A Few Things I am loving right now!

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  1. La Croix sparkling water.  Every now and then I like to spice up what I drink, and every now and then Aldi brings this in as a special buy $3.99 for an 18 pack.  It is SO much better than most other seltzers, although Polar is hard to beat.  Whole foods and a few other grocery stores as well.  My favorite flavors are grapefruit, orange and berry.
  2. YouTube Channel Clean & Delicious.  A reader shared this with me a few days ago, and I am totally hooked!  This gal has some great recipe videos, but she also has healthy dessert video and healthy meal prep videos.  I never would have thought to turn to youtube for some cooking help, but I am super impressed!
  3. My ridiculously expensive pair of Cole Haan Tali Bow Flats.  This was a TOTAL splurge a few weeks ago.  But this pair of shoes is SUPER cute and super comfortable.  I got them in a black,gray and beige snake skin print, and they go with everything!  So, while not frugal in one sense, I think they are going to serve me well in the long haul, and wearing them makes me smile, so that is worth something too right
  4. Microsoft OneNote.  I have been a long time user of Evernote, and have really loved that app for personal use.  However, at work I got a free copy of OneNote, and have really been enjoying all of its features.  I was able to easily create a digital bullet journal and have been able to keep impeccable notes and tracking for work.
  5. Mini Succulents I purchased a mini succulent terrarium on Etsy a little bit ago, and I am really loving look at these tiny plants.  So far they are all still alive-which is a huge feat for me!  The tiny cactus is just so cute.

What are you loving this week?

Mission to Minimalize | update #3

Mission to minimalize

Progress has been slow, but steady.  I am learning to have patience for myself as I adjust to working a new job and a new schedule.  We haven’t done any “serious” downsizing.  But we have been doing a better job of tidying up and decluttering every few days. I am pretty pleased that 2 more rooms are done.

Here is the progress so far:

Downstairs  

Living Room – We don’t have much in our living room and it’s mostly furniture.  A couch, love seat, 2 sitting chairs and 2 end tables.  I did finally organize some of my board games and kept the ones we like to play a lot upstairs, and moved some older ones down to the basement.  We also went through some of Little Bird’s toys.  We keep a few trucks under the chairs as well as some other toys.  We moved his blocks upstairs and brought his legos down.  So now all his toys in the living rooms can be stored under our 2 sitting chairs.

Dining Room–  This was another easy one.  We have a dining room table and 6 chairs, china cabinet, small dresser, buffet and book shelf in the dining room.  Even though we eat dinner every night in the dining room-it sometimes becomes thecatch-alll for paperwork and miscellaneous stuff.  I went through and sorted through old paperwork, and threw away some old cards and tucked everything back in its place.  I also sorted through some of our table linens and picked out some old placemats that have seen better days to donate.  I am sure there is more stuff in the this room I could find to give away or donate, but I am going to call it done (for now).

Foyer

Kitchen

half bathroom 

Upstairs

Master Bedroom |

Bathroom |

Little Bird’s Room |

Guest Room

PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor

Living Room |

Office 

 

Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals?  Have you made any progress?

 

See my other mission to minimalize posts

Mission to Minimalize

Mission to Minimalize | update!

Mission to Minimalize | update #2

What I’m Watching on Netflix. . .

Sometimes after a long day, long week, etc.  I LOVE to sit and relax while watching a good movie, or TV show.  I am super excited because one of my favorite movies is back available on Netflix (Midnight in Paris)!  I go through phases where I can find lots to watch on Netflix, and other days where I feel like I can’t find ANYthing!  I normally love watching documentaries, but haven’t seemed to find any that interest me recently, so that category is seriously lacking from my list.

Here is a short list of some of the recent great movies and TV shows I’ve been watching.

Midnight In Paris (2011) rate PG-13
A Woody Allen movie, and one of my favorites!  A young hollywood screen writer finds himself traveling back into the 1920’s and meeting some of the famous writers of that time.  Romantic, nostalgic and quirky.

