The Thrifty Persons Guide To Cash Envelopes.

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Our family has used cash envelopes for years. In fact I can’t remember a time in our almost 20 years of marriage where we haven’t used cash envelopes to pay for at least a few day to day expenses.

The why how and what of using cash envelopes to save money

 2 Major Reasons People Use For Not Using Cash Envelopes & Why I Don’t Agree With Them

1.Carrying cash is  a safety issue

I hear this excuse a lot; “I don’t carry cash because I know this person who does and it got stolen out of their purse”. True cash can be stolen but so can your bank card number. Trust me I have personally had my bank card replaced twice now due to  leaked banked information both from in store purchase and online purchases.

2. Carrying cash is inconvenient

If people don’t mention the fear of getting their cash stolen to me then they usually bring up “I don’t want to make a trip to the ATM for cash it is inconvenient.  Yes it does take time to run to the bank for cash but, I think it takes less time than trying to add up all I spent at the end of the day to make sure  I didn’t go over budget.

2  Major Benefits Of Cash Envelopes

1.Cash Envelopes Save Money

We have a cash envelope for gas money. I know some would argue that gas is one of those expenses that you can use a debit card to pay with because you are not going to buy more gas than need, however we save 5 cents per gallon by paying cash at our local gas station and that savings adds up.

2.Cash Envelopes Make It Easier To Stick To A Budget

Cash is something physical you see in your hand. When it is gone it is gone. No fancy calculations and spreadsheets needed to keep track of how much you spent and how much you have left.

How To Decide What Expenses To Use Cash Envelopes For

Our family uses cash envelopes for date night, eating out, gas and misc (this usually goes for postage stamps, library fines, the odd thing we need here and there during the week).

You will notice that I don’t use cash for groceries. I did at one time but stopped; here is why, I love eating out, but I am naturally thrifty at the grocery store and won’t buy what isn’t on the list and my list total is always under our grocery budget.

What does that mean? It means that if I take out cash for groceries but don’t spend all the money on groceries I spend the extra in the envelope on take-out (yes I know this is a huge cash envelope no no). If I instead leave the grocery money in the bank and use what I call an in account envelope, I save up the extra to buy food in bulk at Sam’s club, or to take advantage of a rock bottom price deal and increase my savings. When my savings pool up to a significant amount we might consider transferring some out to help us meet a financial goal.

The trick is knowing what areas you naturally overspend in and what areas you are a natural thrifty person in. For those categories you overspend in use cash envelopes to keep you in line. For those areas you are generally thrifty in keep a running tab in your account instead.

Essentially cash envelopes are great for those areas of your budget that  are your weakest link. If clothes make you scream “charge it” making clothing a cash envelope.  If you are a foodie and have problem resisting gourmet food make groceries a cash envelope. You know what your weaknesses are.

Deciding On The Perfect Cash Envelope System For Your Needs

We started out with paper envelopes and had them for years. Then a few years back I got the idea to take a a TJMaxx bag apart and using colored duct tape made a set of sturdy and durable cash envelopes that are still going strong (that is a picture of  them above)

If you don’t want to make your own cash envelopes but still want something more long lasting than paper A Time For Everything is an Etsy Store  sells amazing cash envelopes in awesome patterns made out of a very durable fabric. (I am not an affiliate, I just happen to have seen reviews about these from people I trust, and heard the owner talk on the podcast Brilliant Business Moms and loved her story. This is truly a family business).

Another  option is to use a coupon size expanding file case. I have a friend who uses one of these for her cash. She keeps a small Vera Bradley change purse in the back of the file case for change. She really likes this system because she says it allows her plenty of room to keep receipts which she finds handy to refer to  when the money is gone and she wonders where it went.

Does your family use cash envelopes? Why or why not?

money saving tips a growing list (small)

Want to make the money in those envelopes go further? Check out all my money saving tips.

Linked to Frugal Friday,

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Snapshot Thursdays: A Birthday, A Candle & A Good Mail Day

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

thomas 19th bdayOn Valentine’s day my eldest child turned 19! Yikes! It was kind of a downer of a birthday. Not because we didn’t try, it was just that the crazy Indiana weather didn’t agree with us that day.

