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WFMW: Stockpiles

  • Posted on May 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

I used to think the idea of a stockpile was wasteful, and kind of extreme.  But I’m now a convert to some stockpiling – with caveats to keep it from getting out of hand.

So I tried my hand at couponing for a while, and I still do it from time to time.  But my MIL became the couponing QUEEN.  Seriously.  When we went hoem for Christmas, she gifted us with a great deal of her stockpile- things she got super-cheap or free.

And let me tell you – I thought it was a little crazy, but it’s so nice.  When we run out of laundry soap? I just hop into the garage and grab the next bottle.  I caught a great sale on both paper towels and our preferred brand of toilet paper at the first of the year, and we’re still working through that stuff.  We also have stockpiles of shampoo, body wash, deodorant, dishwasher soap, and toothpaste, among other things.

So here are my guideliens for how i keep stockpiles in my house:

  1. It has to have a home.  I have a big pantry, a couple shelves in the garage, and a closet in my bathroom where this stuff lives.
  2. If it overflows its home, I have too much.  (We currently have too much shampoo, but that should resolve itself soon)
  3. Only keep as much as we can use before it goes bad. Toothpaste has an expiration date, and I don’t stockpile a ton of food.  Things like laundry soap and paper products don’t generally go bad, though.
  4. Rotate to use the oldest stuff first.
  5. Keep track of what we are running low on – because nothing is worse than going out to the stockpile for toilet paper and discovering you are completely out.  Start looking for the next good deal before you run completely out.

So – as long as I generally stick to these guidelines, having stockpiles of certain products works for me.

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Quick Breakfast Ideas

  • Posted on May 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

I am usually running out the door at about a hundred miles an hour in the morning. Between having trouble getting out of bed myself, and getting the kids ready – it’s a little crazy in the mornings, and it seems like we’re always short on time.  Breakfast is the last thing on my list (the kids eat at school), and I almost never have time to eat it at home, sitting down, like a normal person.

If I miss out on breakfast at home, I can buy it at work – a breakfast burrito and soda costs a little more than $2, which isn’t bad, but adds up if I’m doing it every day.  So I try to keep some grab-and-go (or at least super quick) breakfasts on hand.  Here’s what I try to have available:

  1. Instant breakfast – I use the powder kind, and add milk.  This ends up being pretty inexpensive, and pretty low calorie, but I am starving by the time lunch rolls around.
  2. Granola bars – any kind, really.  Depending on the variety, they are low calorie as well.
  3. English muffins – usually with cream cheese or peanut butter, to help them stick to my ribs.
  4. Muffins – I’ll make a batch and freeze them, popping a frozen one in the microwave for 20-30 seconds makes it nice and warm.
  5. Breakfast burritos – I make these ahead and freeze them as well – putting them in the fridge the night before helps a lot in reducing cold spots, but the microwave can generally take them from frozen to warm pretty quickly.
  6. Fruit – because yum. I like fruit.

Generally, if I plan ahead and have some variety, I can make breakfast work.  Having quick breakfast ideas for on the go -  works for me!

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Little Helpers

  • Posted on May 16, 2012 at 8:25 am

Last night, I was doing the quasi-single-mom thing while Chad worked a late shift.  I had a million things to do, both for work and around the house.  And i had to balance the kids, and hopefully not ignore them all night while I checked things off my list.

So I took a deep breath, and asked Brianna if she wanted to be my helper for the night.  She was ecstatic!  She put away the clean silverware, helped me wash the dishes (and actually helped wash, not just played around in the water), and helped carry her sheets downstairs and put them in the washer.  Benjamin chipped in a bit as well, but his helping is still more like “just keep him busy” than actually helping me.

Brianna loved helping.  And yes, the tasks took me slightly longer than if I had done them without the kids in the picture at all – but they still took less time than if I had tried to do them with both kids hanging off of me and stopping me every other minute.  Plus, I can count it under quality time with Brianna. And she’s learning that the housework doesn’t do itself, which I’m sure will be helpful at some point in the future!

Having little helpers works for me!

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Three Things

  • Posted on May 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

Brooke: I want you to want to do the dishes. 
Gary: Why would I want to do dishes?
~ The Break Up

In my ever-continuing quest to get things done around the house, one of the biggest challenge has been getting help from my family.  Now, granted The Littles are well, too little to do much more than “help” (i.e., have a lot of fun but make the job ten times longer) while I do chores – and I let them as often as time/patience allow, because hello? I’d like to foster the idea that housework is fun!  But I can’t keep up with the house at all without help from Chad.  And therein lies my challenge.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to help, or doesn’t think he should help. It took me a long time to figure this out, but it’s honestly that he doesn’t know what needs to be done at any given time, and it’s easier to ignore it than figure it out.  Hmm. I have the same problem.

