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Friday, January 31, 2014

January Goals Update

  • Stay under budget! Unfortunately, this was a fail. We were over by quite a bit, as we ordered another big jar of coconut oil, as well as a big box of diapers for Matthew and for Hannah.  That was $70 gone right there, since household stuff also comes out of our grocery budget and my Amazon money on Swagbucks was pretty depleted.  The total was $303.83. Our budget on paper is $200, plus whatever I earn on Swagbucks (usually around $50/month).  Seeing this though, I can tell that I need to reevaluate the budget, and I also need to keep tabs on the in-between trips, because our two big grocery shopping trips were $168.95, and the rest was deal shopping, coconut oil, and fill-in trips.
  • Try 2 new recipes.  We tried a lot this month! We tried Crockpot Italian Steak with Mushrooms and Onions (pretty good, although I used a smaller chunk of meat and I shouldn't have skimped), Breadmaker Breadsticks (next time I think I'll leave out the sugar since they were super sweet), Pizza Pasta Salad (this seemed really bland to me, but Jonah loved it and asked for seconds), Ham and Apple Salad with Parmesan Dressing (this was the first time I made my own dressing, and it wasn't the greatest flavor, but I'm excited to try more kinds! the basic idea of a ham and apple salad was good), Black Bean Fajita Casserole (this was really good and fairly cheap), Sausage Zucchini and Potato Soup (I doubled this and it made a ton, but it's really yummy too!), and Black Bean Pizza (we've had something similar in the past, but not for a long time).
  • Make a list of homeschool research action items. Done.
  • Read through two folders of my 97 ebook bundle. Not done. I got about halfway through one folder.
  • Continue to do yoga at least 6 days a week.  I've done yoga every day this month.
  • Make sure I have all the Jane Austen books somewhere and start reading Pride & Prejudice for the Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club. Since they are free access books, I already had them all on my Kindle. Score! I didn't start reading P&P though.
  • Download GoodReads app and go through a few book lists to add books I want to read. I cheated because I actually did this mostly on December 31, but I refined my lists a bit and continued to add books this month, so it still counts.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping


I struck out on a lot of the deals I was looking for at Target, but it was Thursday, so I kind of expected that. I bought a few other grocery items on this trip, but here are the items I got coupon deals on:
  • 2 Pull-Ups Jumbo Packs: $8.06 each. Used two $2/1 Target printables and two $2/1 printables = paid $4.06 each.
  • 2 Colgate Toothbrushes: $0.94 each. Used two $1/1 Target mobile coupons = 2 free!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pinterest to Real Life: Cleaning Month And More!

I had really hoped to have a few more projects in here, but this month has just flown by! Still, I did get to try a few things from my Pinterest boards, including a couple projects that have been hanging out there for almost a year.

Removing Labels From Jars Using Rubbing Alcohol

Mixed Media Embroidery

Ironing Out Carpet Stains With Windex

Plastic Canvas Magazine Holder

Iron Craft Challenge #2: Get It Together!

Challenge #2 is all about getting organized. Yay! That's one of my favorites.  You could either make something to help you get organized, or organize your craft area.  Mine needs it, but that will take longer than this timeframe...

This week's project was inspired by this magazine holder, another project I pinned almost a year ago. Apparently I need to get better at the follow through on those.  I really like the checkerboard pattern shown there, and the diagonal, so I decided to combine the two for my project.  Since that blogger had mentioned her magazine holder being floppy and not as strong as she had hoped, I plan to put a double layer of canvas in mine when I am putting it together.  And I say "plan to" because...

Ack! I didn't start this for a few days into the challenge, and then life happened, and it's not done.  This makes me a bit disappointed.  But I will finish it, and will update the post when it is done, hopefully later this week.

