SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

Happy New Year’s Eve, y’all! I am out of bed, showered, and wearing clothes (not my sweats, Real Chick!) by 7:44 on my school break. This is an accomplishment!

I’ve been a total Pinterest junkie the last several days (when I should be lesson planning, cleaning, etc.) I’ve been searching and pinning organizational ideas. I did an entire series this year on a household binder. I love binders. I had the best of intentions.

The forms are all on my computer while the binder collects dust.

I found the coolest idea on Pinterest – a command center instead of a management binder.  So I got out my handy dandy 31 Gifts organizer, labeled some file folders, and so far it’s working ok.  I  have a “to file” folder and a mail folder (so the mail doesn’t get lost on the kitchen counter!), s well as a folder for each family member.  All folders need to be addressed on Friday, if not sooner.  There’s enough room to include my finance binder (I’ll post about this later), and the pockets on the outside hold list pads, for groceries, to do lists, etc.

This organizer thingy fits on my unused telephone stand in the kitchen, so it’s near my calendar as well as the kitchen table – where we’ll be having weekly family and budget meetings.

It’s not the household management binder I had envisioned, but that’s ok.  The binder is coming.  The command center works for right now!

Take what bugs you and fix it.

What project are you tackling in the new year?

~ Katie

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{December 30, 2013}   Smart Shopping Revisited

English: A pic of an Eckerd location in Roches...


I love love love this time of the year.  I think today may be the first day I changed out of my jammies before noon. (Ok, not true, I put on clothes for Mass Christmas Day.)  The first week of Christmas break was a bit of a slack for me, but I’m feeling froggy this week.  It’s time to organize, clean, and save money!


The other day, playing on Pinterest, I realized I fall off the organization wagon every year.  I know me – I need an accountability partner.  So I created a Facebook Group, and invited some of my girls to participate.  The idea is that we’ll work on the Organized Home New Year’s Grand Plan together.


We all know that being organized and running a home efficiently goes hand in hand with saving money.  Well, PreciousKidsQuilts hit me with a question today about smart shopping.  I had great intentions of lesson planning, cleaning, putting up holiday foo fah … and I got distracted by a blog idea.


This was her question:


I was flipping through the rite aid paper yesterday. I was trying to do a few coupon matches for the best sales on hand. Normally, I don’t shop at rite aid. In fact, probably more than two years ago. But, I will make a special trip to the next town over to go to Walgreens. Rite aid is right there. I love the register rewards as part of my Walgreens shopping experience. Sometimes, I get paid to buy things and never spend anything there. I don’t know why I chose to look through the rite aid paper other than I was trying to show someone else how real deals are found. I saw these little symbols and notes in there that appeared to be like Walgreens register rewards. I decided after reading Sobo mamas blog earlier that she must know more, therefore, here I am. What can you
tell us about rite aid? One further question I have is the coupons the publish in their ad. I noticed that while they are store specific coupons, they rather slyly have ‘manufacturer coupon’ on them. This automatically voids stacking coupons, doesn’t it?


Okay, I am by no means an expert, but I feel comfortable addressing all points above.


  1. It kills me to think of driving to the next town for my shopping.  I hate driving a couple miles to shop in Shreveport, for crying out loud.  However, if there is other shopping to be done in the area, it’s okay.
  2. Walgreens does offer register rewards.  They operate similarly to the rewards programs at the other big name drug stores.  Rite Aid and CVS offer nice rewards programs, and I believe Rite Aid has the option of watching little videos to earn rewards.
  3. When shopping the drugstores, I highly recommend matching your coupons to your ads and going from there.  If I have a really good coupon for an item that is on sale at one store, but that’s the only thing I’d be going for, I’m not going to waste the gas, usually.  If I’m already in the area, it’s worth the stop.
  4. The sales and rewards for CVS and Rite Aid are often very similar, or may be about a week off from each other. You just need to watch the ads.
  5. Store-specific coupons that marked as manufacturer coupons are manufacturer coupons and cannot be stacked, unfortunately.