So, after many arguments about who does what, and whether I should be in charge of it (he thinks yes, I think I’m not the cruise director), and after trying many, many systems (nagging, sulking, chore charts, honey-do lists, etc), we have arrived… at a system that works for now.

Every evening, Chad asks me what three things we need to get done.  This is sometimes routine stuff that I’ve been putting off (folding laundry, dishes, etc), but more often it’s just things that need to get done, period.

I still determine what goes on the list.  But because Chad asks, I feel like he’s involved in the process, and that he wants to help (yes, my brain is weird, just roll with me).  Because there’s only three things, it’s not overwhelming.  And honestly – we don’t always do all three things.  It’s just a starting point.  A direction.

Am I still doing chores after the kids go to bed?  Sure.  But picking three things to do every night allows me and Chad to work off the same list, and to feel like we’re actually making progress on something.  Which, in turn, motivates us to do a little more sometimes. And thus, the house doesn’t fall into chaos quite as often.

Three things, works for me.

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Laundry Soap Hack

  • Posted on May 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm

It’s not really a “hack”, I guess, so much as a tip that I found life alteringly profound when I discovered it (seriously, people.  It’s the little things).

So  I discovered this at my cousin’s house over Christmas, watching her do a load of laundry. She pulled the liquid soap off the shelf – and instead of pouring the soap into the lid, and then trying to rinse out the lid in the washer and put it back on the bottle (my method) – she got an extra lid off the shelf, poured the soap in, poured it into the washer – and dropped the extra lid in the washer.  The clean lid went back on the soap, and she got the extra lid out of the washer when she put the clothes in the dryer.  Totally. Genius.  No more stick laundry soap bottles or drippy lids.

I improved on it slightly when I got home by marking the fill line in the extra lid with a sharpie.  Now I know exactly how much soap to put in, and it works every time.  The line hasn’t washed out, either, and it’s been a couple of months.

So that’s my totally genius laundry hack.

WFMW: Sick Child Edition

  • Posted on April 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

So I spent Monday & Tuesday home with Brianna, because she had a fever (and it turns out, strep & scarlet fever.  Go us!).  I was technically “working”, because that’s what we do in my office, but it was a challenge to keep Brianna entertained and feeling not-neglected while I tried to make icons and update UI sketches and what was I supposed to be doing again?  Here’s what worked for us, to some extent:

  1. Disney movies. Thanks to my husband, who started collecting them before we got married, we have almost all the Disney full-length animated films on DVD and/or BluRay.  So I let Brianna pick a movie, and then another, and then another… the first day, when she was really sick, she was mostly content to snuggle me and watch the movies while I worked around her.
  2. A pow-er stick.  This was totally needed for my sweet, empathic child, who has more than her share of feelings on a good day, but on a sick day has even more.  When the scary bad guys came out (some of the classic Disney stuff is pretty scary, yo) she pointed her stick at the TV and yelled POW! It made her feel better, and less scared.  When the sad parts of the movies happened, she snuggled me even more, and might have shed a tear or two because it was so sad.
  3. Scissors and magazines.  Y’all, I have way too many magazines.  Food magazines and family magazines and parenting magazines – lots of pretty pictures!  So when Brianna wanted to do “homework” at the table? I busted out the magazine stash and scissors, and sent her on a scavenger hunt. “Can you find five things that start with B?  How about three red things?”  Much fun was had cutting, and the magazines were thrown away after (double win).
  4. Bubbles. I opened the back door, and sent Brianna into the yard with a bottle of bubble solution.  When that ran out, I made her more using dish soap and water.  She was entertained for at least an hour – and the weather was nice enough that other than letting every bug in the county into the house, it wasn’t a problem for me to leave the door open and work at the kitchen table, where I could both see and hear her, and she could run in and out at will.
  5. Mommy’s helper.  Brianna “helped” me do a bunch of stuff.  Including looking for icons on a page, trying to draw something on the computer, and various chores around the house (but nothing involving touching clean laundry or clean dishes, because yikes! germs).  She felt good about helping, and I was patient enough to realize that work done slowly and not-perfectly was better than no work at all :-)
  6. Dry erase markers. Brianna loves them, and loves erasing them.  So we played with the white board a fair amount. I have a ton of markers I got free/cheap when school started, so she had many colors to choose from.
  7. No dress code.  Brianna has now declared that she loves being sick, because it means she doesn’t have to wear pants. True story.  Normally, once the kids are dressed I make sure they stay that way (other than shoes and socks) – but since we were home sick, I relaxed the rules.  Being three, and not having a great sense of social norms yet, Brianna was very content to run around in a t-shirt and underwear.  But was super-sad to have to wear pants today, to go back to school.
  8. Snuggles.  Yep, this is most of what we did.  I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, work-wise, but we made the best of our couple of days at home, and spent a lot of time snuggling. Hopefully, that’s what she’ll remember :-)

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Lysol Healthy Touch Hand Soap

  • Posted on April 4, 2012 at 7:07 am

So I bought this Lysol no-touch soap dispenser thingy because it was on sale, and I had a coupon for it, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, and yeah, it was probably free or something. Annnnnnd it sat on the shelf for a month or two or five.  Until. A week or two ago, I decided that it would be awesome for the kitchen. Because I cook, with real meat, all the time, and the pump soap dispensers are a pain because you have to wash your hands and then wash the soap container and raw meat, eww.

