Thursday, January 31, 2013

100th Day of Kindergarten

Today is Rebecca's 100th Day of Kindergarten.

Technically it is supposed to be her 101st day but because of a snow/ice day Monday, it is the 100th day.

For her 100th day, her class is celebrating by bringing in 100 day projects and by dressing up like a 100 year old.

Rebecca took her 100 sticker poster in yesterday....



And today she went to school dressed as a 100 year old woman might dress:

She wore a hot pink velour track suit with a nicer white shirt underneath. Red, white and blue pearls, a gold brooch on her shirt, and I added baby powder to her hair to make it grey and she wore it pulled back in a bun!




I think this was a cute idea! And it will make for a funny memory!

Did your child celebrate 100 days of school?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge: FINAL UPDATE!

 
January is the month where I feel like I get a start over in redoing our finances and also a redo of our house, when I get rid of excess and feel the urge to declutter. So I was so excited to see that the lovely Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily was hosting a January Decluttering and No/Low Spend Challenge. I have decided to join in!
 
Here is update #4 otherwise known as THE FINAL UPDATE:
 
It is hard to believe that the January challenge is over. It was a month of learning. It was a month of decluttering. It was a month of spending less, or at least being more conscious about my spending. It was a month of mini challenges. So how did I do:

On our mini challenges:

Week 1 we focused on making do and decluttering stuff from our house. I blogged about my success here.

Week 2, we focused on bringing in extra money and cleaning out your junk drawer. I blogged about my success here.

Week 3, we focused on giving in some way and decluttering a closet. I blogged about my success here.

This past week, the mini challenges were:

FINANCIAL:  Whatever your budget is for the week, cut it. Can you cut it down 10%, 25%, maybe even in half for the week? Figure out a realistic cut, then put the extra towards debt or a savings goal!  I tried this. I really did. I thought I would be able to put about $50 toward debt, however I had an emergency doc visits and meds that set me back over $100. So that was not a success. However, I have found that I am much more aware of where my money is going.

DECLUTTERING: It's time to organize our food stash! Your pantry, cupboards you keep food in, fridge, freezer, etc... take inventory of what you have, organize it, toss any old, expired foods, make a menu plan using up any items that are nearing their "best before" day, donate foods you won't eat, etc... Don't forget to snap before & after photos!! If you've already done this over the month, well, you're off the hook!! ;)  I was able to organize our pantry shelf, our upright freezer and our fridge! I only took pics of the freezer though for some odd reason.

Before:

After:


 
SO, for the mini goals that Carla challenged us on I think I will give myself an A! I think I did a great job with the mini challenges and am proud of what I accomplished.
 
Now on to MY main goals for January!
 
My MAIN goals for this January challenge:

- Financial goals:
  • Spend no more than $320 on food for the month. (This averages out to $80 a week). I need to get our grocery budget down as this past 2 months we have been averaging $130 a week for our family due to illnesses and holidays. FAIL---I went over this by about $80. That is still only $400 for the month, which is less than the previous 2 months. So was it a huge fail? No. But still a fail. I think what put me over was the fact that there were many things in the last 2 weeks that went on super duper sale that I stocked up on that I know that my family uses regularly. So, even though I went over, I am okay with it for the most part. I plan on continuing to work on this throughout February.
  • Spend no more than $150 on household items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, Tide, dish detergent and trash bags) PASS---I ended this with $10 left! I think I finally have an idea of what we spend for non-food stuff so I can budget accordingly now.
  • No Eating out FAIL--- We ate out 3 times, however life happens (we get sick, we are tired,) and I am not going to beat myself up. Instead I am going to try harder in February. I think that for Lent we are going to give up eating Fast food, so that will be a good jump off point.
  • The EXCEPTIONS:
    • Hubby and I are looking into buying new cell phones (ours are over 3 years old) and getting a cheaper plan (if we buy pre-paid we could potentially save $30 a month over our current bill)--We bought new phones and got new plans! It will save us over $60 a  month on our cell phone bills! I am so happy about this !!!!
    • We have to get a title and tags for our new to us van that we were gifted--Did this this morning. It cost us less than I thought and we paid cash we had on hand to get it done!
    • This does not affect our utilities, rent, gas for our vehicles, etc.--Ongoing
    • As always family emergencies, medical, dental, etc. are not counted against this as well.--Thankfully hubby's stress test came back fine. Still don't know what the cost is going to be. I had to spend over $100 out of pocket for doc visit and meds this week. Life happens.
SO OVERALL I AM OKAY WITH HOW THE FINANCIAL WENT. I LEARNED A LOT. I DID NOT GET EVERYTHING THAT I WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH DONE, HOWEVER, I DID MAKE SOME PROGRESS AND HOPE TO BUILD ON THAT IN FEBRUARY.
 
