Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Gift Plans

"Do the holidays-NOT BUY the holidays!"

This has been my goal every year for the last several years.  It has been a down shift every year to see how we can continue to simplify and yet get more joy out of celebrating Our Saviors Birth.
We drew names at Thanksgiving again this year for gifts with our kids and my sister’s families. This has really cut down the amount we spend and people we have to buy for. It has been a lot more fun which relieves a lot of stress and I can give nicer gifts. I hate buying gifts that I am not sure people really need or want and most people have way too much stuff anyway.  
I only have three people to buy for this year.  I am buying for my gift exchange person and my oldest son since he still lives at home but most of my budget will get spent on my youngest son who is 16 years old. My husband is doing most of the shopping for him so I don’t have a lot to do there. We will go next Tuesday to buy our gifts for our exchange person. My husband and I will spend a Saturday gift shopping together but since we won’t have much left we will see a movie and go out to dinner.
I am happy with this arrangement since I prefer to give small token gift like baked cookies, homemade candy, or a small crafts during the month of December to people. They don’t expect anything and I don’t expect to get anything back so it is fun. I can spend my time making token gifts to give away and everyone is happy to get one nice gift in the gift exchange.
As one of my gifts I am helping my oldest daughter organize her apartment with my youngest daughter’s help. We went over this past Saturday and worked all day on my 6 month old granddaughter’s room and I plan to go back to work on other rooms throughout January. I am printing pictures for some frames for my granddaughter’s room, hanging some stuff on the walls, and painting some furniture which I plan to have done before Christmas along with cleaning and organizing the room since it needs a second day. This will be a double gift for my oldest daughter and granddaughter.
My youngest daughter and I plan to use the time to find out what my granddaughter need so that we don’t over buy on her first Christmas and get stuff she doesn’t need. One thing we are working on is buying dresses, leggings, and sweaters for her since my daughter prefers to put her in dresses so we are looking at thrift stores and are each going to put together three sets each.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Almost No Spend Gifts

I made homemade red peppermint scented play dough for the 3 girls that my youngest daughter nannies, her fianc├ęs 2 youngest sisters, and my oldest daughters nephew. I spent $1.50 on a pack of 6 cookie cutters from Wal-Mart, and I used plastic deli style tubs that I got at GFS for another project to store the dough.

I used the Best Ever No-Cook Play Dough Recipe but did need to add more flour and salt to thicken it up along with kneading it vigorously as the directions call for. I made the recipe 3 times to fill my tubs. I made 6 gifts for little ones at practically no cost using supplies I had on hand with a minimal amount of time.

I used paper bags that I have had for years and folded them down, punch two holes and tied the cookie cutters on with green yarn that was in my stash.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition

My church hosts a Community Thanksgiving Dinner and my family volunteers. We have a dining room and we serve the people who come as if they are at a restaurant. We go to each table and take drink orders, bring them a salad, tell them the dinner menu, and bring their dinner, followed by a dessert. It is a very friendly atmosphere you meet lonely people, older people who come with friends, disabled groups of people, and whole families who didn’t want to or have the money to make the meal.

One year my husband and I was sitting with a man who was alone and he was telling us how much he appreciate the people who come out and serve it was so heartwarming I just keep thinking of the verse: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
Sometimes it can break your heart for the people you serve in the love of our Lord. One year we set up a special room for a large family that’s loved one was receiving hospice care and it was the last holiday they would be with their family.
If you have the opportunity to serve your community it is the greatest gift you can give and receive.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Mini-Goals for November

I am posting my November goals late so I have already make some progress on them:

1. The one "money/financial" mini-goal I want to accomplish/DO in November is to plan for the Holiday Season. I am blowing the dust off my calendar, grabbing my notebook, rummaging through my recipes, and checking my craft stash. My plan every year is to DO the holidays– NOT BUY the holidays!

2. The one "house/home" mini-goal I want to accomplish/DO this month is some baking and candy making during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving for the freezer. This helps me to have some food already prepared ahead of time for my family so it isn’t as crazy when the special day comes. I also use some of it for get-togethers we attend, and give away to family and friends.