All the materials are from my craft stash, which means I didn't spend anything on this project. Always a plus!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Books I've Read: January 2014

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth (ebook). I thought this was a really quick and exciting read (I was even tempted to hide during a New Year's party to finish it, but I didn't). It had a similar feel to The Hunger Games trilogy, which I loved. I'm really into the teen dystopia novels lately, which my husband is always teasing me about, but they really hold my attention and I like the different worlds and rules that are created within that genre.  The competitive side of me really enjoyed the initiation process that Tris and the Dauntless went through, and I'm always a sucker for a good love story.

22 Days To A Fresh Start by Tiffany Terczak (ebook). I got this for free for subscribing to one of the blogs I've been following for awhile (I subscribed to enter to win a blender).  This was a series that ran on the blog last year, only prettified for the ebook, but I re-read it as a reminder of the good tips that are in there for switching to a real food diet on a budget.  It's short and free, so if you want, go subscribe and read it too.

From my ebook bundle:
  • Become A Frugalista In 30 Days by Susan Heid. This was a good overall saving money guide for someone who is just starting to look into different ways to save, but since I've been working on that for over 4 years, I didn't find much new in this one.
  • Finding Financial Freedom by Kelly Crawford. This one was really short, and my basic takeaway was that she likes Dave Ramsey, because she focused on funding a $1,000 emergency fund and paying off debts with the snowball method.
And the verdict is...all ebooks this month.  I read most of my books on my kindle or my computer nowadays, but I do have a few paper copies of books that I'd like to read sometime soonish.  Hopefully I can read a few more next month than this month, although I did tackle a huge pile of magazines this month too...

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. By clicking through and purchasing, you help support this blog.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tropical Traditions Giveaway Winner!

I know everyone who entered my Tropical Traditions gallon giveaway has been anxiously awaiting the winner, and that winner is....

Comment number 72, Kimberly!  Congratulations on winning your gallon of coconut oil!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cleaning Month: Ironing Out Stains

I first saw this method of carpet stain removal here, but when I went to the actual pin, it listed a bunch of different ingredients. Still the Pintester post said she had just used blue Windex and a rag, which is what I had, so I gathered my materials and hoped for the best.
The two stains I tried were already here when we moved into this apartment, and were noted as such with our security deposit, so it really didn't matter if I tried to get rid of them or not, but they're kind of noticeable.

The first one was an orange-ish one near our kitchen island.  Just like others who had commented on the post, orange doesn't exactly come out.  Here's the before and after:

The second one was one of two big red stains in the kids' room, which are normally covered by their car/city rug.  I only did one because A) I was sitting on the second one and forgot it was there, and B) my rag was kind of small and was mostly wet from the first two, so I'll try the other stain another time.  Here's the before and after of that one:
So. It kind of works. The stains are less noticeable, but they are still there.  It only took a few minutes (and about a hundred warnings to the kids that the iron is hot! don't touch it!), so I guess you can decide what to do with that information.  Kind of a "meh" from me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Minute Christmas Card Organization

I know, I know, Christmas was a month ago.  But I finally got around to making this Christmas card flipbook, and I wanted to share it with you.  Each year I keep one of our family Christmas cards because I am sentimental like that. But I didn't have a good way to store them (case in point: I've already lost the one from 2011).  Enter the metal binder rings!

I finally bought a pack for less than $2.00, and quickly put our family cards together on two of them.
I wrote the year on the back of the ones that weren't specified, and I can easily add the new one each year.  This was such a quick and easy project!  You could also use this idea for those photo cards you get from all your loved ones, if you save those as well.  I keep those in a separate album with birth announcements and other fun cards we get throughout the year. 

I know we're well past Christmas, but how do you keep track of your family cards? Or do you not save them?

