SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

I tell you what, if you like to read my blog, you owe a big old “thank you” to the Realest Chick I Know.  Every time I turn around, I’m getting a text, “I have an idea for your blog….”  This lady is pretty smart, well-spoken, and creative, whether she wants to admit it or not, and I really think she could do this pretty handily herself.  Until she does, though, I’ll keep getting her blog requests!

Where I grew up, school won’t be starting until next month, but many schools in Louisiana are starting already.  For the past few weeks, mamas have been running from store to store, attempting to obtain the best deals on supplies and school clothes.  I, personally, haven’t been in such a big snit about it, which I’ll explain later on.  Real Chick knows how deep my cheaptitude runs, and suggested I post some back to school shopping tips.

Supply Lists

The schools my kids have attended have been ever so helpful by publishing mile-long “required” supply lists on their websites. When I’ve been pressed for time in the past, I’ve ordered supply packs through the schools. (In my experience, Kindergarten and 6th grade have actually been the most atrocious and expensive, but that’s another story.) Many of our local stores have copies of supply lists available, also.  Heaven help you if yours is one of those schools that doesn’t send a list until the first day of school!  However, as a mom and a teacher, there are a few things I suggest always keeping on hand:

  • filler paper – keep a good supply at home, also.  School supplies in the district my kids have attended become community property, which is why Monkey #1 goes through 5 packages of filler paper in the first two weeks of school.
  • pencils, pens (blue/black/red), and highlighters
  • calculator – you can get away with the cheapie $1 variety until upper elementary or middle school, I think, but I’d go on and buy the scientific calculator when the price is right.
  • ruler – I love the wooden ones, but there are also very destructo-kid-friendly bendable rulers that are well worth the cost.

Shopping the Sales

About a month before the start of school, the stores start running decent sales.  I will usually take the sales ads from all of the local stores and start price matching with my supply lists.  The stores I shop for school supplies include:

Notice I’ll shop all of the discount stores, grocery stores, drug stores, and office supply stores.  Some of the stores offer very similar deals, so I don’t go to every single one of them.  I also check the websites to see if I can get some good deals that way.


I love a good rebate on something I need to buy anyway.  Yesterday, CVS was offering Extrabucks on some of their school supplies.  SOmetimes it is worth it to spend a little more up front to save later on.  I’ll often use Extrabuck to purchase items that usually don’t offer coupons, or maybe to get an item free.

I also keep an active Paypal account.  Last year, I receved a great offer from them – spend $50 on and receive a $15 bill credit.  Did I spend more than I would have otherwise?  No.  I already planned to purchase 2 uniform bundles and a zipper binder and Walmart had the best price.  I used Paypal to make the purchase and then paid Paypal the next day.

Tax-Free Weekend

Louisiana is one of the states that holds a tax-free weekend before school starts.  You know when that weekend rolls around because Friday and Saturday, you can’t find a parking spot at Walmart, Target, Academy Sports, the malls, etc.

I actually try not to shop that weekend.

This is my thought process:  All you aren’t paying on Tax-Free Weekend is the state sales tax.  I think in Louisiana the state sales tax mght be 4%.  I have to spend $100 to save $4.  To me, it just isn’t worth the hassle.  It’s one of the rare occasions that my dislike of crowds is more important than my desire for ultimate cheaptitude.


Just like my grocery and cleaning needs, when I find a great deal on school stuff, I stockpile.  Last year, Kroger had composition books on four for a dollar and I purchased 12.  Office Max had free composition books for every $10 spent, with a limit of 3.  Not only do the monkeys use these for school, I require them for my students – and I know some families have problems getting everything, so I help when I can.  Besides being prepared for later in the year when the monkeys have used up their 60 #2 Made in the USA pencils (yes, Curtis Elementary had this on the 4th grade supply list!), I also have things on hand I won’t need to buy the next year.

Remember that some stores (i.e. Walmart) will price match. Carry your ads with you!

Shop All Year

I check the clearance sections and dollar bins wherever I go, whenever I go.  I’ve gotten pencil sharpeners, erasers, etc. nearly free by doing this.  You might be surprised at what you can find when it isn’t in “season.”


