SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

Have I mentioned that my Bunco Babes like my ideas but hate my vocabulary? They believe “cheaptitude” has such a negative connotation! And, honestly, when you really think about it, who wants to be cheap?

I do.

Cheaptitude is a positive attitude about frugality.  Cheaptitude, for me, has been an entire lifestyle change. It involves repurposing, decluttering, couponing, budgeting, organizing, and examining your life in a whole different way.

I like cheaptitude. I love cheaptitude. I live cheaptitude. This is as positive as you choose to make it.

Jeepnmom is having fits with me.  She is having trouble figuring out how to make all of my ideas blend and work at the same time without becoming overwhelmed – or her family throwing her out because her CDO isn’t meshing well with the Life of Cheaptitude.  Which leaves me trying to figure out how I make it all work together.  There is a reason all of my pieces are separate posts!

And I don’t have the answer.  I just do it. I have perfected nothing.  My house is a wreck and I forget that my big monkey has to serve Mass every time the church doors open.  I’m just better at all of this than I was in the past.

So let’s address the first step in the Journey to Cheaptitude.  Honestly, the first thing to do is determine your purpose and set some goals.  Is the clutter in your house making you crazy?  Did you or your partner lose a job and you have to tighten the purse strings?  Are you worried about how smoothly your house would run if you were unavailable suddenly?  Why are you exploring Cheaptitude?  Determine your purpose.  What are your long and short-term expectations from a life of Cheaptitude?  Set your goals.  Once you know your purpose and goals, you can work on putting all of these puzzle pieces together.

Household Management Binder

One of the pieces of the puzzle is a home management binder.  I have several other posts (11, I think) about the sections in a management binder.  My way is not the only way!  It’s just the way it has worked for me.  Tweak it, modify it, make it your own.  As I’ve stated before, my original binder looks nothing like the one(s) I’m compiling now!  A quick Google search can take you to some great starting places.

In my particular baby step system, the first thing you need to do in setting up your binder is gather your supplies.  Some of the basics I use are:

That’s really all you need to get started.  Put all of your junk in your binder and you’ve completed the first step. Easy Peasy.  You may have all of this stuff on hand already.

If you’re feeling spunky and want to get started on filling up your binder, I suggest the Emergency Information section.  This one is pretty easy and you’ll feel accomplished without taking a whole lot of valuable time.


I’m not a naturally neat person, nor did I marry one.  However, my house is not dirty.  And I’ve tried, over the years, to streamline the process.  In order to do this, take a pen and piece of paper and go into every room in your home.  In each room, list every possible cleaning chore that occurs in there.  No joke, right down to cleaning the reflector bowls in the stove.  This list for each room will be potentially overwhelming.  I’m sorry, but it’s the way it has to be.

Now that you have your lists, go through with a highlighter and mark the 5 essential chores for each room. These should be the 5 things that have to be done in order for your home to have a semblance of clean.  Some people call this list the Magic Minimums, some call it Company-Ready chores.  These are the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep you satisfied with your home.  For example, mine includes “no dishes in the sink, countertops wiped down” etc.

Decide on a frequency for your chores.  I need to dust every week, but the laminate floors need to be swept daily.  Assign a frequency to every chore.  Slide this list into a pocket in your binder.  We’ll come back to it!


Budget is not a favorite word with most people.  But it is necessary when adopting Cheaptitude. Again, set a purpose and goals, because this helps make your budget stick.

When Grizzly and I attack our budget, we start by listing our total, after-tax income.  Then we list our fixed bills (mortgage, car note, etc.), our variable bills (utilities, gasoline, etc.), and our occasional bills (monkey lunch money occurs August-May, air conditioner service contract is renewed once a year).  We include due dates and amounts, and we plan for savings.  Every time my paycheck hits the bank, $10 is automatically transferred into our household savings account, and it takes an act of Congress to convince me to move it!

I strongly suggest a Google search for budgeting tips and forms.  Personally, I like to see it on paper.  That helps us visualize what we can cut back and how we need to redistribute things.

If one of your goals is debt reduction (as mine is), check out Dave Ramsey.  We attended the Financial Peace series a few years ago and it was eye-opening.  I’m snowballing now and it’s working well.


I love food.  I received some amazing goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, but what stands out is the food (love some meat pies!)  Organizing your food and meal situations is a huge part of Cheaptitude.