I made a snack mix last week that is a variation of Pumpkin Pie Crunch using what I had on hand and tossed in powdered sugar. I made chocolate popcorn, added peanuts, and pumpkin candy corn I mixed it all together then dressed them up in fall baggies tied with yarn.

On Monday I made a large batch of granola clusters using chocolate bark candy and a box of granola cereal that nobody was eating. I put some of it in my turkey cookie jar, sent some home with Brittany on Tuesday, and the rest is in a freezer bag for later.

My husband brought home some over ripe bananas from work so on Tuesday My daughter Brittany and I baked 10 loaves of Banana Bread with different add-ins such as walnut, chocolate chips, oatmeal, and chunky peanut butter. I set 2 loaves on a platter for my family to eat, sent 3 of the loaves home with Brittany, the other 5 went into the freezer in bags for later.

3. My "just for me" mini-goal I want to DO is to enjoy the season.

I am going to do my devotional and prayer time each morning and give a special Thanks to God for all that he has done in my life over the last year.

I am reading the holidays books and listening to the audio books I got from the library while drinking a mug of hot chocolate.

I am also looking forward to my annual black Friday tradition of staying in bed all day reading and watching movies on the Hallmark Channel with my husband and eating Thanksgiving leftovers. When the kids were young we would watch movies all day in the living room and eat leftovers and they have since said that they have enjoys this more that the actual Holiday.

Updates on Previous Months Mini-Goals:

My Mini-Goals for September which was cleaning and organizing themed is something I am always working on. I have been doing the Home Organization 101 Challenge @ A Bowl Full of Lemons which started on September 1st and runs through December 8th. I need to update my blog soon on my progress.

My Mini-Goals for October were nutrition and fitness related. I did really well the first two week in October by prepping meals for myself and my husband and making soup each week for lunches, and not snacking on unhealthy foods but then I let myself backslid and regained the 4 pounds that I had lost. The Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred kicked my butt and I could defiantly see progress in my fitness level. I wish I hadn’t stopped after the first 2 weeks and but I may do this DVD again in the future. I have moved on to doing Leslie Sansone: WalkAway the Pounds - Walk Strong DVD and am enjoying her 30 minute 2-mile walk.

What are your mini-goals for November?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Happy-Life

Being healthy means… I feel good in my body.

My ultimate late-night carving … is microwave kettle corn when I am trying to be good or chocolate cake when I’m not since its too yummy for my own good.
You’ll never catch me eating … anything in the frozen food department except ice cream, veggies, fruit, or meat, in that order. I don’t eat fried foods or frozen entrees I prefer homemade.
I work out because … I don’t want to go back to being unhealthy and fat. It doesn’t feel good and I have worked too hard to get here I don’t want to come undone. It is lots of fun if you do something you like, for me it’s walking, yoga, zumba, weightlifting, and a rotation of exercise videos.
The person who epitomizes real beauty is… anyone who feels good about themselves because it shows.
My favorite book to snuggle up with… is Fiction within the Genre of Christian, Historical, or Amish with a hot cup of herbal tea. I ordered a bunch of Christmas Themed books and audio books from my library at the beginning of November and have enjoyed several titles so far this month. I have quit a few boxes of tea flavors to choose from but I have been enjoying cinnamon spice and peppermint the most lately.
The number one rule for entertaining is… Clean, decorate, and prep food early so you can enjoy your guest and not be working the whole time.  I also like to have my family help so it is not a burden on me to host and we truly enjoy doing all the preparation together and have created lots of memories in the process.
My family makes me… crazy sometimes but we all love each other deeply.
I am absurdly grateful for… my God and my family without whom I would be nothing.
I spoil myself by… looking around my house and seeing what I haven’t enjoyed for awhile like watching the birds in my backyard, listening to praise music, watching a movie, reading, doing my nails, crafting, baking something. Sometimes I staying in bed all day on a Saturday reading and watching movies on the Hallmark Channel. I don’t do it often enough but it is relaxing when I do. (I noticed I said watching movies several times because for me someone who doesn’t watch TV regularly or movies it is a luxury when I do.)
My happy-life motto is… You can’t always change your circumstances but you can control your attitude, choose to be content and happy. Life can be painful, choose forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Our Deepest Fear...

