Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where's the tape?

The smallest storage area in the house but often the most used, most stressful and most OFFENSIVE!
I call BULL---- if you claim to not have one!  I have never met a house that didn't!  Don't be ashamed, embarrassed or defensive about your junk drawer.  The amazing part of it is that this drawer of so called Junk is usually summoned upon in a moment of pure desperation and at that moment the world feels as though it could explode if you don't find what you are looking for.....Scissors, pen, tape, eraser, cake candles, flashlight, safety pin, pad of paper, that little thingie you need to hold the shelf up that you put in there so you wouldn't lose it.... these things are needed quickly and at a moments notice so why do we degrade them by calling them junk.  They are nothing shy of NECESSITIES and we treat them horribly.  That is all going to change right now!!!

It isn't the items that are supposed to be or that we intend to keep in that space that are the problem it is the rest of the crap we throw in there.....pile of papers when somebody is stopping by, change from the counter, random screws and tools, pieces of toys we find, well you know what you throw in there that causes issues!!!  So what SHOULD be in there, well I have the necessities listed below and you may need to add or subtract but what ever you end up with NEEDING in there we can make it work:
1. Tape
2. Stapler
3. pens and pencils
4. pad of paper
5. gum (best place to hide it for me)
6. scissors
7. measuring tape
8. lighter or matches
9. Extra keys
10. cake candles
11. marking pens (Sharpie)
12.letter opener
13. stamps?
14. Flash light

Ok so we have some basics and if you go and buy a "junk" drawer organizer like I did ($7) it comes with little stickers that you place in the respective spots.  This will not only remind you and anyone else in the house where to put something back but it might give you and idea or other items that might be good to keep in that drawer.  The drawer organizer I purchased was a two tier slider for a small drawer.  I used the top tier for office type supplies and the bottom for the bulkier and less used items!

SO the sort process is a lot of work for this little drawer and a bit messy too!  Start by removing the drawer and pouring it out either on the counter or the kitchen table.  Wipe out the drawer so it can dry while we are sorting....
NOW this is like a mini episode of Hoarders, there is true garbage in every one of these drawers I have found but don't worry about picking that out instead start pulling together piles of like items.  The garbage will be left, crumbs and all, when you are done and you can sweep it all right into the garbage! Pens are the worst, you know there are 50 or so in there, how many hands do you have to write with anyway?  Make sure to keep a few in there, but test all pens and throw away those that do not work!!!!  The others that do can be sorted to eliminate some, like pens that belong to your kids and can be kept in their desks.  Then the ones you hate, you know the ones, they write sporadically, or are bumpy when they write, or maybe even a terrible color that you will never use but was free at the last convention or meeting you went to, PITCH them or donate to your kids school!  Next worst is the random screws and Allen wrenches that come with those put them together items, grab a baggie and place all of these together in know if you throw those out you will immediately find the one thing that needs a screw that was thrown in that drawer.  This baggie is kept in my "junk" drawer for easy retrieval, but you can also keep it in your tool box so you know where to go when you need one!  Loose change is the third worst culprit of clutter, gather it and put it into a child's piggy bank or if you have a family piggy bank put it there....neither of these, put it in you wallet, after all do you buy a lot of stuff with change standing in your kitchen?????  I thought not!
As for the rest of the items it is almost always a matter of paring down, how many scissors do you really need in there, pads of paper for phone messages, one is good, I mean are you running an office or something.... rolls of tape....I think one of each type used often is good enough!
OK the drawer is dry, you have your piles of keep, trash has been thrown out and the random has been put where it belongs.  Lets start building, place items of most use on the top or in the front for easy access and easy replacement.  Then fill in the rest and beam with pride as the drawer slides shut with no resistance and nothing hanging out!!!!  You did it, and trust me you will have to do it again, keep on top of this little black hole and you will have less stress in your time of need!

UP Next.....the bathroom Vanity Nightmare!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Organized livin'

