Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Week 1 progress!

Update on the minimalism challenge.
For Week 1 I said I was going to clean out the:
-Tupperware cupboard

-Craft cupboard and random craft crap

-Daughters closet and toys

-Hall closet

-Upper cabinets and refrigerator

-Pan cupboard and dish towels

I successfully cleaned out the craft cupboard on Monday and it was pretty easy since I had just done it after Christmas to fit in all of their new craft crap. They love coloring, painting and crafting so being able to access it more easily is a great thing for their sanity and mine.

Today we ventured into the toys. I had actually planned to do the toy room next week but since I was doing the girls', I decided to tackle every toy in this house. My son, doesn't have that many interests. He likes things that go vroom or boom so it was easy to clean out his room. We took out all of the baby toys(cue the tears! for mama) and made room for all of his toys to fit nicely in his toy box.
The girls room was tougher. They have dolls. Lot's of dolls. But Emily plays with EVERY.SINGLE.ONE! Molly isn't really into them but Em spends most afternoons playing Barbies/Ever After High Dolls/My Little Pony games. So we decided that at this point, we are not going to take any away. We did remove some broken dolls and ruined clothes but mostly I just organized them.
The play room seems to be the room where the toys my kids don't actually like, end up. Since I do in-home daycare, things don't always last long in there. When you put 6 kids in a room together, things get a little wild. So today we removed broken toys and Happy Meal toys. ..side note.. I hate happy meal toys. They make me grumpy. Runza has the right idea.

After cleaning out the toys, I decided to jump into the project of the girls' closet. This also wasn't as big of a job as I thought it would be because I had done it earlier this school year. I sort the girls clothes by the size I think they will be in at the next season so we went through their closet and removed the too small clothes and then opened the box of spring clothes and had the girls try them on. We always have a few hand me downs which saves us a lot of money and this year, neither girl has grown much so they don't need much for this next season.

So it's Tuesday and the back of my car is filled with 3 boxes of toys. I took out a small box of broken toys to the trash and my living room table is covered in clothes that need a new home.

Week 1 is off to a good start!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Home-free haircuts

I have been sharing ways that our family saves money and this is possibly one of my favorites!
Last year I watched a couple of YouTube videos on how easy it was to trim little girl hair. My girls have very long hair and don't want short hair so it seemed like it would be easy. I bought a pair of scissors from Walmart and did some research. I found a lot of videos on the subject but my favorite was Hair 101 with April. I thought she was very comprehensive and not annoying to watch at all. She is a mom as well so she had some great tips for dealing with kiddos.
This is the cut I did with Emily, and with her slight curl, it was amazing. I thought it was easy and fun.
Molly's was a little different. I did box layers on her and they framed her face so well! After trying both methods, I decided I liked box layers better and have since done them on both girls.

And the finished product after the first time.
One of the best things about it was that it was 20 minutes completely alone with each girl. I banned siblings from the room so I could focus and what that meant was that we had a lot of time to talk.

I have also ventured into men's haircuts. I cut Jared's every 6 weeks or so but every 3rd or 4th time, he goes to the barber to get a really polished cut. His hair is very thick and I haven't mastered it yet. Caleb is much simpler. I took him into a stylist and asked for a crew cut but what we came away with was a poorly done buzz cut. He has such beautiful hair that I really don't want to buzz it. Tonight I did a crew cut on him for the first time. He sat really well but once he saw the hair falling, he kept shouting, "Hey Mom! Ma hair!"
It's certainly not perfect but it is better than the last 2 I paid for.He has a funny little cowlick in the front that is hard to work around but I think it went well. It took about 10 minutes. I used the Wahl Color that I got for Christmas. It is so easy to use and is a great value.
I figure that cutting my children's hair saves me around $200 a year and I really enjoy it.The best thing about cutting their hair is that it grows back. With very long hair, the girls can afford to lose a little extra if the cut isn't right and Caleb is 2 so he really doesn't care what he looks like. This is definitely something I would recommend for all families to try.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Minimalism Madness

I'm sure most of you have been seeing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge on Facebook. Remove 40 bags of "stuff" from your home in 40 days and donate it. It coincides with Lent and I think it is wonderful! But, 40 days is a long time for me :P I like to really dig in and get things done quicker than that. So here is my schedule.
Week 1:
-Tupperware cupboard

-Craft cupboard and random craft crap

-Daughters closet and toys

-Hall closet

-Upper cabinets and refrigerator

-Pan cupboard and dish towels

Week 2:

-My bedroom

-My closet

-Toy room

-Calebs toys.

-Dvd's and Cd's

Week 3:(depending on weather)

-Toys in the shed

-Yard supplies

I think I may add more as they come to me. I would encourage you to make a list of the areas in your home that are getting a little out of control but don't schedule it too strictly. Life happens, and sometimes you don't get stuff done and then it piles up. Allow yourself some grace.