Weekly Coupon Shopping

Target (last week)
Transaction #1: 3 General Mills Cereals, $2.99 each. Used three $0.75/1 printables and 5% Cartwheel = paid $6.27, got $5 Target gift card.
Transaction #2:
  • 3 Up&Up Wipes: $1.00 each. Used 10% Cartwheel = paid $2.70/3.
  • Fresh Express Salad Shreds: $1.57. Used $1/1 Target mobile coupon = paid $0.57.
  • Carrots: $0.99. Used $1/1 Target mobile coupon = free.
  • 9 Bananas: $0.24 each. Used two $1/1 Target mobile coupons = paid $0.16/9.
  • Naked Juice (not shown): $2.69. Used 5% Cartwheel = paid $2.55.
  • Larabar (not shown): $1.25. Used free coupon from contest win, which took off $1.97 = free plus $0.72 overage!
  • Angel Soft Toilet Paper: $8.99. Used $1/1 (RP 01/05/14) and 10% Cartwheel = paid $7.99.
  • Little Superhero and Lego guys (not shown): $3.99, $2.99, and $2.99.
  • Total: $24.09. Used $5 Target gift card from Transaction #1 = paid $19.09.
Target (this week)

5 pound box of Cuties: $6.99. Used free coupon I won in a blog contest = free!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Menu Plan January 16-31

The menu plans are back! It's still not my favorite thing to do, but life goes so much more simply when everything is planned out. Here's the plan for the second half of this month.

Thursday, January 16
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Lunch at friends' house
Dinner: Pumpkin Chicken Chili from the freezer

Friday, January 17
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: Hot Dogs/Soups from the freezer
Dinner: Chicken Cacciatore

Saturday, January 18
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Black Bean Tortilla Pizzas
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Cacciatore

Sunday, January 19
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Black Bean Tortilla Pizzas
Dinner: Roast, Potatoes, & Carrots

Monday, January 20
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Muffins
Lunch: Chicken, Spinach, Apple, and Feta Wraps
Dinner: Leftover Roast, Potatoes, & Carrots

Tuesday, January 21
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Muffins
Lunch: PB&J/Soups from the freezer
Dinner: Veggie Spaghetti

Wednesday, January 22
Breakfast: Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Leftover Veggie Spaghetti
Dinner: Crockpot Ham & Bean Soup, Biscuits

Thursday, January 23
Breakfast: Leftover Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Mac & Cheese
Dinner: Leftover Ham & Bean Soup and Biscuits

Friday, January 24
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Ham and Apple Salads
Dinner: Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Saturday, January 25
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Muffins
Lunch: Chicken Fajita Salads
Dinner: Leftover Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Sunday, January 26
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Muffins
Lunch: Chicken Fajita Salads
Dinner: Cheeseburgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Monday, January 27
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Apple Quesadillas
Dinner: Stir Fry

Tuesday, January 28
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
Dinner: Sausage, Zucchini, & Potato Soup

Wednesday, January 29
Breakfast: Chocolate Chunk Waffles
Lunch: Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
Dinner: Leftover Sausage, Zucchini, & Potato Soup

Thursday, January 30
Breakfast: Chocolate Chunk Waffles
Lunch: PB&J/Soups from the freezer
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Pizza

Friday, January 31
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: TBD (possibly lunch out with the last gift card from Christmas)
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

I'm linking up to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Weekly Coupon Shopping

  • Gerber Formula: price matched to Pick 'N Save $19.98 (from $21.69). Used $3/1 peelie from previous formula purchase and $4/1 Target mobile coupon = paid $12.98.
  • GoGo Squeeze Apple Berry 12pack: $6.97. Used $1.25/1 printable (no longer available) and 20% off Cartwheel = paid $4.32. Also submitted for $1.00 ibotta deposit.
  • 2 Naked Juice (1 shown): 2/$5. Used 5% off Cartwheel = paid $4.74/2.
  • Mossimo Yoga Pants: $10.00. Used 15% off Cartwheel = paid $8.50.
  • C9 Shorts: $15.00
  • Total spent: $46.72. I also submitted this for the $2.00 deposit from Checkout 51, a new app similar to ibotta.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cleaning Month: Quick Pick-Ups

Today we are doing a bunch of quick pick-ups around the house that can be done in 5 minutes or less.  Please tell me I'm not the only one with all these little problem areas!

