Monday, March 29, 2010

Some More Good News

Most of you know that I am pregnant, a little over 8 weeks. Well, I have some more good news to share. I am pregnant with TWINS! Yep, you read that right. I am growing two precious babies in my belly. They are perfect. They measured right at the due date and had strong heartbeats (154 and 158).

So if you wonder why I am not posting as much, it's not just because of being pregnant, but being pregnant with two. It causes more hormones which causes more sickness. My uterus is stretching at a rapid pace (I already look a few months pregnant) so that makes me uncomfortable at times. Please pray that my symptoms are manageable so that I can get back to being an organized homemaker.

With all that said, I am going to try my best to keep the blog going on a regular basis (hopefully at least once a week). For the most part my blog entries come from my daily life and what I get inspired to write about. Since I haven't been keeping up with my housework and cooking as I normally do, it's probably going to be less than I was trying to do at the beginning, but don't think I have left.

Also, I am sure that a lot of my posts will be about preparing for the twins, organizing my house to accommodate everyone, etc. I am also happy to do posts about specific questions as that will inspire me. Please leave comments or email me (ashley-webber@hotmail.com) if there is something specific you would like to know more about.

If you are interested in keeping up with my journey of carrying two babies, you can check out my other blog (http://ashandleeplus3.blogspot.com).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Triples at Harris Teeter 3/24-3/30

I just found out that Harris Teeter is doing Triples next week.

It starts Wednesday, 3/24, and runs through Tuesday, 3/30.

What is Triples?

It's when Harris Teeter triples coupons with a face value of 99 cents or less.

Normal doubling rules apply.

What are Doubling (or Tripling) Rules?

You must have a VIC card to use and double (or triple) coupons.

You can only double (or triple) up to 20 coupons per day per VIC card.

You can only use 3 of an identical coupon.

Tips for Triples:

Shop early. I like to go as early as possible the first day as seasoned couponers get there first thing and the best deals can go pretty fast.

Get the FREE things first. They go first.

Expect that they might not have things. Have back up coupons. I usually like to plan 20 coupons that I really want and bring another 10-20 of backups.

Buy 1, Get 1 Free really means 1/2 price on both. Sometimes they won't let you use 2 coupons on B1G1 Free (ie one for each item). I have not found that to be the case that much.

Where Do You Find the List of Deals?

http://www.southernsavers.com/2010/03/harris-teeter-triples-list-324-330/

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Let Go

As you guys can tell from reading my blog, I really love everything to be organized and clean. I love following a schedule and getting things marked off of my to-do list each day. I like having meals cooked each night for my family. I just love it.

But since I have been pregnant and especially once the "morning" sickness settled in, I have not been able to do any of the usual things that I like to do, especially cooking as raw food and the smell of food cooking disgusts me right now.

So I have just had to let go. My house is not as tidy as it normally is. In fact, I don't think I vacuumed or scrubbed all last week. The laundry is managing to stay caught up, but not as I would like (ie specific loads on specific days). Things are still pretty organized as that is something you create and it continues to pay off. My husband and son are great about straightening things up. Meals have become whatever fast food or take out sounds edible to me that night.

The greatest thing I have learned is, it is really going to be okay. When I feel okay, I will do a little bit here and there. It doesn't always have to be done in a particular way or on a specific day. If it doesn't look perfect, it's okay. It will get back to normal soon enough. I am just blessed that my husband doesn't complain if he comes in and there is a little mess here and there and he has to bring home take out every night. He is amazing! I am blessed!

How to Stick to a Budget

I have written posts previously about how to create a budget, but this post is about how to stick to your budget. Once you have figured out what your budget is for each category each month, you can create a simple chart and use it to keep you updated on where you stand.

The categories Lee and I use are:
Income
Tithe
Housing (Mortgage/Rent, Insurance, Utilities, Household Maintenance Things, HOAs)
Groceries
Auto (Payments, Insurance, Gas, Repairs, Auto Maintenance Things)
Debts (Anything you pay on each month, ie student loans, same-as-cash things)
Entertainment/Recreation (anything we do for fun, excluding eating out)
Eating Out
Clothing
Savings
Medical
Misc (anything that doesn't have a category)

We created an excel spreadsheet with the categories across the top and the days of the month going down the left side. We put a total row on the bottom and entered in the functions to calculate as we put information in. We also set up a row below that with our budgeted amount for each category. Then we put a row below that to show the difference.

If you would like a blank worksheet to use please let me know (ashley-webber@hotmail.com).

The key to a budget is not in creating it, but in sticking to it.