Take your handy dandy pen and paper and go to your pantry/cabinet.  Make a list of everything that is in there.  Highlight those things that you always use, always need to have on hand (12 boxes of cereal, anyone?  3 jars of peanut butter?  My friends know I have weird stockpiling tendencies).  Do the same with your fridge and freezer(s).  The highlighted items should form the basis for your grocery list.  Those are also the items you can make your main focus for couponing and stockpiling, huge money savers.

What meals can you make with the standard items in your home?  Planning meals ahead saves time, energy, and money.  Use your coupons, weekly circulars, and family favorite recipes to build a basic menu plan.  I am a huge proponent of freezer-to-crockpot meals – inexpensive, healthy, filling, and tasty.  It is less intimidating to plan a week at a time in the beginning.  Use what you have, and plan one night for leftovers.

Hoarding Stockpiling

One of the tricks to saving money is buying things when they are at their best prices, and buying enough to last until they’re at a good price again. When I started stockpiling, I focused on some of the things that we constantly run out of and spend the most on.  My friends think I’m crazy, but I try to keep 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry at all times.  I have two monkeys, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy ( they should come with warning labels), and Grizzly loves a bedtime bowl of cereal. Ergo, 12 boxes.  When you shop with a purpose, and shop regularly, you get familiar with when you can get a good price on things.  And I’m not particularly brand-loyal, which helps.

I also stockpile toilet paper, shampoo, and shaving needs.  I haven’t purchased a deodorant in a year.  And everyone still smells pretty fresh.


Isn’t it ironic that right after discussing stockpiles I want to talk about decluttering?  My stockpiles are not clutter.  My stockpiles are in established areas that have been set aside, specifically purposed for stockpiling. Decluttering is a whole different thing.

All of us have some kind of clutter in our lives.  Clutter takes up valuable space, energy, time, etc.  I’ve been working for a long time to declutter my home.  I focus on small areas, a drawer or a shelf is a great place to start.

Clear the entire area and clean it up.  Then sort all of those items into categories: put away, throw away, give away, donate.  If the items do not fit into the purpose for that space, find them new homes!  You’ll be amazed at what leaves your home.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.

I used to set a timer for decluttering.  It works.  If you set a timer for 15 minutes and devote your energy and attention to one area that is bothering you, you can accomplish a lot.

I’m not such a timer girl anymore.  I have a another trick I use to make decluttering “fun.”  A friend of mine, PT Lady, calls me when she’s cleaning toilets.  Well, Jeepnmom and I talk usually once a week, at least, and while we chat, I declutter.  Knowing that my kitchen drawers have been a steaming hot mess and bug the poop out of me, she even texts me occasionally that it is time to tackle a drawer.  It makes the chore more fun.

Routines and Habits

I hear all the time that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  I think the same pretty much applies to getting routines in place.  Schedule yourself some time each day to declutter, binderize, clean, plan.  I like 15 minute increments, personally, because that’s about the longest I can have time to myself and I can get a ton done in that short amount of time.

I guess these are my suggestions on how to get started and putting it all together.  I don’t have this system perfected, but what system ever is?  It’s a work in progress, and yours won’t look like mine.  But maybe this will get you started (JEEPNMOM!!)

What else do I need to throw in here to help jumpstart your journey?

~ Katie





Clipart of bills and coins

In the age of electronic everything, many of us pay bills online.  There are options to autodraft almost every bill I have.

I rarely use that option.

I need to see a bill.  When my bills come in, I open them, check the due dates and amounts, and put them aside till bill-day.  I pay my bills on my paydays, twice a month, and it works out really well.  But actually looking through the bills has saved me money.

This is not the best example, but last year, I noticed that my water bill was getting higher every month.  There are several things included in my water bill, such as ambulance, sewer, trash pick up, that automatically make this around $50 each month.  A water bill of $100 made my teeth grind but I still didn’t really question it.

A $300 bill got my full attention.

I called the local water department and asked them to re-read my meter.  They stated that they did and it was correct.  Grizz, with his head for numbers, did the math and we’d have been using thousands of gallons a day.  While nobody was at home.  The water department told me we must have a leak, so Grizzly, connected in that construction world, had a plumber friend come and check it out (potential savings: $160).  No leaks.  I called the water department and suggested they replace the meter.

I’ve not had a bill over $80 since.