First, I tackled the bathroom counter. I put away the laundry detergent and stain remover under the sink, extra razor cartridges in the drawer, and put my blue container of scentsy bars back where it belongs.  Much better!

Then the kitchen counter. This island serves several purposes, but it also usually ends up as a dumping ground.  I took care of some of the problems, although I still have a few educational puzzles to find a home for. But I did take care of some papers, recycled some old bank information, and portioned out the rest of our huge bag of popcorn into jars to store in the pantry.

Then my side table in the living room. This is my hub, but it gets messy really easily too. I have my stack of books on the left, and things that need my attention soonish. My Bible stays out for nightly devotions, and my iphone cord for charging.  So most of that stayed there, but I prettied it up a bit.

And finally, the kitchen table, another clutter gatherer. After the toys were put away, and I moved the picture frames to the closet until next month when I update my family photos, it was already a lot cleaner. I stacked our library books nicely at the end so we can remember to take them back this week, and that was that!

These are all surfaces! When you don't have specific systems for where everything goes, this is what happens.  We may need a few more solutions for some of the items that come into our house or get used often, because I don't want or need to repeat this every week, but at least these were quick pick-ups!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Iron Craft 2014 Challenge #1: Three

My goal for Iron Craft this year is to complete more projects by having a list ready of projects that I want to do, and finding one that fits the theme (or is close enough that I can make it fit). My problem has always been coming up with ideas that fit the themes, so I'm hoping this will help. I have a pretty good project list going at the moment, so I'm crossing my fingers that it will work.

So. The first challenge is three, meaning the traditional and modern anniversary gifts since it's the third anniversary of Iron Craft.  Between leather and crystal, I chose crystal, because it fit with a project I wanted to do anyways. Score! My method worked! At least for this one.

One of my goals for January was to do an embroidery project. In my head, I kind of always knew it was going to be a mixed media embroidery project, as inspired by this, which I pinned like a year ago.  I immediately started planning the specifics in my head, including a very specific kind of bead I needed to make it work.

And that was kind of a failure, because I'm trying to do some stash-busting with my craft supplies, and I had to go buy beads and an embroidery hoop.  Still, I'd say it was $3.44 well spent.  I did start to wonder if this was going to work, since I didn't end up getting these supplies until January 7, about halfway into the challenge, but it didn't take as long as I thought it would to finish.

First I cut up an old t-shirt for the background.  It had some stains on the front, so I may as well get some use out of the back besides just throwing it in the rag pile.  I drew my design in pencil.

Then I sewed on the yellow dress, which is from a fabric sample from Spoonflower. I don't sew much, but I always order samples from them when they offer them for free because they just have such cute fabrics I can't help it. More projects like this might be in order, since this actually worked out really well.  I purposely made it look a little uneven and handmade.  Actually, I knew it would end up that way because I can't sew perfect little lines, but I love how it turned out, so we'll call it planned.

Then of course I started on the beads, because besides the yellow happy fabric, I was most excited about that part.  I did a few lines, then realized I should probably finish the rest of the girl so the beads didn't accidentally run into her head or something. So I stopped from that and started embroidering the phrase.

I initially wanted to do an embroidery project because I've seen some really cute ones, and I thought I had never done one, but while working on this I realized that I once embroidered my friend Mel's name on a hat, and I embroidered a few words on some jeans in college.  So hey! I've done this before.

I picked the phrase "Sing in the rain" because I think it's an awesome reminder that even when things are hard, there is some good to be found, and we should celebrate that.  Plus, my mom always sings, and one of her favorite random lines to bust out is "I'm singin' in the rain!" from the musical.  I do the same thing now to my kids, because I am turning into my mother.

And here's the final product. I feel like the girl's face could have been better, but, well, my drawing skills pretty much stop at stick people, so she is what she is.  This was a fun and actually pretty fast project. I can't wait for the next challenge!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I'm Reading...