-Decluttering goals:
  • I have one decluttering goal for this month---the huge closet (it is the size of a half room) off the bathroom that has become a dumping ground for stuff and storage. It is horrible! Would like to donate/sell at least half of the stuff in there.---ACCOMPLISHED (95%). I spent several hours cleaning and decluttering this area. And right now, it is 95% done. I still have some things that need to be listed on Craiglist in there, but the big project was the kids' clothes and those are all sorted, decluttered and neat now!
Here are my befores...

 
Here is a picture of just some of the stuff I donated from this closet/room:
 
And the FINISHED (95%) closet/room photos:


 
I am SO pleased with how this worked out this month. I love that I can walk in the room and find what I need when I need it. I still need to place the baby stuff on Craigslist to sale, but I am SO HAPPY with the results!
 
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So there you have it....I think I did very well on the challenges overall and am grateful for the push to get some of these things done. Thank you to Miss CARLA for hosting this wonderful challenge! It was a ton of fun!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Ear Infection


Oh boy. I thought we were over the sickness.

But I was wrong.

This is sickness #4987 that we have had since Dec. 1.

It started Saturday morning. I woke up with a horrible headache and body aches. Hubby got the kids up and took care of them until he had to go to work at 1. I laid on the couch and cuddled with Jacob and fell asleep. When Bill got home I took my temp...102 and I was achy all over. Off to bed with me. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday until about 2pm in bed with headache and fever.

Sunday morning at some point my fever broke and my headache finally went away. I felt a little better and almost back to normal.....for a few hours.....

Sunday night I started feeling achy in my neck and shoulders. I went to bed early feeling icky.

About 10 pm Sunday night my right ear started throbbing. I took Tylenol and it didn't help. Hubby asked me if I wanted to go the ER. I said not in the icy weather we were having. I googled home remedies. They suggested using heated washcloths to help with the pain. I heated up a rice heating bag that I was given a couple years ago and it helped some. (Hubby even got up in the middle of the night to reheat it for me! I love that man!)

Today I went to a walk in clinic because it was my cheapest option as we do not have health insurance. It was $55 out of pocket.

Diagnosis: BAD ear infection. The doc said she was surprised that it was as bad as it was since my lymph nodes were not swollen and I showed no other symptoms. She said that my ear drum was very close to bursting as there was a huge bubble with a little bit of blood and that was what was causing me pain. She advised me not to cough hard or blow my nose really hard until the antibiotics get a chance to work and lessen the pressure.

They gave me 3 prescriptions to fill--an antibiotic pill, another pill to help with the swelling, and an ear drop that was an antibiotic and a steroid in one. I took them to our local Walmart as they are the cheapest pharmacy. When I turned them in I asked how much they were going to be...the 2 that were pills were $4 a piece...the ear drops were....$197!!!! I don't think so. I can't afford that, so they were nice enough to call the clinic and get me one much cheaper ($44).

I really hope the antibiotics help. I freaked Jacob out when I put the ear drops in and then put a cotton ball in to keep the drops in. He DID NOT like it at all.


Have you ever had an ear infection? Ever had to ask them to change your meds because you couldn't afford them and were they willing to do so?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Parents on Facebook



The day has finally come.

