Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Clutter Bites The Dust

Two more trash bags of clothes, shoes and toys and a tiny bag of food went out of my house to the food pantry/thrift store today.

I've been doing an ok job of keeping up with the tidying I did last week. Hopefully each week will bring me closer to having a clean home. Today I wiped down some of our white trim and doors with a magic eraser. I also made and froze a batch of homemade vegetable broth with veggie trimmings. That doesn't really get the house clean but it does help me save food dollars. Both very important to me right now.

The more I clean the happier I get. The more money I save is well, more money saved.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Free Movies

It was many months after registering on their website that I finally got a gofobo invite for a movie screening in my inbox. Lately I've been getting about one a week. Unfortunately, I've only been able to go to one screening since we've had conflicts or lack of a babysitter every other time.
Most of the time the screenings I've been offered are in the middle of a weekday but if you like free movies and have a loose schedule you might really like
Make sure to get to your movie half an hour early. The screening of Super 8 that hubby and I went to was packed. We had to sit in the front row. Still, it was a free movie so I'm not going to cry about it.

Some Good Stuff

I found our camera in the back of my car. It must have been there since we came back from Texas in July.
We had a weekend getaway at the YMCA Trout Lodge.

We had two days of rocket building and launching, rifle shooting (for Daddy), mini golf, dance partying, crafts, and playing in the lake.

In June we went to Hannibal, MO for a weekend trip. We rode on a steamboat down the river, went on a late afternoon ghosts of Hannibal tour, and explored the Mark Twain cave.

And we just went to Kansas City for the Renaissance Festival). I adore the KC RenFest. Huzzah! We watched jousting, the kids rode on the rides, we ate too much food (love love love the cinnamon almonds), bought fripperies and jewelry, and generally had a gay old time.

I am beginning to prefer these little getaways over a week long vacation. We have just enough time to do everything fun before anyone gets bored. Plus, the kids feel spoiled because we can have more than one "be"cation.

We came back to a slightly more tidy home and I immediately unloaded our dirty clothes into the washer. No more letting the dirty laundry sit in suitcases forever. I do have some more scrubbing to do on Big Girl's white shirt where she kept wiping her tiger face paint off. Oh, well. This is a good reason to buy your clothes second hand. When you pay $2 or less it doesn't hurt as much when they ruin their clothes.

I made a lasagna and gingerbread cake with scratch frosting for dinner last night. They were good and we have leftovers. After two or three less than stellar restaurant meals plus the rather lackluster cafeteria style food at the YMCA, I am more than happy to be eating at home.

I got to pick up my Angel Food Ministries pantry and fruit boxes yesterday even though I was told they wouldn't hang on to my boxes for me. A trip to Aldi to get $20 worth of fruit, cheese, bread and veg and now my pantry is all full. And so much easier to navigate since Hubby cleaned it.

That's all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kicking Some Stuff's "Stuff" And Taking Names

No, my house isn't an immaculate shrine to all that is clean and wonderful in the world. I don't expect it will ever be that way. We have to actually live here, you know.
But, I have been cleaning. A lot.

As soon as Little Guy leaves for Kindergarten in the afternoon I've been getting busy.
So far this week:

Cleaned the downstairs bath
Made beds daily and changed sheets on Little Guy's bed
Kept up with laundry and managed to put it all away
Kept the kitchen table relatively clean. It needs quick spruce right now but will be done before dinner time
Cleaned out the dog's bowl (long overdue) and washed her bedding and toys
Swept the kitchen (twice!)
Swept and Damp mopped the entry way
Cleaned the foyer and sorted through shoes (it seems I am always making a pile of outgrown kid's shoes to wash and donate)
Cleaned the TV room (the carpet still needs a steam clean but that can wait for now)
Kept up with the dishes fairly well
Made dinner every night but Tuesday when I treated the kids to dinner (tonight we're having Manischewitz Vegetable soup topped with swiss cheese and homemade croutons)

I've also done a lot of miscellaneous picking up and putting away of tiny bits of stuff. And a lot of stuff has been deemed fit for only the trash can or the donation bag. I have two trash bags of stuff for charity ready to go and I'm sure I'll have two more before the downstairs is clean.
So, the outlook isn't so bleak. If I keep this up I'm sure I'll see the day when my house is only 15 minutes worth of messy. I like this so much better than shopping for stuff.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Consolidation How I love Thee