If you’re “trying out” a new drugstore, I suggest a price tracking for a few weeks.  If Skippy peanut butter is on 3/$5 at CVS on sale once a month but it’s always 2/$5 at your usual store, you know that CVS is worth a trip once a month.


I freely admit, I’m a lazy couponer.  I shop the dollar stores, Fred’s, Brookshire’s and CVS because they are within a few miles of my home.  I can stop by any one of them on my way home from work, karate, etc. without going out of my way.  I shop them often enough to know their sales cycles and I can get really good deals on my store-bought stuff.


I hope this was helpful.  Do you have any smarter shopping tips to share?


~ Katie





I had the most honorable of intentions for the money section of my household notebook. Have you heard the old adage about the road to hell? So as I refocus on organizing my life – yes, I fall off the wagon every year – I am looking for a way to get my money under control.

Don’t mess with my money.

My favorite source for organization tips is Pinterest. I found several bill binder ideas and took what I liked best from each. The main thing for me? I’m vain. If it’s not cute, I won’t use it!

Scrapbook supplies and a view binder started me off. This is a 2 inch binder. I used 12×12 papers and trimmed to fit. The fleur due lis was a touch of fun.imageimageimageimage

And, having leftover scraps, I repurposed part of my empty can collection:

The inside pocket is dedicated to incoming bills. I’ll record the bill and amount on a calendar and slide the bill in the pocket until it’s paid. That back inner pocket is labeled for taxes – W-2 and 1099 forms should be coming in soon.

I put a zippered pouch at the very front for calculator. I will probably put a checkbook and stamps in there, also, for snail mail bills. Behind the pouch is a checklist of bills for the year. The “regular” bills will be listed and checked off as they’re paid. I found the form I’m using right now on Pinterest, but plan to create one of my own.

The first divider has several things behind it.  Grizz and I sat down last weekend and completed a budget form (again, one I found on Pinterest).  After we finished crying, we worked on a debt snowball form, which was pretty cool.  If we follow the snowball to the letter (huh-lo, have you met us??) we could actually be completely debt-free in about ten years.  Including the house!  Unfortunately, life often gets in the way.

In this “bills” section, I also included a 2014 calendar.  As bills come in, we’ll record the information on the calendar and file the bill in the pocket at the front.  As we pay the bills, they’ll be crossed off on the calendar, marked on the checklist, and filed away.  Friday night is when we’ll sit down and go over money, pay bills, and so on.

The next divider has an envelope for receipts.  I tend to just chunk (technical term, folks) receipts into my purse when paying with my bank card.  I’d like to keep up with all the receipts to reconcile with our bank statements when they come in.

Next, I have a section for bank statements.  My plan is to keep 2 months at a time for ready reference in the binder. As the new ones come in, we can file the oldest ones away.

My “Pens” can contains different colored pens to color code the calendar.  The monkeys have some of the same activities, but as they get older, they are doing more of their own thing, too.  I figure color-coding lets me know when Grizz needs to assist because I have to be in two places at once!

One of my other goals this year is to get back on the envelope system.  Granny-at-the-Farm often reminds me that is how I functioned all through college.  Admittedly, my envelopes back then were dedicated to drink specials each night of the week, but I digress.  A few years back, Grizz and I attended the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, and the cash in envelopes was a huge take away for me.  I’m able to pay most of our bills online.  I kind of don’t trust the monkeys with cash for cafeteria money.  But gas, groceries, and dining out?  Absolutely I can do envelopes.

So I’ve also been trying to find cute envelopes, but the prices on Etsy make me cringe…I may settle for making them myself so they can coordinate with the rest of my cuteness!

Anyway, this is what I’m trying out right now.  What do you think?  Any questions or ideas you’d care to share?

~ Katie

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I woke several mornings this week to frost on the pimp-mobile.  Ironic feature to the 2013 Altima: the dashboard warns me that the outside temp is dangerously low.  Really?  Had to share that one with Jeepnmom.

