Friday, May 13, 2016

Salt and Baking Soda

Living is expensive. There are so many things tucking at your wallet. House cleaning product is one of them. You want your house clean? there's a product for every nook in your house.

Years ago, when my older children were younger, money was just not there. However, regardless how "difficult" life seemed, we had a wonderful family life. I would not trade my family for anything else.

Lacking of monetary means forced me to look high and low for all sorts of saving tips. I used to be the coupon queen before it was cool to be one. Eating "rubber chicken" before it was a trend among the struggling young families now. And of course, eating organically was super expensive at the time when I realized box foods were not really food. Haha!

In order to eat better, I needed to find other ways to save. My home-made cleaning product was born out of that necessity. Some of the habits from then I still use now.

Since our finance have improved somewhat (after all the ups and downs with unemployment during the late 2000), I have moved away from some of these wonderful home-made cleaning gems. But now that we are doing the Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom, I decided to take a look at what expenses have we gotten relax on. Well, cleaning product was one of them. Hmmm, that is a post for another day.

Back to my current post. Because we had a crazy month last month, I had let my stove top gone to a place I can't and don't want to mention. So this morning seemed to be a good time to tackle it, because, why yes, we were having company. Imagine that!

After I used Melaleuca's Tough & Tender to soak on the crusty, with some what burned-on stove top and scrubbed away. It took forever and the stove top still looked horrible.

Well, my company came and I was not going to work on the stove top while they were here. My friend's mother, who is probably about my age, casually glanced over my stove top and said: Salt and Baking Soda.

Bingo!!! Duh!!!!

I have completely forgotten that trick! Thank you K for the reminder. After they left, I went looking for my box of salt I know I have it here somewhere... We have started eating sea salt so I don't buy table salt anymore. So glad I found a box of Kosher salt in the pantry.

No water needed. Just salt and Baking Soda and I scrubbed away with a piece of paper towel. No chemical smell, no harsh scrubbing. All things natural and all the grease and dirt came off! I am a happy "young wife" again.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Minimize It Monday - Traveling wardrobe

We are home from our whirlwind weekend trip attending our daughter's out of state graduation. Since I am still catching up with all the to-dos this will be a short and sweet post.
When I was packing for the trip, I had only one thing in mind - travel light!
I don't do the capsule wardrobe concept but I do maintain a seasonal exchange closet. I have been methodically building up my wardrobe color, which is black and white mostly for traveling/last minute dress-up event needs. However, lest you worry I am a colorless person (far from it) I do have a closet full of other color clothing, mainly the casual wear. Black and white is my solid, will not go wrong, color scheme for dress-up events. :)
With the "light traveling" thought in mind, I took a quick collection of the clothing I needed for the three days two nights stay, and here was what I brought with me - all in black and white:
Two black pants - one slack and one skinny jeans. One black and white flower long skirt. Two nice tanks - one black and white stripe and one solid black. Two pairs of shoes - one dress-up and one semi casual. Three sweaters - one white, one black and one sparkling (which I didn't end up wearing). Two sets of necklaces, one formal and one semi casual. Two short night gowns - one satin gray and one cotton white with little pink flowers (not pictured - it was a last minute grab) and three sets of undergarment, also not pictured. :)

Everything fit in this small carry-on - I even decided, in the last minute, to keep my nice shoes in the shoe box, which was also in this bag. 

I love simplicity.

And the whole weekend went well. We are so proud of our daughter finishing her college BA degree right after high school. If you have attended college, you'd know the effort it take to finish that race right after high school.

At Baccalaureate night

We even got to celebrate Mother's Day early, in person, this year. And she hand-made me this sweet card. :)

That's it for today!

Have a purposeful Monday!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Minimize it Monday - Calendar Squares

What a super busy weekend we had! I am still recuperating from it today.

As I was contemplating what to minimize today, I saw my planner from the corner of my eye. Ahh. Yes, sometimes, minimizing our busy days is actually a wonderful project to launch, and what better place to see what our days are really like than looking into our family's calendar/planner?