Rarely organized, often dreaded, and always embarrassing....
I assume we don't pay much mind to this area because is isn't exactly a show piece of the home and unless a visitor is staying over there would really be no need for them to open this dreaded and sometimes dangerous closet; So we let it go, often to the point where we don't even want to put the towels away!
Well like  Kenny Rogers said "you gotta know when to fold 'em,... know when to walk away, know when to run".  Now I am not delusional I know he was speaking of cards/relationships and not linen closets but come on you know it applies, "Folding", that is a battle ground in this house, but I promise it isn't HOW the towels and sheets are folded but the place you are going to put them, after, that matters!!!  "Knowing when to walk away or Run"  have you ever tried to get that pillow case out of the large stack and had it come toppling down, that is the walk away, or tried to get a roll of toilet paper down only to have 5 bottles of shampoo come firing out like cannon balls, that is the RUN!!!!!
Well don't be nervous we can fix this!  Here is a photo of my linen closet:
It is VERY small but holds everything our 4 bedroom, 3 full bath house needs for our family of 5!  With those stats I will admit there is not only the need to have a well organized linen closet but the use of organizational techniques to help have the linen crisis controlled with help throughout the house!  You can see that there is nothing pretty or "Martha Stewart" about this functional closet but again it isn't a show piece, however I am proud of it and actually have heard an audible sweet sigh come out of me when I open it to put something away or grab something out!  
This area like all others needs to be sorted and paired down because lets face it we all have WAY too much in there!!!!!!  Start by sorting like items, some people and organizers do this differently, like keeping sheet sets together, towel sets together or some other fancy way.  I however think simple is better, and lets face it I use more fitted sheets and bath towels than wash clothes and flat sheets (we have the occasional issue when there are 3 kids under 10!) so why would I want to have to reorganize the closet every time I have a few items to put away so they are with their if you have a HUGE linen closet and each stack has its own space then by all means pretty it up!  OK so piles.... pillow cases, flat sheets, fitted sheets, blankets, misc bedding (bed skirts, mattress pads etc.) wash cloths, hand towels, bath towels, decorative holiday towels.
FIRST take the decorative hand towels that are for specific holidays and put them in the bins with those decorations, no sense in having pumpkin, Christmas tree, and Easter egg towels in the way all year and come on be honest how many of you have these and realize it after the holiday is over because it is buried in the linen closet!  Ok, with those out of the way lets start to sort using those favorite questions:
1. Do we use it regularly and do we still have that size bed?  ( I found full size sheets and we haven't had that bed in 4 years)
      a. yes and yes, Keep Pile
      c. no and no, Sell or donate pile
2. Don't need or want it? Is it torn, ripped, broken or damaged in any way?
      a. Yes, toss pile
      b. No, Sell or donate pile
3. Do we have more than one?
     If yes how many do you logically need?  Any extras go to #2
     Washcloths: min- one for each person in the house and two extra for visitors; MAX 3 per person and 4 for visitors. 
     Towels: 2 sets per bathroom in your house and up to two extra sets for guests.
     Sheets: 2 Sets per adult bed and 3 per child bed
     Pillow cases: the mates for the sets and up to 2 extra per bedroom
     Blankets: 1- 2 for each bed in the house
     Mattress pads: 1 for each adult bed and at least 2 for each child bed
Some of you may be thinking this is too little and some might be thinking this is never all going to fit in my linen closet....well it is not all going to be in there, remember one of everything for each bedroom and bath will be currently in that room being used. Later I will give you some time saving and space saving tips for this closet that will have it pared down even more!       
4. Does it belong to someone else?  Yes, Return to owner box
    Contact those people and let them know you will be dropping it by.  If they no longer want the item offer to donate it for them!

Well now we all know there are more than just linens in that linen closet!!!!  So pull it all out now that you have your piles sorted and pared down and lets get down to brass tacks!
1. Sort by type, oral care, men's care, women's care, first aid, adult medicine, children's medicine, home fragrance (some of you might have this in the laundry room or cleaning closet if you have one and that is great!!!), tissues, toilet paper, and shampoo, conditioner and styling aids together....well and then miscellaneous (not sure what you might have in there but heck make a pile)
2. Expiration dates: They are on everything, if it is expired pitch it!  Items that have an expiration may be less effective after that date and some have preservatives that will go bad so be mindful of these!  If it is an old prescription medication after you check the date make sure you still actively use it and if not pitch it!  Prescription medication is just that and you should not try and self diagnose later and use an old one that was prescribed for a different ailment!
3. Ok now the misc pile you created....Does it belong here?  NO, Move it where it belongs.  Yes, Put it into one of the categories above or if it doesn't mesh with one start another category.

I said in my last blog I didn't like see-thru containers and you see I have in fact used them here, WHY?  Because this area is not seen regularly by anyone and these container were around.  They are $1 plastic shoe boxes and they work well for keeping me in check!  If it doesn't fit in the bin I probably have too much of it.  This also helps keep me realistic on my free items from couponing.  If the oral care bin can not fit anymore items then we are set for several months and there is no need to get more, if it is free then get it and donate immediately! No one needs 20 tubes of tooth paste or 25 deodorants, remember if you are a couponer it will go on sale again every 6 weeks or so, your supply WILL hold out!
So now I fill my little bins, put the lid on and label it accordingly.....these stack beautifully and slide out easily if I need something out of a lower bin!  These bins go on the top shelf, one because they need to be out of reach of my kids and they really don't need to be accessed often.  Along with these I neatly stack extra boxes of tissues and toilet paper up there as well.  Shelf one done and now we can deal with the true linens!

The remaining shelves are smallest items to largest working downward as they are used in that order in terms of frequency.  Hand towels, washcloths and pillow cases, neatly folded go on shelf two.  These items on shelf two are not deep so I line up Shampoo, Conditioner and styling products along the wall behind them.  Shelf three is towels, smaller on the left larger on the right for me, but you don't need to be that anal it just looks better for me for them to be segregated by size! Shelf four is sheets, all flat together and all fitted together, largest (Queen for me) on the bottom and smallest (twin) on the top.  Again seems that it works out that the smaller ones get changed more i.e. pukes, wetting accidents ect. in the younger kids rooms!!!! Then on Five is Blankets and special items like mattress protectors.  Finally the bottom ground level is large items like extra comforter and bath rugs.

NOW  I know you are thinking no way that all fits there based on the number I gave you earlier on what to keep and here are some little tricks and tips to make the quantity go down and your life get a little easier!

1.  Double make all childrens beds.  One mattress protector, then a sheet, then a mattress protector, and finally another fitted sheet....this works from cribs to full grown kids.  THEN when there is an issue, bed wetting, accidental spill, vomit or whatever else, you can simply peel off one set and put your child back to bed. This takes one hand and no lights so if you are holding your baby or just don't want to turn on a light waking them further than you have to TA-DA!!!!  In the morning you can assess the situation and add the fresh sheet right over that or change it all together if it was a particularly messy night! EWWWWWW
2. Keep an extra pillow or two with a pillow case on it in the closet, helps with the nights we just spoke about to not have to fight with changing a pillow case or finding a new pillow if need be.  These also come in handy for sleep overs, no need to search around it is ready for you!  This also keeps bulky pillows out of the linen closet!
3. Now towels, if you have a vanity in the bathroom keep at least a set of towels in there, great for when you forget so you don't have to scream for someone to bring you one and extra great if a guest needs an additional towel!  ALSO keeps the quantity down in the closet, can you hear the broken record!!!! If you think you don't have room in your vanity it is probably time to tackle under there in your quest for organization!
4. Items for the kitchen, GO in the kitchen, table linens, in the china cabinet, nuff said on that!!!!