Hubby cleaned out the pantry last weekend and you would not believe how much nicer it looks.
I can find our food again.
I did throw away an embarrassing amount of old sauces and crackers that were expired. Another reason why I should not stockpile! I found two cans of instant coffee in the pantry after I'd spent $5 a day before for a new can. Grrrr.
I know most of you are gagging at the idea of instant coffee but I love it mixed with chocolate powder and creamer. It's become my substitute for pricey International Foods. I mix whatever I have available that sounds good. I like it as well as Starbucks and I don't have to make a whole pot of coffee so I have hot water ready for cocoa and oatmeal for the rest of the family.
Because I am messy and have organizational problems (and also a mini hoarding problem I'm trying to conquer) my mix cans have been on the kitchen counter for forever. That's four or five cans of flavorings and coffee at any given time. It's a waste of space.
Today I had a fourth of a jar of Ovaltine, most of a container of vanilla Nesquick, a jar of mixed coffee creamer and vanilla flavored sugar, and a new 4 oz. jar of instant coffee. So, I got out my blender and mixed them all together and put them back in the Ovaltine jar since it's the biggest. Now I have one jar to keep and only one jar to mess with in the morning.
I kept one glass jar for future use and recycled the rest. I love to keep old salsa, spaghetti sauce and peanut butter jars to use as clear storage in my pantry. But, my cabinets are full and I will always have a supply of jars as long as I keep grocery shopping.

While I was doing that I was also mixing up a batch of onion bread and cleaning my stinky disposal (and also watching the Nate Berkus show on my mini kitchen tube). I have so far to go to get this house back to any decent kind of order. It's been about 18 months since my in-laws were here and that's the last time every room in my house was clean at once. That's sad. They are coming in a month and I have a lot of work to do.

We seemed to have permanently misplaced our camera since our trip from Houston last month. I really miss being able to post pictures on my blog. Maybe I can get a new (easier to use one) for my birthday next month.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I need to stay out of Target

I had coupons today- Target coupons combined with manufacturer coupons for stuff we will use. I had a valid reason to be there. We needed stuff, alright?!?
Ok, I could have lived without that new baby sleeper that was so totally cute for $4 on the clearance rack that I bought for a friend's new baby. But, that at least is leaving my house soon.

Trying to declutter and stop buying stuff is easy if I'm at home (and it helps a lot if I'm also asleep).
But, walking through housewares in a store with cute stuff that I don't need makes me feel like the only fat girl at the swimming pool. And my bathing suit has a hole in it.

Buying all that new stuff (like the zebra print sheets for Big Girl) would buy me momentary happiness but soon it would just be one more thing I needed to wash, take care of, put away, etc. One more thing taking up space in an already full closet. And we don't need it as much as we do the $20 it would have cost. Yeah, I'd much rather have a tidy pile of money.
I didn't particularly care for Fight Club but this Tyler Durden quote sticks with me:
"The things you own, they end up owning you."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Music To Clean To

I don't enjoy cleaning so I need all the help and incentive I can get. My favorite way to clean is having the house to myself and putting on one of my "cleaning" cds. It's always a challenge for myself to keep cleaning until the cd ends and then I can have a break. It makes doing something I don't enjoy more bearable.

Here's my short list of Music I Clean To-

The Saint Soundtrack
(my favorite is Duncan Sheik's In the Absence of Sun)
This mix from called Precisouly One Hour of Cleaning Music (Dizzee Rascal's Fix Up/Look Sharp is my favorite here)
Fiddler on the Roof Soundtrack- Tevye's "If I were a rich man" always makes me sing.
Lifescapes Scottish Moor/Emerald Isle double cd- I bought mine from one of those little relaxation kiosks in Target. It was nowhere as expensive as this cd set on Amazon.

Do you have an cleaning incentive tips to share? Any particular cleaning routine or music you like to listen to while you scrub and sweep?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

About That Scorching of the Earth Thing

Apparently serious decluttering is a slow process for me. Since the last time I posted I:

Made $40 on kid's clothes at a resale shop
Donated three trash bags of clothes and purses and a tacky Taz Christmas decoration.
Cleaned off the kitchen table and filled the trash can and recycling can at the same time
Started another tub for the resale shop, boxes to post on Thred Up, and a bag for donation

I still have so much to do but I'm trying not to stress. I've got a lot to do and it's going to take a long time to do it. Giving up on being one of those people who stock piles for later is going to be hard. But, do you know what? I can't keep a tidy house that way. I am not organized enough.

