SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











{February 22, 2013}   Weekend Projects
Mt. Washmore

Mt. Washmore (Photo credit: Birdies100)

It’s Friday! It’s sad how forward I look to my weekends lately.  It seems, though, that’s the only time I can get anything accomplished.

Last weekend was a dead loss. I got very little done, which makes me a bit blue.  Some of my projects have been pushed off to this weekend to make up for it.

  • All of my grades are in the computer already – not necessarily a good thing, because most of my kiddos chose not to turn in their assignments. But it frees me up some. I still need to plan for next week, and write some tests, but that shouldn’t be too time-consuming.
  • My kitchen needs some serious attention.  A week of competition prep has left a disaster in its wake.  And my sweet hubby forgot to bring home dishwasher detergent.  I so don’t want to leave the house that I am considering hand washing the dishes.
  • I do plan to do the computer swap, tonight, so that I can clean the kitchen. It’s funny how that one thing keeps me from even going in the kitchen.  It has to get done. DONE – Ok, so it was this morning…..
  • The ugly stool.  Ah, me….
  • Mt. Washmore is calling my name, pretty impatiently.  I’ve been wearing clothes that I haven’t worn in quite a while – and adding some to my “donate” pile as I realize how truly awful they look on me.  Something isn’t right with the dryer right now, so I’m hesitant to even fool with it.  But it has to be done.  Have I mentioned how desperately I still want a clothesline?
  • My bedroom needs straightening, as does my bathroom.  Somebody has been rained out from work most of the week and leaves a mess behind.
  • I have to call Jeepnmom tomorrow and see how she and Mechanic Man are faring.  Poor thing – she’s jacked up her back and he has double pneumonia!  I know she’s going stir-crazy.  I halfway anticipate a call from her at 5 AM, telling me to clean a drawer.  (Note to Bec:  I’ve been drinking coffee since three this afternoon, will be up late, and already have a plan for the next drawer.  Wait till 7 your time, please!)
  • Work on my management binder.  I’m preparing everything on the computer so that when I have ink, I can just print it all out!

It’s a long list but I’m thinking not as ambitious as usual.  How does your weekend look?

~ Katie



{February 18, 2013}   Lost Weekend

The best laid plans of mice and men…go awry in the House of Cheaptitude.  I hate it when I look so forward to a weekend and it goes to waste.  I’m not one of those people who enjoys being slacktastic.  And I’m not saying that this weekend has been a disaster or anything, but I didn’t get everything done that I wanted.

  • I still need to go to Goodwill.
  • I need to add objectives to my lesson plans.
  • I need to write my next Outsiders quiz.
  • My webpage for school needs updating for this week.
  • I have a stack of novel studies waiting impatiently for grades.
  • My room is a little messy again. The Monkey dens are insanely gross.
  • Mt. Washmore is starting to look like Mt. Everest.
  • I still need to move computers around.
  • The living room and kitchen look a hot mess.

Yesterday I was miserable with a headache.  This morning, when Grizzly got up to go to work, I told him I was considering going to the doctor (yes, it has been that bad!)  I didn’t overindulge in adult bevs at Bunco, so I’m not sure what exactly is going on, but it isn’t nice.

Today I need to straighten the kitchen (post-Grizzly grilling practice yikes!), stop by PaPaw’s house, pick up some more 50 cent Cheerios at the grocery (no lie – double coupon with a 3/$6 sale!), and get ready for the upcoming week.  Monkey 2’s play kitchen has moved to the back porch with her picnic table (I see a play restaurant in the future) and I can technically move my computer to her room today.  You know what is on my mind though?  THE FUNKY STOOL!

I feel that if I do something I want to do, maybe I’ll get through what I need to do.  So I’ll dust and clean the stool, do a first coat of paint, and work on chores while it dries.  I really see promise in this plan.

On a happier note, I did (kind of) clean out my email box this morning.  I’m down to about 200 emails….

Do you get frustrated with your to-do list?  How do you handle it?

~ Katie



{February 15, 2013}   Recipe: Homemade Floor Cleaner
Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago, my mother came to visit for Christmas, and she bought me a steam mop.  I loved my steam mop and used it very regularly, considering I’m not crazy about mopping.  Most of my house, at that time, was carpeted, and the steam mop was great for stain removal, too.

We purchased our home from Grizzly’s mama last June.  While we were visiting “the car house” grandparents and Jeepnmom during the first part of July, Grizzly paid one of his employees to rip out the carpeting and lay laminate flooring.  Not the bamboo or cork I love, but a pretty little laminate from Lumber Liquidators.  We returned to a whole new house!  Everything seems so much bigger now.  The living room, hallway, and kitchen all have wood-looking floors now and I love it.

Except the cleaning part.

Apparently, water isn’t great for this stuff.

My steam mop?  Yeah, it will cause the photos (the wood-look) to peel and curl up.

I purchased some cleaner at the grocery that was “Formulated for Laminate Flooring“” and it left my pretty new floors dull-looking and sticky-feeling.  I already missed the nasty carpet.  So I put my teacher hat on and Googled for a solution (no pun intended).  I found dozens of recipes, and kind of settled on this one, a combination of a few:

Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring (Photo credit: ☺ Lee J Haywood)

HOMEMADE LAMINATE FLOOR CLEANER

Combine the above ingredients in a spray bottle.  Spray a microfiber cloth or mop and clean your floor like you usually would.

I spent all of three dollars on the supplies for my cleaning solution.

I bought an O Cedar microfiber dust mop at Wal-Mart for this chore.  I do not spray the solution directly on the floor, only on the microfiber cover, though I probably could, since the alcohol speeds drying time.  I feel like it gets applied more evenly by spraying the cloth. I can make more covers for the mop, and I like that I can just toss them in with the rest of Mt. Washmore when I’m done.

I also now have an electrostatic broom, as my dollar straw broom wasn’t working as I’d have liked.English: Microfiber householdcloth

Some recipes also called for a few drops of dishsoap and essential oils.  The smell doesn’t bug me, honestly, and I was afraid of soap residue.

Do you use homemade cleaners?  Any favorite recipes?

~ Katie



{February 9, 2013}   Organizing Spaces: the Bedrooms

Nightstand 469710772

So first of all, let me mention that it was a long and exhausting week.  We’ve (finally) started the novel unit in my classes, squeezing in additional test prep here and there, and all of this was interrupted by a Mardi Gras celebration for the 8th graders (which went off without a hitch, thanks to the amazingly organized and efficient 8th grade team leaders) and I am WHOOPED.  I stayed after school Thursday to help decorate the gym for the dance, only to arrive at PaPaw and MaMaw’s to find Monkey 1 had checked out sick and we would be putting karate off till Friday.  And did I mention I had not touched lesson plans all week?  Except to cover them in red ink because I had so totally over-planned.  So last night, I tried not to fall asleep as I wrote lessons for the upcoming week.

I’ve been a little busy.

But I woke today feeling fresh and rejuvenated with a big idea in my head (not really – more like a ton of sinus pressure!).  It was too early to call Jeepnmom and organize a kitchen drawer, but I wanted today to be productive around the house in some way.

And I looked at my bedroom.

Last summer, Grizzly and I bought our first-ever non-hand-me-down bedroom suite.  I’d been drooling over one in particular for almost a year and decided I didn’t love it after all, but we found another we absolutely loved.  With new furniture comes a new desire for cleanliness and organization and my room was gorgeous for quite a while.  Grizzly went to Vegas (some big APA tournament or something) for a week and a half right after school started in August and my room was immaculate.  The bed was made every day.  No junk on surfaces.  Laundry neatly contained in the hamper.

Somewhere along the way it’s gotten off-track.  There is junk all over his nightstand, a pile of dirty socks on his side of the bed.  All kinds of mail and miscellaneous foo-fah lines the top of my dresser.  The only time the bed is made is when I change the sheets and on my side of the bed is a basket of ironing, school books, and the leftovers of various craft projects.

On the bright side, my closet is still amazing and fabulous.

I think Grizzly needs to go back to Vegas.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

So feeling productive as I am, I decided today is “Bedroom Cleaning Day.”  I’ve sent to monkeys to their respective trees and declared “No TV” in the House of Cheaptitude today.  Grizzly headed to work and so, in my way, did I.

I’ve not gotten far.

I cleared the top of my nightstand and you would not believe what I’ve found.

  • A red pen (I grade papers in bed – so sue me)
  • A broken calculator (Monkey 1)
  • A credit card bill (I pay online, thank goodness)
  • A small blank canvas (because I paint in my room?? not!)
  • A copy of Freak the Mighty (Monkey 1 read it last semester for class)
  • Monkey 2’s iPOD (ok, I’m addicted to Dream Heights)
  • Some odd-sized pieces of felt and tulle (Monkey 2’s Halloween costume – I just knew I’d use those scraps)

Obviously, these items will return to their homes or go in the trash.

Once I got the top of the stand cleared, I went to the kitchen for my handy-dandy homemade dust spray and it’s not where it’s supposed to be.  Which sent me on a slight treasure hunt and then inspired me to blog for a minute.  Yes, I can be easily distracted.

I’m really excited about my plans for my nightstand, though.  Our laptop lives in our bedroom and I usually shove it under the bed when I’m not using it, but now it’s going to live on my nightstand by my alarm clock.  The drawer is going to have my paper grading junk, whatever book I’m reading, and I think that’s it.  I can use small baskets in the drawer to separate the junk.  What really has me excited though is the under-cabinet.  For years it has housed books that I used in college, some of Grizzly’s business crap papers, and so forth.  All of that is going elsewhere.  Some of my craft stuff that is sharing real estate with my repurposed linen closet will be moving in.  I want to keep a tv tray under my side of the bed for when I’m feeling crafty (that way it’s not a permanent fixture) and get a small lamp for my night stand.

And I still want another of those awesome chairs to put in my hidey-hole corner, but that is going to wait.  I need to find my dusting spray!

What project will you tackle this weekend?

~ Katie

Today’s To-Do’s

  • Clear surfaces in bedroom
  • Dust surfaces in bedroom
  • vacuum
  • Iron
  • Change bedding
  • Re-purpose night stand
  • Fix Grizzly’s broken dresser drawer (ARGH!)
  • Sort & wash all dirty clothes in bedroom
  • Clear out under the bed – Ok, this one is not happening the way I had planned.  I did pull everything out, but I found it to be a good space to stash the text books I use for lesson planning!

2 PM – Making Progress:

The top of my nightstand, post de-clutter session!

The top of my nightstand, post de-clutter session!

I used some leftover dollar store baskets to sort teacher tools from lotion, gum, etc.

I used some leftover dollar store baskets to sort teacher tools from lotion, gum, etc.

My husband doesn't keep his dresser neat like I like...

My husband doesn’t keep his dresser neat like I like…

My jewelry case, right by the bathroom door, usually collects all kinds of hair bobs and stuff...I like to see the top of it!

My jewelry case, right by the bathroom door, usually collects all kinds of hair bobs and stuff…I like to see the top of it!

Grizzly's nightstand, free of the usual trash!

Grizzly’s nightstand, free of the usual trash!

I can find everything and the open spaces make me happy happy happy :)

I can find everything and the open spaces make me happy happy happy 🙂

I have yet to change bedding due to the fact that all of my decluttering ended up on the bed for a few minutes….I’m getting there, though.  When my room is clean, I feel so much better!  How about you?

~ K

5 PM

Bedding is changed.  And the Cheaptastic chick is pooped again!  The vacuum and laundry may wait till tomorrow.  I’m ready for a pleasant crafting project!

I really want to buy new bed linens but the frugalista inside won't let me right now.  Missing the quilt my mom made - it's in the wash!  So pretty though, maybe I'll post a pic later.

I really want to buy new bed linens but the frugalista inside won’t let me right now. Missing the quilt my mom made – it’s in the wash! So pretty though, maybe I’ll post a pic later.

 



It’s 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday.  Grizzly is out hunting down dinner.  The monkeys are still tucked snug in their beds.  I’m on my third cup of coffee, a load of laundry is drying, I’ve already made a batch of laundry soap, and I have projects on the kitchen table (clearing out space to continue to re-purpose the hall closet project).  I look around myself and think, “What a hot mess!”

Because in my projecting and tackling Mt. Washmore this week, things are out of place.  Christmas still hasn’t made it to the attic.  There is laundry to put up.  There are dirty dishes in the sink.

Who lives like that?  Ugh!

I go back to work on Monday (didn’t win the Lottery over the break, darn it) and I hate going back to school with a dirty house.  The monkeys did a nice job in their bathroom the other day so it’s down to maintenance in there.  The spaces bugging me most now are the kitchen and utility room.

My utility room is a small, tight, cramped space.  Over Thanksgiving Break, I organized the pantries, which are part of the utility room.  All I need to do to them is some re-stocking.  There is a cabinet over my functioning dryer that needs organizing, especially since I’ve repurposed a new container for my laundry detergent (yay me!) and the top of the dryer is a wreck.  My functioning washing machine is part of a stackable unit (the dryer doesn’t work) and on top of the non-operational dryer, I need to go through the Laundry Fairy’s collection and put things away from up there.

My kitchen is pretty well organized the way that works for me.  So it’s just a matter of cleaning at this point.  The only organizing I need to do is in the “junk” drawers, which I’ll tackle one drawer at a time.

It sounds like a lot, but I bet I can get everything done in just a few hours.  And then I can go back to my projects.

What will you tackle today?

~ Katie

*Side Note*

Yesterday, someone accused me of hoarding (the same person who taught me Cool-Whip bowls make good cereal bowls.) I do NOT hoard.  I REPURPOSE.  My projects today have been a cute pencil holder from a Ball Jar Craft Kit using an old can and I repurposed a snack mix container to hold my laundry soap.  They’ve turned out really cute and USEFUL.  I’ll post pics later.

I’m sticking my tongue out right now, by the way.



{November 25, 2012}   The Cost of a Disorganized Pantry

Right now, in my refrigerator, I guarantee there are two partially used bottles of ketchup, at least two barbecue sauces, and maybe multiple jars of pickles.  Does this make any sense?

Part of the problem is that I share my living space with Grizzly Adams (he isn’t DH today – he forgot to make coffee) and two monkeys.  If there is a gene for organization, they all lack it. I’m not the most organized woman in South Bossier, but I do know being disorganized costs money.  How does it money?  Let me count the ways.

  1. Any kind of storage in a house is a piece of real estate.  Your house is worth $X/square foot.  This includes your storage.  If you’re not using it efficiently, you’re wasting money.
  2. Stock rotation is important. I worked in hospital pharmacies for years and it was a concept that nobody loved, but it saved money.  Use what’s there and going to expire first.
  3. Keep track of what you have.  When I was trying the www.organizedhome.com system, I actually kept lists on my freezers and cabinets of what stock I had – and it helped.  If you have 10 bags of sugar already and no major project, do you really need another bag when you go to Kroger?  Well, I don’t.

But my pantry is a hot mess now.  I actually have two converted closets in my utility room.  While one is strictly food storage, the other has my stoneware, canning supplies, and infrequently used small appliances.  I feel like I can put my valuable real estate to better use.

Organization of any storage space is such an individual thing.  There are beautiful photos of stunning pantries all over the web.  And my Pinterest boards.  But not everyone has the same type or size storage space.  Like I said, I’m blessed with two converted closets in the utility to use as pantry storage, but I haven’t seen anything online that remotely looks like my storage.

I’m thinking if I sort things by frequency of use and type of meal, I’ll be a lot happier.  The second pantry can serve as back up, overstock, etc. along with my infrequently used gadgets.

So this afternoon, I took before pics (oh my goodness!) and emptied the main pantry.  It really didn’t take long to reorganize, but what a mess I made!  There is a lot of wasted space where there are no shelves, so I have to be creative.  The top shelf now has two crates to hold my cereal stockpile.  Next is my canned and boxed goods – beans, fruits, Hamburger Helper, etc.  Those things I might want to prep dinner (actually, DH, because I rarely do Hamburger Helper!) Below that shelf is my pastas, taco shells, rice, etc. and a dish bin containing extra spices and barbecue sauces (of which I found 4 bottles today!)  Next I have a breakfast & lunch shelf.  Peanut butter, all of my precious jars of jelly, a container of open cereal, oatmeal, grits, and fruit snacks.  The bottom shelf has a drawer of lunch snacks, crackers, and drink mixes that won’t fit in the pocket organizer on the door (a repurposed shower caddy.)  The dog’s food I keep in a small tote and it fits under the bottom shelf now.

But that left my baking stuff without a home.  I don’t bake much because of my oven situation, but I do have things in case I ever get it fixed.  With all of the jelly and sauce out of the back up pantry, I noticed I had some space to spare.  So I unloaded that pantry and reorganized.  My indoor grill is now on the top shelf, since we rarely grill indoors, along with a baking stone I almost never use.  My canning supplies are on a shelf to themselves now, and my actual baking supplies take up two shelves, very neatly, and share with my crockpots.  My bread machine still sits down below and I’ve moved a drawer to the floor in there for bags  and wraps.

It was a really productive late afternoon for me.  I wish, as I had been working, that I would have gone ahead and created my pantry inventory but I suppose it can wait.

How is your pantry organized? I think mine will suit my purposes for now. At least I know not to buy any more barbecue sauce when I go to the store this week!

~ Katie



et cetera
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