One last item you might be thinking about ad that is pool/beach towels.  If you have a pool, you probably have a separate space for them like we do by the pool, perhaps you go to a neighborhood pool often, or the beach less often!  I would keep those in a plastic tote, with a nice fabric softener sheet in it, in the garage.  You can throw some towels right in the car and be off!!!!!
So there you have it!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!Next we are going to tackle the junk drawer!!!!!!  ARE you Ready????

Peace and Love,

Friday, August 12, 2011

Clutter Free Livin'


One of the most disorganized areas in a house.....from stepping on them, to having them fall on you out of the closet when you open it, to finding small presumably important pieces.  Toys are a headache, a hazard and risky business!  Here is a Picture of my toy closet:

A place for Everything and Everything in its place!  Well getting to this level of organization takes a little time, and determination but once it is in place, and the routine of keeping it there is mastered, it can make having toys a stress free beautiful thing.  Expensive NO, especially when you consider how many times you have seen a rather expensive toy sitting at the bottom of a disorganized stack getting ruined or most importantly not used because it can't be accessed. Out of Pocket the costs were pretty minimal; Wire cube racks run $12-$19 (the one on the left was free when a friend didn't want it!), White storage cubes are $7.99 at Target, Green Fabric bins (come in many colors) are $5.99, Large Blue bin $4.88 at Walmart, and small clear bin was free because it was in my house not being used!

So now you have seen the money spent lets talk about the money saved.  Items purged = no value, guess again....items that are not useful because of damage or being trash, like the box the toy came in that your child just had to keep, are costly on many levels, let me explain.  The average cost per square foot of a private detached home in America is between $74 and $112 so if you plan to keep everything you ever possess think about the square footage your next house will have to be to accommodate all that.  You don't need more space you NEED less stuff!  It is costing you almost $100 per square foot to store junk!  On another measure of cost of junk or garbage you are holding on to is your health, junk and clutter = STRESS and Stress = health issues.  Look it up on your own, the scientific link between stress and many disorders and diseases is alarming.  Don't believe me?  Open another internet browsing window and search for "Diseases caused or linked to stress", go ahead, I'll wait!!!!!   See, not so great huh!  So let me help cut your stress and hopefully cut some future doctor bills.  (DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor or dispensing any medical advice or suggesting my organizing will prevent any disease! hehehe)  SO throw out that garbage and NO not everything is garbage.

So how does purging happen. First set up a few stations/boxes and label them TRASH, DONATE, SELL, and RETURN TO OWNER.  Now return to the pile of stuff and look at each of the  items and answer these questions:

1. Do we use it regularly and is it still age appropriate?
      a. yes and yes, Keep Pile
      b. yes and no, go to #2
      c. no and no, Sell or donate pile
2. Is it torn, ripped broken or damaged in any way?
      a. Yes, toss pile
      b. No, Sell or donate pile
3. Do we have more than one?
     If yes how many do you logically need?  Any extras go to #2
4. Does it belong to someone else?  Yes, Return to owner box
    Toys are notoriously left behind by visitors.  Contact those people and let them know you will be dropping it by.  If they no longer want the item offer to donate it for them!

This process can take some time and for the most part the area will look worse during this process than before you started, this is normal and trust me the Toss, Donate and Return to owner boxes will be filled and out of the house that day!  Right into the car is where those boxes should go as they are filled!!!!!!!!!    

Lets take a look at things that will make you money!!!!

To Sell or to Donate, that is the question and the answer is IT DEPENDS!  Don't plan on becoming rich off selling items you have decided are no longer needed or useful to your family.  Similarly don't plan on being honored Saint status because of your quantity of donations but here are the ways both of these options can be weighed out:

1. Does the item have TRUE value.  Look the item up on ebay or craigslist to see what that item or similar items are selling for?  Is it significant?  If so and you feel you can get a buyer quickly list the item.  Take a picture of it and then place the item in the garage or storage area out of your living space.  One rule if it does not sell in a few days you may want to on to find out the benefits of donation!

2. What is the fair market value of the item?  This information can be obtained by the IRS guidelines and was offered to me when I used Turbo Tax.  This tells you the amount that you can write off of your itemized taxes for a particular item.  You will need to keep a log (a simple spiral notebook will work) of the items donated and the receipt that the organization will give you that a donation was made!  I will dedicate an entire entry to this topic soon!  Sometimes the value donated is actually higher that you will realistically be able to sell an item for at a garage sale etc.  So take advantage of this deduction, it is free money from the government and your reward for being charitable.