Nesting mode has kicked in.  The holidays are coming, I’m totally homesick, and my crafty side is kicking in.  I called my mom, because I remember my grandma Bet’s tree being covered in homemade salt-dough ornaments.  Of course she doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Aunt Sus.  Whose phone was busy.  So I called Gram.  Who doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Sus.  Whose phone was no longer busy and whose voicemail picked up.

Mind you, there are recipes all over the internet and and Pinterest. Unfortunately, none of them are the one from Aunt Sus.

Eventually, my Facebook messenger alert went off on my phone and there was the recipe from Aunt Sus! Apparently, it came from a magazine years ago, and the yellowish color isn’t from old age but mustard powder. Go figure!

Grizzly and St. Yoda had a hunting date the Saturday during Thanksgiving, and I knew Real Chick would be yanking her hair out, so I invited her to bring the girls for an artsy morning. Then, because we’d tried unsuccessfully forever for a crafting date, I also reached out to Gifted Teacher, who had never heard of salt dough ornaments.

A trip to the grocery for flour and salt, and I was ready to create! Before the rest of the crew arrived, I had filled a huge bowl with dough.


I think the grown up ladies had as much fun as the little monkeys. Our only problems were how long to bake them at what temperature, and I totally overdid the dough! There is still a big bag in my fridge and Christmas has already passed.

I didn’t get picture of them after painting and Real Chick’s oldest made a tree I truly love, but I think you get the idea. This was such inexpensive, fun, monkey entertainment that I see us trying again on a rainy day.

Here is the recipe:
Cookie Clay Recipe- Sus
4 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
2 teaspoons mustard powder (there’s your yellow!)
1 1/4 Cups water

insert your wire hangers into the ornaments before baking.

bake at 300 for 2 – 3 hours, or until a toothpick can’t go into them any more. start at 2 hours, and if they are still softish, go for 3.

Thicker ones will take longer.

After cooling, use acrylic paint to add color if you want. Let air dry about 24 hours and spray with clear coat.

The ornaments on my tree, Sus made when I was a baby. These can last for a looooong time!

I’ve contemplated different cookie cutters for different seasonal ornaments, as well as magnets.

What do you think? Have you tried salt dough?

~ Katie

{December 27, 2013}   The Gift of Friendship

My true friends don’t know all of my story. OK, not true, jeepnmom knows every secret I’ve ever had, probably, but we’ve known each other since 3rd grade, and she’s 16 hours away, so that is different. I’m talking about my true friends that I see regularly and haven’t known for 30+ years. They don’t know it all, but they know enough that matters.

These are the friends that drive from the snobby side of the tracks because Monkey #1 drank my last coke.

The friend who sent a note of encouragement from Cuba, not knowing that the day I received it was the day I needed it most. (It sits on my dresser, today.)

The friend who comes all the way from Nigeria to bring me a caramel macchiato, even after things have been odd.

The friends that bring dinner so I don’t have to cook while Grizzly is getting his insides taken out.

The friends that bring kolaches or coffee in the morning because I look like I need it.

The friends that present me with Browning jammies (in pink and brown! woo hoo!) in the middle of Superior during Friday night drinks.

My friends are amazing, brilliant, wonderful women. And it’s crazy to think about how we’ve become so close. Growing up together, a curse word in a parking lot, a move from the t-buildings to the English hall, being systematically shunned by the rest of our entire social circle….

Do these fabulous women know everything about me? No. But the little things make such a big difference.

I feel like I do so little in return. They have my loyalty and support. I’m always here to listen, occasionally to advise. I’m good for a hot meal or a shoulder to cry on. When everyone else has jumped ship, I’m still there. I hope they all know how important they are to me.

So of all the gifts I received this Christmas, the one I’ll treasure most is the gift of friendship, the bonds that keep us together through all of the crazy, and the little things that go along with it.

et cetera
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