I cannot stress this enough.  Coupons are king in my school shoping strategy!  Just last weekend, there was a coupon for Georgia Pacific paper products (hello, I always need copy paper!)  Throughout the year, Bic and Sharpie have coupons.  And most school supply lists request Lysol, Clorox wipes, Ziploc Bags, paper towels, Kleenex, etc. – use your coupons!

Brand Name

I never understand the requests for specific brands.  As a teacher, I expect two particular novels, paper, and pens.  I’m not picky!  But I remember the year Monkey #1’s supply list specified brand name Play-Doh, Crayola (only) Crayons, and a specific red construction paper – that was only available at one store in Shreveport-Bossier.  If I can catch a great price on these items, I’ll send them.  Otherwise, the teachers need to get over themselves.  I will not eat Ramen Noodles in order to have name brand products in the community chest of supplies.

School Clothes

I consider myself blessed that we are in uniforms!  In the past I’ve gotten online, ordered a couple of “bundles” and been done.  When the monkeys were very little, up to size 6, I was able to go to the fake hair place and purchase 4 pairs of pants nd 4 polos for $50.

Again, you need to watch the ads.  $5 for a polo shirt is a good deal, shorts can go as low as $7, and I’ll buy pants around $10. I’ve bought uniforms from discount stores, department stores, uniform stores, sporting goods stores, etc. Last year was the Walmart bundle year in the House of Cheaptitude.

Another really good option? Hand-me-downs! For two or three years, Monkey #1 received really nice uniforms from my two younger cousins. When my sister was here, I passed our uniforms to her and she’d pass them back for Monkey #2. Now when Monkey #1 outgrows uniforms, I store them until they fit Monkey #2. Shopping that stash this week, she’s good to go for Friday Spirit shirts this year. Friends and family with same or similar dress codes are great options for school clothes.

Like so many other things, I stockpile school clothes throughout the year when I find good prices.

These tips can be applied even if you’re not in a uniform school.

Why is this year no big deal to me? A few weeks ago, Grizzly’s mom knocked out several items from Monkey #2’s list when Kroger had their big sale. I started sorting yesterday and then shopped my stockpiles. Between the two monkeys, I had to purchase maybe a half dozen items (pocket dividers, new binders, scientific calculator, art eraser), under $30.

What strategies do you use in back-to-school shopping?

~ Katie



Sale (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers l’Été ))


I posted back in December some tips and tricks with car-buying, as well as my experiences so far with my 2007 Camry LE.  If you don’t remember, here is a snippet:


Following are some things I have learned about cars and car-buying:


  • Educate yourself ahead of time.
  • Get pre-approved if you can.  It really increases your bargaining power. And saves you from potential embarrassment.
  • Shop around!  Do not plan to go home with something that day.  Look at different dealerships and test drive a variety of cars in the size and price range you want/need.  I love a Camry but I won’t rule out an Altima or Malibu if I can find a better price and the car is comfy for a household of Sasquatches.  I might even extend my search to a small SUV (um, no, not really!), but I really like the gas mileage in a car.
  • Find a salesman who isn’t a jackhole.  You don’t have to be their best friend, but you will be dealing with him/her for at least a few hours, and that time should be tolerable.  When we were on our GM streak, I dealt with one salesman.  I would haggle him to death, but we both came out winners every time.  The blue lemon?  Not so much.
  • Ask for a lot more than you want for your trade.  It doesn’t always work, but I ended up with $1,850 for an ’87 Bronco II that had a bad transmission one time.  I had expected about $3-500.  Be sure to find the Blue Book value of your trade before you go shopping.
  • Try to have some kind of down payment.  It needn’t be much, but more companies are willing to finance your loan if you’re actually putting down some cash. When I bought the blue lemon, I had about 2 years left on my note for Grizzly’s truck.  That note was paid on time, with extra, every month, but that company that held the lien on the truck would not finance the lemon without a down payment.
  • If you’re buying used, look at the extended warranty that is offered.  I’ve never believed in them, or even needed them, until this car.  You definitely want to have something in place at least while you’re paying the note on the car.  Apart from the Bronco, this is the only used vehicle that has given me so much trouble.
  • Check out the service department.  Talk to people who have used the service department.  One set of my parental units purchases their vehicles at one Toyota dealer and goes to another across town for parts and service.  I like the guy with whom I deal at my dealership, even though I am often frustrated with the service.  He’s given me enough breaks that I’ll continue our business relationship a little longer.


