Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1st Kiss

I got my first mom-kiss today. We were playing on the floor, practicing everything my little boy knows (his favorite pass time). He knows animals like: dog, cat, birds, cow, pig, sheep, elephant, and tiger. The elephant is a must-see. He raises his arm when he makes the sound to look like a trunk. Gets me every time!
He also has some sign language down, and we practiced words like "ma", "da", "ba", and our most recent "ca" (car). I then asked if he would give mommy kisses (he usually blows kisses with his hand) but he stood up and leaned in to give me a kiss! So. cute.

He has decided mint cookies n' cream isn't half bad! This was stolen from Daddy's bowl...

A face only a mother could love. <3
Just wanted to brag about how smart (and adorable) my little guy is! That is all. Hope you have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Organize: Coupons

I have been couponing on and off for about a year now. I have gone to strategy classes, read books, and researched how others organize their coupons to best utilize their savings. I don't like to spend a lot of time clipping, storing, and rummaging through a bunch of clippings in order to save $0.40 on eight items (and only then, if its not expired). At the same time, a tight budget means more motivation for me to figure out a way to make it work for me. In that effort, I have taken little bits of different strategies to make my own, and I am constantly revamping it.

For me, a physical organizational system is key to getting me to actually give it a shot. It also must be attractive, so I am happy (or even excited) to use it. Again, I couldn't find something that fit my personal organizational needs, so I buckled down and made my own. Yes, I am posting it as a freebie too.

Now the physical organization takes an initial time investment. But it is well worth it when you don't have to spend the time looking for lost and crumpled coupons floating around in your purse and pocket (yes, personal experience does help the cause on this one...)

First: collect your coupons. (Expired coupons can be donated to the military! Did you know that? Just found out myself!)

Second: Separate your coupons into categories. (ie. Food, beauty, pets, etc.) I used tabs in my binder for each of my categories. I also made the divider pages to go with it. You can find them here:
Coupon Binder Dividers

Next, organize coupons as desired within the selected category. I use a new page for each type of coupon. For example, in the food section I have a page for dairy coupons, a separate coupon for frozen, etc. I've made it easier to tell what page I'm looking at by attaching a tag to the pocket with a paper clip (that way, they are still movable should the need arise). These can be found here
Coupon Binder Organizer TabsYou will find my flag tags for types of coupons, along with months, "use by" tags (that can be laminated for reuse) and store name tags. I also included some blank ones so it is more custom to your personal style. 
I used double sided tape for categories I know I'll keep around as their own page...
For most categories I used paper clips to keep things flexible within the inner workings of the binder. That way, as coupons change in and out I can keep things clearly labeled. I hope these will help you as you organize your coupon loveliness too! Please leave a comment if you do use them and tell me what you think! (or you could leave a comment anyway.)

 There are a variety of different sections but I made sure to include a "Favorite Stores" section to keep my store coupons separate from my manufacturer's coupons. It helps me know where I need to pick certain items up.

As for the "Use by ___" labels, I am not yet organized enough to use them fully. I saw them while internet surfing and thought they were a good idea. Laminate them and use a dry erase marker to keep track of expiration dates, etc. 

Hope you like it! Please,let me know if you do use it! And good luck organizing! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lessons Learned: Moving

Funny thing about renting... your landlord has considerable amount of control over your life... our landlord decided to sell the duplex we have lived in for almost 3 years now. As it turns out, the new owners would like to move in. And it would be terribly crowded if we were still there... Thus our search for a new place to live began.  It has been an interesting journey for me. We have lived in that little duplex since we got married. The appraisers, inspectors, real estate agents, prospective buyers, appliance guys, and every other stranger you could think of has come through to look at my little piece of life...

We didn't move far, but we did change cities. And we still had to pack all of our stuff... Our new place is another duplex, but it is not on a busy road and has a fenced back yard for my little guy to play in safely. The added bonus is the raspberry bush and the pear tree! :)

We are sad to leave our old place. We lived there ever since we got married. A lot of our "firsts" were there. Our first job change, our first baby, his first steps, first Christmas... This new chapter of ours is scary, exciting, and new. I cannot believe we have already been here at our new place for a week! There are still boxes everywhere, but we are almost ready to have people come over... almost...

I have learned a lot through the process of moving and thought I would share some of the more... helpful lessons I have learned.

1. Attitude is everything. Moving can be a chore or an exciting new adventure. Once I decided to make it the latter of the two, things got so much easier.

2. There are a lot of places where you should change your address...After living in the same place for almost 3 years we have accumulated a few things that have our address on it...More than I thought. I took some time to compile a list of all the places that are suggested that you make sure your address has changed. I used it as a checklist for us (even though there are more on the list than we needed for now. It will be helpful next time we move too.) If you are interested in my list you can see it here.

3. Boxes can be found for free, just about anywhere. Call the grocery stores in your area to find out what time they get their produce. Then meet them there to haul away their boxes. (It was early in the morning for us.) The liquor store has sturdy boxes with separators that are perfect for things like glasses, glass jars, soaps/shampoos, etc. And I was even told that you can check behind stores like ROSS and TJMaxx because their boxes aren't dirty, but still sturdy.

4. Purchasing real packing tape goes a long way... when your boxes hold together it makes the process a whole lot easier...

5. The dollar store is a great place to find cleaning supplies that you can throw away when you are finished cleaning.

6. Unpack the kid's room first... arrange it as close to normal as possible. The more comfortable he is, the more sleep we all get.

7. Make sure the utilities are switched before you move... especially the gas... no gas= no hot water... and a cold shower after a long day of moving is not ideal, though it is refreshing.

8. When unpacking it is important to keep an open mind regarding where your stuff should go. If it isn't terribly useful, get rid of it. Otherwise, creativity can be your best friend as you fit your stuff into a new place.

9. Bins are your best friend. (As are diaper boxes.)

10. Plan on spending more money than usual on food... cooking becomes a thing of the past as you pack and clean (especially after you pack your kitchen...) so eating out is a easy solution. But what I didn't count on was the few days after the move when my kitchen was still in boxes... Thanks to our wonderful family members for taking care us!

11. Now that I live in a place with no AC my creativity in cooking has had to rise to the challenge. What things can I make for my family, that do not heat up the house? I have crock pot, rice cooker, electric griddle, microwave are all options for heating food... salads and smoothies help keep things cool. More on those adventures in detail over at What's Cookin'?

12. Take it and run with it. A move is like a new beginning, with new opportunities to become more like the person you want to be. Change will happen. Why not make it for the better?

I am sure this adventure will be a great for us. We are closing a chapter in our lives and are opening a new one as we situate ourselves in this new place, new neighborhood, and new start! Wish us luck!