Sunday, April 27, 2008

Selling Stuff

I have a couple of goals that have been hanging over my head that I need to buckle down and make some progress on. One is to get out of debt (which is happening slowly and steadily - but I would like to contribute to speeding this along!), and the other is to rid our home of excess stuff - particularly our basement! Our basement has become a dumping ground of sorts - whenever I'm not quite sure what to do with something, I send it down to the basement. I've managed to get most of our living space simplified and organized, but the clutter in the basement is a weight on my shoulders.

Mostly what's down there is books (lots and lots and lots of books), CDs that my husband hasn't been able to sell yet (he did recently part with over 1,000 of his beloved CDs!), baby doo-dads, puzzles and games, and lots of other odds and ends.

Since I am trying to simplify our lives as much as possible, this means ridding ourselves of the weight that comes with clutter. I believe that the only things we need in our lives are things that we love or use on a regular basis. The only things that belong in storage are seasonal items.

My Goal
I'm posting my goal so that you all will keep me accountable. :) When I keep my goals to myself, I usually don't follow through! I am going to list one thing for sale each and every day, until I run out of things to sell. This will move me closer to both of my goals: living clutter-free, and paying down debt. Whatever doesn't sell will be donated or Freecycled.

Whew - I feel lighter already. :)

Now to get started...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I signed up for Pay Per Post!

I've been trying to think of some ways to earn a little extra money from home to help pay down some debts we are working on. I had heard a lot about the Pay Per Post blog network, but wasn't really sure what it was all about, so I decided to go ahead and sign up and see for myself.

The process was actually really simple! You just fill in your information, including your blog URL, and wait for your blog to be approved. Your blog has to be at least 30 days old, and you have to have 10 posts within the past 30 days. Once you've been approved, you can sign in and see what blogging opportunities you qualify for, and you can pick and choose whether you want to blog about a particular topic. In fact, just for letting you know that I've signed up for Pay Per Post, I've earned $20.00. Pretty simple!

I would only choose a Pay Per Post opportunity if it was something I believed in, and would have written about anyway - and I would ALWAYS inform my readers that it is a sponsored post (actually, this is a requirement anyway). Even if I don't do any sponsored posts, there's an affiliate program as well - so if you wanted to sign up for Pay Per Post under me, I would get $15.00 after you signed up and submitted your first post (and your first post can be just telling people that you've signed up for Pay Per Post!). You would then have the same opportunity to earn $15.00 for everyone who signs up under you and then submits a post.

I'm excited for this opportunity, and can't wait to see some money rolling into my PayPal account. :)

If you're interested in signing up, click here:

I'll keep you updated on my PPP earnings. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Using Less

First off, I just want to say I'm so sorry I haven't posted in awhile! It seems it's been four days since my last post! Where did the time go?? To be completely honest, I've been so excited about playing with my new sewing machine that my blog got neglected - I'll try to make it up to you. :) I may even come back and post some of my sewing creations so at least you will know I've been productive. :)

Anyway, on with the show!

For Frugal Friday today, I'd like to continue with last week's theme of Not Buying, and focus this week on using less. Obviously there are still some things we do buy - like food, and some household and personal products. I'm working on reducing these things, by starting my own garden this year, making my own cleaning supplies, and learning to make my own personal care products. In the mean time, however, we are using store-bought organic and natural products.

When I first made the switch to natural and organic products, I struggled with how expensive they were - and I wasn't really sure how we were going to afford it. However, I knew I wanted to make the change, and as they say, where there's a will, there's a way. And in this case, the way was to use less! Of everything! Most of the organic/natural products are more concentrated anyway, so it really wasn't that hard to do. But I still found I was able to drastically reduce how much of everything I used. My laundry soap calls for one ounce per load. I find I can use as little as 1/8 of an ounce for diapers, and 1/2 an ounce for regular laundry, and it still comes out clean! A jug of natural laundry soap lasts me six months or more. Same goes for shampoo and conditioner. I can put a tiny little bit in my hand, add water to it, and it lathers right up - I don't even notice a difference! We can go a couple of months on the same bottle of Burt's Bees shampoo! We used to squirt a lot of ketchup on our plates, and most of it would end up getting washed down the drain - so now we only use a little tiny bit of organic ketchup, and none of it goes to waste. It's amazing how when you pay more for something it suddenly becomes a precious commodity, and you become so much more aware of your wastefulness. We never, EVER throw food away now, because we pay a premium for organic food - so I use every last scrap. Organic cheese will cost you your first born... but now we are more repectful of our cheese. :) We use it very, very sparingly, and you'd be surprised how thinly you can slice a piece of cheese if you try. :) Think about it - do you treat something you bought at the dollar store differently from how you treat your expensive electronics? Do you take better care of your real gold and diamonds than you do your costume jewelry? When I used to buy things in giant containers for next to nothing, I would use far more than I needed, because I knew it was cheap and replaceable. My organic products are the equivalent of gold and diamonds. :)