My in-laws have joined facebook.

They said they would never, but I got a friend request from my father in law on Tuesday. Hubby got one too, but he did not accept it as of yet.

I figure it is a way for them to keep up with pictures of the grandkids.

This should be interesting.

Are you friends with your parents or inlaws on facebook?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Collin Raye in Concert



On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to go see Collin Raye in concert with my mom. He was performing in the town that I live in at a theater that was less than a mile from my house J Typically we have to drive to Columbus or farther to see any good concerts. But not Saturday night.


We were given free tickets to go through the school that both my mom and I work at. (If we would have had to bought tickets, they were only $25 a piece which is still quite low for a concert).



He performed with only two backup musicians (a pianoist and a violinist). Let me tell you….the concert was AWESOME!!!


My mom and I actually saw him in concert about 10 years ago or so and he is still great. His songs are amazing! I had a great time with my mom too! It was a great night!

Have you been to any great concerts lately?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Toy bins as Tents


The other day I had to laugh at my kiddos as they were pretending to have a campout in our living room using their cloth toy bins as their “tents.” Rebecca and Jacob would put a pillow in the bin, lay down on the pillow, their head in the “tent” and then cover up with one of the throw blankets.



Then they would get up, take their tent go look for wild animals and "pitch" their tents in a different location in our house. They also would read bedtime stories in their tents.



At one point Rebecca even had a guard dog on top of her tent to keep out the animals.



It was too funny!

Do your kids ever play make believe with something for hours on end?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge: Update #3

 
January is the month where I feel like I get a start over in redoing our finances and also a redo of our house, when I get rid of excess and feel the urge to declutter. So I was so excited to see that the lovely Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily was hosting a January Decluttering and No/Low Spend Challenge. I have decided to join in!
 
Here is update #3:
 
My MAIN goals for this January challenge:

- Financial goals:
  • Spend no more than $320 on food for the month. (This averages out to $80 a week). I need to get our grocery budget down as this past 2 months we have been averaging $130 a week for our family due to illnesses and holidays. Over the last week I spent $154.00. If you remember I had $154.97 left for the month. So now I only have $0.97 left!  OOOPS!!!! I will say this, I have a menu plan in place for the rest of the month. I only have to get milk this weekend and that should do it for food for the month. I went over as I stocked up on snacks for the kids and I had to buy a bunch of new spices for some recipes that I am making. I haven't bought spices in a long while so that added probably $15-20 to my total.
  • Spend no more than $150 on household items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, Tide, dish detergent and trash bags) This past week I spent $29 on household stuff. I am still right on track though with $55 left for the month.
  • No Eating out FAIL--- Had McDonalds for dinner one night. I just did not feel like cooking and we took a van load of stuff to Goodwill. We were celebrating Rebecca's Awesome report card from school. Honestly I don't know why we keep eating out, because after the fact I feel bad and my stomach doesn't really care for it, etc. Maybe this will be a new goal for February....
  • The EXCEPTIONS:
    • Hubby and I are looking into buying new cell phones (ours are over 3 years old) and getting a cheaper plan (if we buy pre-paid we could potentially save $30 a month over our current bill)--We bought new phones and got new plans! It will save us over $60 a  month on our cell phone bills! I am so happy about this !!!!
    • We have to get a title and tags for our new to us van that we were gifted--Did this this morning. It cost us less than I thought and we paid cash we had on hand to get it done!
    • This does not affect our utilities, rent, gas for our vehicles, etc.--Ongoing
    • As always family emergencies, medical, dental, etc. are not counted against this as well.--Hubby ended up in the ER on Friday night with possible heart issue. He has to go for a stress test tomorrow. We do not have health insurance so this is going to be a HUGE expense coming up.
-Decluttering goals:
  • I have one decluttering goal for this month---the huge closet (it is the size of a half room) off the bathroom that has become a dumping ground for stuff and storage. It is horrible! Would like to donate/sell at least half of the stuff in there.---I was able to take a whole van load of crap stuff to Goodwill this weekend. The back of the van was stuffed full. There were at least 9 trash bags and 3 boxes full of stuff. I also have a large gift bag full of toiletries and stuff to give to my sister and my mom.
So overall, I think it was a okay third week on this challenge. I hope this trend continues. I need to get to work on that closet/room this week though or it might not get done in time. I have also learned some things about how I shop, etc. It has been a real eye opener for me, especially with the grocery and household shopping.
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CARLA'S MINI CHALLENGES: Week 3:
 