Y’all.  This is the best invention ever for the kitchen.  No lie, I feel like I’m less likely to spread germs and food-borne illnesses all over my kitchen via the hand soap, and it works amazingly well.  Plus – it makes me feel all techy to have a magic soap dispenser.  It’s the little things, I swear. I haven’t had any “misfires” or wasted soap – the only drawbacks I can see are that 1) you have to buy their refills, and 2) it squirts out a little more soap than I might use otherwise.

No one paid me for saying any of these nice things, but that is an Amazon affiliate link. Not that I would recommend you buy this particular product form them, as it’s priced a little high, but whatever.

So yes, not touching the soap dispenser works for me. Yay!

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

WFMW: Easy Lunch Boxes

  • Posted on March 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

I have been trying to pack lunches every day for a couple of reasons – one, it save a ton of money, as the cafe in my building is not cheap, and two, I can plan ahead to make healthy eating choices (at least in theory).  So – I’m a big fan of leftovers for lunches, because leftovers are essentially “free” (basically because I have no idea how to cook for the number of people in our family) and because they are yummy.

But.  Packaging them can be a pain in the behind. And getting all the parts together to make a meal – veggies, starches, and protein – is difficult, since there may be more of one left from a meal than others (I’m looking at you, veggies).

I looked everywhere around town for divided containers that I could pack in my lunch box – I have a Tupperware one, but it’s a little bigger than what I need – but I could not find anything, anywhere.

And then. Then I discovered the world of Bento boxes, and all the little pieces and parts that go with them.  I knew that would be perfect for me – except for keeping up with the pieces.  And also, they tend to be a little expensive.  So I decided to shop around.

I found these on Amazon:

EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers

Ah. Mazing. It was totally, exactly what I needed.  The three compartments are the perfect size for meals, and the big section is even big enough for a sandwich.  The middle section is the perfect size for a single serving Mott’s applesauce. The whole thing is freezer/microwave/dishwasher safe.  I pack traditional leftover-type lunches in these, but they would totally work for cute bento lunches as well.

They are not leak-proof, and if you turn them on their side they will leak any liquids in there. FYI.  But – one of the reviewers on Amazon said you could use Press’n'seal wrap on the sections to stop this – haven’t needed it, so I haven’t tried it.  For your standard veggies/casseroles/etc, I haven’t had a problem yet.

See how cute my lunches are, even without heart shaped boiled eggs and dinosaur shaped sandwiches?

Tater-tot casserole, green beans, and applesauce

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas

Easy Lunch Boxes work for me :)

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

Just so you know – No one paid me to give my opinions, and I didn’t get any free stuff.  BUT – the link to the lunch boxes is an Amazon Affiliate link.

WFMW: Laundry

  • Posted on March 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

Works for Me Wednesday!

I am caught up on laundry.  This fact is in and of itself amazing.

See, I tried this thing, a while back, were I did a load of laundry every day.  And it worked! And I was caught up! and it was amazing! And I looked like this:

Doing the Laundry

(image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half)

 And THEN.  I ran out of laundry. I mean, it was all clean! And there was no “one load” to do! For several days! So after practically spraining my shoulder because I was patting myself on the back so hard…. I promptly stopped doing laundry.  Until we were all out of socks and underwear. And then only washed the bare minimum to get by.

But. In my quest to minimize the STUFF in our house (OMGoodness, the STUFF), I culled down the kids clothes.  Like, a lot. Brianna helped with her clothes (to pick out ones she would wear, because trying to get a 3-year-old to wear something they don’t like is not on my top ten list of things to do every morning), and I culled down to like, just over two weeks worth of clothes each.

Amazingly, this means when they are all clean, all the clothes fit in the drawers.  I KNOW!

And now, I have to do the kid’s laundry once a week or so. Which is fine, it all fits in one load, or I can separate the darks and lights and put it with the grown-up’s laundry.  Total? about two loads a week of clothes.  Which gives me a day to wash towels, a day to wash sheets, and some slacker days (Huzzah!). AND…. I have to fold it and put it away, because people will run out of clothes otherwise. It’s amazing how much gets done when it’s a necessity.

Now I’m culling my clothes, in prep for a yard sale this weekend.

Laundry today or naked tomorrow – it works for me!

(For more Works For Me Wednesdays, visit Kristin at We Are THAT Family)