".....Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others....." by Marianne Williamson (Quote from her book "A Return to Love".)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred

You Need:

Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD
Floor Mat
3 or 5 lb. Hand Weights

1.      Commit to 20 minutes a day for a month
2.      Each workout begins with a brief warm-up session and concludes with brief cool-down session
3.      The three 20-minute workouts get progressively more challenging as you go through them.

4.      Each of the three workouts is created with Michaels’ signature 3-2-1 Strength/Cardio/Ab training circuit in which three minutes of strength work, 2 minutes of cardiovascular work and 1 minute of abdominal work is performed.

5.      Start with 3 lb. dumbbells and work up to 5. They are using 5 lb. in the DVD.

6.      Each workout begins with a brief warm-up session and concludes with brief cool-down session.

7.      There are 3 levels to be complete over the course of 30 days. Level 1 of the workout is done for 10 days, Level 2 for 10, and Level 3 for 10.

8.      You will be VERY sore the first couple of days.

9.      There is absolutely NO rest in this workout.

10.  You burn approximately 200 calories per 20 minutes.

11.  Although the DVD promises to help you lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days, there is no guarantee that this amount of weight loss will occur. In order to lose weight, a diet plan should also be followed along with the workouts.

12.  When you complete Level 3 of this fitness program, stay there, or mix it up.
      a.       Alternate between doing level 1 one day, then the next day level 2, then level 1, then level 3.
      b.      Do Level 1 and 2 back to back...or Level 3 and 2.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mini-Goals for October

There is no failure in running, or in life, as long as you keep moving. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

In October I plan to continue working on my Mini-Goals for September which were Cleaning and Organizing themed. I have made a lot of progress and could just be done with them but I want to work on them to completion.

My Mini-Goals for October are Nutrition and Fitness related. I have previously completed two 5K races by walking and have continued with my walking routine of 4 miles. These nutrition and fitness mini-goals will help me with my larger goal of running a 5K in the spring and walk/running a 10K by the end of next summer.

1. The main goal in October is to Lose Weight.

I’m 5 feet 2, my current weight is 140 lbs. and I would like to lose 5-10lbs. by the end of the month. When I lost weight in 2010 I used portion control, calorie counting, and exercise this seems to be what works for me. I don’t need to lose much but my jeans are getting tight and this is the month to take care of it before all the holiday feasting begins.

My husband Shawn has agreed to join me in losing 10 lbs. by month’s end himself. I will be helping him with nutrition and he will be helping me with weightlifting along with being each other’s accountability partner.

2. My Nutrition plan for October:

My Portion Control and Calorie Counting have slipped during the last year so I am going to make a greater effort this month to work on it.
I am going to try doing a No/Low Carbohydrate and No/Low Sugar diet. I have never done this before but for one month I thought I would give it a go since sweets are my weakness this seems to fit. I am going to replace my carbohydrates with vegetables and my sugar with fruit and yogurt. I am not going to drive myself crazy with this but I am going to make a solid commitment for the month.
3. My Exercise plan I want to accomplish/DO this month:

I will use the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred each morning. I have not done this exercise DVD before but since it is a 30 day program I thought it would work nicely as a goal for this month.

I am going to be more consistent with my weightlifting and plan to lift weights each evening using 10 lb. weights since I am going for a toned/fit look not muscular. My husband has set up a plan using the book StrengthTraining (Step-By-Step) by DK Publishing.
I am also continuing with my weekly Yoga with Weights and Zumba classes on Monday’s.

What are your mini-goals for October?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nastasja's Birthday

Nastasja Marie

September 20, 1991
11:52 a.m.
8 lbs. 5 ½ oz.
20 ½ in. long

Happy 21st Birthday

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shawn Jr.'s Birthday

Shawn Christopher

September 18, 1992
6:46 p.m.
8 lbs. 3 ¾ oz.
20 in. long

Happy 20th Birthday

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crockpot Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
14oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped

Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

Servings: 6
Calories per Serving: 516

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keeping Clutter at Bay

Once you’ve taken time to declutter and get organized, it’s important to focus on how you can turn the habits that contribute to clutter into good ones that keep clutter at bay.