You have purged the garbage, sold or donated the items not needed, now what?  Take a close look at what is left and make another quick sweep to make sure all of the items are truly KEEP items.  If so it is now time to evaluate the space available and the "keep items" to devise a plan of action.  The first step in your plan is to sort like items, fun for the kids to help too!!!!  Plus they can tell at a glance if it is a Littlest Pet shop accessory or Barbie one faster than you!  NOW see those piles for what they are, possibly HUGE and make note of the volume because once you have the containers and they are in place we need a tiny bit of room for more stuff that will come in; this is by far the most challenging part!  Some of you will find out quickly that what your given space can hold will be different +/- what you have.  If the load is too much for your closet to handle time to reevaluate the need in the items.  My closet is comprised of only my children's joint toys, meaning, they each have an organizer in their room with toys that are theirs specifically and the toys in the common area of the house, this closet, are the toys they all play with.  This eliminated quite a bit of volume and gave the kids ownership and the responsibility to take care of their personal possessions.  If your child is a toddler the toys kept in their rooms need only be the ones they play with in there.

OK so now you have the revised items and we are ready to shop!!!!!  I like containers that match or coordinate and are NOT clear.  I use a label maker to make nice neat labels and not see the millions of tiny pieces staring at me through the clear bins when I open the doors!!!!  The label machine only cost $15 and is WELL worth it for the look around my house!  I used a modular removable system but you can go from this simple to built in shelves and custom cabinetry.  I however am cheap and once my kids don't have these toys I would like to make this closet something else, like a craft center, so no expensive shelving for me!!!!  So lets fill up those bins and remember to leave one spot empty, Shhhhhh it's a secret....

Place the bins in a logical order after all organizing isn't just making something clean and pretty it has to be functional and the art of function is the logical placement of like items so they can easily be found!  I find that heavy items on the bottom are best for safety sake and items that are not preferably played will without your approval like coloring or in my case the dang Legos that take over the room, are best out of reach.  Probably seems obvious but want to make sure I said it!  Now for the secret mystery space left, this bin is my favorite and will help you tremendously to keep everything in order.  Label this bin LOST and FOUND.  This bin will be used for rouge items found in the wrong place while playing or perhaps in the couch, under the couch, in the dogs bed, or behind the tv.  Place items in this bin that you find and once a week sort the items into the appropriate containers.  It is also useful when my kids say MOMMY we are missing one of the pieces to the Sorry game....they can go right in there and look for it because that is where it was put when I found it on the stairs and had no clue what game it went to!!!!

So there you have it, the above was the explanation of a toy closet but really all the same principles apply to all areas of the house so whatever you choose to tackle will be just as simple!  The only things that will vary is the amount of items to keep based on need.  I will cover other areas of the house to show you that don't worry!

Are you scared?  Overwhelmed?  Need a cheerleader to help you sort?  Call me I can help you!!!!

Up Next The dreaded Linen Closet!

Peace and Love


Sunday, March 20, 2011

GIVE ME a D-I-G-I-O-R-N-O....what does it spell.......


DiGiorno had a nationwide Pizza party last night, selecting families through the House website, to have families try their new Pizza and sides pizzas.  We were chosen and the party was fabulous....So first things first, House is a marketing company that sets up companies with people who want to try their products and share with their friends!  There is no cost to sign up and all of the party supplies are provided free of charge.  All they ask is you hold your party on the selected date, invite people using their invite web page and write about your experience!  There are a series of hoops you go through to be considered for each party with various questions that help House match the perfect people to the perfect products!  The companies are everything from cleaning products and household items like candles to Snacks and Adult beverages.   They ask things about your household, your style as well as things like if you blog, have a DVD player, smart phone, facebook account etc.  Once selected the product company, in this case DiGiorno (a Nestle Company), sends you a party package to hold your party and try their products.
For this party the pack included:
6 Free Pizza coupons
Wet Wipes
Pizza cutter
Oven mitt
Name Tags
18 Coupons for your guests ($4 off one pizza, great deal with them on sale right now for $5.99)
Basketball game including bracket score cards
Bam-Bam noise makers
With our coupons for free pizzas to feed our guests we purchased:
2 Pepperoni Pizzas with boneless Buffalo Wings side
1 Cheese Pizza with Cookies side
1 Cheese Pizza with Cheese Bread Stix side
1 Supreme Pizza with Herb Bread Stix side
1 Spinach, mushroom and Garlic Pizza

We had 13 people in attendance with a mix of Adults, teens, and pre-schoolers.  It was great trying the different pizzas and sides!!! My favorite were the boneless wings for sure! The sauce was spot on for classic Buffalo sauce.  Being from Buffalo I consider myself a pretty good judge of wings!  We served traditional celery and carrot sticks with Blue Cheese to dip as well to complete the meal.   The bread Stix were gone in a flash and very tasty with a great Italian flavor with a nice soft, warm center.  The pizza, which we have had before, is a great rising dough pizza that we cook right on the oven racks for a nice crispy crust surrounding the tangy sauce and ample toppings!  With a cook time of just about 20 minutes including the sides, this definitely rivals delivery that can't come that quick on a good day! 

The parents and kids had a blast and after the madness we heard the little ones on the swing set talking about how we should have another DiGiorno Pizza Party! Hahahaha guess DiGiorno has made some loyal customers! Thank you House and DiGiorno for a great time and showing us what you have new in the world of frozen pizza, we will be having more soon I can tell you that, and my guests will too!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Frugal livin'- FAVORITE sale of the year! Publix Italian Sale!!!!