While they did not credit back any of that $300, I cringe thinking about how long that could have gone on if I hadn’t been careful about checking my bill.  And thankfully I didn’t use autodraft, because I would never have planned appropriately for a $300 water bill.

Another example of my vigilance paying off came just this week.  My Verizon bill came in the mail and it didn’t look right. The House of Cheaptitude  has multiple cell phones, a home phone, and our internet service all on one plan, so the bill is not a fun one, but it saves money to bundle these into one bill.  While I did upgrade my phone last month and charge it to my account, the pricing didn’t look right.  So I called customer service.

When I purchased my handy-dandy Droid Razr Maxx HD, it was on sale $50 off (or I would have waited to buy it!)  Over the past year, Verizon added a $30 upgrade fee, but I would still be $20 off the full price.  Then, there was a $50 loyalty discount.  The price wasn’t right.

When the awesome lady at customer service started checking into it, she agreed with me.  She found where I had not received one of my discounts and immediately credited my bill.  Savings – $50.  All it took was a ten minute phone call.

It really pays to keep an eye on your bills and get a grip on how much they should be each month!

Are you an autodraft fan?  Or does your CDO have you pouring over your bills, line by line?

~ Katie


English: pool party decoration

English: pool party decoration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s not as overwhelming if I refrain from numbering the sections.


This is the section with all of the information I need for being a hostess. It will include storage locations for specific decor, menus with the necessary recipes or location of said recipes, theme ideas, shopping lists, etc.


Apart from Bunco and the occasional birthday party, I don’t host much of anything anymore that requires much of any kind of thought. But I have always loved to entertain and would like to get back to that.




  • ideas for theme parties/get-together:  I have lot of magazine clippings for this.  In Family Fun Magazine a few years ago, I found an awesome “Pool Party” birthday theme that would work for any summertime kids’ party.  It has ideas for decorations, food, and the coolest cake.
  • guest list with contact info and notes: I will do this because Grizz & I don’t always communicate when we’re inviting folks over to cook out and I never need to invite Real Chick over when Peter Pan is going to be here.
  • recipes/menus, sorted by event:  while Magical Mystery Beans are an ideal side dish when we’re grilling steaks with our friends, they’re not ideal for an Italian-themed meal with business associates.




  • decor: where to find whatever is needed for whatever holiday, along with a list of items to purchase.
  • gifts:  ideas for the different people I have to purchase gifts, along with clothing sizes (particularly for the monkeys)
  • schedule:  where we are expected to be and when.  There is often a lot of confusion with this, although my grandmother always hosts Christmas Eve mid-to-late afternoon and my in-laws have Christmas Day, but it will be easier if we see it on paper.  The monkeys have a variety of church commitments during the various holidays, so I have to consider that when scheduling things.
  • menus/recipes:  if we’re hosting a holiday at the House of Cheaptitude, I want to handle it.  I want to make the casseroles, the desserts, and so on.  It bugs me to be expected to do the potluck stuff that happens most holidays.  I like to host and part of that includes feeding my guests.  If you don’t like my cooking, there’s a Taco Bell up the street, Jack!




  • Baptism/First Communion/Churchy Stuff:  I need a list of things I need and things I need to do.  I like to have a small party at my house for these milestones, including favorite meals for whoever it is and maybe a cake from my girl, Cake Lady.
  • Birthdays:  ideas for cakes, decor, themes, gifts, etc.
  • Graduations
  • Baby/Bridal Showers
  • Barbecue
  • Bunco
  • Poker Night


I wasn’t joking when I said this is the section to make any kind of entertaining at the house come off without a hitch.  Mine is full of magazine clippings!  I’m sure there are other lists to include in this section.


Do you do a lot of “formal” entertaining?  Are you a list maker when you host an event?


~ Katie






{March 28, 2013}   How to Start This Journey

Jeepnmom is getting frustrated with me. She loves my ideas but tells me she needs direction for starting this journey and implementing everything at once. It’s a tough task for me, since that’s not the way I did it.  I took ideas and plans from here there and everywhere and have adjusted things to fit me. I started with The Household Notebook, which I have told y’all fell to the wayside. I tried decluttering sessions, read books, watched lots of HGTV….I didn’t start out any particular way.

As a chick, I like a challenge. As an educator, I love to teach. So I am working on it.  Keep watching.