What I'm Reading:

Thoughts On The 52-Week Money Challenge. Instead of doing the challenge in a linear way, cross off whatever amount you save. (The Simple Dollar)

Those Who Succeed At Their Goals Are Intentional. (Kitchen Stewardship)

The 2014 Clutter Cleanse Challenge. (The Minimalist Mom)

Before You Resolve, Refine. (The Happiest Home)

What I'm Pinning:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tropical Traditions Review And Giveaway!

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to review and give away a jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. I'm excited for you all, because today I get to give away not just a jar, but a gallon! That's a lot of coconut oil, with lots of opportunities to try new things.

Since my last review (which also included a great banana bread recipe that we use all the time), I've been finding more new ways to use my coconut oil.  We still use it all the time in baked goods, but I also love cooking up a stir fry or making popcorn on the stove.  Everything tastes great, although my husband has commented sometimes that he doesn't like the bit of coconut flavor that does come through. I don't notice it, but I do like coconut flavor and a bit of sweetness.  I think it makes the flavor better.

I'm no expert, although I am becoming a little more knowledgeable about coconut oil, but if you are still a coconut oil newbie, you might want to learn more about what coconut oil is, or how to use it (and there are a ton of ways!)

Since the FDA does not want me to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Now for the good stuff: the giveaway!  To enter to win 1 gallon of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil, sign up for the Tropical Traditions email newsletter, and leave me a comment telling me you've done so.  This is the mandatory entry, as dictated by the giveaway sponsor. Make sure to leave your email address as part of the comment so I can contact you if you win!

For an additional entry, like Tropical Traditions on Facebook, and leave me a separate comment telling me you do.

This giveaway will close on Friday, January 24 at 12:00 PM CST.  The winner will then have 48 hours to respond to my email with contact information to get their prize.  If I do not hear from the winner within that time frame, I will choose an alternate winner.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Some links in this post are my referral links, which means I get a discount coupon if you order through my link. Any and all orders through my links are greatly appreciated!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping


  • 2 Stayfree Pads: $2.50 each. Used two $1/1 (various magazines) = paid $3.50/2. Not the best deal but I'm finally running low on these after 4 years of couponing.
  • 2 Special K Cereal: $2.50 each, get $1ECB when you buy 2. Used two $1/1 printables (link came in my email, no longer available) = paid $3.00, got $1ECB.
  • 2 Pantene: 2/$7.00. Used $3/2 (P&G 12/29/13) = paid $4/2. Not the best deal again, but I have about 2 days of hair products left, and this was the cheapest of the brands I use.
  • 3 Met-Rx bars (2 pictured): $0.99 each, get $1ECB when you buy 3. Used $2/3 (RP 1/5/14) = paid $0.97, got $1ECB.
  • Snickers Bar: $0.75. Used $0.75/1 (CVS coupon machine) = free!
  • Used $2ECB that printed out at the coupon machine, along with $5ECBs from last time = paid $4.54, got $2ECBs
Piggly Wiggly
  • Yoplait Yogurt: $0.39 each (limit 12). Used two $0.60/3 printables (no longer available) and one $0.40/6 printable, got $0.40 Savingstar Deposit. I also got a $0.75 Savingstar deposit for Yoplait GoGurt, but I didn't buy that, so I'm not sure if these were bar-coded closely enough that it went through or what happened there.
  • Farmland Hot Dogs: $0.69. Used $0.55/1 printable (came in email after signing up) = paid $0.14.
  • Bananas: $1.33. Got 20% Savingstar Deposit ($0.26)
  • Milk, Eggs, and Old Orchard Frozen Concentrate: (milk and eggs were through WIC, juice was $1.00). Got $2.50 ibotta deposit ($0.50 for each item, and a $1 bonus for claiming the milk plus two additional offers)
Other Coupon Shopping:
  • Tropical Traditions: Used a code for free shipping (valid Monday only) = saved $7.25.
  • Hobby Lobby: Used a 40% off coupon on some beads to save $1.20.
  • Target: Used 20% off M&Ms on Cartwheel to save $0.38 on two bags that were on clearance for $0.95 each = paid $1.52/2 bags.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cleaning Month: Digital Clean-Up

Who here has digital clutter? You know, emails, bookmarks, folders on the desktop, photos waiting to be filed...Hopefully I am not the only one.  I took a break from the physical cleaning yesterday to do a bit of digital clean-up.