We were going to go to a neighboring town to celebrate at a restaurant he like but we had to turn off the main highway and head for home due to white out conditions created by blowing snow. I know it was a smart decision but it did make for a boring birthday.

We told him, once the weather gets nice again we will have a family re-do Thomas’ birthday outing.

His 12 year old sister made and decorated the cake almost all by herself this year. It is one of many things I love about my son, he is kind enough to let his sister bake and decorate a heart shape cake for him, even though he  out grew the whole Valentine’s heart birthday scene years ago.

maple & cinnamon spice candle from epantry

My second order from ePantry arrived last week. I am in love with their soy candles that are scented with essential oils. I treated myself to a Maple & Cinnamon Spice one and OH MY! It smells amazing. It makes your whole home smell like you have cookies baking. If you haven’t tried out ePantry yet you can start your account with a $10 credit by using my referral link.  I am very impressed with the customer service of this company.

a thrifty mail day mypoints & tyndale rewards

My daughter and I came home from an errand the other day to a full mail box. Three things in the pile made my thrifty heart swoon.The latest issue of fitness magazine that I got free from mycokerewards . The new Sally Clarkson book Own Your Life that I got free from Tyndale Rewards and A $25 dollar gift certificate to Panera Bread that I earned through shopping online through MyPoints.

3 Deals I Had To Share

schoola free shipping (sized)

Right now at Schoola you can get free shipping with the code HURRY. If you have not signed up for schoola before you can also enjoy a $15 credit on your first order when you sign up through my referral link . This means that you could snag 1 to 2 pieces of clothing for your kids free right now by using your credit and the shipping code. The credit should show up in your account when you sign up (from what I understand this will show up in the checkout area). Once you are done shopping, share the news with a friend and if they shop too you will receive $15 in credit.

Schoola is an online consignment store that donates 40% of sales to schools. You can even pick the school if you want. They sell clothing for boys and girls all the way from tiny little ones to full grown teenagers.

(note I got an email last night saying the free shipping was ending soon but when I checked it early this morning it was still working, if there isn’t free shipping you should still get $15 credit)

Walk by faith combo $9.99

For today only you can get this Walk By Faith Combo from Dayspring for just $9.99. It includes a mug, journal and perpetual calendar set. Set it aside for a birthday gift or Mother’s Day.

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How to Earn a Shutterfly photo book a month using Bing Rewards

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If you are like me you have years worth of photos sitting on clouds, memory cards, and on your laptop (that you pray won’t crash because you know you should back those photos up but haven’t gotten to it yet; or is that just me :) )

How to earn a shutterfly photo book a month using Bing Rewards Takes under 2 minutes a day

Over the last few years I have kept fairly up to date on turning the current years photos into photo books from Shutterfly. I have also managed to get a few of the past years photos in albums too, but I still have several more years worth of photos to convert from digital to something you can hold in your hand and flip through (also something that doesn’t ever crash, or become too outdated to view).

To keep the cost low I have used various free sources of Shutterfly codes, mostly found by following both Money Saving Mom and Shutterfly on Facebook and clicking the “get notification” tab on their Facebook page so I see their updates.

These codes make the cost of a photo book just shipping only which for me currently works out to right around $9.

However the free codes are only available often enough to keep me current. To get through my back log of years that are stuck in digital photo land I need another source of inexpensive Shutterfly photo books.

For my backlog I have also used My Coke Rewards points since it is a perk of my husband’s nasty 2 to 3 cans of coke a day habit.

I am going to guess though that some of you out there though may not have a loved one addicted to a cola product and therefore you might need another source to receive free Shutterfly book codes.

Well you are in luck. Bing Rewards offers a cash out for a 8×8 hardcover Shutterfly book for just 470 points and you can easily earn one to two of these free  per month through just 2 to 3 minutes of work within the program each day. Considering a book is worth $29.99 you are earning a pretty good return on your time spent ($20 per hour if I did my calculations right).

Remember you will still have to pay the shipping cost, but you do that with pretty much any Shutterfly free code.

How to earn a Shutterfly photo book a month using Bing Rewards

1. Join Bing Rewards: Click here to join

2. Each and every day go to your Bing Rewards dashboard and see if there are any bonus points available for the day. These might be questions or just clicking and looking at a site. There is usually at least one a day and they just take a second to do and earn you one point.