Woman In Gold (2015) rated PG-13
Based on a true story about art restitution.  An elderly Jewish refugee, Maria, fights to ger her families painting back that was stolen by the Nazis before WWII.  A feel good movie, with a happy ending.

Finding Dory (2016)  rated PG
The sequel to Finding Nemo.  An excellent family film, and in my opinion even better than Finding Nemo.

The Great Brittish Bakeoff
I am totally addicted to this show!  I have watched most of the seasons live when they come to PBS, but I could watch it over and over again.  It is a friendly Brittish cooking competition show, where amateur bakers have various challenges.


Have you watched any good shows or movies on Netflix recently?

How I eliminated paper from our kitchen (using cloth napkins and dish towels)

Since Mr. Bird and I first got married we have hardly ever kept paper towels or paper napkins in our home.  One of the biggest reasons we first started doing this was cost.  We didn’t have a ton of money, and I didn’t want to be spending money on something we were always throwing away!  We were lucky enough to have a moderate supply of cloth dish towels and cloth napkins.  We had received some as gifts for our wedding but also were given some hand me downs.  My aunt one year cleared out all her “holiday” dish towels that she didn’t want to store to use just one time a year.  We happily used these all year long to avoid buying paper towels.

I think the key to being able to successfully eliminate paper towels and paper napkins is to have enough cloth.  I only have to wash our kitchen laundry once a week.  I keep a milk crate easily accessible in the kitchen as a “hamper”.  I find that the cloth towels and washcloths do a better job than paper, and are much nicer for wiping and cleaning up Little Bird.

 

Here is a picture of my “stash”.  The OCD/minimalist part of me wishes everything was the same color, size and what not.  But the frugal part of me LOVES that most of collection was gifted to us or free hand me downs.  I store our cloth napkins in a bowl on our dining room table for easy access.  I store my cloth towels and dishcloths in a bin in our kitchen storage unit.  

Here is what a basic stash consists of:
24 microfiber cloths – $15 on amazon
5 flour sack towels – $8 at wal-mart
about 24 dish towels – 12 for $24 at amazon
12 wash/dish cloths -24 for $12 at amazon
24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon
Total for the cloth kitchen stash = $109.
Ok, so while this might seem like a lot!  You can slowly build your stash over time, and I bet you might even have many of these things at home to begin with.  These cloth items will last you at LEAST 5 years, and you will see savings in the first year.  One of the biggest things I had to get over was “saving” something for a special occasion.  I now have enough cloth napkins that I do have some that I save for when we have company over (our everyday ones have seen better days).  I am often gifted patterned/seasonal dish towels.  For some reason I wanted to save them and keep them “looking nice”.  Once I got over the fact that they are meant to be used, and that might mean they get stained–things have been going smoothly.

Cost to use paper towels
2 rolls or paper towels per week (average $1.50 per roll) = $3/week or$156 per year
For 5 years that is $780!
(you can head on over to a post growinggreenfamily wrote a few years back with more details of costs savings)

The laundry is definitely something to consider.  I love doing laundry, and it fits easily into my schedule to do an extra load a week of our kitchen laundry.  I am able to use my soapnut laundry soap without any issues. In fact, I have actually found that my kitchen laundry is coming out CLEANER with the soapnuts than with traditional laundry soap.

A bonus to doing kitchen laundry is that folding towels is nice and easy for toddlers, and is a great way for them to learn to help out!

 

Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to saving money and maintaining sanity.  What are some ways that you save money that don’t feel like an extra burden?

**this post contains some affiliate links, I may recieve some compensaiton should you purchase from the link**

 

 

Our Favorite Board Games

Do you love board games?  Well, I do!  I am known to keep Bananagrams in my purse and whip it out appropriate inappropriate times during coffee dates or when waiting for a meal at a restaurant.  Mr. Bird and I also sometimes relax after Little Bird goes to bed with a quick game.  And I love hosting game nights!  If you are looking for some good board games, here is a list of some of our favorites!

Bananagrams! Similar to scrabble, but speed and flexibility are key to mastering this word game.  Great for 2 players, but you can play with up to 4.

Dixit  A family game for kids ages 8+.  A low-key story picture guessing game.  For 3-6 players.This is a favorite of ours, and we have yet to find friends or family who doesn’t enjoy it.

Forbidden Island  A collaborative everybody wins together or loses together game. Another low key game, however, this one involves thinking and strategy planning.  For ages 10+ and 2-4 players.

Ticket to Ride A game similar to Monopoly in which there can be multiple strategies to succeed.   Using cards/tickets you will build your train from destination to destination. A great game for 2-5 players and my guess is age 10+

Anomia  I have friends who LOVE this game, and friends that hate this game!  It is a fast-paced, word/symbol association game.  I think its one of those games that if you think a certain way you enjoy it, and if you don’t, you hate it.  I for one, LOVE IT!  For 3-6 players.

Sushi Go A quick, fun and quirky card game where you try to combine cards to create sushi combinations for points.  It’s a quick play.  Ages 8+ for 2-5 players.

Last Word!  This is a super fun party game!  It is recommended for ages 14+ and 2-8 players (although you can play with ANY number of players if you have coins or tokens to use as score pieces).  This is similar to a hot potato word game.  Fun, easy and great for a crowd!


What are your favorite games?

 

DIY Magnesium Lotion Stick (with essential oils)

DIY essential oil magnesium lotion stick
Ok, so why magnesium in a lotion stick.  I started using a magnesium spray supplement to help regulate my sleep better.  I had read that it helps to promote a more restful sleep.  I ordered this spray from Amazon initially, but then realized I could make my own spray and save money with magnesium flakes.
I was looking for a “gentler” way to give LittleBird magnesium.  Magnesium spray can sometimes sting when you are first getting started with it.  I had seen recipes for magnesium lotion, but sometimes I don’t like to get my hands messy, and I have been really loving my lotion sticks, so I decided to come up with a magnesium lotion stick!
Oh, and one more benefit of magnesium!  There is a growing body of research that suggests that morning sickness is a result of magnesium deficiency.  As someone who was throwing up for 30+ weeks, I will try ANYthing, ANYTHING to prevent this from happening in any future pregnancies.
WellnessMama has a ton of information on Magnesium as does Dr Axe.  Check them out if you want more information about magnesium.  I tend to take all information from their sites with a grain of salt and balance it with my own research and knowledge.  
Magnesium Lotion Stick Recipe
ingredients:
1/8 cup magnesium flakes (i use these)
2 1/2 teaspoons boiling filtered water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax
2 tablespoons mango butter
5 drops of vitamin E oil
20-30 drops of essential oils (I used YL gentle baby blend, but any relaxing blend will work)
2- 2 oz tubes (like these from amazon)
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Measure out the magnesium flakes in a small container.  Add the boiling water and stir until magnesium flakes start to dissolve.  Additional heat may be needed to fully dissolve the magnesium (i put mine in the microwave for 15 seconds).  Add the beeswax to a glass jar submerged in a pot of water.  Or place in a double boiler.  Add the magnesium mixture and heat until the beeswax is melted.  Measure out and add the coconut oil to the magnesium mixture.  Then add your vitamin E and essential oils.  Pour into your tubes and cool to set.
Below are some pictures of my process!
Dissolving the magnesiums
Dissolving the magnesium
melting in my "double boiler"
melting in my “double boiler”
The finished product-cooling
The finished product-cooling

 

Mission to Minimalize | update #2

Mission to minimalize

So actually ended up starting my new full time job this week!  I found out pretty last minute my  date was moving up 2 weeks.  Oh boy was it a scramble to get myself ready.  I had some shopping for work attire that I needed to do, and wanted to stock up on some household essentials as well as finishing my decluttering goals!  There is still a lot left, which I guess I will squeeze into evenings and weekends.  But here is our progress so far