Monday, February 27, 2017

March challenge

It's almost March which means, I can eat bagels again soon!
Also, it means Spring Cleaning!
This year, I am making my usual cleaning list, including things like, waxing the kitchen floor, cleaning ceilings and airing the mattresses, but I am also adding to it this year.
I have decided to embrace my inner minimalist. I think that if I hadn't gotten married, I would have become one of those really strange minimalists who lived in an apartment with 2 bowls. I would have never had company because I wouldn't have a spare chair. But I did get married and had children and they enriched my life so fully that they filled my house full of stuff!
I think I am pretty good at removing surplus stuff from our home but it still builds up. So I am digging a little deeper this year.
As our children get older, our lives are getting a little busier and more hectic. Because of that, I want our home to be as simple and calming as possible. I've noticed that my kids are stressed by putting away their laundry because their drawers don't close. That is undue stress for them and the best thing for them would be to remove it from their lives.
I am making my list and schedule and plan on sharing that with you soon. I'd love it if you followed along and joined me in making your life simpler but don't feel like you need to follow my schedule. We all have different areas in our life that collect clutter. Mine is my kitchen, my daughters have their closet and Caleb owns a thousand toy cars. Work on the areas in your life that are weighing you down.
Stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 20, 2017

I don't own a WHAT?!?

Okay, sit down. Set your coffee down. I am about to tell you something big.

Are you ready?

Okay, I do not own a dishwasher. Gasp!!! No seriously, I don't. When we bought our house, we said we would get one before we had kids but you know how it goes, we made plans and God laughed. So baby #1 arrived before we had been married a year, followed quickly by baby #2. We ended up getting a portable dishwasher and it was very helpful for about a year. But soon, I found myself irritated by the amount of work it took. I couldn't run it if I needed to use my sink and it was loud. In a tiny home, a loud appliance is very unwelcome. So we ditched it 3 years ago and I have been washing every load by hand.

That is my kitchen sink as I head off to bed. I usually try to have all of the dishes done but as I was making Jared's lunch for tomorrow, I had to dirty some more.
This option is not the right one for everyone but it works for us. I wash dishes twice a day. Usually when I am making supper and again after supper. Soon, I hope to pass the supper dishes off to Molly and Emily.
Why do I prefer this option? It saves us money. Like, a lot. I don't know if people realize how much more money it costs to run a dishwasher rather than a load of hand washed dishes but it does. On top of that, if we were to put in a dishwasher, we would have to put in a lot of work and money into our kitchen. While I don't love my kitchen, we are not in a place that we can do that. Some days, like the other day when I was sick, I really don't want to wash the dishes but I never regret it the next day. It never takes more than 5 minutes and gives me great satisfaction in knowing I did something for my home.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

They call me a cheapskate.

I was recently asked to lead a round table discussion on how to save money in your home. There is a good chance that if you follow couponing blogs then you will likely know all of this but as I told the ladies at the round table, if you learn just 1 way to save $100 a year, that's a $100 you didn't have before. ($100 pays for a night away at a nice hotel which sounds soooo nice right now!)

These are my notes, they are as scattered as my brain. So let me break it down for you

Budget Cutting Ideas
·       Cable Hacks- People spend a crazy amount of money on cable yearly. I would wager that almost everyone would get a little nauseous if they looked at their yearly total. There are so many other options.
1.  Roku-A device that streams apps such as Netflix, Hulu, SlingTv, Amazon Prime as well as many free apps that stream entertainment directly to your TV. We don't have a Roku because when we replaced our DVD player a couple years ago we got the Smart option so it streams for us.
2.  Netflix-Netflix is probably the most well known streaming service and it has a lot of great programming for around $10 a month.
3.  Amazon Prime-For $99 a year, Prime offers free television shows and movies but also gives you free shipping, free music streaming(commercial free), free books on Kindle and more!
4.  SlingTV-I personally have no experience with this streaming option but I do know that it offers sports while the others do not.
5.  ProjectFreeTV and ShareTv.org are both websites that allow you to watch TV for free. As far as I know, there are no apps to stream to your TV but if you don't mind watching on a computer, they are great!
·     Internet-It is a little known fact that you are allowed to ask for a lower price from your cable and internet companies. Especially if you have recently had a hike or are searching for a new company, ask firmly and kindly. It may be small, like a $10 one time discount or they may knock $5 off each month. Either way, it is worth a phone call. Phone call, not email. Trust me.
1.  Ask for discounts
2.  Change providers
3.  Cell companies-There is the option to get your internet through a cell phone company. We personally use Viaero and our internet service costs less than 1/3 of what the only other option in our area is.
·       Cell phone and Home phone
1.  Ask for discounts
2.  Never assume your current plan is the cheapest
3.  Shop around
4.  Evaluate your need for a home phone(Skype is a great alternative) -I think the rest are pretty self explanatory but this one might be new to you. My best friend has been using Skype as her home phone service for years. If you look at their website, it cost's less than $5 a month. You can stream it through your computer or get a Skype compatible home phone that connects to your internet. Another option is to use an old cell phone with no service plan and use it only on internet for Skype. You can download the app and use it to call out. For us, a home phone has not been a necessity but I do see it's value as my kids get older.                                                                                                   