3. Complete your 30 web searches on your laptop for your daily 15 points. Here is a tip when you click on the “PC Search” section it currently takes you to a news tab, hit “web” at the top of that tab and then begin you searches using the “related searches” area found down the side of the web page. It will make your searches go a lot faster.

4. Cash in at 470 points  for a free hardcover 8 by 8 Shutterfly photo book. You should be able to do this approximately every 30 days.

To earn more than one photo book a month and to get to your very first Shutterfly photo book faster, after you have signed up for Bing Rewards download the Bing Rewards app and do 20 searches in it daily for an additional 10 points. This will cut your time down to earning a Shutterfly photo book to 19 days. Meaning every other month you can claim 2 books.

Seems like a pretty simple way to keep the cost of photo albums low, and get that back log of digital photos into a form you can flip through while having loved ones cuddled up beside you, regardless of whether your tablet has battery life.

Plus if you should catch up on your photos you can continue to earn points using Bing Rewards and cash them in for other rewards such as $5 gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks and more.

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 8

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I  procrastinated on doing this week’s project leaving it until just yesterday. Problem was yesterday seemed already packed and I woke up in a grouchy mood, meaning I really had to push myself to get the work done.

side table I decided to do the one last area of the dinning room that needed decluttering. I call this our side board. It is really just a $7 yard sale find I had my son repaint. I am not sure what the pieces original purpose was but it fits in this spot of our dinning room perfectly

We use it mainly to store some photo albums, the kids Nintendo DS systems that they don’t use except for when we go camping (yeah we don’t rough it when we camp) and my husband’s paper piles.

Just like I use the top of the dresser in the dinning room as my home office, my husband uses several baskets on this piece of furniture as his home office. Not ideal but it works.

empty side boardFirst I emptied out the entire cabinet. Then I gave it a good dusting. I also pulled it away from the wall and cleaned behind it.

I then went through the contents. I didn’t add much to the giveaway pile. I did have a pile of small tools to put downstairs and a pile of cleaners to put in the bathroom. The end result is not impressive, mostly because a lot of the paper stuff is my husband’s and he wasn’t home when  I did this so I got rid of 100% pure junk only, like receipts for take out meals, and left the rest of the stuff for him to go through.

side board doneI guess it does look somewhat neater and I do now have an entire empty shelf. I am thinking of finding a basket that would fit in the empty shelf so my husbands paperwork could go in there instead of the one on top of the cabinet. That would free up space for a framed print to be displayed. I really do prefer display items only on top of furniture.

Oh and if you are wonder what is in those three sugar bowls those are my children’s pay slips for chores.

What did you declutter this week?

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52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)

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Healthy Eating Goals Update: And Why I Am Adding One More Habit

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One of my goals for this year is to form healthier eating habits. Since I started blogging I have put on 10+ pounds. Until late last year I was blaming the weight creep almost entirely on all the sitting I now do instead of all the painting and renovating work I use to do with my hours before I started blogging.

6 habits to form this year for healthier eating creating good eating habits one inch at a timeHowever certain health problems started popping up in my life last year that made me pay more attention to my diet and what I quickly realized is that my activity isn’t the only thing that has decreased since I started blogging, my good eating habits have also decreased.

I sat down and made 6 healthier eating goals for the year, so I could give 2 months to making each a new life long habit.

 How I did With Healthy Habit #1 In January & February

The first habit I worked on was portion control. I decided the best way to do this was to use my Lose It app and chart my calories. I was aiming for 6 days a week, I managed more like 3 or 4 days a week.

I don’t feel disappointed with myself though, as I think the frequency I did chart helped me be more aware of what is a healthy portion for me and what is too much.

It also made me more aware of just how many calories my workouts do burn and how easily it is to eat up the calories I burn in an average workout.

Going into month 3. I have decided to continue charting calories but with one difference. I did have my Lose It app set to lose 1/2 pound a week and was charting my workouts. I have now decided to set my calorie intake app  to maintenance mode and not chart my workouts.