More Tips for Sticking to a Budget:

Set each budgeted amount at a reasonable level-
Go back and see what you've spent in the previous months and then create a number that is obtainable. You can always make it lower the next month to help you get more under control. If you make it too low, you will get discouraged.

Aim to do really well the beginning of the month -
It's a lot easier to stick to your budget when you work really hard at the beginning of the month. Even if the end of the month gets a little more spendy, you were off to a good start.

Remember that if you do go over in one category, you can pull funds from a different category. For example, if we go out to eat a little too much one month, we usually have a little extra in another category.

Plug in the definite expenses and then see how much you have to "play with". For example, you know that you have car insurance of $50.00 and a car payment of $200.00 and a budgeted amount of $500.00. You have $250.00 for gas and other misc things that come up.

Use one main credit card. Lee and I use one credit card and we put basically everything on that. It helps because we get one bill for most of our expenditures and we can see each transaction anytime we need to to keep us on track. Plus we earn rewards.

Budgeting can actually be pretty fun. You know what you have to work with rather than freaking out when the bills come in. It's also fun when you see that you have stuck to your budget and have more money to put into savings. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Organizing Baby Clothes (and Sorry)

First, let me start by saying how sorry I am for not putting up a post since Sunday. My laptop died a couple of weeks ago and Lee's got some sort of virus and is waiting for him to fix it (hopefully it will get fixed this weekend). I have stolen his work laptop to do a quick post.

Since Lee and I are planning (God willing) to have a house full of kids, we kept everything from Luke. We kept all of his clothes, toys, nursery decor, and pretty much everything Luke had.

How to Organize Baby Clothes:

Step #1 - Launder them: Make sure you get all the stains out. If they aren't worth keeping, don't. Fold them neatly.

Step #2 - Sort them: Get a bunch of clear bins with color coordinated lids (blue for boy, pink for girl) or color coordinated bins. Start with the earliest clothes (for us that was 0-3 months and fill the bins).

Step #3 - Label them: Label each bin's contents with a notecard and tape.

Step #4 - Store them: Store them somewhere putting the clothes you will need first the closest (or easiest to get to).

This is great because everything is clean, sorted, and put somewhere where you can easily get to it as you need it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meal Planning

A lot of blogs and books that I have read talk about meal planning. Basically you fill out a calendar, be it weekly or monthly, of meals that you plan to make. I have tried this so many times.

Being that I am really organized, I have no problem filling it out and even putting what I would need from the grocery store (only fresh items - not meats or pantry stuff as I buy that before I need it with coupons and sales) on a nice little post-it.

The problem is: I never want what I put on the calendar that day. And if we don't make the meal I feel like I am completely out of whack. I am the type that if I write it all out I want it to go perfectly.

My solution to this waste of my time and feeling like I wasn't being "perfect" when I didn't follow it was to stock my pantry and freezer and keep a few fresh items (bell peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, fruits) on hand each week so that I could make almost any meal any night of the week.

Usually the night before or the morning of I will lay out the meat I intend to use (I alternate chicken a couple of times and then beef). Then I will ask my husband what he wants for dinner using that meat. Sometimes I give him a couple of choices (ie If it is chicken, "Do you want something like Chicken Pot Pie or Buffaloe Chicken Tenders?"). He tells me, I come up with a few side dishes, and TADA we have dinner.

This works for my family. I have known lots of people that make a meal plan and stick to it. I commend them. I think I am just the type that if I know what I am going to have it already becomes boring to me. I would love to hear what you do to get dinner on the table in your house - Scheduled, Semi-Scheduled, Day Of, of Fly By the Seat of Your Pants? :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Organized Clothes Buying

Buying clothes has to be one of my least favorite things. I am not one of those girly girls that loves to spend hours and dollars buying clothes (my husband loves this about me ;) ). So I must be organized about it.

I pretty much always buy clothes at Kohl's. I love Kohl's. They generally have a lot to pick from, they have a lot of different styles so there is usually something I like, they have great prices, and they run lots of good deals.

I organize myself by keeping up with a list of what we need/want and I wait until they have a sale + a coupon + Kohl's cash back. When I match all of this together, I get some great deals.

Well, this week I got a 30% off coupon in the mail (I get this by having a credit card with them - the only credit card we have outside of our main one), they were having lots of good deals, and they were doing their Kohl's cash back ($10 GC for every $50 you spend).