– Katie

Celebrating our middle age!

Celebrating our middle age! Pioneer Woman & the Queen of Cheaptitude

Real Chick and I have been having lots of conversations lately as I try to get my brain sorted out.  I find it ironic that I go to the most hot-tempered, outspoken,(did I forget brilliant?) REALEST chick I know to calm me down and help me situate my thoughts, but it is what it is.  Do as she says, not as she does.  One of the pieces of advice she has given me (and they are her wise husband’s words, actually) is that sometimes you have to look at your circle and figure out which people are liabilities and which are assets.  Your friends should complement you, and help you become a better version of yourself – as you should do for your friends.

Examining my life in this way has brought me to the realization that I have a lot of liabilities weighing me down.  On the other hand, I am a firm believer that everyone comes into our lives for a reason.  Some of those people are there  for a short time, to teach a quick lesson.  Others, like JeepnMom, are lifelong fixtures you can’t get rid of if you tried!  (Just kidding!  I love love love JeepnMom and can’t wait to see her again!!)  But we take something away from every relationship we form in life, no matter how brief, no matter how insignificant the lesson.

One of the people in my life that I truly consider an asset is Pioneer Woman, one of the Bunco Babes.  She really inspires me to be a better person.  I know that nobody’s life is perfect, but Pioneer Woman really has her poop together.  She balances her husband, teenage son, career, keeps a beautiful home (Southern Living Magazine, anyone?) – and makes it look easy.  I know it’s not, but like I said, she has it together.  She’s incredibly thoughtful and considerate, always doing or saying the perfect thing for any situation.  (And let me just say, if she ever invites you over for dinner, do not turn her down.  She’s a phenomenal cook!)  She puts a lot of thought into things before she speaks, which is something I need to work on.  She keeps our entire crazy group of friends grounded, centered, as much as she can.  She gets everyone in our group.  That’s some kind of talent!

Like me, most of the time, Pioneer Woman likes to have her own space and hates being the center of attention.  (Blame Real Chick for this post)  And with her deployment swiftly approaching, she’s getting a lot of extra attention focused squarely on her right now.  But she’s always telling me to expand my comfort zone.  Time to take her own advice – we are focused on you right now because we love you, you’re an integral part of all of our lives, and we’re going to miss you so much!

Today is Pioneer Woman’s actual birthday and I hope she’s having a great one.  She deserves it.

Thank you, Mia, for being an asset, for inspiring me, for making me want to be a better person, and mostly for being my friend.  Be safe and come home in one piece.  We’ll see you for October Bunco.

~ Katie

Halloween Bunco

Greek Bunco

Bunco Beach Party - Pioneer Woman has musical talents!

Babes in Bonnets

{March 26, 2013}   Repurposing: Junk Mail

A few weeks ago, I was absolutely disgusted with the state of the computer hutch.  I needed to move Grizzly’s work computer off my kitchen table so that we could eat, which meant my old desktop needed to be relocated.  After moving my computer to Monkey #2’s room (without the privilege of internet access!  She’s only 8!), I was left with a year’s worth of dust bunnies and a mountain of paper to go through.

If there is one thing I really enjoy about paperwork, it is shredding.

I sorted everything out and when I was done, had a small pile to file and a huge pile to shred.  I mean, checkbooks from banks I’ve not used in two years, billing statements from 5 years ago, and even check stubs from my first office job in 1993.

I promise I’m not a hoarder.  Just a procrastinator.

I filled one of Grizzly’s paint buckets several times over, transferring to bags when the bucket was threatening to overflow.  But what to do with the bags of shredded paper?  I could now safely put them out with the garbage on Friday, but there had to be a better use.  I know Granny-at-the-Farm expressed interest in making logs for her fireplace, but this was overwhelming!  So I turned to my friend, Google, and found several neat ideas.

Here are some of the suggestions I found:

  • Packing material for gifts and mailing – wish my mom did this instead of those awful foam peanuts!
  • Craft projects – I saw snowman pictures made from shreds of paper, papier-mache bowls, and even pinatas.
  • Pet bedding – of course the four-legged monkey buddy prefers her quilt, my couch (she thinks she’s slick!), and Monkey #2’s bed.
  • Making new paper – messy, messy, messy!
  • Cat litter filler
  • Fire starter for the barbecue or fireplace (Granny was on to something!)