The reason why is I found myself eating food just because the app said I could on my workout days, where as on my non-workout days I often found myself hungry and out of calories. I am hoping that by keeping my calories the same regardless of my workouts I won’t over eat just because an app says I can and I will have more calories available on my non workout days.

If I truly am hungry on my workout days and out of calories, then I will allow myself an extra snack of around 200 calories.

I think by doing this I should perhaps go beyond the weight maintenance that I did for the for the first 2 months of the year and perhaps see a small weight loss.  Although the main goal is to maintain my weight this year, honestly I would love to lose at least the 5 pounds I gained last year.

healthier eating goal steps

How I am doing with the remain 5 healthy habits

I might be concentrating with greater focus one healthy habit at the time but that does not mean I am not trying to at least be more mindful about the other 5 healthy habits I set for the year.

March-April:Drinking More Water

I am doing really well with my goal to drink more water while at home, but not so good while I am out of the house. I need to get better at bringing my reusable water bottle with me where ever I go. Hopefully with this as my main goal these next two months I will be able to make that happen.

May-June: Cut Back On Sugar

I have not started cutting back on sugar at all. I am thinking this will be the hardest healthy habit I set for myself. I crave sugar something awful, and am not sure how to even begin cutting back on it.

 July-August: More Fruit & Veggies

I am doing well on this goal and it is making a big difference with a few health issues I have been struggling with. In fact so much difference the problems all but disappeared until…..we went away one weekend and I got slack on this goal while eating out several meals in a row.

September-October: Better Eating Out Choices

Sometimes I do really well with this and sometimes not.

November-December: Wiser Celebration Eating

We went to a birthday party get together and I managed to avoid the pop, eat just one plate of food and….. eat 2 desserts.  Yep, the last part was more than the one I am aiming for but all together I did better than I normally do.

A Health Habit I Am Adding

I am a firm believer in thinking that you don’t need it to be January 1st to set a new goal and so I don’t mind adding just one more health habit to 2015 even though I am 2 months in.

As I have gone through 2 months of eating, I am discovering an underlying goal to all my healthy eating goals;mindful eating.

Mindful eating to me means taking time before I get super hungry to decide what I am eating for lunch. Mindful eating means carrying the glass of water around the house with me. Mindful eating means looking at my plate before I start eating and making sure I have veggies or fruit on it.

Mindful eating also means, getting off the computer and sitting at the kitchen table to eat whether it be a snack or a meal. Mindful eating means not bring the iPad to the table with me but instead looking at my food and concentrating on each bit as I eat. Mindful eating means not grabbing things and eating on the go.

Some of these things are really hard habits to break. However, I do notice that when I do these things I feel fuller quicker and stay full longer. Each bit of food seems to count more. I am not staring at the empty bowl beside my laptop wondering where that bowl of trail mix went and wondering how come I still feel hungry.

When I looked up the term mindful eating to make sure what I was doing was in fact just that I found this great pinable graphic that explains in great detail what mindful eating is.

In essence forming healthy eating habits boils down to being mindful and so I am making mindful eating, my word to concentrate on when ever I am struggling with falling into old habits “Is this being mindful of my health if I choose to eat it” “Am I being mindful of what I am eating if I eat this bag of chips while watching TV? “Would it be  a mindful compromise to at least put the chips in a bowl first to help me eat a mindful portion?”

Are you working on improving you eating habits this year? What is working and what isn’t?


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10 Tools To Help You With Your Debt Free Journey

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Getting debt free & staying debt free is hard work. It takes discipline, self sacrifice and often a lot of out of the box thinking.

10 tools for getting and staying out of debt

Over the past 3 weeks I have shared our families debt free journey

Today I want to share with you the tools we used to get out of debt and to stay out of debt for good.

10 Tools For Your Debt Free Journey

1. Help to make a budget & a plan

To do any of the steps below you first must have the knowledge of what it takes to get out of debt and how to set up a budget that works.

Here are 2 great books to help you create a budget & a plan

2. A Budget

Unless you have a plan of how to spend every dollar earned your chances of living below your means so you can pay off debt are very slim. After you debt is paid you will still need a budget to help you stay out of debt and  reach further financial goals.