Each week, Carla will give mini challenges to hopefully be completed alongside your main goals. Here are this week's challenges and how I did:
 
Financial: GIVE. Simple as that.
I was able to gift some items to someone in need and I doubled our weekly contribution at church.

Decluttering: Declutter a closet and snap before & after photos.
I chose to declutter my coat closet. (Truthfully we only have 4 closets in our house and this was the most messy). Here is my before and after.


I did take a coat and a bunch of shoes out of this closet. The coat went into a giveaway pile and the shoes were put back into our master closet.

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So there you have it....I think I have done pretty well on the challenges so far. If you are participating in Carla's challenge or you are trying to work on your own financial/ decluttering goals, how are you doing?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Printcopia Canvas Winner!


Printcopia

 
Sorry this is so late in getting posted. Have been extremely busy and stressed at home! But, drum roll please.....here is the winner of the Printcopia canvas print as decided by random.org.
 

A nice family portrait from our vacation to France last year! Thank you :)

suzanneedevaux@yahoo.com

-Susan DeVaux

Susan you have been emailed! You have 48 hours to respond!
 
Thanks everyone for entering!

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge: Update #2

 
January is the month where I feel like I get a start over in redoing our finances and also a redo of our house, when I get rid of excess and feel the urge to declutter. So I was so excited to see that the lovely Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily was hosting a January Decluttering and No/Low Spend Challenge. I have decided to join in!
 
Here is update #2:
 
My MAIN goals for this January challenge:

- Financial goals:
  • Spend no more than $320 on food for the month. (This averages out to $80 a week). I need to get our grocery budget down as this past 2 months we have been averaging $130 a week for our family due to illnesses and holidays. This weekend I shopped for 2 weeks, as I am trying a new system of grocery shopping.  I spent $106.95. As of Monday night, I have spent  a total of $165.03 on groceries for the month...so right on track if I just get milk, bread and fresh stuff this weekend ($154.97 left). I am definitely doing better on this than I thought.
  • Spend no more than $150 on household items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, Tide, dish detergent and trash bags) As of Monday night, I spent 35.17 and $13.54 this past week in 2 trips for different things (diapers, Tide, deodorant, kids soap)....I am still right on track though with $84.26 left for the month.
  • No Eating out FAIL--- Had Subway for lunch one day (used a gift card that I received for Christmas) and had Papa John's pizza one day for lunch (this was for a mystery shop and I will be reimbursed for it.
  • The EXCEPTIONS:
    • Hubby and I are looking into buying new cell phones (ours are over 3 years old) and getting a cheaper plan (if we buy pre-paid we could potentially save $30 a month over our current bill)--We bought new phones and got new plans! It will save us over $60 a  month on our cell phone bills! I am so happy about this !!!!
    • We have to get a title and tags for our new to us van that we were gifted--Did this this morning. It cost us less than I thought and we paid cash we had on hand to get it done!
    • This does not affect our utilities, rent, gas for our vehicles, etc.--Ongoing
    • As always family emergencies, medical, dental, etc. are not counted against this as well.--Nothing this week, so hopefully this trend continues.
-Decluttering goals:
  • I have one decluttering goal for this month---the huge closet (it is the size of a half room) off the bathroom that has become a dumping ground for stuff and storage. It is horrible! Would like to donate/sell at least half of the stuff in there.---I was able to give 2 large trash bags, a box and a smaller bag full of clothes to my brother for his children. Was not able to make much progress in here this weekend as Benjamin was sick all day Saturday and Sunday we spent with my family and then just relaxing (napping) at home.
So overall, I think it was a good second week on this challenge. I hope this trend continues. I need to get to work on that closet/room this week though or it might not get done in time.
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CARLA'S MINI CHALLENGES: Week 2:
 