First, I went through my email. I have this pretty streamlined already, so all of the extras (brand newsletters, emails from Starbucks Rewards, Amazon order receipts, etc.) automatically go into correct folders to be dealt with when I get to them.  If something ends up in my inbox, it's usually because it's important for me to deal with right away.  But I had old package tracking emails to get rid of. MyPoints emails to click through. Coupon links to print from. Surveys to delete because they expired last week (month?).  Now my inbox is empty and my folders are cleaned up.

Next, I went through all the posts I had saved in my feed reader (feedly, in case you were wondering).  Posts to pin or link up in my weekly reading posts, contests to enter (half of which had already expired...oops!), coupons to print, and a few things that I unfortunately can't remember why I saved them.  Now I'm down to a handful of bookmarks, much better than the 30 or so I started with.

I took 10 seconds to delete bookmarks that were no longer important or were for sweeps that had expired. I am a nerd and when I take the time to enter a lot of online sweeps, I bookmark them by their end date so I can easily get rid of them when they're over.

Finally, I updated our external hard drive with the last month or two of pictures and documents, so everything is up to date.  It only takes me a couple minutes to do this, but for some reason the extra step of hooking my laptop up to the hard drive across the room makes it that much harder, so I don't do it as often as I should.

Still to come? I want to go through my bazillion links on Pinterest and delete those that I no longer want or need. I'll probably end up creating some new boards (hello homeschool research!) but I know I have a bunch of links to projects I'm not going to do and food I'm not going to make. I did delete my "Books to Read" board, since I created an account on GoodReads and I like that method better for books. The rest  might not happen for a little while, but it is a part of the digital clean-up.

What's your biggest digital hang-up? Or do you have a good method for keeping everything running smoothly?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cleaning Month: Removing Labels From Jars

Quite awhile ago, I saw this idea for removing labels from jars using rubbing alcohol. That's a cheap solution, and I do like using jars for all sorts of things, so I pinned the idea. 

We've been saving baby food jars lately, because Hannah goes through them fast, and I'm planning on making and freezing large batches of my own to save some money.  They've been stacking up on the counter, so I was ready to try out this label remover.

I poured the rubbing alcohol in the sink and let the jars soak in batches, label side down. I checked them at about 5 minutes, and the label part came off easily, but the glue goo was still stuck.  Checked again at 10 minutes, and it was the same thing.

So I made myself a cup of coffee in my fancy new Paris mug, a lovely Christmas gift from my parents, read Matthew a story, and let them soak some more.

The results? Nothing. Maybe I misread the original post, because while it's true that all the extra bits of label did come off, I guess I was expecting the glue to come off too, and it didn't. 

So I'll have to either stick some labels over that, or just live with the little bit of sticky-ness.  Kind of disappointing, but at least they're all clean now! Does anyone know of a more natural and/or cheap version of Goo Gone? I'd love to try something for the stickies!

Cleaning Month: Before Pictures

It's time. Time for the dreaded before pictures.  I have several areas in mind to work on for cleaning month, but these are the two big projects I have planned.

First, magazines.  I get several free subscriptions to various parenting, food, and lifestyle magazines, but I've fallen a few months behind.
So that needs to be fixed. I'm giving myself this month to catch up and recycle this pile.

