Archives for April 2013

Tech & Internet ebook Bundle

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Learn how to use the technology in your life to your advantage with this week’s Tech and Internet ebook Bundle. You’ll discover the secrets to beautiful iPhone photos, how to get organized using free apps and programs, the beauty of online friendships and more. But don’t wait because this bundle is on sale for 70% off this week only!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Once Upon the Internet by Marla Taviano
Once Upon the Internet is the funny and touching memoir of the Tavianos’ one-year quest to visit 52 zoos in 52 weeks — and the online friends who helped make it possible. Through the course of their journey, they stayed with 31 different families, 17 of whom they’d never met in person (and countless others met them at zoos along the way), and today some of their dearest friends are ones they first met on the internet.

iPhone Photography by Alli Worthington
Alli’s iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide is your go-to guide for the best iPhone photo editing apps. With plenty of full-color images, you’ll find step-by-step tutorials to capture and create stunning images yourself as well as ideas for using iPhone photos to stay organized, save money and just be happier.

Pin-terpretation by Holley Gerth & Stephanie Bryant
Your Pinterest account and the images you pin say more about you than you might think, and the ladies at Squee! wrote Pin-terpretation to help you step back and really see yourself. Their goal is to help you see your Pinterest boards with fresh eyes — to provide questions as well as insights into you, your personal brand & your blog. It’s kind of like a Cosmo quiz for your Pinterest boards.

Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler
Organize your life with a digital home management “binder” that you can take with you, doesn’t use up extra space, works on every platform and doesn’t cost anything. In Paperless Home Organization, Mystie shows you how to get organized using only free, web-based applications that sync with free apps on both Apple and Android devices.

Evernote for Moms by Lauren Rothlisberger
Lauren’s specialty is providing tech tips for “non-geeks”, and Evernote for Moms is the quick and easy guide to help you use Evernote to organize your ideas and information. It includes a quickstart guide, simple template files and step-by-step instractions for installing, launching and adding items to Evernote through your smartphone or computer.

The Tech & Internet bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 5/6. Get yours today:

 

This post contains affiliate links.

A Money Management Grid

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s time management grid which is made up of the following four quadrants:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Important and Urgent
  • Important and Not Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

This grid can help you figure out the priority of your to-do items.

This past weekend I was thinking about how I could categorize things we spend money on so we could prioritize them. I ended up with a modified version of the time management grid, only for money. So here is a money management grid to help you prioritize what to spend your hard-earned money on.

Here is how my money management grid works:

Necessity or Not: There are bills we have to pay, things we need to pay for, or investments we need to make that we would consider necessities. There are other items that we may pay for that are not vital to live, but we like to have them.

Consistent or Not: Some bills or items have a consistent cost associated with them. Every month the mortgage and car payment are the same. Other items do not have a consistent cost, such as groceries. The amount we spend at the store varies each month. We could spend a set amount or we could spend less, if need be.

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)

(X=Not)

Money Management Grid

Click on the image to enlarge. 

The items in my example are not necessarily my items. I included several items that I thought were common and others to get you thinking about what items you would include in your own grid.

It is important that you list the items in priority order as well. That way, if you do find that you don’t have enough money, you will know what items need to fall off your list. (Again, my example isn’t necessarily in priority order – it is just an example. Everyone will have their own list of items with their own priority.)

Note that I have savings in both the NC and XNXC quadrants. Savings should really be a necessity and consistent but if you are struggling to just put food on the table, contributing to savings may not be one of your top priorities, or a realistic one. But remember that even setting aside a dollar a day can be savings!

So when you are trying to figure out a budget, consider:

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)

Your Income – NC –  NXC (average) = $some amount

NC and NXC are the items you consider to be necessities. So your money must first be used to pay for those items.

Then work with what you have left for the Not Necessity items: XNC and XNXC (average), based on priority.

If something does have a consistent cost and you choose to include it as a top priority, then you know exactly how much money you will need for it.

If something does not have a consistent cost and you choose to include it, then you will need to set a budget for that item. For example, for hobby supplies, you may have only $20 to spend every month.

You should also set aside an “emergency fund” for when unplanned things happen or a not consistent item ends up costing more one month than usual.