Grocery shopping tips
I am not going to go into detail on these but grocery shopping is seriously your best avenue for saving. I am not a huge couponer because we eat pretty "real" so it doesn't work much for our diet. But it is worth looking into because its a great way to save on things like toothpaste/shampoo/soap/detergent/diapers. The other great option is apps for your phone. Ibotta is amazing! I use Ibotta all the time and in 4 months saved over $90. It get's transferred to your paypal account or a gift card. Checkout51 is similar but has fewer options. MobiSave is one of my new finds and while I don't find a lot of rebates on there, every one you redeem is sent directly to a PayPal account. While it isn't much, it's nice when shopping online to realize you have a few surprise dollars to spend.
·       Coupon! Coupon! Coupon!
1.  Coupons.com
2.  Ibotta!---Please use this link to sign up! I will give you a cookie! https://ibotta.com/r/lvagirx
3.  Checkout51
4.  MobiSave
·       Shop the Ads and Price match
·       Pricematcherz.com
·       Save on food items.
§  Cheese! Buy block instead of grated
§  Meat! Buy bulk!
§  Shop the “Sell By” sections(foods to look for-yogurt, sour cream, breads, chips, anything that can be frozen) Frozen foods can last up to a year longer than in your refrigerator.
§  Make your own!-hashbrowns, instant oatmeal, cookies, self rising flour, refried beans.

v Garden-This is seriously the best and hardest way to save money on food.
v Grow simple produce that is easy to store- Onions, potatoes, garlic, herbs, green beans, carrots, leeks.
 Honestly, we save the most by working harder. Meal planning, gardening, buying in bulk and making our own. It all takes work but it is all worth it. For instance, homemade refried beans are the best! Never buy them again. It takes a few hours in a crock pot and cost about $1 for 4 meals worth! 

Honestly, I don't love couponing and scrimping, but it allows me to stay home with my babies. And it's really less than an hour of work each week. If you are looking for ways to save around your home, implement these steps. And stay tuned...I've got so much more to share with you!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bacon Cheeseburger Cabbage

I have hated cabbage my whole life. To be fair, I really only ever ate it in my Mom's vegetable soup. Of course, when cabbage is boiled it gets very slimy. In the past couple of years though, I have learned how to cook it differently and this is by far our favorite. This one fits perfectly into my 28 day Reset that I am doing. My only complaint would be that there isn't enough!!! I could eat it for days.

So here is the recipe in poorly taken cell phone photos:
Bacon Cheeseburger Cabbage
First I browned some hamburger, about 3/4 pounds.
Then I cooked some bacon.

Chop an entire head of cabbage and a medium onion.

Pull the bacon out of the skillet but don't drain the grease. Add in the cabbage and the onion and sautee in a good heavy pan(I will always recommend a cast iron. So cheap and so amazing) until well wilted and tender.
 While it was sauteeing I seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper. I usually add real garlic but I was interrupted and forgot. When I tasted it at the end I added more salt and some Lawrys.
As you can see, it cooks down a lot! As my kids grow, I am guessing I will need to 2 heads of cabbage. It should be glistening and the onions should be translucent. If it gets a little browned, it will just be even yummier.

Add the meats back in once the cabbage is cooked. Heat it through.
At this point, I pulled my helping out because with the 28 Day Reset, I can't eat dairy. But of course, kids eat everything a little better if it has cheese so...

I added about a cup of cheddar to the rest. It wasn't quite as yellow as the photo makes it look but it was delicious!
This meal takes about 5 minutes of prep, cutting the onion, cabbage and bacon. It takes about 40 minutes to make but it is not a meal you have to stand at the stove while cooking. Once I added the cabbage in, I only stirred every 5 minutes. It took about 25 minutes for it to cook through. And the cleanup, well it was 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 1 skillet and a spoon.
I know a lot of people feel like eating healthy is too expensive so let me break this meal down for you,
1 head of cabbage $1.78
1/2 pound of bacon(on sale) $1.86
3/4 pound hamburger(I got a family pack so it was extra cheap) $1.80
1/2 onion(because mine were huge) $.42
1 cup of cheddar(sale!!) $.95
 Total of $6.81
Now, I don't include my seasonings in my pricing but I suppose if you feel like that will help you budget, you could add $.10. Either way, this meal fed my family of 5 and there are leftovers for mine and Calebs lunch tomorrow, for under $7. And it is healthy. Yes, there is red meat. Yes, there is bacon. And oh ya, cheese! But did you know that most American women don't eat enough red meat? I am a big proponent of "Everything in Moderation" so eat some bacon, eat some cheese! But also, eat that cabbage! And have an apple.
I hope you try this one out, trust me. If you hate cabbage, try it anyways and if you hate it, I will gladly eat it for you.