Seeing some empty squares made me so happy. Nowadays, empty calendar squares are hard to come by, no matter what your age is.

Our calendar maybe fuller or emptier in the coming months, it all depends on how we want to use our days. My goal is not to fill it so full that all I would be doing is just to check off the boxes (or squares). We have many milestone celebrations this year so our calendar is mostly full for the summer. I am praying when Fall comes I will be able to minimize the busy squares on our calendar.

Increase empty calendar squares. increase our trust and rest in the Lord for our days.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday for Friday

I have always loved Fridays. It has meant different things through the years. But mostly, Friday always means happiness.

When I was in my youth, Fridays usually meant the beginning of a wonderful beach trip with my siblings promised by our father. We would wait *patiently* for him to finish his nap and then GO!

When I was in my late teen years, Fridays meant a fun weekend to be have with friends.

When I was a newly wed, Friday was always a movie and eating out combo (date night was not a normal term in those days for me)

When I was a young mom, Fridays meant house cleaning days. I was trying to live my newly changed life on other week days!

When we first decided to homeschool our children, Fridays had been mostly quizzes and tests days.

Now that we are homeschooling our last child, Fridays have become a welcoming break from the more strict routine of the previous weekdays. We will watch movies at home when the works are done and eat pizza or home made burgers and fries for dinner. Oh, and ice cream for dessert (ice cream is only served during weekend nights. It has been a "rule" since our first child could eat)

Fridays have always been a synonym of relaxation, easy-peasy days, most of the time, at least.

But for some reasons, our Fridays have become busy lately. Saturdays, too.  I somehow seem to be able to pack these two days solid with lots of to-do's. I feel it and I don't like it. I have noticed our weekends literally just zoomed by, every week!

Today, not sure how it happened, I felt like it is a Friday. I did a lot of errands but somehow in my mind, it felt like a Friday. So I rolled with it. We got our homework done. CC is over now so I mainly just do light review and Language Arts and simple math with P since he is still in the lower elementary level of learning. I spent the day like half Thursday and half Friday, if that make sense. I really like it, and tomorrow I would have a half Friday half Saturday kinda day, I assume.

I guess the weekend seems to last longer when I feel this way? Hmmm... we shall see.

Weekend means family time to us. Perhaps that's the reason I wish to have it last a little longer...

Anyway, I will try this Thursday for Friday mindset for a few weeks and see how we like it (mainly for P and me) and may report back here. :)

Happy weekend!

P feeding a giraffe on a Friday zoo field trip.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Minimize It Monday - Procrastination Piles

We all have them. You know, on the floor or in the bags, the boxes, the baskets, the bins.

When we throw those "to be xxx" into those containers, we had one goal in mind - the stuff will be taken care of after this time or event. The reality is, while it tricked us thinking they are contained (especially in pretty container), 90% of the time, the stuff just sit there. And the containers multiplied. So did our shoulder pain, aka stress.

I have  a few  many of these containers. I call them my Delinquent Boxes (DB). They are mostly papers. It shocked me because I usually process mails that got into my home immediately. Where did all these boxes come from? I decided to grab a box today and examined the content of that DB. Sure enough, most of them are school papers (we homeschool do CC) and bill invoices (regardless I have many bills paid automatically).

Why is that? Why is that I couldn't control this part of my life?

As I went through the DB, my mind was made up to make this my paper de-cluttering project for the duration of this year. I want to lick this monster. Paper piles stress me most out of all other kinds of piles. It is a constant cue that I am either avoiding certain reality or my priority is just not parked in the right place.

So first thing first, I eliminated one bin. Shredded many papers and sorted the copies (which I will go further to cut down before "filing" them) I will, however reluctantly, be sure to change some more statements from paper format to pdf on the company's website.