So a new car has been on my list for a minute.  And I never get rid of a car before it’s paid off.  NEVER.  A few weeks ago, I realized how ridiculous it is that I pay so much money each month for a vehicle I hate to drive.  Because I didn’t want to run into financing issues again, I called my credit union last week and did a loan application by phone.  The 2014 models are beginning to come out, there have been some great ads lately, and my credit union is offering fabulous interest rates this month.  My request was approved and the words from the girl in the loan department were “Go shop.”


I posted on Facebook that I was looking at cars and was contacted by a guy from my graduating class in high school who is now a salesperson for a Ford dealership in Stonewall.  Being business owners ourselves, Grizzly and I like to do business with folks we know.  Grizz, after our Camry experience, is concerned about warranties (Ford and Nissan offer the same one!)  I need a mid-size sedan and the Fusion sounded like a good car.  In fact, I was all set to drive down there last Friday to pick one out.


Until Mechanic Man told me about aaaaaalllllll of the problems he sees in Ford Fusions.  He recommended I check out the Chevy Malibu instead.


Please note:  I know James would have done everything in his power to make the numbers work for me.  He’s a great guy and people who didn’t attend school with us told me to go see him!  The way things are going, I probably will go see him and try on a Fusion.


I realized at that point that I had skipped several tips along the way.  I was having to re-think my plan.  Granny-at-the-Farm told me to use the weekend to “do my homework” and start looking Monday.


That’s what I did.  Mechanic Man sent me several notes about service update on a bunch of cars. Granny-at-the-Farm loan me her Consumer Reports.  I valued my car on several different websites to get some ballpark figures in mind, such as Kelley Blue Book, USA Black Book,, and NADA – max value is still a little less than I owe.  I also started Googling (surprise!) to find out what problems owners of the different 2013 mid-size sedan models are having.  I requested information through websites on each of the cars I was shopping.


I had a 9am appointment today at the local Nissan dealership.  The sales rep was a really nice guy, finally got the numbers where I wanted, and I was quite pleased – till I sat with the finance manager.  Apparently the out-the-door price?  Well, it sent me out the door in my old car.  They added the upside down portion of the Camry to the “out-the-door” number, which put my payments too high again.  The greasy finance guy apparently doesn’t speak English (I don’t need to apply for credit because my bank pre-approved me!) and he tried to bully me into a loan I can’t afford.


I kind of liked that doggoned Altima.  I could see where it would be fun to drive.


So I took my purchasing team to lunch to regroup and went to the Toyota place in Shreveport.  I’d been emailing with a sales rep there about the new Camry.  Not as many bells and whistles as the Altima, and the interior is ugly as sin, but it’s an acceptable car.   I test-drove one and it’s kind of like a security blanket – I’m used to driving a Camry. (I also tried on a Prius – negative!! Backseat is roomy but the front area is CRAMPED!)  But again, the numbers weren’t working.  I left because of around $3,000.


To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.  I really hoped to get this particular project knocked out today.  My top two car choices aren’t working out, due to numbers. And if either dealership had come off the darned sticker price, we’d be done.  I felt really badly for the guy at Nissan – he’d gassed and cleaned the car already.


If this adventure is anything like those in the past, I will actually hear from these sales guys by the end of the week.  It happens to be the end of the month and the 2014 models are already rolling in.  And the Realest Chick I know is having a poop fit because she’s away now and she loves to wheel and deal, she has a Nissan guy, and I’ve not gone to see him yet.  I’m being offered a decent number on my trade, so it’s doable.  I’ve also spoken to a Hyundai salesman and I have a Chevrolet guy to talk to.  Who knows, I may end up going to see James about that Fusion yet.


Everything comes in time.  Just not always when or how we want.


How was your last car-buying experience?


~ 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



As I clean and declutter, one thing I’m focusing on is the best use of my available space.  When I clean out a drawer, I ask myself, “What is the best use for this drawer?  What needs to be in it?”  Before you can organize a space, I feel you have to give it a purpose.

