Never A Pen When You Need It!

February 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, How To Organize, Offices

But We Have A Bazillion Pens In The House!

Why is That? Pencils and pens accumulate, we put them away, but then don’t use the ones put away – we buy more.  Right? We also get them from all over. Trade shows, expos, conferences or company reps give them away freely. Of course there are always those who use them at work and walk home with them in their pockets. (Tell me it isn’t so!)


So what is the solution? Clean them out, organize and disperse them in locations where they will be used and needed.

You first want to gather up the pens, you might be cleaning out a desk drawer, or kitchen junk drawer – but try to gather up as many around the house as you can fine.

You want to test all the pens to see what ones work and which ones don’t. There’s nothing more irritating than grabbing something to write with and having it be out of ink, dried up or with broken lead.


Only keep the ones that write nicely. If you wouldn’t want to write a letter to someone with it, then you need to get rid of it. Why keep it if when you grab to use it, you don’t like it? You’ll just put it back and go look for another one? I’m right aren’t I?

Make 3 piles

1) Keep – Keep what you need. You don’t have to keep ALL of them, if you have oodles.
2) Donate – Pens, markers that work well, but you don’t like them or you have over flow. You can donate them to underprivileged school districts, or underprivileged countries.
3) Trash / Recycle – For the ones that don’t work, you can trash/recycle them. I had a reader, Vicki; comment on my other post on organizing your pens, say that you can donate your pens to (even ones that are broken or don’t work). This guy makes artwork with used pens.

 Disperse Them. 

You don’t have to have fancy pencil/pen holders. You can use baskets, check book boxes, plastic containers from food items, etc.
do it yourself

Put them in places you will utilize them.

Desk Drawer
On top of the desk
Kitchen counter
Near your home phone
By your couch or chair
By your bed
In your car
In your workshop

You can also bag some up to give to someone, donate, or keep in your car, or keep for your kids for school.


I did another post, Pens & Pencil Clean Out a couple years ago. You can find some more info concerning this, there.

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Make Your Own Chalkboard Jar Labels

Chalkboard Jar Labels Using Chalkboard Contact Paper

I have seen some of the cutest chalkboard labels on the large jars in kitchens from other creative blogs. It inspired me to go out and find the large jars for my kitchen counters.

chalkboard labels

Most of the chalkboard labels that I have seen made was by using the chalkboard paint.  Although that is a great method and more than likely over all less expensive, I did see someone who used chalkboard contact paper and I decided I wanted to try that.

I searched local stores and called all around but did not find any stores that carried the blackboard or chalkboard contact paper.  I ended up finding it online and purchased it there.  I then went through the same thing with the chalkboard markers.  I also ended up purchasing them online.

chalkboard markers and contact paper

Here are the link for the chalkboard contact paper Chalkboard Contact Paper, 18″ x 6′ and here are the markers I used Liquid Chalk – Works like a Marker Dries like Chalk – Set of 8 Earthy Colors .  Since these were hard for me to find, I thought I’d make it easier for you.  But just so you know I did go ahead and set them up as affiliate links with amazon – I keep no secrets from you guys.   I also went ahead and posted the widgets on my sidebar for you if you want to come back to them later or send a friend to find them.

I bought my jars at Walmart for the 1 gallon jar which I paid $6.97 for and the 1/2 gallon jar which was $4.87.  But the 3 gallon cookie jar which I’m going to also show you I got at The Container Store and I paid $19.99 for that!  I know… crazy difference, but I wanted the larger size and Walmart didn’t have it. (I have since seen the 2 gallon jar at Walmart and it was I think only $9.99 – ugh)

glass canisters

I also got out my x-acto cutting mat and knife so it made a nice clean cut.


I decided on the shape for my labels. That came down to which stencil I had! lol
So I went to work.  I made sure not to waste any of my chalkboard contact paper, so I cut as close to the edge as I could.

Then used my x-acto knife to cut along the edge.


Once I had cut out the pattern I decided on which marker I was going to use. I picked the yellow because it showed up nice and bright. These markers are pretty cool. You shake them up and then you have to hold them down for a little bit (longer than I expected, I thought at first they weren’t working – but like a minute or two before the tip fills with ink)

chalkboard markersI also decided to put the little dots on the edges of my labels. DaNita from Delightful Order always does that on her printed labels and I think they look so cute.  (of course I messed up a couple, so practice spacing!)

Then I just peeled off the back and placed them on the jars. I started from the center and pressed down and wiped out with my finger to make sure all the air was out and it was pressed firmly down.

applying a label

I did this for all of the jars. Here are the three smaller jars.

chalkboard labels on kitchen jarsFor the cookie jar I wanted the label to be a little larger since it was twice as big, but I didn’t have a larger stencil with the same design.