I would have to say, that while I thought going organic was going to cost us MORE money, it has actually cost LESS - simply by putting us in a position to recognize how wasteful we were before, and by learning to conserve our precious resources. It feels so good knowing that not only are we using products that are better for our health and for our planet - but we are also consuming less overall - less product, and less packaging.

I hope this tip has been helpful, especially for those of you who have been on the fence about going organic because of the cost. It truly is affordable, and the rewards are greater than you could imagine.

For more Frugal Friday tips, go on over to Crystal's Blog!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Powering Down for Earth Day

I've been trying to figure out a way to honour our planet for Earth Day tomorrow. I've decided that we will do "Earth Hour" on a grander scale - and power down as much as possible for the whole day. We will avoid using any unnecessary energy tomorrow. We will be eating cold foods, and keeping the television and computer turned off. We will also avoid using the car tomorrow, as much as possible (my husband claims an exception to this because he's an accountant and it's tax season - and he'll break his back if he has to lug all those files home!).

Today we went on a nature walk through the woods with our local Family Place Resource Centre. It was so beautiful - I wish I had pictures to show you but I forgot my camera! We had a guide for the walk, which was so nice - and today's theme was finding signs of spring. :) We saw lots of wildlife, and the meandering stream was bubbling and full of life. It was a good way to re-connect with nature, and remind me just what it is that we are honouring tomorrow.

Although I will have the computer turned off for Earth Day, I hope you will leave a comment letting me know what your plans for Earth Day are - I'll be back on the 23rd to read all about it!

So take care, Happy Earth Day, and I'll see you on Wednesday!

Menu-Plan Monday

Well, I suppose better late than never applies here. :)

We had a busy day today so I'm just now getting around to posting my menu for the week. Here goes!

Saturday: Veggie Chick 'n Burgers & Salad
Sunday: Spaghetti
Monday: Veggie Stir-fry on Brown Rice
Tuesday: Sandwiches & Veggies & Dip (We're powering down for Earth Day, hence the cold supper)
Wednesday: Homemade Veggie Pizza
Thursday: Shells stuffed with Broccoli on Brown Rice
Friday: Alphabet Tomato Soup & Biscuits (we liked this so much last week I'm making it again!)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My new sewing machine. :)

My husband surprised me this week-end with a new sewing machine. Actually, he surprised me by telling me to go pick out a new sewing machine. :) It was supposed to be for Mother's Day, but I guess he got tired of listening to me complain about my clunky old machine, so he decided to let me have it early. I tried out several, and settled on this little number: A Janome 3050 DC. I think I am in love. This is the nicest, quietest sewing machine I have EVER used. Did I mention that I'm in love? :) With both my husband and my new machine, of course. :)

After reading the instruction manual from cover to cover (a first for me - I'm usually more of a wing it kind of girl!), and then playing around with it a little, I made a new pair of pajamas for my husband (Batman - at his request!)...

...and then wanted to try making another pad. This machine has some really fun embroidery stitches! (I'll even let you click to enlarge the picture this time - no matted up bobbin threads any more!!)

I thought I would try fleece on the back this time, which is supposed to be reasonably liquid-proof.

And I bought a little snap kit from Fabricville and gave it a try - it was actually super easy! I'd put a snap on over a button and buttonhole any day. (Although with my fancy-schmancy new sewing machine, buttonholes are a breeze!). lol

Anyway, be prepared for lots of new sewing posts! I'm newly inspired. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Being Frugal by NOT Buying.

It's Frugal Friday today! Go on over to Crystal's blog to see lots of Frugal Friday ideas.