1. Shopping mindfully and considering where you’ll store any new purchases. –

A shopping list helps for things besides groceries too. I have a list of thing that I need and I watch for at thrift stores, yard sales, and/or Wal-Mart. It’s easier to pass stuff up if I know I am not looking for certain things because I already have enough. If I do buy something then I know I need to weed out a similar item and have a place to keep it.

2. Weeding out storage areas on a regular basis.-

I am always working on a declutter project in my house. I work on one room at a time or an area that needs the most attention. If I am working in the living room I will work on one drawer, cabinet, TV storage area at a time so I don’t make too big of a mess. I decide on what I don’t need any more and put the stuff in a bag to donate. I clean each room or area as I go so they get a deeper cleaning. This is how I keep everything in tip top shape.

3. Put away items after you use them.-

If you put things away when you are finished it drastically reduces the amount of stuff sitting around the house making it look cluttered. If I eat the dish gets put in the sink as soon as I am finished, or if I do my nails I return the items after I use them. I do this with everything and nothing is left to clean up later. Everything in my house has a home and if it doesn’t I find one. If things don’t fit in the space I allotted then I weed some stuff out to storage or donate depending on the item.

If I am working on a project such as crafts or my notebooks I work until I find a stopping point that I know I can put my supplies away. I clean everything up when I am finished I do not leave it sitting to work on for the next day. If certain things are not finished I just get them back out the next time I want to work on it. Sometimes I do make exceptions and I will sit the needed items on my desk but give myself a deadline of a week to finish it or clean it up.

4. Doing a clean sweep of public living areas before bed, putting away any items that remain out.-

I do this every evening in the main living areas, most of the time it isn’t much someone forgot to put shoes away or left a cup setting out. When my kids were younger we would make them put their stuff away or take it to their rooms before bed.

I do this every morning in my bedroom too, if I was reading a book or magazine I put these items where they go and I pick up my glass before leaving the room. I also check my husband’s side of the bed for a glass, magazines or maybe he left the remote on the floor.

5. Do a minimum of chores each day-

Do at least one load of laundry, dishes, and take out the trash. Obviously this isn’t enough but we are talking about clutter and not cleaning chores.

END NOTE: I find a lot of times people are putting thing away or dealing with clutter and not actually doing a lot of cleaning. If you do these things on a regular basis you are able to clean your home without having to deal with everything else.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mini-Goals for September

I thought I would make a few mini-goals for the month to help me get a couple things done.

1. The one "money/financial" mini-goal I want to accomplish/DO in September is to organize my fall seasonal notebook to include low to no cost activities and recipes that I can use over the next 3 months of the autumn season.

I started working in August on my fall notebook but didn't get it finished. It is now time to get this done so i can celebrate the season and not just let it pass without all the yummy foods or fun activities I like to do.

2. The one "house/home" mini-goal I want to accomplish/DO this month is organize my recipes and cookbooks.

I have had recipes and cookbooks on my list of things to do for a while now so I need to make a dent in that this month. I may not be able to finish this goal by the end of the month but I hope to atleast get to the half way point of completion.

3. My one "just for me" mini-goal I want to accomplish/DO over the next 31 days is to make a bucket list for my 40th Birthday in October to accomplish over the next year until my next Birthday.

I have been praying about what to include and what God wants for me over the next year and I plan to have a list to work from.

What are your mini-goals for September?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home

I have been participating in 8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home so I posting my list now that the challenge has ended. As I followed along I posted on the facebook page and keep track of my work. I did not always do the tasks in order so some of them may look out of place and some I went back and worked on a second time. You will also notice that I put off a couple projects. I did not take a lot of pictures during this challenge. You can download the 40 Day Plan.

