Sunday, December 29, 2013

Party Like Its 2014 - $25 iTunes Giveaway

As a thank you for 2013, I am giving away a $25 iTunes gift card to rock in the New Year!  New Year - New You (and me).  I have several goals this year:

  • Reduce the clutter on a weekly basis.
  • Reduce the distractions that I allow to suck up my valuable time.
  • Learn to say "no" more often and not over commit myself.
  • Reduce my library fines (this one is so hard for me)!
  • Get a business idea off the ground that has been swirling in my head for over a year now.
  • Love life, my family, my God and all he has given me a little more each day!

I hope you have also set some goals up for 2014, if you never aim for anything, how are you going to achieve it?

Thanks for reading and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas From Our Family... To Yours

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

We got to visit Santa at the mall, however my youngest started to scream when I put her on Santa's lap.  So instead I opted to join the picture and even told Santa what I wanted for Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Review – Control the Clutter

As previously mentioned, I am participating on the launch team of Crystal Paine’s new book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.   Stay tuned for more posts as we prepare for the launch in January.  In Chapter 6 (Manage the Home Front) of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal indicates:

“I truly believe that the less you have, the less time you spend on upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning.  Either you can control the clutter or the clutter will control you.”

Clutter and excess stuff is one of the most challenging things for me to control in my household.  We have A LOT of stuff!  A LOT of stuff no one touches for months (ahem…or years) in our house.  We have A LOT storage bins to contain A LOT of stuff, just in case we may need that item again.  I have an extra closet full of A LOT of extra clothes, just in case I wear a size 14 or 8 (pretty, pretty please) again during my lifetime.  The sad part is, when I actually do fit in those size 8 jeans again, they probably won’t even be my style anymore!

How does a full-time working Mom take control of all this clutter?  I believe Crystal when she indicates you will spend less time maintaining stuff, if you just do not have the stuff.  But what if you already have all that stuff, how do you get rid of the clutter?  I have three kids under the age of 8 and it seems like they are always bringing home more stuff; papers from school, toys from Grandma, books given to them by their cousin, stuff animals they win at the fair, the list goes on and on.  This is definitely my weak point, but I am going to share some of the outlets/techniques I have been successful at in taming down the “clutter monster”.  Most importantly, I have come to the realization, that my family will always have A LOT of stuff, but I am trying my hardest to keep it under control!
EBay – I get on kicks where I sell things like crazy on EBay.  I find that the items that sell the best on this site are items NWT (new with tags).  I try to find and post at least 5 items a week to sell.  My philosophy?  Ninety-nine cents is better than nothing, and it is now out of my house!
Facebook Garage Sales Groups – these groups have been popping up everywhere on Facebook.  I use “Mommy Stuff for Sale”, “Want it Out” and more.  Search on garage sales near your city.  I have sold A LOT of clothes, toys, miscellaneous household items, and baby stuff on this site.  Admittedly, I have also bought stuff off of these sites.  I have to keep the temptation down.  You would be amazed what (especially new) stuff sells for on these sites.  Bonus?  No shipping charges!
Resale Shops – Once a season, I take a laundry basket full of kids’ clothes to two of my favorite resale shops.  You do not get a whole lot for the items ($0.50-$1.00) a piece, but both stores I go to give you an extra 10% if you take store credit.  This allows me to essentially trade-in clothes my kids no longer wear for some “new to us” clothes.
Donate – I make a habit of keeping a box in my closet of items to donate.  I have not had much success selling adult clothes unless they are new with tags.  If there is something in my closet that I just do not wear anymore, I put it in the donate box.  My husband will do the same.  I also make a habit of donating shoes my kids never fit into any more.  I strive to have at least one donate box per month to give.  It is also so convenient because most will pick up right from your porch.  I always keep a running list of all the items I donate for the year for tax purposes (you CAN deduct those items)!
Recycle the Paper – When my son started kindergarten, I saved every paper he ever brought home from school.  Guess what I had at the end of the school year?  Yes a drawer full of overflowing school papers we never looked at again.  We keep a bin in our garage that is strictly for paper.  I go through my kids backpacks every night and review all the papers.  I now only save really important papers or projects they completed.  Everything else goes into the bin.  Just to warn you I once had a 5 year old call me a “bad mommy” because I tossed one of his projects in there which he found.  I do the same with the mail.  I go through and sort it every night and all unnecessary paper goes into the bin.
Recycle the Cardboard – Right next to our paper bin in our garage is a cardboard box.  In my community we have drop boxes for paper and cardboard.  We throw all of our cardboard into our garage box.  This includes cereal boxes, delivery boxes, etc.  Usually about every two weeks we have to go to our community’s site and dump the paper and cardboard.  This really helps reduce the amount of trash thrown out every week.  We normally only have one garbage can for 5 people.  I notice some people in our neighborhood will have 3-5 cans full!
De-clutter One Area at a Time – On long breaks (such as Christmas vacation, over Thanksgiving etc.) I challenge myself to clean out one area a day.  This could be a closet, a cabinet, a drawer, etc.  I only have to get through one a day so it is definitely manageable.  This past Christmas I was able to organize our coat closet, the pantry, both of my boys’ closets, the kitchen “junk” drawer, and the linen closet.  It really only takes about an hour to do one area, I try to do this during nap time.

These are just a few of the things that I do to tame the “clutter monster”.  I know I will never get to a perfectly clean, organized home, but that is not my goal.  My goal is to keep our stuff under control and not let it take control of us!

Does anyone else have any helpful tips to control the clutter that have been successful?

Go here for Post 1 of this series.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin

I made this last night for my son's 5th birthday party.  The picture above is the "pre-baked" picture, I forgot to take a picture after it was baked.  It was a hit at the party and fed about 10 people!

Head of cauliflower
Bunch of broccoli
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard
couple of red pepper flakes
2 cups of bread cubes (1/2" cubes)
olive oil
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp garlic powder

1.  Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in flour and allow to cook for a few minutes.  Slowly add milk and cream.  Allow to cook until thickened.
2.  Add all 3 cheeses, salt, pepper, paprika, mustard, and pepper flakes.  Cook on low-medium heat until all melted.
3.  In 9"x13" pan, put chopped broccoli and cauliflower.  Pour cheese sauce over vegetables and mix to combine.
4.  In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic powder.  Toss with Olive Oil until combined.
5.  Pour bread mixture on top of vegetables and top with a bit more of shredded cheddar.
6.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
7.  Enjoy!

**Party Hint - I use disposal aluminum pans when I make large party foods.  It makes for extremely easy clean-up!**