As I browse through the blogosphere looking for frugal ideas (I do this pretty regularly - there are a million and one ways to save money!) - it seems there are a lot of people who are frugal by acquiring a ton of stuff for very little money (CVS deals, etc.). While I think it's great that they are able to get so much stuff for next to nothing, I think there is another way to do it.

First of all, we don't have CVS here in Canada, and coupons aren't really that big here either. I used to clip whatever coupons I could, and spend time scouting out sales, and getting things as cheaply as possible. But something happened when I decided to pursue a sustainable lifestyle. I realized that all the coupons were for pre-packaged, processed foods - that are terrible for the environment, and for our health. When's the last time you saw a coupon for an apple? :) Also, the non-food coupons were always for big name-brand, chemically-laden, non-environmentally friendly products. I learned that it was actually much cheaper to make my own, and not buy them at all, than to buy them using a coupon.

Same goes for all those disposables. I used to try to find diapers and wipes as cheaply as possible, by combining sales with coupons and then stocking up. I found out it is shockingly cheaper to just not buy them! I used to stalk our local Please Mum and pounce when they had a great clearance on - sometimes buying a whole season's wardrobe for my kids. But when that season came, I realized they didn't actually NEED most of that stuff. They could have made do with what they had, and I could have just added in a couple of thrift store finds to fill in what they needed. There were times when they outgrew some of those "great deals" before they even wore them - and they got packed away, still with tags on. I've also since realized the environmental impact of buying things new, and try to buy second-hand whenver possible. For me, no matter how cheap something is, the environmental price is simply too high.

I encourage you to give it a try! Next time you see a "really, really great deal" on something - ask yourself, would it be cheaper to just not buy it? How can I do without this item? I promise you, your budget, and our planet will thank you. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Velour Suit that Keeps On Giving. :)

I posted a couple of days ago about my old velour suit that had seen its better days. Well there were parts of it still left that I wanted to use up - but the pieces were too narrow to get any more diapers out of them. So I resorted to making some wipes and a pad instead. :)

The two printed ones on the left are backed with said velour. :) The rest are just two-sided velour. Please don't look at the giant close-up shot (darn, I shouldn't have said anything!)... my serger and I were having a fight, and the serger won.

These wipes could either be baby wipes (it's no coincidence that they match the diapers I made. lol) - or they could be feminine wipes. :) I've never used a feminine wipe, but they might be quite lovely during that time of the month. :)

Here is a close-up of the pad. I got the idea at Tiny Bird Organics. She doesn't have an actual pattern on there, so I kind of free-handed it, and followed her directions. It will probably need some tweaking. And I'll have to add a snap. I may have to break down and buy a snap press.

I used the velour for the front and the back, part of my husband's old t-shirt for a hidden inner layer, and 4 layers of flannelette for the absorbent part. (The flannelette came from an old crib sheet that didn't fit quite right any more).

Here's what the back of the pad looks like. Again, spare yourself, and don't bother with the close-up. My bobbin thread went a little wonky for awhile, must have been from all those layers. I'll grade it a little better next time.

Although it's a complete pad, the opening at the back also allows you to put some extra inserts in there if you need them. It also makes it WAAAY easier for turning the pad right side out. I quite liked the pattern overall, but it will definitely need some tweaking.

Anyway, those were my sewing adventures for the evening. And now it's time to clean up my mess and head to bed. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sorting those mittens!

For today's Works-For-Me Wednesday tip, I'd like to talk about mittens! And hats! And scarves! And sunglasses! And all those other accessories your kids seem to accumulate.

For us, our closet shelf was starting to resemble a mitten landfill. Every time we tried to leave the house, I'd be rooting through the pile of mitts and scarves, trying to find the right things for the right kid. Half of the pile would end up on the floor, I'd mumble some curse words under my breath, and out the door we would go, with our mis-matched mittens.

Since I'm an advocate of creating an environment that sets us up for success, I decided that this method wasn't working for us - it was making it difficult to get out of the house!

So I found these great collapsable cubes at Home Depot (on clearance, at that!), and labelled them for each person. Now all we have to do is grab the handle and pull a cube down to get the right accessories for the right person. It's a huge time-saver, and saves a lot of frustration when trying to get out of the house!

For more great Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in my Dryer!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I may be obsessed...

...with diaper sewing.

I had this track suit that I wore A LOT when I was pregnant. It wasn't actually a maternity track suit, and I could probably still wear it if I wanted to... but it was getting a little pilly, and, well, I wore it when I was pregnant. You know how that goes. You never want to see your pregnancy clothes again when you're done being pregnant.