So, I'm still working on the scorching thing but my blow torch is tiny and my time line is big.
Every bit counts, right?

On a frugal note- I've made a conscious effort to cook at home and to keep my shopping to a minimum.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scorched Earth Policy on Clutter

I just spent two weeks in an hotel suite with mini kitchen. I have an idea of how little a person really needs to not just get by but thrive. It had me thinking about just getting rid of everything that my family using or didn't need for the next six months.

I have a lot of clutter. My Grandmother was a hoarder (although she would want it said that she wasn't a nasty housekeeper.) My aunts and mom have problems with clutter too. It runs in my DNA. Do you know what I'm starting to realized doesn't make me happy? Clutter. This is doubly hard for me because so many frugal tips are based on buying things cheap to store for when you need them. I'm kinda over it.

One more reason I have a hard time parting with stuff I don't really want is that I think I should try to get some money out of it first. Most of you know what I mean. You buy a new pair of shoes that are really cute and wear them once and they give you blisters. You hate that you only wore them once and know someone would pay for them. Why just donate them when you can try to get a few dollars back? The trouble with selling things is that it takes time, effort, and sometimes it takes money. I've had good luck selling stuff on ebay and craigslist but it has never been without hassle. So, the clutter stays because I don't want the hassle. And the unhappiness continues.

I'm gonna have to go full flylady I think and donate. So, today I scoured my pile of back to school supplies in the basement and bagged up a bunch of stuff to donate that my kids didn't need this year. Brand new stuff. Stuff they will eventually need. Donated. Because it's in my way and somebody this year needs it. Today is tax free shopping day and I have two things left on my list to buy- an eraser and a plastic folder. My collection has been a blessing for us. Now it's time to bless someone else.

I'm off to take a test to see if I'm a hoarder. Then I'm loading the kids up and driving to the donation center.
The survey indicated that I have a mild to moderate hoarding disorder. Ouch. Off to scorch!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's For Dinner: Amy Dacyczyn's Broccoli Corn Casserole

This recipe combines two veggies that I know my family will eat. That's why I grabbed a freezer bag of each yesterday when I ran through Target. I'll add a cup of veggie crumbles to round it out.

LIfe handed me lemons, I finally have time to make lemonade

Whew! I don't know if you noticed or not but I was gone for about a month. I went to Texas to be with my Mom while she sought cancer treatment. It's too early to tell how she's doing but she seems much stronger than last month.

I drove myself to Houston. If you read my blog you know how big of a deal that was. I was so nervous the whole time. My fears were compounded by my mom and my aunt both worrying over how I would manage the terrible Houston traffic. Turns out that I managed quite well. In fact, I have to say that I much prefer traveling by myself on long car trips as I can go for hours without a potty break. Of course, now the maintenance required light is flashing on my dashboard so I'd rather not have another long car trip anytime soon. A trip to the Midas (I have a coupon!) needs to put on the agenda.

My family flew in for the last week for which I am so grateful because I was missing them terribly. I've spent way more time away from my kids this summer than I wanted or intended to. We didn't do as much sight seeing or vacation stuff as we probably should have. But, we did go to the Space Center and to Galveston Beach where we all got nasty sunburns. We stopped by the roadside in rural Arkansas to look for crystal rocks and got eaten by chiggers. I hate to say that my favorite part of being in Texas was the 99 Cent Only store but it's true. The food deals were pretty good plus they had two kinds of Mexican laundry soap bars for 99 cents!

I'm glad to be home.
School starts in 14 days so I've got a lot to do. Kindergarten immunizations, health check ups, glasses for Big Girl, school supply gathering, and any last bits of summer fun we've left undone.
This year we did not complete any library summer reading goals. We haven't been to the neighborhood pool more than a few times and my tomatoes are dead from lack of water. But, there are more important things going on than making sure my kids get free ice cream cones and having a bountiful garden.

Right now I've got an internal debate over whether or not to step up as the new leader of my daughter's small Girl Scout troop. I just don't know if I'm organized enough or even understand Girl Scouts enough. Plus, I know how hard it is to get the few of us Moms motivated to do anything. I've seen the countless emails from the last leader begging for help. Plus, I have no idea what the next few months of my life will be like with my Mom sick. I just don't want to offer myself up and then not be able to deliver. There is already a cookie mom so I wouldn't have to worry about that part though.

I'm ready to start frugal homemaking again though. I've missed it terribly.