Here are some helpful free resources for budgeting

3. Goals

Budgeting is going to go a lot smoother when you have an idea of what you are aiming for. I know some of you are thinking “I am aiming to get and stay debt free” but that is too broad a goal. Instead break down what getting to debt free and staying debt free will take into small actionable steps. For instance that goal could state “3 months from now we plan to have paid off… debt which works out to a monthly goal of…… and a weekly goal of…..”.

 4. Cash Envelopes

I will discuss cash envelopes in further detail next week (update: post in now live) but for now all I will say is that when our family uses cash to pay for eating out, date night, and other sorts of activities we always spend less than budgeted. When get busy and decide to skip the trip to the bank to get out the cash and use our debit cards instead we always go over budget.

A great article on the pros of cash envelopes & a few resources for making or buying your own

10 books you need to read if you want to be a thrifty ninja (300)5.  A library of ideas on how to keep expenses low

Through the internet and the library you can find out how to save on just about every area of your spending.

(if you want to purchase some of the books listed for your home library make sure to check out Thrifty Bookworms & Swagbucks The Perfect Romance to find out my favorite ways to save money on books)

Work At Home Ideas And Tips (med)For Success6. Flexible ways to boost income from home

Sometimes there is just that one last bill to pay that the paycheck, even with over time, can’t cover. Other times you really want to have date night, but there just isn’t enough wiggle room in the budget. Or perhaps you just want one cup of fancy coffee a month, or a week, to help you feel special during the whole “paying off debt not seeing the inside of a restaurant” stage.

If so here a few ways my family has made money from home to cover those types of expenses

10 Ways Thrifty People Renovate(med)7. A DIY spirit

Paying to do things gets expensive. Yes doing things yourself does take time, but it can be fun, rewarding and a great way to save a substantial amount of money.

Our family renovated 3 homes together and saved a lot of money on the renovations by doing the repairs ourselves.

Need a bit of DIY instruction? Try out a few of Craftsy’s free mini video courses. Craftsy also came out with a line of free downloadable PDF courses (scroll to bottom of linked post for full list)  that include step by step colorful photo instruction for things like photography, sewing, woodworking and more.

10 bible verses thrifty people memorize (med)8. Words of wisdom

Our family gets our wisdom from the bible: Here are 10 bible verses about money that have helped us become and stay debt free as well as shape our view of money.

20 thrifty ways to send quality time with your child making memories doesn't have to cost much (med)9. A wealth of inexpensive ideas for fun

Life can get really boring fast if all you do is stay home and read books from the library because that is the only free activity you can think of. (yep a bookworm just said that)

Here are a few resources to help you expand your horizons and find frugal sources of entertainment

10 Key Things Thrifty People Do Over And Over To Save Money On Just About Anything10. A toolbox for ways to save money on just about anything

If you click over to 250 Ways Thrifty People Save Money and scroll down to the bottom you will find 10 key things  our family does to saves money on just about anything. I would call this our ultimate savings toolbox, and of course all of  the 10 tools are free.

What would you add to my list?

Never miss one of my posts on saving money, time management, decluttering and more sign up to receive them in your email inbox.

Linked to Frugal Friday, Thrifty Thursdays,

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Snapshot Thursdays: Why I Can’t Be Trusted With Plastic Cups

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

By sharing today’s photos  I am hoping to find at least a few fellow klutzy soul mates out there who can share in my pain and benefit from my findings. The rest of you can all just laugh, well actually klutzy people can too, it is okay, I have totally been there and done that (America’s Funniest Home Videos is full of people just like me).

water glassThis is the type of glass I drink out of at home. Not only does it hold a lot of liquid but it is also very heavy and thus hard to tip over. That second fact, is the main reason I use it all the time. I might be 40 but I still have not out grown spilling my milk, or water, or in the case of last weekend when my husband and I enjoyed a weekend getaway, cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice on the hotel wall, cranberry juice on the hotel couch, cranberry juice on the hotel floor. And this spillage happened at 7 am in the morning while my cleaning expert hubby was still sleeping in the bedroom of our hotel suite.

I blame it on the flimsy plastic hotel cup. I swear I barely touched the thing and wham it was everywhere.