It is always good to set small goals. My humble goal of sorting through this DB today was reached! I took my first bite of this elephant. I am ready for another bin bite tomorrow.

This was the most recent DB so I started with it... the bin is not even mine....

An hour later... cleared box, clearer mind. The bin will be returned to its owner in a couple of days!

Now onto making a bill binder.

Do you have any Delinquent Boxes?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Above the Line Shopping List

I opened the refrigerator this morning and noting down items I needed to buy as the fridge is getting empty and my big shopping day is not till next week. I quickly wrote down some items on the back of a receipt. Moments later, My big boy came and said: "Mom, there's nothing in the fridge... when are you going to pick up some food?" Hmmm.... Guest I had no choice but made a dashing trip to TJ before lunch time.

On my way to the store, I was thinking why do I still write things down? Why didn't I just print out a bunch of the shopping lists I had created and just grab one whenever I needed it? Well, I know the answer, I just did not want to admit it - the list was the way I wanted it to be, not what needs to be. I had all my "wants" on it, whether we can afford it or not.

The list worked well for a while, a long while, mind you, as long as I put the "want" items on credit if I ran out of cash, which happened a few times too many. Slowly and by God's grace, I had come to terms with my shopping "wish list" and need it to reflect our current budget plan. The desire of wanting a new list finally caught up with me today.

When I was making the left turn to enter the shopping center, a light bulb went on. We are currently in one of Dave Ramsey's Money Make-over classes and last week he shared one of his experiences (on video) about how he and his wife had to sit down and made an "Above the Line" budget sheet. Basically, anything above the line got paid, anything below the line got paid when there's extra money. Thank the Lord we didn't have to do that with our finance. We have debt but not as horrendous as the one they had. We are in the class for a different reason, that's a post for another day.
Anyway, that "Above the Line" idea sat in as I was thinking about how to redo my shopping habit/list that I got so excited when I came home I quickly revised the list.

The new list gives me a very clear picture where all the dollars go (one of DR's strong teachings - give every dollar a name) Anything above the line of the shopping list we NEED to have in the house every week, even though some of the items lasts more than one week and only need to be purchased once in a while. None the less, it helps me to budget better and hopefully to avoid the question from my son: "Mom, when are you going to the store...?"

The old list - it served us well for many years. If anything, it helped me to try to stick to the list when I go shopping.

The revised list prints on both sides. Now I know the food budget allows me to get things that are "above the line" and if we have extra, I could shop something below the line. Lets you worry, ice cream is above the line. ;)

I also learned that instead of buying Tarter sauce, I can combine these two items and they taste exactly like tarter sauce and oh so delicious! I learned this trick from the "Chef" behind the TJ Taste station. Now I don't buy the use only a couple times and throw away Tarter sauce!

Maple Syrup, My kids love them. It is a staple goodness in our house. Because I am watching the budget like a hawk right now, I picked this smaller jar for this month. I usually buy the 32 Oz. one but since we are revamping our budget I decided not to break the bank for it on today's quick shopping trip. I don't buy a lot of stuff but I do try to buy the good ones whenever I can.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Minimized It Monday - A few years later (!)

Wow! As I clicked to start a new post I glanced over to see when was the last time I wrote an entry, it was THREE YEARS ago, on a Monday!

I am on the de-cluttering mode again, after living here three plus years. I want to start documenting our lives again. I really missed blogging. It was great soul therapy in the years past when I did.

The room I have started with is our school/library/office/guest room. Yes. It is in a dire need of tidying up.

It took me all this time to hate, to love, to accept, to accommodate this room. Then, all at once, in the beginning of this month, I FELT ready to tackle it. I am still in the tidying process. I took my time and because it's my Minimized It Monday, I thought it would be great to start blogging again and share my life once more on this small pad of Blog Land.

I didn't take a "before" picture, just imagine there were more bags and stuff all over the bed. This is a "during" photo.

Not the best picture but it's a start.

And I wonder how many of my old readers still check-in on my blog. :)