If “Necessity” and “Consistent” don’t work for you, you can obviously modify the grid to use the criteria that make sense to you.

Also, please note that I am not a financial advisor by any means. This is just an idea I had that I wanted to share in case you would find it helpful. If you need financial advice, please seek professional help. 

If you like this idea, feel free to download the PowerPoint or the PDF version of the blank grid below for your personal use.

Money Management Grid

Download the free printable grid now:

What other items would you add to the money management grid?

 

Gardening ebook Bundle

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Whether you’re a new or experienced gardener, this week’s collection includes a variety of gardening tips for everyone! Learn how to garden without a big budget or a lot of space, discover tips for organic gardening and preserving your harvest, and get organized with custom printables. But don’t wait because this bundle is on sale for 75% off this week only!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Frugal Gardening 101 by Phoebe Hendricks
In Frugal Gardening 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Vegetable Gardening Without Breaking the Bank, Phoebe shares her passion for gardening and proves that vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s a comprehensive guide that shows you how to garden organically for very little with tips for buying, starting and saving seeds, organic pest and weed control and more.

Apartment Gardening by Jami Balmet
If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible to have a garden with limited space, Jami’s ebook will show you how! Apartment Gardening: A Practical Guide to Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces is a beginner’s guide to everything you need to know about container gardening, including more than 100 pages of how-to advice to help you start your container garden today.

Simple Food {For Spring} by Shannon Stonger
Simple Food {For Spring} is more than just a cookbook. In addition to 28 grain-free recipes (complete with full-color photos!) highlighting spring produce, Shannon also encourages readers in sustainable and homegrown living through her introductions to cleansing, foraging, dehydrating greens and more.

Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving by Laura Coppinger
In Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving, Laura shares her tips for a successful, organic garden, including how, what and when to plant. Beyond gardening, you’ll also find her strategies for making the most of your farmer’s market plus canning tutorials and recipes to help you preserve your harvest.

The Gardening Notebook by Angi Schneider
In addition to a how-to guide for gardening beginners, Angi has created the perfect spot for recording all of your notes and research for your garden. With more than 50 pages of printables, The Gardening Notebook is the perfect way to organize everything you need or want to remember for your garden!

The Gardening bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 4/29. Get yours today:

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Simply Living ebook Bundle

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Discover the secrets to living simply from five authors who are living intentionally and inspiring others to do the same!

This bundle is on sale for 90% off through 8am EST on Monday, 4/22. Check back next week for the next bundle. It might just have you wanting to head outdoors!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

25 Intentional Days by AndHeDrew
Laid out in an easy-to-follow format, 25 Intentional Days will take you step by step through setting effective long-term and short-term goals, finding time you didn’t know you had, tracking your progress and creating the life you’ve dreamed of.

Simple Ways to Be More with Less by Courtney Carver
In Simple Ways to Be More with Less, Courtney shows you how to simplify your life and live each day more purposefully. This book will challenge you, brighten your day, and if you let it, change your world.

Inside-Out Simplicity by Joshua Becker
Living simply starts on the inside, and in Inside-Out Simplicity, Joshua shares why healthy relationships are essential to a simplified life. You’ll discover how to live intentionally by embracing contentment, gratitude, and humility and making generosity, kindness, service, and forgiveness a hallmark of all of your relationships.

ClutterFree by Leo Babauta & Courtney Carver
With the tools in ClutterFree, you’ll learn how to eliminate the clutter and create more time and space in your home and life. Leo and Courtney walk you through understanding why we have clutter, learning how to get rid of it and enjoying a clutter-free life.

Flying by the Seat of My Soul by Tess Marshall
Through personal stories, profound lessons, uplifting quotes and stories of others, Tess inspires you to live more passionately and pursue your heart’s desire with more conviction. Flying By The Seat Of My Soul will empower you to move toward inner change, let go of the past, follow your dreams and fly!

The Simple Living bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 4/22. Get yours today!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Simple. Delicious. Homemade. Hamburgers

You can buy some ground beef or turkey in the grocery store, cook up some patties, grab some rolls and toppings, and hamburgers are served.