Each week, Carla will give mini challenges to hopefully be completed alongside your main goals. Here are this week's challenges and how I did:
 
Finance: Can you bring some extra money into your household this week somehow? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pick up extra hours at work
  • Sell items around the house you no longer need or use
  • Offer a service or talent
  • Come in "under" budget and add that to your weekly savings
I did a mystery shop this past week that involved us have a free lunch and getting paid a little extra on top of that. Also I picked up 2 extra hours at work listening to in-service cds at home, while browsing online. Also I have gotten hubby's permission to list unused baby items (bassinet, bathtub, glider chair, swing, bouncer, etc.) on Craigslist. I am hoping to take pics and get them listed before the end of the month.

Decluttering: Junk Drawer. We all have one, don't pretend you don't, cause I won't believe you. ;) lol! Declutter your junk drawer and post before & after photos!!

DONE!!!DONE!!! and DONE!!!! I got this accomplished and posted about it here.....

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So there you have it....I think I have done pretty well on the challenges so far. If you are participating in Carla's challenge or you are trying to work on your own financial/ decluttering goals, how are you doing?


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Time once again for Sunday Night Chit-Chat...hosted by our friend Carla! 
 
To play along simply start your post with a photo or quote... Copy and paste the starters and link up to Carla so she and others can visit you and see what you've been up to!

SO HERE GOES:
I get to see this guy in concert this coming weekend. Super excited!


What are you.....

Reading?
Nothing right now. I am hoping to get to the library this week to grab a book or two and I have a couple books I am waiting to receive in the mail that I am to review.

Watching?
Football playoffs.
 
Listening to?
The TV is on. It is raining outside. The kids are playing.
  
Cooking/Baking
Actually didn't cook anything today. Went to breakfast with my parents and then Bill made the kids' dinner for them.

Happy you accomplished this week?

Got the junk drawer cleaned out, got 2 large trash bags of kids clothes and a box of kids clothes out the door (gave to my brother for his children). Stuck with my menu plan for the most part.
 
Looking forward to next week?
I am thinking of trying to set up a new schedule for Jacob and Benjamin while Rebecca is in school. Hoping to implement that this week.  Also I get to go to a concert Saturday night with my mom to see Collin Raye, a country star that I used to listen to all the time!
 
Thankful for today?
For my husband, who allowed me to nap this afternoon as I haven't been sleeping well and I am dealing with major abdominal cramps due to a woman's monthly visitor. While I was napping, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, cleaned and swept the dining room, played with the kids, and did some laundry. I love that man!  

Bonus question: What is your favourite board game?
Probably Scrabble....or Monopoly.
 
So there you have it. A little glimpse into my world on this Sunday night! Hope everyone has a wonderful week and remember to link up to our wonderful chat host Carla! :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Decluttering the junk drawer and junk shelf


This week, sweet Carla has challenged those of us who are taking part in her January No/Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge, to attack our junk drawers as our mini declutter challenge of the week. Specifically, the challenge says: " Declutter your junk drawer and post before & after photos!! "
 
For this decluttering assignment I actually decided to not only clean out my junk drawer in my kitchen, but also to clean off 2 shelves next to my computer that are used in the same purpose of the junk drawer.
 
So here is my before of my kitchen junk drawer:
 
 
Here is the after....much better looking. I threw out a bunch of stuff. Took the tools back to the toolbox and found 2 little strainers and a can top to donate!
 
 
The stuff that you would stick in a junk drawer...odds and ends from the mail, excess papers, etc. also tend to pile up near our computer, so I also decided to tackle that project as well.
 
Here is the before of the two shelves:
 
 
And the after....I was able to file paid bills, enter the my coke rewards from the caps onto the website and then put the caps in recycling, and organize the rest of it. I actually have a clean shelf!
 