It was made out of such a nice, soft velour though, I thought it would make a nice diaper!

I lined it in some cream-coloured microfleece...

...and created a pocket opening in the front of the diaper (it's much easier to do it that way, so you don't have to worry about messing with elastic!).

There's probably still enough fabric in the pants that I could easily get a couple more diapers out of it. It amazes me how quickly these sew up... now that I've made a few, I can finish one in about 20 minutes. I actually did this one while supper was cooking on the stove tonight!

I think my husband is afraid to leave anything laying around, lest it should become a diaper. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Menu-Plan Monday

So I'm doing Menu-Plan Monday again this week! It's so fun seeing what everyone has on their menus for the week. You can go on over to to see some more tasty menus!

This has been an interesting week for menu planning! My husband gets paid monthly, and we budget accordingly. But there are a couple of months of the year that have 5 weeks in them, and this is one of those months! I try to set aside a little bit of our monthly budget each month to allow for these longer months, but alas, I still find myself short. So this week is a major eat out of the pantry and freezer week! I managed to spend just $40 at the grocery store this week, getting only the absolute basics - milk, bread, butter, juice, bananas, cereal, etc. (all organic). The meals will be based on what I alread had in the house. So this is my pantry meal plan. :)

As usual, my menu runs from Saturday to Friday.

Saturday - Alphabet Tomato Soup & Biscuits (The kids loved this! I found some great organic alphabet pasta shapes a couple of weeks ago at the grocery store. On the back of the box was a recipe for alphabet tomato soup. It was delicious! I'll post it if I get the chance.

Sunday - Homemade pizza

Monday - Potato Kugel & Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday - Baked Beans & Perogies, Veggie Chick'n Nuggets for the kids

Wednesday - Yellow Split Pea Dahl (This is a new recipe - I had a bag of yellow split peas and didn't feel like making soup, so I thought I'd try something different. I'll let you know how it turns out!)

Thursday - Vegetarian Goulash

Friday - Millet Loaf, Mashed Potatoes & Corn (Another new recipe - I bought a bag of millet awhile back with good intentions but never made anything out of it! So this will be something new).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Living on Purpose

So what does it mean to live on purpose, exactly?

Since this is the title of my blog, I thought it was high time I explained myself. :) I don't have a true definition per se, but I will try to give you a sense of what it means for me to live a life on purpose. I think, for each of us, this will mean something different.

Here is what living on purpose means to me:

1. To make conscious choices.
To do things because we choose them, not because we are reacting to our circumstances.

I will not do things out of guilt, fear, or obligation.

I will not hold onto possessions indefinitely because I feel too guilty to pass them on. Instead I will keep the things that I cherish, and allow things that are a burden to find a new home. I will not do things because the thought of not doing them makes me afraid. Instead I will do things because they make me feel empowered. I will not do things because I feel I owe it to someone, or something. Instead I will do things because they bring me joy, or add some meaning to our lives.

I put this one at the top of my list, because it is one that I struggle with. I am working very hard to make this a part of my life.

2. To be proactive rather than reactive.
To avoid what we don’t want, and choose what we do want.

For instance, we have made a conscious choice to eat healthier, and to avoid toxins and chemicals in our home so that we may hopefully enjoy good health for years to come. I will not wait for a cancer diagnosis and then say "oops... guess I should have been a little more careful!". (I’m not in any way implying that we choose to get cancer - I'm sure that there are many more factors at play than environment - but if there are choices I can make NOW that will reduce my risk, and my family's risk, then I will make them).

3. To realize that nearly everything is a CHOICE.
Too often, I hear people saying "I can't, because...". When the vast majority of the time, what they should actually be saying is "I choose not to, because...". There are very few things in this life that are truly out of our control. For the most part, whether consciously or unconsiously, we have made a chain of decisions that has led us to the place we are today. On the bright side, we can become conscious at any time. We can begin another chain of decisions that will lead us to live the lives we WANT to lead.

