SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











{December 29, 2016}   Decluttering the Closet. Again.

Hello, my readers!  It’s been a minute, no? Crazy year, not much to say, etc. 

I’m on Christmas Break from school this week and next. Due to the decision makers at the school board, we have a really interesting schedule this year, but I’ve adjusted, as much as someone who hates change can.  My pool game is improving (just don’t ask Coach), I’m developing closer relationships with some amazing folks, and my family is still breathing. Productive as heck, I think.

I talked to Jeepnmom the other day and set myself a couple of staycation goals. 1) swap over to a capsule wardrobe and 2) straighten out the hall closets.  Don’t I do this EVERY year?  Isn’t Jeepnmom ALWAYS my accountability partner? Even though she’s checking on me daily-ish, I’m pretty off-task.  But today was a good day.  

When Grizzly is at work and the monkeys with their Nana, I’m either going to nap or I’m going to accomplish something around the house. And because I felt motivated, the linen closet became goal #1.  As the photos show, my linen closet has become a random Hodge podge of hot mess.  I really do tackle it every year, but I’m not the only person living here, using these spaces.

Lightbulbs, medicine, toothpaste – they go together, right?

Cleaning rags, washcloths, vacuum cleaner parts…who even knows?

Sheets, towels, toilet paper, and so forth.

This  is the “before” of my linen closet. Yes, we’ve been here before.  But because we’ve been here before, it was a little easier to unload.

Um, this isn’t all of it.  But my bed gives me a big workspace to sort through things.  And sort/cull I did.  I realized we have enough pillow cases to supply all of SoBo.  I still have a pretty tablecloth – that goes with my old table.  Things that belong in the toolbox in the garage don’t go back. And we no longer have a twin bed anywhere in the house…. So decluttering before restocking was completely necessary.

It always amazes me how quickly and easily things get out of order and just clustered together.  But after years of working with this mess, I was able to sort my piles with remarkable speed – in between texts from my bestie, calls from my girl down the street, and snapchats from Monkey #2.  And I already had a plan in mind for putting it all back together.

Bins from an unused organizer

I was given two bin towers a few years ago. One is in my front hall, cluttered with half-finished projects. The other never made it in from the garage.  Upon careful examination, I thought the bins might fit the closet shelves more effectively than the Rubbermaid boxes I’ve been using.  And they do!  I can add labels for shampoo, conditioner, and whatever the last one will be. 

3 drawer desktop organizer

Next to the “new” bins, there’s plenty of room for a 3-drawer organizer.  I repurposed this a few years ago to store toothpaste, lotion, and soap.  It’s great for all of the samples I get in the mail from Freebies in Your Mail.  I also store extra toothbrushes in the toothpaste drawer.

Ignore the cleaning rag – that doesn’t live right there.

Because of the height of some shelves, I took apart a plastic bookshelf to add some more function to the space.  It makes my life easier to have it divided up like this.

Easy peasy added storage

The rest of the bookshelf is combined with another set.  This is where I keep a small basket of feminine products and the height of these shelves is perfect for toilet paper.  I can fit a 6-pack on each shelf.  And as much as the House of Cheaptitude uses?  I should fill  every shelf.

Functional, pretty storage for cleaning supplies and blankets

Years ago, I was a consultant with Thirty-one Gifts and I absolutely love their totes.  They’re roomy and well-made.  The one on the closet floor is full of throws and small quilts that don’t get used all the time but I still like to keep handy. It fits the space much better than the round basket I used before.  The smaller one on the shelf holds mop pads and cleaning rags.  Most of my totes are earth tones and go together without being matchy-matchy.

My lightbulbs stay in the original packaging until they’re needed.

A small toolbox or tackle box in a bright color makes a great first aid kit.

The top half of this closet is where I’m keeping those things that we don’t use regularly or things I don’t want the Monkeys to bother.  I have lightbulbs one one end.  On the other is the toolbox I repurposed as a First Aid Kit, as well as a basket of cloth napkins and placemats. Down below, I use photo boxes for deodorant and shaving items. Notice the whole shelf is dedicated to personal hygiene?

All the bath stuff on one shelf!

I keep a decorative bowl on top of the single shelf to hold washcloths.  Underneath, I can fit two small baskets for extra storage.  The frog is from Scentsy, a goodie from a home party.  They sell scented things that go in the toy to make everything smell better.  I did keep it in the Monkeys’ bathroom for years but I’m changing the theme in there so now it can keep my closet fresh.

More bath shelf

I folded some towels and shelved them, checking the best fit.

Finishing the tallish area

The crate acts as more shelving in the part of the closet.  I’ll keep plastic containers of odds and ends in the bottom part.  The blue 4 drawer organizer doesn’t go with the color scheme (it does  go with the frog!!) but the drawers are great. I have my Scentsy bulbs and bars, plug ins, and batteries. This is my favorite Avon purchase ever.