Take, for example, my repurposed hall closet.  It used to store crafts and games and anything that was in my way.  I emptied it, wiped the shelves down, and decided how I could best utilize that space.  Because of its size and location, I decided to make it a linen/stockpile closet.  Towels, bed linens, and bathroom supplies are now residing in that closet.

After you decide on an area’s purpose, you have to decide how to keep it organized.  I find it easier to do this before I get started, rather than try to fix it down the road.  If you follow my phenomenal friend Jeepnmom‘s blog, she has made incredible progress in her kitchen/dining.  The reason these changes work is because she has a plan.

The Linen/Stockpile closet has bi-fold doors and then shelving (I think it was a coat closet once upon a time).  The shelving is not of the most ideal configuration, but I’m making it work.  For me, it didn’t make sense to designate this shelf for towels and that for sheets. I’m a container girl.  My towels are folded on a shelf, but my rolled washcloths live in a small CD crate next to them.  For my stockpile storage, I had some photo boxes on hand (often 3/$5 at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby) and they work well for deodorants, shaving stuff, lotions, etc.  Shampoos, conditioners, and body washes stand up in plastic sweater boxes from the dollar store.  Another shelf has a four-drawer organizer I’d purchased years ago from AVON, and in it I’m storing batteries.  There are small baskets containing lightbulbs, candles, and other things that I need to keep on hand but not necessarily access on a daily basis.

As with my other spaces, this closet is a work in progress.  And like my other spaces, I use containers to keep things situated and separated.  I’m going to add labels to the fronts so that anyone can find what they need, when they need it.  I’d love even to containerize the towels and bedding at some point.  I plan to add a tension rod to one side of the closet to hang my pants hanger with my table linens.  Even though I’ve containerized this space, I’ve not purchased anything for it.  I’ve used what I already have on hand and I think that’s important.  Why spend money when I have it already?  Sometimes you just have to be creative and make do.

How do you organize your spaces?  Containers or no containers?

~ Katie


{February 22, 2013}   Shower the Baby

A week ago CrazyMathLady called me from Wal-Mart.  This is not my idea of a good time for any reason.  This lady is not married, has no kids and was shopping for a baby shower gift.  Of course she calls me.

Bless her heart!

The baby shower was for one of her good friends, a first-time mom, and CrazyMathLady is even more practical than I am.  For the most part.  We had discussed the shower on our way back from Bunco, and agreed that everybody and their mama would be purchasing sweet smocked baby clothes for Expectant Mom’s little bundle.  I gave birth to a linebacker and a point guard, so most of that kind of stuff went to waste in the House of Cheaptitude.

I like practical.

I told CrazyMathLady to buy infant medicines, ointments, thermometers, nursing pads, etc.  And a big package of pads for Expectant Mom.  These are things new moms often don’t think of stocking when preparing for a new addition, and most shower guests (especially here in our part of the world) like to purchase frilly foo foo smocked monogrammed baby stuff, so I thought this would be a great gift.  Expectant Mom will thank her when the first ear infection starts.

I like practical.  So does CrazyMathLady, and I actually get quite tickled by her practicality sometimes.  Her classroom was always devoid of all of those cutesy teacher wall decorations and it was flawlessly organized.  One could tell when she was impressed with a kid’s work, because that was the only time stuff was displayed.

I invited her over one evening that I planned to scrapbook and she played with paper punches all night.  I think it was the Geometry aspect.

So after she bought out the baby section of the health and beauty aisle at Wal-Mart, she texted me a picture of her packaged gift:


She doesn’t often get fancy-pants creative, but this is too cute!  CrazyMathLady went to the craft section and bought stickers to decorate the little Rubbermaid box.  I did notice that stickers are pretty evenly distributed, but math people tend to have a touch of OCD.

I’m so proud of her creativity, I just had to share!

What kind of shower person are you?  Cute and fancy or practical?

I love furniture.  I love to look at it, try it out, shop for it, buy it.  My sweet husband tells people he is perfectly safe sending me to Ivan Smith with every checkbook, credit card, and tiny bit of cash in the house, because I probably won’t buy anything.  I take advantage of the “x months, no interest” financing when buying furniture and refuse to buy any more till what I have is paid off (always before the promo period is over!)  We’ve slowly replaced our second (third, fourth) hand furniture over the past few years.  My living room was a bit of an impulse buy, but we’d needed to replace the hand-me-downs for a while.  My bedroom I shopped for over two years after the living room was paid for before I bought it, and my favorite chair was at Big Lots several years before I gave myself permission to bring it home.