Try it. The next time you catch yourself saying "I can't, because...", replace that sentence with "I choose not to, because...", and see where it leads you. It truly is empowering when you remove "can't" from your vocabulary. There is absolutely no reason we cannot live the lives of our dreams. There is no reason that Mrs. Smith from down the road is happy and fulfilled and living consciously, but I cannot. Each day we wake up and are faced with a whole new set of choices. That's the beauty of being alive. :)

4. To create an environment that supports us and sets us up for success.
My organizational efforts are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end. By being more organized, I know that I am less frustrated, and therefore a kinder person. A better mother. A more willing listener. When my environment is chaotic, I feel out of control, and am not in a position to live intentionally.

For example, I post my weekly meal plan on my fridge, in big writing, on a dry erase board. This is not so my neighbours can see what I am having for supper. This is because I know I am more likely to follow through with my meal plan if it is in front of my face. I am more likely to remember to take things out of the freezer, or soak my beans ahead of time, or get something in the crock pot, if it is right in front of my face. I am less likely to resort to ordering pizza (although I sitll do sometimes!) if I have a written, defined plan. I am also more accountable, as my husband will know what we are supposed to be having for dinner, so I am more likely to follow through.

Sometimes I’ll even set everything out the night before, so that it’s the first thing I see in the morning. If I wake up and see my clothes neatly laid out for the day, I’m more likely to jump in the shower and get dressed. If the ingredients for the next day’s meal are set out on the counter the night before, I’m more likely to get a jump start on my dinner preparations first thing in the morning. If I pack the diaper bag and set the stroller by the front door, I’m more likely to take the kids out for a walk. By creating an environment that supports my values, I am more likely to live authentically.

5. To allow our spending to be in alignment with our values.
Whether we realize it or not, how we spend our money is often a direct reflection of our values. Sometimes this is not intentional - because we are living reactively, and not proactively. We are doing what we do today simply because it's what we did yesterday, and not because we have made a conscious choice to do so. Can you afford cable, but just can't scrape the money together to start an education fund for your kids? Are you struggling to meet your basic financial commitments, but frittering away bits of money on needless things? Do you eat out often, or choose low-quality, expensive convenience foods, and then claim you can’t afford to eat organic? Then either your spending is not in alignment with your values, or your values are different than what you think they are.

Do you ever watch those home decorating shows, where the decorator clears out the room, and then selectively chooses which pieces come back into the room? Often those pieces serve a particular purpose, work well, and/or are very meaningful to the homeowner. A budget should be approached in much the same way. Start with a fresh piece of paper. Write down the things that you value. Decide how much you want to spend on various parts of your life. Budget accordingly. This is vastly diffferent from editing your current spending patterns, and trying to decide what you are willing to do without. Instead, choose what you want to spend your money on. Just as sometimes we feel stuck standing in a room full of stuff, not knowing what to get rid of - it's sometimes easier to clear the room and start fresh, bringing in only what is truly important. What is left behind is quickly forgotten, because it was never that important to begin with. When we begin with a clean slate, it is much easier to decide what is important.

6. To spend time on things that reflect our values.
In many ways, how we choose to spend our time is equally, if not more, important as how we choose to spend our money. I often ask myself if how I'm spending my time is a true reflection of my values. If it is not, I make adjustments accordingly.

For instance, our computer is in the living room. I was leaving it on all day, and would check my e-mail or MSN pretty much constantly. I realized it was having an impact on how much time I was spending with my kids. Now I turn the computer off as soon as I'm finished with it, so it is not a distraction. This way, I am setting myself up for success (It's harder to check my e-mail when the computer is turned off!), and making a conscious choice to spend more time playing with my children. A nice perk is that it also reduces our power bill – freeing up even more money to put towards our goals.

This is also another reason I spend time on organization. My house is merely a possession, which happens to contain what is MOST important to me – my family. If I spent most of my time running around trying to find things, or tripping over things, or buying new things because I can’t find things we already have – then my time would be wasted, when it could instead be spent with my family. The more I am able to simplify the parts of my life that are less meaningful, the more time I free up to spend time on what is more meaningful.

7. To live a goal-based life.
One of my favourite Dr. Phil-isms is that "the difference between dreams and goals is a timeline". I am a huge advocate of writing things down. For me, it provides great clarity. I guess that's part of the reason I was drawn to blogging. :) It's one thing to say "some day I'd like to... " (fill in the blank). It's a whole other thing to say I want to do X in X number of months, and then to write out the steps as to how you are going to achieve it. Create a timeline. Break it down into baby steps.

For instance, say you want to buy a house, and you need $10,000.00 for a down payment. Decide how soon you want to buy the house. Divide $10,000.00 by the number of months until you want to achieve your goal. Go even further and divide it by the number of days! Finding a way to earn an extra $20.00 per day, or to make room for that $20.00 per day in your budget, is less daunting than finding a way to earn $10,000.00. Move yourself in the direction of your goals. Allow every choice to be conscious. With everything you do, with every dime you spend, ask yourself if it is moving you toward your goal. If it is not, make a different choice.

After watching The Secret (for those of you who haven't seen it, I highly recommend it! Providing you ignore the materialistic nature of it, and simply listen to the message), we created a Vision Board. This is where we put our goals. It's simply a bulletin board with pictures of the various things we would like to achieve in our lives. Each time we look at it, it is a reminder of the path we are on, and to continue to make conscious choices that move us in that direction.

That pretty much sums up what it means to me to live an authentic, on-purpose life. When I reach the end of my life, whenever or wherever that may be, I want to look back on my choices and be filled with joy, not with regret. I don’t want to say “I wish I had…”, I instead want to say “I’m so glad I did…”. The time is now. This may be the last day I am blessed enough to live on this Earth. Lucky for me, it is also the first day of the rest of my life. Let today be the day you choose to live on purpose.

What is one choice you made today that is moving you in the direction of living an on-purpose life?

Friday, April 11, 2008

How often do you shop?

For Frugal Friday, I've decided to re-evaluate our shopping routine. With gas prices skyrocketing (they're $1.25/litre here as of today!), I've been starting to question whether it is cost effective to grocery shop weekly, or if it makes more sense to do the bulk of my shopping once a month. The store I love to shop at (it has a great selection of organic and vegetarian-friendly foods, and a good selection of natural & organic household/personal care products) is on the other side of town. We have a couple of smaller grocery stores that are very close by (one is almost across the street!) where I could get my fresh stuff weekly, but they have a minimal selection of organic foods. And in the summer months I like to take full advantage of in-season produce, so I often don't know what we'll be eating that week until we hit our local farmers' market.

I used to justify shopping weekly because it allowed me to take full advantage of that week's sale flyers. But since we've switched to mainly organic and whole foods, I find the sale flyers don't really apply to us anyway. Very rarely does any of that stuff go on sale.

However, the thought of planning a month's worth of meals at a time is rather daunting to me! It comforts me to know that if we run out of something, it will only be a few days until our next grocery trip. It would take a good deal more planning to know how much of each item I would need to last us a whole month. And I'm also concerned that buying in bulk will actually cause me to spend more. When I shop weekly I seem to be able to make use of every scrap left in my fridge, by incorporating any left-overs into the following week's meals. I wonder if it would be more difficult to do this with monthly shopping.

Another factor that plays into my decision is the fact that we refill our budget envelopes once a month, which makes me think maybe we should shop accordingly.

So how often do you shop?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Going Greener

Part of my quest to live an authetic, on-purpose life is to reduce our family's ecological footprint. Each day I strive to make choices that will have the least impact on our planet.

Today I discovered a blog called Green Boot Camp, that outlines simple ways that we can all get greener. :) It seems that each week she adds a tip for what we can do to make our planet a better place.

I encourage you to check it out! I'd love to hear about what you're doing to be kinder to our planet. :)

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Well it was so much fun doing Menu-Plan Monday, that I decided to join in on Works-For-Me Wednesday as well!

I've been thinking about starting a series on implementing various organizational systems throughout your home, and this is a perfect opportunity for me to do that. :)

One of my current goals is to simplify our lives to the greatest extent possible, so that we can focus less time and energy on the stuff we have to do, and more time and energy on the stuff we want to do. With each new system I implement, it makes our lives just a little easier, and frees up just a little more time. These systems become almost automated after awhile, to the point where I hardly have to think about them.

There are still plenty of things in our home that don't have a system, and it's obvious. Those are the areas that keep getting messy and cluttered, and that I find myself wasting time doing the same thing over and over again. Whenever I notice that happening, I add it to my Projects list, and plan to tackle it as soon as possible!

So each Wednesday I'm going to share a system that works for me!

Grocery Shopping

I'll start today by talking about the one that we can all relate to... the dreaded grocery shopping. This was one of the very first systems I implemented, because it was the one that I found most aggravating! I wanted to shop once a week, and get everything we needed for the week, as quickly and efficiently as possible, staying within budget, without having to run out every other day to pick up something I forgot!