I also saw it can be used for composting.  Which is something I have yet to tackle.  But it gave me an idea.

The four-legged monkey buddy loved to dig when she was younger.  I discovered on hole in particular in my backyard last year, which put me in an Ace wrap for way longer than I liked.  At our old house, I invested a small fortune in dirt to fill a hole in the front yard, only to have it sink in soon after.  I refuse to fight that losing battle again!  However, I did find a purpose for my shredding.  I emptied a bagful into one of Monkey Buddy’s pits.  I watered it down till it was really mushy and then covered it with dirt.

2 weeks later, it hasn’t sunk down.

What do you think?  Do you have any ideas for shredded papers?

~ Katie

Ten Sections??  REALLY?  This is why my binder is being separated – manageability.  I will keep similar sections together, but looking at my binder in its most recent form sends me into sensory overload.  It worked before, but not so much now.

Back to the task at hand.

The next section is Church/Activities/Hobbies.  This is where I keep a lot of contact information, membership information, and schedules.  The things in this section at my house should be:


  • Altar Server Schedule:  Monkey #1 serves (scheduled) about once each month but fills in a lot.  Looking at the schedule, I can actually kind of tell when he’ll show up for Mass only to be thrown in a robe at the last minute.
  • Altar Server Contact List:  If he can’t serve on a scheduled day, it’s up to me to make a trade.
  • PSR Schedules:  PSR is our church’s Sunday School.  Monkey #2 meets on Sundays before Mass, but Monkey #1, since starting Middle School, attends on Wednesday – I guess this is staffing and space.
  • Youth Group Schedule:  Usually on Sunday nights, the Middle School Youth Group sometimes has Saturday activities, week night projects, etc.
  • Youth Group Contact Info:  I have yet to use this, but I’m sure it will be handy at some point.


  • Karate:  I try to keep a copy of the class schedule, phone number, address, etc.  I have to call the school pretty regularly because things slip my mind.
  • Bunco:  I play Bunco once a month.  At our anniversary bunco, we were given manuals for our particular group.  This includes member names and addresses, guidelines, sub list, etc.  I’m a teacher and a disorganized one, so my folder goes missing for weeks at a time.  I believe my binder is a safer place for it.
  • Pool:  It would be lovely to have Grizzly’s pool schedules and team info in my binder so I would know ahead of time where he’s playing, when he has an off week, etc.  This is something I’m still working on.
  • Running Club:  Monkey #2 loves the running club at school.  I’d love to have an accurate schedule.  She’s missed 2 weeks due to misinformation from a sponsor.


  • Hunting stuff:  Yeah, this one might be a binder in itself.  I’d like to have an inventory of what hunting stuff Grizzly and the monkeys have, maybe a price book for ammo, lease information so I know what/when/how much to plan for fees.

If I have the schedules in place, I can transfer easily to a calendar and keep up with things more handily.  We have a lot more activities during the summer, like library days, Kids Bowl Free, and play dates.  Grizzly usually gets suckered in to “one more season of softball.”  It’s easier to keep track when everything is in one place.

Other things that might be included in this section:

  • Weight Watchers meeting info
  • Camps
  • Tutoring info and schedules
  • Community Ed Classes
  • Vacation Bible School info
  • Craft classes – I know Michael’s and Home Depot offer classes and workshops, and a local fabric store offers sewing classes, which interests me!

So what else do you think could go in this section?

~ Katie


Rubber mulch seen with playground equipment in...

Rubber mulch seen with playground equipment in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part of the point of a stay-cation is saving money.  This week I need to keep the monkeys entertained and happy without spending loads of cash.  Saturday they went to church with Nana, stayed the night with PaPaw and Grandma, and had an overall good time.  Sunday, Monkey #1 went to a sleepover with some of his buddies and Monkey #2 camped out in the living room.  2 down, 8 to go….

Luckily for me, Real Chick is doing a Stay-cation, too.  She was quick to agree to a play date at the park.  Friday, checking the weather forecast, Monday seemed a safe bet.  The Field of Dreams Park, in the northern part of town, is close to her neighborhood, and although I would have had to cross the railroad tracks, it was my first suggestion.  Real Chick doesn’t have the same qualms about driving distances I do, and liked the idea of East Kings Highway Park, locally known as “The Duck Pond,” even better.

