SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











{April 12, 2015}   Spring Broken

So Caddo Schools and Bossier Schools decided to mess with my schedule this year.  The monkeys were on spring break the last of March while I was out the first week of April.

Not that the monkeys minded.  They spent Monday through Thursday, while I worked, hanging out with PawPaw and MawMaw.  Thursday they slept over with Nana after church and did a walk for church Good Friday.  The weekend was hectic with Easter and all. Then Monday, monkey 1 went back to the grandparents for the day – probably due to my housecleaning plans.

Since the monkeys are not really self-starters, I was up early every day of my “break.”

Tuesday, Granny@thefarm took me for a birthday breakfast and a very indulgent shopping trip.  It was nice to be spoiled!  Then Best Teacher Friend harassed me into going walking.  It was a great day.

Most of the break, I just did stuff around the house.  I had lunch one day with Monkey 2, washed lots of laundry, weeded the flower bed.

I did nothing school related.

Nothing.

And I felt no guilt.

I still have some projects to work on.  I need to Frankenstein my pantry.  I have plans for my back deck.  But I did enough for the week.  I relaxed, recharged, and did what I wanted.

Lots of my friends went out of town, but really, I prefer my “break.”. Peaceful.  I’m kind of sad to go back to school tomorrow!

Do you do anything special for spring break?

~ Katie

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This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ 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.

 

Entertaining

 

  • 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.

 

Holidays

 

  • 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!

 

Events

 

  • 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

 

 

 

 

 



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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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 Grandpa makes the best meatloaf, hands-down.  Hot dogs, too, but that’s another blog.  I don’t know exactly how he does it, but Grandpa’s meatloaf has always been one of my favorite meals to share at their house.  Even if Gram makes me have a no-thank you helping of asparagus (hairy-grass).

I know I’ve asked him before how to make it.  Gram accuses me of calling for recipes and not writing anything down, but honestly, it’s just never the same.  It’s like Christmas fudge, or beer batter pancakes: Grandpa does it the best.

But I believe I must’ve come up with a pretty good version.  Monkey #2, who tends to be a little on the picky side (gets it from her daddy), has been requesting meatloaf sandwiches every day after school this week.

Quick and Easy Meatloaf

    • 1 pound ground meat, thawed (I used venison – it’s what’s on hand!)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
    • 1 1/2 C bread crumbs (I like the Italian ones – Gramp may do Ritz Crackers!)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 C ketchup (or bbq sauce)
    • 2/3 C water
    • A dash of Italian seasoning

Mix the whole mess together really well.  Form into a loaf shape and place on a flat pan, or use a loaf pan, and cook at 350 for one hour.

I don’t top mine with sauce of any kind.

I would serve with whatever veggies are in season, or at least what’s available at a good price.  Everyone knows how cheap frugal I am!  I love potatoes but rice is a biggie in Louisiana, so maybe rice and brown gravy would be a good side.

I actually have a special meatloaf pan that drains the grease away.  Handy dandy, but I actually didn’t have any grease this last time because I used deer.  Please note, using deer will result in a drier meatloaf.  I think Grandpa usually uses a half and half mixture of burger and venison, or even pork and venison.

For the Freezer:  I would prepare the meatloaf the same way except I’d cook in a muffin tin to create individual servings – ideal for a snacktastic monkey.  This will also cut down on the baking time.  I’ll update when I have that figured out specifically, or if one of my amazing readers figures it out, please let me know!  Allow to cool, then put the individual meatloaf muffins in zip-top sandwich baggies.  All of the baggies can be put in a gallon freezer bag, labeled with re-heating instructions.  I think the microwave for 2 minutes on high would be perfect.  I’d freeze as flat as possible, just because I love my stack of bags in the freezer.

 



{March 15, 2013}   The Price of Procra$tination

Had a hankering for something sweet last night...

I have spent most of today piddling around the house, finishing nothing.  Super Nana has the kids for a family to-do (that I’m too cheap to do lol) and I’ve been situating my coupons for a long-needed grocery trip.

I have three envelopes of expired coupons to ship overseas to Coupons to Troops.

My grocery list fills a page a college-ruled notebook paper.  What have I done?

“It is what it is.”  That’s one of my favorite sayings.  Granny-at-the-Farm always corrects me, stating, “It is what you allow it to be.”

I’ve allowed my stocks to become completely depleted.  I know there is no way of staying within my $50 budget.  And it’s my own fault.  Again, routines and habits.

My coupon binder is stocked and organized.  My list is done.  I’m planning to restock my freezer meals, which I know runs about $60 alone, but I can get at least 15 gallon bags into my freezer for that, $4 each, and there are always leftovers from those meals.  My reusable sacks are sorted and counted.  I’ve matched the ads for the 2 stores I’ll shop today.