I went in knowing I wanted 4 pillows, a pair or two of maternity pants (if they were a great deal) for me, some pajamas for me, a bra for me, a new winter coat for me, and socks for Lee. We found the pillows for $5.00 each, 2 pair of maternity pants for $20 each, 2 pair of pajamas for $27 each, and socks for $11.70. I didn't have luck with the bra or the winter coat, but I will be going back for the bra next week with my Kohl's cash. We also found Luke a small toy (a reward for his behavior and chore chart) and a little Easter decoration.

The total before the 30% was $137. After the 30% it was $96.00. I messed up and tried to add a $5.00 Kohl's Cares for Kids doll, but the lady said she would override it and give me $20 Kohl's cash (I LOVE HER!). I saved $150. Not a bad trip.

Please share your ideas for organized and less expensive clothes buying. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Announcement

I just wanted to share with all my blog readers that I AM PREGNANT!!!!

I am 5 weeks along and so far everything is great. I had two rounds of blood work done and they came back perfect, in fact high which is even better. As some of you know, I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks on Thanksgiving last Fall. It was devestating to say the least, but I knew that God had a plan for my life and my family (Jeremiah 29:11). His timing and plans are awesome. I will be due November 5th, if not a few days earlier, but will be having a scheduled c-section (I imagine sometime the last week of October).

I am praying that I have the energy and brain power to come up with some great stuff for the blog so that I can keep it updated on a regular (hopefully daily or every other day) basis. You might see stuff about my pregnancy and how I am organizing things for that and when the baby comes. I hope that is okay.

I want to also take this time to thank you all for reading, following, sharing, and commenting on my blog. This is truly from my heart and I pray it reaches people and helps them become the Organized Homemaker they want to become.

GOD BLESS!

Don't Be Tricked

Okay, so I was at Walmart the other day doing a quick grocery trip. I go there for things that I don't have coupons for or don't see on sale at my other stores. I also go there when I don't feel like planning it all out as they generally have good prices overall (meaning not per item, but per shopping basket).

Well, I saw on an end cap (the end of the aisle) 4 packs of name brand canned vegetables for $3.00 or 75 cents a can. I thought that was a pretty good deal, so I put one of each in my cart. But, I always check store brand for peas and corn because I think they are fine (I DON'T BUY STORE BRAND GREEN BEANS - YUCK!). As I went to check the store brand, I figured I should just see what 1 can of name brand veggies was. They were 60 cents a can (15 cents less than the bundled pack per can). Needless to say, I put the 4 packs back and got 4 cans of each individually.

This is why they put stuff on end caps. They know that if you took the time to check, you would see that the same thing packaged differently was cheaper. Plus, you bought 4 of them for 15 more a can than maybe 1 or 2 at the cheaper price. You must keep your eyes open and think about things before you just buy it.

Now I know that 15 cents a can doesn't seem like a big deal, but that is 25% more per can. If you paid 25% more for everything you bought, your $400 grocery budget would be over by $100 each month. Just something to think about. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to Catch Up When You Get Behind

As you can tell from my posts on homemaking, I try really hard to stick to a cleaning and laundry routine. Obviously, this is a perfect world scenario, which we all know, we don't live in a perfect world. Most of the time every week is different, a kid (or you) gets sick, there is an appointment or something that comes up that takes some part of your day away. Life is not perfect and we have to be ready to roll with it.

It took me a long time to figure that out. Everytime I would write a schedule or routine or chart for how I wanted to do things, inevitably I would kill myself to stick to it, and when it was impossible, I would want to throw the routine out. Now I have learned that it is good to have a plan, but it is even better to have a catch-up plan. Since I don't like to clean my house all in one day, I divide it into 3 or 4 days. This is a two-fold plan: 1) I don't have so much to do on one day and 2) if I get behind I can do the things from the day before on the day I didn't plan to do stuff. (ie I clean MWF, so if I miss a day, I would catch-up Tuesday or Thursday and even Saturday if I really had to).

That being said, if you need to catch up for a day or two or even the whole week, I am going to write the top things to do that will make your house clean without making you have to clean all day:

1) Straighten up - a house that is straightened looks cleaner than a house that isn't

2) Run a quick dust rag over key places (living room, office, bedroom)

3) Run a quick vacuum throughout the house (especially the key places)

4) Wipe down countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms (I use a Lysol wipe)

5) Swish the toilets with a brush and some cleaner

6) Take out all the trash

7) Put all laundry in piles to be laundered (some today, some another day - don't do laundry all day unless you must)

8) If you have time, you could mop and scrub bathtubs (if not, leave it for the next planned day to do those things as they take a lot more effort)

Hopefully this helped! I am off to catch up myself. :)