But those are just plain old hamburgers. Or maybe you throw in your “secret” seasoning to jazz them up a bit.

Well this week I found my “secret” ingredient for making the best hamburgers I have ever had.

The recipe is so simple, and the burgers are so delicious!

Homemade Hamburgers

The Fresh Take Cheddar Jack and Bacon packet is the secret ingredient.

Kraft is not sponsoring this post. I honestly love these Fresh Take packets! 

Fresh Take Cheddar Jack and Bacon Packet

Inside the packet, you will find four recipes, one of them is for Sliders. You simply combine the Fresh Take packet with some ground beef or turkey (I used beef for mine), cook them and you have some mighty delicious burgers on your hands!

Recipe on inside of Fresh Take package

Here is a close-up of the recipe so you can see how simple it is!

Sliders recipe from Fresh Take packet

Click on the image to enlarge it. 

What is your secret ingredient for homemade hamburgers?

 

Product Feature: Weather or Not

Do you have an e-reader such as an iPad or a Kindle? If so, when you are out and about with it, it is a good idea to protect it. You may already have a case for it. But what about if it rains, or if you want to sit by the pool? Do you have a water-resistant case?

What about when your child wants to play with your iPad? Does he or she ever do that with sticky fingers? 🙂

Here is a solution: The Weather or Not water-resistant pouch!

Weather or Not

You can order it from my website. Click Shop Now in the upper right-hand corner and the look under the Travel category.

The best part, you can actually still use the device even in the pouch. It’s true. I tried it out with both an iPad and a Kindle. It works great!

So before you hit the beach for Memorial Day weekend, or take your device to your child’s next sports event, you may want to consider getting one!

 

10 solutions for the what’s for dinner dilemma

Dinnertime comes around every night along with that dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”

It is always a challenge to come up with ideas for dinner, to keep dinner interesting and to still make it simple, easy and not stressful.

Plate with question mark

Here are 10 possible solutions for the “what’s for dinner” dilemma.

Find dinner ideas:

1. Look through the coupons in the Sunday’s paper or gather coupons online. Not only could you find some coupons for meals you typically make, but you could also find new dinner ideas.

2. Grab a cup of tea, dust off your cookbooks and take a look at them! Also check Facebook and ask family and friends.

3. For 40 quick and easy recipes, you can download The Confident Mom Got Dinner? e-book for $4 (affiliate link).

Got Dinner? Quick & Easy Recipes

4. Look at various sauces or marinades while at the store or online. If you find an interesting topping for meat, you can just add some complementary side dishes (potatoes, rice, noodles, vegetables, etc.) and you’ll have a new dinner idea.

One of my favorite brands is Stonewall Kitchen. They have several different sauces, seasonings, chutneys and more. Look under Specialty Foods on their site (affiliate link).

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

5. Check the back of boxes, cans and other packages for recipes you can use. See my post on 5 simple back-of-the-box recipes for some of my favorites.

6. Use sites and apps to find recipes based on ingredients. Here are a few you can try:

Free version:

Pro version:

7. When people ask you what you want for your birthday and you are not sure, suggest restaurant gift cards. That way you can have a night off from making dinner, guilt-free!

Get Organized:

8. Take a few minutes to write a meal plan for each week. Grab a piece of paper and write down each day of the week. Then next to each day write a dinner idea. Start with some meals you typically make to get you started. Try to add one new recipe every week.

When creating your meal plan, consider the ingredients. If one recipe requires carrots and celery, or example, think about something else you could make that would use those same ingredients. This will make sure no food gets wasted, will reduce costs, and will shorten your grocery list.

Try to make at least one or two of the meals on your weekly plan ones that usually have leftovers. This will give you a night off from cooking. Pasta meals typically work well for this, but you can always double a recipe to make extra as well.

9. Make a shopping list based on your meal plan so you buy everything you need to make dinner each week. Remember to also add items you buy regularly to your shopping list so you don’t forget them (milk, yogurt, juice, bread, etc.).

Organize the items on your list the way your grocery store is laid out. This will get you in and out of the grocery store faster.

10. Organize your recipes. This may seem like an overwhelming task but if you work on it 10 minutes at a time, you will be amazed at how quickly you can get them organized. This will make it easy to find recipes, and to get a sense of what recipes you already have to work with.