Since my Palm Pilot is my organizational best friend, I downloaded a free program called Handyshopper. It's basically a database that you can do whatever you want with. There are a list of Stores, and then under each store you start listing all the things you buy there. I started off just adding things in as I needed them. It didn't take long before I had a complete database of everything we would ever buy. Now whenever I notice we are getting low on something, I simply click the item and it moves it to my "Need" list. Sounds great, right? Well, it doesn't end there!

There is also a place where you can enter the price of each item. I started doing that as well, putting prices in as I purchased things, so that I would have an idea how much my groceries were going to cost. Now nearly every item on my list has a price beside it, and when I create my list I can click on "Checkout" (the button with the dollar sign on it), and it tells me how much it all comes to! It also allows you to compare prices between stores. So I can quickly see if something is cheaper at WalMart, or at SuperStore, and I can shop accordingly.

Finally, there is a sorting option. It allows you to sort your Need list however you want. You can sort by category (produce, bakery, dairy, canned goods, etc.), or you can sort by aisle. I started adding in aisle numbers as I bought things, and now pretty much everything has an aisle number. It's amazing how quickly I can zip through the grocery store now! Everything is listed aisle by aisle. No more treks from one end of the store to the other.

Since I add things to my list as soon as I run low on something, I almost always have everything I need in the house to make a meal. So on Fridays when I do my menu-planning, all I have to do is add to my list a few fresh things that I need to complete those meals, and I'm done!

Works for me!

Monday, April 7, 2008


So now that I feel I have my cleaning schedule settled, there are still some things that I haven't figured out a way to fit in. Recurring tasks that seem to get pushed aside because I haven't scheduled them in. So in addition to my cleaning zones, I've been thinking of adding in a task-a-day. Here's what I had in mind:

Monday: Laundry catch-up.
I do laundry daily, but still need a catch-up day. I tend not to do laundry on week-ends, so usually by Monday I have a bit of a back-log. I also wash all bedding, towels, etc. on Mondays.

Tuesday: Ironing & Sewing.
My mending basket always seems to be overflowing! If I scheduled one day a week, I could probably keep up. I also have several sewing projects on the go, but never quite seem to get around to them.

Wednesday: Special Projects.
Those things on my list that are fairly time-consuming so I just keep putting them off! Like cleaning out the basement! If I could commit a solid hour or two per week to these kinds of tasks, maybe, just maybe I could cross them off my to-do list. :)

Thursday: Memories.
All of those precious photos we take that just end up dumped on our computers... I need to take action and start at least keeping up with the new photos - and ideally start back-tracking and get the older ones into albums. I use iPhoto, and they have a great feature where you can create digital photo albums, and then order a bound, hard copy. I would like to start creating one for each year, and then order the book at the end of the year. This would also be the day to work on baby books, or on the kids' memory boxes.

Friday: Meal Planning and Desk Day.
I do my best to deal with paper as soon as it enters my house - pay bills as soon as they arrive, and file them. But it seems by the end of the week, I always have a few things on my desk that I'm not quite sure what to do with... I need a day to commit to clearing off my desk. I think Friday is a good day, because I get a nice, clean desk for the week-end. :) Also, we get our flyers on Friday, so it's a good day to do my meal planning in preparation for Saturday shopping.

Saturday: Home Maintenance.
I thought Saturday afternoons would be a good time to tackle home maintenance projects - or outdoor projects in the summer months.

So there you have it! Any thoughts would be welcome! Am I missing anything? I started the plan today, so I'll let you know how I make out as the week progresses!

Menu-Plan Monday!

Well I decided to join in on Menu-Plan Monday, hosted by Organizing Junkie.

So here is my Menu Plan for the week!

My week actually starts on Saturdays, because that's when I get my groceries.

Saturday - Lentil Dal on rice
Sunday - Chick Pea & Tomato Soup with bread
Monday - Vegetarian chili
Tuesday - Vegetarian Shepherd's pie
Wednesday - Broccoli Shells & Rice
Thursday - Potato Soup & bread
Friday - Pizza

I like to keep my menu plan posted on my fridge, so that I can see at a quick glance if anything needs to be prepared ahead of time. There's nothing worse than realizing at 4pm that you forgot to take something out of the freezer, or soak your beans!