Ok the Publix Italian Sale is my favorite of the year, I get all my pasta, beans, canned veggies and tomatoes, etc for the the year!!!  Oh you heard me right the year!!!!!  I also get my normal items as well but this sales usually has $5 off $30 coupons that go out to promote it as well as GREAT store coupons to match with manufacture coupons!  All of which I match up using  Below are the final numbers for the 2 trips over two weeks....BTW I only went this many times because my father wanted to try some shopping as well as an extra trip due to a lovely friend gifting me an extra $5 off $30 coupon!!!!  In addition to my normal purchases and the sale purchases I did have to buy dessert for a dinner party that I chose to splurge on as I had a sick child and it was easier than trying to bake something, NOW I also figured no one would want to eat something just made in a house with a sickness, so it was part good judgement part exhaustion!  hahaha

$504.97 in groceries
$376.19 in savings
= $128.78 spent over two weeks SO $64.39 per week!

Here is what I got:
32 cans of Progresso Beans (Black, Cannellini, and Chi-Chi)
27 cans of Hunts and Muir Glen Tomatoes
28 boxs of Pasta (all kinds)
60 cans of Green Giant Vegetables (Green beans, Peas, Corn...)
8 loafs Pillsbury Italian bread
4 Green Giant Frozen veggies
2 V8 Fusion 100% juice
3 Motts apple sauce
7 packages of Cookies (Oreo and Pepperidge Farm for me hahaha)
1 pack Boars head Hot dogs
5 one pound packages of FRESH veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
1 dozen eggs
2 Kraft Parm grated cheese
2 lunchables
4 three pound bags of Gala Apples
1 carton Blueberries
1 carton Strawberries
1 bag grapes
8 Boxes cereal (Pops, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks)
3 gallons Skim Milk
6 boxes Poptarts
2 Freschetta Pizzas
8 two liter Sodas (Pepsi max and Sprite)
5 bags Doritos
2 Loafs sandwich bread
1 Bagels
2 Microwave Popcorn (boxes of 6 Kettle and butter)
2 Salsa
2 Margarine tubs LARGE
1 large pack of Cream puffs (for Dinner Party)
1 Large pack of mini eclairs (for Dinner Party)

WOWzer, love me some coupons!!!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

There's an APP for that!

You've heard that a few times and perhaps even used the phrase....SO I have an APP to tell you about.  It is the Simalac Strong Moms baby Journal app.  This APP is a dream come true for the blurry days of parenthood to make it a little clearer what you have done and what is needed for your baby and other children in the house for feeding, changing and sleeping.  The APP starts with a profile to get the information of your child including Name (for your use), birth date and gender.  For you moms of multiples or several small children that you still want to log on you can have multiple children profiles.  Then it creates a journal for that child where you log when they ate, how much, when they had a diaper change, color, texture etc.  It will also log when the baby fell asleep, how long they slept and how long since their last nap/sleep/feed!!!  All visible from your home screen seen here:
OK, so let me say this APP is FABULOUS, it is all with a tap of the finger and slide of a dial selector that you log all of the daily activity.  So mommy and daddy brain, otherwise known as sleep deprivation, is not a factor in you keeping track, no math, no pieces of paper and pens to find just grab your iPhone, iPad or iTouch and you are in logging heaven!!!  Can't remember if your baby pooped today or yesterday, not anymore with the Similac Baby Journal as you see below you can not only log if the baby had a wet, messy or both diaper at your logged diaper change but the consistency and color are also optional details you can add.
Some might say EWWWWW or TMI but if you are a new parent these things blend together not to mention the multitude of doctor visits that ask the details of these very things.  In addition to that, if you have a question about a lack of movement, a sick baby you need to make sure is having a number of wet diapers to prevent dehydration that this can prove VERY valuable!!!

Lets move onto the reason we are changing all of these diapers anyway!!!!  Feeding your baby can be complicated and the Similac Baby Journal can help you log, Bottle feeding, breast feeding or both.  Not only can you log the time and amount of the feeding, but you can also keep track which breast you fed from last, which can be important for moms health and the production of milk!

One of the perks of these entries is you can email the entry to print out and keep handy for a caregiver, to give dad/mom an update at work, or even email to your doctor in case of close monitoring etc.

So now you have fed the baby and changed the baby guess what the next thing to happen is????  The baby GROWS, best way to keep track is in this APP, as the doctor rattles off the measurements you can slide the dials and log it in to keep track of your bundles growth!!!  No more little pieces of paper that get lost the minute you leave the doctors office! hahahaha

So with all of this FABULOUSNESS comes some CONS....all of which could be fixed with later releases you never know!!!
1. This appears to be a on demand service not an account that the data would be stored to allow viewing from multiple devices which can prove handy when parents share the baby duties and are not using an iTouch or iPad that is left at the home.  Your phone typically goes with you but the baby might be on the other persons care, it would be great if you could have the information at your fingertips and not have to ask the other caregivers what needs to be done or when the nap started etc.
2.  While I commend Similac for providing a breastfeeding log, when they are a producer of baby formula, it would be nice if you could select how your baby is being fed when setting up their profile.  A simple Bottle, Breast, or both slider would work great.  The reason I see this as a con is that when I had my first daughter I was not able to breastfeed her to my great disappointment.  If every time I went to log a feed I had to be reminded by choosing breast or bottle it might be upsetting. 
3. This APP is completely destination based meaning you must go to it to make sure you are using it.  I would love it if you could set up a timer.... it would benefit you two fold.  It would remind you that it is time to feed as well as provide you the reminder to log the happenings! 

All in all I think the Similac Baby Journal APP is fantastic from Birth through potty training!!!  I would use it not only because I love technology but I have the worst memory and want to enjoy my time with my baby and not spend it trying to do the math on the last diaper change or how many hours it has been since they ate last!  Thumbs up from me for sure!