When you find a recipe you like either in a magazine or online, make sure you save it and/or print it, if you want a paper copy. You will need something to store and organize your paper recipes. You can buy the Collected Recipes organizer from my Clever Container website in the Kitchen category. This recipe solution has 8 pocketed tab dividers and 36 two-sided magnetic pages to hold your recipe clippings.

Bonus: If you collect and organize a book of recipes, you can share this treasure with family members. My husband’s family gave me a “collected family recipes” binder as a wedding gift! 🙂

Collected Recipes Book

If you like to store your recipes electronically, create a Recipes folder on your computer or a folder in your browser bookmarks so when you find a recipe you like, you have a place to store it.

 How do you solve the “what’s for dinner” dilemma? 

 

No mess in 10 minutes or less

By the end of the day, do the rooms in your house look something like this?

Messy Room

If so, what can you do about it? You have several options, including:

You could –

1. Leave it as is and go to bed.

2. Stay up later, pick everything up and return it to its proper home.

3. Play a game with your family to get everything picked up in 10 minutes.

Consider trying number three and turn something “not so fun” into a fun game.

Set a timer for 10 minutes.

Everyone needs to pick up their items and put them away before the timer stops. At the end of the 10 minutes, everyone can congratulate themselves and perhaps have some dessert, watch a favorite television show, read a book, play another game, or whatever your family enjoys.

That’s it! It’s simple, it gets everyone moving and involved, and it reduces your work!

You can use a timer on the microwave, your cell phone, or an actual timer. You can purchase the timer below from my Clever Container site under the Kitchen category.

Timer from Clever Container

Another idea is that you could start playing some music. Everyone must have everything picked up and put away before you turn off the music. You might even get some people dancing! You can take turns in your family whom will be in charge of starting and stopping the music. Perhaps the person who “won” the last time.

Most importantly, you need to create some game rules to make sure no one falls, gets hurt, trips over the dog, or accidentally breaks items. You will probably want to have a “walk, don’t run” rule for sure.

Just think in 10 minutes or less, you will have gotten rid of the mess!

Clean Room

What tips do you have for making daily cleaning fun?

 

5 questions to ask yourself when considering a new home

Purchasing a home is a big investment and a big decision. The process can be overwhelming and stressful, but all very exciting at the same time. When considering a new home, we always hear that it is all about location, location, location. But there are several other things to consider as well. Here are five questions to ask yourself when considering a new home. There are related sub-questions below the main questions to really get you thinking.

Houses in Small Town Neighborhood

1. What is your family situation?

a. Children: Do you have children? Are you planning on having or adopting any children, or more children? Will your children be moving out soon?

b. Parents: Do you have parents that may need to come live with you? What will their needs be?

c. Pets: Do you have any pets now? Do you foresee having any or additional pets in the future? What are or will their needs be? If you ask me, pets are family members too!

2. How much space do you really need?

a. Declutter Before You Buy: Do you actually use all the items in your home?  We typically use only 20% of what we own. The other 80% is stuff we think we should own or think we will use someday. What are some items you never use that you could donate, recycle, repurpose, or throw away? After you do that, do you still feel like you need more space than you currently have?

b. Cleaning and Maintaining: Remember you’ll need to clean and maintain every square foot that you decide to purchase. How much do you like to clean? How much time do you have to clean? Do you plan on hiring a cleaning person? Do you feel like you have too much to clean and maintain now? Do you like to work on the house? Are you handy? Can you downsize?

c. Bigger is Better Mentality: If you live in a small apartment, condo or townhouse now, you may think you that you need a lot more space. You may actually need more space. But first consider, how would you use that additional space? Do you have a purpose in mind for the additional rooms and square footage?

3. How much land do you want?

a. Yard Maintenance: Do you like to work outside? Do you like to mow the lawn? Do you like to garden or landscape? Do you plan to hire someone to take care of this for you?

b. Privacy: Do you like a lot of privacy? Do you like neighbors nearby? Do you like to live within walking distance to shops? Do you prefer a more country-like setting?

c. Entertaining: Do you like to entertain and use an outdoor space? Do you need a yard for your children and pets to play? Do you need a fenced-in yard? Will you ever want to add a playground set, a hot tub, a pool, a gazebo, or other outdoor structure? Do you enjoy the seasons/weather in the area where you live?