In my living room, I had this wicker chest (hand-me-down) as my entertainment stand media unit for the first several years we lived here.  I have an idea in my head of what I want and I will not pay for something less.  But with the furniture swapping around that occurred with my bedroom purchase, I was left with extra dressers.  Something in me will not allow me to get rid of a dresser.  The one I had in Granny-at-the-Farm’s old house as a teenager was not in the greatest shape after both monkeys used it at different points, after probably twenty years of my not-so-gentle care.  But it had great bones.  With Pa-Paw’s help cutting shelves, I transformed that old dresser into a perfectly acceptably media unit.

We still have lots of hand-me-down furniture or things we bought from my mother-in-law when we moved into the house.  Some things are slowly making their way to new homes, some just to new purposes.  One that is finding a new purpose is the funky stool.

The funky stool lives in my garage.  It’s one of those little wooden stools you can buy at the craft store.  It’s had foam placed on top and fabric stapled over it.  It is FUNKY.  Grizzly’s friends sit on it when everyone hangs out in the garage, but I have a better purpose for it.

My beloved chubby chair is not a recliner.  I think it’s called a club chair.  Or a tub chair.  Anyway, you can’t put your feet up, unless you’re Monkey 2, who curls up in the chair like a slithery snake.  I’m going to repurpose the funky stool as a foot stool for my awesome chair.  One of the pillows that came with my couch was the victim of a tug-of-war between the monkeys and the four-legged kid, and is not fixable – as a pillow.  My plan is to take that fabric to make a new top for the funky stool.  With some paint and a little stuffing, the fabric matches all the other furniture, and I’ll have a new stool.

Without going shopping.

Are you addicted to furniture?  What’s your favorite piece?

~ Katie

I’ll come back & post pics later!


{February 2, 2013}   Oh, My! (Garage)

ga·rage  (g-räzh, -räj) n.

1. A building or indoor space in which to park or keep a motor vehicle.
2. A commercial establishment where cars are repaired, serviced, or parked.
tr.v. ga·raged, ga·rag·ing, ga·rag·es

To put or store in a garage. (source:
My garage defies’s definitions.  In fact, I do not believe a vehicle has been housed in my garage since my in-laws lived here, many moons ago.  When we moved in, our garage was an obstacle course of clothes, boxes, books, and other forgotten/left behind scraps, souvenirs, and stuff.  Over the years, those things have been containerized and relocated, either to the attic, various houses, or Goodwill,  replaced by my little family’s own junk belongings.  None of which include a vehicle.
In the bursting metropolis of SoBo, few of our friends actually use their garages for parking cars.  Most of our circle consider a garage a three-season party room, an extension of the home, a true entertaining space.  When we invite friends and family for cook outs or other social occasions, everyone does gravitate to our garage.  Maybe it’s because Grizzly has moved the grill from the back porch to the driveway (yes, we are redneck like that) or because it’s open enough to smoke, but our garage has become party central.
The part that bugs me about it is that my garage is a mess.  It is not a room.  It is not the man-cave I envision.  It is not the stockpile storage I crave.  It’s a cluttered wreck.
I had such high hopes, thank you Garage Majal.
My next major project is to organize the garage.  A few years back, I moved a tv, stand, and vcr out there for the kids.  I had no purpose for that stuff in the house anymore and as much time as we spend in the garage, it keeps them entertained on rainy days.  Grizzly inherited a kegerator from a friend who transferred to Hawaii, and it still needs a little bit of work, but it will eventually save a fortune in beer.  There is a set of shelves  I made him for Christmas over ten years ago to display his NASCAR die-cast collection.  The die-cast have disappeared over the years, but there are things on those shelves.  They’re too shallow for stockpiles, but will be great – eventually – for grilling gadgets.  I also have two school desks the monkeys have outgrown that I can’t bear to get rid of (they’ll be useful for something) and 2 old dressers where I store some of my stockpile items.
If I can only get it organized!
Grizzly wants it transformed into a magical man cave with the kegerator in operation and a pool table at the ready.  I’m cool with that.  I could even see running satellite to that old tv.  But I need a little space and request the far wall.  I’d like some of the heavy duty wire shelving like they use in the hospital.  Then I could see parting with those dressers.
Valuable real estate, currently going to waste at the Queen of Cheaptitude’s house.
Any ideas?
What’s your next major improvement project?
~ Katie