Here is the progress so far:

Downstairs  

Living Room

Dining Room

Foyer

Kitchen

half bathroom 

Upstairs

Master Bedroom | Let me start out by saying our “master” bedroom is tiny!  It has room for 1 queen bed, 2 very  small nightstands and 1 mid-sized dresser.  And that’s it.  So this room constantly feels “cluttered” in my opinion, but I think its just too small for a “master”.  The largest bedroom in the house has outdated drop ceilings and old carpeting. Our goal is to re-do that room this year and turn it into a master.  I do think I did a great job of cleaning out and organizing our clothes.  I got rid of almost 2 trash bags full of unworn and old clothes.  I kon-marie’d our dresser and folded the clothes sideways instead of in stacks.   At first I didn’t like it, but I think it has been easier for me to see what is in my dresser.  It also has made it more obvious to me what clothes I am not wearing.

Bathroom | I guess I need to call this more of a declutter than a true cleanout/minimalizing.  But I did get a lot of crap stuff back in it’s place and organized the medicine cabinets and shelves.

Little Bird’s Room | This was not super time consuming and but definitely emotionally draining.  It’s so clear when I shift out his wardrobe that he is growing up so fast.  I love the toddler he has become, but I miss that squishy baby.

Since the season are about to change, I was able to pack up some of the winter stuff that he had outgrown and switch in some spring clothes (mostly hand-me downs and gifts from my in-laws).  I also organized his bookshelf and packed up some of the books either he is not interested in, or that my husband and I are sick of reading.

Little Bird loves to bring some of his favorite toys to bed with him, so I sorted through a bunch of trucks, care and trains and returned them to their proper home.  I also sorted through his cloth diapers and straightened that area up, packed up a few things we don’t use anymore to make room for pull ups and underwear!

Guest Room

PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor

Living Room | I went through and packed up some of the toys that Little Bird no longer plays with.  I sorted them to save and packed some up to give away.  We have a large entertainment unit/storage that is mostly empty!  I want to figure out the best way to store some toys in there so we can lessen the toys that are out in the open.
Office 

 

Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals?  Have you made any progress?

 

See my other mission to minimalize posts
Mission to Minimalize
Mission to Minimalize | update!

Mission to Minimalize | update!

Mission to minimalize

So this last week came with a huge job update for me.  I have been in a holding pattern for the past few months waiting to start my new full time job.  I just found out a hopefully official start date of mid-march.  The race is on to get decrease our posessions, clutter and stress in just 2-3 weeks.

Here is the progress so far:

Downstairs
Living Room
Dining Room
Foyer
Kitchen
half bathroom | although probably the smallest room in our house, and possibly the easiest.  I am glad this one is done.  I went through the medicine cabinet and threw out old expired medications.  I sorted through my cosmetics and threw away and gave away some of the items I don’t use.  I also went through some of the lotions and soaps and decided what to keep downstairs and moved some to the upstairs bathroom so we can remember to use it up.

Upstairs
Master Bedroom
Little Bird’s Room
Guest Room
PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor
Living Room
Office This was tackled by Mr. Bird!  Woohoo.  We have been working on painting and rearranging the 3rd floor.  He took it upon himself to organize and consolidate the office area up there.  Glad this one is done.  I hate organizing office stuff.

 

Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals?  Have you made any progress?

How I stay organized

Staying Organized

Life is busy.  But here’s the thing.  It is busy for everyone.  I do not like being that friend that spaces out and misses a coffee date, or the wife that forgets that my husband has a big work meeting or a mama that misses a school party!

Here are some of the tools that I use to keep organized.

 

download-1Google Calendar:  I use this like nobody’s business. It syncs to my phone, so pretty much I always have access to my calendar.  I get reminders on my computer AND phone.   I add events for my personal calendar.  If I have something that means that my husband needs to be home with littlebird–I invite him to it and add a note saying that he needs to make sure he’s home, OR if he has something schedule I know to get a sitter.  I am starting to use this feature if I make plans with a friend-I invite them to my google event too.