Why do I have this sense of dread?

It is what it is.  Maybe I can surprise myself and come out of this more cheaply than I thought.

***

$153 after coupons and store rewards.

Procrastination was quite pricey!

In the wisdom of my 3 plus decades, I have discovered that everything in life can be treated as a learning experience and this was one of those experiences.  I also did not check off everything on my grocery list, transferring many items to the next one, but my pantry is nicely stocked.  I had snacks for my lunches each day this week, the monkeys had bananas for a few days and have moved on to devouring fruit cups, and there was meat with green veggies at every dinner.  Win-win-win, as far as I’m concerned.

Did I have the ingredients on hand for Grandma Sweitzer’s oatmeal cookies?  Nope.  That project can wait for spring break.

Did I have the ingredients to make a yummy meatloaf and potatoes?  Yup.  And Monkey 2 is loving a meatloaf sandwich these days.  Go figure.

Anyway, my whole original point was that when we put things off, it costs us dearly.  It costs money, time, space, whatever.  My trip to the grocery would not have taken as long, nor would it have had the same financial sting, if I’d planned better instead of running out of everything.  I will take this lesson into account the next time I put off a chore!

What has procrastination cost you?

~ Katie



Flickr cmartin82 3177455386--BBQ bacon cheddar...

Flickr cmartin82 3177455386–BBQ bacon cheddar burger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Avoiding the grocery as I’ve been lately, I’ve not really stuck with my menu plan.  WHich stinks, because my menu plan works really well when properly implemented.  And it totally messed me up on Wednesday at dinner time.

Once upon a time, I’d have just ordered pizza.

Instead, I started scrounging through cabinets and freezers, trying to come up with something for dinner before the boys got home from karate.  Out of milk meant no Hamburger Helper.  We’d already done a taco-type dish on Tuesday, and spaghetti Monday.  What else is quick and easy?

This is what I ended up with:

Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni (aka The Cheaptitude Pantry is Bare)

When I browned my ground beef, I added a little Tony Chachere’s seasoning.  I could probably eat Tony’s on my cereal!  Love it.  I also used some Chicago-style steak seasoning.  Once the meat was almost completely browned, I added the package of bacon pieces.

I prepared the macaroni by the directions on the box with a few exceptions.  I add garlic salt to my water to bring it to a boil more quickly.  I also add a touch of olive oil so my pasta doesn’t stick together.

When all of that was done, I combined the meat and pasta in a pot with the butter and sour cream.  Then I stirred in the cheese.

It’s not Grandma Betty’s Mac & Cheese, but it will sustain life.  Grizzly had seconds, and I don’t think it was because he was totally starving.

Necessity is the mother of invention!  What is your favorite throw-it-together meal?

~ Katie

 



English: Sample budget

English: Sample budget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In order for life to run smoothly, I need lots of routines and structure.  Which is why the Ducks Unlimited dinner thing tonight threw me for a loop when I learned about it at lunch time.  I’m all about Grizzly going to his hunting support group, but it wasn’t on the calendar.

 

Part of developing routines and structure, for me, has been setting and sticking to a budget.  Do I still splurge occasionally?  Well, yes.  But I’m proud of my shrinking debt, my developing emergency fund, and my stockpiles.

 

Problem:  I hate to leave my house.  My Bunco Babes are worried about agoraphobia(spelling??).  I told them I’m not scared to leave, I just prefer not to.  I like to be home.  But this is becoming an issue.

 

I’ve not been going to the grocery.

 

I can feed my family of 5 (yes, the dog counts) and take care of the house (cleaning stuff, paper goods) pretty handily for $50/week.  Between coupons, sales ads, and store loyalty cards, it’s a lot of fun for me.  But to do this, I need to keep up my stockpiles.  And they are dwindling.

 

Because I haven’t been shopping.

 

Mind you, I haven’t bought shampoo or deodorant in at least a year, and I just recently bought toilet tissue.  But my deep freeze has blank spots. My cereals, of which my comfort level is set at 12, have almost disappeared.  I’m scraping things together for dinner (easy recipe to be shared soon!) and lunch snacks are nonexistent.

 

When did staying home become more necessary than maintaining my tight budget?

 

A lesson I am learning is that to save so much money on my grocery trips, I will have to be diligent about shopping.  I have to spend that $50 each week, or else I’ll be paying much more later on.  There is an old saying that t make money, you must spend money.  Well, to save money, I have to spend money, too.

 

So the grocery is about to be added to the calendar every week.  This will re-establish one of my routines.  Hopefully, this hasn’t been a terribly expensive lesson!