 
Feels good to have a little bit of something organized this week. Hopefully tomorrow I will get to put in at least an hour on the main closet/room I am decluttering this month!
 
 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The kids have been having fun....

......playing in the snow!

On Sunday, Bill took Jacob and Rebecca outside to play in the snow and to see if they could build a snowman. We have had a lot of snow on the ground for a couple weeks now, but it wasn't good packing snow. On Sunday it was a little warmer so the snow became great packing snow.

I wasn't able to get any pictures of them actually making the snowman, as I was getting Benjamin ready for his nap, but I was able to bring them a snow man kit that I had found while decluttering my closet/room project for this month!







They had a blast and it warms my heart to see them having so much fun with their dad!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall (a review)

During Christmas time, my personal preference for reading material is anything that is Christmas or holidays related. So I was quite excited to read Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall. I am a big fan of Miss Woodsmall's novels and knew that this would be a good read.
Christmas in Apple Ridge is actually comprised of 3 novellas...."The Sound of Sleigh Bells," "The Christmas Singing," and a new novella-  "The Dawn of Christmas."

Christmas in Apple Ridge: Three-in-One Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, NEW! The Dawn of Christmas

From the back cover:
The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?

The Christmas Singing
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?

My thoughts:

I was not disappointed. I read this book over the course of 3 nights. (one novella each night). I could not put the book down during each story.

"The Sound of Sleigh Bells" tugged at my heart strings the most and was a powerful story of love and how love can give you a second chance.

"The Christmas Singing" was probably the most simple of the three novellas in my opinion. It did not tug at my heart like the others, but was still a good read.

"The Dawn of Christmas" was intriguing to me in that it allowed me to think about my own relationships and how we perceive relationships. You really felt for Sadie and Levi in that they are each battling their own demons, while their families are trying to do things in their best interest and in the traditions of the Amish. It was a great read.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Amish fiction. These stories are sweet and endearing while at the same time being interesting and thought provoking.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by Waterbrook Press Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Decluttering the Video/Game closet

 
One of Carla's mini decluttering challenges over the last week was :Decluttering Goal Week One: What "thing" clutters up your home the most? Is it clothes? Toys? Books/magazines? Kitchen Stuff? Knick-Knacks? Find a way to get rid of some of these items! Be sure to snap a pic of your declutter!
 
In our house it is "STUFF"...toys, videos, books, extra stuff.....just STUFF....so I decided to start on a small project and declutter some of the stuff.
 
My project was the closet that I believe is supposed to be used as a pantry but is not in the kitchen so we use it for storage. It is off the downstairs half bath.
 
We keep our board games, playdoh toys, puzzles, VHS, craft stuff and miscellaneous stuff in there. It was a disaster! You could not open the door without fearing "STUFF" would fall out on you.
 
 
HERE ARE THE BEFORE PICTURES:
(this was after I took out an art easel, and 2 bags of stuff that had been shoved in there) 
 
 
 On the shelves on the right, there were VHS tapes, kids TV show DVDs,  old video game systems, craft stuff and other stuff. The shelf in the middle held more VHS tapes. On the left were all of our puzzles and games and yoga mats all just piled on top of each other.
 
 
 
After about 45 minutes of getting everything out and organizing and getting a shelf that was up in the closet/room that I am hoping to do a deep declutter on this month, I was able to get everything organized and looking lovely!
 
 
Much better! The shelf unit has all the VHS and DVDs we are keeping. The bottom bin also has all the playdoh stuff. The shelves on the right have all of our games on the first 3 shelves, kids craft stuff on the next 2 shelves and the bottom has puzzles and crayon maker that we don't access very often.
 
In all total I got rid of about half of the VHS. The yoga mats went into our basement, along with the little shelf where it will get use in hubby's man room. I threw out a few games that were missing pieces and some of the craft stuff that was old and unusable. I am proud of how it looks and hopefully this will give us more quality family time since we can find what we need, when we need it.
 