Kitchen and cleaning, minus table linens

Beginning the bedding shelf

I did end up with the ill-fitting Rubbermaid tub after all.  We have twelve bazillion pillowcases. Most of them are actually made by Grandma Cher, my mama, and go with quilts she’s made, so I don’t mind having so many. Dollar store baskets hold my dishcloths and potholders.

A more complete view

The frog makes me smile.

I wish all the baskets matched, but im a firm believer in “use what you got!”

I ended up with more bins than I need right now but am pretty pleased with the way it turned out!  Hopefully my motivation will stick around and I can move on to the closet in the front hall.

What’s on your project list?

~ SBM



I cannot believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything! And my last blog was about underwear. Go figure. Crazy year.

So last week I hit the big 4-0.  My Grizz did an amazing job planning a party for me, with lots of help from our friends.  I can’t give enough credit.  Great night at Good Times!

It was also the beginning of Spring Break.  SuperNana and Vettey gave me shoe money (tired of my overuse of Gorilla Glue) and I ended up with some cute ones – especially knowing how hard it is to find size 11!

Granny-at-the-Farm gave me money as well, with instructions to purchase rain boots. Of course, in the spirit of cheaptitude, I consulted my handy dandy friend Google and came up with these:

image

Mind you, I am not a fan of animal print, but I really just need them for the parking lot at work.

I ordered them from Target, and had them shipped to the store to save money.  Today I had to pick them up. Since I was crossing the river, I decided to use up the rest of a Belk gift card, and supplement with birthday money.  Again, my cheaptitude kicked in.  I am all about a 50% off rack.  And I found a gorgeous little sweater, 50% off the already marked down price!

image

(Btw, that’s not me)

When I got home, I realized I made a mistake.  See, I try on shoes and jeans, but I know my size in everything else.  Or I think I do. 

I made a decision a year ago to stop eating like a 12 year old and live a healthier lifestyle. I fluctuate between 30 and 40 pounds lost.  And while I know the number on the scale has dropped, I also know I need to tone what’s left.

image

SoboMama & Jeepnmom 1992

I’m in the teal – 10th grade. How cute is Jeepnmom??

image

SoboMama April 2014

2 years ago, April.

I don’t really see the difference in my appearance till I look at pictures.  And the changes are just as internal as external but I need to realize that I can’t just grab something off the rack anymore.

This is me on my birthday.  Top was ordered from Amazon.  I had to guess at a size and did better with an online order than in person.

Are you able to shop without trying things on?

~ sbm



{May 31, 2015}   Of Loss

Jeepnmom and I spoke last night – no shock there – and while catching up on hometown happenings, she told me one of the guys we grew up with had passed away suddenly.

We aren’t that old.

We are healthy.

What is wrong with the universe?

I hadn’t spoken to this guy in probably 25 years.  But I can see his folks’ house in my mind.  He’d often be outside when I walked to a friend’s house.  I remember him in middle school.  He was smart, nice, not really in one clique, but friends with everyone.

What stands out in my memory is what a genuinely nice guy he was. And tonight I’m thinking of him as a friend to so many, a father, a son, a husband.  I feel awful for those left behind. I can’t imagine myself in that situation.

Even though we haven’t seen each other or talked in so long, there’s a bond developed among small town kids.  I’m sure we all feel the loss to a degree.

Posted from WordPress for Android



Back when the four-legged monkey was a baby, she ate all of the cushions from our patio furniture.  She also ate socks, trash, and the swimming pool.  Although I’ve been trying to fix up the back porch and yard, the cushions haven’t been replaced.  At this point, it’s not even related to my sense of Cheaptitude.  I haven’t found anything I like. And why invest a significant amount of money in something that doesn’t make me happy happy happy?

Exploring Pinterest was helpful.  People are using all kinds of fabrics to reupholster outdoor cushions.  I saw tablecloths, shower curtains, vintage linens.  So many creative and pretty options! I have tons of cool fabric!

I don’t have any cushions left to reupholster.

So my next thought was to make cushions and stuff them.  Problem? Waterproofing. How can I make pretty cushions that I like that are waterproof?

Shower curtain liner.

When I replace a liner, I run the old one through the washing machine to be repurposed. 

image

My plan is coming together.

I kind of estimated how much “material” I’d need, trimmed it down, and sewed 2.5 edges.  The sewing actually puts holes in the plastic, so I covered the seams with duct tape.  Yup, I could’ve saved a step!

image

Then, I gathered my stuffing.  I had some polyfil from the craft store, the leftovers of a pillow the 4 legged monkey ate, and old bed pillows.  I didn’t need it super stuffed, just enough for an outdoor cushion.

image

image

After stuffing, I sealed the last side.

I’ve not made the cover yet, but have it planned in my head.  It’s going to be an envelope case, easy on and off for cleaning.  I’m so excited for my outdoor living space to be more livable!

What’s your latest outdoor project?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



It’s an ongoing argument in my house: how to eat meat.  I can’t stand any pink while the Griz has the Woody Harrelson approach – wipe its hiney, etc.  In a restaurant or with store bought meat, it’s easily resolved.  However, most of the meat that comes in my house is game.

After a few years of hunting, Griz has come to my way of thinking, more bang for my buck at the processor with ground venison.  But we always end up with “cuts” as well – back strap, round steak, cutlets, etc.  To cook these cuts to make mama happy dries out this lean meat, leaving it more like jerky than the juicy steak my husband seeks.  But again, the first glimpse of pink and I’m done, son.

He refuses to budge on back strap, his favorite part of the deer.  It will always be “grilled” (um, barely seared!) medium rare.  And I’ll eat pb&j that night.

Cutlets we have found to be fabulous in a stew.  Otherwise, we really haven’t figured out a great option.

The round steaks, I googled and was frustrated with the results.  Even in a slow cooker, people report over drying.  The temp on most modern crock pots, even on the lowest setting, is too high.

Grrr.  Y’all know I love my crockpot.  Time to experiment.  This is how I did it:

A few packages of round steaks – not sure an exact amount, I just eyeball it.

Several splashes of Worcestershire

1 can cola

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 can beef consommé

A healthy sprinkle of Chicago steak seasoning

Add water till the pile of meat is covered

I set my crockpot on low for 8 hours and hoped for the best.

Results:  smelled like pot roast.  Tender, juicy, falling apart.  Monkey #1 and I barely had any because Grizzly and Monkey #2 devoured it. 

I’m trying it out again today.  Monkeys have karate and church, Grizzly has an 8-ball tournament, so dinner will probably be on the run.  This way, it’s ready when folks get hungry.  All I have to do now is fix some rice and brown gravy, cook up some broccoli, and call it a meal!

What cooking experiments have you tried lately? Any successes that should’ve been fails?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{December 29, 2014}   2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 960 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.



{December 29, 2014}   The Clearance Buggy

Some women love shopping for clothes, shoes, make up.  I love shopping for food and toilet seats.  If I could spend half the day at the home improvement store, I’d be one happy mama.  If I could spend an entire day grocery shopping – oh my!  Are you familiar with the saying about a pig in slop?  Yep, that would be me. 

Groceries are a game, a challenge.  How do I get the most yummy/useful stuff for the least amount of money and still stay within my miniscule budget?  I love it.  I’m always looking for a new way to squeeze extra pennies into my buggy.  The latest trick?  The clearance cart in the produce section.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are really pricey.  I try to buy things that are in season, buying extra on the cheap to can or freeze for later. Recently, I saw a cart at the back of the produce department in my local Brookshire’s, full of produce bags.  Upon closer inspection, I found every bag was marked $2!  Extra ripe bananas, apples, and oranges were my very first haul.

I often tell people Monkey #2 can eat 5 pounds in a sitting. For once, this was a bit of an exaggeration. Banana bread, banana muffins, and applesauce were side benefits of the clearance buggy. Anything to pack the freezer!

Now when we go to the grocery, the monkeys make a beeline for that back corner. They know if the price is right, mommy will bake.

What’s your favorite grocery trick?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



In the early, NoBo, kiddo-free days of my marriage, my husband and I discovered Pizza Pizza.  There was a Little Caesar’s right by the grocery by our house, and for $8 we could get 2 pizzas, providing our dinner as well as lunches for a few days.  It was lovely. It was filling. It was cheap.

Once we moved to South Bossier, our dining choices became more limited.  First, we had two monkeys and not as much money.  Also, there weren’t many options in our part of town. A diner,  McDonald’s, and a few other fast food options, but nothing too exciting.  Especially since I didn’t care to cross the bridge to Shreveport often.

Our part of town is developing, though, and with more residents comes more shopping and food.  Most exciting for the House of Cheaptitude was when a new shopping center opened less than a mile away and the first store? Little Caesar’s.

A basic pizza had gone up to $5, but they had a great family meal deal, and we started getting these on a regular basis. 

Grizzly and I ran to Caesar’s a few weeks back because we were out of dinner ideas and wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  It was the night of the Homecoming parade and maybe we weren’t the only ones with that plan, but….

1. No more family meal deal. That was the first disappointment.
2. We sat for more than 45 minutes, waiting for a pepperoni pizza and a cheese pizza. Several people came in, visited with the lady behind the counter, got their pizzas, and left in this time.
3. When we got home, our “cheese” pizza was sausage. Monkey #2 and I picked off pepperoni.

I’ll give a restaurant another chance, because anyone can have an off shift. Unfortunately, our Caesar’s has not improved. I’ve actually placed my pretzel crust orders ahead of time and not had any better luck.

Little Caesar’s is now at the bottom of our list of “fast” food choices. Due to poor customer service and value, I’ll give them a score of 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 5.

What is your favorite go to when you need a night off? Have you been extra disappointed in a fast food restaurant?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{September 28, 2014}   Applesauce Autumn

I don’t recall ever having store bought applesauce as a kid.  I never ate the soupy yellow slop in the school cafeteria that was touted to be applesauce. I’m spoiled.  I ate homemade applesauce.

I remember chunky, not too sweet,  applesauce in quart jars from Gram’s fruit room in the basement. Sometimes, she’d make a fresh batch to go with dinner, and I’d sneak chunks of apple from the dishpan. I wasn’t so slick – she knew exactly what I was doing. And I never saw her canning it, but she must have, because there were always jars downstairs, pretty and golden and full. These days, canning is too much bother and she freezes containers instead.

My absolute favorite was always Great Grandma Sweitzer’s pink applesauce. Was it sweeter? More cinnamon flavored? Or was it simply that it was an infrequent treat? And I may be the only one who really liked it. I never can get Gram to make it for me.

When the weather turns a little cooler, my comfort cravings arrive. I watch for good prices on acorn squash and roasts. And as apples go on sale, I walk through the grocery, Droid to my ear, asking Gram which ones and how many I should get for a batch of applesauce.

Honeycrisps are good for eating, but no good for applesauce, and too pricey by far, she advised yesterday as I strolled through my Brookshire’s.

So I purchased several McIntosh, a few Red Delicious, and some Braeburns.  It takes a variety to get a good flavor, according to Gram.

As forty lurks in the not too distant future, and I’ve been away from home over twenty years, one might think these phone calls unnecessary. After all, I’ve made applesauce, baked Mac & cheese, and acorn squash on my own hundreds of times now. And I probably don’t have to call her every time. (“Don’t you ever write things down, Katherine?” “Do you have your pencil and paper ready?” I always lie and say I do, and she always knows it’s a lie). By this point, I do it out of habit. It’s an extra excuse to call my grandma.  She’s getting older, and someday I won’t be able to call and bother her with silly kitchen questions that I can answer myself or Google. So I’ll do it as long as I can.

So here is the off the top of my head because I never really write it down instructions for easy applesauce:

Easy Applesauce
3-4 varieties of apples, totaling about ten pounds
Sweetener and cinnamon, to taste

Peel, core, and cut your apples into chunks. You can run through the blender, but you may as well buy it at the grocery for that.

Place your chunks into a good-sized pot.  Add some water till your chunks are just barely covered. They should not float.

Bring to a good boil for a few minutes. Turn down and simmer till soft.  I test mine once in a while with my potato smasher.

Once soft, you can mash them easily. Give a taste and start sweetening. With the right apples, it won’t take much.

I live hot applesauce on a little ice cream.  I like it chunky and tangy. You just can’t buy it like that.

We will eat some of it, but I’ll can the rest.  It’s one of my autumn routines.

What are some of yours?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



Starting back in April, I demanded politely requested a weekly date night with my husband.  Although I think he hated was hesitant at first, it’s a routine we both count on now.  We’ve tried a few “new to us” restaurants, a few favorites, and revisited some we’ve not been to in years.  We’ve had a picnic by the river and experienced the fine cuisine at TK’s Tavern when he’s running late for Friday pool league.

This week has been crazy with a capital C.  Back to School Night, karate, etc.  He’s got several jobs he’s trying to finish, which adds several hours to every day.  I really expected this week he’d go to pool while the monkeys and I chowed down on leftover fried rice (yum!!!). But he called after work with “What are your thoughts on dinner?”

While I’m tearing the house apart, desperately searching for Monkey #2’s karate pants is not the best time to ask me this. 

And still, we were running behind.

“How about Arby’s? Its on the way.”

I love that place.  Their little ham and cheddar sandwich is cheap. The jamocha shake is amazing. And we spent less than $20. On a dinner on date night! The kitchen was a little on the slow side, but the food was worth it.

I have figured out through the experiences over the past few months that it’s not really about the food.  It’s the time together, without the monkeys, to talk and catch up and laugh and flirt. Do I love going to the pool hall practically every Friday? Not every week, for sure. But do I love the alone time before? Yes.

So, while it’s a routine, and you can set your watch by it, our date night dinners aren’t about the food. I think we’d do just as well with Little Caesar’s and Red box.  As long as we get that it’s quality time, that’s what is important.

How do you make sure to squeeze honey time into your schedule?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



et cetera
%d bloggers like this: