear

Thank you Gutzy gear for providing all the backpack straps and patches for our party. I was not compensated in any other way.

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English Toffee Recipe

December 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Family & Friends, Food, Holidays & Special Events

Who Doesn’t Love English Toffee?

by Amy Trauntvein

English Toffee

The holidays are right around the corner and for me that means baking and lots of it, and homemade holiday candy tops the list!  Peanut butter balls, dipped pretzels, almond joys, and caramels, clusters, turtles….  But my favorite homemade treat is my grandma’s recipe of homemade English Toffee.  For years I  just let my mom and grandma make it while I enjoyed eating it thinking it was WAY too complicated and difficult to make, but then my husband and I found ourselves moving across the country with our then 3 (now 4) children and if I wanted any of this wonderfully delicious treat at Christmas time, it was now up to me to make it.  ACK!!  I thought for sure I was going to ruin it the first time I tried, but you know what?  It really was easier than I thought and it turned out perfect!  So now I’m going to give YOU the recipe and show you how you can make and enjoy your very own English Toffee and wow your friends with your culinary smarts!  And one other awesome thing about this recipe, you don’t need a candy thermometer to make it!  Score!  Ready?  Here we go!

English Toffee

  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Topping

  • 12 oz chocolate chips or good quality chocolate chopped up
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans) Purely optional.

Yes, 1 lb of butter is correct.  I never said it was light and healthy, did I? But there IS one secret to successful toffee and that is do not leave it alone.  Period.  You need stay at the stove because it must be constantly stirred and watched. If you think you can run upstairs and fold a load of laundry or go answer the phone while it cooks, before you know it, you’ve got a big burned mess.  It turns quickly and you need to be present.

First, you need to get your topping ready before you start cooking the toffee.  Chop the nuts, I used pecans for this recipe.  I chopped one cup more finely than the other for the topping.  One cup will go into the toffee (if you desire) and one cup will go on top of the toffee and chocolate.  Take one cup of nuts (the coarser chopped) and sprinkle onto an un-buttered cookie sheet

English Toffee

Chop up your chocolate and toss into a microwave safe bowl. Or if you are using chocolate chips, do nothing.  Here’s my chopped chocolate and the 5 lbs. of chocolate I buy every year to make candy.

English Toffee

My daughter wasn’t real happy about modeling it for me.  I really do go through almost all of it every Christmas making candy so it’s worth it to me to buy good quality chocolate.  No, we don’t eat it all ourselves.  I give most of my treats away to lucky recipients for the holidays!

English Toffee

Now you’re ready to start cooking!  Melt butter in a large non-stick pot on med/med high heat (do not brown).  Add sugar, water and corn syrup and mix well.

English Toffee
Bring to a rolling boil and continue stirring.  This is what is should look like.  I’m showing you so you can see the difference between the color of when it starts and and when it is finished…

English Toffee

Continue to boil while stirring until it turns the color of a brown paper bag (about 15 minutes).  See the bag and the toffee?  At this point it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Let it cook for another 2 minutes stirring constantly.

English Toffee

Take off heat and pour onto the cookie sheet.  I forgot to sprinkle mine with the nuts so I poured them over the top and pressed them into the toffee.  It still worked just fine.

English Toffee

Now for the chocolate.  If you are using chocolate chips, just pour the chips evenly onto the hot toffee and let melt.  If you are using chopped chocolate, toss into the microwave and heat in 30 second increments on high while stirring in between until melted (it took me 60 seconds total).  Pour chocolate onto (still hot)toffee.  Spread chocolate evenly and top with remaining nuts.  Let cool completely.

English Toffee

Once cooled, break into pieces, enjoy the deliciousness and bask in the glow of the compliments you will receive!

English Toffee

Thanks for joining me and I hope this tutorial had helped you get over any qualms you may have about candy making. It really is easier than you may think!  Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Love to all!  ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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A Day of Remembrance

December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, Family & Friends

NationalBloggingDayofRemembrance

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Fellowes Shredder Powershred 63Cb Review and Giveaway #SmartGiftsforGuys

December 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Offices, Paper, Reviews & Giveaways

Need a Gift For The Man In Your Life?

What about a POWERSHRED Fellowes Shredder?  Even the name sounds tough! It’s not a delicate shredder, or pretty shredder… it’s a POWERSHRED! Right there, we know we’ve got our men hooked! The nice thing is, is that it also benefits us! We have less paper clutter around right, and we don’t have to worry about identity theft because it shreds it so small.

fellowes shredder

I’ll tell you now that this Fellowes Shredder is heavy! I picked up the box when it came to the porch and I was thinking.. wow, this sucker is good! I have a shredder now that is soon going to be replaced. It gets jammed really easy and then heats up after just a couple minutes and I can’t do anymore shredding.

Here it is! It’s such a nice size.  You just put the upper power unit down onto the basket, remove some tape and plug it in… it’s ready to go.

One of the things that we accumulate way too much of is paper! Think about how much junk mail you get on a daily basis.

So much of that junk mail can be used to cause you a deal of great anguish if it falls into the wrong hands.  Any mail with your personal information on it should be shredded. Also any old credit cards need to be shredded. I’m happy to see that this can also handle those.

fellowes shredder

Here is a size scale, you can see the actual size of it.  You all know the size of hanging files right? So I put it next to my portable hanging file so you can see.

fellowes shredder

Now I’m going to test it.  One of the things that we all get so much of are those pesky charge card offers. I don’t even like to open them, but my other shredder couldn’t handle putting them in whole. In fact, I had to open them and unfold the papers to feed it in.  Here we go….

fellowes shredder

It worked!  It did stop about 3/4 of the way through and I thought it was going to be jammed. The red light came on and after about 3 seconds it started going again and finished the job. I did several more the same way and the same thing happened.  Of course when I opened one and took the envelope off, it went easier and didn’t stop. I didn’t have to unfold it to run easily.

fellowes shredder

Here are the results. They were little strips 1 1/2 – 2″ long. As a suggestion from me, I would have liked to have seen those strips diced even smaller, but this still did a better job than my other shredder.

shredder

I really like the fact that when you touch the area around the feed… it turns off automatically.  When you have young kids, that is a really nice security blanket to have.

Features:

* Jam Blocker ™ There is an electronic sensor that measures the amount of paper and prevents over feeding
* 10 sheet cross-cut – Turns a piece of paper into 399 pieces so you can’t read anything.
* Shreds credit cards, paper clips and staples
* 5 gallon basket
* 8 minutes continuous run time without shutting off
* Safesense® Technology – automatically shuts off when hands touch the paper opening
* Energy Savings System is in use rather the shredder is in use or not.

I can hardly wait to give this to my husband this Christmas! (Now to pack it back up so I can wrap it!) It is larger than I thought it was going to be. It’s heavier than I expected it to be. Both of those things combined in a shredder, mean a higher quality shredder to me.

I am planning on giving this to my Dad. He LOVES office equipment and he only has a small one sheeter shredder. He will be SO excited! I will update this post with a picture once I give it to him.

Be sure to check out my “Smart Gifts For Men In Your Life” Pinterest Board and feel free to pin any of these pictures onto your pinterest boards!

 

You can Purchase one!

The Fellowes Powershred 63Cb can be found on Amazon ($125 right now as I post this) and at Office Depot (I couldn’t find this model on the site, but they might have it in the stores) and Office Max (179.99).  The suggested retail price is $149.99
fellowes shredderYou can WIN one!
Win a Fellowes Powershred 63Cb shredder!  The contest is going to run from Monday Dec 13rd – Friday Dec 21th at 12:01am.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will notify you via email and you’ll have 48 hours to respond. If I haven’t heard from you at that point, then I’ll pick another winner.  You must be 18 years of age and have a US shipping address. (no P.O boxes)

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: I received product from Fellowes, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in this program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Home Made Christmas Cards

December 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Family & Friends, Holidays & Special Events

Do You Still Send Christmas Cards?

Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. I know in the last five or six years the number of cards I’ve received in the mail has dwindled down to very few. It used to be that I had them up everywhere, around doorways etc.  Now I get a small pile.

I’ve always sent out a Christmas card with our family picture on it. Yes.. I’m a letter sender too.  I know many people make fun of the Christmas letters, but I love them. Those are my favorite Christmas cards to receive.  When I get my Christmas cards out of the mailbox I, I usually know who sends the letter and I always open their cards last (save the best for last).

I love catching up with what is going on in the lives of my friends. I know that Facebook and blogs have begun to take place of sending out the cards.

I have never spent the time to sit down and make all my Christmas cards such as those that I’m going to showcase.

BHG Christmas Card

Better Homes and Garden

BHG Christmas card

Better Homes and Garden

Martha Stewart Christmas card

Martha Stewart

martha stewart handkerchief card

Martha Stewart 

I love this one. Have your child make a drawing and then take that to an office store and have them make a rubber stamp out of it.  Then create multiple cards.  You could even have them write their name with a small picture and use as a signature for your cards.

martha stewart card

Martha Stewart

What do you do for Christmas cards? Do you send them anymore? Do you take family pictures, or write letters?  Have you joined the multitudes of those that don’t send them anymore?

I might be joining that group myself this year. We didn’t end up getting together for our family picture this year at Thanksgiving that we normally do, so I’m not sure if I’ll get cards out this year or not.

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Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby Review

Organizing Your Coupons and Cards with the Coupon and Card Cubbys!

By Amy Trauntvein

Aren’t these just the cutest things ever?  These are the Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby for organizing your coupons and your cards in your purse, home, car or anywhere else.  They come in a variety of colors to match your style and personality!

Coupon and Card Cubby

The Coupon Cubby is perfect if you are not yet ready for a full size coupon binder but do use coupons.  It fits easily in your purse OR comes with it’s own removable and adjustable strap if you’d like to use it on it’s own for couponing or or even as a small purse or clutch!  It also includes 30 handy dividers with alphabet, grocery store category and blank (create your own category) labels for easy coupon organization.  There is an inside zipper pouch for anything else you may want to keep in your Cubby.   Retail $25.99

Coupon Cubby

The Card Cubby is smaller and is the perfect size to hold your gift cards, business cards, frequent traveler cards, membership cards, rewards cards and discount cards.  A portable mini card file or Rolodex!   It’s all in one place and comes with alphabet dividers for easy reference and filing. Like the Card Cubby is also has a small zipper pouch for cash or anything else you want to stash.    Retail from $19.95-$23.95 depending on options.

Card Cubby

Both the Coupon Cubby and the Card Cubby have a clear pocket on the back for your drivers license business card or a picture.  Both could easily be used as either a purse or wallet and has a durable cover that can easily be cleaned with a wet cloth.

Coupon and Card Cubbies

Not only are these two Cubbys handy, fun, adorable and easy to use, they are even easier to purchase! Perfect for yourself or as a gift!  Just go to the top tab here at Organizing With Sandy where it says “SHOP” and click on the drop down menu where it says “Card Cubby” or go here: Card Cubby 

I love my Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby and know you will too!  Even though I was compensated with the product for this post, all pictures and opinions are honest and my own.

Love to all! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Litter Spinner – Self Cleaning Litter Box Review

December 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Pets, Reviews & Giveaways

Got Cats? Hate to scoop the poop?

by Amy Trauntvein

I am a cat person.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs too, but for me, cats are much easier to take care of. They eat when they want to, clean themselves, entertain themselves and bury their bathroom jobs.  Except for the litter box.  I loathe cleaning the litter box!  Luckily my 2 cats are indoor/outdoor cats and normally “go” outside, but when it gets cold they usually stay indoors which means they “go” indoors. Ugh.  So when Litter Spinner asked if they could send me their self cleaning litter box for review, of course I wanted to check it out!  Retail- $99  They are also offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $79.

Litter Spinner

It is enclosed so more of the litter stays put.  It did take my 2 cats a while to get used to entering the “door”, but they got the hang of it.  We have a finished basement (the cats sleep down there during the night) so I put the new litter box in the bathroom where we have an empty corner.  It fit perfectly!  I pulled it out for the photos.  We did need to assemble it, but it was only in four pieces and just needed a Phillips head screwdriver to put the round “box” together.  It took all of 3 minutes, very easy!  Fill to the inside line with clean (clumping) litter.