Monkey 2 desperately wanted Santa Claus to bring her a dream house for Christmas.  Along with a variety of accessories for her doll and the desired house, of course.  Her daddy and I explained that Santa can’t do everything he used to because so many of the elves joined the union and their hours are much shorter.

No lectures, please.

I remembered when I was a little older than Monkey 2 and really into my fashion dolls.  My grandma made lots of clothes for my dolls but I really wanted a house for them.  My dolls had a sweet silver Corvette and a four-wheeler (it really worked!) but they didn’t have a place to live.  My mom’s friend was really crafty and made an amazing dollhouse from some cardboard boxes, wallpaper samples, and corkboard.

It was the best dollhouse ever.

I had told Monkey 2 about it and she decided that, although she still wanted the elf-made version, it would be pretty cool to build her own dollhouse and decorate it the way she wanted.

Good save!

This morning, I woke at seven and started grading essays and inhaling coffee.  Typical Saturday.  But Monkey 2 started rustling around early today, too.

“I’m ready for a grown-up lady craft,” she told me.  “I need a box.”

Looking up from a pretty decent essay, I waited for her to explain further.

Barbie needs a house,” she said, thrusting a mylar mini-skirted diva at me.  I convinced her to give me thirty more minutes with my essays and then we would start.

So this is what Monkey 2 and I crafted today and how we did it:

We took a box from the meat processor, probably 14x14x30 (but remember, I’m NOT a math person).  We cut out a window first thing from the bottom of the box, which would now be the back wall.  Using duct tape and glue, I tacked down three flaps to the box, leaving the fourth as part of the dollhouse floor.  The outside has not been painted or papered at all, because I think we’ll be adding an “upstairs” so that Monkey can have an elevator.

Then we got into my scrapbook stash.  Monkey 2 would have liked to use the same Valentine patterned paper that we used on her hair bob holder, but I only had one more 10×10 sheet, so she settled on some blue flowered prints and green dotted swiss.  We glued a smaller print to the “back wall”, a larger print to the sides, and the green forms a chair rail and flooring.  Monkey 2 scotch-taped all of the seams.

We haven’t made curtains or rugs yet but I have some fabric that will be great.   I also have yet to address furniture.  I can see a battery operated string of Christmas lights around the “ceiling.” This will be an ongoing project. Obviously.

No pics yet, but I’ll edit my post and add them in when we take some.  Monkey is so proud of this project and keeps telling me I’m the “best dream house builder, ever!”  I’ve always said this kid is just as happy with a box as an expensive toy.

This was a quick and easy way to bring some sunshine to my baby – and I exercised my cheaptitude muscle, wasted not, and had the chance to be creative.  Do you have any crafty projects going this weekend?

~ Katie


{January 5, 2013}   Making Progress

2:30 Saturday…I’m sitting on the couch with “reality” tv playing.  Mt. Washmore, freshly cleaned and piled in baskets, stares at me as I drain my third pot of coffee so far today.  The kitchen isn’t clean by a longshot.  The living room is a wreck.

But I see progress.

My utility room is straightened.  I’ve organized the cabinets in there.  The tops of the appliances are clean.  And my old friend, Precious, gave me a brilliant idea for my nonfunctional dryer: store my orphan sock baskets! Woo hoo!  Easy access when I’m emptying the working dryer!  (thanks, girl!)  I repurposed a cake pan lid to line the bottom of the cabinet underneath my store-bought detergents (Scent-Away for hunting clothes) and moved my Kleenex stockpile to the hall closet, along with some random candles, empty plug-ins, and store-bought room sprays (thank you, amazing coupons!)  A few cleaning things have relocated to the cabinet under the kitchen sink, which is still pretty organized.