 

What is your budget-buster?  Can you figure out what causes it and how to change it?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 



Credit CardThis was the Money & Finance Divider.  I’m doing things differently this go-round, setting up a separate binder, but I’m glad to share how it was set up in the past.

 

One of the most important things in the Money & Finance section is that ugly B-word that so many people my age no longer believe in: BUDGET.  I used to keep both weekly and monthly budgets, along with a spending record.  Was it overkill?  A little.  Was it overwhelming?  Absolutely.  Now I keep a monthly budget and it is much easier to keep these days.  My snowball plan goes with the budget – I love love love watching bills shrink!

 

I also kept up with bills to pay in the binder.  I used pocket dividers labeled Week 1, Week 2, etc., and that is where the bills would live till they were paid.  Now I pay most bills electronically, and the pocket dividers are not as necessary as they were years ago.  I now envision a calendar to track bill paying.

 

Credit Card List:  OMG.  When Grizzly and I were early marrieds, I probably couldn’t have told you what credit cards we had.  We were living on credit, I think.  Years and a Dave Ramsey class later, we’re near the other end of the spectrum.  Thank goodness!  But we do still tote a little plastic.  A list of credit cards, the payment information, and maybe even photo copies (in case of a stolen or lost wallet) would be helpful.

 

I also kept a directory of utilities and subscriptions. I listed the service, our account number, and any relevant contact information for said service.  When we lived in NoBo, our electricity went out at least three times a month, and I was so happy to have a ready reference to call and report an outage!  While we don’t have that issue anymore, I don’t know that Grizzly would be able to change anything on our satellite account or water billing without asking me.  Which is part of why this list is a good idea.

 

Insurance information, a home inventory, and warranty information can be kept here.  Over the years, we’ve added life insurance and home owner’s insurance to top our vehicle insurance.  I also have a small policy through my workplace. So many times, when a spouse or parent passes away, people don’t know what insurances are out there on their loved one.   Having everything in one location aid the big guy in settling things should something ever happen to me.

 

Other things for this section might include:

 

  • Vehicle information: financing, insurance, maintenance.  The blue lemon has its own binder, due to excessive maintenance since it joined our family.
  • Safety Deposit/Fire Box inventories:  This one is necessary because nobody knows where I keep anything important.
  • Banking information:  I’ve always used multiple financial institutions, and keep a list of accounts, as well as statements, with the rest of my financial foo fa.

 

I like everything in one place, easily accessible.  What else should go in a money binder?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 

 



The next section in my retired Home Management Binder is Meals & Menus.  With my new system, my plan is for Meals & Menus to eventually go in a separate binder, specific to the kitchen.  This section helps with meal planning, menu creation, and tracking supplies necessary to those tasks.  The things I’ve included in this section are:

  • grocery shopping lists: I have kind of a standard list I like to use and I add to it as necessary.  It’s ok to keep in the binder until I’m actually preparing to go to the store.  At that point, I need to check it against my inventories and my menu plan.  Then I’ll clip it to the front of my coupon binder and head to the store.
  • pantry inventory: I only keep the extra copies in here.  The pantry inventory has always been on the door of the pantry.
  • freezer inventor:  This works the same as the pantry inventory.
  • menu planner: I’ve tried the weekly planners in the past but I prefer to plan a month at a time.  If I pencil in generic meals/themes, they’re easy to modify and get specific later on. I love Jeepnmom‘s wipe off board on her fridge!  I could fill it in for the week and not have to hear “What’s for dinner tonight?”
  • price trackers:  This is something suggested by some other organizational sites and books, but I don’t keep up with price tracking.  For some reason the numbers stay in my head and I know I can get those chocolate chip waffles the last week of the month for $1.79/box without looking at a spreadsheet.  Sales cycles stay with me.  If you can’t remember cycles though, a price tracker is a great tool to use.  I’ll post more on that later.
  • recipes: old stand-bys (Mystery Beans), new favorites (Teresa’s Tagliatelle), and recipes to try (Peanut butter yogurt dip).  I’m in the process of decluttering cookbooks.  When menu planning, it’s best to have recipes close at hand so you know what you’re going to need.
  • kitchen appliance manuals:  I see the purpose in keeping them in a binder, nice and organized.  Right now, though, mine are in a cabinet over the stove.

I also keep basic instructions on how to use some of the every day appliances, like the toaster, microwave, etc., as the monkeys are using these things on their own now.  I need to add some cleaning checklists and maybe diagrams/pictures of where things go (Monkey #1 stacks dishes in the drainer when he’s not sure where they go!)

I’m recognizing a theme in my binder process: how to do it, where to find it, and what to do in case of _____!

Can you think of anything else that needs to go with a kitchen section in a Home Management binder?

~ Katie

 

 



et cetera
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