Compensation was provided by Collective Bias for my testing and review of this APP.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SAHM Livin' (Stay At Home Mom)

Excerpted from Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Homeby Kathy Buckworth. Copyright 2007 by Kathy Buckworth. Excerpted with permission from Key Porter Books. 
Somebody BETTER buy me this book for Christmas!!!  The list below could have been written by me....hahahahaha
1. The title "stay at home" is a passive-aggressive term. There is nothing flattering, glamorous or remotely attractive about the word "stay." "Too Much Woman to Be Confined to a Cubicle Farm" works better.
2. Apparently, you are expected to be "at home" for some parts of the day; particularly those parts when children under the age of 12 are in your care.
3. Repairmen are not sexy in any way.
4. Nothing very exciting happens. But you need to talk, so the best entertainment is gossip and backstabbing. It is unavoidable and addictive.
5. People will say, "Well, its not like you're working or anything" just moments before they a) sign you up for lame volunteer duties at your child's school, b) dump their own brats on your doorstep, or c) redirect all their home deliveries to your front door (even the fertilizer order).
6. Cleaning the house is not a problem, keeping it clean is. If the house is as clean at the end of the day as it was when you started, you win.
7. You cannot be late for anything, or with anything. You have nothing else to do.
8. Your perceived intelligence drops by at least 50 IQ points. You may have run the computer science department at MIT before you decided to stay at home, but two weeks into the new job and your kids will be asking Dad for help on the family computer.
9. You have no excuse for not exercising.
10. You have no excuse for not eating a healthy lunch.
11. You can be truly bored at the same time you are acknowledging that you could be exercising, cleaning the house or watching someone else's kids.
12. The minute you resign form your old position, they promote it to a higher level, increase the salary and bestow a fabulous new title on that bitch who took over from you.
13. Your husband either a) shirks all domestic duty, which makes you mad, or b) doesn't shirk any, making you feel guilty. Yay! Something new to fight about!
14. Your children expect you to be at their beck and call. Even in the middle of an emergency manicure, one is expected to drop everything and rush to the school over a perceived "sore stomach."
15. You now have time to launder the sheets.
16. Even after 5 p.m., drinking with only children in the house is still considered to be "drinking alone." What, you had a hard day or something?
17. Your children are no better behaved simply because you're the primary caregiver now. In fact, most often, they're worse.
18. If you dress nicely, neighbours are suspicious. If you dress like a slob, you've let yourself go. If you dress too old, you're middle-aged before your time. If you dress too young, you're a slut.
19. Teachers expect you to be on top of the notes they send home.
20. You're not supposed to be too tired for sex anymore.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sick Livin'

SORRY I have been MIA....

I had vertigo and for those of you who have never had it I hope you never do, and those of you that have I feel your pain and you know why I haven't been on here!  It is almost impossible to form thought let alone write a blog!!!

I have been busy through the last few weeks, I went to Dinners for Nine which is a group of people that meet for dinner once a month for 9 months.  It was fabulous and we met some great folks!

I also have started a club called Coffee and coupons that is meeting once a week to talk coupons and getting great deals while shopping!  It is a hobby and almost a game for me to see how much I can save.  Tonight is the first gathering and I am hoping to let those who envy the savings I post some tips.

Other than that I exhausted my pantry so pantry livin came to an early stop!  Along with having vertigo trying to get creative with what was left was proving impossible!  In addition to that there were some great grocery deals that I could not pass up like 1.99 Chicken breasts from my favorite butcher Houston's Meats in Mount Juliet!  They even vacuum sealed 15 packages for me!!!!

We attended the Fall Festival at Madelin'e elementary school and the kids had a blast, great fun, with great people for a great fund raiser for our school!

Well I will post again tonight after Coffee and Coupons!!!!!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pantry Livin' days 12-15 dinners

Ok well we are for sure at the end of the food supply, as well as having a sick momma in the house (me) this time has been a challenge for sure!

Subway 2 subs $10
Lil' Ceasers $10
Hot dogs
Pizza BBQ Californaia Pizza Kitchen

Bought, the Subway, Pizza, and apples this week, not bad!  Still not feeling well, I have vertigo so hoping it passes soon!!!!!!

Peace & Love

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Ok had a WTF moment today!!!

Went to Target to get my prescription filled.  When I dropped it off the clerk notified me that she could not do the price match 3 months for $15 instead of the normal 3 months for $30 because my doctor wrote the prescription for 30 days with 12 refills rather than 90 days with 4 refills..... either way it is 12 months but OK....

I said well please call her and have her amend the dispensing because I am not going to pay double....please keep in mind I have been on the same medication for over 4 years and it has been the same the whole time but today the rules changed I guess....  She said ok and that it would be a day cause doctors rarely call back fast enough....this is NOT the WTF moment that comes later!

I returned home and received a call from my doctors office nurse regarding my request for a prescription to be called into Target....I thought to myself UMMMM NO I asked that they check the dispensing I already had a prescription!
She continued to say,
      "We will call this in for you this time but in the future you will need to see your primary doctor for this"
     "Why would I need to do that and by the way Target was calling on a prescription I handed in today and the dispensing instructions to be adjusted to the every three months that it has always been written as, not asking for a new prescription"
She continued:
     "We are an OB/GYN not a primary doctor so we will not be prescribing this medication for you any more"
EXCUSE ME?  WTF????  (there is it people the stupidity conversation has been kicked off)
I rebutted with
     "So you are telling me that the drug that Dr. ********** in YOUR office started me on this medication over 4 years ago will now need to be handled by a different doctor, in a different office who does not have my history of why I am on it?"
She asked
     "What do you mean?"
I thought I was being pretty clear but I continued to help her understand.
     "Dr. ******** put me on this medication over 4 years ago, but what you are saying is she will no longer support the prescribing of this to me?"
Even more confused and VERY rude she says
     "I will do you the favor and call it in this time but our office has changed the things we will call in."
AND There it is...REALLY????
Do me a FAVOR? NO you are not doing me a favor you are NOT calling in a drug I just randomly called to request...
After numerous back and forth quick pro quo she decided she might be wrong and asked a fellow nurse, BLAM-O she returns to the phone
     "Ma'am I am sorry I didn't know this office gave you the original prescription, we will take care of it"
WHAT THE F***???
She Continues
     "Also why are you just filling this it was prescribed in August?"
I rebut with, "Yes I know I fill this every THREE months, HENCE the call to you has been THREE months and I now need to fill it, I thought I was being pretty clear about the situation but you were so intent on educating me on future things you WON'T be doing for me I guess you missed the actual topic of the conversation!"

SERIOUSLY people that are stupid should stay out of my way!

Pantry Livin' days 8-11 dinners

Still going strong on the Pantry livin' experiment!

Day 8
Leftover night!
Pot Roast
French onion Soup

Day 9
California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken
Freschetta Spinach and Mushroom
Both delicious frozen pizzas

Day 10
Garlic Bread

Day 11
TACO night!!!!!!

I will need to buy some shredded cheese and tomato for Taco night but other than that and milk I have not bought anything!!!!! Under 10 dollars food costs this week!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

WTF???? Livin'- halloween

As I am sure you can imagine from the title this would be the things I rant about hehehehe

I am going to pre-rant about what I know will be a nerve racking Halloween night....

How many times can the kids ask: when can we put on costumes, how long till we go trick or treating, can we light the pumpkins now, how many houses are we going to go to, is it dark yet????

Those will annoy me all day but the real frustration will begin at dark, Random kids will be pushing, and screaming, annoying parents will be screaming and dragging kids in strollers to trick or treat when they don't even have teeth yet.  People will wait as long as possible to turn on their light and hand out candy; by the way these will be the same people that either complain there weren't enough trick or treaters for all the candy they bought OR they will be pissed when kids come too late....WELLLLLLL turn on your freakin light at 6 when it gets dark and the shiznet will be over by 9!  This year it is a Sunday so we won't have to wait for the peeps to get home from work etc so i am hoping lights will be blazing at 6 Sharp.....especially because people are pissed that Halloween is on a Sunday which is a school night and wanted to move trick or treating to Saturday......

WHAT are you kidding me, if it is a Tuesday we don't move it to Saturday, suck it up one night that your kid stays up past 8 isn't that big of a deal and AGAIN turn the light on at 6 and we won't have to keep the young ones up too late!!!!!

UGH I feel better how about you!!!  So if you try and find me tonight I will be the one walking with the HUGE glass of wine to keep my nervous system from exploding!

Pantry Livin' days 4-7 dinners

Alright we are doing well on the Pantry livin'.....Went to the store to grab Milk, apples, provolone cheese and carrots. $15 dollars for groceries this week, not to shabby!

Day 4
Tuna sandwiches on Fresh homemade bread
pickles and olives on the side!

Day 5
Pan Fried Fish
Seasoned Rice

Day 6
Pot Roast in the crock pot with
Carrots, Onions & Potatoes

Day 7- Halloween FAVORITE!!!!
French onion soup
Provolone Cheese topped!!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Historic Livin' Halloween

History imprints us in so many ways not just the World history but our Family history, the World History may be part of why we pass down traditions but it is the things from our childhood that give us a warm fuzzy feeling as if our parents or friends were the only ones that did these fabulous things.  This time of year starts the most active part of my memories and historic livin' begins.  

Halloween is a holiday that has personal history all over favorite one is French Onion soup on Halloween night.  My mother made it every year and I continue to do the same as if it is a requirement to make the night happen!!!!!  The fabulous broth and warm onions covered with the melty cheese that is flowing over the edges of the crock bowl and crispy on the edges.

It is called Sense memory, it is when something as simple as a smell can take you back to a memory....for me French onion soup catapults me back to the cool Halloween nights (well FREEZING Buffalo meant parkas under the costume but that is was I thought was cool nights then, now it is unfathomable), my mother cooking, then helping me make one of my ridiculous costumes, punk hair and make up, the baby costume and so on, letting me loose with my friends to trick or treat and then welcoming me home safe and sound.  She was almost as excited about my night as I was.  I can feel the shaggy carpet on my COLD feet as I pour out my loot of candy, from the traditional pillowcase trick or treat bag of course, on the family room burnt orange carpet....fitting for the holiday! hehehehe  My mother would bring the cookie sheets and help me sort the candy by type: candy bars, gum, smarties and such, chocolate and tootsie rolls etc.... I know now as a mother she was just scoping out what I had so she could pillage later hehehehhe  The Jr mints were always handed down and the Mounds (which I now steal from my kids) and Almond Joy were always surrendered without a problem hehehe

So today is the day I will cook the French Onion soup up and let it sit over night to really mature the flavors, we will carve pumpkins and light them up.  I would give you my recipe but NO WAY, this is one recipe I will go to my grave with, hehehe NOT but really French onion soup is really just Onion, beef broth, toasted bread rounds and cheese (some use Swiss, I use Provolone) I think you can figure it out hehehehe

Happy Halloween MOM, I love you and thank you for bring so many wonderful traditions to my Livin'!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Livin' Made at Home or Homemade

I am trying my hardest to make food as homemade as possible but it is a little more scary than I though.....simple reading of directions but still scary!!!!