I blotted, I rinsed, I blotted some more. I apparently blotted so hard it woke my husband up who was sleeping in the other room.

spot shotHe immediately sent me to the grocery store across the street for carpet stain remover. I picked up Spot Shot, and a Starbucks caramel macchiato with a sippy cup style lid (those are great for us 40 yr old klutzy people) ran back to the hotel room and watched my hubby work magic on the stain. The stain was gone is seconds.

Man that stuff really works! (warning though it does have a strong chemically odor to it).

If you love knowing your not the only quirky couple out there then you will enjoy reading The Antelope In The Living Room just as much as I am. I picked it up last week when I saw it free on kindle through instagram (I follow Melanie Shankle and she mentioned it there). I am only a few pages in but already have laughed so hard that my husband shushed me, because he was trying to enjoy his own book next to me on the couch.

So make me feel better. What has your klutzy side split?

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quiltinghacks_carousel_1FREE eGuides By Craftsy

Craftsy offers is now offering a incredible line of free eGuides  (PDF format that can be downloaded to your computer and viewed at your convenience). These would be great for those of you wanting to pursue a new craft or perhaps improve your skills in a craft you already enjoy. There are also a few that might help you with you home business. Homeschoolers, the drawing ones would be excellent resources for art class.

eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
Cake Decorating
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at Home
Paper Crafts
eGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
eGuide: Beginner’s Guide to the World of Watercolor
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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So I was munching on an applesauce oatmeal breakfast bar when it suddenly I start thinking “I wonder if this would work with pumpkin: and like that Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars were born.

pumpkin oatmeal breakfast barsI altered the recipe just a little adding in another egg as otherwise the recipe was kind of dry. The result was moist and yummy breakfast bars, perfect for those mornings when you got to grab breakfast as you rush out the door, even though you got up at 4:30 and it is now 7:30, because you got so caught up in blogging you forgot to eat.

Or is that just me? Well whatever is causing you to rush these pumpkin oatmeal bars are the perfect grab and go breakfast.

ingredients for pumpkin oatmeal breafast barsIngredients For Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

If you want you might want to add in a cup of crushed walnuts or perhaps some chocolate chips.

I really liked the way these pumpkin breakfast bars turned out they are very moist and filling. Perfect with my morning cup of coffee.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
  • 1½ cup pumpkin puree (either store bought or homemade if fine)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups white wheat flour (you could also used unbleached)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • (optional 1 cup crushed walnuts or 1 cup chocolate chip or ½ cup of each)
  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. lightly grease a 9 by 13 baking pan
  3. in a large bowl mix together sugar and butter
  4. add in pumpkin and stir
  5. add in eggs and stir
  6. add in dry ingredients and mix well
  7. stir in optional nuts or chocolate chips if desired
  8. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean, or blade of knife)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving
  10. (these freeze well so you can make a double batch if you have 2 pans)


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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 7

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This week I realized that thanks to my husband pitching in and decluttering a few areas of the house on his own (I love my cleaning man) I was ahead of schedule.

Looking around though I realized that instead of moving on to another area I really needed to spend my time cleaning up some mess that our weekend away had made, as well as a busy week.

our weekend getaway messWe went on a night away just the two of us thanks  to a Christmas gift from my husband’s parents, and gift cards earned on Black Friday. When we got home we just dumped our stuff and went running into the week. Several days later our pile was still here! Embarrassing.

mess in the dining roomThis mess was created by 2 weeks of dumping the groceries out of bags and boxes and then never getting around to putting the bags and boxes away. Oh and tools are from a project my husband is working on for our church.

againThis pile really got to me. I just cleaned this area 2 weeks ago! The kids have a bad habit of piling stuff here from the dining room table when I tell then to set the table for dinner.

I got to admit I looked at all the mess and was a bit overwhelmed especially since I had so much on my to do list the day I decided to tackle this.

timer on my ipodI decided the best way to motivate myself to get the work done was to set a timer and see how fast I could get it done.

timer all done

In just over 16 minutes all three areas were decluttered . I promise I didn’t cheat either. All the things in the piles went to their proper homes.

decluttered couch

jacks tools

dinning room table decluttered againMuch better. Oh and if you wondering why I left that one box of tools in the middle picture, well my husband is still currently working on that project every night in the TV room off the dinning room and so I decided it was best to leave it handy for him and just re-box it up so it all fit in one box.