The Duck Pond is located on East Kings Highway in Shreveport, near Shreveport-Barksdale Highway.  The park includes a walking trail, a picnic area, several play areas, and a pond that is home to a bunch of really fat well-fed ducks.  I really like this park because they have playground equipment for all ages.  I went there with my friends as a teen and came back when my monkeys were toddlers.  The equipment and grounds have been revamped in the last twenty years, but are even more family-friendly now.  Instead of sand or gravel, like you might see at other parks, the playground equipment at the Duck Pond is surrounded by a loose-fill rubber mulch, which makes for cleaner monkeys with fewer “bobos.”  Also, each play area has a theme, and my monkeys love love love the pirate ship.

Duck pond park, Shreveport

Duck pond park, Shreveport (Photo credit: trudeau)

Due to the freaking FREEZE WARNING we received last night, as well as busy schedules, we set up our play date for 2 this afternoon.  I was afraid I’d run behind with 12 year old drama.  Real Chick was afraid she’d run behind because of errands on base.  Neither of us was particularly late, and Pioneer Woman was able to join us, which was an added bonus.

I’ve decided playdates were invented by mamas, for mamas.  It keeps kids out of our hair so we can grown-up talk.  And, funny thing, all we had to do was say “grown-up talk” to get any one of the monkeys to turn around and head back to play.  Nice!

The weather had the potential to be fabulous.  It was so pretty and sunny out!  Unfortunately, the temperature rose

maybe into the fifties and the wind today was brutal.  I remembered to bring bread for the fowl, but Pioneer Woman and Real Chick are total playdate rock stars – they came prepared with kites!  The kids spent a lot of time trying to fly, getting tangled, getting untangled, getting water, and then playing on the playground. I think the monkeys have anti-freeze in their veins.  The mamas absolutely do not.

The restroom consisted of what is affectionately known as a “one-holer” with limited privacy, made of metal, only to be used upon threat of bladder explosion.  Please note, the Men’s Room at the Full Moon was cleaner and more chick-friendly.  Not that I would have touched skin to any metal commode today, even if it was completely germ-free.  Just sayin’.

Overall, I think this particular stop on our stay-cation was a huge success.  I’m not sure about Real Chick’s girls, but the Monkey’s were asleep before 8:30 – and we skipped karate because Monkey #1 was worn out.

Now I just need to figure out tomorrow.

So if you’re looking for something inexpensive to do for a few hours on a pretty day in Shreveport-Bossier, the Duck Pond is a good bet.  There is ample parking and plenty to do.  If nothing else, you can burn off a bunch of excess energy in your kids!

Do you have any great parks in your town?  Are they worth visiting on stay-cation?

~ Katie

Welcome to Spring Break!  I was so tempted today to throw my teriyaki chicken in the crockpot today.  I thought better of it, since I’m actually off this whole week, and we do have some crazy scheduling coming up soon – when I’ll need to  crockpot.  So instead, we had yummy baked sandwiches for dinner.

I know this was not one of my own creations.  I’m sure I saw the recipe online and tweaked it.  Maybe JeepnMom can remind me.  But this is a cheap and easy dinner, actually just a yummy as Subway, and I have leftover ingredients that I can use for other things this week.

Quick and Easy Baked Sandwich

  • 1 loaf French Bread, sliced lengthwise down the middle
  • 1 squeeze bottle of pizza sauce (you could also spoon any kind of pasta sauce you happen to have on hand)
  • thin-sliced lunch meat (I used ham, turkey and roast beef)
  • cheese of your choice (I used provolone, mozzarella, and mild cheddar)
  • Italian seasoning

My bread was very fresh and not sliced yet, so I had to slice it down the middle.  I squeezed pizza sauce on both sides and spread evenly with a knife.  Then I layered my lunch meats, only on one side.


Once the sauce and meats are added, I put a layer of cheese on one side of the bread.  Of course, my family is kind of partial to cheese, so I went ahead and added some on top of the meat, too.  Then I sprinkled a little Pampered Chef Italian seasoning on top of everything.


I baked it, open-faced,  on the Pampered Chef Large Bar Stone at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  This is long enough to kind of toast the sandwich, heat the meat, and melt the cheese.  image

I didn’t let it cool off before putting the sandwich together!


This was a thumbs-up from Grizzly and the Monkeys.  Add a side of green beans, and we’re golden.  There is only one serving left!