Have you done any decluttering? 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge: Update #1

 
January is the month where I feel like I get a start over in redoing our finances and also a redo of our house, when I get rid of excess and feel the urge to declutter. So I was so excited to see that the lovely Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily was hosting a January Decluttering and No/Low Spend Challenge. I have decided to join in!
 
Here is update #1:
 
My MAIN goals for this January challenge:

- Financial goals:
  • Spend no more than $320 on food for the month. (This averages out to $80 a week). I need to get our grocery budget down as this past 2 months we have been averaging $130 a week for our family due to illnesses and holidays. As of Saturday night, I have spent $58.08 on groceries for the week...so right on track ($261.92 left)
  • Spend no more than $150 on household items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, Tide, dish detergent and trash bags) As of Saturday night, I have spent $17.03 on diapers. This number will go up tomorrow as I have to go out and get wipes, toilet paper, Tide and deodorant. But still on track. (132.97 left)
  • No Eating out FAIL--- Today after I went to the grocery store I went to Papa Johns and got a large pizza and breadsticks for the family for lunch. I had won a free Large Pizza so no cost there, but I paid for the breadsticks out of pocket. ($5) I did also get a free 2-Liter of Pepsi because they didn't make my breadsticks before I got there. So FAIL. I will also do a Papa John's mystery shop next week, but that will be reimbursed.
  • The EXCEPTIONS:
    • Hubby and I are looking into buying new cell phones (ours are over 3 years old) and getting a cheaper plan (if we buy pre-paid we could potentially save $30 a month over our current bill)--Haven't looked into this yet.
    • We have to get a title and tags for our new to us van that we were gifted--Did this this morning. It cost us less than I thought and we paid cash we had on hand to get it done!
    • This does not affect our utilities, rent, gas for our vehicles, etc.--Ongoing
    • As always family emergencies, medical, dental, etc. are not counted against this as well.--Nothing this week, so hopefully this trend continues.
-Decluttering goals:
  • I have one decluttering goal for this month---the huge closet (it is the size of a half room) off the bathroom that has become a dumping ground for stuff and storage. It is horrible! Would like to donate/sell at least half of the stuff in there.---Am hoping to work on this on Sunday afternoon. I did repurpose a shelf in there to a downstairs closet to help organize videos.
So overall, I think it was  good first week on this challenge. I hope this trend continues. I need to get to work on that closet/room this week though or it might not get done in time.
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CARLA'S MINI CHALLENGES: Week 1:
 
Each week, Carla will give mini challenges to hopefully be completed alongside your main goals. Here are this week's challenges and how I did:
 
Financial Goal Week One: Instead of buying something you need this week, find a way to "make do". Do you grab a coffee each day on the way to work? can you brew at home & use a travel mug? Run out of an ingredient for a recipe? Can you find a substitution? There are many ways to "make do" each & every day... track how much you would have spent.

I decided this week instead of adding soaps and shampoos to our grocery list to use up what we have in the closet. I know I have several full bottles of shampoo in there and soap that are not my favorites but are perfectly good to use. This saved me about $10 at the store for this week.

I also used a different cheese than the one called for in a recipe since that is what I had on hand. :)

Decluttering Goal Week One: What "thing" clutters up your home the most? Is it clothes? Toys? Books/magazines? Kitchen Stuff? Knick-Knacks? Find a way to get rid of some of these items! Be sure to snap a pic of your declutter!

I finished up decluttering the toys in the kids' rooms. It seems just overall STUFF clutters up our home, so I am looking to get rid of stuff. I donated 4 LARGE trash bags and 1 box full of toys and stuff!


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So there you have it....I think I have done pretty well on the challenges so far. If you are participating in Carla's challenge or you are trying to work on your own financial/ decluttering goals, how are you doing?


Friday, January 4, 2013

5 Question Friday

It has been a while since I have participated in 5 Question Friday hosted by "My Little Life"...I thought it would be fun to join in again today. So here goes....