On September 1st I am going to start working on my next organization challenge Home Organization 101. It might be fun for the fall/holiday season since it will last for 14 weeks. I like doing challenges it feels like you are working with others and having fun with something that can be boring.

Challenge #40: Well, if you've made it this far, it's time to get started on garage sale prep. Money Saving Mom has some helpful tips for successful garage sales in this post:

I am not doing a yard sale so I have just been donation my stuff as I go along.

Challenge #39: Today is a "what's left" day. What do you still need to do?

I organized my shoes, cleaned and dusted my bedroom. I also did some organizing in my office/craft room.

Challenge #38: Kids toys- Day 2. If you don't need another toy day, go back and catch up on a day that you missed or choose a different project around your home that needs doing.

Today I am catching up on organizing my books. I made a plan to read the books I own since most of the books are part of several series I organized them based on the author and series. I then went to the author’s website to see what I would need to complete the series and then went to my libraries website to make a list of the ones I need so I can put them on hold when I am ready for the book. I am making a booklist to start reading in January since I have a lot to read by Beverly Lewis and Karen Kingsbury I am going to read everything they have and a couple of other books. I am also going to organize my shelves to store them better.

I plan to make a booklist to read from for the rest of this year also but I like to read a lot of books that have a season theme in November – Mid January so I will have to see what I can come up with on my shelves before hitting the libraries website. I have been listing to a lot of books on CD and playaway this year when I am working around the house or in the car. The playaways have come in handy when I am waiting on my son at his activities because I can listen and still do a craft, work on my seasonal notebooks, or look at magazines since my hand are freed up. I have a bag of activities I can work on when I have down time and take it with me if I need to wait.


Challenge #37: Kids toys- Day 1.

No kid’s toys in our home except a little basket with about 5 rattles for my granddaughter. I think I'll work on my recipe notebooks.

Challenge #36- Holiday supplies and decorations (includes Christmas ornaments and decor, as well as other holidays, and you could also include things like gift wrap).

I have one tub for each season except winter/christmas gets 3 tubs. I sort the tub for each holiday/season as they come so I can decide what to use and what I don't want anymore. I purge stuff again after its over. I love being able to use my holiday stuff in different ways each year and I don't buy new stuff very often since I have enough. I will bring out my fall tub at the beginning of September.

  Challenge #35: Homeschool supplies OR kid's school supplies and backpacks.

The homeschool supplies are organized but I will need to put some books on hold from the library before we start on September 4th. I may even take my son to get a new outfit and haircut as a special treat this year. He is the only kid left to homeschool and we never do new cloths usually we thrift and I cut their hair myself.

Challenge #34: Backyard shed. Tools, gardening supplies, outdoor or sports equipment, camping gear, etc.

My Dear husband worked on our shed but it wasn't too bad since we did our shed and garage earlier in the summer.

  Challenge #33: Linen closet. Bed sheets and pillowcases; throw blankets, any other linen that you haven't gone through yet.

I did this earlier in the summer so we are good.

Challenge #32: Laundry room.

My laundry room is organized now if only I could get people to stop leaving their stuff lay around since it is the main entrance we use to our home.

I made a trip to drop stuff off at the Clothes Closet and the Library the last 2 weeks. Only a couple bags each time but with 8 people in the house I don't want it sitting around too long or they may multiply too fast. Today I am going to visit my oldest daughter and helping her load donations into the van and dropping them off for donation.

Challenge #31: Craft or sewing supplies. You could also use this day to go through other hobby-related items: scrapbooking, painting, knitting, photography-- whatever it is that you do.

I did not work on this project yet but it is still on my list.

Challenge #30: Garage- Day 2. If you don't need a second day for the garage, use this day to tidy your front or back porch. Or, if the garage is a really difficult area for you, why not continue into Saturday and ask your husband to join in and help you?

I am working on tidying up my front and back porch today since we will have company for the Labor Day weekend. I also want to put away a few things that I don’t need sitting out this fall.

Challenge #29- Garage- Day 1. If you don't have a garage, this could be your attic, a storage closet, etc.

