SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{August 23, 2014}   Project: Cute Wooden Catch All

Many years ago, I picked up the cutest wooden wall box on clearance at a hobby store.  Love love love.  My original intent was to hang it by the door for mail and such. Now I’m not so sure.

It’s collected dirt and dust for years, sitting in my project bucket. Recently I decided to bring it out again.

My plan now is to use it in my kitchen. I cleaned up the years of grime and pondered. I’m working more black pieces in all the time, so I sprayed it with flat black.
image image image It isn’t perfect, but I see the potential. I’m going to add fleur de lis, of course. It’s meant to hang on a wall, but I’m thinking of adding strong magnets and putting it on the fridge. I can see adding a clip for recipes, and using the storage for restaurant certificates and coupons. What do you think?

So it’s painted, but that is as much progress as I’ve made with my little project. I may change my mind and use it someplace else – oooh, oooh, my bathroom? The monkey’s bathroom??

I’m totally open to suggestions, folks. What purpose can my little project serve?

~ 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




{June 1, 2013}   Sell the Garage

I know the right way to do a garage sale. A good garage sale is organized, efficient, and makes good money.

This is probably not one of those.

I need to empty the garage, though, so Grizzly can create his Man Cave ….

First of all, I’ve been pulling clothes, books, etc. for the past few weeks in preparation.  Could I find more things that need to find their way from my home to new ones? Darned Skippy!  But it’s been a really busy week. I may be a stay-at-home mama 10 weeks of the year but I’ve rarely been home. So not everything has made it into the garage sale.

Next, I really prefer to tag most items. I’m a total cheapskate and will often give things away for pennies on the dollar – but you need a starting place.  None of my stuff is tagged.

Space is a big deal.  Usually, Grizzly brings me two folding tables he sometimes uses for work but he has no clue where they might be right now.  Thankfully, Pioneer Woman’s card tables were at Camaro Girl’s house, left over from a long-ago bunco, and she brought them last night. (That’s love – putting the top down to load tables in leather seats!) And there is a big old’ truck parked right where I wanted to put stuff!

I like to start a garage sale with about $40 cash – $10 in fives, $10 in quarters, and $20 in ones. Grizzly has temporary custody of my debit card, so he brought a ten, two fives, some ones, and some quarters. Bless his heart. It’s thrown me for a loop.

With all that’s not working in this garage sale, I will just hope and pray some of my garage clears out, I make a little cash, and Crazymathlady unloads her excess apartment clutter.

I see a better garage sale coming later this summer.

How often do you do a garage sale? What tips can you share?

– Katie

{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

three ring binder

The next section of my binder is home management.  This is the section that is going to make sure the House of Cheaptitude runs smoothly.  Well, it will if the appropriate people utilize it.

This is the subdivision where I’ll keep information about cleaning, entertaining, storage, and various inventories.  In other words, the home management section is the residence of my beloved lists!  This is my basic plan:

  • Running to do and wish lists
  • Cleaning schedule: I find if it’s on a list, I’m more likely to do it.  And making a list, I can break chores into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
  • Occasional chores:  We all have things that need doing around the house only monthly or even seasonally.  I will probably list these by month in this section.
  • Monkey chores:  I’m pretty pleased of the monkeys.  They have a few household tasks that they perform regularly, often without being asked.  However, they’re getting older and can handle more these days.  For example, they can clean their bathroom (the “public” one) now.  I’ve also been working with Monkey 1 on laundry.  21 days to establish a routine….
  • Entertaining lists and ideas:  I want to keep track of what is where, from table linens to birthday candles.  Most of my holiday decorations are in the attic, in labeled totes, but remember the stocking mishap this past Christmas?
  • Decorating ideas:  furniture, appliances, projects, etc. that appeal to me.  That makes this a binder-version of Pinterest, I guess.
  • Home inventory:  I need to do this anyway, for insurance purposes.  Furniture, major appliances, electronics, etc. need to be listed, with purchase dates and prices if possible.  One copy will go in my binder, and another, hopefully, in a safety deposit box.  Now to get a safety deposit box….
  • Home storage inventory: Grizzly and I do not rent a storage facility.  I guess if it ever comes to that point, I’ll need to get rid of some junk!  But Grizzly has no clue where anything is.  So anything packed away (clothes for Monkey 2 to grow into, the back stock of school supplies, etc.) will go on this list, with the locations.

Other items I’ve kept in this section in the past include our car maintenance schedules, recycling locations, yard sale checklists, and stain removal guides.  These were ideas from Organized Home.  However, I keep a separate binder on the Blue Lemon because it lives at the dealership every month or so.  Yard sales I just kind of throw together with family or friends, and stain removal is better located with all of my other Mt. Washmore items.  As for recycling?  In theory, I love it.  Across the river, people are required to do it, with special trash cans and all.  I like the idea, but if I can’t repurpose it myself, I usually end up throwing it out.

I may include simple instructions detailing how to operate the different appliances and foo fah around the house – washer, dryer, oven, microwave, etc.  After all, the point is to get the rest of the fam involved, correct?

What lists/instructions do you need to leave so your home runs smoothly?

~ Katie

Master Cleaning Checklist

I fondly remember address books.  When I was in middle school and high school, I used different address books for my family, friends, and a service organization to which I belonged.  It’s been years since I maintained an actual flip-the pages address book, though.  When Grizzly and I first bought a computer, I utilized an address book program in Microsoft Works.  Then, in an effort to digitize me, he bought me a Palm Pilot for Christmas one year (found it yesterday in the computer hutch).  Now, my handy-dandy (actually, it’s in pretty rough shape right now) DROID is my go-to for everything.  The monkeys have to hit the “memory” button on the house phone to call any of the grandparents, and Grizzly can’t recall a number to save his soul, I think.  Many times he’ll ask me to call someone because only one of us has the number.

As I re-vamp my binder, I realize how many of the details I used to keep there reside now in my cell phone.  This is good, because who wants to tote a binder with them everywhere?  Besides me?  But last night was an example of how I need to keep up with numbers outside of my DROID. (My phone would not turn on and stay on at Bunco, one of our players was ill, and I needed to call my BFF, whose number I do not memorize,  to sub.  It didn’t work out.  We ghosted the missing girl the rest of the night.)

My binder chore activity today is Section 2, The Phone.  This will help Grizzly and the monkeys if I’m not home to give them a number off the top of my head.  What information will go in the section?  Any number we might need to know!

  • family
  • friends
  • numbers Grizzly and I need for work – employees, subs
  • phone numbers for activities – church, karate, bunco
  • services – repairmen, utilities, etc.  I actually have some business card pages from the last time I kept up with my binder.   They were inexpensive, hold 10 cards to a page, and fit perfectly in the binder.
  • restaurant info & takeout menus – because we do so much dining out (NOT!)
  • anything scribbled on a scrap – Monkey 2 has misplaced her boyfriend’s phone number
  • anything important on the house phone caller id
  • phone message forms

I think that’s everything.  Do you think I missed something?

Are you tackling a management binder, too?

~ Katie

Frequently Called Kids Friends Numbers

Frequently Called Numbers

Frequently Called Numbers to Add

Frequently Called Restaurants & Takeout

Frequently Called Services

Phone Messages

Phone Numbers

{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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