All that is left in the utility room is to pull out the appliances and clean from behind them (ugh), which for some reason takes the power of She-ra.

Part of why I’m drinking coffee and watching Bravo TV.

The problem with cleaning a room is that another room takes a beating.  My kitchen is the next room past the utility, so guess where things landed in the de-cluttering process?  Thankfully, I filled another donation bag as well as the waste basket.  But the kitchen counters still took a hit.

Monkey 1 unloaded the dishwasher for me and I’ve already started another load.

I put away everything from one countertop and wiped it down.  All I need to do to that counter still is restock the towel basket and empty the dish drainer.

Things left to do:

  • Clean out “junk” drawers
  • Clear counters
  • Clear table
  • Clear top of fridge
  • Wipe down surfaces
  • Sweep floor
  • Mop

I’ll get to it.  I may even post “after” pictures.

I’m realizing my house may not be clean by the time I go back to school.  But I’m making progress.  That’s got to count for something.

~ Katie


{January 4, 2013}   Cleaning Out My Closet

I hate cleaning my closet. Which explains why it looked like this till 3:30 today:


And my stupid phone died before I took pictures of the bottom. Horrible!

According to my organizing books and a good Google search, I realized there is no one best way to organize a closet. So, with my DH due home within an hour or so, I completely emptied the closet. Not just shoes and apparel. Oh, no, I found half-finished projects, scrapbook pages, old lesson plans, as well as two sticker books I’d gotten for the monkeys the year Toy Story 3 came out.  Not good.

The thing is, I got brand new bedroom furniture this summer. I kept my room SPOTLESS till September-ish. I just kind of forgot the closet. Oops.

I decided the most important thing was to determine the purpose for that piece of real estate. Obviously,  clothing storage. And it needed to be readily accessible. The layout pretty much stinks, but I am really good at making lemons into lemonade. Till Monkey 1 goes to college and his room becomes my closet.  But I digress.

Part of the problem with my closet has been that it is way overstuffed. Every piece of clothing that came out of my closet was tried on.  Some things I’ve never worn (hand-me-downs or “great” buys), some things I’ve not worn in years, and some things just didn’t fit at all.  Now, pants for work I’ve invested a good deal of money since starting to teach and I will just get a lot of those altered if possible.  But blouses that are too short for my 5’11 frame, shoes that are not comfortable or are not functional for any function, dresses that I never should have worn all hit the Goodwill bag.

I left Grizzly’s clothes alone after a quick re-organize.  He’s not the clothes-horse he was when we met, just a shoe-whore now.

Then I had to sort all of the stuff that had been crammed in the closet.  Movies and TV series that I kept in our closet so we could watch in our room (The Sopranos, One Tree Hill, The Godfather) all came out to the living room.  School stuff has just been set aside to be taken to my classroom.  Projects have moved to the hall closet to be finished, hopefully this weekend so I can complete that closet finally.  Extra pillowcases, blankets, etc. have been added to Mt. Washmore.

And this is what I ended up with after:


Please excuse the glarish, fuzzy Droid pics. My DH and I have completely separate sides of the closet now.  Ok, he has one side and I have the rest, but I’m a girl so I can do that.  There is a hanging organizer at the back of the closet for my purse skirts and other accessories.  Stashed underneath and behind that are photo frames – I haven’t found another home for them yet. Above the organizer I have my dressy shoes and purses.  DH’s shoes are on the floor on his side, while my sneakers and slippers are on the floor on my side.  In an awkward corner of the shelf on my side  I have a box of baby keepsakes (cut down dramatically!) and Monkey 2’s very expensive Pooh Bear bank that her Grandma Cher gave her as a baby.  Also on the shelf on my side, I have folded all of my spirit t-shirts.  I used to hang them so they’d be easily accessible, but think this will work better, especially after I containerize them.

I think that covers all of it.  You’ll notice I haven’t got pictures of the rest of my room on here!  Work in progress.  Is it ideal?  Is it perfect?  Heavens no!  But it’s a lot more functional than it was.

I absolutely must give a shout-out to missscarlet88 because her blog inspired me to tackle my closet yesterday.  Left to my own devices, I’d have waited for a snow day.  And probably made jelly instead!

What projects will you tackle in this New Year?

~ Katie

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