I got a new cabinet at the thrift store this past weekend for $40. It will hold all my gardening supplies so that was my Sunday project. I cleaned, got it moved into the garage, and organized my stuff.

Challenge #28 Shoes! Remove any that no longer fit, are in unwearable condition, have been missing a mate for a significant period of time, or that you simply don't like or wear.

I did get all my shoes organized but I may have too many.

Challenge #27- Entry, hall or mudroom closet (where you keep jackets, winter gear, backpacks, etc.).

I think I will do my entry laundry room today. Tuesday I cleaned a drawer in my desk that I store stuff in instead of sitting things on my desk so my office looks neat. Took out the trash, did 2 loads of laundry, dishes, picked up the kitchen, organized the basement grocery stock I bought last week, organized the extra kitchen stuff in the basement, put goodwill donations in van, collected library returns, and collected a big pile of magazines to donate to the library.

Challenge #26: Bathroom #2. Same as challenge #25, but different bathroom. If you have a 3rd bathroom in your home, combine it with whichever other bathroom you think will go the fastest.

We only have one bathroom.

Challenge #25- Bathroom #1. Towels, cupboards, drawers, toiletries, empty bottles- anything you can think of.

This area is good.

Challenge #24- Clothing- Master bedroom dresser(s).

I went through my dresser where I store my summer clothes and got rid of a large bag worth of stuff that I just didn’t like and some stuff didn’t fit. I store winter clothing in my closet.

Challenge #23- Clothing- Master bedroom closet.

I only have one winter coat and 3 jackets so I was fine in this area. I turn my hangers backward at the beginning of fall and turn them the correct way after I wear each clothing item. If I haven't worn it when winter is over then I decide if its something I should donate.

Challenge #22- Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 2. If you don't need a second day for this, give yourself a break. You've been working hard! :)

Since I am give myself a break today I will read a book from the library and paint my nails. I am also going to look at some magazines so that they came be donated soon which to me counts as a break and decluttering.

Challenge #21- Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 1.

No kids clothing to go through here.

Challenge #20- Clothing- Kids dresser(s)- Day 2 If you don't need a 2nd day, use today to organize/clean your freezer, or get a jump start on the bedroom closets if you think those will take you extra time.

My kids are old enough to deal with their own cloths (23, 20, 19, and 16). Yea for me! I did organize/clean my fridge and freezer and then went grocery shopping on Saturday to restock. I like to stock up on groceries during the summer and fall to make the holidays and winter a little easier.

Challenge #19- Clothing- Kids dresser(s)- Day 1.
No kid’s cloths to go through here.

Challenge #18-Furniture. Walk through the house and, room by room, assess whether there are unnecessary furniture items that can be removed. Either move them into your "stuff" storage area today OR make a list of the items that need to be dealt with as you prepare for your garage sale, donations, etc. at the end of the 40 days.

We don't have any extra furniture right now.

Challenge #17: Decorative items in living areas (living room, family room, dining room, kitchen). Focus on keeping those things that are truly beautiful to you, and let go of the ones that you don't need or that are making your living space more visually cluttered than it needs to be.

We have been slowly painting the rooms in our house this year and are redecorating each room as we go along. Thank goodness for thrift stores not only so we can donate old stuff but also to buy new stuff as we redo each room.

Challenge #16: Magazines and newspapers. How do you handle magazines? Do you save the entire magazine, or just pages? Do you actually ever go back to read the ones that you save? If not, you know where they need to go! :)

I have too many magazines and have been working to decrease them and have gotten rid of a lot of them. I don’t subscribe to any I get them for free. I tear the pages from the magazines that I want to keep and I put them in notebooks along with printouts and such. The notebooks I have are housekeeping, winter, summer, spring, fall, faith & health, and personal interests. I also have a collection of notebooks for cooking. I keep lots of things in my notebooks and use them to plan. As go through the current season’s notebook I add or take things out.

Challenge #15: Children's art work, certificates, special notes or cards, etc. This one can be HARD. What are your strategies for preserving special memories while not hoarding clutter?