I also use this as a reminder tool.  I will schedule reminders such as schedule dentist appointment, call and cancel this credit card, when library books are due, etc.

 

Paper Calendar:  I do like to keep track of personal goals, and some to-do lists on paper.  For this I use a simple paper calendar.  This year I am using a cute personalized one my mother in law got for me.

 

download-3EverNote:  This app has changed my life.  I have barely touched the surface of all this app can do.  Right now I use it for meal planning, blog planning, storing recipes (food and essential oil).  I also create notebooks to store vacation notes, health information, home information, work paperwork.  I can access it on my computer and my phone.  I can add pictures instantaneously, sync PDFs and link to websites.

 

Waking up Early:   This might seem silly, but if I wake up at 5am, 2 hours before littlebid wakes up, that is 2 WHOLE hours I have to think and plan clearly.  I don’t spend all this time planning/organizing, but it gives MrBird and I a chance to sync up about our day or week’s schedules without being interrupted.  It also gives me time to plan and assess.  I might be a little more tired from waking up early, but I am certainly less frazzled!

 

Patience/Grace:  Despite my best efforts, I am human and imperfect.  I miss deadlines and I make errors.  I try hard not to beat myself up over these things.  I give myself grace, and realize that I am busy, and have a lot going on. I try to figure out what happened and see if I can prevent the same mistake from happening again.  AND I apologize to whoever I impacted with my error.

What are your must-have tools for staying organized?

My Kitchen Must-Haves

must have kitchen tools and gadgets

A well-oiled kitchen is worth its weight in gold!  We just finished a very small kitchen update.  This update has made HUGE changes in how our kitchen functions, and I couldn’t be happier. Between my new kitchen layout and some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, I have been happy as a clam and cooking more than I ever have!

Being able to cook and enjoy it saves us money in takeout and eating out costs.

Here are some of my favorite Kitchen Items:

Small Appliances
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Cuisinart Food Processor (I have this one)
Electric Kettle (this one)  I was given this as a gift from my sister 3 years ago!  She got one as a wedding gift from someone who highly recommended it.  My mom got one shortly after, and then my other sister got one a few years ago as well.  Basically, it is well tested by my family and works fantastic!
Vitamix-for the smoothest soups and smoothies!

Tools
Vollrath Metal Bowls (size 1-1/2, 3 and 5 quarts and 8 quart)
Metal Measuring Cups and Spoons
Quality Knives   This is such a personal preference, I have an older version of this set.  I like the smaller blade/handle set up for my small hands.
Sheet Pans.  I have 6 of these!  I use them for baking and roasting veggies.
9 x 13 metal pans.  I have 5 of these, I love that I have enough that I can double make recipes and freeze one in a metal pan.  Saves me money in the long wrong from buying disposable pans
Digital Scale.  Maybe not a necessity for you.  But one of the recipe blogs I love to use, uses weights for most of the measurements.
Microplane/zester

Cookware
I would LOVE to own a full set of all clad cookware, someday maybe.  But right now I have a set that was a gift from my mom when I was in high school!  I kept it in my closet until I moved out on my own. It’s a stainless steel cookware set with copper bottoms. I really do use the whole set.  I have added a 5-quart pan with lid, and 2 nonstick pans.  I wish I had a non-stick brand to recommend.  Despite valiant efforts, I feel as if I have been replacing these every 5 years.

Food storage
I try to avoid storing and reheating food in plastic.  I love the pyrex glass containers, as well as an old set of Corningware baking dishes with glass lids.  I also use mason jars for storing soups and salads.

Serving
A large serving platter is a MUST, if you spend all this time cooking good food, you want to be able to present it nicely to your family and/or guests.

A fancy cake stand to display your desserts.  I just have a simple glass one.  But I have been everything this one at Macy’s

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets, or kitchen must-haves?