It was nice that there was a grid on the back of the contact paper, as I just free handed outside the line where I did the stencil to make it larger.

cookie jar

You may think that it seems strange that I did not do the traditional Flour & Sugar canisters.

glass jar canisters

The flour and sugar are not things that I use everyday in this house.  I actually don’t use the flour very often at all… (can you say box mix?).

But…. my husband makes his bowl of oatmeal every morning and puts brown sugar and raisins in it. So it only makes sense to put this in the jars.
oatmeal and brown sugar

I considered getting a smaller jar for the raisins too… but I thought it might end up looking too crowded in this space on my counter.  The refrigerator is directly on the left and the stove is just on the other side of the coffee maker.  So his raisins are in the cupboard above.
kitchen canister jars

On the other side of the counter is the 2 gallon cookie jar.

cookie jarCan you believe there are four different bags of cookies in there?  Well…. there are actually two of the four that only had part of them left. But there is still more room in this for more!!

chalkboard label for cookie jar

My only concern for these darling jars is that there is no rubber seal.  So I am hoping the cookies don’t get stale this summer. Sometimes looks out weigh the practicality right?

My husband did find that the brown sugar did become harder, quicker. He used a cellophane wrap over the top before the lid was put on.

This project was originally compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias 4/6/2011. But I’m reposting this post Feb 2013 and was not compensated again for it.

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Simple Inexpensive Closet Solutions To Maximize Your Space

Use All Of Your Closet Space!

By adding extra closet shelves in your closet, you can maximize your closet space.  We have a fairly small walk in closet and we have maximized the space for minimal money.

Of course I’d love to have a custom closet, but it isn’t something we can afford to sink money into. So we have utilized our space by adding extra shelves. You can see where the normal clothes hanger is. On this wall we just added a short shelf to use some of that upper space.  I can put things such as my suitcases up there. Things I want to keep out of the basement, but I don’t use that often. It’s just a wire shelf and cost us under $15 I’m sure. Be sure to measure to see what size will work for you though.

On the wall when you first walk in, I added some extra shelves as well. I can keep travel supplies, extra bathroom supplies, beach towels (when out of season) and I also have my wedding keepsake box up there.

You can see that one other solution I’ve used is to add an extra hanger bar. I have my pants and purses hung on that. You can get a wooden extender bar like I have for $19 on Amazon. It works great and gives me extra space for my clothes.

You don’t have to have a expensive custom closet to accomplish the task. Would we like to have one? I’m sure most of us would.. I know I sure would! But it isn’t a priority for us right now. But I do want to get the most space out of my relatively small walk-in that I can. By doing simple things like adding extra shelves and extender rods you can really maximize the space.


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Chalkboard Labels Using Chalkboard Contact Paper

Chalkboard Labels For Your Pantry Baskets

I got my labels completed for my pantry baskets…. I told you I was going to do them!

chalkboard labels

There are so many uses for this chalkboard contact paper.  I have several other things in mind!

But I want to show you how I made these simple labels for my baskets in my pantry.

organized pantry

I took some of my old business cards (they are such a good size for so many things) and used those for the basis of the chalkboard labels for the baskets.

I cut the chalkboard contact paper so that it would go over the sides just a bit and would fold back and cover the entire card.

chalkboard label

When I fold it over I make sure to make a crisp edge and I smooth it out so there aren’t any air bubbles or creases in it.

chalkboard labels

Then I trim the short edge of the card. I do pinch the edge so that the contact paper adheres to itself to seal the edge.

chalkboard labels

I used the hole punch and punched a hole in the center top so I can hang it.

hole punch

Simple enough

hole punch I used the same color chalkboard marker and basic design so that they matched the jar labels I made and showed you yesterday.

chalkboard labels

I looked for twine to tie the labels on, but evidently we didn’t have any. I found some fishing line and decided that would actually work really well.
basket labels
It won’t show much and it will take care of the problem I worried about … getting through the thin basket weave.

tying on labels

And it looks like this:

chalkboard labels for baskets

I was pleased how they turned out… what do you think?

chalkboard labels

One of the other little things I did was to use these little buckets that I hung from my wire over the door can holder.

kitchen buckets

Remember I mentioned that I didn’t like the baggie that was holding the chip clips in my pantry? That I was sure there was something cuter?  I decided this was cuter!

chip clips

I had a 2nd bucket that I used and wasn’t sure what to put in it….. but had an onion sitting on the pantry shelf and thought… ok.. done!