Second, the big project.  Our apartment has a lovely walk-in "pantry" closet that we use for food as well as storage.
But it has become the dropping area for anything extra, and it's getting quite full, to the point that we can't even get to everything any more.  So some things have got to go.  And some things have got to find a better home.
Part of the problem is my craft supplies, which seem to multiply.  I think part of my problem is that I don't have one favorite craft that I do, so as a result, I have a lot of different things. My husband suggested I "just pick one" that I like, but I honestly do enjoy several different crafty categories.  Still, I do have too much stuff that I don't use.
I also have a few started projects in bags on the floor (the red one and the striped one above), as well as other hidden ones, which I need to decide if I'm going to finish or put the materials away for something else.

The food shelf is not terrible, although it could use a little straightening up.

And the big shelves hold everything else, which needs to be sorted and pared down.

Although I'm well aware it will take me longer than just this cleaning month, I plan on doing some stash-busting craft projects, as well as simply getting rid of some things.  I'm actually looking forward to a more streamlined crafty area, and I'd like to make it prettier than just old baby wipes containers as well. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What I'm Reading...

What I'm Reading:

The Year We Broke The Internet. (Esquire via The Art Of Simple)

How To Set Up A Beautiful Blog Today: Step By Step. (The Minimalists)

Today And Tomorrow. (The Simple Dollar)

Here's Why Reading A Post About Setting Goals Freaked Me Out. (The Happiest Home)

What I'm Pinning: lots of food! I've been getting a good start on my goal to read through my stack of magazines that I'm behind on (more about that tomorrow), and I've been finding the good recipes to save.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Is Cleaning Month!

January is Cleaning Month here at Kate's Great Crafts!  Why? Because I don't know about you, but between Christmas, holiday travel, and just general antsy-ness because it's the middle of winter, my house is ready for a good sprucing up.

So what does that mean to you?  Here are some of my plans...

I will be taking some Before and After photos of some of the areas of our home that I plan to attack.  These are more of organizational projects, although I do have a couple things that just plain need to be cleaned up.  I have some tricks pinned to my Cleaning board on Pinterest that I'm hoping to try. Things like floor stain cleanup, bathtub scum remover, and label removal, to name a few.

Speaking of Pinterest, cleaning will be this month's Pinterest to Real Life theme.  New feature alert! Each month I want to do a roundup of all of the Pinterest projects I've completed.  For this month, I'm going to focus specifically on projects and ideas from my cleaning and organizing boards, although in future months I would guess I'll have projects from a good variety of boards.  You'll see posts throughout the month as I try different things, and then I'll link them all up toward the end of January.

I'm really excited about this, and I hope you are too! Who's ready to clean?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Goals

  • Stay under budget! I've gone over the past few months, mostly because of meat.  I need to get back to a few more meatless meals each week and we should be okay.
  • Try 2 new recipes.
  • Participate in Iron Craft 2014. I feel like I say this every year, and then I don't really do much toward it. My problem is that I don't usually have a project in mind and I can't come up with anything to fit the theme. So. This year I'm going to have a list of projects that I would maybe like to do, and then when the challenge comes up, I'll find one that fits.
  • Start an embroidery project. I've wanted to try this for awhile and haven't made time.

  • Make a list of homeschool research action items. (Sounds so formal!) I have been mulling over homeschooling, but I have a lot (A LOT) of research to do first. Things like "Find a list of specific things the kid needs to know at each grade level" and "Buy Homeschooling 101 ebook and read it" and so on.
  • Read through two folders of my 97 ebook bundle. I bought two big ebook bundles in 2013 (97 books and 86 books, to be precise), and I have them neatly saved on my computer (and some on my Kindle) in their categorized folders, but I haven't read most of the books.  So I want to read through two categories in the first bundle.  They are "Cleaning, Organizing and Decor" and "Budgeting Finance and Time".  
  • Continue to do yoga at least 6 days a week. It's become part of my after-dinner routine.
  • Make sure I have all the Jane Austen books somewhere and start reading Pride & Prejudice for the Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club
  • Download GoodReads app and go through a few book lists to add books I want to read.