What did you declutter this week? 

If you need encouragement to help reach your simplified home goal, or another goal you have set for the year check out the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers Facebook group.

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What I Have Learned So Far From 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home

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I am just over 6 weeks into my goal of decluttering one area of my home for every single week of 2015. I am loving all the people who have joined in the challenge with me and are active over in the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers facebook group.

Not all the members of the group are working on decluttering as I made it open to anyone working on a goal in 2015, but most are and the support has been great.

6 things I have learned about decluttering since starting my year long journey to a simplified home

With so much of  the year ahead of me, I am surprised by all the project has taught me already.

6 Things 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home Has Taught Me So Far

1. Rooms seem much larger, brighter and cleaner when you have less stuff.

For about a good week after I finished decluttering the last area of the library, I couldn’t come down the staircase of our home without saying “wow I can’t believe how much bigger this room looks”.

I know it should be a no-brainer less stuff of course equals more space, but for some reason it shocked me just how much more space we would gain.

2. It is quicker to pick up a room when it is clutter free.

Before decluttering the library I use to spend at least 10 minutes a day tidying it up  and then throw my hands up and say “good enough for the friends I keep” and moved on to tidying up another room .  After decluttering  I can clean up the whole room including straightening the shelves of the built in bookcase in 2 to 3 minutes tops.

3. Decluttering doesn’t really take that long.

Before I took the time to break down every inch of our home into 52 different areas, I was overwhelmed by the idea of a full house declutter. I would read books swearing a whole house declutter job could be done in a weekend and feel mentally frozen by that revelation. “Where on earth do I start?”

Having a plan and the knowledge that this week I just have to concentrate on this area, has really help me see that decluttering doesn’t take as long as you might think. All the projects I have done so far have taken me under an hour with some taking less than 30 minutes.

Will I ever take on a full house top to bottom declutter project? Nope, I did it once when we moved from British Columbia to Indiana and although it worked great to get our house sold much faster than expected it is overwhelming and exhausting. I would only recommend it to those wishing to get their homes ready for realtor showings.

6 weeks in and I am thinking, this 52 week to a simplified home project is going to be a year after year goal. I much prefer doing things at a snail pacing rate.

4. A great decluttering session starts with a good decluttering routine

A few weeks in I got a good decluttering routine going. It goes like this

  1. Asses the area and decide the best way to attack it (for example do I empty the area out all at once or one drawer or box at a time)
  2. Grab the recycle bin, a garbage bag, a box for giveaways and a box for things that go else where.
  3. Clear out area (as much as I am doing at one time)
  4. Clean cleared area
  5. Go through stuff, recycling, giving away and placing items in other places box.
  6. Put what is left back in area.
  7. Put recycling and trash away, put things to give away in my husbands truck (more on this in the next point)
  8. Finally take the box of stuff that belongs elsewhere and put the contents away.
  9. Step back and take in the progress I made.

The hardest part is step 8 and 9, by then I just want to admire my decluttered space, but I force myself to deal with the items no longer going in the space first.

5. Get rid of the giveaway box right away.

If you let the giveaway box sit in your home too long, you or the kids, or you hubby will become tempted to take the item out because “surely you could use it some where” or “well my aunt so and so did give it to me” or……….(put in your excuse here).

The longer the box sits there the more excuses that you create to keep it.Since I am the worst one at this in our home, I am trying to be very disciplined about marching the giveaway box right to my husband’s truck the first minute he is home, and having him drop it off so I can’t try and sneak things out of the pile before I place it in the drop off box at the thrift store.

6. Decluttering is contagious.

Since I started this project I am noticing that my cleaning husband who usually just cleans around clutter is actually going through piles and dealing with the items in them. He has taken 2 or 3 boxes worth of stuff to the thrift store that he found while tidying up that he figured we no longer needed. He did ask me to check the boxes to make sure he wasn’t giving away something I wanted to keep, and I can honestly to say, I didn’t keep a thing out of those boxes.

I am loving this as it means less work for me as the year goes on.

If you have been joining along what have you learned so far about decluttering?

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