So of course I made labels for these pails too.  I used the business card as the stencil and cut out a piece of the chalkboard contact paper.  I wrote the name on it with the markers and stuck it on the side of the bucket.

chip clips

I think they turned out cute too… don’t you?

chalkboard labels

Adding little touches like this, makes your pantry look a little cuter, but it also makes it functional by letting the family know where to put things away.

chalkboard labels

And of course that makes me happy!!
You can find the Chalkboard Contact Paper, 18″ x 6′ and the markers I used Liquid Chalk – Works like a Marker Dries like Chalk – Set of 8 Earthy Colors at the two links I have here. They are affiliate links, but that’s not why I’m giving them to you. I had a hard time finding both products and thought I’d make it a little easier for you all.

 This post was revamped and reposted from 4/7/2011


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Valentine’s Day Crafts

DIY Valentine’s Day Craft Projects

Valentine’s Day is coming fast!  I wanted to find a couple DIY projects that you might enjoy.

I did some searching on the internet and found a couple things from Martha and also Disney Family Fun.

 Romantic Candle Garden

I must really like the idea of the candle’s in coffee beans because I showed you one the other day I liked from pinterest too.  But how simple would this be to do?  Grab a few of those pillar candles that you probably have in a drawer somewhere, find a neat bowl or basket, pour in some coffee beans, place your candles and wah-la.. you’re finished!

Valentine's Day

Candy Hearts and Flower Arrangement

I think this would be super easy. It might take a trip to a craft store, but just for the jar and flowers.  You could use either real or artificial flowers in this, but personally I would suggest artificial if you want to feel ok about eating the candy hearts.

How cute would this be sitting on your daughter’s bedside in the morning?

Valentine's Day


Heart finger puppets Disney

These next couple ideas came from the Disney site.  This would make a cute craft for the kids and would also make fun home made Valentine’s Cards. They could write their messages on the back of them.

Valentine's Day

Your a blast

I’ve seen a couple people who have made this project, on pinterest. They have said they use Rolo candy in the center tube to stabilize. This would also be a fun craft for the kids to make for others, or something easy to make for them.

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day Coupon Checks

I loved things like this when I was young.  You can print these coupons for the kids to fill out for Valentine’s day gifts.  Another idea if they planned to give them to parents, siblings and Grandparents would be, if you have your old checks from a closed checking account sitting around – let them use those. If they are going to close family members you wouldn’t have to be so concerned with getting personal information off before using.

DIY Valentine Coupon Checks

What kind of crafts does your family do?

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Make A Difference NBC4 School Grant – Vote for Johnstown Big Red Band Please!

February 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, Family & Friends, School

Small Town Johnstown, Ohio Big Red Band Needs Your Vote!

Johnstown Big Red Band

                                                           (photo used from NBC4 Voting contest site)

The Johnstown Big Red Band was entered into a contest with our local TV station NBC Channel 4 for a chance to win $10,000 to improve/maintain our Band.  We just need YOUR VOTES!!

The Make a Difference NBC4 School Grant consist of four different categories:

Think – Academic programs
Serve- Programs where children serve
Shine- Sports, Arts & Music
Connect- Technology

Our school is in the “Shine” Category.  You would think, by looking at the above picture with over 200 students in the band, that we have a huge school. The opposite is true. Our school is a smaller school in a small town.  Most of the bands with high schools we play sports against, have bands of around 25-50 members. Then out marches our band. We call our band “The Pride of Johnstown” – and it is too!

What makes our band so special? The kids LOVE it?  It isn’t like a band, from when I was in high school. You think of just those kids who are not “jocks” in band. The “nerds” or “kids that don’t fit in”. Isn’t that sad.. that bands so often have that reputation?  But this is not how it is here. The kids WANT to be in the band. We’ve had a few football players who are actually in the band. Yes.. they march in their football uniform and preform in the half time show.

Our band is what they call a “dance band”.  They preform popular songs and get to really perform!  I found a good video on Youtube that one of the parents took.

You can see one of the cadences (dances, I call them) they do if you go into minute 3:47 of the video.

We have had our band program threatened by levies that haven’t passed. The students have to pay to be in the band, and speaking as a parent of two who have been in the band, it isn’t very cheap!!  But it is an awesome program. They have preformed at the Chic-Filet Bowl, and last year preformed at Disney World, along with a lot of local events.

Please VOTE for our Johnstown Big Red Band!  You can vote once per day until March 7th! 

If you get onto the main page, just do a search for Johnstown Big Red Band and it will bring us up. Look for the picture above on the contest entry.