I still have lots of stuff to organize from our homeschooling but it would take more than one day. We do have a box for each kid’s that we put their special stuff into over the years.

Challenge #14: Medicine or vitamin/home remedies cabinet or cupboard. You could also tackle your First Aid kit on this day.

I organized this area last month so we are good. I think I will add to my shopping list anything we may need for the winter months.

Challenge #13: Adults book- Day 2. Again, if you don’t need a second day, use this day to do some fridge cleaning or organization.

I organized my bookshelves yesterday and dusted everything. I decided to stack the books to make them fit better on my shelves. I have one shelf for the ones I want to read this year and next year; this should help me to make sure I read the books I own. I have 1 box of books to donate to the library, and 1 box to my homeschool group.

Challenge #12: Adult books- Day 1. I'm a book lover, too, but I know that over the years I have collected or kept books I just didn't like or will never read again.

I have stopped buying so many used books and I mostly borrow from the library. I have a lot of books on my shelves that are unread so I am going to get rid of any that I have changed my mind about reading. I also have lots that I have already read and don’t plan to read again so I have decided to donate them to the library for someone else to enjoy.

I haven't bought many books in several years since I have been trying to read the ones I already own or borrow from the library. I haven’t wanted to add to my already full shelves. I have been donation the ones I own after I finish reading them and getting rid of ones I don’t care to keep anymore. My shelves were looking pretty under control until I went to a yard sale this past weekend and bought about 40 books for $20. I read about 70 books a year so I should be good for a while.

Challenge #11: Childrens books- Day 2. If you don't need 2 days, use this extra day to clean out your purse or diaper bag.

I don't need a day 2 of children's books or a day for a diaper bag (I have no young kids) so I am cleaning out the fridge and my purse.

Challenge #10: Children’s books- Day 1. If you don't need 2 days for children's books take a day off (or tackle one of the extra tasks listed in the PDF file).

I got rid of all my children’s books last summer since most of my children are grown. I do need to go through some of our homeschooling books. I had a granddaughter born in May and now have been collecting board book.

Challenge #9- Your desk or work area. This might be an actual desk, but wherever you keep your files or important, notepaper, or take messages if you don't have a desk.

I have been working on my desk for the last week but it still needs some work.

Challenge #8- Videos, DVDs and CDs. This is a good chance to get rid of broken cases, or even (gasp!) get rid of them altogether. 

We have all of our CD/DVD in the binder-style cases and got rid of all VHS several years ago so this area is mostly under control. I did do a little organizing and got rid of a few exercise VHS I was hanging onto but I have enough DVD’s now so I am ready to let them go.

Challenge #7: Kitchen cookbooks and recipes. Including any recipe binders, loose recipe cards, etc.
I did this as a project last summer but never quit got it finished so need to do this again. I will make this my August project to prepare for the school year.

Challenge #6: Kitchen "other"- Water bottles, reusable bags, lunch boxes and containers, cleaning supplies, anything else you store in the kitchen that isn't covered somewhere else on the list.

I cleaned out under the sink last week.

Challenge #5: Kitchen linens- Dish towels, cloths, rags, oven mitts, napkins, tablecloths, placemats.

After I decluttered my tablecloths and placemats I have a big bag to donate. It was fun looking through all my tablecloths and placemats and seeing what I might like to use for tablescapes this fall.

Challenge #4: Kitchen drawers- Any junk or miscellaneous drawers.

This area is good.

Challenge #3: Kitchen cupboards- All cupboards with cooking items (pots, pans, casserole dishes, baking trays or pans) as well as small appliances (blenders, food processors, toaster ovens, etc.).

I will work on this area next week when I start the Home Organization 101 Challenge.

Challenge #2: Kitchen cupboards- All cupboards with eating dishes (plates, glasses, china, wine glasses, etc.) as well as storage containers (like Tupperware or Pyrex containers).
We have one set of glasses for everyday use so no decluttering here. My dish area is fine but I am donating a box of extra dishes I had in storage.

Challenge #1: Kitchen drawers- Cutlery and cooking utensils.

Putting this off until September when I start Home Organization 101 Challenge.

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