1. Have you set any goals/resolutions for 2013?
2013 is a year that I haven't set goals or resolutions for the whole year. That is a change from in the past. Instead there are things that I want to work toward---paying down debt, decluttering, getting healthier, but instead of making lofty goals for the year I am going to work on a couple of things each month and make monthly goals instead. This month I am working on a no/low spend challenge and a decluttering challenge.


2. Have you made any travel/vacation plans for 2013?
I wish. But no. Last year after our little vacation to Kentucky we realized that we need to wait a few more years to take a real vacation when the kids are older and can appreciate it more. It was rough taking an infant, a 2 year old and a 5 year old on vacation. We will probably do some day trips and fun stuff like that. I have a few places in mind but not sure if we will do everything.


3. What room is never cleaned in your house?
The laundry room. It is in an unfinished part of our basement and besides taking out the trash of empty Tide boxes, I leave that room alone. It houses our furnace unit and washer and dryer and storage stuff so it does not get cleaned.


4. What food must be in your house at all times?
CHOCOLATE!!!! There must be some sort of chocolate in the house at all times for my sanity and for my hubby's sanity.

5. Are you a hugger or more of a hands off person?
It really depends. With family and close friends I am a hugger. With acquaintances or not so close friends I am a hands off person. It really depends.

So there you have it. A little glimpse into me with these five questions! Hope everyone has a great Friday! And be sure to check out "My Little Life" to check out more answers to the five questions!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Printcopia Canvas Prints (and a giveaway)

I don't know about where you live, but here the temperature was 0 degrees this morning! It was COLD! There is about 8 inches of snow on the ground and it is just freezing. Definitely a winter wonderland.

Now, don't get me wrong I love the snow at Christmastime,  but come January 1, I am ready for it to be gone and for warm weather to be back (which will happen maybe in April). That is why when Printcopia contacted me and offered to send me a free 8x10 canvas print of my choice in exchange for a review I agreed. I immediately knew which photo I wanted to use. I was so excited to have the opportunity to bring a little sunshine into our home decor thanks to Printcopia!

Printcopia

Printcopia offers canvas prints made with non-toxic, eco-friendly inks and which are made in the U.S.A. The canvas prints are so easy to make and the possibilities are endless. (Their sister companies also offer car magnets, vinyl banners, and lawn signs.)

I knew right away what photo I wanted to use for my canvas print. I have been wanting to add a little art to our downstairs half bath, which is dark and feels cramped. There is not a window in the bathroom and there is dark wood paneling and wood cabinets on 2 of the walls. It makes it very depressing. I wanted to add a little ray of sunshine, so I chose to have one of the pictures put on canvas that I had taken during a family outing over the summer with Bill and the kids.


This picture of lilies was taken at our local Children's Garden and just screams Summer to me and brings back the memories of the warm sunshine and the fun that my kids had running around looking at the different flowers!

When I received my canvas, I was very impressed with the workmanship. It was absolutely beautiful. It was easy to hang and it looks beautiful in my bathroom. I smile everytime I see it.



Everything about the ordering process was easy. Printcopia offers canvas prints made with non-toxic, eco-friendly inks and which are made in the U.S.A. They are so easy to make. All I had to do was create an account, upload my picture and order. Easy-Peasy.

I would recommend them to anyone! And now you can have one as well! The folks at Printcopia have generously offered one 8X10 canvas print to one of my lucky U.S.A. readers.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment describing what you would have put on the canvas if you win. (Please leave me your email when ordering so I can contact you if you win!)

This contest is open to mailing addresses in the continental U.S.A. only! Contest ends January 19, 2013 at 11:59pm e.s.t. Winner will be chosen using random.org and will be contacted by email. Winner has 48 hours to respond or new winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. I am not responsible for fulfillment of prize package; the sponsoring company is responsible for fulfillment.

2019 Christmas Parade

Sunday afternoon the kids walked in our town's annual Christmas parade. Usually it is held the Sunday following Thanksgiving, however th...