A lot of these ingredients are things I usually have stocked in my kitchen already, with the exception of the french loaf.  The entire meal was under $10 to make, with plenty of ingredients left for other recipes.  Bonus!

What do you make when you’re not in the mood to cook?  Have you had any surprisingly successful creations grown out of necessity?

~ Katie



My to-do lists seem excessive and redundant to many people.  However, listing is my way of functioning.  (Is there a learning style for that?)  Repetition develops habits.  After I’ve used the same checklist for a while, it just becomes a habit and I don’t really need my list.

One area that needed addressing in The House of Cheaptitude was morning routines.  We have two adults, two monkeys, and a four-legged monkey buddy to get moving each day.  Often I find myself already in my classroom and my phone rings because “Monkey #2 says her coat is in your car.” Or “Monkey #1 left his gym clothes on the kitchen table.  How are we handling this?”

Of course, one-half of we is across the bridge and preparing for a day of educating eighth graders.

This is one of those problem areas where checklists and routines come in to save the day.

Many of those tasks that we complete in the morning can either be done the night before or at least set up to be done.  Here are some of the things on my night-time list:

  • Finish kitchen chores:  Nothing is ickier than waking to a full counter and dirty sink.  I like to take care of everything before bed, when possible, running the dishwasher at night.  If I have spare time in the morning, I can put things away.  Otherwise, Monkey #1 can do it after school.
  • Prepare any sack lunches:  I pack my lunch every day for work.  I’m a creature of habit: peanut butter or cheese sandwich, a handful of tortilla chips, and something semi-sweet, like a granola bar or applesauce cup.  The monkeys only want to pack a lunch when there are cookies around.
  • Prepare for breakfast: I make sure the cereal containers have cereal in them because I hate the way the monkeys open boxes.  I also make sure we have bowls and spoons clean (don’t ask!)  Some organizing gurus suggest setting the table, but the monkeys eat at different times (one leaves a full hour ahead of the other) and Grizzly and I don’t have a sit-down breakfast.  Besides, if I take the time to lay out bowls and spoons, that will be the day the monkeys want toast or waffles.
  • Set the coffee pot:  My coffee pot has a timer, thank goodness, and when I get up most mornings that black gold is waiting for me.  If yours doesn’t have a timer, set it up anyway so that all you have to do is turn it on in the morning.  It saves a full 3-5 minutes.
  • Lay out clothes for the morning:  The monkeys always put them in the same spot, the coffee table.  My monkeys are in uniform schools, which should make it easier, but really doesn’t.  Their closets are arranged by function (school or home) and color, which makes grabbing an outfit simple.  However, if I lay out a red shirt, that’s the day we wanted to wear navy.  When the forecast says it will be 32 degrees in the morning, Monkey #1 lays out shorts. We do check the weather forecast, and clothes need to be laid out right down to shoes, belts, and coats, if needed, so that parental units aren’t receiving those “I can’t find my sneakers and the bus will be here in two minutes” calls.  My work clothes are always on my dresser before I go to bed, and I very rarely change anything up the next morning.
  • Set your launchpad:  I do not have a “launchpad” right now, but the monkeys have to have their school bags packed and sitting by the coffee table before they go to bed.  My school bag is always either by my bed or in my comfy chair in the living room.  Everything is situated for “pick up and hit the door” in the mornings.
  • Check your to-do lists and calendar:  The night before, I check my calendar to see if we have anything major going on the next day, such as activities or meetings.  I double check my running to-do list and add anything to my daily list that I need to.  For example, on faculty meeting days, the monkeys hang out with PaPaw after school.  I don’t have to hurry home and can stop by the drugstore or the grocery if I need to. This also lets me know if I need to defrost anything for dinner or if I can just chunk a Crockpot meal in the Crockpot on my way out the door in the morning (more usually the case)
  • Make sure everyone has their alarms set to the correct time and actually turned on. Yes, there are some stories to go along with this.

My alarm jolts me out of bed between 4 and 4:30 every morning and I have to be out the door by 6:15.  By planning ahead and having consistent routines, I actually have leisure time in the mornings – to fold clothes, start the crockpot, or watch the news.  Instead of being rushed in the morning, my nighttime routines have squashed the chaos, allowing me to relax.

Do you have nightly routines?  Are your mornings a muddled mess?

~ Katie

Nightly To-Do List

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: