SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{August 30, 2014}   Recipe: Make Ahead Breakfast

In the House of Cheaptitude, we consume enough instant oatmeal to sink the Titanic again. If we breakfast out, usually two out of four of us will eat breakfast burritos. And if there are breakfast bars of any kind in the house? Forget about it.

It may not seem like a huge financial burden, but a box of oatmeal packets is at least $1.89 at my beloved Brookshire’s, and contains only 8-10 packs. Even the little monkey eats 2 packs at a time. Breakfast burritos, at the grocery, are over a dollar each. This kind of thing adds up quickly. And don’t get me started on all of the weird fake stuff that’s in them. I like my fake stuff as much as the next chick, but I can probably make it a little healthier myself.

A couple of weeks ago, I consulted my good friend Google and found all kinds of recipes for all of these convenience foods. I actually whipped up the oatmeal packets and breakfast burritos.

Easy Breakfast Burritos
12 eggs
1 pkg ground sausage or bacon
1 bag shredded cheese
The man-sized flour tortillas

I actually made some sausage, some bacon, and some cheese-free. I started out by frying the meat. Then I scrambled in some eggs. Sprinkle cheese over the tortillas. Add the egg mixture and wrap the tortilla tightly. Bake in the oven for a few minutes, just long enough for the burritos to hold their shape. Flash freeze (30 or so minutes) seam side down. Wrap individually in plastic wrap. I was able to fit about 6 in each gallon freezer bag. I labeled with the date, type, and heating instructions. Microwaving on high for 30-60 seconds works for my microwave oven, and covering with a damp paper towel keeps the tortillas soft. They’ve been a total hit. And cheaper than Sonic!

I had *planned* to make granola bars, but ran out of oats.

DIY Instant Oatmeal Packets

snack sized zip bags
2 containers quick oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 – 1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup powdered creamer (I used hazelnut flavor from the Dollar Tree!)

Dump 1 container of oats into a large bowl. Add the other container of oats to a food processor or a blender. Blend until almost powdery, then pour into the large bowl. Stir well. Add the remainjng ingredients to your large bowl. Mix well until everything is combined.

Measure ½ cup of the oatmeal mixture into each snack sized plastic baggie and seal. This is when I added dried bananas, dried blueberries, even gummy fruit snacks. The add-in possibilities are endless!

Prep and microwave just like the store-bought variety.

According to some recipes, powdered milk can be used, but has a tendency to begin to mold (ugh!). I like the flavored creamers from the dollar store anyway.

So at the beginning of school I had thirty breakfast burritos in the freezer and thirty packs of oatmeal. I spent around $15 for everything. Not bad!

What money saving ideas do you have for breakfast?

~ Katie

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{August 20, 2014}   Monkey Spaces: DIY Organization

The little monkey is growing up quickly!  She decided recently that she’s outgrown Tinker Bell, along with a lot of her books, toys, and decor.  Her papaw promised her a new headboard and footboard if she kept her room clean for a month. I think she’s doing a great job! She’s picking up toys, books are shelved, dirty clothes are hampered, and she’s making her bed daily!

I’m hopeful she’ll earn that frame she wants.

While cleaning and reorganizing, we moved a lot of things around, including her dresser and bed. We dismantled the desktop computer and removed the old-fashioned school desk, creating great space. She still has “room for activities” yet her space looks more tween appropriate.

One thing she showed an interest in was a set of shelves in the garage. Yo Yo’s sweet husband, the Fireman, and I built them many years ago for Grizzly’s diecast collection. Once we moved, they didn’t really go with our new direction, so we put them in the garage, where the got dirty and became a dumping ground for crap.

I measured the shelves, measured the wall, and realized it could be done. The shelves were built for 1:24 model cars, though, not books and games and toys.

We stacked several books on the shelves, but there was a ton of leftover space. Monkey put some of her Littlest Pet Shop and Lego sets in canvas bins on the shelves. Her awesome 31 totes are too tall. I had an idea, though.

Soup can organizers!

She picked out stickers and paper and pretty duct tape for her organizers.

I envisioned labeling them for her arts and crafts, but she snatched them up as soon as the decoupage was dry!

Another goodie we have on hand this time of the year is the oh so versatile shoebox. I decided to cover one to match her other organizers. She can keep some of her other little toys in it.
image image
I glued the paper down, Scotch taped it in place, and then sealed with decoupage. I think it was a great idea and it fits on her shelves.

I haven’t taken a photo of monkey’s organized shelves, mostly because it’s an unfinished project! But it’s a fun one.

How do you organize your kiddos’ spaces?

~ Katie

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Organizers. I love them. I use them. I re-use them. And I’ve found some neat things in the years before Pinterest.

When I was a newlywed and doing shift work, Aunt YoYo and I lived in the dollar stores. Dollar General, Fred’s, Family Dollar – the cashiers knew us by name and we knew when “truck day” was. Occasionally, we might splurge and go to Wal Mart. Rugs, runners, dishes, pictures. My first house was carefully decorated in NASCAR and early dollar store.

One of those early purchases is still in my house. It’s a little wooden shelfy thing with pegs underneath. I’ve not kept anything on the cubby shelves since moving almost 7 years ago, but those 3 little pegs have been overloaded with keys.

While decluttering the utility room, I decided this little thing was not fitting my new vision. Monkey 2 gladly took it to her room and I began gathering ideas on Pinterest.

I loved the ideas I kept seeing of picture frames with cup hooks. And I always have oodles of frames. It would have to be multifunctional, and go with the rest of my “decor.”

I found a frame whose glass was gone. Broken? Repurposed? Who knows. I cleaned it up and added cup hooks to the bottom. Hint: a drill would’ve come in really handy at this point!

I decided this would be great as a reminder to put things in the mail, etc. so I used scrapbook paper covered in frosted contact paper to create a pocket. Grocery lists, reminders, etc. fit perfectly. I also covered clothespins and added them to the sides to hold outgoing mail. I didn’t need two, but my CDO required the symmetry.


And since we are in the south, and I wasn’t doing a family picture or anything, I used one of my leftover vinyl letters to “monogram” it. Above you see the finished product.

No more lost keys or forgetting to out the mail out! It fits really well in the little space by the back door in my utility room. It matches my sock board, so my utility room is starting to have a color scheme. I’m really pleased with the way it looks and works so far.

How do you handle your out the door routine?

~ Katie

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Family photo from my favorite brother-in-law's wedding a few years ago

Family photo from my favorite brother-in-law’s wedding a few years ago

I love Pinterest.  I can spend Hours on Pinterest.  I swear, Pinterest was created especially for the House of Cheaptitude.  I have an entire board with over 300 pins dedicated to my Household Management Binder.

The one that I haven’t been using.

Because it had 6 million sections.

And I would forget all about it.

And I love organizing and using binders to organize, so what is my malfunction?

Seriously, it’s just too much crap information in one place.  I don’t need random recipes in with immunization records.  I use different information in different places.  So I’ve begun breaking it down.

Several months ago, my Money & Finance Divider broke out into its own binder. Don’t you remember?  It’s all crafty and pink and girly and cute?  I actually have used it.  Sort of.

You HAVE to have a system that works for you.

Monkey Management

Now the Monkeys have kept me hopping all summer.  Between church activities, karate, reading programs, and Shreveport Little Theater, I’ve put over 2000 miles on the PimpMobile just since May!  And Monkey 1 is starting High School this year.  So they’re in different categories now in all of their activities.  I may be rubbing off on my offspring – they’ve both asked for binders to keep their schedules straight.  At this point, not knowing how much the monkeys will actually use binders for organization, they’ll be in one binder, my “Monkey Management Binder.”  I’ve started putting it together (super cute cover!) and it will be its own blog post, just because I’m so freaking proud of it!

Recipes & Menu Planning

This binder is pretty cool, too.  I have my frequently used cookbooks and recipe cards, of course.  But this binder has freezer cooking information and ideas, menu planning ideas, frequently used recipes, recipes to try, shopping lists, etc.  I’m planning to make a menu board, also (Thank you, Pinterest!) This is going to be my kitchen brain.  And we all know I’m fond of playing in the kitchen.


O. M. G.  2 of the people in my house have had hospital stays in the past year.  2 have had surgery.  I think I’m getting EOB’s or bills on a daily basis.  Binderizing is a good solution to keep up with all of this mess.  Each family member has a divider, behind which are EOB’s, receipts, bills. When an EOB comes in, it will be stapled to the matching bill or receipt.  Easy Peasy.  I’ll also have a reminder sheet in the front so I remember who needs to be scheduled for what appointment for what doctor, etc. each month.

Mommy’s Idea Book

You know all of those pages you pull out of magazines because they’re so cool and you’re going to craft/cook/exercise/etc. just like this article? Yeah.  I have a mountain of clipped pages.  Because Pinterest just isn’t enough.  So that paper pile will be sorted, categorized, and put in a binder, too.


Now for the good stuff.  My re-vamped Management Binder.

Household Management Binder

There are 60 million ideas on Pinterest for setting these up.  I absolutely love the printables and such people have come up with.  I’m astounded by how many etsy sellers specialize in Management binders.  While I may tweak some of what I’ve seen, I’m creating my own.  I love crafting and I have the resources and I make the time, so why not?  There’s nothing wrong with buying stuff or using other people’s forms.  But I’m too cheap for all that.

I made a cute cover, using lots of quotes about family, and a picture of the four of us from my favorite brother-in-law’s wedding.  The back cover is pics of the monkeys when they were little and adored each other, with a sweet quote.

My dividers were super simple.  I printed out titles and glued to cardstock, trimming with other scrapbook paper. These went in frosted page protectors. Then I made tabs from cardstock and stapled to my dividers.  Easy Peasy.  The most important sections in that binder, I believe, are the Planning Section (Master Calendar!) and the Phone section.  My cleaning routines will probably end up in a small binder or notebook at some point.

For the most part, this binder is to help out the rest of the House of Cheaptitude.  I have my poop pretty much in a group, but they need to function if I’m not here.


So that is part of what I’ve been up to, in the midst of errands, organizing and cleaning, ferrying monkeys all of North Louisiana, and playing with craft supplies.  What have you been doing all summer?


~ Katie




{February 16, 2013}   My Bucket List….

One of the things I planned to do this weekend was relocate some of my projects to my night stand, opening space in my repurposed closet.  This morning, as I was putting towels away, I brought out the project bucket.

This is the project bucket.  Some projects have been started, most have not.

This is the project bucket. Some projects have been started, most have not.

Since it was out anyway, I decided to finish one of the half-finished projects.  See the pearlized pink frame?  Yup, that was started for Monkey 2 about 5 years ago.  What to do with it now?

In the bucket, I also had some girly-looking die-cuts.  One was purple and says “Best Friends.”  I glued it in the corner, added a bow (from the ribbons in the bucket) and have clear-coated two layers already.  I can either add a pic of her with her best friend (either Elizabeth or the dog, not sure which) or I can hold on to it till she goes to another birthday party.  Whatever the case, I have finished one project from the bucket and now the bucket is in its new home!

Monkey 2 or gift stash?  I'm just happy to have something done!

Monkey 2 or gift stash? I’m just happy to have something done!

Of course, there are still 3 mini photo books, 2 wooden frames, 4 plastic ornament frames, and all kinds of die cuts to figure out….

Where do you keep your projects in progress?  Are they out of sight, out of mind like mine have been?

~ 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.


{February 2, 2013}   One Drawer at a Time

As mommies, we learn to multi-task.  When my good friend Shanna (Independent Pampered Chef Consultant and the ingenious owner of Rolling Rehab, LLC – amazing physical therapy service!) calls me, I am 99.9% certain she is scrubbing a toilet.  She tells me chores are easier when combined with something pleasant.  And as mommies, we are fantastic at multi-tasking.

As a teacher, I’ve gotten even better at multi-tasking.  I can cram a sandwich down my throat while making parent phone calls during lunch duty guiding 11-14 year olds to the playing field as I plan next week’s lessons in a 25 minute period.

Today as I was scrubbing down countertops in preparation for tonight’s family get-together (resulting from my never-ending cheaptitude), I realized the kitchen drawers are a train wreck.  There are band-aids in with lighters, taper candles, and post-it pads in a drawer I thought was designated for dish cloths.  How, in my organizational quest, have I missed these hidey-holes?

Drawers can be both a blessing and a curse.  Great for storage, but they can quickly turn into black holes of wasted space!   My kitchen drawers suffer from “out of sight, out of mind.”  Time to re-think my organization plan.

Drawers are valuable real estate, just like any other storage area in the house.  Every drawer should have a purpose.  I thought mine did, but……

In my kitchen, I have 6 drawers, 5 of which are fully functional.  (My silverware drawer needs a face replacement, but that’s a Grizzly-do!)  The 2 drawers by the cook top are already designated.  One is full of silverware; the other has my cutting boards and other random cooking gadgets. On the other side of my galley-style kitchen, we have problems.  4 black holes are attracting every bit of junk under my kitchen counters.

My plan to de-junk those drawers is simple.  I love love love to talk on the phone.  Now when I call my bff, Jeepnmom, I will empty a drawer and sort through the miscellaneous crap.  Since we talk at least once a week, the drawers should be processed by March.  I like the pile method – put away, throw away, give away, and sell.  I have so many little baskets from my other re-purposing activities, this should work out well.  Once the drawers are de-cluttered, I can go back through and set purposes for each of them.

The more I think about it, the more enthusiastic I’m getting about this project.  I’ve considered purchasing drawer organizers from Lowe’s or the dollar stores, but my cheaptitude won’t allow it.  I have some boxes from ordering checks that I think would work well and I love clean tuna fish cans for organizing a drawer.  And the drawers are lined, but I’m thinking of sprucing the drawer liners up, too.  I have a laminator and tons of scrapbook paper, which would make them easily wipable.

So what is your next project?  What has inspired you this weekend?

~ Katie

et cetera
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