You can also help if you are on twitter or Facebook by tweeting for us!!  Thanks!

Please vote for the Johnstown Big Red Band in the NBC4 Make a Difference Contest! Vote once per day until 3/7/13.

Thanks so much!!



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Red Velvet Cupcakes with #CoolWhipFrosting

February 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe + Cool Whip Frosting = Amazing!

By Amy Trauntvein

I love love love Red Velvet Cake!  Red Velvet Cake takes me back to my childhood at my Grandma Maxine and Grandpa Ted’s house where we (aunts, uncles and cousins) regularly gathered on Sunday evenings for fun, games and just being together.  Grandma always had cake and ice cream for us, but the best Sundays were the Sundays she made Red Velvet cake.  I think it was the dark red color that as a child, I thought was pretty cool, but the rich full flavor had me at first bite!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When I heard that Cool Whip now has frosting, I had to try it!  I went to Walmart and found what I was desperately wanting to try on my Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Cool Whip Frosting with Cream Cheese!

Cool Whip Frosting

The price of the frosting was $2.28 but I printed 2 Cool Whip Frosting coupons which made them only $1.53.  Not bad, you know how much I like saving money!

But first, I needed to make the cupcakes.  Here’s my recipe…

Red Velvet Cupcakes 

– Yield 32-36 Cupcakes

3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks) Butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/2 Cup Sugar

1 1/3 Cup Buttermilk, shaken well

2 Tablespoons White Vinegar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Large Eggs

2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 One Ounce Bottle Red Food Coloring

1 Tablespoon Water

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pans with liners.  In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together, set on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light in color and well blended.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

While the butter and sugar are creaming together, combine your wet ingredients (Buttermilk, Vinegar, Vanilla and Eggs whisked together) and your dry ingredients (Flour, Baking Soda and Salt) into separate bowls so you have a “wet” bowl and a “dry” bowl.  Next, in a small bowl combine the Cocoa Powder and entire bottle of Red Food Coloring.  It will form into a dry paste.  At this point, add the Tablespoon of water to give it a more workable consistency.  This is what it should look like.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Now you are ready to make your batter. Turning the mixer onto low, alternately drop in 1/3 “dry” ingredients and “wet” ingredients going back and forth until it is all in the mixer.  This gives a very consistent and smooth texture to your batter avoiding any lumps.  Next, and very carefully I might add, spoon the red cocoa mixture into your batter while it is still on low.  This is what your batter should look like when done.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Load up your cupcake liners making sure you only fill them no more than 2/3 full so you don’t have overspill while they raise in the oven.  You should get at least 32 cupcakes if not more.  I got 36 exactly. (3 full pans).

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until the cake bounces back when touched, or inserting a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Do not over bake or you will have very dry cupcakes and it will make me sad.  Let cool completely.  I always just leave them in the pan and gently put clear plastic wrap over the top of the cupcakes after they’ve been out for about 5 minutes, just to seal in the moisture until they are cool enough to frost.  Many times I’ve baked cupcakes the night before, left them in their pans, put plastic wrap on them and tossed them in the fridge overnight and frosted them the day after.  I actually prefer doing this as the cupcakes seem to be more moist the next day.

I couldn’t wait to try the New Cool Whip Frosting with Cream Cheese on my cupcakes!  I used a Wilton 4B tip to frost the cupcakes and tiny heart sprinkles for the Valentine Holiday that is coming up this month.  Aren’t they cute?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Now for the taste test.


My daughter and I split one (as I’m trying to watch the waistline) and BAM!  I was hooked!  I love the light fluffy, not too heavy texture and the flavor was amazing!  Some cream cheese frosting is almost too sweet and rich, and half the time I scrape most of it off, but not this time!  It was the perfect balance of lightly sweet and fluffy consistensy, that I actually had to eat a whole one later that evening, I couldn’t resist!  Waistline?  What?  I didn’t hear you, I’m enjoying my cupcake!

Just so I wouldn’t eat all 36 myself, I took them to our youth group activity night (that my teenage son and daughter belong to) at our church. They were MORE than willing to try them out for me!  I can safely say they were gone in a matter of minutes and were thoroughly enjoyed by all!

Cool Whip Frosting

Cool Whip Frosting

Find more about Cool Whip on Facebook or Twitter at #CoolWhipFrosting and don’t forget to grab a coupon too!  Coupon Printing Help MAC users, please use browser other than Chrome.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Kraft Cool Whip. #CoolWhipFrosting #cbias #SocialFabric.  All pictures and opinions are my own.






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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