Today I made these two wonderful treats, one is "made at home" and one is "homemade from scratch", they are equally delicious!!!!

Pumpkin Carrot Cake with REAL cream cheese frosting
1 box Carrot Cake Mix
1 can Pumpkin puree
1 single cup of applesauce (i like to use the Cinnamon)
1 refill of water of the applesauce container

1 package light cream cheese (bar)
1/2 stick butter
1.5 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix put in the cake pan of your choice, cupcakes, 13x9, two tier round any will do and cook until a toothpick comes out clean!

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes then remove for complete cooling on a wire rack! While waiting for it to cool you can make your yummy cream cheese frosting!

Blend softened cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer, NOTE: do not melt butter in microwave you will break down he fats just leave it on the counter while you are baking the cake! add vanilla and continue to blend. Add 1 cup of sifted confectioner sugar slowly, add additional 1/2 cup a table spoon at a time until the flavor you like is achieved. Double this recipe for a larger double layer cake! This frosting needs to be refrigerated after frosting your cake!

Homemade White bread

3 cups bread flour (unsifted)
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 tsp active yeast
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
3 table spoons of butter

Blend dry ingredients in food processor with dough blade installed just to mix real quick

in saucepan warm butter water and milk to 105-115 degrees F. Stir in yeast and remove from heat to rest for 5 mins. Add slowly to processor running on low with dry ingredient mix for 1-1.5 mins. Remove knead for 5 mins or so adding flour if needed. Cover in oiled bowl for 1 hour. Punch out and form into loaf in loaf pan, let rise covered for 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 35-40 mins.....remove and brush top lightly with butter yummm-o let loaf cool completely before slicing or storing. Store in burlap/canvas bread bag or brown paper bag!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frugal Livin' is born

I love to coupon, shop sales, use hand-me-downs, and of course sell things we no longer all ties back to watching "The Frugal Gourmet" on PBS with my parents. It was a cooking show that used cost effective recipies and a host that really looked like a FRUGAL guy:

The word frugal meant nothing to me then but every time I hear the word now I think of him and his show! Jeff Smith made an impression on me not for the food but for the philosophy. Frugal things can be beautiful, functional and in his case tasty! You don't have to have the biggest or the most expensive of things to have the best!

Frugal tip for today..... Use what you have, are you out of Windex, disinfectant spray, and floor cleaner and don't want to spend 10 or more bucks to replace them all????

Grab the vinegar you bought to color easter eggs that you always have sitting in the pantry gathering dust, the rubbing alcohol from the medicine cabinet that really seems to just sit there cause the thought of putting it on a cut makes it hurt before you even open the bottle and the old Windex spray bottle...

Mix equal parts vinegar and water 1 cup each into the bottle then add 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol. The alcohol works as a disinfectant and a drying agent....this solution works amazing on windows, mirrors, tile, wood, vinyl,and pergo floors, as well as a bathroom cleaner, kitchen cleaner with no streaks. EVEN works as a mattress and pillow spray to disinfect after illness or the occasional accident. This is a very frugal but effective way to clean and disinfect your home!!!!! If you want to take it up a notch buy a fancy spray bottle that will look fabulous on your counter and make your frugal creation beautiful as well!!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pantry Livin'

Want to save a little cash for the Christmas season? DUUUUUHHHHH right?

Well, take a little challange with me... our house will be Pantry Livin' for the Month October 25th - November 25th. This means trips to the grocery store will be for fresh fruits and veggies along with Dairy items of Milk, eggs and minimal amounts of cheese. Seems like over the year we accumulate many pantry items that end up partially used or not touched at all. This Pantry Livin' exersize will accomplish two things, clean out my pantry, and save MONEY!!!!! We all have a multitude of items in our panrty that can come together to make wonderful meals. Breakfast and Lunch seem to come together pretty easily but dinner is where you want everyone eating the same thing at the same time so here is what we had so far!

Day One:
Frozen Pizza: 2 Freschetta Pizzas for the family of 5 with leftovers for lunch the next day!

Day Two:
Pasta Florentine: Leftover onion, baby spinach, and red bell pepper that my brother in law used over the weekend to make eggs. Saute the peppers and onions with some minced garlic until softened and add 1/2 of your fresh spinach until wilted then the other half. I used olive oil and some Italian seasoning to get a nice full flavor. I cooked bowtie pasta to the package directions, drained and tossed with the Sauted items. Dished up and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Nice glass of White wine mmmm mmmm good!

Day three:
Blueberry pancakes: I took a blueberry muffin mix and decided to make it up increasing the water and cook it like pancakes, PERFECTION....after the first 4 that I burned! hehehehe I have never really made pancakes so I didn't realize how low you need to have the heat! Learned to make perfect pancakes and used up a muffin mix that has been sitting in there for what seemed like forever! Gone too fast for a picture sorry!

Well pretty good start I would say, 27 days to go!!! If you are stumped or just don't feel confident to start combining stuff then use one of the many recipe sites to look up recipes that contain one of your main ingredients then alter what you find to include items you have in the fridge and pantry!!! Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello, can anybody hear me? Is anybody out there????

I'm BACK!!!!!

Well a year and a half has gone by but I am back and ready to blog, rant and share my ass off; so hold on tight and check in often!!!!!