4. How much can you really afford? 

a. Reality vs Pre-approvals: You may get pre-approved to spend more on a house than would be fiscally wise. Take time to figure out your income vs. your expenses and debts to determine how much you can truly spend on a mortgage payment each month. If you are not ready to buy yet, consider putting aside a “pretend” mortgage payment each month and see if you still have enough money to comfortably live. Seek advice from a financial advisor.

b. Flexibility: If you live in a two-income household, what if one person wants to stop working to take care of the children, go back to school, or work in a volunteer position. Or what if one person wants to go from full-time to part-time? What if one person gets sick or becomes disabled? Try to make it so you can afford your house payment with just one person’s income. Seek advice from a financial advisor.

c. Priorities: What are your priorities? Is having a beautiful and spacious home one of them? What about paying for private school for your children, or saving for their college education? Do you want to travel often? Do you want to have extra money for a side business or hobbies? Do you want to work less and spend more time with your family? Don’t let a mortgage prevent you from doing what is most important to you.

5. What kind of layout and features will really fit your lifestyle?

a. Layout: Tour homes, go to open houses, browse houses online, and pay attention to the layouts of your friends’ homes. What do you like about each one? What do you dislike? What would really work for you and your family? Do you want to be able to talk to people in the family room while you are in the kitchen? Do you want to be able to see the children playing while you are in the kitchen or the office?

b. Rooms: What rooms do you really need? Do you plan to use a formal dining room or would a large eat-in kitchen make more sense? Do you need an office? Do you need a guest room? What about a mud room? Do you need a garage or workshop area? Do you need storage for bicycles, sports equipment, hobbies, collectibles, holiday decorations, etc.?

c. Character: Do you want a home with character? What does character mean to you? Is it something that only comes with an older home, or can you add it yourself? What features of a home would be nice to have, but are not deal breakers? What features of a house really make it a “home” to you?

What other questions are important to ask yourself when considering a new home?

 

Create convenient storage solutions

You want to find the best “home” for all items in your home. If items do not have a home, they become clutter. All items need to have a purpose, be used or loved, and have a home. Otherwise, why do we have them?

When trying to organize your home, you may move items from one area in a room to another, or one room to another.

Have you ever…

  • Relocated items from one place to another, and within a few days, those items have returned to the place where you had moved them from?
  • Been “cleaning up” or “straightening up” around the house and moved items that belonged to another family member and then that person gets upset and puts the items back where they originally had them?
  • Moved items and then forgot about them (unpaid bills, greeting cards to mail, items to take to the dry cleaners, etc.)?
  • Decided that you think some items in your home should be stored in a certain location, but other family members never return them to that location?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a deep breath and read on.

What’s the secret to end such madness? Create convenient storage solutions. Stop relocating the items and create storage where the items tend to end up anyway. If the storage solution or location is inconvenient, it will be not be used.

You may want everyone’s shoes to be stored in their bedroom closets. But if it doesn’t happen, create shoe storage by the doorway. You may really want all the toys to remain in your child’s bedroom. However, they always end up in the living room, so create a storage solution for toys in the living room (e.g. a storage ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, or a storage bench that can also be used for extra seating).

For me, I wanted an more organized way to store incoming mail and paperwork. I prefer for paperwork to be in the office; however, my husband likes to work on stuff in the living room and if his to-do items are not in sight, they are out of mind. He prefers for papers he needs to look at, bills we need to pay, etc., to be either on the kitchen table or the coffee table.

My solution: Two attractive paper trays that sit on the coffee table. The top tray is his to-do pile. I place items there that he needs to do something with. The bottom tray is for filing. When he is done with a paper, but we need to keep it, he places it in the bottom tray, and then I know to file it in the office.

File tray

This system works great for both of us. The papers are not scattered all over the coffee table, but they are still where my husband can easily access them. The paper trays offer a convenient storage solution.

File tray

You can get these handy trays from my Amazon store.

What items in your home could use a more convenient storage solution?