Litter Spinner

To Self Clean-  It sits on a rounded base, so all you need to do it stand on the right side of it and push the top so it rotates counter-clockwise.  The drawer always sits at “3 o’clock”.  Rotate Litter Spinner one full rotation and continue to spin until the drawer is at “2 o’clock” then rotate back to “3 o’clock” to reset the litter.  Yep, that’s my foot. My apologies…

Litter Spinner

All the clumps will deposit themselves into the drawer.  Simply pull out the drawer and dump into the trash.  No need to scoop or touch anything!  Sweet!

Litter Spinner

I decided to be kind and not show you the “cat clumps”.  You’re welcome!

Litter Spinner

Now just put the drawer back and it’s all done and clean!  Yay!  Also, a VERY easy job for the kids to do.  Yes, I think so.

Do this once a day for best cleaning results and you won’t be disappointed.  I love my Litter Spinner.  What did I do before?  Oh yeah, plugged my nose and gagged.  A lot!  Here’s a pic of my one kitty that was being helpful today.  Yes, Tiger is fat and he still fits!  Even though he looks annoyed, he doesn’t mind being in pictures unlike my other one who hides unless she’s hungry.

Litter Spinner

 I would recommend Litter Spinner for any household with cats.  It’s keeps you, your pets and your house much cleaner for those necessary jobs that come with pet ownership.  Even though I was compensated with my Litter Spinner for this review, all opinions and photos are honest and my own.

Love to all!  ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Tips For Organizing for Christmas

Making a Christmas List – Checking it Twice…

We have so much to do this time of year, don’t we?  Dave and I we have even a little bit more than just Christmas, out of our eight kids, five of them have December birthdays! The youngest five to be exact.  Wowza!

christmas listIf only our lists were this easy?  Making lists and keep track of what you are doing, what you have done and what you still need to do can be your survival for the holidays. I will be referencing Christmas, because that is what I celebrate – please just insert your own holiday. Thanks!

Preparing Your Home

*With decorations comes moving things around, rearranging and cleaning.
*As you go through your decorations this year. Look in that box. How many things have not come out of that box to be used, in years?  Hint- It’s ok to get  rid of it. Just because it is from Christmas’s ago…doesn’t mean you HAVE to keep it. Take a picture with it…and let it go. This will make more room  if someone gives you more decorations, or there is something you just have to have in the store this year.
*Cleaning and sorting as you put things out, makes putting them away that much easier.

Holiday Meals – Things to Think of

*Which big meals will you be preparing and on which dates?
*How many people will be there?
*What will you serve? Along with appetizers, side dishes, desserts and beverages.
*Make out your grocery list.
*Look for coupons (big meals can be expensive! – This is one expense that many people don’t think to budget into their holiday spending
*If people ask what they can bring, give them an answer – salad, appetizer, dessert. Don’t hesitate to let them help.

Christmas Parties

*Be sure to write any invites on your calendar with times to keep track.
*Be curious and RSVP  (so many people don’t do this anymore. Let the hostess know how many to plan for)
*Plan what you are going to wear ahead of time.
*Do you need a gift for a gift exchange? Put that on your list
*Plan babysitters early (and get one for New Year’s Eve now if you need one!)

Christmas Cards

*If you still send them (and I hope you do…. I do) then purchase your cards if you haven’t already.
*Update your address list.
*They are great to take with you to appointments – sit in the Dr. office waiting room and fill out your envelopes!
*Buy your stamps.
*Fill out your cards. Personally I love the letters (I save and open those last when I get cards) – but at least a short note is appreciated to let people
know that you are actually thinking of them when you write your cards.
*If you are ordering a Christmas card with pictures, be sure to order SOON if you haven’t done so.

The Christmas Gift List

*Decide on your budget! (before you start buying)
*Make a list of all those you need to buy for
*Write down what you plan to buy them, or thoughts of what you’d think they would like if you don’t know specifics
*Watch for deals!
*Suggest no gifts, just time together (if possible). You may be surprised – other family members may thank you for this!

 

This was originally posted on Dec 2, 2010. I’m revitalizing it for this year.

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